In any organization there should be a single point of accountability and leadership responsibility for the success as well as the failure within it. Thus, it would be extraordinary to say the least if the question of who should take the responsibility will be conveniently brushed under the carpet when such a serious incident takes place. In addition, the explanation given by some, in order to reassure the Oromo public, as to why the unit defected also raises more question than it answers.
The explanation given so far seems to suggest that the leaders of the unit were agents of the Wayane regime. This leaves a number of questions unanswered. How long have they been operating as agents? Is it a new discovery or if not has it been known for some time? If known for long why was action not taken? If new has there been a restructuring of the organization since? If the organization was infiltrated, how deep is the infiltration? Are there some others left behind or all them have gone? I am raising these questions not to defend the defectors but to ask serious questions to shade some light on our deep-rooted problem; a problem deeper than a defection of a unit.
One has to look back over the last one decade to put things in perspective. First, the political leadership under whose command the OLA unit that defected was trained has been openly advocating for return to the Ethiopia for years now. You may recall the infamous unfounded claim that “majority of the Oromo people would like to return home”. This is a very dangerous mindset for any fighting force. It would send a message that the enemy is not a real enemy and you can make peace with given a favourable condition. The military needs a clear instruction. It should not be left in doubt about the justness of the war or what to do with the enemy. Imagine what Bergen would do to the self-confidence of the force. It would seem that the unit negotiated a term of surrender for itself rather than leaving it to its political masters.
Second, a fighting force should never be treated as pageants for the latest fashion show. You may recall the bizarre “inside rebel territory” drama less than 6 months ago. The yearly photo shoots of the army that will be used to collect funds is yet another example of the abuse the OLA had to endure over the past decade. A trained and armed unit should be kept physically active, mentally alert and psychologically resilient to execute the task of liberating a country successfully. You cannot just train and arm someone and leave him ideal as a bargaining chip.
There is no doubt the commanders who went back with the fighters are wholly responsible for their actions. They should be blamed. Nevertheless, who should be overall accountable for what has happened? One might argue why someone should be responsible. But the first question must be the unit has been under the two factions of the Asmara Group; long time under the Shanee Gumii and recently under the Jijjirama Group albeit very brief. Therefore, the two leaders namely Dawud Ibsa and Kamal Galchu must take the blame. Had the unit attacked and overtaken Moyale these chaps would be the first to self-congratulate and take credit. Unfortunately, now that the unit has defected they must take the blame. Or do you think that these people in Asmara should not be held accountable?
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