OLA’s Observations of the Oromo Conference for National Consensus Held in London from 22 – 23 October, 2016.

Oromo Political and Civic Society Organizations, Oromo media and human rights activists as well as individuals coming from different parts of the world and participating in the two day “London Oromo Conference for National Consensus” hereinafter, the Conference, organized by International Oromo Lawyers Association – IOLA, in close cooperation with Oromo Community in the United Kingdom, was held in London, United Kingdom, from 22 -23 October 2016. Seven Oromo political Organizations, academics, media and human rights activists as well as representative of Oromo Women presented their respective papers with focus on the current situation in Oromia and its impact on the future of the Oromo nation in particular and that of Ethiopians in general. More than 400 participants mostly from Europe and few from the USA attended the meeting and actively took part in the discussion on the presentations made by the political organizations and other invited guests. Following the proceeding of the two days’ Conference and closed meetings with representatives of Oromo political organizations and the Civic Society participating in this Conference, IOLA made the below observations and main conclusions: a) The participants stressed the need for Oromo political Organizations, the Civic society, individual activists and others to work together to greatly contribute to the efforts of the mass uprising of the Oromo people for democracy, freedom and the right to self-determination and above all to end the suffering of the Oromo people under the current authoritarian and repressive TPLF-led regime. b) A general consensus and unanimity of mind of the Oromo people from all parts of Oromia as clearly demonstrated over the past months through uninterrupted expression of its unanimous demand of the right to self-determination was observed and reaffirmed by the participants. c) Due recognition was accorded to the increasing self-awareness and consciousness of the Oromo people that have been selflessly but peacefully protesting against the TPLF repression, paying ultimate sacrifices. d) The participants underlined the growing awareness by Oromo political elites, the civic society, scholars, media and human rights activists about the timeliness and the need to revisit and reflect on the significance and need to enhance Oromo National Consensus. e) It was observed that a recognition with satisfaction of the results of previous efforts of various Oromo political organizations, civic institutions, media and human rights activists to increase political awareness of Oromos, and admitting that more could have been done, had the different efforts of different groups been coordinated towards ending the cycle of repression that has been underway for so long. f) The participants clearly understood the continuous demand of the Oromo people both at home and abroad for the different Oromo political organizations to focus on their commonalities rather than magnifying their differences and to work on closely as much as possible, and with much better Coordination to provide a unified leadership to the ongoing Oromo mass uprising in Ethiopia to achieve the overarching goal of self-determination of the Oromo nation. g) The urgent need to deconstruct a series of misinformation and narratives being persistently produced over years by TPLF controlled media and multimillion international lobbyists it employs, all of which are bent to create the perception that the Ethiopian people, are not ready for democracy has been discussed. h)Participants reminded all Ethiopians that, the Oromo people, through its actions during the ongoing mass uprising, is dedicated to discredit TPLF’s strategy and deliberate attempts to incite conflict between the Oromo people and others. i) The bold undertaking by the four political organizations who decided to forge a coalition in April 2016 has been praised and their subsequent coordinated activities have been emphasized, as an exemplary one. j) It has been unanimously agreed both by the wider public and the participating Oromo political organizations that the existing common format as concluded between the four Organizations, should become a more inclusive national forum whereby all Oromo political organizations who are not yet party to it may join. k) It has been witnessed that the participants emphasized the need for Oromo political organizations to work as much as possible as unified force, to join hands and at all levels to address the entrenched and divisive narratives that the TPLF-led regime has bred over the past 25 years both in the Oromo people, and between the Oromo and other oppressed peoples, nations and nationalities in Ethiopia. l) At the end of the two-day Conference, a separate meeting with representatives of the Oromo Political Organizations was facilitated by IOLA. During this meeting it was agreed that IOLA shall continue with its efforts to create a healthy and friendly atmosphere between political organizations, and to enhance the much needed political leadership to the Oromo movement, as well as to enable organizations to chart out and sharpen their plan for the post TPLF era. With that in mind, IOLA was requested to organize similar events in the near future. m) Notwithstanding the unexpected large number of participants which at times was visibly over-crowded and created discomfort, the two-day Conference was concluded peacefully and with major success. Some of the unwarranted political statements made by some representatives of the participating political organizations, although not related to the topic of the Conference, were properly managed by the facilitators and did not generate further discussion. The participating political organizations publicly stated appreciated the bold undertaking by IOLA to create such a forum where they all met for the first time in many years and openly discussed issues of common concern not only among them but in front of the wider public. All in all, the participant’s had shown high sense of accountability, during the entire proceeding of the conference and demonstrated higher level of discipline and self-control although at times very emotional and graphic statements were made related to the ongoing massacre in Oromia.

****** International Oromo Lawyers Association. 25 October 2016