By Minale Tebibu and Temeles Belibu
Mr. Lencho Leta is a renowned Oromo politician and think tanker. Without exaggeration, no single Oromo elite has a higher caliber, experience, and articulation of the Oromo struggle than him. He was a founding member of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and was the Deputy Secretary General of the front from 1974 to 1995. After he left OLF in the 1990s, he initiated the Oromo Democratic Front, which was formed in 2013. He still advocates for democracy, but a ‘democracy’ that empowers the Oromo people toward dominating the country. Hence, he is one of the leading figures fighting to fulfill the so-called questions of the Oromo people, called the Oromuma politics or the Oromuma project.
In his recent interview with The Betty Show, he openly expressed his concern about the country’s current status and said: “ I am worried that the system may fail, and if the country fails, it will be a shame for all blacks.” These are heavy words! Why is this high-caliber political man afraid at this time? Why now? In this short piece, let us try to reflect on the thoughts behind his words.
In his own words, he used to fight for the independence of Oromia, but after seeing Somalia failing as a country with the same ethnic group and religion, he changed his mind in 1991. He knew pretty well the realization of that would mean the destruction of Ethiopia as we know it! He saw that the model was not sustainable for Oromo people with different religions (Shewa orthodox dominated, Welega Protestant, Jimma, Arisi Islam, Borena and many places Wakefeta), and different Abba Geda (local prince or chief) with independent thinking and interest. So he understood that an independent nation could be fatal like many African countries. So he advocates for the existing federation to be ‘democratic.’ He rightly abandons the Oromo nationalist politics of separatism.
Especially for the Oromo people, when Ethiopia prospers in Africa, the number one people who can take advantage of that is the Oromo people. Since their geographical location and resource help them benefit the most, they only have to fight for the equality and fairness of all people in the country. Otherwise, they will start never-ending internal strife and division after claiming independence. Not only that, they will be surrounded by many enemies and never have peace to progress and prosper. As they try to surround Addis Ababa today, they will be surrounded by many enemies and will not get a day for a peaceful night of sleep. This intelligent man knows it. He also knew that global and regional politics do not allow them to go that way. The question is, why is he afraid now?
The support of the Prime minister has fallen deeply
Unless one chooses to procrastinate as a blind and deaf about the current status of the support of the Ethiopian Priminister among the diaspora, and most notably among the silent majority of Ethiopians, his core support group has fallen dramatically. His status as a statesman has been diminished to a lower level, and many do not trust a single word coming out of his mouth. All his project activities have become like toy games compared to the multiple problems we are facing. In a country where living expenses have skyrocketed, everything is getting unbearable for everyone; where millions are internally displaced; and many are starving due to drought, the priority of his leadership has become a joke for many in the country. The question is, when does the Nobel laureate lose his credibility among his core supporters? How did it happen?
1 Releasing the Prisoners and Damping the #NoMore movement
The prime minister’s decision to release those prisoners by abbreviating the judiciary system process on the case was the start of the fall of his government. First, it showed that he did not respect the rule of law in the country. He positioned himself above the law of the country. Second, the reason why he released them was not something many would understand, to give him the benefit of the doubt. He released them to gain political gain from some of his opponents. How?
Lencho is a stunt supporter of Abiy and even one of the informal but influential advisors of the Prime minister. It is out in the media that the Oromo political prisoners released in 2021, including the young politician Jawar Mohammed, was due to his influence. The prime minister himself has said that the elders have asked us to release several high-profile politicians. Some say he even released the high profile TPLF prisoners like Aboy Sibhat Nega from his initiative. At the time, it was not clear, but now we can say that he released them just to squash the growing sense of Ethiopian unity. Remember, most Oromo political parties perceive strong Ethiopian consciousness as threatening their goals. For example, the #Nomore movement strongly encompassed and galvanized the larger Habesha community. Besides, the #Nomore movement rallied many people in Africa and beyond. It dilutes the dreams of the Oromo domination politics and the Oromuma project. Hence it should be squashed. What did the Prime Minister get in turn? The support of the Oromo opposition politicians, including Jawar Mohammed. At least they keep quiet and continue their work silently. But at a cost, many of the core supporters of the prime minister started to drift away from him.
