Dawud Ibsa: A Leader with Moral Authority!

                         By Bedassa Tadesse 

The OLF had many leaders who are noble, brave and worthy of praise. All of them gave up opportunities almost every Oromo had for the sake of their own people. Many of the OLF leaders, dead or still alive, are adored for that. However, only very few of them possess the moral authority that makes them stand tall.

Dawud Ibsa, the current leader of the OLF, is an exception in that he proved himself as a leader with moral authority – a quality very few other OLF leaders can claim.

You may ask why? And how? First, let me define moral authority – having the weight, a sense of wisdom and experience that encourages other people to put their trust in you.

A leader with a moral authority is someone who has turned time into an ally— proved to be consistently competent, maintained a consistent character, and showed consistent courage. Note that there is a common theme here—Consistency.

Consistency is key to leadership and success. In fact, it’s the sign qua non of leadership. If you do the right things the right way for the right reasons when you are young, it often goes unnoticed by the world at large. But do that over decades (40 years in the case of Dawud Ibsa), more credit, love and respect than you think you deserve will flow your way.

Are you bracing for evidence? Look no further than the date more than 5 million Oromos gathered in Finfinne ( September28, 2018) to welcome Dawud Ibsa and the OLF leadership back to Oromia.

Back to my point on consistency! Dawud Ibsa have been consistent in his personal growth, political position, character, thinking, and interactions with his colleagues and the Oromo people—and because of that, he has been able to stay in the game for over forty years. Call that a layered living—the benefits and gains of the sufferings he endured to produce a life of leadership that others may want to learn from and emulate.

Fast forward that to moral authority. In a world filled with daily changes and continuous disruptions, people look for a leader who can provide stability. A leader with moral authority is flexible enough to accept changes while steadfastly trustworthy and providing hope. Spend an hour with Dawud Ibsa, you will come across with the conclusion that his consistency exudes trust and hope even in the face of adversity.

Dawud Ibsa also excells in three critical areas that earn him the moral authority:

Competence—the ability to lead well. Making smart decisions, knowing your people, understanding your field, and committing to personal growth. Dawud Ibsa demonstrates that he knows what he is doing—and that he learns from his mistakes. To me this is what enabled him to establish himself as a leader worth following.

Courage—moving forward in the face of fear. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the presence of mind to act when afraid. Dawud Ibsa has the courage to make hard decisions, needed changes, and cast vision.

Character—being bigger on the inside than the outside. Leaders of character know who they are is more than what they achieve. Dawud Ibsa has unparalleled commitment integrity, authenticity, humility, and love.
He always puts people first; lives to make a difference, not to make money; he is always himself; expressed gratitude, rejects entitlement; has the will to be misunderstood and lonely for the right reasons.

I assume that he had made the commitment to live out those things, not because he saw them as a means to an end, but because he felt they were simply the right things to do.

Finally, I feel that Dawud Ibsa is a leader with moral authority, because he never granted himself the authority, but allowed the rest of us to see it, deny or grant him.

Summing up, in a shifting world, leaders with moral authority provide the foundation for others to build upon. Dawud Ibsa’s leadership, whether you agree with me or not, is a leadership worth its making and I am very proud to say it.


(A4O, May 29/2020,Oromia) – In a joint statement released by opposition parties Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) on Amnesty International’s Report, the parties urged “the federal and regional authorities to take the report by Amnesty International seriously, heed the recommendations put forth and promptly reverse the government’s deeply troubling record on rights and liberty.”

In a report released today, Amnesty International said “Ethiopian security forces committed horrendous human rights violations including burning homes to the ground, extrajudicial executions, rape, arbitrary arrests and detentions, sometimes of entire families, in response to attacks by armed groups and inter-communal violence in Amhara and Oromia.” Graphic design: Amnesty International

“In a new report, Beyond law enforcement: human rights violations by Ethiopian security forces in Amhara and Oromia, Amnesty International documents how security forces committed grave violations between December 2018 and December 2019 despite reforms which led to the release of thousands of detainees, expansion of the civic and political space and repeal of draconian laws, such as the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, which were previously used to repress human rights,” Amnesty International.

Below is the full text of the joint statement sent to Addis Standard.

In its first comprehensive report since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government came into office, Amnesty International has presented a detailed account of the gross human rights violations perpetrated by the Ethiopian security forces against dissidents and perceived political opponents particularly in the Oromia and Amhara regions.

The report titled “Ethiopia: Beyond Law Enforcement” and released on May 29, 2020,   has precisely exposed the wanton destruction of property, rampant extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrest and imprisonment of members of the opposition, mass detentions and forced political indoctrination, and the application of torture and gender-based violence by state actors as a means of stamping out dissent in the last two years.

The report is further proof that the new administration has not parted ways with the practice of forcefully stifling dissent, committing egregious human rights violations and carrying out extrajudicial killings common under its predecessor- he Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Front- despite taking over in April 2018 off the back of a much touted promise to reform itself.

Although the report provides a very good and consolidated highlight of the continued human rights violations under the current regime, it doesn’t come close to disclosing the full extent of the horrendous abuses and gruesome atrocities committed by the security forces.

The report covers mostly the period up to the end of 2019. However, the situation in Oromia region specifically has gotten progressively worse this year (2020), with a substantial rise in mass incarcerations, extrajudicial killings and destructions of property in provinces that were not previously affected. The Amnesty Report highlights abuses carried out by the federal army. Nevertheless, the regime has also been using newly trained regional militia forces named ‘Liyu Police’ which have unleashed a reign of terror in parts of Oromia.

