by Girma Kassa
We often discuss with Dr Negasso on many matters, in a respectful way. Dr Negasso, in spite of differences we may have, has been a man I respect and honor. I have learned a lot from him and, as an Ethiopian always grateful for the many years of service he gave to Ethiopia and its people. I have found him to be an exceptional person, with great integrity, humility and honesty. When many politicians often resort to insult when challenged, Dr Negasso respectful towards others, agreeing to disagree, often choose to persuade people with civil discussions.
Recently Dr Negasso wrote me an email, in response to what I wrote a couple of weeks earlier. Zehabesha shared this educational email of Dr Negasso to its readers. I believe it may be unfair and confusing for readers to read a response to an email that they have not read. I hereby attach below the email to which Dr Negasso responded to.
Dear Dr Negasso:
Thanks for your detailed explanation. I think it is a good discussion. You raised some very important points. To be honest with you, I am surprise to discuss these sorts of things with a former UDJ member or leader. Surely with such views of yours, you should not have joined the UDJ; and it is right you left the party.
9 months ago, when you refused to answer, as a chairperson of the UDJ, whether the UJD accepts the right of cessation, I am sure you do remember that I expressed a strong criticism against you and called for your resignation. I think the party did the right thing in clarifying confusions by cleaning out items in its program that may wrongfully be interpreted or spinned to say something they were not intended to.
“By Article 39 I meant that Article 39 of the constitution which recognizes, accepts, respects and sees to it that the right to self-determination including the right to cessation. Yes, article 39 includes sub article 4. This sub article is a technical provision for the implementation of the right in case the question arises. If one accepts the right and in case the question arises, there should be a way how to go about it. The article does not at all say that cessation is supported. It is the right which must be supported. Yes by adopting article 3.1.5 UDJ agreed to the right to cessation” you wrote.
The article (3.1.5) you mentioned is the following: «አብይ የፖለቲካ ጥያቄዎች ፖለቲካዊ መልስ እንዲያገኙ ይደረጋል። ይሄም ፖለቲካዊ መልስ በሃይል ሳይሆን በሰላማዊ ዴሞክርሲያዊና ሕጋዊ መንገድ ሆኖ፣ ቢቻል በዉይይት እና በድርድር ይሆናል። ይሄ ካልተቻለ ግን ጥያቄው ወደ ሕዝብ ተመርቶ ሕዝቡ ዉሳኔ እንዲሰጥ ይደረጋል”
Many of us are not familiar with this article. First of all we did not know if there were such article; and if there were, we had no idea how it was added in the UDJ program. I believe the then UDJ leaders ought to answer this question.
In the second place, if we assume this article did exist, please keep note that it does not talk about the right of cessation. It talks about political issues …I think, because you just assumed that the right of cessation is one political issue, you may have used this article to state that the UDJ support the right of cessation; and convince yourself to join the UDJ.
However the right of cessation is a known issue that Kinijt then UDJ rejected it, with no ambiguity. We have been supporters of UDJ way before you joined it. Regularly its leaders, except you, were publicly condemning the right of cessations. If such article existed, it may very well be, because the UDJ leaders had in mind other political issues, but not the right of cessation.
I think it is important for the then UDJ leaders to give clear answers to your open assertion that the UDJ supported the right of cessations. I have cced some of the UDJ leaders who were executive leaders then. Maybe they can shed some lights. I think and believe, if what Dr Negasso said is right, they owe us a big explanation.
“I do not think that people who cannot speak Afaan Oromo are prohibited from candidacy in these constituencies during elections. But what one should realize is the fact that the working language in Oromia is Afaan Oromo and that it would be much better for non-Oromo speakers to know the language to effectively participate in the different structures of the region. Besides, how can a non-Oromo speaker campaign in a village where the people do not understand non-Oromo language? “ you wrote.
It is amazing you do not know the constitution of the Oromia region. Please refer to the following link:
Article 38, sub article ለ states as follows:
“ማንኛዉም የክልሉ ሕዝብ በዘር፣ በቀለም፣ በብሄረሰብ፣ በጾታ በቋንቋ በሃይማኖት፣ በፖለቲካ ወይም በሌላ አቋም ላይ የተመሰረተ ልዩነት ሳይደረግበት የሚከተሉት መብቶች ይኖሩታል….በዚህ ሕገ መንግስት አንቀጽ 33 የተጻፈው እንደተጠበቀ ሆኖ፣ እድሜው 18 አመት ሲሞላ በሕግ መሰረት የመምረጥ፣ 21 አመት ሲማላው የመመረጥ መብት አለው”
Here we see that everyone has the right to vote and run for office in the Oromia government.
