A main opposition party in Ethiopia has slammed the current political crisis in the country and called for continued and intensified peaceful protests.
Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) leadership recently held an extraordinary meeting following which they released the statement which stressed that the state of emergency ratification vote had failed. Their statement said OFC rejected the measure which was null and void.
OFC’s move is in strict defiance of orders under the February 16 state of emergency. The Command Post administering the emergency rule has openly stated that necessary measures will be taken against people who breached its directives.
Under the State of Emergency it is prohibited to prepare, print and distribute writings, display signs or publicize messages that could incite violence via other means of communication.
It further forbids importing or exporting publications and exchanging via mobile cell phone, television, radio, social media and other means of communication without license. It prohibits disrupting delivery and distribution of basic commodities.
The main base of the OFC, the Oromia region, Ethiopia’s largest, is currently experiencing a social shutdown called by activists and youth in the region.
Two leaders of the party were recently released as part of promised political reforms by the government. The first to walk out of jail was Merera Gudina, president of OFC who was facing multiple criminal charges after he was arrested in December 2016.
The release of Bekele Gerba – the group’s secretary – was to follow after the state dropped charges against him and six others.
Both men were detained in late February as they embarked on a thank you tour to the town of Nekemte. They were eventually released by the federal forces but had to abort their engagements and forced to return to Addis Ababa.
There is an Oromia-based party in the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). It is believed that the next Prime Minister will emerge from the Oromo Peoples Democratic Organization (OPDO).
The Premier post became vacant after the resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn who resigned his post a day before the state of emergency was imposed. Desalegn said his decision was to help with reforms announced in early January 2018.
The ruling coalition is made up of four region-based parties but is dominated by the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front.
Tigrayans are a much smaller ethnic group than the Oromo who are from Ethiopia’s most populous Oromia region and have long complained of being sidelined from political power.
The international community is closely watching the developments in Africa’s second most populous country which has a booming economy and is a staunch Western ally in the fight against terrorism.