October 15, 2017 - Abadula Gemeda, the speaker of Ethiopia's lower house of parliament, who resigned last week, said he quit because of "disrespect" of his ethnic group. Abadula Gemeda, a member of the Oromos, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, announced last Sunday that he was stepping down after seven years as speaker of Ethiopia’s House of People's Representatives.
He is one of the highest-ranking government officials to resign since the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition took power in 1991. A former army chief of staff, Abadula is also a founder of the Oromo People's Democratic Organisation (OPDO), which represents the Oromos within the EPRDF.
To many, this is a troubling development to the prevailing political order in Ethiopia, incidcating serious challenges the ruling party faces both from inside and outside the system and peril to the stability of the country. So far, the EPRDF leadership has not commented on these developments in any meaningful way.
Oromos led a wave of anti-government protests that began in late 2015 and were only quelled after more than 940 deaths and the imposition of a 10-month state of emergency, and distrust of the EPRDF still runs deep.
In comments carried by the state-affiliated Oromia Broadcasting Network, Abadula said he was dissatisfied with the EPRDF's treatment of his people. "I resigned because my peoples and party were disrespected," he said. "However, I will struggle to bring the necessary respect and do the best I can for Oromo people to gain their rights."
His resignation came at the start of a turbulent week in Ethiopia, which saw protesters return to the streets in several towns in Oromia, the largest of the country's ethnically based regional states.