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Where is the ODF these days?

By: Rundassa Asheetee

Few weeks ago, I wrote about the standoff between the ODF, the Amhara groups, the OPDO and the TPLF. Since then a lot has happened. Though many people had been unprecedentedly cynical about obbo Lenco's return to Oromia, the man had been in Finfinnee for five days and left the country after talking to TPLF's prime minister. According to the news from Finfinnee, the OPDO refused to talk to him even though abba Duulaa has come to America since then and may be is talking.

As I stated in my last writing, the Amhara political groups overwhelmingly view ODF's return to Finfinnee as something that must not simply be accepted, because they the return of the ODF will bring the Oromo cause to the light once again. On the other hand, the OPDO members resent ODF's return to protect their power. When it comes to the Tigrains, the TPLF conservatives think that they should not share the power that they have earned via their sheer struggle and made themselves and the Tigreans the superior tribe of empire Ethiopia. Nonetheless, the some cunning TPLF members argue that allowing the ODF will bring more benefit than harm. They argue that by allowing the ODF to join the election process, they will be able to convince the western world that they are democratic and receive the hard currency they need to develop Tigrai.  

The wing knows that the Oromias and the southern people are not disciplined to use their state budget and are poorer economically and organizationally compared to Tigrai. Fact shows that the Tigrai region that has been comparable to Asalla before 1991 is now better than Finfinnee. This, they argue makes it so clear to the western embassies in Finfinnee and recognize Tigrai as a hidden capital city of empire Ethiopia, not because they robbed southern people's resources but they properly utilized the budget that they were given. In general, all TPLF members know that the TPLF is favored over the Amhara groups by the West, and the OLF is despised because of TPLF's propaganda work that they have spent so much money and time on to portray the it as separatist group who would also take away their investment should it come to power.  

As to the Amharas, they rarely pay attention to their corrupt prospectives and they careless about democracy, development and fairness. They rather believe that hiding the Oromo cause by simply ignoring it will work for them just like in the past. However, they don't know how to remove the TPLF from power since they are trapped between their desire to protect their Amhara identity and wealth in Oromia, on one hand, and their overwhelmingly conservative view that Ethiopia must survive for their identity to survive on the other. If there is any meaningful achievement by the Amharas, it will be the establishment of certain TV station known as ESAT and the few Oromo hater individuals such as Fiqre Tolasa and Haile Larebo whom they found and let them echo their usual insult against the Oromo people.

From the ODF front, the group has taken advantage of the current anti Minilik sentiment and attracted few individuals from minority ethnic groups whom they are allowing to talk on their anti Minilik Pal-talk network. Though the Paltalk membership have gone down from a 1000 to 500 over two weeks time, the situation seem to steal a momentum from the paltalk based OLF members. Looking at the way the ODF cadres operate on Pal talk, they seem to be much more disciplined than the Amhara paltalk groups.  

The truth about the future

 The ODF members look at obbo Lenco's vision with a mixture of dread and hope. It has been tough for many of them especially when they hear people talking about the doom and gloom days ahead of the ODF. However, what will really happen in 2014 and beyond is not going to be surprising at all for many reasons.

But those obstacles notwithstanding, the fact that the TPLF controls intelligence, military and the economy suggest that the Amhara political chant and the ODF's dream that the state department of America will eventually force the TPLF to open up a venue for democratic process underestimates the level of American lobbyists power to corrupt all those involved in the political process at global stage. This is to say that ignoring Tigreans willingness to sell the entire empire in exchange to stay in power is the same as ignoring the fact that the sun rise in east. In short, the TPLF will not step down for the following reasons.

1. The TPLF team is not ready to step down because there is no military or political pressure that it fears. It is only the OLF and the Ogadenia Liberation Fronts that are fighting the TPLF right now and they have barely dented it's military power

2. There are no political obstacles that the TPLF faces except the overt prejudice the Tigreans use to face in Finfinnee but that is not there now. In fact, the Tigreans feel that they are the most powerful people in empire Ethiopia and they feel that a significant number of voters already accept them thanks to the micro financing they have provided to the majority hooligan class of the Finfinnee city dwellers.

