The Elders Committee Resolution on OLC – GGO and their Responses
(Ayyaantuu) -Whereas, the Elders Committee was formed for bringing about the unity of the Oromo Leadership Convention (OLC) and the Global Gumii Oromia Organizing Committee (GGO) so that they work together for supporting their people who face death and destruction daily in Oromia;
Whereas the goal of the Elders Committee was creating consensus about the danger that hangs over the future of Oromia which could be averted only if the OLC and GGO work together for mobilizing resources and to be an effective voice on the international stage on behalf of their people;
Whereas, the Elders fully agree that cooperation and working together will be crucial for both groups. United they will be a strong voice for their people. Divided they would repeat the mistakes of Oromo political organizations which intensified conflict among the Oromo Diaspora for years.
Whereas the Elders were encouraged by the fact that during previous discussions with the representatives of the OLC and the GGO, there was no evidence of an irreconcilable contradiction between them;
Whereas, the TPLF leaders’ genocidal plan for reducing the size of the Oromo population, removing them from the sacred land of their birth, while undermining the integrity of the state of Oromia is intensifying. So far thousands of Oromo and others have been killed, tens of thousands wounded and a huge number of Oromo and others have been detained. Without any doubt the genocidal danger that hangs over the future of our people and the integrity of Oromia is very real. There is no one out there to protect Oromo people, the integrity of Oromia and their future, but themselves. The OLC and the GGO could be the strong voice on behalf of their people only if they work together. By working together, they will be able to expose on the international stage the crime against humanity that is committed daily in Oromia.
Whereas, it is only if they cooperate and work together that they can learn from one another’s successes and failures, share experience and organizational skills and turn current weakness into future Oromo strength. It is only if they cooperate and work together that they will be able to be an effective voice of our people in the Diaspora. Above all, if they work together, they will be able to handle themselves, rise above petty recriminations, and be able to settle misunderstandings and differences of opinion through dialogue and open-minded discussion and constructive criticism serving in leadership as an example for all.
Whereas, at this critical time in the life of the Oromo nation, the leaders and members OLC and GGO must double and triple their efforts at working together, instead of going their separate ways. Elders strongly urge the leaders of both groups not to spare their energy for working together. If the leaders of both groups work together diligently giving their time, talents, skills and for mobilizing resources on behalf of their people, their efforts would be crowned with meaningful contribution to the cause for which their people are dying daily in Oromia.
Whereas during our earlier discussions both groups had expressed their desire to unite and work together within a single organization;
Whereas, during January 19th meeting with the representatives of both the OLC and the GGO, the elders’ genuine efforts at convincing both groups to merge and work together as a single body in the interest of the Oromo was not successful. Instead the OLC group announced that it will hold its public meeting March 10-12, 2017 in Houston. Few days later, the GGO group also announced that it will hold its public meeting April 14-16, 2017 in Minnesota. This means both groups will be organizing their own separate meetings.
Whereas, this development is a big setback for elders’ efforts at uniting both groups. Nevertheless, this setback should not deter the elders from urging both groups not to lose sight of the prize-the freedom, human dignity and democratic rights of our people, which can be achieved only by the OLC and the GGO groups working together.
Whereas, the Elders Committee strongly urged the leaders of the OLC and the GGO to marshal the moral courage for working together which benefits both of them and their people. Working together does not spring up organically. It is brought about by the willingness of the leaders and members of both organizations. The leaders of the OLC and the GGO must make the decisive choice for working together instead of proceeding with their separate agendas, which may result in rivalry between the two groups. Rival organizations generally work to undermine each other.
Therefore, the Elders Committee unanimously passed a resolution asking both the OLC and the GGO not to organize two separate meetings. Instead the elders strongly urge both groups to organize a joint meeting. A joint meeting will be the ingathering of Oromo around Oromo ideas, i.e. the Oromo working together to be strong voice for their own people who are targeted for destruction. Such measure will be historic and inspiring, especially if both the OLC and the GGO rise to the challenge of working together. It has enormous implications. At the time when the TPLF regime is intensifying its attack in Oromia working together for building and strengthening Oromo unity is a noble idea that reflects the core aspiration of the people who have been wronged for too long.
The Response of Global Gumii Oromia (GGO)
Thank you very much for sending us your decision in writing urging for the OLC and GGO unity.
