Oduu Haaraya

A birth of dictatorship in egalitarian democratic society and its dark politics: The Oromo case


By Leenjiso Horo

February 2016

The Oromo society is an open, democratic and egalitarian society. Its institutions were and have

been democratic. The idea of dictator or reliance on one individual or on a few individuals is

alien to this society since the time immemorial. True to this, the founders of the Oromo

Liberation Front (OLF) organized the OLF as a democratic organization on the basis of

collective leadership. In this society and this organization decision-making are collective. The

OLF has set up organizational structure, its institutions, its composition, and its roles and

responsibilities on the basis of collective leadership. In Oromo society collective leadership

means collective decision-making, collective action, collective authority, collective

responsibility, and collective accountability. Democracy, egalitarianism, and collective

leadership are the values of the Oromo people. Collective decision making has been playing

increasingly significant and very important role in the Oromo society since the time immemorial.

However, since 1999 the Oromo values have been undermined and abandoned by the current

leadership and it established dictatorship in the OLF. Individual has become a sole decision

maker. Such individual decision making has disrupted personal relationships and comradeship

among the members, fragmented and compartmentalized the OLF. It has destroyed the built in

trusting relationships within the organization members. In the Oromo society to resolve serious

issues in the society and in an organization, it requires the collective voices of leadership,

individual members, the communities, the population, the experts and creative thinkers in the

society and organization. The current leadership is not only disinterested in the collective

leadership and method of resolving conflicts but it rejected them altogether. The Chairman,

Dawud Ibsa, purposefully recruited individuals who are poorly learned about Oromo culture and

poorly informed about Oromo ethos, values, and poorly understood about the objective of the

OLF. The recruits are the Abyssinianized Oromo nationals. It is these culturally, socially, and

politically abyssinianized Oromo national who have occupied the position of leadership in the

OLF since 1999. They do not differentiate between the struggle for “Ethiopian

Democratization” or establishing “Transitional government of Ethiopia” and the struggle for

independence of Oromiyaa. These recruits obey this dictatorial leadership; legitimize it; become

its messengers and defend its misdeeds. They are faithful to one man-to Secretary-General,

Dawud Ibsa. They dance to whatever the Chairman Daawud Ibsaa and his Deputies tell them to

dance to. It does not matter what, they dance. It is these individuals who blindly follow his and

his associates’ guide. One should know that blind loyalty, blind obedience and blind submission

to an individual or a few individuals is the most dangerous thing that can happen to any

organization or to any nation. This is how dictatorship comes into being. And it is what has been

happening in the OLF since 1999.


Now, we have a leadership with one leg in Oromiyaa and another leg in Ethiopia. It looks

around as to which side is strong enough to jump to. That is, it is ready to capitulate to whoever

is strong. Capitulation is clearly part of its agenda with its abandonment of the country and the

struggle. This means, it is a leadership with full of contradictions. It says one thing and does the

opposite. It copied this dual characters or dual political positions from Abyssinians, particularly

from Derg and TPLF regimes. It is not long enough to forget Derg’s regime. Recall, the Derg’s

political propaganda. In words, it used to preach socialism but in deeds it had worked against

what socialism stands for. It destroyed those who truly believes in socialism. Similarly today

Derg’s successor, the TPLF has been mouthing democracy and federalism in words. On the

contrary, in action, in deeds it has been fighting against the concept of democracy and

federalism. It has been destroying any think that stands for democracy and federalism.

Similarly, the current OLF leadership, under Dawud Ibsa, has been and is preaching

independence of Oromiyaa in words but in action it has been fighting against it for

democratization of Ethiopia and for establishment of “transitional government of Ethiopia”. In

words, it preaches the need for the unity of Oromo nationalists but in action it has been and is

fighting against the unity of the Oromo nationalists. It has become obstacle to unity. Again in

words, during fundraising campaigns it dances, claps hands and shouts bravo OLA! OLA is

fighting. But in action, it has already decimated and ruined OLA-the fighting force for

independence of Oromiyaa. What one has to understand is that this leadership’s words and its

action contradicts each other. It says one thing and does another thing.

