An Ethiopian government official revealed Monday the widespread Oromo protests are costing the nation in billions (birr) daily as they turned violent last week. Property damages and the disruption of economic activity has hurt the state of Oromia, said Abadula Gemeda of OPDO. The various road blocks are obstructing police response and suffocating the big cities of Addis Ababa and Adama from the outside world, he added. Most schools and businesses have also closed.
Local newspapers reported the regional ruling party Oromo Peoples Democratic Organization (OPDO) has come under fire from central government due to its incapacity to quell the protests. Early last week, the OPDO leadership held an emergency meeting in Adama but it could not find consensus on the controversial “Master Plan.” It came out more divided with the top executive, including President Muktar Kedir, in support of the plan and declaring state of emergency, while mid level OPDO officials sympathized with the protesters.
Dozens of protesters have been killed while many police have been injured as the protesters overpowered and took over several police stations in Western Oromia.
Analysts say Addis Ababa expansion is not a new issue, so the root cause of the public anger is the 100 percent May election victory by the ruling party. Most of the protests began among students, in Ambo and other western Oromia towns where the opposition party Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) enjoys massive support.
“The so-called Addis Ababa master plan is constitutional and actually unavoidable,” said US-based Oromo-Ethiopian political analyst Teshome Borago. “But Oromos are venting because they feel the last election was completely rigged and Tigrayans benefit the most from any economic growth,” he added. According to the last census, ethnic Oromos are about 35% of Ethiopia but they have long complained of economic and political marginalization.
Mr. Borago said the EPRDF ruling party violating its own principles to break the boundary between Addis Ababa and Oromia is a clear evidence of the shortcomings and impracticality of ethnic-federalism in Ethiopia.