2. Neglecting Regional Flag and Anthem in Addis Ababa
After the Summer of 2022, two things happened in Addis Ababa schools. While raising the Oromia region Flag, the pupils in Addis Ababa elementary schools were asked to sing the Oromia regional anthem. This brought resistance among the pupils and parents, and there was unrest in Addis Ababa, the capital city of the country, which is an independent metropolis according to the current problematic constitution. The prime minister ignored the plight of the people of the city. He was clearly seen siding with those imposing Oromo interest on the city. After a huge resistance, he acted reluctantly to calm mild the unrest.
But the people have registered the event as a minus for the Prime minister. Enforcing another regional anthem and song in the capital city is perceived as going onestep further in the direction of making an independent nation, the original design and plan of the Oromuma project, which Lencho Leta abandoned in 1991. But many Ethiopians know that this is the work of the extremists in Oromo politics. When the prime minister did nothing to stop it, it was interpreted as he was also part of the project or he had bowed down to the extremists.
3. Dividing the Orthodox Synod
One most crucial event that damaged the support of the Priminister among Ethiopians was his way of handling the challenge from the three Oromo orthodox bishops. Supported and guided by the hiddenly working forces, those bishops attempted to constitute a new Synod ordaining another 26. This is seen as an abomination in the eyes of the more than 18-century old-conservative church. The pretext was language, but it was pure politics. All Ethiopians saw it. It has no element of caring for the people in the church. The PM also gave the green light for those people. This brought the nation to its brink. Like the flag and the anthem, he tried to dilute but was stopped by the able leadership of the Orthodox bishops and the people.
4. Undermining the Adewa Victory celebration of people
Usually, Adwa victory day is celebrated by the statue of Emperor Minilik at the Adwa square in Addis Abeba. But due to their detest towards the emperor, they undermine the people’s traditions and interest in honoring the leader on the day. Instead, a huge celebration was done at Meskel square, which is not bad. But they should have allowed people to celebrate at Adwa square, commemorating the emperor that defeated colonialism. If they think Ethiopia is for everybody, they should develop tolerance towards some of the things they do not like. The attack on the Orthodox churches and the people around the statue Minilik on this great day of great significance for Ethiopians and Africans was a massive misstep against the rights of the people. According to many people’s assessment of the event, the prime minister was not directly involved but was implicit in it. It added to the pattern of events that he ignored frequently.
5. Destroying the people’s houses and Displacing people in many thousands as a strategy for Demography change
In the name of building a new city called Sheger that surrounds Addis Ababa 360 degrees, many families’ houses and villages are being dismantled as we write. Urban development is good, but it should improve people’s lives, not be bitter. We hear many families thrown out of the street daily on short notice. The worst part is this is done along ethnic lines. You will be asked which ethnic group you are; if you do not belong to their ethnicity, your house will be demolished instantly. It seems they are doing the demographic engineering that the former president of the Oromia regional administration misspoke. This kind of demographic change has been in the making for the past few years in many places.
6. Blocking People from coming to Addis Ababa
By targeting only one region of people and blocking them from coming to Addis Ababa, the capital city, the leadership has shown discrimination against an ethnic group. Even the city’s mayor came out in the open and said they were coming here in numbers to bring regime change. Since then, many have expressed concern that such speech could trigger genocide against the ethnic group. The prime minister could have asked for her resignation if he was seriously considering for his government to be accountable on the matter. Nothing has happened so far. This makes him complicit in the matter.
Why are you not advising your disciples, Mr. Lencho?
Reading all these and other current affairs, the Old wise man came out and expressed his concern that the country is on the verge of collapse. But he is smart and tries to scare people not to resist the government. He knows that most Ethiopians love their country and care for the whole African or Black race. He is trying to use that currency to scare people to back off and allow those in power to do whatever they want to. Primarily, he is afraid that the political project that he invested so much in advising this government should fall in a short period. He is trying to buy time for the Oromuma project to stabilize. He even said it would be a shame for the whole black race if Ethiopia failed. He is trying to tape to the Ethiopian dignity. So that people become more patient with the failing administration. The problem is he is saying nothing to those in power. He is not advising them openly to stop such undemocratic and unconstitutional things in the country. The fact of the matter is they act like mad dogs. He could have advised them firmly that they should slow it down. Instead, he comes out and challenges the other side. The previous government fell due to a lack of honest advice. He could have advised them privately, even in the open, and by doing that, he could have done better for all Ethiopians by stopping this madness instead.
