Four opposition groups united to wage struggle against regime in Ethiopia. Afar People’s Arbegnoch Ginbot 7 Movement, Oromo Democratic Front and Sidama People’s Democratic movement have called a meeting this coming Sunday in Washington DC to announce merger.
The news unity broke last week during Vision Ethiopia conference in Washington when Dr. Getachew interrupted master of the ceremony to update the audience about it.
The new united opposition is named Ethiopian National Movement. Three of the four parties are originally formed on the basis of ethnicity while Arbegnoch Ginbot 7 movement is a national opposition with no ethnic sentiment and with a rebel army along the Ethio-Eritrean border. Arbegnoch Ginbot 7 is also allegedly operating in Ethiopia clandestinely, at least the regime in power claims so. Government related popular movement in the last few months leading to the deceleration of state of emergency to what it calls “anti-peace” forces one of which is, based on government narrative, Arbegnoch Ginbot 7 .
Whether the newly united opposition group will have a single structure with a centralized command or take a form of coalition is not known at this point in time. What is obvious is that the movement will adopt armed and peaceful struggles as a strategy to achieve its goals which is changing regime in Ethiopia to bring about democracy.
Lencho Leta, leader of ODF, and Konte Mussa, Leader of Afar People’s Party are in Washington DC already, reported Ethiopian Satellite Television. Leader of Sidama People’s Movement, Bekele Wayo, and Berhanu Nega, Arbegnoch Ginbot 7 movement chairman are expected to be in Washington on or before this Sunday.
The news seem have brought about much enthusiasm, and optimism, among Ethiopians that Ethiopian Movement could influence positive change in Ethiopia. From conversation in social media, many Ethiopians tend to be of the opinion that “Ethiopian Movement” is a fresh start.
Part of the disenchantment among politicized Ethiopians is clearly ethnic politics ; seen as potential existential threat for Ethiopia as a country.
Ethnic based political parties mushroomed in Ethiopia, a country of more than 80 language speaking groups, after the late Meles Zenawi’s guerrila group came to power in 1991. Unlike African countries like Rwanda, with its unprecedented genocide experience in the continent, and Uganda (among others) where ethnic political parties are constitutionally banned, Zenawi’s party gave ethnic politics a constitutional basis in what many analysts say was a strategy to divide and rule as a means to cater for legitimacy problem which proved to be persistent problem, in fact worsening.
It remains to be seen whether the newly united opposition party will live up to the expectations of Ethiopians to inspire and bring about change in Ethiopia.
Regime in Ethiopia,on its part, is intending to exploit unpopular and beleaguered opposition figures in an apparent move to make a gesture that it is in the business of ,in its own language, “in-depth renewal.” Concomitantly, the country came under full fledged militarized repression after a state of emergency was declared. In addition to deaths, at least 1600 Ethiopians are reportedly thrown to jail since the deceleration of state of emergency .