As the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) rebranded itself to the Oromo Democratic Party (ODP) this week, it has also decided to see its notable veterans and founders off to their retirement there by consolidating the leadership of the young generation.
With a theme “Better Ideas for More Triumph,” the Party’s 9th Congress is underway in Jimma Town which began on Wednesday in a colorful opening ceremony attended by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and thousands of other delegates.
On the second day of the congress, the party officials announced, after 28 years, that it has rebranded itself to Oromo Democratic Party (ODP), with an accompanying new logo.
Along with the rebranding of its official name, the party has retired 14 of its veteran politicians from leadership and reorganized its leadership promoting its younger generation to the party’s top brass.
Some of the major figures relived off duty include Abadula Gemeda, Kuma Demekssa, Girma Birru, and Gifty Abasiya (Amb.).
Other prominent figures also include Diriba Kuma, Getachew Bedane, Eshetu Dessie, Teferi Tiyaru, Shiferaw Jarsso, Degife Bula, Abera Hailu, Suleyman Dedefo (Amb.), Itafa Tola, and Dagnachew Shiferaw.
ODP is a member of the ruling Four-Party coalition–the Ethiopian People’s Democratic Front (EPRDF). ODP took the leadership of the Front in April this year following the election of Abiy Ahmed (PhD), Chairman of ODP, as its head.
In the ongoing congress, around 1,066 voting participants and 250 observers are in attendance in Jimma Town. Representatives from member organizations in the ruling coalition–namely ANDM, SEPDM, and TPLF are also in attendance.
Both PM Abiy and Lemma Megerssa, president of Oromia Regional State, made a moving remark while opening the meeting on Wednesday.
Abiy said the Oromo people have sacrificed a lot for Ethiopia and underscored: “Oromo will not secede as Oromo does not have a country outside of Ethiopia”.
Speaking about the current opposition parties mainly in the region, Abiy has noted that “there is no point” to see numerous opposition parties in Oromia and that only two or three parties are enough.
He further told some opposition parties who tend to employ “identity politics” to achieve their political goals that they can no longer dot that in the name of the Oromo people and that “rule of law will never be up for negotiation”.
“Some talk about unity with us in the morning only to plot in the evening on how to destroy the country,” Abiy said referring to politicians who are allied with ODP.
“Those Oromo who work with the enemy will be considered as the enemy,” Abiy told the participants.
Lemma Megersa on his part, emphasized on the importance of unity in his speech and called for different Oromo organizations to hold talks and resolve their differences so as to work together.
“Division of political parties has a negative impact on the unity of the people and parties should talk on their differences and work together,” said Lemma.
Sabotage to reverse the ongoing reform is another point he raised on the conference. He called on all concerned bodies to refrain from undertaking actions that could weaken the organization: ODP.
Representatives of “sister organizations” from within the ruling coalition were also given the podium.
Nigussu Tilahun, high-ranking official from ANDM, also conveyed a message of unity and solidarity.
“Brotherly organizations of ODP and ANDM have shouldered a grand national responsibility to mobilize Ethiopia along the path of peace and forgiveness,” said Nigussu.
He added that, “there are groups who are striving with all their powers to bring about a rift between the Ethiopian people; especially between the people of Amhara and Oromo, and we need to make sure that their efforts remain in vain.”
Meanwhile, Meseret Meskele, representative of SEPDM, in her part told participants of the Congress that “the decisions from ODP organizational congress could have the power to determine ODP’s, EPRDF’s, and the Country’s future.”
She also affirmed that her organization will stand with ODP for the task of building a democratic Ethiopia.
Abraham Tekesete (PhD), a member of the executive committee of TPLF representing his party, was also among the invited speakers in the occasion. In his message, Abraham said that his party acknowledges ODP’s contribution for the region as well as for the nation.
“TPLF and the people of Tigray have respect for the sacrifice of ODP for the rights of the Oromo and the Ethiopian People,” he added.