Saturday, June 05, 2010

Oromo Reconciliation, Unity and Mobilization Conference or a Shanee Asmara Gimmick?

By Observer

I was pleasantly surprised when I heard the Oromo Artists Association (OAA) was convening a conference to support reconciliation of the three OLF factions in MPLS, MN. The association was not in existence when the first schism took place in 2001 splitting the OLF in to Shanee Asmara (led by Dawud Ibsaa) and the Qaama Cehumsaa (led by Dhugaasaa Bakakkoo) groups. All members of the current board of directors of the OAA sided with the Shanee group during that split.

When the second schism took place in the summer of 2008 within the Shanee Asmara group and into the Shanee and the Jijjiirama groups, OAA was just a year old. Many of its members sided with Shanee while others sided with the Jijjiirama group as a result of which the association was paralyzed and rendered useless for about two years. It eventually dawned on OAA members that turmoil is bad for business and they decided to mend their differences. What is more, they even decided to support and encourage reconciliation efforts between the three OLF factions. Or was that a gimmick?

First, Let us get some facts straight.

There are two efforts currently underway to reconcile the OLF factions.

One was initiated by a group of individuals (“maanguddoo”) around the beginning of 2009. The list of these individuals includes Lenco Lata, Dima Nago, Xaha Abdi, Jeylu Danboba, Ahmed Hussen, Fiqaadu Wakjira, Kuleni Gudina, etc … all Shanee or Jijjirama members. Only two OLF factions (the Dawud Ibsa and the Kamal galchu groups) are involved in the “maanguddoo” reconciliation effort. Having examined the list of “maanguddoo”, the QC group felt the “maanguddoo” cannot be independent and objective mediators and therefore refused to take part. To the QC group these “manguddoo” are not only members of rival groups passing themselves as neutral and objective mediators (a Shanee gimmick), but many of them are part of the problem. Latest information about this effort is that the leaders of the two factions have agreed and signed an agreement to share power while they prepare to convene Kora Sabaa (KS) and elect a new set of leaders. This agreement is opposed vehemently by Shanee grassroots members and has threatened another split much less implement it.

Another reconciliation effort is one initiated by A call to strengthen the Oromo Struggle for Liberation by the QC group. The Shanee and Jijjiirama groups answered the call. All three factions of the OLF are party to this one in a direct (no mediator “maanguddoo” involved) and bi-lateral fashion. In other words, reconciliation talks take place between two factions at a time – no three way talks have taken place yet. It was the result of this initiative which was reported at the conference on May 29, 2010 by the representative of the QC group.

Now, let us try to answer whether the conference and its associated events thus far are meant to truly support Oromo Reconciliation, Unity and Mobilization or another Shanee Gimmick. I would not have asked this question had the OAA not presented itself as a neutral civic association whose only interest is Oromo Reconciliation, Unity and Mobilization.

Our first stop is the conference itself. In his opening speech, the chairman of OAA presented the objective of the conference as supporting “Oromo Reconciliation, Unity and Mobilization initiated by ‘maanguddoo.” He said nothing about the reconciliation effort initiated by the QC group. He also appealed to “manguddoo” to disclose the name of any group refusing to heed their verdict for condemnation by Oromo public. The chairman also reminded everyone that he was not speaking as a member of his political group (Jijjiirama) but on-behalf of OAA.

If OAA is as neutral in this conflict, and reconciliation of all OLF factions is at the heart of its effort, as it claims, why does it support one to which only two factions are parties through Shanee “maanguddoo” and completely ignore one initiated by the QC group to which all three factions are parties and which is close to bearing fruit? Why does OAA call on “maanguddoo” who are all Shanee or Jijjiirama members to disclose the name of anyone group refusing to heed their verdict when it fully knows that the QC group is not party to that effort?

Where is the neutrality OAA is claiming? Was the chairman speaking for himself and not for OAA? If that is the case, then it is up to OAA to disown his statements without delay. If it fails to do so, there is no mistaking that it has shown partisanship and the whole exercise is nothing but a Shanee gimmick just like the “maanguddoo” affair.

The second event we will examine is the OAA chairman’s (Jijjirama member) and PR’s (Shanee member) interview with the VOA Afaan Oromoo program on June 4th, 2020.

In this interview, again, both gentlemen deliberately misinformed the public.

First, the OAA officers spoke of a reconciliation effort by “manguuddoo” which they misrepresented as involving all three factions. They both know full well that the QC group is not party to that effort. Why misinform the public?

Second, they again deliberately hid the existence of two different reconciliation efforts underway. Just as at the conference, OAA officers completely ignored and failed to mention the effort initiated by the QC group and in which all three factions are involved. Why?

For anyone who is familiar with the OLF saga, it is abundantly clear that the three factions don’t agree on the cause(s) of their problems much less on the solution. Members of the OAA can have their own take on these issues but I don’t believe OAA has a stand on these issues as a civic association. Neither do I think it should.

But listen to the OAA chairman and PR diagnose the cause of OLF splits in this interview. The former diagnosed it as “personal ego” of the leaders. The PR officer at least listed a couple of causes cited by different groups but ended up at the same diagnoses. Recall I said the three factions don’t agree on the cause(s) of their problems much less on the solution? “Personal ego” is one of Shanee Asmara’s (currently split into Shanee & Jijjiirama) diagnosis.

Where the two gentlemen there to speak on their groups behalf or on behalf of OAA? If OAA has no stand on these issues as I assumed, why pass their own views as that of the association’s? This is very short sighted and counterproductive.

Again, OAA must disown their statements if it wants to be taken seriously and continue to work for Oromo Reconciliation, Unity and Mobilization. Otherwise, it will become another Shanee gimmick just like the “Maanguddoo” gimmick.

Have your say.



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