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A reply to Ismail Mohammed Abdi’s article titled “Shedding Light On The Recent Violence In Border Areas Between Somali And Oromia Regions Of Ethiopia”

A reply to Ismail Mohammed Abdi’s article titled “Shedding Light On The Recent Violence In Border Areas Between Somali And Oromia Regions Of Ethiopia” published in Aiga forum dated 03-11-17


By Abdulbasit Abdusemed 03-18-17


The Missed Context:


The socio-economic, cultural and political relation of the border community of Oromia and Ethio-Somali people is characterized by long established common history of resistance and cooperation. They are known for their long history of mutual peaceful coexistence. They are economically interdependent, socially and culturally integrated by marriage and other institutions of cooperation.  They have also developed an effective and valued mechanisms of conflict resolution when the need arise.  The border community of the brethren Oromo and the Ethio-Somali are much closer to each other rather than their co-ethnic members elsewhere. It is a hard fact that cannot be destroyed by undemocratic and divisive politics of few individuals or a group of any kind.



The border community relation does not depend on the will of an individual or a group. It has to be noted that the border communities of Oromia and Ethio-Somali is a bond tied by common history of cooperation during times of peace and crisis. The glue that holds them together is glue made up of blood and common developmental and democratic interests. The writers attempt to set aside all the common values are a clear indication of his dangerous agenda that relegates the very context of the border community and the nature of their co existence.  


These brethren border communities shared many common things such as history, psychological make up, and exceptionally, in some communities such as the Jaarso clan it is common to find people who proudly claim they belong to Oromo and Ethio-Somali simultaneously. As it has been empirically demonstrated these communities never waged war due to border issues, they may have skirmishes for water and grazing land, as any pastoralist or semi pastoralist, but the two people themselves have age-old traditional and effective mechanism of conflict resolution. Orchestrated invasion and armed incursion has never been a path followed by the two border communities.



They share common fate and destiny, as it has been the case they swim together or they sink together. They share agony and ecstasy, this is the fact in the ground, nothing less, nothing more!


The writers attempt to paint the ongoing crisis as if it is people to people conflict is not only essentially wrong, but also rent seeker in its orientation. The ongoing crisis has nothing to do with the people. It is precisely for this reason that, I humbly ask readers to understand the context of the crisis in the above-mentioned manner. It has never been a conflict among the brethren people and it will never be so!


I have high regard for the Ethiopia Somali Peoples Democratic Party, ruling party that has transformed the region incredibly. The party and the Ethiopian Somali people have accomplished what others considered as an impossible thing. I was praising the amazing achievement of the region and writing about it continuously. And maybe I am the blogger mostly outspoken the genuine success that my Ethio-Somali brothers achieved. My appreciation to the leadership and the people of Ethiopian Somali is great and I will continue to amplify their all-round achievements. The development of Ethio-Somali is equally a development to everyone. They have succeeded by turning the dark ages of war, instability and poverty upside down! We are all proud of this. 



Mr. Ismail Vs The Constitution


The Ethiopian constitution is one of the highly democratic and progressive one. It is a constitution that depends on the recognition of fundamental right of self-determination to Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia. Article 8/1 of our constitution clearly stated that “Sovereignty resides in the nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia.” and Article8/3 of the same constitution stated “Sovereignty shall be expressed through the peoples' representatives, elected by them in accordance with this Constitution, and through their direct democratic participation.” 


Mr Ismail’s undemocratic and imposing argument began with his contempt against this very article by undermining the Chaffee, the institution that embodies the will of the Oromo people. He blatantly and arrogantly accused the Chaffee without a shred of evidence arrogantly and in a chauvinist manner with the tone of  I know for you. It seems like Mr. Ismail is living in the old Ethiopia where self-proclaimed dictators were imposing their will by disregarding the basic right of peoples self-determination and democratic governance. Mr. Ismail wants to instruct the Chaffee boldly forgetting that this is institution fundamentally the sovereign body that decides Oromo matters. His arrogance has no limit.


I have no intention to defend to OPDO, but it has to be clear that OPDO/EPRDF governs the huge region that is becoming the engine of Ethiopia’s transformation. I am not a member of OPDO; I am just an Oromo Ethiopian and a federalist. Moreover, Mr Ismail wants to equate the OPDO/EPRDF with other organizations that are labeled as terrorist by the Ethiopian parliament. He accused the OPDO as an organization that is infiltrated and sabotaged by extremist elements from the diaspora, again without a single evidence and full of arrogance. The OPDO/EPRDF is nothing but the organizational manifestation of Oromo people’s determination to build a democratic and prosperous Ethiopia. OPDO’s history is a history of success and unprecedented glory and the main source of its achievement was nothing but its democratic and popular commitment. OPDO/EPRDF is known for making impossible possible. The pragmatic Organization and grand base of our federalism, OPDO/EPRDF, can’t be judged by a one’s article composed of cons-piratic attitude. Thanks to the 25 year progress, we have reached a stage where success on the ground has become the only parameter of judgment.  



