Like in Ethiopia, Oromo media faces crisis in Diaspora

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OMN-News-Oduu-March-4th-2014According to Oromo diaspora websites, the recently launched Oromo Media Network(OMN) is struggling to survive amid transparency and political problems. Inaugurated in early 2014, the OMN has been labeled the BBC of East Africa, due to its wide reach and its multi-lingual broadcasts in both Oromo & Amhara languages, the two biggest ethnic groups in east Africa.

However, recent infighting between a group led by founder Jawar Mohammed and another group led by chairman Dr Hamza Abdurazaq, has split OMN in two pieces. Both of them accuse each other of “dictatorship.”

Another reason for the crisis is reportedly caused by ideological differences. Some outspoken OMN officials want to make OMN the media wing of the OLF army. But many OMN officials want to keep it independent from partisan politics.

Some Oromos who prefer to use the Amharic language version of OMN have also complained on the growing influence of Eritrean writer Tesfaye Gebreab, who asked OMN to stop broadcasting in Amharic. Mr Tesfaye also accused the Jawar group of being too close to some OPDO ruling party members inside Ethiopia.

In addition to these problems, a recent review of the OMN crisis mentioned alleged financial misappropriations and employment discrimination as ongoing issues the organization faces.

These Diaspora obstacles mirror similar past crisis inside Ethiopia where many private Oromo newspapers have been shutdown due to organizational failure, politics and government harassment. Over the last two decades, private Oromo newspapers in Ethiopia; notably Wanchif, Tomar and Yeroo (dubbed the first Qubee newspaper) and the Urji (the most popular among Oromos) have all been forced to close. Some Oromos fear the same inevitable fate is awaiting OMN in the future.

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