As we speak, these forces are carrying out gross human rights violations against political prisoners and perceived political adversaries, with some being held without due process, the whereabouts of many is still not known after their abduction and on several instances relatives are finding the human remains of some of the abductees in the bushes.

Reports of systematic disappearances and gruesome killings at the hands of security forces is a daily occurrence, particularly in western Oromia.

Therefore, we

  • Urge the federal and regional authorities to take the report by Amnesty International seriously, heed the recommendations put forth and promptly reverse the government’s deeply troubling record on rights and liberty.
  • Would like to remind the government that continuing along this dangerous path of wanton disregard for human life and dignity and rampant violation of rights will have far reaching consequences for the country.
  • Call upon local and international human rights organizations to conduct further investigations and expose the worsening situation across the country, particularly in recent months.
  • Call upon the international community to hold Ethiopian authorities to account for clearly reneging on their promise to help the country transition towards a peaceful and democratic order, and for choosing to chart an authoritarian path in keeping with the tradition of previous regimes.

Finally we would like to remind all stakeholders that human rights violations, the use of extrajudicial killings, torture and intimidation is what got Ethiopia into the current multifaceted socio-economic and political crisis.

Continuing with such abuse will only deepen the crisis, fracturing the society, paralyzing the economy and paving the way for potential disintegration of the country itself. Therefore, we urge the government to refrain from repeating mistakes by past regimes and ask internal development partners to exert maximum pressure to ensure the transition towards a democratic state is put back on track before it’s too late.

Oromo Liberation Front (OLF)

Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC)

Ethiopia’s security forces accused of torture, evictions and killings – report

(A4O, 29 May 2020, Oromia) Prime minister Abiy Ahmed has been lauded for his democratic reforms. But Amnesty International are now urging him to investigate allegations of serious human rights abuses

A man waves an Oromo flag
 A man waves an Oromo flag as people from the community gather in Addis Ababa in October 2019, on the eve of Irreecha, their thanksgiving festival. Photograph: Yonas Tadesse/AFP

Ethiopia’s Nobel peace prize-winning prime minister Abiy Ahmed has been urged to investigate allegations that state security forces have committed a raft of serious human rights abuses including torture and unlawful killings since he came to power in 2018.

According to a report by Amnesty International, published on Friday, Ethiopia’s military and police in its two most populous regions arbitrarily detained more than 10,000 people, summarily evicted whole families from their homes – some of which were burnt and destroyed – and in some cases were complicit in inter-communal violence targeting minorities.

Federal authorities have not responded to the report, which focuses on the period between January and December 2019 in the regions of Amhara and Oromia.

“Given the gravity and the duration [of the period in which abuses were reported] I cannot believe top officials are not aware of what was happening,” the report’s author, Fisseha Tekle, told the Guardian. “And if they are not then it is a dereliction of duty.”

In Oromia, security forces are waging a counter-insurgency campaign against rebels from the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), an armed guerrilla movement demanding more autonomy for Oromos, which returned from exile in 2018 after Abiy removed it from Ethiopia’s list of terrorist organisations.

The move was part of a package of democratic reforms which won the prime minister widespread acclaim and, along with making peace with neighbouring Eritrea, secured him the Nobel peace prize last year. Shortly after becoming prime minister Abiy also confessed that security officials had in the past committed torture, and promised to ensure the sector was fully accountable in the future.

But the OLA has since returned to armed conflict, and accuses the government of failing to deliver its promises of more democracy and self-rule for Oromos.

Fighting in western and southern parts of Oromia has involved targeted killings of local officials and community leaders and what the UN has described as “serious human rights violations”. In Oromia’s Guji district the unrest had driven 80,000 people from their homes by the start of this year.

Amnesty said it had a list of 39 people suspected of supporting the OLA who had been unlawfully executed in two parts of Guji since January 2019. It also said that on a single day in December 2018, soldiers from the federal military killed 13 people in the town of Finchawa in West Guji. One of those killed was an old woman selling milk on the street, according to an eyewitness who spoke to Amnesty.

Security forces are estimated to have detained more than 10,000 men and women suspected of supporting or working for the OLA, among other abuses documented by the organisation.

Many were detained for several months without being charged, in violation of both national and international human rights laws, under conditions which at times amounted to torture, the report found. Detainees were made to undergo two months of “training” in subjects such as constitutionalism, the rule of law and the history of the Oromo people’s struggle.

In Amhara, according to the report, regional police, militia and local vigilante groups engaged in targeted attacks on ethnic Qemant, a minority group demanding more autonomy, in inter-communal violence which resulted in at least 130 deaths last year. In January 2019, at least 58 people were reportedly killed in less than 24 hours and buried in mass graves.

Nobody has yet been held accountable for the atrocity.

Amnesty said it had sought responses to its findings from nine government offices including the defence ministry and the attorney-general’s office but had only received a response from Amhara’s regional security bureau, which denied that state security forces had been involved in any atrocities.

The rights group called on the government to carry out full investigations into human rights violations and to order security forces to stop carrying out unlawful executions, arbitrary arrests and detention, as well as forced evictions and destruction of property belonging to people suspected of supporting opposition political parties or armed groups.

In February last year the former head of the Ethiopian army said it had embarked on “deep institutional reform” as part of the democratic changes sweeping the nation.

The head of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, Daniel Bekele, told the Guardian: “While the Amnesty findings and ongoing reports of killings and arrests in parts of Oromia region should be taken seriously and fully investigated, it is also important to understand the complex nature of the security operations where armed groups are seriously destabilising the affected areas.”

The prime minister’s office said it would put the Guardian’s request for official comment to the peace ministry, which did not respond in time for publication.

Source: The Guardian