However there is a precondition and a catch. Article 38 will be respected only if Article 33 is fulfilled. What is Article 33? It is an article that clearly reverses some of the stuff listed in Article 38.
“በክልሉ ዉስጥ ነዋሪ የሆኑና የክልሉን የሥራ ቋንቋ የሚያወቅ ማንኛዉም ኢትዮጵያዊ በማንኛዉም የክልሉ መንግስታዊ ወይም ሕዝባዊ ሥራ ተመርጦ ወይም ተቀጥሮ የመስራት መብት አለው” says Article 33.
So to run for office, to be hired in the Oromia region, you MUST KNOW AFAN OROMO. If you do not, then you are a second citizen. THIS IS RACISTS AND APPARTEID-LIKE.
“how can a non-Oromo speaker campaign in a village where the people do not understand non-Oromo language? “you argued.
Here is the serious mistake you make or keep making. In Oromia all are not people who understand only Afan Oromo . There are more than 18% whose first language is not Afan Oromo in Oromia. In Easter Shewa Zone 35%, in Special Adama Zone 85%, in Jimma Special Zone 75%, In South East Arsi Zone 25% … I know you are born in Dembidolla (I think it is Kelem Wellega Zone). Yes, there , 97% speak afan oromo as their first language. Please do not think that other Oromia regions are like Kelem Wellega.
On top of that if you add people like you, Dr Merrra, Ato Bulcha , Ato Lencho Letta …. whose first language is afan Oromo but who speaks Amharic as their second languages, the number of people in Oromia who understand Amharic would jump to more than 75%. So you assertion that one cannot campaign in Oromia, because people do not understand other language other than afan oromo, does not hold water.
There is also a very important item you missed. Let us say there is a wereda where 97% of the people speak only afan oromo. If an Amharic speaker who does not speak Afan Oromo want to run for office there, he will obviously not succeed. How can he communicate to the people ? How can he campaign ? However, he still must have the right to run for office anyway. Whether he succeeds or not, it is up to him and the people. As I said he will not win; but his ambition to run for office must be derailed by the people, at the ballot box, not the constitution of Oromia.
By the way, keep note that I am not against people knowing Afan Oromo. Languages are always beneficial. Languages are communication tools. They must not be source of divisions. My mother speaks fluent Somali and Afan oromo. I envy her. You are better than me because you know afan oromo and Amharic. Of course my mother is better than you because she know 3 Ethiopian languages. JJJ
However, the practice in Oromia is exclusionary and racist. I think officials there and those who support what we have now, are more interested not in expanding and growing afan oromo; but de-amharizing oromia. They are not for the oromos but against what they called “amharas”.
I think Amharic must be the working language of Oromia as well. Whether as first language or as second language, many people speak Amharic. By the way what is your view in this ? Do you support that Amharic be also working language of Oromia ?
At federal level, I for one supports that Afan Oromo be also a federal language. I don’t see any problem with it. If there is a referendum to make Afan Oromo the official language, I would vote “YES”. However, there need to be an understanding that the alphabet be Geez. I strongly oppose a Latin be an official language script of Ethiopia. I do not think also the referendum will get a majority yes vote from the people, with Latin.
By the way , you or others may argue that Latin is good. But there are many like Dr Fikre Tolossa , Prof Ephraim and others honorable linguists who argued that Afan Oromo can be easily be written in Geez. The first Bible in Afan Oromo was written in geez.
“Who are we that we decide for the Oromos? They can choose whatever alphabet they want” some may say. Well the federal government is for everyone. If there need to be some change in how the federal government operates, it is up to everyone to decide. Therefore. Everyone has the right to decide what alphabet ought to be used for Afan Oromo, at federal level, if it becomes a federal language.
“The idea which some individuals propagate saying “Oromia is only for the Oromos. Somali region is for the Somali only” is wrong and unacceptable. It is, I think wrong to give a general judgment basing oneself on what some individuals express in paltalk rooms, interviews or articles.” You wrote.
Again you wrote this without referring to the constitutions of the Oromia and Somali regions. Please refer to the link I posted above.
I have heard that you had high respect for Jawaar Mohamed. This man openly said that Ethiopians must be out from Oromia. This was not a fabrication but is something that you can see on video. Many people accused Jawaar for this; but I have been arguing that what Jawaar said should not surprise people for he got it from OPDO and the Oromia constitution. Please follow me closely.
