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                                                  POLITICAL PROGRAM OF THE OROMO PEOPLE'S CONGRESS (OPC)


Preamble

The Oromo nation constitutes the largest single national group among different nationalities that inhabit Ethiopia and/or the area, often known as “Horn of Africa.” Though dispersed over larger areas of the Horn, including Kenya, the Oromos constitute about 40% of the 75 million of the total population of Ethiopia, and the Oromia Region covers a territory that is not less than 600,000 sq.km. (400, 000sq.miles)

Despite its large population and extensive territory that is endowed with rich natural resources, the political role the Oromos have been playing and the economic benefits they have been enjoying from their vast-rich territories have remained marginal. Both the political and economic records of the Oromo history are largely the history of political oppression and economic exploitation. In the past, all histories written by the oppressing groups about the Oromos either belittled their role or false. Thus our people’s culture, language traditions were largely neglected.

The history written about Ethiopia for the last several years not only favours the ruling class instead of the toiling masses, it has very little to tell about the history of our people - their ups and downs of the Oromo people, inter-alia, its political, economic and cultural aspects.

In order to understand the present condition of the Oromo and suggest the way forward in the future, it is important to trace back its history through millennia and the bridges of life history that the Oromo people have traversed for centuries.

While stating the present condition of the Oromos, for the sake of clarity we find it appropriate to underline the following historical facts:


(1) As far back as the 17th century, the Oromos penetrated the northern part of present day Ethiopia, controlling the palace at Gonder and making the Oromo language the language of the Court. Similarly important is the fact that Mohammed Ali later known as Ras Michael, whose Origin is the Oromo from Wollo did succeed in forging marriage with King Menelik II of Shoa there by enabling his son, Iyassu to inherit the throne of the Ethiopian Empire until he was overthrown by the future Emperor Haile Selasse in the year 1916.

(2) Several Oromo chiefs of Shoan origin while forging marriages with the royalties did play not only significant roles in the governments, did also hold the highest post –Haile selasse being among those with Oromo blood who succeeded in holding the apex of the imperial power.


(3) While the Oromos of central and northern Ethiopia of today were living in contact with and/or together with the rest of the peoples of the empire, the vast Oromo population was living under the Gada socio-political system which was also the bases of the Oromo socio-economic, political and cultural life, except Jimma - Aba Jiffar and the five Gibbe states which had emerging experiences.


As provided above, there is no doubt that the different circumstances under which the Oromo people lived and their level of development had significant impact on their subsequent history- political, economic and cultural history as provided below:


1. The abolishment of the Gada socio-political system in some areas on the one hand and the lack of contact with the developed outside world on the other weakened them and made it difficult for Oromos to get weapons by which they could have defended themselves against the invaders.

2. The fact that the Gada mode of organisation proved to be weaker compared to the invaders who had class based structure and armed with relatively modern armament made the defeat of the Oromo people possible. Consequently, the people are subjected to different forms of domination and these include: cultural, economic, political, religious and social aspects.

Though, the larger part of the Oromo history is the history of oppression, it is worth noting, that there were Oromo military officers and political leaders who played key roles during the battle of Adwa in1896, and during the later years of occupation by the fascist Italy (1936-1941). But the myth of descends from the Solomonic dynasty and the role of the Orthodox Church as the usage of a written language to administer the system appeared to have deterred them from claiming the highest of office the land, the imperial throne. Iyassu’s failure to observe the traditional and religious bounds easily confirm the historical truth regarding the above mentioned facts.

As the result the Oromos and other oppressed peoples in the south had to wallow for generations under a repressive feudal system. It is the recognition of such an oppressive and exploitive conditions, which helped the progressive wing of the Ethiopian Student Movement to categorise in the early 1970s Ethiopia as a “prison house of oppressed nations and nationalities”, which led them to raise their most important slogans “Land to the Tiller” and the “equality of nations and nationalities”

It is also worth mentioning that the oppression imposed upon the oppressed peoples by the ruthless feudal regime had led to various political uprisings. The creation of the Metcha and Tulama Association at the centre of the country, the Bale uprising which was led by general Wako Gutu, and the creation of various Oromo organisations in mid-seventies witness the seriousness of the oppression that the people were exposed to, and the readiness of the people to eradicate this oppression once and for all.

The revolution of 1974 not only brought the absolute monarchical rule to an end, but did also given land to those who till. This has remained to this day an historical achievement of our people. Though subjected to failure at the end, significant efforts had been made by the democratic forces in the country, to address the existing national oppression. The question of the right of nations for self-determination stood higher in the agenda of those intellectuals who originate from the oppressed nationalities.

It was unfortunate that the military junta that ruled the country from 1975 until May 1991 did subject the country to continued political oppression, economic and other forms of exploitation. The crimes committed against the Oromos and other nationalities in the south under successive regimes have been so serious that their struggle for freedom and equality has continued more aggressively.

