As controversy is raging among politicized Ethiopians in social media over the appointment of Takele Uma Benti as Mayor of Addis Ababa, Berhanu Nega, one of the most prominent figures in the opposition quarter and leader of AG7 is questioning if the topic is timely, relevant and in the interest of forces of change Ethiopian politics.
“The opposition to and controversy about appointment of new Mayor should never have happened. It is untimely and has relevance to reactionary forces than to the forces of change,” Berhanu Nega is cited as saying by US based Ethiopian Satellite Television.
Berhanu, who was elected as Mayor of Addis Ababa when opposition coalition won a landslide victory in the 2005 National election the result of which was reversed through what many political observers describe as, rightly, outright force by the decision of the late prime minister Meles Zenawi, also chairman of TPLF and EPRDF by then, also remarked that even the controversy on Ethiopian flag is not timely and could be postponed for discussion in the future.
“This is the time,” says Berhanu “when we need to focus on informed and knowledge based struggle[for democracy and rule of law], not a time for impulsive conflict” thereby emphasizing neither opposing the appointment of the new Mayor nor the debate on the Ethiopian flag is a priority for the opposition quarter at the moment.
Semayawi party, an opposition group based in Ethiopia which is planning merger with AG7, Berhanu Nega’s party, officially demanded this past week that Ethiopian government need to give due weight for the demand of the Ethiopian people regarding Ethiopia’s national emblem and change the flag.
With regard to opposition against appointment of Takele Uma Benti, who is from Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), radical Oromo ethno-nationalist activists whose agenda of standing for “the right of the oromo” is certainly taken away by the former which has become moderate and coming further to the center in the spectrum of Ethiopian politics with some tangible gains seem to be seizing the moment to make a case for “oromo” by claiming that Addis Ababa belongs to Oromo and the appointment of the new mayor is appropriate.
However, those who oppose the appointment, which required bypassing City regulation that Mayor of Addis Ababa has to be from among council members, make their points clear that their opposition has nothing to do with ethnic identity of the appointee. They point to the fact that they are supporting an Oromo prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, who is chairman of OPDO to which the new mayor belongs. They rather argue that Takele Uma Benti has radical sentiment as it relates to the city of Addis Ababa, a seat of continental and global organizations with more than 90 percent of non-oromo residents, although he is a member of a moderate political organization. These groups support their claims with a remark made by the new Mayor in the past: “…The question of Addis Ababa is a question of identity” which he thinks is taken out of context. “Addis Ababa is an international city,” he declared after his appointment.
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