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HomeOpinionDo Not Let an Extremist Amhara Wing Hijack the Fanno Movement 

Do Not Let an Extremist Amhara Wing Hijack the Fanno Movement 

Yonas Biru (file)

Yonas Biru, PhD 

This is a follow up to my article titled “Fanno in Need of Strategic Direction and Clarity of Endgame.” Let me start with four incontrovertible to set the stage for a candid conversation.

First, the Amhara tribal land has extremist cabals that I have in the past called Amhara-Shene. Every  political group has people with different opinions across the political continuum, running the gamut  from extremists on one side to ultra-liberal on the other. Different shades of moderates fill the  middle ground. Only an extremist or a high-octane fool will question the presence of extremists in  the Amhara tribal land. 

Second, Amhara has been and continues to be politically suppressed, economically disenfranchised,  and socially annihilated. 

Third, Amhara has the right to defend itself by any means necessary. But it is neither prudent nor  necessary to adopt a self-defeating or quite frankly stupid political position. The question is what is  the most rational, strategic, and sustainable defense and offense. 

Fourth, the current Fanno movement is the result of the betrayal and savagery of Oromo-PP led by  hate-driven Oromummaa cult.  

The momentum for the Fanno movement is immense. If properly managed fundamental political change is inevitable. The disruption it will cause is bound to open the political space and create a  conducive environment for peace and stability. If it is mismanaged, it can lead to a civil war between  Amhara and Oromo and push the nation into an irreversible civil war and disintegration. 

The Never Learning Political Class 

Soon after the National Movement of Amhara (NaMA) was established, in August 2018, I flagged two  critical points, highlighting the need to: (1) broaden their support base and not to be beholden by  extremist cabals, and (2) transform themselves from grievance-fueled to strategy-driven party. 

In another article in the same month of August 2018, I stressed Amhara must organize as an  Amhara party to defend itself, but its agenda must be a nationalist one, not a tribalist one.  Organizing as an Amhara has robust advantages in terms of organizational efficacy, trust,  cohesiveness, and sustainability. In the meantime, there is nothing that Amhara would lose by  adopting a nationalist agenda. In fact, it has enormous advantage to build a broad-based coalition.  There are no human or civil rights that cannot be protected by a broad-based nationalist agenda.  Nothing. 

I wrote in 2018: “We are bearing witness as NaMA forges ahead trying to bring itself to full speed  with the principles of narrow tribalism of the TPLF brand and, in the meantime, looking back and 

trying to cling to its historic role as the anchor of Ethiopian nationalism. This is a political optics that  some of its followers dance to. The substance is different. The vexing question to the leaders of  NAMA is: Can Ethiopian nationalism and Amhara tribalism coexist under a conciliatory arrangement?  The answer is a resounding no.” 

I continued: “Christian Tadele Tsegaye, a NAMA hardliner, wrote why the Amhara needs to organize  itself. One of the points he underlined was ‘የአማራ የሆነን ሁሉ መጠቀም (ከአማራ ያልሆኑ ነገሮችን አማራጭ ካልጠፋና የግድ ካልሆነ በስተቀር አለመጠቀም).’ This is a direct quote not a paraphrase. This is not a fringe sentiment. His  Facebook blog was shared and liked by over 1000 people. If other ethnic groups also follow this  blueprint, the future of Ethiopia will be scary.” 

I went further in my August 2018 post: “The danger with tribal politics is that it is based on grievance,  often presented as a survival question anchored in ‘us’ against ‘them’ mindset. As Tadele Tsegaye  put it in the above noted blog, ‘አማራ አማራ ነኝ በማለቱ ከፈርጣጭ ብሔርተኞች እስከ ሐሳዊ የኢትዮጵያ አንድነት አቀንቃኞች አንድ ጎራ ሆነው እየዘመቱብን ነው። የሁሉም ጩኸት ምንጭ ደግሞ ለአማራ ያላቸው ለከት የለሽ ጥላቻ ነው።’ The alleged “ለአማራ ያላቸው ለከት የለሽ ጥላቻ” is marketed to frame the Amhara political narrative as a survival question. This has brought  the worst tribal (indeed primal) instinct in the rank-and-file consumers of such hate and counter hate politics.” 

I was marked as Amhara enemy number one. Amhara-Shene clowns running Ethio-360 had a 40- minute clip on me labeling me as “the most dangerous man in Ethiopian politics.” Tewodros Tsegaye  had a similar but shorter (15 minutes) diatribe attacking me as an Enemy of NaMA. Today both  Tsegaye and Ethio-360 see NaMA as an enemy. Similarly, on a VOA program Shaleka Dawit criticized  me for criticizing NaMA. At the time he considered NaMA as “the hope of Amhara and Ethiopia.” 

