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January 26 , 2019.
There is a saying in Amharic expressive of my feelings toward conflict in the Oromia Regional State.
It roughly translates to, “the least loved inherits one’s wealth,” alluding that one’s worst fear sometimes come to pass.
There have been reports for weeks now that there is fighting in Wollega area between members of the same ethnic group. There is even an army presence to confront an organised armed force within the region. This news was a shock for me, because I had never seen infighting between members of the largest ethnic group in the Oromia Regional State.
There have been instances in the past where there have been fighting in the area that constitutes the current administrative unit, up until the creation of modern Ethiopia in the time of Emperor Menelik II and beyond.
After the “terrorist” label against the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) was lifted, and its members were allowed to enter the country, I met the party's chairperson, Dawud Ibsa, at Elilly International Hotel in Addis Abeba.
Having known each other before, we greeted each other warmly. I asked him about the conditional agreements for their re-entry into the country.
"Like all the others, we came to be together with the rest of our people," Dawud told me, to which I replied jokingly, "We will all be together."
For the past few weeks though, I have been hearing that people have been dying close to my place of birth, Gimbi, in the West Wellega Zone of the Oromia Regional State. There are as well reports of unrest in other parts of the region.
There is no doubt that the OLF had been popular in the Oromia Regional State. Those days are gone now, because we have a government that has promised to attend to the hardships of Ethiopians.
Before the emergence of the present political leadership, Ethiopians were worried about a possible civil war or outright wars among ethnic groups.
But after times changed, when citizens were hoping to see a better day in Ethiopia, how can anyone want to be armed with the exception of the police to ensure that citizens can move about without fear of any renegade group shooting at innocent citizens?
I used to have respect for OLF at a time when there was exploitation and subjugation of the ethnic group the organisation claims to fight for. OLF and I have followed different paths though.
Now we expect that a united Ethiopia will have peace, prosperity and all that a free and united nation can hope for. I do not want this opportunity to be hijacked by a civil war similar to that of Nigeria in the late 1960s.
OLF should not stand in the way of the hope and yearning for peace and prosperity of Ethiopians by engaging in endless quarrels.
Veteran politician and business person
PUBLISHED ON Jan 26,2019 [ VOL 19 , NO 978]
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