ODP, OLF Issue Strong Warning Against Attacks from Benishangul-Gumuz
December 1, 2018 - The leaders of the Oromo Democratic Party (ODP) and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) issued strong warnings to what they called anti-reform elements in Benishangul-Gumuz region of western Ethiopia.
The central committee of the ODO, in a meeting held on November 29, 2018, issued a strong statement regarding the recent clashes and conflicts across Oromia.
The ODP statement said: “Forces whose interests were compromised because of the current changes and reforms are tirelessly working to destabilize Oromia Region.” “Their wishes of making Oromia a battle ground will soon be buried,” said the statement, according to the Ethiopian Reporter.
The OLF on its part criticized the Ethiopian central government as well as the regional Oromia government for not doing enough to protect the Oromo people, saying “the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) promised to bring charges against the perpetrators, but those who caused all the problems are still at large and the ruling party in not doing enough.”
OLF called upon the government to stop the killings of Oromo citizens or else it will defend the people itself from “ethnically induced attacks against the people of Oromia.”
Clashes have been going on for several months now between Oromo people living in the Wellega and Benishangul-Gumuz areas, and the Kamashi people from Benishangul-Gumuz over border issues and land rights.
The Benishangul’s border with Oromia and Amhara is ill-defined and has been “fraught with friction and tension” since the creation of the region, according to Asnake Kefale’s Federalism and Ethnic Conflict in Ethiopia. Since 2007, there has been sporadic conflict between Oromo and Gumuz in the border area of Kamashi Zone and Oromia, which is partly over the right to extract sand, Asnake wrote in the 2013 study.
The Kamashi people living across the border from Oromia consider the Oromos and others living among them as outsiders and want them out of their land and should move back to their places in Oromia region and other places.
Border clashes in September and October this year between the two groups have results in dozens of deaths as reported here, and the displaced of more than 90,000 people across the region.
Benishangul-Gumuz is the regional homeland primarily of the Berta and Gumuz people. In a 2007 census in Kamashi Zone, out of a population of 101,000, Gumuz comprised 61,000, Oromo 25,000, and Amhara 11,000. Many Amhara people were displaced from Kamashi Zone in May this year, according to the Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia.