12 Oromo activists’ letter to Ezkeil Gebissa and Jawar Mohammed regarding Oromo Leadership Summit

jawar-on_omnProfessor Ezekeil Gebissa Kettering University

Mr. Jawar Mohammed Executive Director of OMN

15 October 2016

Statement of purpose

We write to express our concern about your recent announcement regarding the “Oromo Leadership Summit” due to take place in Atlanta, Georgia on the occasion of the First Anniversary of the Oromo Protests. We appreciate and value your endeavors to convene this Summit. We share your view that this Summit will set out a vision for the future of the Oromo nation.

This is an ambitious and far-reaching national project and we believe that we need to ‘get it right’. In that regard, we are particularly concerned about the procedural issues in planning to convene the Atlanta Convention. The signatories to this letter have come to learn that enough consultation has not taken place in initiating and planning to convene such a vital Summit.

The ways in which a Summit of this significance is convened, the integrity of its process and its potential to be adequately representative are of critical importance to the Oromo struggle and the future of Oromo people. In what follows, we will set out our concerns in detail and suggest possible steps that can be taken to address them.

Concerns about the process

When dealing with a vital national agenda such as this, the integrity of the process matters as much as the outcome. A representative, consultative, and inclusive process that allows key stakeholders to participate in defining and developing the agenda can bolster the outcome whereas a process that is not adequately consultative, representative, and accountable would certainly undermine it.

To our knowledge, many stakeholders and the wider Oromo Community around the world have not been consulted as stakeholders in the planning of this enormous national undertaking. This raises questions regarding the extent to which the process followed in preparing the ‘concept note’ is democratic and transparent. We believe a democratic and transparent approach is befitting of a major national project.

We are in highly unusual and uncharted terrains and we understand the temptations for expediency and to dispense with what would surely be a painfully frustrating and complex democratic exercise. However, there cannot be a short-cut when it comes to major political decisions that will influence, even determine, the form and content of norms, institutions and values that will govern our future.

This is an enormous undertaking. It needs to be treated with the seriousness it deserves. We recognize the desire to keep up with fast-changing events on the ground. But we must ensure that at least key stakeholders have enough time to weigh in on the proposed documents and that there are sufficient consultations at the grassroots level.

Expediency at the expense of procedural integrity will undercut the legitimacy of the project; when it seems foreseeably effective, it carries the germs of new, perhaps even more ominous threats to the collective interests of our people.

We are concerned that a project that is so contested at this early stage in the process will likely do more harm than good. We are worried that it will cause tremendous damage to the unity and cohesion of our communities and will further erode public trust and confidence in its leaders.

We also note with great concern that another group of Oromos are already planning to organize their own independent summit. Staging two competing summits to consider, discuss and settle the same problem sends the wrong signal to our friends and foes about the Oromo people’s ability to lead the current struggle and the post-EPRDF Ethiopia. Indeed, this will represent a mortal threat to the process and the outcome. There are no reasonable grounds to believe that you — as the sponsors of the Summit— have done all you can to exhaust every available opportunity to reach an amicable settlement with the latter group.

Concerns about the substance of the document:

We recognize that there are diverse views within the Oromo people as far as the substance of the document is concerned. We believe that this is an issue that needs to be decided by a representative convention. However, we feel that some of the language in the document should be reformulated to avoid alienating key allies and endangering the uncommon expressions of solidarity with the various nations and nationalities.

It goes without saying that many Ethiopians and Ethiopia’s foreign backers are looking closely at what Oromos do. It is important that we are always mindful of our audience and anticipate the potential for misunderstanding. We are concerned that four weeks are not enough to craft potentially consequential documents such as the charter envisaged in your release with the seriousness and thoughtfulness it so deserves.

For all the above reasons, we find the proposed project morally and politically indefensible. We find it very difficult to get behind this project in its current form.

Our suggestion for the way forward

There are compelling reasons to rethink and reframe the Georgia convention. To begin with, the broad issues raised and outcomes listed in the ‘concept note’ are unlikely to be addressed in just one gathering. For this reason, we propose two separate conventions: The Georgia Convention and “the Grand Oromo Convention.”

a) The Georgia convention: as planned but confined to the urgent needs of the hour and the Grand Oromo Convention:

§ Resource mobilization, humanitarian response and commemoration. There are pressing humanitarian and medical needs. Hence, it is extremely important to anchor the motivation for the convention on the necessity to tackle the challenges of NOW and on ways to build capacity to keep pace with the fast changing events in Oromia. It’s befitting of an event held on the first year anniversary of a once in a generation protest movement to be devoted to honoring the memories and sacrifices of our martyrs. A focus on resource mobilization and humanitarian response will help identify available resources — material and otherwise — and allow the diaspora communities to reach out to our people at a time of their greatest need.

