12 Oromo activists’ letter to Ezkeil Gebissa and Jawar Mohammed regarding Oromo Leadership Summit

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Professor Ezekeil Gebissa Kettering University

Mr. Jawar Mohammed Executive Director of OMN

15 October 2016

Statement of purpose

We write to express our concern about your recent announcement regarding the “Oromo Leadership Summit” due to take place in Atlanta, Georgia on the occasion of the First Anniversary of the Oromo Protests. We appreciate and value your endeavors to convene this Summit. We share your view that this Summit will set out a vision for the future of the Oromo nation.

This is an ambitious and far-reaching national project and we believe that we need to ‘get it right’. In that regard, we are particularly concerned about the procedural issues in planning to convene the Atlanta Convention. The signatories to this letter have come to learn that enough consultation has not taken place in initiating and planning to convene such a vital Summit.

The ways in which a Summit of this significance is convened, the integrity of its process and its potential to be adequately representative are of critical importance to the Oromo struggle and the future of Oromo people. In what follows, we will set out our concerns in detail and suggest possible steps that can be taken to address them.

Concerns about the process

When dealing with a vital national agenda such as this, the integrity of the process matters as much as the outcome. A representative, consultative, and inclusive process that allows key stakeholders to participate in defining and developing the agenda can bolster the outcome whereas a process that is not adequately consultative, representative, and accountable would certainly undermine it.

To our knowledge, many stakeholders and the wider Oromo Community around the world have not been consulted as stakeholders in the planning of this enormous national undertaking. This raises questions regarding the extent to which the process followed in preparing the ‘concept note’ is democratic and transparent. We believe a democratic and transparent approach is befitting of a major national project.

We are in highly unusual and uncharted terrains and we understand the temptations for expediency and to dispense with what would surely be a painfully frustrating and complex democratic exercise. However, there cannot be a short-cut when it comes to major political decisions that will influence, even determine, the form and content of norms, institutions and values that will govern our future.

This is an enormous undertaking. It needs to be treated with the seriousness it deserves. We recognize the desire to keep up with fast-changing events on the ground. But we must ensure that at least key stakeholders have enough time to weigh in on the proposed documents and that there are sufficient consultations at the grassroots level.

Expediency at the expense of procedural integrity will undercut the legitimacy of the project; when it seems foreseeably effective, it carries the germs of new, perhaps even more ominous threats to the collective interests of our people.

We are concerned that a project that is so contested at this early stage in the process will likely do more harm than good. We are worried that it will cause tremendous damage to the unity and cohesion of our communities and will further erode public trust and confidence in its leaders.

We also note with great concern that another group of Oromos are already planning to organize their own independent summit. Staging two competing summits to consider, discuss and settle the same problem sends the wrong signal to our friends and foes about the Oromo people’s ability to lead the current struggle and the post-EPRDF Ethiopia. Indeed, this will represent a mortal threat to the process and the outcome. There are no reasonable grounds to believe that you — as the sponsors of the Summit— have done all you can to exhaust every available opportunity to reach an amicable settlement with the latter group.

Concerns about the substance of the document:

We recognize that there are diverse views within the Oromo people as far as the substance of the document is concerned. We believe that this is an issue that needs to be decided by a representative convention. However, we feel that some of the language in the document should be reformulated to avoid alienating key allies and endangering the uncommon expressions of solidarity with the various nations and nationalities.

It goes without saying that many Ethiopians and Ethiopia’s foreign backers are looking closely at what Oromos do. It is important that we are always mindful of our audience and anticipate the potential for misunderstanding. We are concerned that four weeks are not enough to craft potentially consequential documents such as the charter envisaged in your release with the seriousness and thoughtfulness it so deserves.

For all the above reasons, we find the proposed project morally and politically indefensible. We find it very difficult to get behind this project in its current form.

Our suggestion for the way forward

There are compelling reasons to rethink and reframe the Georgia convention. To begin with, the broad issues raised and outcomes listed in the ‘concept note’ are unlikely to be addressed in just one gathering. For this reason, we propose two separate conventions: The Georgia Convention and “the Grand Oromo Convention.”

a) The Georgia convention: as planned but confined to the urgent needs of the hour and the Grand Oromo Convention:

§ Resource mobilization, humanitarian response and commemoration. There are pressing humanitarian and medical needs. Hence, it is extremely important to anchor the motivation for the convention on the necessity to tackle the challenges of NOW and on ways to build capacity to keep pace with the fast changing events in Oromia. It’s befitting of an event held on the first year anniversary of a once in a generation protest movement to be devoted to honoring the memories and sacrifices of our martyrs. A focus on resource mobilization and humanitarian response will help identify available resources — material and otherwise — and allow the diaspora communities to reach out to our people at a time of their greatest need.

§ Forge a genuine alliance among Oromo political organizations. Harmony and unity among Oromo Political organizations is desperately needed. It will provide a tremendous morale boost to the movement in Oromia. We believe this matter should be treated with a sense of urgency. The Georgia convention provides a great opportunity to apply maximum pressure on all Oromo political organizations.

§ Set the goals, date, venue and the agenda for a follow-up Grand Oromo Convention. A great deal of background work and deliberation is needed. Ideas need to be formulated, circulated, and thoroughly discussed in a consultative, transparent, representative, and accountable process. Toward this end, the Georgia convention will elect steering committees responsible for overseeing the overall delivery of the Grand Oromo Convention and set priorities and sequence activities necessary to achieve the objective. It will consider the need for the proposed Gumii Council and all other competing proposals. It will identify individuals who will draft the necessary documents and set their terms of reference.

We believe this will ensure public ownership of the process and a broad-based support both within the Oromo communities and our allies. We believe this will help democratize the process, avoid the risk of competing events, and confer legitimacy on the outcome.