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yes my friend I accept your analysis. But take care as the crazy dogs are now on the loose and are beating, killing, intimidating, bludgeoning, fisting, cracking bones, etc….just like the Brown Shirts did to bring Hitler to power (in this case to maintain the rising hegemony of the oromuma).As to the advise of the old man, tell him to just go away and die in peace….
After reading this article all I could say was ‘here we go again’. It just saddens me to my core.
Lencho Leta one of the architect of the present Ethiopian constitution and as a puppet of TPLF in the beginning has to pay big for the present political mess in the country. Now Lenchos Oromos tribale kingdom on power it is likely the kingdom end up in precipice’s of no return like his twins brother In crimes (TPLF). As a chief advicer of the prime minister he is more interested in keep the Oromo statusqu on the core rather than checking on starving Bornas in the periphery. He is more delighted to see his OLF member being a minister of sport and culture rather than peace and tranquillity in Wolega.
At the starting point His OLF very much supported, adviced and given scholarship by German affiliated church Mekane Iyesus(መካነ ኢየሱስ). Till this day the church all over Wellega a political machinery by the name of Christ. This where Lincho and his OLF bandits endocrine to hate every things of Ethiopia. Here is history in making where Protestant religion one more time breaking Africa by the name of Christ.
It makes sense. We must learn from TPLF, that falls to dust. 30 years were not enough to accomplish the illusionery Greater Tigray. It only caused death and fleeing of Ethiopians. They killed, maimed and displaced Amharas, killed oromos, lastly Tigrians paid the price. Oromuma may replicate the wicked legacy but can’t come to reality, never. But interest group from outside will get enough space to get loyal ally. That is it. Oromo brothers and sisters wake up. We’re living in a glass house, let’s not throw rocks one another.
The OLF had been trying since 1973 but it had nothing to make Oromo rise up in arms to fight its own country. When Feudalism was no more, OLF had really nothing. So it started to write fiction. DERG had its share of very powerful Oromo officers including Mengistu himself. Gen Teferi was also Oromo. Haile Fida and Dr Senay Likke among others in the student movement that were tutoring communism to DERG were also Oromo and Ethiopian nationalists. The Ethiopian army, rank and file, was dominated by Oromo and the soldiers were very loyal to Ethiopia.
To its credit DERG considered itself more Ethiopian than anybody else and ethnic origin didn’t matter to it. DERG also started Oromo newspaper and Radio programs. The ten year old TV was only visible in Amharic speaking Addis in 1974 and the Oromo ‘ababa’ Tesfaye was raising a new generation with his morale stories on Saturday afternoons while Leulseged Kumsa with his king’s English read the news every single day. And the manager of TV was Samuel Ferenj, an Oromo multi lingual journalist and a poet. Adult education of the Alphabets were in Afan Oromo in Oromo tribal lands and the minister of education Col Goshu Wolde won a UN award for spreading literacy for Ethiopia and he too is Oromo. In every village the Qebele was local and the same was true in Oromo. That was a very good start and it was almost half a century ago.
OLF had to write a fictional history of Ethiopia. ‘Lies can become true if told repeatedly’ seems to be the moto. All the so called ‘Liberation Fronts’ had done the same to motivate their supporters and recruit new ones. But their propaganda materials to their fighters were the worst kind. Some of those have escaped the jungles and have poisoned the young. Those who wrote them don’t repeat them in public but it is now too late. The young had believed the lies and is now acting on those lies. Those actions taken since the Assosa incident in 1990 are horrible. Those murderers are considered heroes for 33 years now in some circles.
They’ve now switched tactics and are trying to ‘guilty’ the rest of Ethiopia and Amhara in particular. MERTTO ALQASH, MUSHO AWRAJ they keep saying, even the ‘moderate’ ones. When the massacre in Assosa happened in 1990, DERG let the whole nation know. The massacres in Bedeno, Arba Gugu etc since TPLF took power were also reported in gov’t owned media. OLF and OPDO blamed each other and in parliament OLF leaders said ‘we’ll punish our own and there is no need for investigation’ which is now on YT. The ethnic cleansing of Amhara has started anew since OLF came back from Asmara in 2018. The difference now is the cruelty and the fact Oromo PP doesn’t want to talk about it. Gov’t media are silent and this is a first. OLF has split into many factions since 1973 and none of the ethnic Oromo political parties have expressed any sympathy towards the Amhara and other Ethiopian victims of Oromo terrorists. None.