Ethiopia : Oromo Leadership Summit in Atlanta “morally and politically indefensible”,says Oromo activist group

October 25,2016

In a letter addressed to Professor Ezkiel Gebissa and Jawar Mohammed,some of the key figures behind the project, a group of Oromo activists and academicians expressed concern over the planned “Oromo Leadership Summit” in Atlanta, Georgia.

The four pages of letter signed by twelve academicians and activists stated “we find the proposed project morally and politically indefensible.”

Areas of concern

The “concerns” seem to be primarily over procedural issues and document (“concept document”) produced for the summit.

The group noted diversity of views within the Oromos and reflected conviction Oromos conception of post-TPLF Ethiopia is something to be decided by “a representative convention.” Implied, so to speak, is that the planned summit is not representative enough which in turn imply existence of Oromo groups not represented in the project.

The letter seem to be candid and vocal about its reservation regarding draft presented as concept document: “…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 is to be noted that Jawar Mohammed unveiled, seemingly not accidentally, to an Oromo audience during an event in Minnesota that the planned summit will prepare “freedom charter” and a transitional government constitution for the Oromos- something that Professor Ezkiel Gebissa seem to deny with straight face. However, Jawar went so far as unveiling plans to establish ethnic Oromo army, not just Oromo constitution.

Further, the letter seem to be worried that project organizers were not sensitive to the audience : “It goes without saying that many Ethiopians and Ethiopia‚Äôs 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.”

The group’s main worry is that project “will cause tremendous damage to the unity and cohesion of our communities and will further erode public trust and confidence in its leaders” and noted that planning a different summit is is already underway by different group of Oromo activists.

The letter made recommendations that are supposedly relevant to address the problems with the project. Full version of the letter is on SiiTube

The Atlanta summit is scheduled to take place between November 11-13, 2016 if it is not cancelled.

Before the release of the letter , Dr. Awol Kassim Allo of Keele University wrote a facebook update in which he lucidly pointed out that there is no mandate for the project to legislate on behalf of all the Oromo people. He also raised question related to procedures in the preparation of the summit and document to which Dr. Tsegay Ararsa reacted with an apparent irritation.

In fact, many others negatively reacted to Dr. Awol’s rather reasonable observation and question on the “Atlanta Leadership Summit” and the “concept document”. Negative reaction on Dr. Allo’s update were predicated on assumptions of service to “enemy” rather than as to whether the question he posed are valid or not. It goes without saying that to many radicals “enemy” is Ethiopia and Ethiopians.

Do other Ethiopians really constitute enemy to Oromo people? On what basis? Activists in the Oromo quarter need to work diligently in terms of clearing such radical mystical political beliefs.

What is the experience of the Oromos under the the ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front versus Fedual Ethiopia over a century ago? Why is unity with other Ethiopians who are fighting against TPLF regime feared by many Oromo activists like Jawar? Subjecting history for a politically charged irrational analysis as a means to attain fundamentalist political objectives by way of manipulating what seem to be gullible crowed has to end. It could ultimately backfire against radical activists.


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