Here this article relates an essay by Professor Gene Sharp, titled From Dictatorship to

Democracy to the current leadership of the OLF. In that essay Professor Sharp relates A

Fourteenth Century Chinese parable by Liu-Ji-the “Monkey Master” fable to dictatorship. The

essay addresses how to remove dictators from power through non-violent struggle. Dictators

always stay in power through undermining constitution and laws of a country, undermining

institutions, commit murder, threaten, intimidation, rigging elections, through dividing society.

You also well know dictators create their own loyalists in the society or in an organization those

nationals who voluntary submit to dictators; obey them; legitimize them; become messenger for

them and defend their misdeeds. This article relates the essence of this essay to the current

leadership of the OLF. Here below is extraction from part three of the essay. Read it objectively.

Here is it: In the feudal state of Chu an old man survived by keeping monkeys in his service.

The people of Chu called him “ju gong” (monkey master).

Each morning, the old man would assemble the monkeys in his courtyard, and order the eldest

one to lead the others to the mountains to gather fruits from bushes and trees. It was the rule that

each monkey had to give one-tenth of his collection to the old man. Those who failed to do so

would be ruthlessly flogged. All the monkeys suffered bitterly, but dared not complain.

One day, a small monkey asked the other monkeys: “Did the old man plant all the fruit trees and

bushes?” The others said: “No, they grew naturally.” The small monkey further asked: “Can’t we

take the fruits without the old man’s permission?” The others replied: “Yes, we all can.” The


small monkey continued: “Then, why should we depend on the old man; why must we all serve


Before the small monkey was able to finish his statement, all the monkeys suddenly became

enlightened and awakened.

On the same night, watching that the old man had fallen asleep, the monkeys tore down all the

barricades of the stockade in which they were confined, and destroyed the stockade entirely.

They also took the fruits the old man had in storage, brought all with them to the woods, and

never returned. The old man finally died of starvation.

Yu-li-zi says, “Some men in the world rule their people by tricks and not by righteous principles.

Aren’t they just like the monkey master? They are not aware of their muddle-headedness. As

soon as their people become enlightened, their tricks no longer work.”

What has to be learned from the “Monkey Master” fable is this: The leadership of the Oromo

Liberation Front (OLF) under Dawud Ibsa leadership has become dictator since 1999. It staying

in office more than its term limit. It undermine the constitution of the OLF. The OLF

constitution states in Afaan Oromoo (Oromiffaa) in these terms:

“Hayyu Dureen (HD) GUMII SABAA tiin miseensota ofii keessaa waggaa afuriif filama.

Si’a lama caalaa walitti aansee filamuu hin danda’u.” And it goes on “I/A Hayyu Duree

KOREE HOJII RAAWWACHIIFTU, GUMII SABAA tiin miseensota ofii keessaa waggaa

afuriif filamee I/A H/D KOREE HOJII RAAWWACHIIFTU ta’a. Si’a lamaa ol walitti

aansee itti aanummaatti hin filamu.”

This leadership has trampled the constitution and laws of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF)

under its feet. Not only this, it has also trampled the rights of the members under its feet. With

these, it undermined the intent and purpose of the constitution. It has become itself a replica of

Abyssinians. It has become above the constitution and laws of the OLF and in fact violating the

traditional term limit set in the Gadaa System of governance. The simple truth is this, to stay in

office through manipulation beyond the term limit set in the constitution is the very negation of

democracy. That is, this leadership’s action is contrary to the practice of democracy and justice.

It has usurped constitutional power from legislative (Gumii Sabaa abbreviated as GS). In so

doing, it has planted a seed of darkness for the future independent Oromiyaa. For instance,

colonization is a foreign usurpation of the sovereignty and natural independence of a country.

