In one of my articles, I indicated why Medrek could be good for Oromo to achieve a mid-kayyoo (goal) in contrast to AFD, which was good to arrive at the end-kaayyoo, considering Medrek as a promoter of the language-based federation. Even I went further and exalted Medrek’s Ethiopia (Ethiopia with autonomous national areas including Oromian autonomy) as a prototype for the future African federation. I took Medrek as a good compromise alliance, next to AFD, which really acted against the “divide and rule” game of the fascist regime. For that reason, I even recommended Birtukan “Mandela” to be the formal chairperson of Medrek. Were these all “naive” assertions from me? I was also surprised by the reservation of most Oromo nationalists regarding Medrek.
Oromo nation’s political interest is crystal clear: a move from the status quo of slavery (garbummaa) towards a realization of the full national freedom (bilisummaa). Any measure to be taken in supporting this move should be accepted by Oromo nationalists. The question now important is: can we consider that Medrek’s ambitions and actions do promote this liberation movement? I am now asking this question after following Medrek’s meetings at home and in Diaspora in the past few weeks. As I repeatedly mentioned, the rhetoric of individuals and parties in that empire regarding democracy, individual freedom, justice, development, peace, equality, prosperity, etc. is not important for the Oromo people to judge who these forces are. These values are important, and no one denies them, even the members of the fascist ruling Weyane talk about such moral virtues.
The only important virtue to be taken by Oromo as a factor to judge these politicians is their position on the right of nations to self-determination, including independence. It is clear Weyane talks this virtue, but walks against it. Unfortunately, Medrek is NOT even talking the virtue, let alone walking it. I know OFC has got clear position on achieving and promoting Oromian autonomy in the Ethiopian context. But, Medrek leaders talked ambiguously in all the meetings they held till now, and then they explicitly told us in a meeting they held in Washington recently that there was no clear agreement between the member parties on the type of federation they wanted to forge, if they took over the government position.
I personally think that the only major difference among the opposition parties in the empire is the position they do have on the type of federal structure. There are two types of federalists: the killil-federalists, who believe in the right of Oromia and other national areas to be autonomous, and the xeqilaigizat-federalists, who want to dismantle Oromia with a pretext of fostering geography-based federation. Parties like AEUP are clearly xeqilaigizat-federalists. Thanks to Waaqayyoo/Rabbii, these parties do no more brag about bringing back a unitary Ethiopia with only one official language (Amharic). Weyane’s EPRDF is at least ideologically killil-federalist even though it is implementing a revolutionary centralism, through which it is promoting Tigean hegemony.
According to the explanation given by Medrek leaders in the Washington meeting with its Diaspora supporters, it seems that UDJ still insists on its anti-killil position and with that, the party revealed its desire to dismantle Oromia. Dr. Negasso also showed clearly his backward political development as he tried to describe how bad it was for Oromo from Borana to come to Finfinne, and for Amhara from Debre-berihan to go to Bahir-Dar in order to settle their court cases. His explanation implies that he is ready to accept the division of Oromia into pieces.
Interesting is also to observe that the known anti-killil Ethiopianist scholars like Ephrem Madebo and Tecola Hagos supporting this move of Medrek. Such scholars do think that with their anti-killil rhetoric they do fight against Weyane. They still do not get the fact that killil-federation is not the will and wish of Weyane, but that of Oromo nationalists and the nationalists of other oppressed peoples. Specially clear is that Amhara nationalists hiding behind Ethiopiawinet do this move against Oromo’s right to self-administration. Trying to discredit killil-federation in favor of their alternative xeqilaigizat-federation is simply put a move against Oromo people’s political will.
