As a sign of the escalating attack on OPDO, a pro-regime newspaper Sendeq alleges that the OPDO is resisting TPLF’s interference because it harbors a secessionist agenda. Citing unnamed sources, the paper claims that those who complain about the process and outcome of the succession and those who are opposed to TPLF interference in OPDO’s internal organizational affairs are the “ones infested with OLF’s ideology, and want to break away Oromia.” It is ironic that Bereket Simon, whose motherland Eritrea broke away from Ethiopia, has the nerve to try to gain political capital by accusing OPDO of secessionism.
The paper further claims that OPDO was shut out of senior post at the party and executive branch because it failed to develop capable leaders. This ridiculous assertion is part of the psychological warfare popularized by the departed Prime Minister to legitimizing denying real power to OPDO, whose members make up 57% of the EPRDF’s rank and file. Meles once uttered such nonsense in a response to an Oromo student who asked him why Oromos are denied political power comparable with their numeric size and economic contribution to the federation. After agreeing with the student’s assessment (this was 2005 and Meles was working hard to win over Oromos), he said “ I am willing to give up my post to an Oromo, but I am unable to find a capable replacement as the educated Oromos have run away.” Another student fired back and turned Meles’ lousy excuse upside down: “Sir, please give the power to me, because if you, a sophomore drop out, can run this country for so long, I, who just completed my masters, am surely qualified to govern it better.” He then jokingly apologized saying “please pardon me if I offended you; I am from Dire, and down there, our parents don’t teach us how to be politically correct.” The tyrant characteristically smiled to cover his visible embarrassment.
It is not the first time this newspaper has attacked the OPDO. It is this very paper that waged a character assassination campaign against Juneydi Sado, former president of Oromia and current minister of the Civil Service by accusing his wife of terrorism and chastising the minister for defending the innocence of his wife who is still in detention.
In recent months,Sendeq has replaced the now defunct Eftin and Ethio Channel papers as the mouthpiece of the intelligence services. Eftin and later Ethio Channel were known for publishing defamation against the regime’s opponents. Eftin, owned by the notorious former VOA journalist, Mimi Sebehatu, came to prominence during the aftermath of the 2005 election when it regularly published transcripts of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy’s leadership meeting gained from wire tapping. It ceased publication in 2007 and then was replaced by one named Ethio Channel which suddenly fell out of favor and its owner Samson Mamo was thrown into jail along with his wife. The immediate cause of his demise is said to be his decision to publish Juneydi Sado’s open letter denouncing the defamation campaigns waged at him. Now Sendeq has taken over the role previously played by Eftin and Ethio Channel.
According to sources, Sandeq is financed by Al Amoudi, the Saudi billionaire, who has been at odds with OPDO for quite some time. The flash point of the dispute goes back to 2005. When Meles was trying to do everything in his power to appease Oromos in order to isolate the CUD. After reversing the decision to remove the seat of Oromia government from Finfinne to Adama, an initiative was kicked off to build an Oromo Heritage Center in the capital. At the fundraising event for this project, Al Amoudi promised that he will match the amount raised on that day. Oromos came from all walks of life and contributed millions. But after the construction of the center began, Al Amoudi refused to pay the money he promised. Angered by this betrayal, the Oromia regional government, under Abadula’s leadership, decided to fund the project from its own budget. The region also confiscated thousands of hectares of land that had been given to Al Amoudi for failing to fulfill the terms of the lease, to develop the land within a limited time frame.
Moreover, when Al Amoudi’s farm at Bishaan Gurrachaa (between Shashamene and Awasa) was mysteriously burned down , Al Amoudi’s surrogates accused OPDO leaders of sabotage. Furthermore, when Oromos of Guji waged an intensive protest against toxic wastes released from the Midroc gold mines, Al Amoudi promised to compensate the Guji zone by donating 15 million birr to community development projects, only to backtrack afterwards. Al Amoudi’s repeated false promises to a region where three-fourth of Midroc’s operations takes place infuriated the regional administrators who in response erected bureaucratic hurdles to the billionaire’s extensive business operations. Therefore, the Sheik’s operatives were waging intensive smear campaign against key OPDO leaders, particularly Abadula, Juneydi and Girma Birru. They were openly claiming victory for removal of Girma Birru from the ministerial post he held for a long time. The Sheik and his men are therefore too happy to throw his weight behind TPLF in their intensified attack on OPDO.
In a related news the OPDO Central Committee has reconvened today September 29, 2012, for the third time since Meles’s death. While electing party and regional leadership is still on the top of the agenda, issues related to TPLF’s aggressive interference are expected to dominate the discussion. In anticipation, TPLF in its part is planning to make the issue of “OLF infiltration of OPDO” the first agenda item. Towards this end, the intelligence service has been ordered to compile a dossier showing connection between several vocal members of the Central Committee and the ‘terrorist’ organization. Outside the CC, targets might include the OPDO members of parliament who ‘missed’ Hailemariam’s swearing in. Over half of the the 180 Oromo MP’s did not show up for the emergency secession leading TPLF to suspect that their absence might have been a result of the spread of disaffection within OPDO’s rank and file