§ Forge a genuine alliance among Oromo political organizations. Harmony and unity among Oromo Political organizations is desperately needed. It will provide a tremendous morale boost to the movement in Oromia. We believe this matter should be treated with a sense of urgency. The Georgia convention provides a great opportunity to apply maximum pressure on all Oromo political organizations.

§ Set the goals, date, venue and the agenda for a follow-up Grand Oromo Convention. A great deal of background work and deliberation is needed. Ideas need to be formulated, circulated, and thoroughly discussed in a consultative, transparent, representative, and accountable process. Toward this end, the Georgia convention will elect steering committees responsible for overseeing the overall delivery of the Grand Oromo Convention and set priorities and sequence activities necessary to achieve the objective. It will consider the need for the proposed Gumii Council and all other competing proposals. It will identify individuals who will draft the necessary documents and set their terms of reference.

We believe this will ensure public ownership of the process and a broad-based support both within the Oromo communities and our allies. We believe this will help democratize the process, avoid the risk of competing events, and confer legitimacy on the outcome.

• In summary, the Georgia Convention, if managed well, will have a transformative impact on the struggle of the Oromo People. It will create opportunities for Oromo leaders, academics and activists to come together and set out guiding principles and an organizational infrastructure through which resources – material, expertise, financial, personnel, and etc. – are mobilized and channeled to specific targets in a coordinated manner.

b) The Grand Oromo Convention: This will tackle the broader issues outlined in the concept note, specifically the two foundational documents envisaged in your “concept note” and other activities mandated by the Georgia Convention.

This will allow us and other stakeholders an opportunity to weigh in on these foundational documents and forge an all-inclusive Oromo vision for post-EPRDF Ethiopia. We would appreciate the opportunity to help rethink and reframe the approach and possible outcomes of this convention.

Once again we would like to express our appreciation for your conception of this timely “Oromo Leadership Convention” and your endeavor to organize the event. We sincerely hope that you take our concerns and suggestions seriously and make appropriate modifications to the contents of the Concept Note, as well as the structure of the convention and the process of its organization. We believe a democratic and transparent process based on consultations of stakeholders will withstand the test of time.

Conclusion

We do not sign this letter lightly but we feel we are in an extraordinary situation.

Signatories:

1.Awol Kassim Allo

2.Dr. Ayala Gelan

3.Leta Bayissa

4.Geresu Tufa

5.Mohammed Ademo

6.Girma Kenea

7.Siinqee Waasho

8.Edao Dawano

9.Hallelujah Lulie

10.Fatuma Badhasso

11.Dhaqaba Hawas

12.Hashim Adem

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Posted by on October 28, 2016. Filed under FEATURED. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

3 Responses to 12 Oromo activists’ letter to Ezkeil Gebissa and Jawar Mohammed regarding Oromo Leadership Summit

  1. Abiy Ethiopiawe

    October 28, 2016 at 8:48 AM

    ስለ ኦሮሞ ህዝብ የትኛውም ግለሰብ ወክሎ ሊያወራለት ወይም ሊያደርግለት ሥልጣን የለውም፤አልተሰጠውምም።ሆኖም አንዳንድ “ጊዜው” ዕድል የሰጣቸው ግለሰቦች፣በቡድንም ሆነ በተናጠል የኦሮሞን ሕዝብ በራሳቸው አመለካከት እየሳሉ ወደፈለጉት አቅጣጫ ሊመሩት መልካቸውን እየቀያየሩ ይንቀሳቀሳሉ፤ከነዚህም አንዱ በግምባር ቀደምትነት የኦሮሞ ማህበረሰብን ለእስላምና አገር ቱጃሮች ሊያሻሽጥ የሚጥር ሰው ይገኝበታል፤መረጃዎች በተጨባጭ ይሟሉ እንጂ ሁሉም በስም ተጠቅሰው ይጋለጣሉ።

    ለጊዜው እነዚህ ከሃድያን ሁሉ ያለእነርሱ በስተቀር ኦሮሞ ሰው እንደሌለ እና ባንዳው ጉጅሌን ጨምሮ ኦሮምኛን ለመበዝበዣ ስላጠና ባለጊዜ እንጂ ማን ኦሮሞ እንደሆነ ከሰባት ትውልድ ጀምሮ ተቆጥሮ በኢትዮጵያዊነት ተቋጥሮ ከትውልድ ወደትውልድ የተሸጋገረ፣የደም የአጥንት የስጋ ብቻ ሳይሆን በባሕል የተሳሰረ መሆኑን እንደጉጅሌው ገና አልተረዱትም፤ሊመልሱትም አለመቻላቸውን አያውቁም።

    ለዚህም ነው ከሃዲዎች ደማቸው ሲቀዳ፤አጥንታቸው ሲቆጠር እና ሥጋቸው ሲመተር ማንነታቸው የሚጋለጠው።

  2. sam

    October 29, 2016 at 4:08 PM

    The Ethiopian diaspora is the most ill-informed about Ethiopian politics. That the great majority of the diaspora not having even a high school education makes it easy for demagogues to exploit the lack of basic political knowhow. Even people who used to argue ethnic politics is a disaster for the country’s survival applauded when the new found unity– they assume– between Oromos and Amharas in opposing EPDRF was in the news. Let us for the sake of argument say the new friendship unseat the TPLF. What then? Well, some Amharas in the diaspora delude themselves Ethiopia will be free of ethnic politics. The Oromos in the diaspora think they will kick out the Oromos in power in Ethiopia now and they replace them. For how long this delusion will keep going on? For many years to come. For the delusion to persist there is a fertile ground in the diaspora: a great majority of uneducated Ethiopians who could be fed fantasy. But I feel sorry for them because the fantasy remains as is. The diaspora has a zero chance of influencing Ethiopian politics. That is because the opposition is led by people who have zero interest about the lives of Ethiopians. Well, they declare to speak about the interest of millions of Oromos. They declare to speak about the interest of millions of Amharas. But they do not. To speak about the interest of millions of Oromos and Amharas, any political movement should study diligently what their interests are. Well, for Ethiopian politicians such study is unnecessary. The mere fact you live in the West is a very testament of you knowing, the demagogues believe, the interest of millions that you have not lived with say for thirty years.

  3. shegi dad

    October 29, 2016 at 8:47 PM

    There is a clear contradiction in “ያስፈራል፤ ግን ኢትዮጵያ አትፈርስም!”

    Some renowned psychologists says something that raises fear has basis in reality and is likely to happen than not.

    If you see the danger posed to Ethiopia’s unity, it is not imaginery. In fact, it was in the making for the last fifty or so years.

    As far as I am concerned, Ethiopia’s foundation has cracked and it might fructure more in the coming years. I don’t see any organized force to prevent the threat to Ethiopia’s unity and there is no force to consolodate what is left of her after Eritrea said GOODBYE.

    Some Ethiopians I know say Ethiopia will not disintegrate into her ethnic entities and disappear. The thing is they do not have anything to back their wishful idea or dream. The same thing has been said regarding Eritrea which is no longer with us now.

    I say better accept the possibility of Ethiopia’s disintegration and work to prevent it by consolodationg what exists now. If that is not possible, getting prepared to deal with what is to follow is not a bad thing to do.

    Take prof. Mesfin’s write up published above. The good professor is defiant that Ethiopia will not disappear. I looked for his reasons for saying so but failed to find one. He has simply made a prophecy of Ethiopia’s eternal unity than justify his wishful thinking.

    Given what is being said by some influencial Oromos, I did not find anything in prof. Mesfin’s write-up to encourage me the country will remain united for long. The sad thing is, because he believes there is no risk to Ethiopia’s unity he makes no suggestion to avert the risk.

    In contrast to Prof. Mesfin’s wishful thinking, look above at what one Urgessa said in the “response” section. From the six points he raised, the first is a complete lie. The Oromo Meeting is not about post- TPLF Ethiopia including Oromia; it is rather about post_TPLF self-determination of Oromia. Points 2 and 3 clearly confirm this fact. Point 4 is not convincing because some influential Oromo activists are of the opinion that Ethiopia and Ethiopians (in exclusion of Oromia and Oromos) cannot be reformed (or simply said cannot be democratized) and the solution is to dissolve Ethiopia and dissimate its population so that Oromia and Oromos can emerge as a state and people. Point 5 is true but the influential Oromo activists believe the past is less relevant compared to what the future independent Oromia can offer to Oromos. Point 6 is doubtful because of the reason mentioned under point 5. Ethiopia and Ethiopians cannot be reformed. As a result, Oromia cannot and should not be a glue to a body politic that cannot be reformed. That entity is lost forever.

    Unlike prof. Mesfin who is a wishful thinker or dreamer, Urgessa is delusional bordering insanity. He says “all Oromo activists are saying … that Oromos will be at the center of the future democratic Ethiopia”. Where did Urgessa get this from? Am I in a different planet that I have not heard or read what he has heard or read? Even Prof. Mesfin’s note is in reaction to Oromo activists who say there is no independent Oromia without dissolving Ethiopia first. Aren’t I right?

    So many people like Urgess rush themselves to apologize rather than confront some Oromo activists who tell us to our face that they’re working to dissolve our country. These activists aren’t only disloyal to Ethiopia but also to their forefathers who contributed to build the country in everything they had including their lives. These activists are sellouts who should be condemned for their destructive threats and straigtened up rather than appeased to bring them to the fold.

    My humblest suggestion let’s restrain ourselves from confusing others by plunging them into wishful thinking and lies.