Abadula Gemeda speech indicative of evolving ideology or a public relation stunt?
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Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) is an unpopular political party, by all measures, among the people that it is representing. For a reason. Its weak stature in the face of repeated TPLF encroachments including on the issue of Wolqaite and recent massacres in the region are among the issues that make the party to be seen as a useless trojan horse to TPLF. The recent melodramatic “people to people” meeting in Gonder aggravated anger as it was seen as an insult to Amhara people.
But when it comes to the relation with Oromo Peoples Democratic Organization, ANDM move is not ignored, at least. It is in that light that the 37th-anniversary celebration in Addis Ababa needs to be reflected upon.
Abadula Gemeda, speaker of Federal parliament whose resignation letter is still being discussed by the ruling party, made a political rhetoric today on the occasion of the 37th anniversary of ANDM that rather sounded like an ideological shift within in his own party, Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO).
From the outset, one striking point (before even talking about the content of his rhetoric) is that ANDM 37th anniversary is celebrated at Oromo Cultural Center in Addis Ababa, of all the places. Needless to say, that in itself sounds very political and arguably a positive step with all the complexities of alliance formation efforts in the face of radicalized ethnocentric political convictions – which seem to be strong among the Oromos. It is hard to speculate as to whose initiative it was to celebrate ANDM anniversary at the Oromo Cultural Center in Addis Ababa. But chances are the initiative is from OPDO.
In terms of the content of the rhetoric, Abadula did not want to refer to AMDM as sister party the way the dominant party within the ruling coalition, TPLF, refers to political parties that are members of the ruling coalition. He rather referred to it as “our party.” In fact, he alluded to the ancester party of what is now ANDM, (EPDM) “Ethiopian People Democratic Movement” and how great it was. Well, that sounds unprecedented in the history of an OPDO official – at least in public speeches.
The other striking point about Abadula Gemeda speech is that while he was repeatedly making reference to ANDM, OPDO, and EPRDF, he omitted, apparently deliberately, TPLF in the more than eleven minutes of his speech. The omission is not without a political message to TPLF and probably to Ethiopians. On the other hand, the emphasis he placed on the importance of unity or sense of unity between the two parties and Amahara and Oromo people and the challenges ahead is a serious one. Take a listen to the rest of his speech.
Realities on the Ground
While there is a cautious optimism about the alliance in the hope that it could be instrumental to topple the brutes of TPLF, realities on the ground are bothersome. Social media activists point to the fact that, and rightly, Amharas are still being killed and abused in the very region that they lived for generations. So long as the ethnic radicalism and the forces that perpetuate it are not rooted out, the effort to unite people will be futile, if not completely impossible.
On the other hand, Oromo activists are also alarming that OPDO could revert back to the years of servitude to TPLF and that the effort for liberating Ethiopia from TPLF will fall apart. Share your thoughts.
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