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The achievements of Oromo Democratic Party’s (ODP’s) 9th

Organizational Conference
Dr. Teshome Adugna1 September 23, 2018

1. Introduction

Party conference2 play pivotal role in shaping and leading the future activities of the given
political organization. Various political organizations used their party congress to convey the
future activities of their political, social and economic ideologies. In Ethiopia case EPRDF the
leading national ruling party in the country has made various decisions in its last ten
organizational conferences. During the last two or three organizational conferences the party has
failed to come up with innovative ideas that address the real problems of the nation. This leads
for the party to loss its organizational value and principles like inclusive democracy, reliable
peace and stable economic growth. Such situation strongly aggravates public unrest and country
wide protest.

At this time, ODP(former OPDO) one of the member organizations of EPRDF started its deep
reform to save the nation and EPRDF from self suicide or political death. To curb these problems
ODP take the leading role in identifying the emerging political, economic and social challenges
in the region/country. The OPDO leadership has called for “accountability’ and “transparency”
in resources allocation and utilization. In the same way the OPDO leadership was courageous in
their demand for the restoration of constitutional order without erosion of any of its provision
(Addis Fortune, 2018). With this in mind the executive committee of EPRDF agreed to
implement national wide political, economic and social reform to address public grievance and
discontents. ODP’s 9th party conference was the first and historical conference since the party
takes its leading role at national level.

The members of the party and other people expected eagerly the outcome of the 9th ODP’s
conference to ensure the regional and national political stability and economic development.

                                                            
1
 The author can be reached by email address:a.teshom@gmail.com 
2
 In most political parties, the party conference is the highest decision-making body of the organization, tasked with
electing or nominating the party's leaders or leadership bodies, deciding party policy, and setting the party's platform
and agendas.

 
Meseret Meskele represented SEPDM and told participants at the opening of the Congress “the
decisions from OPDO organizational congress could have the power to determine ODP’s,
EPRDF’s and the Country’s future.” The main purpose of this brief article was to present the
major achievement of this historical ODP’s organization conference which was healed between
February 8 and 11, 2018. This brief article has five sections including introduction. The second
section highlights the brief performances of ODP in Oromia. The third section identifies the
major achievements of ODP’s 9th conference. The last section is summary.

2. Performances of ODP in Oromia

The Oromo Democratic Party is a political party in Ethiopia, and part of the alliance with the
Amhara National Democratic Movement, the South Ethiopian Peoples' Democratic Movement
and the Tigrayan people’s liberation Front that form the Ethiopia People’s Democratic Front.
ODP is the right and the appropriate political organization that work for the economic, social and
political transformation of the people in the region. The party have more than 28 year
experiences in changing the life of Oromo people. ODP is the first and the only political
organization that brought all Oromo people together by forming regional, zonal and local
administration. It worked hard for unity and prosperity of Oromo people. In addition to this the
party established various economic and social institutions that provide education, infrastructure,
communication, health services and other public services. Learning from its challenges and
weakness the party conducted various reform measures that improve efficiency and effectiveness
of its policy and strategies implementation.

Today with the leadership of ODP the number of primary, secondary and tertiary students in the
region was increased from 6 million in 1989 to more than 10 million in 2011.In average between
1989 and 2011, the number of students increase annually by 4.4 percent. The infant, maternal
and child mortality rate decrease due to the provision of health services in the region. The
number of hospital and health post also increase in the region that improve the health status. The
road net work in the region increased from 8.4 thousand KM in 1988 to 51 thousand KM in
2010. The region agricultural, industrial and services sector has experiencing continues growth
during the last twenty years. Today the region has managed to mobilize financial resource more
than Birr 64 Billion for the social and economic development of the region. The regional state
has been allocating more financial and human resource to poverty reduction and youth

 
employment creation. These have been done only by ODP’s leadership who has the vision of
improving the life quality of its people.

The motto of ODP during the last two decades was to increase accesses to education,
infrastructure and health services in the region to realize economic and social empowerments. In
the last two decade ODP achieved acess to services provision but now with the experience
acquired it will focus on the quality of services provision. Today ODP has the capacity to reach
all parts and areas of the region through its existed institutional establishments. It also has
practical problem solving polices and strategic thinking that address the public need. So by any
standard ODP was the only political party in the region during the last two decades in Oromia.
The future social and economic transformation in Oromia region would be start by recognizing
the ODP achievement and challenges. The party as also achieved a considerable degree of
acceptance outside of the ruling coalition and also outside of Oromo region of Ethiopia mainly
due to its moderate ethno-nationalist stand and a positive view towards Ethiopia.
3. The achievements of ODP’s 9th conferences

Since the start of the deep reform program in Ethiopia, ODP was conducted its 9th organization
conference in Jimma. The party was inactive to come up with new idea or thinking for the last
two decades to address regional issues in Oromia. But after deep reform in the party various
actions were taken by the regional state and ODP to promote peace and political stability. The 9th
conference helps the party to speed up the existed reform and working for next inevitable social
and economic transformation. The following were the major achievements of 9th ODP congress.