Similarly, domestically assuming power illegally is a usurpation of the constitution. With this

difference, a usurper can never have right on his/her side. Usurpation is to get into the

possession of what another has right to. For instance, if a president of a country bypassed the

legislative branch on the issues in which the legislative body constitutionally has authority over

is a usurpation. And the president is said to have usurped the power of the legislative. On the

other hand, if the usurper extends his/her terms of office beyond what constitutionally prescribes

to him/her is to add tyranny to the usurpation. In this case, such a leadership is not a leadership

that the constitution and law appointed. He/her should not entitle to the name president or

Chairman or Secretary-General. Here, one must clearly understand that usurpation is the

exercise of power which another has a right to, so tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right,


which nobody can have a right to ( e.g. intimidate, revenge, murder, imposing ones will, ones

rule on others). Daawud Ibsaa has long usurped the constitution of the OLF. Now, he and his

Deputies have terminated the constitutional term of office and extended their terms of office.

This means, on top of usurpation, they added tyranny. Hence, this leadership is a usurper tyrant.

It is a monstrous insult to the members of the OLF and to the Oromo people by this clique to

pretend that the members of the OLF and the Oromo people would submit to its power of

usurper. The plain truth is, the Secretary-General Dawud Ibsa and his Deputies Secretaries are

illegally holding the office of the OLF and hence they are illegal and illegitimate. This

leadership must evacuate the leadership office for the new generation of leadership. It created a

mechanism to split the OLF. First it abandoned the country, the struggle, the Oromo Liberation

Army and the Oromo people. It became dependent on external power. So, it is out of reach.

Second, it abandoned the Kaayyooo (objective goal) of Oromo struggle for Ethiopian empire

democratization. Then, it left the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) for ruin. In fact, it crippled

the fighting capacity of the OLA. Not only this, it is decapitated because it flee the country.

With abandonment of objective goal of the OLF for Ethiopian democratization, the OLF

members split. The split is between the struggle for Ethiopian democratization and the struggle

for independence of Oromiyaa. With the split, it attracted to its membership the Habashanized

Oromo nationals. Today, its support base are these Habashanized Oromo nationals.

The first breed of dictators in the history of national Liberation struggle

One may wonder as to what kind of leadership is this. Here, it is important to understand that

this leadership is not a revolutionary leadership whose entire soul and life are devoted to the

independence of Oromiyaa and the liberation of its people. It is not a leadership inspired by

patriotic spirit of nationalism to fight. Rather it is a dry, disingenuous, rigid, heartless, self-
centered, manipulative, and egotistical clique who by accidental mistake of history climbed to

the top position of the leadership of the OLF. Its primary aim has been and is simply to weaken

the OLF from within so as to undermine the struggle for independence of Oromiyaa and replace

it with democratization of empire Ethiopia. As it is clear to all, this clique has weakened,

undermined, and completely crippled Executive Committee (Koree Hojii Raawwachiiftu

abbreviated as KHR) and legislative (GS) and then replaced them by itself in the name of Office

of Secretary-General (Waajjia Hayyu Duree abbreviated as WHD). Dawud Ibsa and his

deputies-Bultum Biyyoo and Dhugaasaa Bakakkoo superimposed their will on the constitution of


the OLF. They intervened illegally through laying claim, themselves, to be the authorized

legislators. In this way, this clique undermined these institutions. It is important to understand

that it is the legislative, the executive, and other institutions that the members of a nation unite

under and combine together and stick together into one coherent living body. For these,

institutions are the soul that give form, life, and unity for the society. But the current opportunist

leadership, under Dawud Ibsa and his deputies, has dissolved these institutions that the founders

of the OLF had created and served the struggle for years. By Daawuud Ibsaa’s and his deputies’,

interferences, these institutions have been made to fail from discharging their duties and

responsibilities. With the failure of executive (KHR) and legislative (GS) to discharge their

duties and responsibilities, then the failure of the OLF as an organization has become clear and

visible. In this case, the OLF is no longer capable of defending its members, its people, their

people’s properties, resources and their country (Oromiyaa) from the enemy. Today, because of

this clique there is no longer a functional executive (KHR) and National Council (GS) of the

OLF. Hence, these institutions exist only in name, but functionally do not exist. The plain truth

is, have these institutions exist and active, according to the constitution of the OLF, this

leadership could have been removed from the position of leadership a long time ago. It is time

for the members of the OLF to dissolve the Office of Secretary-General (WHD) and elect

another one. This dictatorial tyrant clique has to go.

