By Medihane Ekubamichael @Medihane
Addis Abeba, February 05/2021 – In a statement it issued on February 04, the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) said its efforts so far to help settle internal split within the leadership of the opposition Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) were to no avail and asked the party to convene general assembly aimed at reaching consensus to bridge the party’s split.
The NEBE said that it is to be noted that its repeated efforts to settle the dispute was based on its mandate under its establishment Proclamation No. 1133/2019 and establishment of political parties and Code of Conduct proclamation No. 1162/2019.
The Board referenced a letter written on August 07/2020 signed off by the deputy chairman of the party and submitted to the Board by some of the OLF executive committee members banning the chairman of the party and fielding successive complaints against the leadership. On the other hand another letter signed off by the chairman of the party and submitted to the Board on September 12/2020 notified the Board that the party had held a council assembly and banned the deputy chairman, members of the executive and central committees until the party held its general assembly.
Cognizant of the Board’s role to settle internal party disputes based on its mandate stipulated under Proclamation 1162/2019, Art. 74/6, the Board said it has looked into the matter and decided to establish a committee mandated to look into the complaints from both sides. Accordingly, NEBE said the party’s faction led by the deputy chairman Ararso Biqila assigned a team to deal with the committee established by the Board. However, the party’s faction led by its chairman Dawud Ibssa was not willing to assign a team on the grounds that the matter should be settled internally based on party code of conduct, leading to the failure the Board’s committee to settle the dispute.
During this consultation, it was established that the OLF was experiencing leadership crisis, and that it was not in a position to provide leadership to its membersNEBE
This failure has forced the Board to take the matter on its own and look into it instead of through committee of professionals it has established, NEBE said. Accordingly, the Board said it has held extensive consultations with the leaders of both sides, as well as the Board’s members of Discipline and Control Committee, on the contents of the letters submitted by both. During this consultation, it was established that the OLF was experiencing leadership crisis, and that it was not in a position to provide leadership to its members; especially it was decided the decision taken by both sides to ban one another illegal. Therefore the Board has decided that the members banned by both side should remain in their respective legal responsibility.
In addition, the Board said that because both sides failed to deliver documents which follow legal procedure, and cognizant of the fact that both sides were unable to solve the leadership crisis, it held a meeting on December 17/2020 and decided that the OLF should hold a general assembly to elect their leaders and offered to take responsibility to facilitate the general assembly.
A letter from the Board was therefore delivered to both sides with a call to party executives to conduct the first consultation meeting with the help of the Board to facilitate the meeting. Accordingly, NEBE said the side led by the deputy chairman Ararso Biqila was present in the meeting while the side led by the chairman Daud Ibssa decline to attend the meeting saying “the Board has no legal role to facilitate this.” This has led the efforts to once again end without results, NEBE said.
Be that as it may, both sides have continued submitting applications to the Board with various administrative affairs of the party, the NEBE said.
…based on the legal and procedural instruments in its possession, the Board has understood that it was left with no more means to settle the party’s internal split.NEBE
In a meeting the leadership of the Board held on January 27/2021 the Board has looked into the split within the OLF leadership, and hitherto unsuccessful efforts to settle the dispute thereof. Accordingly, based on the legal and procedural instruments in its possession, the Board has understood that it was left with no more means to settle the party’s internal split.
Accordingly, the Board has decided that it should notify members of the OLF, the various party structure and its leadership should convene a general assembly. Because the party has failed to settle the internal difference through its executive, the Board strictly cautioned the various party structure and the party’s members to be aware of the failure by the executive and to pursue all necessary routs to convene the general assembly, NEBE said.
Background: The OLF leadership split started after the inexplicable house arrest of Dawud Ibssa
Following the deadly violence that broke out across Oromia in the wake of the assassination of the renowned Oromo artist Hachalu Hundessa on the evening of June 29, 2020, restrictions were imposed by the government on the personal movements of the chairman, Dawud Ibssa. Geda Oljira, head of the OLF headquarters in Addis Abeba told BBC Amharic that Dawud was forced to stay at home as of July 17 by federal police and armed police officers were deployed in and around his house.
At that moment Geda indicated that the chairman was told to stay at home for “the sake of his own security” without any further details. Geda also added that no one was allowed to enter or leave the premises until further order and that they could not communicate with the chairman either in person or through telephone that was disconnected shortly after the stay at home order. Dawud’s mobile phone was unresponsive and merely signals the line being unavailable. Addis Standard tried to verify the telephone disconnection issue with government officials, however our reporters were repeatedly told that the line works well, and that it is the chairman who keeps changing his phone number. The ‘in house stay’, what largely seemed to hold the chairman incommunicado, has totally incapacitated his interactions with other party members and their activities within the increasingly active politics at the time. AS