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HomeEthiopian NewsAbiy Ahmed's Nekemte Speech Sparks Concerns of Escalating Tensions  

Abiy Ahmed’s Nekemte Speech Sparks Concerns of Escalating Tensions  

Abiy Nekemte Speech
Abiy Ahmed making speech at Nekemte Stadium (photo : screenshot from EBC Video)

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Toronto – In what appears to be an event solely motivated by political gains amid worsening political bankruptcy , Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Wednesday traveled to Nekemete, Oromia region of Ethiopia, where he made a controversial speech (many fear it could trigger another round of ethnic cleansing)  to a crowd packed in the town’s stadium. He was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister, Temesgen Tiruneh, and Speaker of the Ethiopian Parliament, Temesgen Chafo – among other members of Abiy Ahmed government officials. 

Wollega is one of the areas in the Oromia region of Ethiopia where the militant ethnic Oromo Nationalist that calls itself  Oromo Liberation Army operates extensively.  From the video footage government media outlets aired, it is noticeable that there was a very tight security arrangement for the event. Security detail for PM Abiy was even tighter.

For many, including those in Oromo politics,  the political rally in support of Abiy Ahmed in Nekemte was staged. Political cadres and members of the ruling party took part in it. The party claims to have more than 14 million members. 

But that is not the problem for many. The problem, based on ongoing social media conversations and news reports by Ethiopian outlets, is that Abiy Ahmed made a narrative that could potentially perpetuate ethnic violence in the country. He made the speech in Oromigna language. It is unclear if the senior members of his government who do not understand the language got a translation of his speech. 

A report by al-ain quoted him as saying “Oromo people were denied its identity over one century, were made to not use its language, were denied ownership of the country and considered as a second class citizen. Now the ‘Oromo is liberated’ with a sacrifice that was paid. The people need to understand this.”  It is common for Shimeles Abdissa, president of the Oromia region, to make speeches like that in public in the Oromo language. Abiy Ahmed has been painting himself as one a politician free from ethnic parochialism. His remarks at Nekemte Stadium rather seem to suggest that he subscribes to radical narratives that Shimeles Abdissa has been saying in public.  

Abiy Ahmed went further, based on al-ain report, to paint an image of an enemy against which ethnic Oromo must unite. “Let us end being deceived by the enemy and being divided on the enemy’s agenda,” he is quoted as saying.   He also called for an end for fighting one another – apparently within ethnic Oromo.   Ethnic Oromo nationalists have been employing the code word “neftegna'” against ethnic Amhara. Since Abiy Ahmed took over power in 2018, tens of thousands of ethnic Amhara civilians have been massacred in the Oromia region – among other areas. 

Taye Dendea, who used to be a state Minister for  Peace and who is currently in prison, described Abiy Ahmed – as “a person who does not honor what he said and as a ruthless individual who plays with the blood of innocent people.”  Taye’s remark – which is believed to be the reason for his arrest – seems to capture what Abiy Ahmed did in Nekemte Stadium. 

Abiy Ahmed’s ruling party has been claiming that it undertook a series of political assessments to figure out the underlying causes of the country’s political crisis and political polarization. One of the findings was, it was said a few years ago, a polarizing political narrative and lack of shared narrative.

The radical ethnic Oromo Nationalist quarter was known to be – at least outside of ethnic Oromo politics – the major problem in bringing an end to radical narratives that make other ethnic groups – primarily ethnic Amhara – vulnerable to violent attacks and massacres in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. What Abiy Ahmed said during his speech on Wednesday was rather one that aggravates the problem.  

Abiy Ahmed also made calls for “people” to support his government and promised to bring about development to Wollega – the part of Oromia region of Ethiopia which he said is lagging behind in development due to the conflict in the region. 

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5 COMMENTS

  1. PM Abiy Ahmed is uprooting decades and hundreds years residents in the name of development. What we are witnessing is Genocide in full gear against Amhara people. Development is not uprooting many years neighborhood n families and friends from their chosen communities. When there are many places without electricity water and streets Abiy Ahmed regime is destroying already old and developed neighborhoods. Why the focus on Addis Ababa and Amhara civilization and heritages,
    The Wellega speech calling Amhara and Amhara elite as the enemy is a clear indication of Abiy Ahmed motivation.

  2. The Eritrean trained and armed Amhara forces are a threat to Oromia and the Oromos need to unite to defend themselves. As Oromia is the gift of Tigray to the Oromo people, Tigray needs to intervene to defend Oromia. Oromia`s existence depends on the might of Tigray which is a regional power

    • Nice try. So you say “Oromia is the gift of Tigray” and Qeerroo kicked TPlf’s butt sending it tail between its legs to Mekelle cave from where everything had gone downhill?

  3. “ In his address to the crowd, Prime Minister Abiy emphasized the paramount importance of peace and solidarity, urging “continued efforts towards building a prosperous and inclusive society”. He called upon the attendees to uphold the progress achieved and strive for further positive changes, stressing the necessity of economic freedom and maintaining peace within the community.”

    “ Abiy has succeeded in increasing his support from the beleaguered community of East Wellega, which faced five years of violence at the hands of the OLA insurgents. Despite its rich history as a center of multi-ethnic tolerance and relative advancement, Wellega became embroiled in violence starting 2019. As a result it remained largely a no-go zone until things started to stabilize in mid 2023. Among other things, the Prime Minister’s rally is meant to cement this growing peace. Abiy repeatedly mentioned the word peace, love, and tolerance in this speech.”

    Finally, “ Images of Abiy’s rally broadcast live depicted a large stadium full of people. Amidst a sea of banners displaying messages of unity and endorsement for the reforms, the atmosphere buzzed with enthusiasm and optimism. The presence of the Prime Minister and other high-ranking officials underscored progress in normalization. For a region that was recently a war-zone and a hotbed of anti-government insurgency, this rally for “peace tolerance, and prosperity” is testament to the aspirations of Ethiopia’s silent majority.”

    Source : abren.org/ethiopias-pm-abiy-ahmed-rallies-silent-majority-in-nekemte/

  4. What has not been emphasized in this article is the Prime Minister’s disqualification of the need for armed struggle. What I see in his speech is he told the audience in straight forward terms that the so-called ‘national question’ has been amicably answered/solved. I have said the same for decades now since 1995 which got me at odds with these bigoted groups in my own community. What is wrong with running the affairs of a region in the language of its majority? What is wrong with that in Amhara, Tigray, Afar, Somali, Oromia or any other regions? And there is nothing wrong with Amharic being the national working language because it is the only one that has spread to every locality in the entire country. But the days where that member of my Itu clan must find someone who speaks Amharic to present his case in court are over. That child does not have to have the shock of his tender life because the medium of communication has suddenly changed to the one he does not have any clue on his first day at school just like I had myself almost 8 decades ago. What is wrong with that? You guys are being so silly about something much ado about nothing.

    Having these issues being satisfactorily answered there is no reason for any armed struggle. Armed struggle has proven itself to be ineffective to bring about lasting solutions to issues but those who took to the bushes are those trying to yank away a territory to create their own fiefdom. The proof in the pudding. All you have to do is just look around in that region. They are driven by this deep seated hatred they have for others. They are bigots just as simple as that. They are disqualified and condemned by the PM’s speech. What is wrong with that?

    Let me repeat myself. The so-called national question has been amicably addressed since 1995. THERE ARE NO ISSUES IN THAT COUNTRY THAT NEED TO BE SOLVED BY ARMED STRUGGLE. NONE!,!,! Use of upper case letters is intentional.

    Okay bigots! Have a field day with that!!!

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