The opposition party, Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), rejected the recently conducted administrative demarcation between Addis Ababa city and Oromia Special Zone Surrounding Addis Ababa. The party rejected the decision, which was hailed “historic” by Addis Abeba Mayor Adanech Abiebie, and said it was “unacceptable as it does not respect the interests and demands of the Oromo people.” The party also urged “Afaan Oromo to be a working language alongside Amharic in Addis Ababa city administration.”
OFC communications officer Tiruneh Gemta told Addis Standard, that the party has been closely following the boundary issue and has been fighting for it for many years. “We cannot remain silent under any circumstances, we took a longer time as we have a detailed investigation to conduct on the matter. Now we have something concrete and our goal is not only to issue a statement and express our opinion but also to prepare our people for the next struggle,” Tiruneh said.
In a statement OFC issued on 13 October, it said that “after admitting that the city of Addis Abeba was created by invasion, displacement of the Oromo people from their land, and illegal expansion into the Oromia Region, the administration of Addis Abeba has wrongly recognized the area of the city as 43,000 hectares, reducing only 11,000 hectares from the illegally expanded 54,000 hectares of the city’s area. The political decision contradicting the findings of the technical committee is not answering the basic demands of the people but is aimed at creating confusion and covering up the legality by recognizing the illegal expansion that has been going on for years.”
In August this year, the federal government and Addis Abeba city administration effected the administrative demarcation which has been a bone of contention for many years. The decision identified districts between Addis Abeba and the Oromia Special Zone Surrounding Finfinne in what the Addis Abeba city Administration said was following the completion of the new study. The administrative demarcation between the Addis Abeba city administration and the Oromia Special Zone Surrounding Finfinne had been the center of political disputes and multiple protests in the past. The administrative demarcation involved areas around the outskirts of the city of Addis Abeba on various directions and those under the administrative jurisdiction of the Oromia Special Zone Surrounding Finfinne, a special zone established in 2008 with the view to develop a legal framework to regulate the administrative expansion of the city of Addis Abeba which has its main administrative office located in Addis Abeba.
Dejene Tafa, a member of the executive committee of OFC, had already told Addis Standard in August that the decision did not answer the demands of the Oromo people including farmers who have been deprived of their properties. He was of the view that the question of Oromo regarding the ownership of Addis Abeba should be answered first of all.
Similarly, in a statement it issued on August 19, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) dismissed the decision and said that “boundary making alone cannot resolve the underlying segregation and socio-political and economic injustices”. It also rejected the process on accounts that it was “an act of government loyalists to gain media coverage under the guise of hypocrisy. Such acts are touching the wounds of the Oromo people in connection with Finfinne and undermining the bad memories of the Oromo people and the community displaced from their native villages.”
The OFC said in its latest statement that it had conducted its own extensive research on “the legality of the expansion of the Addis Abeba city boundary, the damage the expansion has been causing to the Oromo people for centuries, and the basic demands of the Oromo people on the city” using documentary evidence, studies on the issue at various times, decrees, draft master plans at various times, the 1991 transitional government charter, the federal Constitution, the Oromia Regional State Constitution, and the Addis Abeba Charter among others as research inputs.
Accordingly, the party said that the Oromo people’s demand on Addis Abeba is not demand for border demarcation but an ownership demand. “Recognizing Addis Abeba as part of Oromia, if there is needed an administrative boundary between Addis Abeba and the Oromia Special zone, the area of Addis Abeba should be returned to 22,000 hectares as the administrative boundary of 1991/92 during the transitional government,” demanding that the demarcation agreement between the two administrations not to be implemented and that compensation be paid to those who lost their livelihoods in this case.