3. There are a huge barrier that the TPLF can cite about the Amharas to attract the Oromo and other minority groups attention and vote

4. Ever since the TPLF came to power in 1991, the only force that challenged it was the OLF, and now the TPLF has successfully divided the OLF into the Lenco, the Lichoo, the Galchu and many other groups

5. Polarization;. The major obstacle to Oromo and the Amharas is the Amharas fear and hatred toward the Oromo people and Oromos relentless struggle to brake the Amhara racism.

6. Another polarizing factor is TPLF's gift of free land to the diaspora who rushed home and started building homes by evicting the Oromo people from Finfinnee's surrounding areas. By doing so, the TPLF confused many individuals not to know wether to love or to hate the TPLF. These opportunist individuals who took free land from the Oromo people seem to be neutral because they have generated feelings on all sides and are ambivalent. This gives the TPLF a sense that they have strong base of support.

4. The democratic process; The logic of election validates TPLF's arguments that other organizations do not have a good vision for the country. This has been challenging for Dr. Marara and obbo Bulcha's party and that was true for all the Amhara party, including Qinijit. This makes it difficult for the ODF or for other groups to win against the TPLF even if they participate in the election process.

5. The ODF leaders and members background as the OLF leaders will be a huge reason for the Amharas not to vote for the ODF and the same thing is true for the Gurage, the Kambata and the Walyita groups who have strong anti-Oromo sentiments.
6. The reasons cited above will lead many Oromians to believe that the ODF has little shot at wining via democratic process. Obviously, these political polarization that the ODF generates makes it very difficult to win empire wide election if it was given free and fair chance.

7. The Religious groups whose sentiments matches the intensity to have a monopoly on values and morality of the empire at large will be afraid to vote for certain group such as the ODF giving a whole spectrum of reasons regardless of Hasan Husen and the like false impression of religiosity.


With many questions surrounding the ODF from every corner, I do not see any overriding reason why the TPLF has to step down from power or even allow any opposition to take it's power. For that reason, the TPLF will not show a desire to leave Minilik's palace, lose it's investments in Oromia and return to Tigrai. The only way the TPLF could have been isolated was if the Amharas are able to overcome their racist views against the Oromo people. As it stands now, both the Oromo and the Amhara are happy to have a strong TPLF in the middle because both groups have the memories of the killer and the killed against each other.

Most importantly, the Amharas lack a knowledge of democracy and civility, and wish to take their empire back into the deep darkness of Minilik era once again. Interestingly, "Ethiopia" means many things to many people in that empire and it takes a century to understand what "country" really means. For example, the Amharas limit the concept of "Ethiopia" to the hierarchical relationship between them as lords and their serfs. If that is not the concept, "Ethiopia", for them is the rivers, the mountains, the flat fields and valleys than the people who live on it. The Ethiopian history was also written from this perspective being limited to their narrow conception spearheaded by the arrogant church clergies who only recognized "country" as "land or territory". The current Habasha generation now dances to the same rhythm and, above all, they describe "Ethiopia" as land which it's social order should fall under their domination. 

For the rest, Ethiopia is a land upon which people of different languages and cultures live and oppose the Habasha influence and perspective. That means, the Habasha's Ethiopia is entirely irrelevant to the non Habasha groups because it's origin is not originated in their social values.

