From a Senseless Political Attack to a Sensible Political Merger

December 21, 2008

In a December 3, 2008, news dispatch, The Reporter wrote that the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM) has reached an agreement to merge with the Oromo People’s Congress (OPC), quoting Obbo Bulcha Demeksa, OFDM’s chairman.

The OPC is a successor to the Oromo National Congress (ONC), which was formed in April 1996 under the leadership of Dr. Merera Gudina, a political scientist, to “work for the creation of a democratic system of government in Ethiopia,” as stated in its political program. It took its new name after what appears to be a political interference from outside the party, in the aftermath of the 2005 legislative elections in Ethiopia, through a few of its former members to which its original name was given.

The OFDM was formed in September 2004, about 8 months before the 2005 legislative elections in Ethiopia, as “a political party dedicated to the principles of federalism in Ethiopia,” as stated in its political program.

Both the ONC and the OFDM participated in the 2005 elections in Ethiopia. The ONC won 41 seats for the federal parliament and 106 seats for the regional parliament whereas the OFDM won 11 and 10 seats, respectively. Both parties have faced ongoing political challenges from the ruling party, which led to the change of ONC's name to OPC and the resignation and imprisonment of the leadership members of the OFDM, including its secretary general, Obbo Bekele Jirata.

On the eve of and in the aftermath of the 2005 legislative elections in Ethiopia, Obbo Bulcha was on a senseless political attack against the ONC, going to the extent of alleging that the ONC isn’t an Oromo party because it said nothing when the ruling party decided to move Oromia's seat of government from Finfinne (Addis Ababa) to Adama back in 2003, which the OFDM opposed, according to Obbo Bulcha Demeksa. The allegation was contrary to the facts that 1) the ONC did in fact oppose the decision, as reported by the Indian Ocean Newsletter (ION) at the time under the title “Oromos are Riled Up,” 2) Obbo Bulcha was one of the invited speakers at the rally that was called by the ONC when he was the leader of the Awash International Bank (AIB), and 3) the OFDM was created long after that decision was made and couldn’t have been in a position to oppose a political decision that was made before the OFDM was created. These are the reasons why Obbo Bulcha’s political attack on the ONC at that time were senseless at best.

Now, it is a foregone conclusion that if the people who formed the OFDM worked with the ONC at that time, instead of attacking it for a perceived cheap political gain, they could have become a stronger political party to better reckon with in challenging the policies and wrongdoings of the ruling party. Be that as it may and leaving the judgment to history books, the news of the merger between the two parties to challenge the ruling parties within the constitutional framework that both subscribe to is, if true, a sensible news that should be welcome and supported.

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