Statement of the Central Committee of the Oromo Democratic Front (ODF)
The Central Committee of the Oromo Democratic Front (ODF) held an historical meeting from July 29 to August 4, 2016. The meeting was held at a time when people from all over Oromia were intensifying their uprising to demand democratic rights and genuine self-government in unison. The meeting recognized that the peaceful political struggle the Oromo people are waging inside the country is entering a new phase, gaining resilience and continuity.Oromo uprising
After listening to the organizational report presented by the Executive Committee, the Central Committee thoroughly discussed and reflected on the report. The Central Committee commended the Executive Committee’s effort and performance in implementing policies and carrying out day-to-day operations of the organization. The leadership took note of the strengths and weaknesses confronting the organization. A unified direction and steps were formulated to build on our strengths and also lessons were drawn from our weaknesses.
On Oromo protest
The meeting also assessed the political development in the Oromia region, and other regions, in Ethiopia. Twenty-five years after it came to power, the Ethiopian People’s Democratic Front (EPRDF) neither democratized the country nor tackled developmental challenges facing our people. Massive violations of human rights and the prevalence of abject poverty continued to be features of EPRDF rule. Frustrated by the lack of democratic rights, good governance, and basic services, the protests instigated by the Oromo protest is now evolving into a country-wide mass uprising to demand fundamental democratic change. Instead of addressing the legitimate demands of the various peoples, the regime chose to savagely attack its own citizens by killing, torturing, and incarcerating thousands of people. These desperate and cruel reactions by the regime against peaceful protesters proved to be futile as the yearning for change ignited in Oromia by the Oromo people is expanding to the other parts of the country, confirming the inevitability of change.
On the Gonder protest
The protest that started nine months ago in Oromia put the Oromo people in the front of the struggle for democratic change in Ethiopia. Now the movement has started to spread throughout the country. This week, a massive and spectacular nonviolent demonstration was held in Gonder. One of the historical significances of the protest in Gonder is the expression of unwavering solidarity with the struggle of the Oromo people and condemning the atrocities perpetrated against the Oromo by the cruel regime run by the EPRDF and dominated by the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), who have perpetrated extreme violations of human rights in the region. The demonstration of solidarity through nonviolent protests not only strengthens our peoples’ unbreakable bond but also speeds up and steers the country-wide movement, kindling the beginning of democratic change to be realized by consigning dictatorship in Ethiopia to dust bin of history. On this occasion, we call upon all the peoples of Ethiopia to defy the divide and rule policy of the regime and stand shoulder to shoulder in their struggle for democratic change and peaceful coexistence.
Call for the formation of Ethiopia-wide alliance
The Central Committee discussed in detail various initiatives the ODF has undertaken to reach out to various Ethiopian opposition groups and leaders. Recognizing that the relationship that has been cultivated with these groups is encouraging, the Central Committee instructed the Executive Committee to further strengthen the ties established in order to work toward the realization of an Ethiopia-wide coalition that can spearhead the nonviolent resistance engulfing the country. The coming together of various opposition groups not only speeds up the struggle by providing the most needed leadership, it also lays down the transition to democracy and peace. The ODF is happy to announce that it is working hard to materialize the Ethiopia-wide alliance and hopes to make public the end result of this effort in the near future. We also call upon all political organizations to be vigilant of the current political development in our country and come together to avoid any gap that the crumbling of the incumbent regime may create. United we will win, divided we will fail. The down fall of the EPRDF regime is certain. The question is not about if, but when. We need to play a constructive role by leading our peoples to democratic change. We cannot squander this opportunity as we have missed many of them in the past.
Call to international communities
The Central Committee calls upon international community to withdraw its financial and military support to the autocratic regime dominated by the TPLF in Ethiopia for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the regime is internally illegitimate, drawing support for its leadership only from external foreign powers rather than internal forces within Ethiopia. The United States and other members of the international community who are fighting extremism are undermining their own democratic values and long term security interests by continuing to support the incumbent regime. The United States is only compromising its long-term security interests by continuing to support an illegitimate and autocratic dictatorship in Ethiopia. Pressure must be put upon the TPLF/EPRDF to heed the demands of the people within the country they seek to rule, and the most effective way to influence the regime is pressure from external influential powers.
Justice and freedom for all!
The Oromo Democratic Front Central Committee
August 5, 2016