Here it is important to note that it is lack of a strong political organization, common vision and unity among Oromo intellectuals, which have retarded the march to freedom and democracy by the Oromo. It is the recognition of the above mentioned shortcomings that led some concerned Oromo individuals to form a political organisation that is committed to create: unity among the Oromos; coordinate their struggle for democracy and promote equality among all citizens of the country by the name of “The Oromo People's Congress (OPC).”

Objectives:

Work for the creation of a democratic system of government in Ethiopia.
(a) Organise and lead the Oromo people in the struggle to establish a democratic government that gives due respect to human rights;
(b) Promote the cultural, economic and political rights of all nations and nationalities that inhabit Ethiopia;
(c) Enable the Oromos to determine their political, economic, social, cultural and other rights such as the right to speak and develop their language, customs, traditions as well as the right to exploit and utilize their natural and other resources freely.





Government:

As the unitary system of government that has existed in the country for centuries failed to bring about meaningful socio-economic development and equality of the various national groups, which inhabited the country, OPC shall work for the creation of a truly Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia- a system of government that would provide the different nationalities in the country with the opportunity to develop their regions, cultures, traditions, languages and religions.

Respect for human rights shall be given priority while all offices shall be held through periodically conducted elections that are free and fair by all standards. In this regard, what should be noted is the centrality of the democratic principle “one man, one vote”, which is a corner stone of OPC’s political programme in the modus operandi of the Ethiopian Government. Furthermore, a clear separation of powers of the judiciary, the executive and the legislative organs shall be provided and the independence of the judiciary shall be guaranteed.

Religion and religious believes shall be free from the government interference and freedom of religion is respected. All religions shall be equal enjoy similar respect from our organisation.

On Democracy and Human Rights:

It is the priority of the OPC that the democratic and human rights of the Oromo people and that of other peoples are respected. Thus, freedom of speech, press, assembly, demonstration and that of the free movement of people shall be respected. It shall be prohibited that people should not be subjected to intimidation or torture for their political views and subjected to persecution or arrest, without a due process of law.

All forms of discrimination mainly that of discrimination against women in a society, discrimination based on age, religion, ethnic background shall be prohibited and abolished. All necessary measures shall be undertaken to ensure gender equality and to uphold the role of the women in the Oromo society and that of other peoples, who inhabit Oromia.


Economy:

Progressive measures shall be undertaken to develop Oromia. The natural resources shall be exploited and developed to benefit our people. Land which is the base of livelihood for the majority of our people, shall be owned by those who till it. Land can be set aside for investment and public use in a manner it takes into consideration the livelihoods of our people and/or through payment of proper compensation. Peasants shall be assisted so that their living conditions improve and they become self-sufficient. Both local investors and foreign ones shall be encouraged and assisted to invest in the Oromo region in the manner that benefits our people.

Social affairs:

All appropriate measures shall be taken to bring to light the History of the Oromo people. The Oromo language, history, culture and tradition shall be taught in schools and Universities. The cultural treasures of the Oromo people shall be protected, safeguarded and made subject to transfer to the coming generation. Efforts shall be made to make “Afaan Oromo” one of the country’s National languages so as to make it a medium of instruction in schools at all levels.

In order to change the life of the Oromo people, measures shall be taken in areas of construction and expansion of the main and feeder roads, railway and air transportation, telecommunication, electrical energy etc. Priorities shall be given to improve the educational, and health centres of the region. Measures shall also be taken in order to protect and safeguard the well-being of our people against man-made and natural disasters: such as earthquake, pollution, drought, starvation, deforestation floods etc. Measures shall be undertaken to improve the working conditions of the labour force in the country while the right to work, free education and free healthcare shall be guaranteed within the means of the country.


Defence and Police Force:

The purpose of the defence force shall be to defend the country from foreign aggression. The defence force shall constitute all nationalities of the country by taking into consideration the size of the population of the different nationalities.

The numerical size of the defence and Police force shall be determined by the country’s economic capacity. The police force whose purpose is to maintain law and order, and the defence force, whose purpose is to protect the country from foreign aggression, are required to be politically neutral and be loyal only to the constitution of the country and its people as a whole.


Relations:

OPC shall establish and develop friendly working relation with all political and non-political organisations. All necessary measures shall be undertaken to create and develop constructive relations with all progressive, political and non-political organisations, in order to protect, safeguard and promote the interest of the Oromo people in political, social and cultural fields.

Necessary efforts shall be made to create and advance co-operation with people of the Southern Ethiopia that have experienced centuries of national oppression similar to the Oromo people.

OPC shall co-operate with those democratic forces which accept and strive for the elimination of inequality among the different nationalities that inhabit Ethiopia. The cornerstone of OPC’s foreign policy shall be based on the protection and promotion of the national interests of all nations and nationalities in the country on equal bases.

Good neighbourly relations and the principle of peaceful coexistence are also the bases of OPC’s foreign relations. OPC shall adhere to the of The OAU/AU and UN as they are provided in their charters.

Support to the oppressed peoples of Africa and other parts of the world is also part of OPC’s commitment to respect for justice and Human rights.

Done on 23 April 1996

* The name of the orginization was changed in November 2007 from Oromo National Congress (ONC ) to Oromo Poeple's Congress (OPC).