Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Further Cracks in Oromo Liberation Front, Dawud Ibsa Under House Arrest
Reports indicate cracks within the Oromo Liberation Front. Chairman of the Organization, Dawud Ibsa, is said to be under house arrest

Dawud Ibsa / ENA
July 26, 2020

Weeks after the assassination of Prominent singer Hachalu Hundessa, which was partly linked to Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), Dawud Ibsa (the chairman) is said to be in House arrest in Addis Ababa.

Geda Oljira, head of the party’s office, told BBC Amharic on Sunday that an unspecified number of Federal police is deployed in the residence of the chairman.

The report added that no one can go in or come out of his residence. Geda Oljira also said that police forces told him that the Federal police is deployed in the residence of the chairman to ensure his safety.

However, he said that the chairman’s mobility is restricted and that he is unable to carry out his daily duties, and that he might be arrested if he comes out of his residence. 

Apart from Dawud Ibsa, his family members are not allowed to and from the house.

The assassination of Hachalu Hundessa has been portrayed in government media as the works of the new political alliance between Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). Suspects in the killing of the singer reportedly confessed during investigation that they were deployed by Oromo Liberation Front -Shane group.

OLF has distanced itself from the armed wing, Shane, which is undertaking armed activities mostly in Wollega and Guji areas of the Oromo region of Ethiopia.

Oromo Liberation Front leadership split

Meanwhile, there are also reports that the vice-chairperson of the organization, Ararso Bikila, convened a meeting of the leadership on Sunday at the Gulelie office in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. It is said to be not recognized by the chairman and the congress of the party.

According to a report by DW Amharic, which cited Bete Urgessa who is the finance head of the Oromo Liberation Front, only 16 of the leaders attended the meeting including the chairman and some members of the central committee who are arrested in connection with the massacre in the Oromo region of Ethiopia soon after the assassination of the singer Hachalu Hundessa. The source added that the decision from the meeting is likely to be unacceptable if it is about changing the leadership.

Oromo Liberation Front has a history of recurring splits within the ranks of the leadership. The founders of the organization, like Lencho Letta and Dima Negewo, parted their ways with the organization as they embraced a moderate form of ethnic Oromo nationalism.

The DW report alleges, citing party sources, that members of the leadership came to the Gulelle office escorted by government security forces which they said is an indication that the Federal government of Ethiopia is “acting in a way to control the Front.”

OLF has been accusing the government of not disclosing the whereabouts of arrested leaders which the government denies.

With over fifty years since its establishment, the Oromo Liberation Front is one of the earliest ethnic Oromo Nationalist Organizations. After the resignation of Hailemariam Desalgne in April 2018 which led to an internal election in the ruling coalition, then known as EPRDF, which picked Abiy Ahmed as Prime Minister, Oromo Liberation Front leaders were invited to return to Ethiopia from their military base in Eritrea. Accordingly, they returned to Ethiopia in September 2018.

According to government claims, OLF was invited to the country on condition that it would renounce armed struggle and resort to peaceful struggle. As it turns out, the organization refused to disarm over which there had been controversy with the Ethiopian government.

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