Addis Abeba, February 07/2018 – Following a statement released yesterday by the OPDO, member of Ethiopia’s ruling party, EPRDF, pledging to work with opposition parties including those outside of the country, Oromo Democratic Front (ODF) has released a statement welcoming the move and expressing its own readiness to work with OPDO. In addition, Leenco Lata, president of ODF, told Addis Standard late this afternoon that “there has always been go-betweens between us and OPDO leaders.”
OPDO’s lengthy statement was released late last night at the end of ten days meeting by the central committee. Among several promises the OPDO said it would implement as part of its ongoing reform, its emphasis on the importance of building multi party political system and its promise to work towards realizing that has caught the attention of many.
According to OPDO’s statement, the presence of opposition political parties in contributing towards creating a healthy market place of ideas, and in nurturing a democratic environment is invaluable. Differences among and between political groups and parties should accommodate “diversity of ideas” which will in tern contribute to the well-being of the country at large, the statement emphasized. “Democracy is a matter of survival for the people of our country,” the statement said, adding the “OPDO understands well that in order to establish a democratic structure whereby diversity of ideas can be tolerated, the role of political parties is essential.” To this end, the statement said, while respecting its differences, the OPDO is ready to work with opposition political parties “both from within and outside the country.”
Within hours, the Oromo Democratic Front (ODF), an opposition party in exile, has released its own statement in which it reciprocated its readiness to work with the OPDO. “We believe the call is timely and a major step in the right direction,” the statement says, “And we therefore wholeheartedly welcome and accept OPDO’s call.”
Furthermore, in a phone interview with Addis Standard, Leenco Lata, President of ODF, said “there has always been go-betweens between us and OPDO leaders,” especially since the idea of reform took effect within the current OPDO leadership. Leenco added that ODF is “flexible regarding the procedure” to work with OPDO.
Commend and applaud
ODF’s statement said “while commending and applauding OPDO for the bold move, we want to take this opportunity to express our willingness and readiness to work with it not only to realize the aspirations of the Oromo people but also to make Ethiopia’s federation genuinely democratic and multi-national, for which we have been advocating since the founding of our organization.”
On his part, Leenco said ODF “will be consulting OPDO officials to see what is convenient for both sides. We will be exploring more ways to work with the OPDO officials; at this time we are willing to consider all options,” he said, adding “ODF was established with a plan of returning back home and contributing to the process of building a democratic Ethiopia.” He mentioned that it was because of this commitment that he and other senior members of the ODF came to Ethiopia in March 2015. However, they were quickly told to leave the country. “We have not stopped working on returning back since then.”
A breakaway from the oldest political party, Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), ODF was established in 2013 by the founders and senior leaders of OLF itself, including Leenco Leta. AS
Ed’s Note: Addis Standard will release its detailed exclusive interview with Leenco Lata soon.