We have carefully examined the resolution. The elders committee focused on the solutions without diagnosis of the genesis of the problem. It is a decision based on the symptoms not problem analysis. Problem analysis is a logical process that could lead to an objective decision. This is not to criticize the approach chosen by the elders committee but to indicate what should have been done.
We would like to reiterate the mission of GGO Organizing Committee for the understanding of the Oromo problem and solving it. The Organizing Committee is a project committee put together to study and organize an institution that encompasses all sorts of Oromo Organizations without exclusion that work to support the Oromo struggle, alleviate Oromo plights and hasten the pace to liberation. Accordingly, the mission of the Organizing Committee ends once the GGO has been established formally. That will be April 16, 2017.
We would like to briefly explain how the problem between GGO and OLC emerged. The representatives of the Macha-Tulama Association (MTA), the Oromo Community Associations of North America (OCA-NA), the Oromo Studies Association (OSA), and Oromo interfaith representatives initially got together in August to establish an organizing committee for founding of Global Gumii Oromia (GGO). The representatives these organizations initially outlined several points to develop the objectives of GGO. They also unanimously agreed on the importance of all Oromo organizations such as civic, political, religious, self-help, women’s organizations, youth groups, and other organizations to participate in the organizing committee of GGO in order to represent a greater Oromia.
While working on the documents for establishment of GGO, the invitation of other Oromo Organizations and prominent Oromo individuals continued. In the mid- September, Professor Ezekiel and his associates suggested to hold a conference on November 12, 2016 in Minneapolis. However, the majority felt that November 12 would be too soon and the organizing committee would be still at its early stage in drafting documents and would not have enough delegates that would reflect equal representation for all stakeholders.
The date on which the meeting should be held became a point of difference and both sides could not agree on the date. Also, there was a serious disagreement on the paper that Professor Ezekiel drafted. This paper totally ignored the colonial contradictions between the Ethiopian colonial state and the colonized Oromo people. Following the above disagreements, the group that proposed November 12 for a conference to be held withdrew from organizing committee without any advance notice. However, the GGO organizing committee continued sending them ongoing progress reports and documents and inviting them to meetings.
The GGO organizing committee worried about the lack of participation by the group and decided to send an elders committee to them to resolve the issue. After several mediations it was agreed NOT to rush to call for a GGO founding conference until all stakeholders were represented in GGO organizing committee for GGO founding conference. It was also agreed that all documents should be prepared by diverse and equally represented GGO organizing committee rather than a self-selected few individuals. After the elders committee convinced the group the necessity of creating a broadly based and diverse organizing committee, this group returned to the organizing committee of GGO.
However, at the end of the mediation, the group requested to hold a Leadership conference on November 12 to remember the Oromo youth protest movement that was initiated on November 12, 2015. The GGO organizing committee and the elders committee accepted the group’s request to call an Oromo leadership convention (OLC) to bring leaders together and help centralize the Oromo diaspora resources but suggested that they should work with GGO organizing committee to organize OLC. The group agreed to organize the leadership submit with GGO.
However, ignoring the above agreement, the group did NOT get back to the GGO organizing committee to organize the leadership summit. Instead, some members of the group were seen on multiple media outlets talking about a charter. The group continued to expand its activities without including or consulting with GGO organizing committee. Finally, the OLC took place in Atlanta, GA, from November 12 to 14, 2016. Following the above meeting in Atlanta, the OLC committee was born.
After the Atlanta convention, the OLC never joined GGO organizing committee again. Regardless of receiving ongoing updates and invitations for every meeting, they never responded. Instead of rejoining the GGO organizing committee the newly formed OLC started advancing programs that are parallel and overlapping with GGO objectives. The GGO organizing committee believes that the absence of OLC from the GGO organizing committee would reduce its overall benefit in supporting the ongoing Oromo struggle and scatters highly needed the Oromo diaspora resources.
We have been considering the OLC as part of the GGO Organizing Committee. They are included in the list of the Organizing Committee members and have been receiving all the information related to the activities of the Project Organizing Committee and are still on roll call. We think the problem is emanating from organizing a convention on the side. They told the GGO organizing committee that they were going to hold a convention in Atlanta and after the convention had been done they would come back and continue their activities in the organizing process of GGO.
