By Tuji Jidda*
At the meeting held on Saturday, November 14, 2009, at the Unification Church in Washington, DC, Dr. Merera Gudina, leader of the main opposition coalition in Ethiopia – the Forum for Democratic Dialogue (FDD – Medrek), briefed the audience on the following issues.
· The good news of the formal establishment of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC). The Election Board approved the merger after lingering the process for 8 months.
· A strong unified Oromo party is underway to participate in all 180 Oromia Weredas (districts) in the upcoming election.
· FDD is a formidable coalition of eight all-inclusive parties and the finalization of 65-page program.
· The benefits of working with different nations and parties from all corners of the country under FDD-Medrek.
In responding to different questions raised by participants from different directions, he explained:
Dr. Merera Gudina (file photo)
· Regarding the jailed Birtukan Medeksa, he said “she is going to be the Mandela of Ethiopia.”
· Regarding Oromo prisoners and the possibility of working with other Oromo organizations, such as OPDO and OLF, he said differences were to be expected and welcome for a big nation such as Oromo. The small Israel nation has about 30 parties, and Oromo can raise two or three children at a time without throwing stones on each other. But, a divided elite cannot lead the same nation. He added that currently around 90% of detained Oromo were due to alleged connections with OLF.
· Regarding the recently signed election code of conduct, he said the main issue, the make or break, lay in the neutrality of the 200,000 election conductors (5 persons at 40,000 polling stations) that would be appointed by the election commission. The fairness of the election depends on these people.
After remarks and comments, the meeting ended with participants pledging to fully support both OFC and FDD-Medrek in the upcoming election.
* Tuji Jidda writes from Washington, DC and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.