National Movement of Amhara opposition party saw no hostility during its founding conference in Bahir Dar. Will it be a party that rises to the challenges?
Prime minister Abiy Ahmed administration has not yet announced reform measures focused on transforming governance structures and institutions. But his administration has made numerous notable changes including “broadening democratic space” in the country.
Ethiopians of ethnic Amhara origin launched a two days founding conference and heralded the coming into being of a new opposition political party, National Movement of Amhara (NAMA).
The tourist city of Bahir Dar, which is also the seat of the regional government which is led by Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), hosted the two days long founding conference of the new party that seeks to represent ethnic Amhara, one of the largest group of Ethiopia’s 100 million people. Ironically, the conference took place at Mulualem cultural center, which is named after one of ANDM’s fallen combatant who is believed to be assassinated by Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) murderers and what is ironical about it is that ANDM, which also claims to represent ethnic Amhara and governs the region, allowed a potentially contending political force have its meeting before its eyes and even allowed regional media, like Amhara Mass Media Agency, to give the event an exclusive coverage.
The motto of National Movement of Amhara (NAMA0 reads: “one Amhara for All Amhara; all Amhara for one Amhara” and the movement elected Dr. Desalegne Chane as chairman of the party. Belete Molla is elected as vice chairman.
Ensuring the interests of Amhara are not compromised and defending ethnic Amhara’s from ethnic-based attacks in different parts of Ethiopia is expected to be the priority of the party. Weaking and attacking ethnic Amhara, say, proponents of the movement, has been essentially a crucial component of the political ideology of Tigray People’s Liberation Front which is believed to have directly and indirectly orchestrated numerous attacks on ethnic Amharas in different parts of Ethiopia. Amhara activists believe nearly five million ethnic Amhara people have been exterminated in what seemed to be a grand depopulating strategy of TPLF.
Recently, members of ethnic Amhara Ethiopians have been victims of the ethnic-based attack in regions like Benshangul and Oromo region of Ethiopia. This week alone, for example, at least 20 ethnic Amhara have been killed in Qelem district of Wollega in Oromo region, according to Amnesty International report which called for the government to defend victims of “escalating ethnic attacks.”
Many activists of Amhara origin seem to be elated about the formation of the party and the cautious optimism about the party is prevalent. The party governing the region (ANDM)has shown no hostility so far despite potentially competing interest with the new party.
Some see a merit in the new party in terms of potential to unite parties, both in Ethiopia and abroad, who claim to represent Amhara interest.
Yet, there are voices who seem to be somewhat skeptical if the party could be different in a good way from the other parties that we see in Ethiopia. Those who are even more critical question the consciousness of the leadership simply by pointing to the logo they picked as an emblem of the party which is “double-headed eagle” ; they say the traditional emblem in history has always been a lion.
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