Statement of the Oromo Liberation Council Meeting
March 20, 2021
Despite the difficult circumstances facing the organization, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) held its Central Committee summit from March 17-20, 2021 at the residence of its supporters. To conduct the summit, the organization has also facilitated for members of the Central Committee who are currently languishing in various detention centers of the country the basic premise of the summit ahead of time so that they share their views on issues they may wish to be addressed by the committee. After conducting extensive discussions that enabled the participants to evaluate the general socio-political realities of the world, Ethiopia, Oromia, and specifically the political organizations operating in Ethiopia and that of the Oromo struggle led by the OLF, the committee has concluded its summit by issuing the following statements of declaration.
The current government of Ethiopia has shown a strong desire to impose itself as a legitimate government on the Oromo people as it has been the case for a long time. To this end, it has continued to exert consistent efforts to exclude the OLF from a peaceful political struggle. Assessing the difficult sacrifices being paid by leaders of the organization as well as its members, supporters, and the general Oromo people in moving the struggle forward as meritorious, the summit has decided that the organization should continue the political struggle it has embarked on with unflinching determination and doubling its efforts.
Evaluating the state of realities in which the OLF had been coerced and currently finds itself in, and assessing the circumstances facing thousands of the OLF office holders, leaders, and supporters languishing in various prison centers of the country as political Prisoners of conscience; the council strongly notes that to create a peaceful political environment rooted on the principles of democracy, fairness and the supremacy of law, it is incumbent upon the Ethiopian Government to unconditionally and immediately release all of them.
The rules and regulations that guide the registration and operation of political parties in Ethiopia, declaration #1162/2019, establishes certain requirements that must be met by all political parties. To meet these requirements, to create a symbiosis between the rules and regulations and the by-laws of the political parties and fill any vacancy in the leadership position (The OLF By-Laws: Article 19:10: in the event that there is a vacancy in the leadership position, the Central Committee shall call for the General Assembly to fill the vacancy via election). In its General Council meeting held at the headquarter of the OLF from March 16-18, 2020 the summit decided to hold its General Assembly meeting in June 2020 (The OLF By-Laws: Article 17:6: Following this by-law, it has the power to call for urgent meeting of the General Assembly).
Following the guidelines, by selecting a committee that can facilitate the urgent meeting from among itself (The OLF By-Laws: Article 20:4: by setting up various committees as necessary and defining their duties, it shall facilitate the conduct of the organization’s business), the council has executed its obligation. Due to factors beyond the capacity of the committee, although it was not possible to hold the General Assembly meeting at the specified time (March 17, 2021), the committee has notified the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) and all relevant organizations that preparation is underway to hold the urgent summit. In the notice it has issued, the committee asked eight of the Central Committee members (The OLF By-Laws: Article 19:5: The OLF central committee summit shall have 48 members) who have departed from the organization for various reasons if they have any suggestions.
Observing evidence indicating that these members had not shown interest in giving suggestions/feedback for the summit, the Central Committee has noted its appreciation for the committee for extending the invitation to the deflectors under such challenging situations. In addition, the summit has ordered the committee to continue working on facilitating the General Assembly meeting while also assessing the realities confronting them.
While the committee delegated to facilitate the emergency council meeting is working day and night, contrary to OLF’s by Laws presented above, the eight members with the backing of the ruling party that forced the OLF out of its office, held a sham meeting on March 13, 2021 that did not follow the rules and regulations of the organization. This meeting did not involve the party Chairman, 40 of party leaders, and party members. At the end of this illegal gathering, they announced that they elected “new party leaders’’. This is purely dirty politics that is the hallmark of the ruling party intended to mislead the Oromo people as if the OLF is participating in the election. The OLF council fully endorsed the report and affirmed that this is a political theatre meant to harm the Oromo struggle and the rights of the Oromo people.