Fast-forward to 2023, I stand firm with my position because it is based on principle and political  insight. But the Shaleka, Ethi-360 and Tsegaye all have changed their tune – in tone and tenor. They  all have downgraded NaMA from the hope of Amhara or Ethiopia to the curse of Amhara and  Ethiopia. 

Do Not Let Extremist Elements Hijack the Fanno Movement 

The very extremist souls who were gung-ho about NaMA in 2018 and 2019 want to use the same  model for Fanno. The Shaleka and his people are busy trying to hijack the Fanno movement. I have  no problem if extremist elements are part of the Ethiopian political discourse. Indeed, they need to  be. That is what broad-based means.  

My problem with them is their misguided belief that they are the chosen defenders of Ethiopia and  anybody who does not dance to their tune is an enemy. That is what led to the massacre of Dr.  Ambachew and his team. Utterly stupid. 

The organization that Shaleka Dawit and company are putting together consists of people of the  same belief system echoing Shaleka Dawit and Eskinder Nega. This is dangerous and will end up  squandering the organic Fanno movement that has burst spontaneously onto the Amhara and  indeed onto the Ethiopian political scene.

For the Record 

Some extremist people are spreading false information about me. They say my reference to Shene Amhara was a reference to Fanno. That is false. Read my article titled “The Accidental Rise and the  Foreseeable Fall of Abiy Ahmed in the Land of Two Shenes.” It is a Google search away. You will not  find the term Fanno in it. 

Yes, in the past I have criticized Zemene Kassie as an individual. My problem with him was he went  into confrontation without first building a power base behind him. When the government went after  him, it took him but a week or two to send Christian Tadele as አማላጅ to surrender peacefully. In the  end, he was captured hiding in Bahir Dar not in a battlefield. 

The current Fanno movement needs broad-based political support. The movement needs matured  and seasoned people who seek a win-win outcome. The demands that Eskinder Nega released lack  strategy, nuance, and provision for mitigating the onset of a civil war. If the goal is to overthrow  Amhara-PP, use your leverage to force a recall of Amhara-PP leader and elect new people. Avoid a  civil war.  

Ethiopians have seen Eskinder over a span of four years. He lacks maturity, strategy, and vision. He  is driven by emotion. His positions are erratic. Remember he promised to win 100 percent of the  Addis Ababa council seats and delivered zero. This is fact!

Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of  

Related reading : Time is on Fano’s Side ! (Girma Berhanu)


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  1. Dr. Yonas is playing communicator today .
    I see your attitude towards fanno, fears and opinions in precise alignments to Demeke Mekonen and Nigusu Tilahun. I can tell all what you strive to assert comes from a poorly organized sub-sect in the Prosperity party. No matter how much you help them, they can’t change. Perhaps, Demeke’s ultimate vision is to secure his vice-minister position. None of them are worth it.
    Take a breathe Dr. Yonas 🙂

    About Fanno‼️
    Don’t worry at all. Fanno got strategy 🙂
    About the civil war, tell Demeke Mekonen to tell everyone at 4kilo to leave that district for fanno. Then, no civil war happens. Believe me‼️

  2. Yonas,

    It makes me sad to be reminded how I read an article you wrote a while back and felt it was the most insidious thing I ever read, actually I meant to write an article against what you were going on then.

    That was a while back, now, you have been writing a few articles that I thought were sensible, and supported these articles, but you have come up now with this rubbish, going back to your root.

    This article is insidious, unsupportable, immature and stupid, downright stupid.

    First of all we have a lopsided struggle with a government armed to its teeth, with the whole resource of a country behind it, setting out to destroy a group poorly armed, with very, very little resource behind it, and you thought it is the time now to come out and raise doubts about these group, by giving air to some unfounded allegations of extremism and other stupidities.

    Where is your sense, what side are you on and are you set out to cripple the FANO, you couldn’t, but if you could, is that your objective? Even if there is such extremism, what would be its possible nature compared to the extremism, Tigray and Oromo extremism that we have already been and continue to be subjected to, have you considered that, or you just like the sound of your voice, want to toot toot, I am wise, I insightful, or some such nonsense.

    What you going on about Eskinder is also very shameful. Very shameful. What, you wrote a few articles, in a language that very few Ethiopians use or understand, suddenly, you have such an inflated sense yourself.

    What price have you paid, you have no stature to say much about Eskinder, you are the last judge of maturity, or strategy or vision – a man such as yourself who goes out and writes such an article at this juncture in the struggle, doesn’t have any these things, maturity, or strategy or vision, but plenty of narcissism, that is all!

    While your article might have some undeniably true statements in it, it more like a broken clock being correct twice a day than something sustained, your article actually shows you cannot sustain anything. I am disgusted by the tone of your article, would like to say much about it in due course.

    I am disgusted and saddened, what a waste!


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