Oduu Haaraya

The status of the Oromo National Liberation Struggle and The Prevailing Political Climate in Ethiopia (August 2, 2018)


The recent political development in Oromiyaa and generally in Ethiopia has taken many by
surprise. Though the writing was on the wall for a kind of political upshot in due time, no one could
have expected that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) led regime of Ethiopia would be
suddenly pushed away from its long held political power in a relatively short period. From what
we have been closely following, the unfolding development in terms of creating a level plain
political space appears promising for now. Yet, given the political history of the empire state of
Ethiopia, it should be disconcerting that the present political development could be arrested before
it goes far enough to help resolve the underlying political issues that recurrently convulse the
Political convulsions had rocked Ethiopia from time to time to the extent that left significant marks
on its political, economic and social orders over the years. Merely taking stock of the revolutionary
upheavals that uprooted the decadent and longstanding monarchy in 1974, the 17 years of
relentless and bitter struggle headed by various national liberation fronts and the passive
resistance of the populace at large against the military junta (Dergue) that culminated in the
decimation of the Dergue in 1991, and the 27 years of reign of the TPLF oligarchy that crumpled
early this year and supplanted with reformist elements within the Ethiopia People’s Revolutionary
Democratic Party (EPRDF) following the sweeping and intrinsically unique social movement that
the Oromo youth (Qeerroo) has spearheaded for the last four years vividly demonstrate to what
degree the recurring popular revolts had to force Ethiopia to undergo political and socio-economic
transformations often at a colossal loss of human life and resource.
Given this trend that Ethiopia has recurrently experienced in the last half a century, the prospect of
yet another popular revolt is probable unless its underlying cause is addressed fundamentally. For
too long, all stripes of the ruling elites of Ethiopia have conveniently chosen not to seriously reckon
with it. When at all they ventured to do so, their commitments by in large remained superficial and
their approach lacked keenness. Consequently, Ethiopia has been left to face one tumultuous
political situation after another.
At present, it is in the mist of another political quagmire. And what we witness now is a high-stakes
endeavor for salvation of the heavily battered empire state of Ethiopia from its demise. However,
it remains to be seen whether Ethiopia can capture this opportune moment and genuinely and
pragmatically work to do away with its age old political problem or remain captive of its status quo
approach and face yet another surge of revolt of unprecedented proportion.
The direction thus far envisioned to weather through the prevailing political climate and arrest the

potentially deepening crisis appears right and promising. There appears a determination, albeit in
large part rhetorically, on the part of the EPRDF reformist elements headed by the Prime Minister
of Ethiopia, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, to address the recurring political issues of the empire through
democratic and peaceful means. To his credit, though, the practical measures he has so