3.1 Rebranding3 the Party


OPDO rebrand itself by changing its name, song and logo. The party replaces its previous name
OPDO (Oromo People Democratic Organization) to ODP (Oromo Democratic Party). The
previous name was not fitting with current broad social and economic change in the region. The
name was given at the time of regime change or revolution to remove the military government.
Now the time is not regime change rather improvement or reforming the existed policies and
strategies through efficient and contextual pragmatic approaches.

                                                            
3
  Rebranding is a political and economic marketing strategy in which a new name, term, symbol, design, or
combination thereof is created for an established brand with the intention of developing a new, differentiated
identity in the minds of party member, consumers, investors, competitors, and other stakeholders. Rebranding can be
applied to new products, existed political organization, mature products, or even products still in development.

 
Today the party has become major power player within the coalition (EPRDF) unlike the past 28
years which was entirely dominated by other sister party (TPLF). The old name could not
represent the current leading responsibilities and future role of the party in the region and
country. Recently our party started to respond for the question of Oromo people with its existed
legal framework. Thinking nationally and globally by focusing or working to solve the specific
problems of its nation is the new motto of the party.

The new changed logo and song also considers the culture and existed change in the region
unlike the previous logo which indicate the war and revolution in the country. Further the name
given before was too long and does not apply for political organization. The party has
demonstrated keen interest in taking a leadership role in transforming Ethiopia into a modern
multi-party country. This ODP’s branding4 enhances the image and contribution of the
organization in its future activities to address the social and economic problems. So changing the
party name is natural to pass the next stage of economic and political transformation.

3.2 Leadership change

ODP is the only political party that replaces its top leadership democratically with the new
leaders since its establishment. But such change during the last two decades was not formal in
the way that reaches the majority of the young leadership. Formalizing the leadership change and
recognizing the role of previous leader was the major achievement of the 9th party conference.
The current ODP existed due to the contribution and commitment of the founding member of
ODP and its existed members. Appreciating and recognizing the founding members of OPD5
would improve the future political leadership quality of party. This conference also elected more
new young and professional leaders to its central and executive committee. In the new central
committee more than 80 percent were new leaders that would consolidate the role of youth

                                                            
4
 A political brand is the overarching feeling, impression, association or image the public has towards a politician,
political organisation, or nation. Political branding helps the party or candidate to change or maintain reputation and
support, create a feeling of identity with the party or its candidates, as well as create a trusting relationship between
political elites and consumers. Source: https://www.thestandard.co.zw/2018/06/24/role-brand-managers-politics/
5
 Prominent members of the party who are let retire or promoted to retirement from the party are: Abadula Gemeda,
Getachew Bedane, Kuma Demeksa, Girma Biru, Diriba Kuma, Eshetu Desie, Teferi Tiyaru, Shiferaw Jarso, Degfe
Bula, Suleiman Dedefo, Abera Hailu, Itefa Tola, Dagnachew Shiferaw and Gifti Abasia. 

 
leadership. This leadership change will be done also in the next party conferences to enhance
accountability, member participation and transparency in the organization.

3.3 Promote free, peaceful and faire election in the region

The 9th party conferences confirmed that the party and regional state would work hard to realize
the free, faire and peaceful election. The participants of the conferences have emphasis to
strength the rule of law and freedom of expression of all political parties in the coming election.
The ruling party will administers the public only with public vote that came through free and fair
election in the country/region. As the political players gear up for the 2020 elections, ODP will
be working to position itself as the party that can not only fulfill the aspirations of the Oromo
people, but also appeal to national interests like security and economic growth. The party will
uses its rich experience and development policy advantage to get public support.

3.4 Promote Inclusive Democracy and Political System in the Region

The conference undertakes detail discussion to enhance the unity of the people in the region by
allowing all Oromo political party to express their idea freely in the region. Inclusive democracy6
and political system increase social capital that facilitates economic and political empowerment.
Political differences should be accommodated to achieve social and economic transformation in
the region. Any political party in the region has full right to promote its ideologies peacefully
without harming the social and economic development. For this purpose the regional state and
ruling party (ODP) provide all possible support to enhance the inclusive political system. Some
scholar like Professor Desta misunderstood the intention of ODP to work with OLF and other
political parties in the county. Since  the  OLF’s  stance  contradicts  the  ideals of Abiy’s Party, 
the OPDO, how will Abiy reconcile this contradiction? (Desta Asayehgn, 2018)

According to the conference participants the political difference should not affect the peace and
political stability in the region and country. It is natural and also the sign of modernity to work
together with respective political arguments under the order of regional and national constitution.
The inclusive political system in the region would facilitate state and public concentrate to social
and economic development in the region. In this regards all the conference participant and

                                                            
6
 Inclusive democracy is a form of social organisation which re-integrates society with economy, polity and nature. 

 
invited gust were grateful to see all the fourteen Oromo political parties to attain the opening
ceremony of ODP 9th conferences.