But after the Atlanta convention their participation in the GGO organizing activities neither began but waning for reasons not clear to us nor investigated by the Elders Committee. The Elders Committee was organized to address the problem of slow exit of OLC from the GGO organizing Committee.
Generally, the main objective of GGO organizing committee has been inviting all Oromo organizations in order to include them in this historical process. There is neither prejudice nor rivalry toward any organization that works for the liberation of the Oromo people and their country. The approach to all is fraternity and sorority.
Having given the highlights of the goal and mission of the GGO Organizing Committee as outlined above, we respectfully accept the decision of the Elders Committee and ready to work toward the unification of the activities of OLC and the GGO Organizing Committee to establish an all inclusive Oromo Institution.
Oromo Leadership Convention Coordinating Committee Response
Dear Respected Elders,
Foremost, we sincerely thank the members of the elders’ committee for their sacrificial effort to underscore to the Oromo Leadership Convention (OLC) and the Global Gumii Oromo (GGO) the value of working in concert in order to deliver efficient service to our people at this very challenging conjecture.
On the OLC’s side, we sincerely regret that differences of opinion occurred at all given that both sides had common purpose. We regret we allowed those differences fester when we should have acted proactively to choose compromise and seek consensuses to work together as a united front to advance our mutual cause.
The Oromo Leadership Convention is a forum of civic dialogue where ordinary Oromos strive to search for a consensus on national matters. Its goals include efforts to reinvigorate Oromo cultural and political values, restate the current Oromo people’s demands in broad terms and ultimately create an Oromo political arena where political conversations, concessions and conciliations can take place. We believe the gaols constitute the underlying common reasons for our initiative. For these vary reasons, we remain committed to working together with the GGO and or any Oromo group based on good will and a spirit of amity and cooperation.
It was out of this understanding that we forwarded the following ideas on January 18, 2017 to be considered as an agenda for our discussion in forging unity of work.
Compere agendas and find out the way to blend and coordinate overlapping initiatives to ensure efficient resource utilization, avoid duplication of efforts and acquire a unified strategic national approach.
On initiatives that are dissimilar, or unique to the group, we seek to find a means to support each other with understanding and good faith.You might also recall that we informed the elders’ committee and the GGO about our intention to organize the Second Oromo Leadership Convention from March 10-12, 2017. The purpose of this convention is to receive reports from the task forces that were created at the Atlanta Convention, consider their recommendations for implementation
Re: The Elders Committee Resolution: Need for OLC and GGO Unity February 5, and launch new initiatives to strengthen Oromo unity. This work commenced four months ago.
We fully concur with your suggestion that OLC and the GGO should not organize two separate conventions to address the same issues. We heed the elders’ counsel that strongly urged us to organize a joint meeting. From our position, we still hope and believe that the initiatives that are underway can be co-managed through participation of both groups in common endeavors, coordinating overlapping initiatives and establishing practical terms of understanding for participation and cooperation. If we still have a common agenda that we had from the very start, what we need to do is to take tangible steps to cooperate on the work that is already underway.
It is with great regret that we inform you that we cannot comply at this time with your recommendation to postpone the already scheduled convention due to commence in Washington DC in mere three weeks. It simply is not practical to cancel a convention of this magnitude mere three weeks before the start date. The OLC Coordinating Committee has already booked meeting halls. More than three hundred participants have already registered, booked their flights and made hotel reservations. The OLC has contractual obligations that it cannot simply walk away from. Cancelling the convention at this late date is impossible without risking loss of all the money that has been spent by the Coordinating Committee and participating delegates. More importantly, it would amount to dereliction of duty to halt the work in progress and abandon our commitments. We will damage the confidence of our people who expect us to deliver on our initiative for what we started promises to be a pathway to a national consensus and an occasion for affirmation of Oromo national unity.
Yet, while we regret our inability to accommodate your recommendation to cancel the convention at this time, we promise you that we are open to coordinating future initiatives with the GGO and other civic organizations. We appreciate the elders for your perspicacious wisdom, sangfroid conduct and comported equanimity with which you treated us. We also like to thank the representatives of GGO for the cordial exchanges we have had during the past several weeks. We especially like to take this opportunity to express our admiration for their tenacity, adroitness and sensitivity in dealing with others on difficult issues. We wish them success in their founding conference.
Oromo Leadership Convention Coordinating Committee