In the like of “Monkey Master” story, this current leadership of the OLF has become a master

over members who declared loyalty, obedience, and allegiance to it. As the “Monkey Master”

kept on sending the monkeys to mountain to collect fruits from bushes and trees, so this dictator

leadership, since it split the OLF has been sending its loyalist members to the Oromo public to

collect money in the name of ‘Guyyaa Gootoota Oromoo’, Guyyaa WBO’, ‘Fincila Diddaa

Garbummaa’ and now in the name of Qeerroo. None of the collected money has ever gone to

build, organize and arm the OLA. Had this money been used for organizational purpose, a

millions of OLA fighters could have been organized, trained, armed and led into battle to fight

the enemy across Oromiyaa. Oromiyaa could have been independent by this time. The problem

is and has been, the cliques in the leadership are kleptocrats who by the accidental mistake of

history climbed to the top position of leadership of the OLF. These cliques have been sending

the money to a black hole. Whoever ask question as to where the money has been going, would

be threatened, intimidated, humiliated, deprived information, isolated and even expelled from the

membership. It can even physically harm one, if it has a chance and a capability to do so.

Because of these, many of its members dare not to ask. It is a leadership without accountability,

and responsibility for its action and commitment to the objective goal of the Oromo struggle.

Since it assumed the leadership of the OLF, it has been imposing its will on its loyalists, even

intimidating members who ask questions. Asking question is considered by it as a threat to it.

Having reach the top and left for exile, it detached from the country, the people, the Liberation

Army and so it failed to lead the struggle. When a member asks a question about the wisdom of

staying in foreign country, it got paranoid thinking that questioner is trying to knock it down. As

a consequence, it has developed a fear, caused by deep insecurities that its misdeeds may be

unmasked. When confronted, it convinces itself and its followers that the problems are neither

its fault nor its responsibility. It looks for scapegoats to blame on for its misdeeds. Using its


political position in the organization, it attacks who questions it. It forces its loyalist members to

accept its distortions, causing entire loyalists to lose touch with reality. At this stage, such

leadership is vulnerable to making grandiose mistakes. Mistakes such as making alliance with

alien organizations of different political objectives putting one’s own organization’s existence at

risk. Hence, with its formation of PAFD and its invitation to the fascist “current government of

Ethiopia” to join it in establishment of “Transitional government of Ethiopia” this leadership has

put the existence of the OLF at risk. Its distortions convince it that it is doing nothing wrong.

The OLF has a long fraternal relationship with the colonized nations and nationalities. Hence, in

principle it supports forming alliance. That is, it supports a voluntary and honest alliance of the

peoples of the empire that have similar political objective with the Oromo people but not for

establishing “Transitional government of Ethiopia. The PAFD, the organization that Dawud Ibsa

helped organize has called upon the “current regime of Ethiopia”, the fascist regime that has

been and still is swimming in the rivers of the blood of Oromo children, men and women to join

it in establishing the “transitional government of Ethiopia”. Surely, the Oromo people and the

Oromo nationalists fight this by fire and sword. It is a fascist genocidal regime that has been

shedding the blood of our people. It is a regime that is soaked in the blood of Oromo children,

men and women it has slaughtered. It is absurd, repulsive, and abominable to call upon the

genocidist colonialist regime to join in establishing “transitional government” with the people

under its genocide. This idea is promoted by the current clique in the leadership of the OLF.

This is a leadership that has an inflated idea of itself and of its political position in the

organization. As a result, it has become ego-inflated, narcissistic and arrogant. It undercut the

Berlin Agreement and run to form alliance with alien forces. It attacks, intimidates individuals

and groups that question its style of leadership, its incompetence and its poor decision-making.

While making alliance in establishing PAFD, Dawud Ibsa as a chairman of the OLF

singlehandedly along with his Deputies demolished and burned down the bridge to reconciliation

and unity of all Oromo nationalist political organizations built at Berlin Conference.