Article 8 of the Oromia constitution states as follows:
“የኦሮሞ ሕዝብ የክልሉ የበላይ ስልጣን ባለቤት ሲሆን፣ የሕዝቡ የበላይነትም የሚገለጸው በሚመርጣቸው ተወካዮችና ራሱ በቀጥታ በሚያደርገው ዴሞክራሲያዊ ተሳትፎ ነው”.
Basically what this article is saying is that the Oromia region, belongs to the Oromos. Sovereignty of the region belongs to the Oromos. Therefore, non-oromos are aliens, according to this article. Am I wrong Dr Negasso ? How do you understand this article?
“Don’t Oromo individuals have the right to raise the question of independence? “ you asked. I liked this question. First answer me this : who are the “oromos” ? If there is a referendum, then voting card ought to be given to voters. On what criteria would the card be given ? Is it by first language ? Is it by self identification ? Is it because one is born in Oromia ? When you get to vote, would I get to vote as well ? Or would I be denied to vote because I happened not to speak afan oromo ?
You see calling for the Oromos referendum when there is no clear idea to who the oromos are is kind perplexing. The oromos are internal fabrics of Ethiopia. Oromo is Ethiopia. It is very difficult to set aside an oromo identity outside Ethiopia.
If as you said we accept the referendum of oromos, whoever they are , would you then accept the right of non-oromos in oromia to secede from oromia ? Do for instance the people in and around Addis Ababa including Nazret , in and around Jimma and many other major towns in Oromia be given the right to secede ??????
The only region that seceded in Europe is Kosovo, which as you know, still has its own problems. It is not internationally recognized by the UN. In Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, we did not have cessation; what we have is a breakdown of countries. As you follow now, Ukraine became its own country. Now because of ethnic tensions, the mostly ethnic Russian Crimea is saying no to being inside Ukraine. Most of East Ukraine is rebelling. The country is in turmoil. You see, as you said, there are no clean cessation in Europe.
Do you know what John Kerry and the west was saying about Crimea ? They were saying that in order for Crimea to secede the whole Ukraine had to decide.
There are some cessation movement in Scotland, Catalonia …but it has not been realized yet. Why ? I will leave the answer to you, so that you can research about it.
“I did not participate on the “PEACE CONFERENCE OF JULY 1991” and thus cannot say on what took place in the conference. Was there a resolution to have a federal structure? I do not know. Did EPRDF and OLF impose the idea of the current federation? I do not know. What I know is that the OLF did not participate in the process of making the constitution.” You wrote.
You are right. The OLF did not participate. However, it did participate in adopting what was called the charter. Most of the federal arrangement was directly copied from the charter. So though the OLF was not there at the end, it did play key roles. In fact they were even arguing that some areas in Wello be also added in Oromia.
So it is the OLF and EPRDF that imposed this ethnic and divisive constitution. It is the OLF and EPRDF that impose the Latin Alphabet without consulting the people.
Regarding ODF and OFC, “ It is rather better to ask OFC directly why it did not want to do this, instead of speculating that they may be thinking to wait for the ODF and form a united Oromo party, By the way, it is not bad if ODF, OFC and other Oromo parties form a united Oromo Party”, you said.
This email exchanges are being read by OFC people as well. Anytime they are welcome to comment about. But there are rumors here, that there have been consultations between OFC and OFD people. As you know some of the OFC leaders regularly and yearly visit Minnesota ( the hub of oromo nationalists) People are saying that It is them, who worked hard to convincing some OLF leaders to abandon the armed struggle and the cessation question, and continue working for democratic rights, behind the scene. Anyway it is something we will know more in the future.
“What I think is that either UDJ accepts and complies with the demands of MEDREK or daringly declare that it would rather withdraw from MEDREK. And this should be done as quickly as possible and amicably instead of trying to spend time by playing tricks.” You wrote.
I agree. Medrek as you know it, is dead. There could be another group under the name of Medrek that may emerge.
1) If Arena, southern party and UDJ (the 3 out of the 4) unite, then OFC may go its own way, and there will be no MEDREK at all;
2) If Arena and UDJ unite, Dr Beyene group and OFC may continue operating under the name of Medrek. Basically what you will have is the old UEDF.
3) If Arena does not unite with the UDJ, then Arena may unite with the southern people of Dr Beyene; and Medrek will continue as a coalition of two parties (the Arena/Southern party merger party and OFC)
I think it is something we will know very soon, for the UDJ council gave direction to UDJ leaders to conclude the merger talks and Medrek issues in 3 months time.
Again thanks for everything.