Tag Archives: Oromo Liberation Front

Oromo nationalism in the era of Prosperity Party: A point of view

23 Feb

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

by Nagessa Dube, Ethiopia Insight, February 23, 2020

“It is widely agreed that the two things Ethiopia needs most are democratic progress and economic prosperity. In order to achieve these, strong political leadership is necessary. Oromo nationalists could play a critical role in providing that leadership, but to do so they must begin to see their history as Ethiopian history, since in truth they also played a huge role in nation building. The traditional Oromo nationalist narrative of oppression at the hands of highlanders must be recognized as incomplete, at best.

Right now, it makes little sense for Oromo nationalists to simply skulk away, demanding more regional power and rights, and aligning themselves with increasingly isolated elements like the OLF. If Oromo nationalist groups can instead put aside old fears and accept that dwelling on the past is counterproductive, they can seize the great opportunity of this political moment to lead the country from the centre of the federation alongside the likes of Abiy. There is no telling how much positive influence they can then exert in shaping a stronger and more stable Ethiopia.”

When Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed proposed merging the parties comprising the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and forming a new entity called the Prosperity Party in 2019, few people believed he could or should try to accomplish it in the few months before the next election.

Changing the brand, if not completely the substance of the group that ruled Ethiopia since the communist junta was overthrown in 1991 was generally seen as a wise move, but not within such a short period of time. Even a key reform leader and current Defense Minister Lemma Megersa questioned the timing.  Nevertheless, Abiy went ahead.

The EPRDF was rooted in ‘revolutionary democracy’, a Leninist-Maoist ideology that maintains the fiction of democracy while in reality, monopolizing power under a single ruling clique. The EPRDF continued to teach this ideology to its cadres, using China and other one-party Asian states such as North Korea as political models. The EPRDF had no intention of democratizing Ethiopia, except in the perverse sense of ‘revolutionary democracy.’

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