Based on this facts, OLF Central Committee calls on the ruling party to stop meddling in the internal affairs of the organization; calls on the Oromo people to safeguard their organization and to stop the web of political machination on the Oromo struggle; calls on members and party officials at all levels to work hand in hand to implement directives from the organization; and calls on the Oromo people to stand with their organization to stop this political malpractice by the ruling party.
It is to be recalled that the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) has declared on December 19, 2020 that in regard to the “Problem created” in the OLF leadership, the lawful Chairman of the organization remains to be Mr. Daawud Ibsa. It is evident that this decision shows that the NEBE recognized the mandate and responsibility that the constitution of OLF gave to the Chairman. Furthermore, the NEBE, recognizing that the time the parties spent on preparation for a party congress can waste the time the parties use for preparation of the national election otherwise, has declared its decision that parties can hold their conference until after the election in a letter number 1162/11/206 on January 14, 2021. This decision clearly shows that the time to hold a party conference is not past due.
OLF Central Committee would like to reiterate that this sham meeting held on March 13, 2021 contrary to the OLF constitution and did not follow the rules and regulations of the organization and carried out without the knowledge of the structure of the organization. Also, this sham meeting is violets the National Election Board of Ethiopia’s own rules and regulations.
1. The OLF Constitution ratified on June 8, 2019 by the OLF National Congress states the following:
• Article 25:3: the OLF chairman is the chairman of the Central Committee (Gumii Sabaa) and the Executive Committee (Shanee Gumii) of the OLF; the lawful representative of the organization.
• Article 25:6: based on the meeting within the Executive Committee and its instructions will follow and coordinates the activities of the organization.
• Article 25:7: the chairman of OLF assigns, reshuffles members of the Executive Committee; coordinates and supervises their activities.
• Article 25:8: the chairman of OLF presents the report of the activities of the Executive Committee to the Central Committee and to the OLF National Congress (Kora Sabaa).
• Article 19:4: the time (duration) of the office of the Central Committee shall be until the next OLF National Congress.
• Article 25:2: the chairman of the OLF shall be elected from among the members of the National Congress for five years.
2. The NEBE’s rules and regulations related to this are declaration number 1162/2019 (Chapter 4, the rights and responsibilities of political parties, point number 75.1 and 75.2 concerning the issues regarding the independence of the political parties over their internal matters (75.1: political parties, in their constitution shall present and improve the rules and regulations that govern their activities and also their political programs; 75:2: based on that constitution shall elect leadership that decide on and lead the activities of the organization).
The OLF Central Committee utterly express that the NEBE gave undue consideration to its own rules and regulations by being present at the meeting, as an observant, to an this illegal “National Congress”, organized in a way that is contrary to the constitution and rules of the organization as well as without the knowledge of the structure of the organization. Furthermore, the fact that police force is dispatched to the area for the safety of the illegal conference is a clear indication that the NEBE and the government’s police force have violated the rule of law they themselves are entrusted to enforce and became an instrument to the ruling Prosperity Party’s political game.
For this, the OLF Central Committee demands that the NEBE and the police force of the government apologize to the Oromo people for openly interfering in the internal matters of our organization. Furthermore, the Central Committee unanimously agreed that these two bodies are strongly requested to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of the OLF.
The OLF Central Committee reiterated its commitment to work hand in gloves with the Oromo people to abort the destruction that the ruling party is creating by concocting a splinter group within the OLF, using its government institutions, endorsing one group that serves its purpose and alienating the other group that stands for freedom and democracy. Due to the government’s refusal to fulfill the minimum preconditions (presented by the OLF) that are needed to participate in a democratic election, the OLF is pushed out of the upcoming national election.
The OLF Central Committee unanimously agreed that the OLF will not participate in a sham election which the government is conducting just to extend its power. The Central Committee emphasized to the Oromo people that it is our organizational decision that the OLF does not have any candidates in the upcoming election and calls upon the Oromo people to stand with the organization to observe this decision.
Victory to the Masses!
OLF Central Committee
March 20, 2021