The Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) has appealed for genuine political will and good-faith engagement from all stakeholders, enlisting a number of calls including a call for a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict and an independent investigation into Hachallu Hundessa’s death. The release of the party’s leaders, Jawar Mohammed and Bekele Gerba, from 18 months of wrongful imprisonment shows that their arrest and detention in the aftermath of the assassination of Hachallu Hundessa was motivated by political considerations, according to OFC’s statement.
“It’s also not lost on our jailers that we committed no offense and that we were held unlawfully on bogus charges designed to increase the ruling party’s electoral fortunes. The decision to expunge us from the political space - in the run-up to the general elections - was made because the ruling party saw us, our movement, and our causes, as a threat to its grip on power,” reads the statement. “ Since their forced removal from the political space, the hope for a democratic transition was totally dashed and the country descended into a regrettable and devastating civil war.”
The party stressed that even though it might be too late, with genuine political will and good-faith engagement from all stakeholders, they believe there is still a small window of opportunity to prevent further destruction, restore peace through reconciliation, and rebuild the country.
Recognizing the government’s recent change of tone towards seeking peace and reconciliation, OFC called for all parties to seek a peaceful and negotiated resolution to the ongoing wars, particularly in Oromia, Benshangul-Gumuz, and Tigray along with a call to all external actors to play a positive role to end the civil war in Ethiopia and facilitate peace and stability in the Horn of Africa region.
OFC extended its tribute and gratitude to those it said were cooperative and paid the price during the imprisonment of its leaders. “We would like to pay a particular tribute to one of our defense attorneys, the late Abduljebar Hussein, a selfless defender of truth and justice who paid the ultimate price in the middle of his tireless effort to establish our innocence and secure our freedom. . . it would be remiss of us not to express our appreciation to the federal police officers, and Kaliti prison guards and administrators who treated us with the utmost respect and dignity during our interactions. We sincerely hope the same is extended to all prisoners across the country.”
Jawar Mohammed and Bekele Gerba were arrested in July 2020 following violent protests that broke out following Hachalu Hundesa’s murder, in which hundreds of demonstrators including security forces were killed.
Read OFC’s full statement here