The Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) and Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), the two prominent parties in Oromia Region, announced the establishment of the ‘Oromia Regional National Transitional Government’ last week. The parties declared that they would establish a Transitional Oromia Government until an election is held. The announcement came onto the scene just days after the country held general elections on June 21, 2021.
The elections, which were held amid the crisis, were more peaceful than the preceding ones. The election was initially planned to be held in May 2020 if not for the instability that followed popular protests in opposition to the then EPRDF ruling party.
The country conducted six general elections since 1995 when the FDRE constitution was enacted. The then Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) party dominated the previous five elections, securing the majority of the seats in the House of People Representatives and regional state councils.
The ruling party lost its political and popular legitimacy to rule as repression, unemployment, poverty, and corruption became rampant. In addition to the socio-economic problems and the political crisis, people were discontented with the regime. The continuous unrest and youth movement that emerged to massive violence forced the then ruling party to embrace reform.
The then Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned amid the uprisings here and there. The party appointed Abiy Ahmed (Ph.D.) as a chairman of the party and was immediately installed as the Prime Minister of Ethiopia in 2018.
The projected 2020 sixth general elections were pushed to 2021 due to the outbreak of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
The sixth general national election was conducted without a major conflict except for irregularities and complaints from participating political parties and candidates. Out of the 547 constituencies all over the country, 440 elect their representatives. Second-round elections are expected to be held in early September. The elections for parliamentary seats in the Tigray region are pushed indefinitely following the war outbroke between the federal and regional governments.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed recently said that political parties that took part in the election will get seats if the Prosperity Party won the election. However, he did not explain how his administration is planning to accommodate opposition parties.
Even though 46 parties participated in the election, OLF and OFC, among the largest political parties operating in Oromia, boycotted the 2021 sixth election citing their senior leaders and members have been detained. Jawar Mohammed and Bekele Gerba, prominent figures of OFC, have been detained following the unrest that occurred in the country following the murder of Hachalu Hundesaa a year ago.
The two parties called for an all-inclusive convention and the establishment of a ‘Government of Salvation’.
They rejected the sixth election and accused the ruling party of utilizing it to consolidate its power. OLF called the election a ‘political drama or theatre’.
OFC issued a statement on June 23, 2021, stating that ‘an election that is not fair and not inclusive cannot deliver democracy’. The party has been urging for genuine all-inclusive political dialogue to solve the county’s political dead-end. In its statement, OFC demanded an election be held within a year based on a common roadmap.
On June 25 2021, OLF also issued a statement calling for a political dialog. The party suggested the establishment of a salvation government for Ethiopia. They also declared that they organized the ‘Oromia Regional National Transitional Government (ORNTG)’. The OLF and OFC stated that a Transitional Council of the ORNTG was established.
On June 25 2021 the embassies of Austria, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the Delegation of the European Union to Ethiopia issued a joint statement calling on the Ethiopian government and stakeholders to convene a national dialogue process to bring peaceful solutions.
The government, however, has yet to respond to the calls by OLF and OFC.