So Medrek seems now not to be an alliance to promote Oromian autonomy in the Ethiopian context, which could be a good compromise solution for the conflict between Amhara nationalists, who hide behind the mask of Ethiopian nationalism and who are advocates for Imiye’s unity, and Oromo nationalists, who fight for Oromian independence. Medrek seems to be an alliance of both killil-federalists like OFC and xeqilaigizat-federalists like UDJ against Weyane just to get rid of the regime without having a common vision regarding federal arrangement. How long can such alliance of the contradictory ideologies hold together is a big challenge they need to overcome.
Surprisingly, I have seen the young hyper-active Oromo nationalist, Jawar Mohamed, adoring this alliance even though the position of the alliance is not the same to his position on the should-be compromise solution. According to his presentation on the recent “Ethiopian and Horn of African conference”, which took place in Virginia, he is the advocate of a true “ethnic-federation” as a moderate/liberal position between the two extreme poles of the right-extremist “reactionary Ethio-nationalists”, who want to dismantle Oromia and the left-extremist “revolutionary or radical Ethno-nationalists”, who want to dismember Ethiopia. Is now Jawar fooling himself or is he deceived by the referendum rhetoric given by Medrek leaders?
Medrek leaders said in the Washington meeting that the discussion among member parties on the federal structure would go on and if they would not have any consensus, they would go for verdict of the public. If they are as such democrats to go for referendum to determine the type of federation we want to have, why couldn’t they be so democratic to accept also the right of nations to decide on the type of sovereignty they want to have (e.g Oromian autonomy within the Ethiopian union vs. Oromian independence without a union) per referendum?
It seems Habesha politicians in UDJ are playing very smart politics. They used the method of elites’ consensus to make Oromo nationalists in OFC accept Ethiopian unity unconditionally (without Oromo public verdict) and now they want to use the instrument, public referendum, to decide on the structure of the federation. It seems Oromo nationalists, as yewah (harmless) as they seem to be, agreed to the game. Fair agreement would have actually been either to use consensus in both decision-making processes or to apply referendum in both cases. Looking at the harmless move of Oromo politicians in Medrek, it is not surprising that we read on Habesha websites how yewah Oromo elites like Dr. Negasso and Obbo Bulcha are.
When we do observe the drum-beating of the xeqilaigizat-federalists, who are claiming that “Ethiopiawinet has won” and are declaring that “ethno-nationalism is loosing” as Medrek had come forward, we just can say it is a wake-up call for Oromo nationalists to check their position. No wonder that Oromo grass-root is so cautious in supporting the move of Medrek against Article-39 and so skeptical to accept its position against the right of nations to self-determination, including independence. Medrek people should not be surprised if they see Oromo mass voting for OPDO rather than for them in the coming “election”. The principle “yemiyawuqut seyixan kemayawuqut meli’ak yishalal” (a known devil is better than unknown angel) can prevail.
It would have been better if Medrek leaders came out explicitly supporting true killil-federation and get support of all Oromo, Tigrai, Somali, Afar, Southern, Benishangul and Gambella, even if the majority of Amharas are against such federal arrangement. Now they wanted to appease the anti-killil Amharas and at the same time to appeal to the pro-killil others – an approach which actually may not be helpful and productive. I am afraid that they lose anti-killil voters to AEUP and pro-killil voters to EPRDF.
As I tried to describe above, the rhetoric about only the buzz words like freedom, democracy and justice is not sufficient. The important issue, which actually most politicians try to evade, is the issue of the federal structure. Oromo federalists in OFC seem to be compelled or convinced to forge Oromian autonomy within Ethiopian unity, whereas specially Amhara elites are doing every thing possible to get rid of Oromia for they fear that Oromo elites are not for Ethiopian unity per se.
It is fact that the hitherto so called Ethiopian unity was built partly by the sacrifice of known Oromo military men and politicians. Starting from Oromo “migration” in 16th century, through the “democratic” election of Ras Michael-I in Abyssinia in 1877, till the end of Mengistu regime in 1991, Oromo politicians played big roles in forming and maintaining the present shape of the empire. The convinced pro-Ethiopian unity Oromo nationalists believe that even the so called Habeshas (Amharas and Tigarus) are biologically either Oromo or Agew, nothing else, but differ only in speaking a specific other language called Amharinya or Tigrinya. With this theory, they try to justify their pro-unity position.