An organization that fights its internal and external weakness mercilessly cannot be a harbor of extremism and undemocratic nationalism. Had OPDO/EPRDF been infiltrated by extremist elements the peace, development and self governance so far achieved would have been a distance dream. However, Mr Ismail’s contempt and allegation against OPDO/EPRDF is a logical continuation of his disregard for people’s right to self determination, which is not different from the position of chauvinists that disregard the democratic constitution of the land. Therefore, the original sin of Mr. Ismail’s argument is his arrogant contempt of the constitution and people’s right to self-determination.


OPDO/EPRDF is in Deep Reform Movement. Mr. Ismail was not ashamed to condemn the civilized and peaceful change of leadership that the Oromia National Regional State and the OPDO/EPRDF conducted successfully. From his arrogant standpoint, he even tries to criticize the current leadership and praise the former ones. His simple attempt to divide the OPDO/EPRDF leadership is a futile exercise. The former leaders transfer power by admitting their limitations and by acknowledging the capability of the new force. However, to Mr. Ismail this was a degenerating act, as if he knows what is better for the Oromo People more than the Oromo leadership. Politically speaking, it is quite obvious to determine the direction of these unfounded allegations.   It is also annoying that Mr. Ismail wants to pick a leadership for the Oromo people, again a continuation of his contempt to peoples right to self-determination. Unlike other organizations that claimed to represent Oromo, the OPDO/EPRDF confronted the challenge that many avoided. OPDO/EPRDF progressively and practically transformed Oromia, which is the pillar of the New Ethiopia, by fighting many fronts of old ideas and undemocratic forces within and outside.



Mr. Ismail Vs The TPLF


In a very sinister and mean manner Mr Ismail mentioned the TPLF/EPRDF, as if the TPLF is an ideological partner to his menace idea. The TPLF fought to realize peoples right to self determination; the TPLF paid huge price to make sure that conflicts would be solved peacefully and constitutionally; the TPLF and the sacrifice of its gallant fighters gave their precious life for a democratic Ethiopia. A day never passed without remembering the sacrifice made by the fallen hero. May their soul rest in peace!


Having said this, Mr. Ismail wants to use this precious history for his sinister aim. He wants to drag the TPLF instrumentally by appealing to pity. He wants to postulate the OPDO as an anti TPLF organization. He wants to marriage his idiotic and anti-federalist baseless ideas to the ideologically genuine TPLF. This is an outdated tactic employed by outmoded forces to destroy the solidarity between the two parties ideologically matched under one umbrella. His cheap maneuver to manipulate the history of the fallen TPLF/EPRDF fighters shows his disregard to the very cause that the TPLF stands for. Someone who has the contempt for the democratic constitution and the fundamental right of self-determination cannot hide itself by invoking the precious sacrifice of the TPLF and the people of Tigrai. Resolving conflicts constitutionally is the only democratic way available. Therefore, if you respect the sacrifice, respect the constitution! Rejecting such rent-seeking political attitude of being conspiring at a name of Sacrificed heroes is what TPLF fights for.


Mr. Ismail Vs The Direction of The Federal Government


His Excellency Prime Minster Hailemariam Dessalegn clearly stated that the cause of the ongoing crisis emanated from the weakness of the concerned leadership of the political and security apparatus.  His statement reinforced the commonality of the two bordering communities. The issue of border has never been a source of conflict. The main reason of the crisis is the failure of the leadership.  The leadership instigates the conflict for their dependent rent seeking aim. According to PM Hailemariam the sickness resides in the leadership and the conflict has nothing to do with the people and the solution is correcting the wrong does administrative and police forces and by enhancing the relationship between the two communities.


Additionally, the PM stated that the issue of border has been resolved by previous referendums and the only remaining Kebelle’s are 26 in number, which are found in Guji and Borena Zones. These will be decided according to a referendum. In clear contrast to the statement of the PM, Mr. Ismail falsely claims that there are 80 Kebelles that the Oromo Regional State has to submit to Ethio-Somali region. It is obvious that there may be some complications with regard to implementation of the already decided matters. The federal government position is very clear and constitutional. Mr. Ismail’s claim is a clear rejection of the Premiers and his government stand, which succinctly stated that the crisis is not a border issue and has no people to people dimension.  The recent measures taken against some security persons in the area are in line with this determination.


Concluding Remark


As we can understand from the above brief discussion, the main source of the crisis is the failure of leadership. As it was repeatedly noted by the PM, rule of law should prevail and violence has to be halted immediately. Our constitution has democratic mechanisms of resolving conflict and so do our border community. The federal and concerned regional governments should work together with the border community to solve the problem. All wrong doers must face justice and impunity shall not go unpunished. Rule of law is the only guarantee that we have.  Fortunately, the PM said that there is enough evidence to this end.


For the future, they should work together not only to solve the contemporary crisis, but also to establish joint development programs that would cement the age-old social, economic, cultural and political relationships of the border community.

My final message to Mr. Ismail is this: “Oromo’s progress doesn’t mean Ethio-Somali’s destruction or Ehio-Somali progress doesn’t mean Oromo’s destruction. One’s development is a blessing to the other and ones destruction is destruction to the other and the whole country as well. Let’s call for peace, not for conspire.”


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