3.4 Encourage Pragmatic Ideas and Thinking

The other important achievement of the conferences was in emphasizing on new thinking or
pragmatic idea to transform the region and the country. The motto of this year conference was
the “Better ideas for more triumph”. The motto encourages the importance of new thinking or
idea. Creative thinking and pragmatic idea is the only way to realized social and economic
transformation. This shows the future of our region or country transformation is based on the
new idea implemented to serve the social and economic public demand. Running for small
victory strongly harm the region future prosperity. So the conference encourages broad based
victory by widening our thinking or improving our creative thinking to address public demand.
Business as usual or the traditional approaches of social services provision would not solve the
new emerging and dynamic social demand. It is only the pragmatic thinking or idea that takes
our people and party to the higher prosperity.
3.5 Strengthening Democratic Nationalism
Equality of nation and nationality enhance fast and stable economic development. So
recognizing and embracing nation and nationalities in the country promote peace and stabilities.
All the nation and nationality in the country have the right to use country resources fairly to
accelerate inclusive economic development. The conferences participants’ was emphasis to
strength the democratic nationalism that give equal political and social right for nation and
nationalities. It is Oromo culture to give respect for nation and nationality. This value of Oromo
culture must be strength to create the united and strong nation in the country.
3.6 Speedup the Economic and Political Reform Program
The conference participants discussed on the importance of intensifying the existed or current
reform program started in the country. The ruling party during the last twenty seven years has
achieved various social and economic developments. Despite continuous economic growth and
regular election, the nation failed to observe inclusive economic development and participatory
political decision making at regional and national level. Most of the government institutions
controlled and influenced by the ruling party members that not able to incorporate other idea or
different opinion. These aggravate the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of services delivery at

 
national and regional level. Further it strongly harmed accountabilities and transparency in the
country.

According to the conference participants, intensifying the current reform program in the country
would increase public trust and participations. The participants request the regional and national
government to accelerate the political and economic reform. In the conference the participant
emphasis on effective implementation of the constitutional value of the country that were eroded
during the last few years before the deep reform. New idea would be incorporated on the current
ideology to give more focus on the real outcomes of our policy approaches to achieve inclusive
economic development and transparent resource allocation in the region and country.

3.7 Emphasis on the Unity of the Region and Country

The conference delivered that the unity of the people is paramount important for peace, political
stability and economic development. Unity of the nation and nationality in the region and in the
country is not an option to bring fast and sustainable economic development. It is not possible
for any political identity that erodes the regional and national unity of the people. In this regard
the conference reiterated that the more number of Oromo political party would be the threat for
the unity of the people.

In this regards his Excellency Dr. Abiy Ahmed conveyed the message that there is no point in
having a number of Oromo opposition parties and only two or three parties are enough. In the
same way the Oromia regional state president Obbo Lema Megersa said that “Division of
political parties has a negative impact on the unity of the people and parties should talk on their
difference and work together,” Further the part chairman Dr. Abiy reminded attendees of the
conference about the sacrifice that Oromo paid for Ethiopia and that Oromo will not secede as
Oromo does not have a country outside of Ethiopia. Mature political system will accommodate
all political parties in the country. It is impossible to exercise our political ideologies without
united and strong country.

3.7. Enforcement of the rule of law in the region

According to the conference participants one of the basic elements of democracy is rule of law.
Without rule of law there is no democracy and freedom of the people in the region. Rule of law

 
give equal opportunity for all people to acquire asset and involve in different economic and
social activities. The realization of justice in the region though rules of law strength innovation
and competitiveness that increase national and regional economic development. Tr the rule of
law supports reliable peace, accountability and transparency in the region. Faire economic and
political empowerments of the people in the region would be realized only through rule of law.
Mob justice and other illegal activities in the region strongly affect the social transformation and
increase regional conflict that would finally escalate social impoverishments and absolute
poverty. The participants of the conference promised to maintain and enforce the rule of law in
their respective local administration.

4 Summary
The revolutionary democrat advocated by the ruling party for the last two decades failed to
maintain the required social and political transformation in the country in general and in Oromia
in particular. Absence of continues professional assessment of the existed economic and
political ideology prevent the nation from enjoying high economic growth with inclusive
economic development. It also affects the institutional autonomy that hampered the promised
structural change and political stability. ODP is the first political party who decide to address all
the public demand in logical and constitutional order. Since the deep reform started the Oromia
regional state and its leadership mobilize the public to address their political, social and
economic concerns. The measure taken by ODP during the last year was achieved the unity of
the nation that promotes faire and participatory social transformation. Realizing its future
responsibility the party 9th congress came up with new logo, song and party name. In its latest 9th
conference the party has also emphasis to consolidate the democratic nationalism and rule of law
to achieve the social and economic empowerment.

God Bless Ethiopia and Oromia


5 References
_______________(2018): The OPDO is Becaming a Force for Refrom in the Revolutionery
Democratic, Addis Fortune , Ethiopia

Desta Asayehgn(2018): Cracking Open Ethiopia’s Political Can of Worm