But it is absurd that now at this particular post modern 21st century, Habesha politicians try to dumb Oromo and other oppressed nations by being represented in the politics of the empire as “pan-Ethiopian parties” like AEUP, EPPF, EPRP, G7M, and UDJ, instead of showing themselves honestly as Amharas or Tegarus. Oromo nationalists say: “stop to hide behind the name Ethiopia and come as Habesha (Amhara or Tegaru), then we can make a genuine alliance against the fascist regime.” I hope Habesha elites, in general, and Amhara politicians, in particular, will gradually start to take off their masks, the name Ethiopia, and approach the Oromo people as being who they really are, as Amhara and/or Tigaru so that we can build a common home called Ethiopia/Horn. The current move of Tegaru nationalists like Siye and Gebru to put on the masks, by learning from their Amhara friends, as well as the ever increasing rhetoric and song of Weyane about Ethiopiawinet also do not change the reality.
In the future political landscape of the empire, either the elites of both Habesha nations, specially Amhara elites, will learn to be honest and come up showing their true nature or the Oromo nationalists will learn to wear the mask called Ethiopia and play the same game played by Habesha elites. The million dollar question is: can Oromo liberation forces learn to wear this mask (name of Ethiopia), which is accepted and adored by the Western world in order to promote the Oromo cause they are fighting for? We have seen how the new nefxenyas (Weyanes) put on the mask and got the huge support of their masters in the West. The choice which the Western protectorates of the Ethiopian empire give to Oromo politicians seems to be either to wear the mask and be promoted, or to stay honest and be “punished” by the power players of the globe.
Simply put, our preferable next move in the Oromo liberation journey seems to be to change the fake killil-federation under Weyane to the true one, where Oromian autonomy will be respected and consolidated. I know this is the program of OFC, but I have started to doubt if this is the will and wish of Medrek, in general, and, of course, if it is the intention of the partner organization, UDJ, in particular. I know this conflict (OFC vs. UDJ) may help a bit for the cadres of the hegemonist Weyane and the supporters of the xeqilaigizat-federalists like Hailu Shawel and Mesfin W/Mariam to attack Medrek. Nevertheless, the truth should be told.
I do believe that the only solution for that troubled region is a liberation of the Oromo nation, be it within or without a union of nations in the region. Liberated Oromo people will be the foundation for the liberation of other nations like Ogadenis, Afars, as well as for those in Benishangul, Gambella and Southern region. These liberated nations can build a union for common benefit, which in the long run can include also the non-hegemonic Amhara people and Tegaru people, be it in a form of confederation or federation based on public verdict of the liberated nations in the region. It is clear that the goal of OFC is a mid-point solution, which can be a good prerequisite for the end-point solution envisioned by OLF. Otherwise, the hoya-hoye (chanting) and the rhetoric made by Medrek leaders and supporters about a mythical Ethiopia of 3000 years and their attempt to make Oromo mass to rally behind their “Ethiopiawinet”, disregarding Oromummaa, will surely be doomed to fail.
So Oromo nationalists, in particular, and the Oromo people, in general, should check if Medrek is really better than Weyane’s EPRDF in promoting Oromo’s cause. As far as I am concerned, any force trying to dismantle Oromia with a pretext of opposing a “division” into “ethnic-killil“, despite the ‘democracy’ rhetoric it might make, is worse than Weyane. If the choice is between this two (anti-killil and pro-killil) movements, disregarding the sermon they always give on democracy, individual freedom, justice, equality, and development, no wonder if the Oromo people will choose the present fake-killil and rally behind OPDO till the better forces than Weyane come to the political arena of non-divided Oromia, in particular, and to that of the empire, in general, to forge and promote true killil-federation.