Burning the Floor with Demon
By Amen Teferi
Tigrai Online, March 14, 2017
I read the callous piece Mr. Ismail Mohammed Abdi has written on the stubborn and intermittent conflicts between the inhabitants of the Oromo-Somali borderlands. Well, the sloppy article: “Shedding Light on the Recent Violence in the Border Areas between Somali and Oromia Regions of Ethiopia” has a skewed rendition of the reality that it intends to purport.
It is unfortunate to see a person scribbling a piece that utterly defeats the cause of the political establishment that he “seemingly” cared for and writing to defend. Hence, it is only natural, to be uncomfortable with the piece posted on Aigaforum and Tigrai on line on March 11, 2017. The article reflects a miscreant venture of a writer who failed to disengage himself from the parochial attitude that he succumbed to.
I found the air of the writer to be so impudent and made many erroneous claims that are so outrageous and shaky. In my view, Ismail Mohammed Abdi is in the wrong box, when he tries to appraise the effort made to resolve the protracted border conflict between the inhabitants of the Oromo-Somali borderlands that has older root.
His lack of critical thinking and sober politicking that has led him astray to further mess up the already difficult matter that local, regional and federal governments have been struggling to sort-out satisfactory solutions that would appease all side and further strengthen the longstanding and close relationship of the two people. He simply paints the issue of the Oromo-Somali borderlands conflict with various false political colors.
Thus, he failed to work to create conducive environment that would encourage a peaceful settlement of the conflict, but made staggering accusation on OPDO/EPRDF. He must have been in his dreams when he blatantly accused that OPDO/EPRDF has made the border conflict “a rallying point for such rogue groups as the Oromo Liberation front (OLF).”
His libelous and slanderous pen never hesitates to allege that “It is not the first time that we have seen OPDO joining forces with malignant Oromo groups that have fallen out with the country’s constitution.” He goes on with his tactless remark and cut the quick saying, “However, this last one brings the OPDO into new heights where senior members of the Oromia regional government, including the current president and regional lawmakers, clearly feed on opposition propaganda and are openly praised by the opposition press for complementing their agenda.”
“People’s Democratic organization (OPDO) itself has ironically not chosen a different path and merely replicated a terrorist agenda of turning Ethiopian people against itself. Instead of choosing to resolve the land-related problem peacefully with its neighbor, the Somali Region, as the case used to be in the past, all that the regional government, with the whole weight of its lawmakers and intellectuals, has done in the past seven or eight months was to send thousands of heavily armed militia and paramilitary police members to border areas to fight pastoralists in their villages of origin, leading to catastrophic casualties including unnecessary human deaths, displacement and devastation of local livelihoods mostly on the side of Somali regional state.” His article is full of such reckless assaults that would compromise the integrity of only the writer but the publishers too.
Mr. Ismail Mohammed Abdi really lack sober politicking. His lack of critical thinking has led him astray to further mess up the already difficult matter that local, regional and federal governments are struggling to sort-out satisfactory solutions that would appease all side that further strengthen the longstanding amiable relationship of the two people.
He is burning the floor with demon.
Apparently, Mr. Ismail Mohammed Abdi is not working to create conducive environment that would encourage a peaceful settlement of the protracted conflict that has been claiming many lives. As the truth is highlighted in often-quoted adage; “conflicts are failed politics.” If we close doors on politics and blindly vie for dominance, conflict ensues. Parties that are propounding diverging views could have peaceful engagement when they are unfailingly commit themselves to political ideals that are keen on democratic values. Politics in the absence of democratic venues and values will end up in fierce power struggles that would sooner or later assume a violent turn.
Now, the Oromo-Somali border conflict draws the attention of both the federal and regional governments; in as much as it has attracted the avid interests of the anti-peace elements who wish to disrupt the constitutional order. All violent political groups are working hard seeing this conflict as a wind-fall opportunity to create havoc that could have a magnitude to put the federal and democratic political system in peril.
The writer professed to be the proponent of the federal system that recognizes the national identity of the people of Ethiopia who had been suffering for ages under the various oppressive regimes of the past. When EPRDF came to power in 1991 it has made decision re-map Ethiopia with a view to abolish the oppression of the nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia.
Based on to the federal constitution Ethiopia becomes reorganized into nine autonomous regional states and two city state administrations. Among these are the ethno-national regional states of Oromia and Somali states that soon engaged themselves in dealing with claims and counter-claims over territories along their nominal but indistinct borders.
Then, 430 kebeles were contested between the two states. These territories were areas over which various nationalist political groups were competing with each other and become center of conflicts. These claims and counter claims specifically revolve around water points, tracts of land, ritual sites and towns.
The strategies that would help us to settle the conflicts over ethno-national boundaries are embedded within the constitutional framework. A central tool of in-built mechanisms of conflict resolution is undertaking referendum to decide the fate of contested territories by simple majority vote.
According to the Ethiopian constitution “all state borders dispute shall be settled by agreement of the concerned states. Where the concerned states fail to reach agreement, the House of federation shall decide on the basis of settlement patterns and wishes of the people concerned.”
After so many attempts to resolve the Oromo-Somali border dispute have failed, in November 2004 a referendum that was organized and supervised by the National Electoral Board. The pastoralist, agro-pastoralists and towns people occupying the contested territories around the Oromo-Somali border cast ballots to decide their fate. The process was successfully undertaken in 422 kebele. But the referendum fail to close the matter ones and for all.
As the Oromo-Somali border contestation over identity and territoriality reflects a complex inter-play of various issues and actors, we need sober mind to reach at amicable conclusion. We believe the two regional states have the stamina and the wisdom to reach at peaceful conclusion, dampening the disconcerting voices from all corners.