• In summary, the Georgia Convention, if managed well, will have a transformative impact on the struggle of the Oromo People. It will create opportunities for Oromo leaders, academics and activists to come together and set out guiding principles and an organizational infrastructure through which resources – material, expertise, financial, personnel, and etc. – are mobilized and channeled to specific targets in a coordinated manner.

b) The Grand Oromo Convention: This will tackle the broader issues outlined in the concept note, specifically the two foundational documents envisaged in your “concept note” and other activities mandated by the Georgia Convention.

This will allow us and other stakeholders an opportunity to weigh in on these foundational documents and forge an all-inclusive Oromo vision for post-EPRDF Ethiopia. We would appreciate the opportunity to help rethink and reframe the approach and possible outcomes of this convention.

Once again we would like to express our appreciation for your conception of this timely “Oromo Leadership Convention” and your endeavor to organize the event. We sincerely hope that you take our concerns and suggestions seriously and make appropriate modifications to the contents of the Concept Note, as well as the structure of the convention and the process of its organization. We believe a democratic and transparent process based on consultations of stakeholders will withstand the test of time.

Conclusion

We do not sign this letter lightly but we feel we are in an extraordinary situation.

Signatories:

1.Awol Kassim Allo

2.Dr. Ayala Gelan

3.Leta Bayissa

4.Geresu Tufa

5.Mohammed Ademo

6.Girma Kenea

7.Siinqee Waasho

8.Edao Dawano

9.Hallelujah Lulie

10.Fatuma Badhasso

11.Dhaqaba Hawas

12.Hashim Adem

10 Comments

  1. The idea of destroying Ethiopia to build the so called Oromia is a dream that will never be allowed by the current regime as well as the Oromo people. It’s amazing how far this morons have gone to the deep. They are living and working in a pluralistic society yet they advocate division and hate. What shocked me is the applause the speakers received. If you tell me these pinheads are educated, I say check their brain cells. It maybe deformed in the process of learning. What on earth will urge people to such extreme ideas? I can only come up with one answer. Hunger for power! Can they not take a lesson from S. Sudan, Eritrea, Easter Europe and many other countries what separation brought to them? Apparently you can be a professor sort, but can’t read and understand current affairs.
    TPLF will use this video (rightly so) to defuse their cause and accuse peace loving Oromos and those who are demanding their legitimate rights in our country. This conference was based on hate and misinformation. It is not a gathering of intellectuals it was a meeting of stone age thinkers. What a shame! I urge the sons and daughters of the Oromo people to say to this power hungry narrow nationalist idiots to stop spreading hate and division. If to be educated is to see no further than your nose, I rather remain ignorant. This is shameful!! It cheapens the blood of our people.

    • Tesfa
      You are too idiot/arrogant who need to be condemned. Bring forward constructive comment instead of throwing insults and stupidity

  2. I am not an Oromo; please work together be mindful to each other. Don’t fall on TPLF divide and rule goal. The more you talke the better gathering but time is running people are killed each day so pay attention to the ground and come out ASAP. Take a month off work and work on it. There is no free gift.

  3. Forget it, you do not need to write for those childish not even understand it what you means, Jawar & Eskiale drity mind of thinking! Such useless stupied !

  4. It’s sad to see repeatedly time and time again some of the so called Oromo leaderships make a huge mistake to sabotage the true and genuine struggle of the Oromo and the whole Ethiopian people. It can be said the so called Oromo leaders such as Ezekeil Gebissa and Jawar Mohammed are damaging the genuine cooperation of Ethiopian ethnic groups unity. They are not only the enemy of Ethiopia as a country and its people but significantly damage and hurt the interest of the Oromo people within Ethiopia. The Oromo and other Ethiopians should not keep silent with this kind of nonsense and speak up and condemn these traitors as they are endangering the peace, fabric and unity of Ethiopia. The good thing is like the past Ethiopia have a lot of brave and strong young Oromo Ethiopians who sacrifice themselves with the Amhara and other ethnic groups to bring good governance and Democracy to all Ethiopians. Unity and solidarity is the best hope and option for all Ethiopians to live in peace and prosperity.

  5. I couldn’t believe how those stupid are childish thinking. It is good for the fact tplf but not good for oromos and Ethiopia. Stop your nonsense and childish move.

  6. This is a nice beginning.

    These Jawars, G7, OLF and others like them who preach violence from their safe distance homes must be told off and shunned to the peripheries. They should be isolated and condemned at the same intensity as those autocratic leaders of the regime in Ethiopia. Jawar, OLF, G7 and their lookalike elements have just made it very clear to us all. They have just made very clear to us and the whole world that their main objective is to send that harmonious co-existence our people are renowned for asunder. They want to see our historic unity to fall under their deadly knives and chopped into personal territorial fiefdoms. Jawar will not rest until he lives up to the core meaning of his Saudi borrowed first and last names in setting up a personal emirate enclave somewhere in the Arsi highlands. Then you and I will be invited to a straw skirt party to choose his 40th virgin bride. In his wild dreams, right? That is for sure!!!!

  7. i am oromo true ethiopian man but the way johwar think it is very childish narow minded rasisit way no oromo childeren accept it ethioia is for all
    dont forget we are diferent kind of oromos
    arsi, harar, gemugofa, welega, wello afar shoa ect,

  8. Gil,
    When is the last time you got evaluated by psycatrist? My posting has nothing to do with the individuals. My comment is on their thinking process. People like you are the problem of our country. You accused me of insulting and you turn around and and level an insult on me. Maybe you are taught two wrongs equal to one right. What a pinhead! stay in your ethnic enclave and leave me alone!

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