All these things considered, it is clear that who will be the winner. Like the Muslims who felt it was time to regroup and replace the Orthodox church but lost, the Amhara ultra nationalists have tried to take over the power but they failed time and again. That means they are not going to try the 2005 means of struggle this time around. They rather will be well organized and continue to challenge the TPLF to accept them as equal partners and guard their business interests and help their Amhara identity to flourish for centuries to come. Though helping Amharic and the Amhara identity to grow is not their top priority, the TPLF and the OPDO have no choice but promote Amharic and whatever comes with it. That means, the two cousins mutual identity will continue to run in all directions across the empire only to ignite the ultra Amharas confidence and help them remain influential in the history of empire Ethiopia politics. This is because Amharic is rooted not only in the minds of all ethnic groups of the empire but in the governing policies of the empire. In fact, that is the reason why the Amharas can not afford to be progressive. If they do, they know that they will slowly lose control to democracy as they slowly surrendered their century and half supremacy in the empire that their immiyyee Minilk built for them.

Looking at all these realities therefore, the losers are going to be the oppressed ethnic groups,the Oromians included. It is no secret that the Amharas want to abolish afaan Oromo and Oromia and the only reason why the Tigreans do not follow the Amharas is because they need to allow afaan Oromo to grow for the sake of protecting afaan Tigre. Similarly, the TPLF will fight for charter 39 more than any ethnic group in empire Ethiopia because they will need it incase the already semi independent Tigrai had to become totally independent. At this point, they already have three international airports, a well developed city, international standard university and their own port of Kasala. The TPLF has moved large army bases to Tigrai and they have great engineering firms such as the Mesfin Engineering.
If the TPLF is willing to return the lands it took away from Gondar, the Amharas will appreciate their shared values and culture. For now though, the TPLF team has chosen to work with the sprit that they have learned during their struggle against the Dargue regime and don't want to lose control of power by bringing anyone in as a trusted partner. As a minority, the only tool by which they could impose their agenda and legitimize themselves as the true democratic party is the military control they have over the population though logic has been fundamentally distorted already.

As to the Amharas goes, to keep their image of being the defenders of the Ethiopia unity is the only political leverage they have to help their settler relatives who live all over the towns and the cities of the Ethiopian empire. In other words, if they don't claim the position of the defenders of the Ethiopia's unity, their settler relatives will be labeled as outsiders and lose all what they have robed from the native people for century and half now. If they failed to support their settler relatives, their language, their culture and their economic interest will go away in no time.

The awkward things in all this is that obbo Leencoo Lata's team would look real weird if and when it acts as the defender of the unity of empire Ethiopia since the empire was never built by obboo Lenco's grand father. The defenders of empire Ethiopia are clear on that and there should be no misconception about it.

The outcome

Because of the above reasons, both the Amharas, the OPDO and the TPLF will simply refuse to allow the ODF, if not by saying "NO" but by finding reasons. The reasons may range from accusing the ODF members and leadership with the Badano and Arbaa Guguguu mass killing to the delaying of the process. One way of crippling ODF's ambition of participating in the election process is by simply delaying the implementation of the negotiated term, whatever obbo Lonco had negotiated with Malasa when he was alive.
As to the defenders of the empire's unity, as much they will be pleased to acknowledge those who are willing to be absorbed into the Ethiopian identity, they will never spare all those who questioned their Ethiopian citizenship from their lopsided opprobrium. As to the ODF, the team has already charted it's own political course, wether it is prudent or not and there is no going back to the nationalist camp.

In the past, the OPDO disdained the ONC and destroyed it and there is no reason why it is not going to engage in confrontation with the ODF and hold it in a very dangerous position especially when their Tigrean masters start seeing an apocalyptic vision that the ODF is the OLF if it gets pilled off. In general, the doomsday for the TPLF bosses has passed since the Siye group has been crashed and they were accepted as a legitimate rulers of the empire.
Similarly, the Amhara nationalism that has been limping have recovered now and it is walking again if it has not started running yet. The ODF, on it's part been already dumped by the Oromo people and it can't win when the political shoot-out starts. But the respectable mainstream Oromians are still willing to help the OLF as long as it is willing to listen to the people and change the way it conducts the liberation struggle.

Rundassa Asheetee

Source: National


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