The loyalists of this clique of the leadership of the OLF must ask themselves fundamental

questions. The first question should be: Isn’t this leadership just like the monkey master? In

addition, ask about where the fund collected in the name of WBO, Guyyaa Gootoota Oromo, and

Fincila Diddaa Garbummaa have been going. Ask as to why hundreds of thousands of OLA is

not organized to fight. Ask why this leadership lives in exile since it hold the position of

leadership of the OLF. Ask what this leadership has ever positively accomplished since it hold

the position of leadership in 1999. Ask it, if Oromiyaa can be liberated without it. With all these

questions, you will become enlightened and awakened. Then this leadership’s tricks and deceit

no longer work on you and you will certainly liberate yourselves from shackles of this false

leadership who lives on you, through tricks. Once this happened, this clique has no option but to

go. You should ask questions. You should tear down this clique’s dictatorship and its ideology

of empire federalization. We cannot keep silent forever about the crimes of this leadership, the


crimes that have been unfolding before our own eyes. For these crimes are committed against

the people in the name of people; against struggle in the name of struggle; against unity in the

name of unity; against the OLF in the name of the OLF; against OLA in the name of OLA. You

should not be the victims of lies, deceit, fabrication and tricks of this exiled leadership.

We all know, what has been paralyzed the OLF and the Oromo struggle is internal, not external.

The truth is, it is this current leadership in exile that paralyzed the OLF and the struggle. It

brought divisions after division within the OLF. No Oromo media outlets and bloggers have

ever asked this leadership, as to why it has been and still is in exile while the enemy has been

and still is swimming in the rivers of the blood of Oromo children, men and women. The fact is,

some Oromo bloggers have been unwilling to post articles critical to this clique of leadership

living in exile on their weblog. The question is then as to what is the difference between the

Oromo bloggers and Media and bloggers under the TPLF; Medias and bloggers under Isaias

Afwerki’s regime; the media, under Mengistu Hailemariam’s Military regime and Emperor Haile

Selassie’s regime. I fail to see their difference. All of them subordinated themselves to whoever

is at the top. All of them unquestioningly, uncritically and blindly glorify such leadership. This

is how dictators control media outlets and bloggers. Again, one may ask as to why the Oromo

bloggers suffocate the truth, facts, and idea critical about the current clique leadership of the

OLF from reaching the Oromo public. To do so can be simply interpreted as a defense of a

leadership standing on the wrong side of history. I belief, truth is like the sun, like the air which

are the same for all to have access to. Facts, evidences, truth and ideas are in the domain of

public. They belong to all. Hence, to deprive the truth, facts, ideas and information from

reaching the public is tantamount to suffocating the public. One should not condemn TPLF for

controlling Medias and bloggers while one is subject to the same thing on the other side. Such

action is also a way of undermining democracy. In order to help and nurture democracy to

emerge, blossom, and flourish, it is important to adorn truth, facts, ideas and information

sincerely and fool no one by shutting doors to them to prevent them from reaching the public.

Shutting doors to truth, to facts, and to ideas are what some Oromo bloggers have been doing.

This is the Abyssinians way, not the Oromo way. It is a way of serving dictators. Now the time

has come for the Oromo bloggers to dare to cherish truth; to dare to cherish facts, to dare to

cherish ideas, to dare to cherish information and not to fear them. The basic common sense is

media outlets and bloggers have to be independent.

In the end, remember, Oromiyaa will be liberated with or without you. Think seriously, this

clique in leadership is just like a ‘Monkey Master’. It is using you as ‘Monkey Master’ had used

monkeys for his own advantage. It is time for this clique on the leadership hierarchy of the OLF

to go. The Oromo struggle, the OLF, the Oromo people and Oromiyaa need a new revolutionary

leadership- a leadership that can restore the lost independence to Oromiyaa. For this, our people

and struggle need a unity leadership; a nationally united leadership. This struggle of ours has

already produced a generation- a generation capability of leadership to lead this struggle to its

final conclusion to the independence of Oromiyaa. Now, it is this new generation’s turn to take

the leadership of the OLF and the struggle for liberation of its people and the independence of its

country. Ours must be a generation that help the new generation to take leadership. So we have

to render leadership to the new generation. It must be swift. We must begin now.

Oromiyaa Shall be Free!


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