By Biruk Alemu @Birukalemu21
Addis Abeba – The opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) said Ethiopia is being haunted by the vicious circle of “political failure, civil war and economic crisis,” and called for cessation of hostilities and a genuine national dialogue “that would bring an end to the conflict and lead to political transformation of the country.”
At a press conference the leadership of the party gave to the media today in the capital Addis Abeba, the party said that “the civil War that is still going on in various parts of the country for more than a year and half has resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands, displacement of millions and destruction of property worth hundreds of Billions of Birr. It has led the country to the brink of total collapse. The Tigray, Amhara, Afar, Oromia, and Benishangul-Gumuz regions are the main victims of the war, and all regions of the country are suffering as a result.”
In southern Oromia around the Borena Zone, Oromo farmers and pastoralists lost millions of their livestock to drought and were forced to plough their land using their children as oxen. The Oromo Nation has never seen such a tragedy in its long history.
According to the party, “more than 297 civilians have been killed by government forces” in the ongoing civil in Oromia, which OFC said was “hidden from the eyes of the world” and has already led to the displacement of more than 500, 000 people, burning of homes,and rendered hundreds of schools, hospital and health centers non functional.
The combined crises Ethiopia is facing today “are directly, inextricably related,” OFC said, and “the solution also lies in stopping the war and bringing our problems to the political negotiating table.” While emphasizing the need for inclusive dialogue, OFC said what is “currently going on in the name of national dialogue is a mockery to the process, a dangerous step that could further complicate existing problems. Neither the commission nor its process are independent and inclusive.”
The party said national dialogue cannot be conducted “in the middle of a civil war,” and called on the government to have “cessation of hostilities and bring the matter to the political negotiating table and ease the suffering of our people.”
Political failure, civil war and economic crisis are the vicious circle haunting Ethiopia
- Oromia, the largest and the most populous region, and the Oromo, the largest nation in Ethiopia, have not had peace and security for the past four years. As we speak today, a civil war is raging in all parts of Oromia hidden from the eyes of the world. Particularly the level of violence against civilians has significantly increased in the past few months.
- More than 297 civilians have been killed by government forces, several homes burned, and more than 500,000 people displaced by the conflict, hundreds of schools closed, hospitals and health centers made non functional. People are arrested without court order tortured, some extrajudicially killed and some made to disappear without a trace. The justice system is crippled, and court decisions are often overlooked by the administration. In southern Oromia around the Borena Zone, Oromo farmers and pastoralists lost millions of their livestock to drought and were forced to plough their land using their children as oxen. The Oromo Nation has never seen such a tragedy in its long history.
- The Civil War that is still going on in various parts of the country for more than a year and half has resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands, displacement of millions and destruction of property worth hundreds of Billions of Birr. It has led the country to the brink of total collapse. The Tigray, Amhara, Afar, Oromia, and Benishangul-Gumuz regions are the main victims of the war, and all regions of the country are suffering as a result.
- The “Fano” and Amhara Millisia and special forces, who are backed by the Amhara regional government, have been involved in mass killings of civilians, burning houses, and looting of cattle and crops in Tigray, Amahara, Oromia and Benishangul Gumuz regions.
- Following the aftermath of the Northern War, the large number of organized and armed irregular groups that mushroomed in the Amhara region, has posed significant security threats to the people in the region and the neighboring regions even for the whole country.
- Religious hatred and cycles of religiously motivated attacks that claimed lives have increased with impunity. The most recent case being the attack on Muslims in the city of Gondar and Debark town which resulted in deaths of more than 20 and burning of several mosques.
- Because of the war the country is plunged into a severe economic crisis. Farmers are not able to produce, there is shortage of basic commodities, uncontrolled inflation, shortage of foreign exchange, severe reduction in trade volume, capital flight, alarming reduction in Foreign Direct Investment and closure of hundreds of factories. This is creating hardship for the common people, increased unemployment, and coupled with climatic conditions it has even led to famine in some parts of the country.
- The war also led to diplomatic isolation and economic sanctions including cutting of trade partnerships (like AGOA),foreign aid, budgetary assistance and international loans. If there is no end to the war soon, the political and economic crisis will deepen and complicate further.
- Political failure, the civil war and the economic crisis in Ethiopia are directly inextricably related. The solution also lies in stopping the war and bringing our problems to the political negotiating table.
- The failure to put on negotiated political road map early on, the illegal postponing of the election by the ruling party, mismanagement and consequential abortion of the transition has led to heightened political confrontation that finally deteriorated in to the civil war.
- As OFC we opposed the war from the outset and have been calling for all parties to come to the negotiating table. Nevertheless, it fell on deaf ears. The major cause of this war has been the political culture of resolving political differences with arms.
- We strongly condemn the targeting of civilians in Oromia and elsewhere in the country by armed combatants including by government forces. We also strongly denounce religiously or ethnically motivated violence occurring in various parts of the country.
- We call for an independent International investigation of the recent mass murder of civilians in Oromia and elsewhere in the country and the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
- We call for the cessation of hostilities and bring the matter to the political negotiating table and ease the suffering of our people.
- We call for the release of all political prisoners including OFC and OLF leaders and insist on the need to make them part of the peaceful political process.
Genuine National Dialogue is the only solution to save our country
- Our problems are numerous and complex. They are bigger than the ruling party or one particular political group. They need an honest admission of the total and utter failure of the ruling party in governing the country and the need for creating a new chance for redemption of our country.
- The only way to do it is through genuine National Dialogue that would bring an end to the conflict and lead to political transformation of the country. We need an inclusive dialogue, that is conducted by an independent, credible, and neutral organ capable of garnering the support of the people and forces across the political spectrum including armed groups fighting with the government.
- What is currently going on in the name of national dialogue is a mockery to the process, a dangerous step that could further complicate existing problems. Neither the commission nor its process are independent and inclusive.
- We call on the party controlling government power to think beyond the temporary chair they are holding and to focus on saving the country. We call on them to stop trying to control both the process and outcome of the national dialogue and to open the political space.
- National dialogue cannot be conducted in the middle of a civil war. Hence, we call upon all warring parties to immediately cease fire, and bring their issues to the political negotiating table.
- If we are not able to think beyond short term political gains, we cannot save our people and our country from the current political and economic crisis.
The Oromo Federalist Congress
May 12, 2022.
Finffine, Oromia, Ethiopia