far taken to create a more democratic political landscape are bold. The release of most political
prisoners, the repeal of draconian press laws that muzzled and banned free and independent
media, the call extended to all political organizations of any persuasions to officially operate in
Ethiopia, the diplomatic moves made to promote peace and shared economic opportunities in the
Horn of Africa region prone to cyclical conflicts and natural calamities are significant strides in the
right direction.
ULFO commends the Prime Minister for the practical measures he has taken thus far. We hope
that he will continue to boldly remove structural roadblocks and help pave the way for the creation
of a democratic political order in which all nations and nationalities in Ethiopia can be able to
exercise their rights to self-determination.
It is ULFO’s political view that Ethiopia rides the wave of crisis owing to primarily two fundamental
causative factors: First, its political elites deny the historic fact that the once independent nations
and nationalities were forcibly incorporated into the present day Ethiopia through conquest, and
they incessantly propagate the narrative that Ethiopia existed for millennia as a nation state; and
consequently they refuse to acknowledge the claim of annexation of any one nation and by
extension write off the right of nations to self-determination. Second, under its successive rulers,
the gross violations of human rights and freedom have remained pervasive.
Unless these underlying issues are dealt with, ULFO believes strongly that the Oromo people as
a nation will continue to experience the violation of their right to self-rule, to use their economic
resource as they see fit, and to promote their language and cultural heritage freely. Equally, with
respect to basic human rights and individual freedom, it won’t be unlikely for them to incessantly
face egregious abuse. Hence, ULFO is committed to struggle against the blatant violations of
these two fundamental rights that the Oromo people continue to experience.
Towards this end, ULFO aspires to work with all Oromo political organizations to help galvanize
the human, financial, and material resources necessary for a better coordinated Oromo national
struggle that can make a major leap and expeditiously attain its objective – the establishment of
the Independent Republic of Oromiyaa. ULFO feels strongly that the unity of purpose amongst all
political organizations is critically important for the realization of this objective. If our nation is to
emancipate itself once and for all from all forms of oppressions and exploitations, such unity is
not an option but a necessity.
In the past, much to the chagrin of the Oromo public, the Oromo organizations failed to unite.
Over the last 20 years, on their own initiatives, many of them have made numerous attempts to
form unity. In several occasions, in response to mounting pressures from the growing demand of
the Oromo public, most of them have also endeavored to unite. However, none has come to
fruition for lack of seriousness on the part of some organizations or for unwarranted preconditions
demanded or terms dictated by few to effect the aspired unity. Consequently, despite utter
displeasure of the Oromo public, the state of unity among Oromo political organizations has
remained still elusive.
The impact of this faction riddled state of Oromo political organizations on our national struggle is
quite significant. It has stunted the struggle to the level of almost dormancy; so much so that it
has frustrated the Oromo public and left them in a state of despair. With no change in sight in the
state of affairs of the unity of the organizations, the public took the matter into their hands to
resuscitate the struggle. It is this public move that brought about the birth of the Qeerroo
The Qeerroo movement in just four years has put the Oromo national struggle in a breathtaking
trajectory. Understanding full well that the Oromo unity is a cornerstone of the struggle, the
Qerroos mobilized the Oromo youth across Oromiyaa to rally behind the motto of tokkummaa.
They galvanized the entire Oromo mass to act in unison in all matters of the Oromo national

concerns. Merely through peaceful demonstrations and echoing the demand for abbaa
biyyummaa throughout Oromiyaa, they confronted the naked aggression, the exploitation, and the
gross human rights violations perpetrated by the TPLF-led regime. For this, they paid the ultimate
sacrifice. None the less, at the end, they brought the most brutal and parasitic regime down to its

ULFO would like to take this opportunity to express its utmost admiration for the gallant sons and
daughters of Oromiyaa who faced Agazi, the heavily armed TPLF squad, with such bravery to
advance the cause of their nation. In the hands of this merciless force, many lost their lives and a
staggering number were injured and/or thrown to concentration camps or underground prison
cells. The Oromo nation will forever remember those Qeerroos who sacrificed their lives as its
martyrs, and that it will one day put up a statue that glorifies their heroic sacrifice. Likewise, it is
our hope that historians will studiously record this unique movement that marks a watershed in
the history of the Oromo national liberation struggle.
In the end, this historic Qeerroo movement culminated in nudging the Oromo People’s Democratic
Organization (OPDO) to wake-up and stride along the tide of change. In due course, it is this tide
that wrestled OPDO to be in line with the ensuing change. More importantly, it is this very tide that
sieved out reformist elements from the ranks of the organization and brought them forward to
amputate the political arm of the TPLF oligarchy and take over the political power of the empire.
This culmination breathed life into the stale political environment. It rendered a hope of change or
departure from the grim past under the draconian rule of the TPLF. It evoked a sense of euphoria
within the broad mass. This phenomenon of euphoric feeling is attributed primarily to the
commitment that the new Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, has made to broaden the democratic
space in order to allow the hitherto politically stifled populace to freely engage in any political
process and any espoused political leaning of its choice.
While ULFO appreciates the commitment of the Prime Minister to democracy, it has a serious
concern on how far he can go to address the root causes that throw Ethiopia into political
convulsion from time to time. The basis of its concern is that he has not yet put forward a concrete
policy document that clearly chart out the direction he wishes to pursue in addressing them.
ULFO is of the opinion that the role of this Prime Minister ought to be unique: That he should
consider (1) establishing a transition period and (2) preparing an action plan for such period for
the purpose of promoting a conducive political environment in which all nations and nationalities
engage in a free and democratic discourse and decide on their respective political destiny. In
effect, his role should focus on help setting a stage where annexed ethno-national communities,
such as the Oromo, can openly express their wishes and aspirations through a referendum and
seek a lasting panacea for the age old inherent problem of Ethiopia – the problem intrinsically
linked to the nature of Ethiopia as an empire. Hence, as his primary role, the Prime Minister should
capture this unique historic opportunity and let the peoples of Ethiopia have, for the first time, a
say on their inalienable rights. Equally, all stakeholders of the prevailing political change, on their
part, should play responsible and significant roles that advance the change to a state that can help
unravel problems that has shackled the Ethiopian empire since its formation. In this respect, ULFO
calls upon:
1. The Oromo people to maintain their unity; to remain vigilant of the unfolding change of
events; to take an active and responsible part in shaping each course of political events
in a way that suit their specific needs as a nation; to cooperatively work with all nations and
nationalities in the empire on matters of mutual interest.
2. Qeerroo to remain on guard against the slippage of the revolutionary gains registered thus
far; to keep promoting Oromummaa; to focus on engaging only on matters related to the
Oromo national interest; to resist the temptation of advancing political agenda of certain
political organizations or interest groups and to actually put pressure on such organizations
to emulate the Qeerroo movement and form unity of purpose.
3. All Oromo political organizations to take collective responsibility for failing to unite and
build one or two formidable national organization(s) until this day; to engage in discussion
with a sense of urgency and responsibility and resolve issues or problems that hitherto

precluded the unity of their organizations; to understand well that the interest of our nation
should override that of any one organization at this very moment and hence endeavour to
close ranks immediately and embark on facing potential challenges that our national
struggle could encounter down the road.

4. Oromo intellectuals to be mindful of the division of our intellectuals of particularly the early
1970s along different political persuasions/parties and the loss of traction of the Oromo
liberation struggle sustained; to not repeat the same mistake of ideological wrangling that
hugely undermined the Oromo national interest; to cease and desist from advancing ones
individual or partisan interest at the expense of one of our nation.
Understanding full well that the campaign of marring the flicker of hope for change is on the rise,
all concerned should prudently discharge their respective responsibilities of countering such
campaign. So far, to derail the change, campaigns of all kinds have been/are still being launched.
Some have already inflicted heavy loss of human life and resource. In this regard, ULFO
condemns in the strongest terms possible:
1. The ongoing war that Abdi Mohamoud Omar (Abdi Iley), the Somali regional president, and
his cohorts wage against our people in eastern Oromiyaa, southeastern Baale and
Borana. This war has claimed thousands of lives and displaced tens of thousands from
their ancestral land. It still continues unabated as a proxy war meant to resurrect the
Woyane oligarchy on one hand and to fulfill the expansionist ambition of Abdi Iley and the
like on the other.
2. The barbaric action of Abdi Iley that (a) uprooted over a million Oromo residents from their
own land, (b) tortured, raped and killed countless innocent Oromos (c) confiscated their
properties, and (d) displaced millions from their land.
3. TPLF desperate actions that instigated enter ethnic conflicts, for instance, between
Oromos in Wollo and Afars, between Gujii Oromos and Geedios as well as Burjiis, and
between Oromos in western Oromiyaa and the people of Benishangul that resulted in the
death and displacement of many. Such actions were futile attempts meant to merely create
chaos that can divert the current political change from its intended course.
In conclusion, ULFO warns that the nostalgia-stricken elements or political entities who drool for
the return of pre-1991 Ethiopia 14 xeqilaygizat or kiflehager should deeply ponder and refrain from
advancing a political agenda along this line. Such an attempt would put the empire on fire and the
consequence could be dire. The present federal system in Ethiopia, with all its flaws, is actually a
bare minimum political arrangement that could potentially keep the different nations and
nationalities together within the present empire state of Ethiopia. However, the Oromo people as
a colonized nation, should exercise their inalienable right to freely express their collective
aspiration for self- determination: the right to establish their own independent state of Oromiyaa
or opt for a federation or confederation with nations and nationalities that they have had shared
history for millennia. Therefore, it is critically important to respect the wish and aspiration of the
Oromo people as a nation. The temptation of imposing any political system or arrangement on
the Oromo is counterproductive and unjust. Equally, the fanning of the motto of Itiyophiyawinet to
merely eclipse Oromummaa is politically regressive at a time when the identity politics is at its
Unity is strengths!
Oromiyaa shall be
The Executive Committee of ULFO

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