By Mohamed FaarahJigjiga- (Ogadentoday Press) – The Ethiopian Somali Regional (Ogaden region) administration is hosting in their first time the Ethiopia’s Nations’, Nationalities’ and Peoples’ Day. Leaders of nine federal regions in Ethiopia will gather in that day, speeches are addressed, federalism is commanded and former communist regime led by Mengist Hailemarim is denounced. The main player of the ceremony is, EPRDF, “Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front”, a coalition of four parties of Ethiopian ruling party who tells people (regional states) that they fought against the Derg regime, referring former communist regime in Ethiopia Mengist Hailemariam.
In Ogaden, where many see they are still under occupation, and nothing different from the Mengist Hailemariam see the ceremony as a beatification of other colony under the name of Federalism. The region (Ogaden) is isolated from other part of Ethiopia, politically, culturally and economically, many of Ogaden do not speak even, the official language of the country, Amharic, a study show that the reason is mistreatment they have faced from the successive regimes of Ethiopia. Elders in Ogaden tell their children that the only thing they see from Ethiopia used to be soldiers who are unkind, and kills the civilians. Unlike the former regimes, The regional administration claim that Ogaden has now their regional administration, claiming schools, hospitals, and roads are constructed, much employment are also the other changes in Ogaden comparing other former regimes, critics says it is a propaganda and exaggerated. Since 1994, the Conflict taking place in Ogaden killed thousands, many fled and seek asylum in neighboring countries, thousands are reported under prisons, right groups accused the Ethiopian government committing crime against humanity in Ogaden and called on international investigations. UN has not still intervened Ogaden conflict to find political solution. Ogaden and the Federalism Ceremony! It is the first time that the ceremony to be held in Jigjiga The capital of Somali Ogaden Regional state since Ethiopia adopted federalism in 1995,where many people in Ogaden are against the Ethiopian occupation in Ogaden. According to a regional official, who asked Ogadentoday Press not to publish his name because of the sensitive of the issue informed that the federal government has decided the ceremony to be held in Jigjiga after, ONLF, Ogaden National Liberation Front and Ethiopian peace negotiations stalled in Kenya last year. The group (ONLF) refused to sign the Ethiopian federal constitution and demanded the constitution should be voted by the people in Ogaden, the move which the government rejected. Ethiopia Federal government has repeatedly said people of Ogaden are Ethiopians; the move that many none Somali Ethiopia realized and doubted that Ogaden people was not as part of Ethiopia and questioned the future of Ogaden region as being the part of Ethiopia. Holding Ethiopia’s Nations’, Nationalities’ and Peoples’ Day in Jigjiga does not mean, Ogaden people is accepting constitution, a political commentator based in Jigjiga told Ogadentoday Press through the phone. The approving and accepting the constitution by the people is a legal matter and international law, it is something far from holding a ceremony, said a regional diplomat. Many think that Ethiopia wants to show International community that Ogaden people are happy with federalism and constitution at the same time sending signal message to the separatist group (ONLF), added by the political commentator.
People must go to polls and vote for the constitution, says Addis Ababa University student, or Ethiopia must revise the constitution and make practically live, added the student. Regional parliament’s power is limited, and many see as hostage parliaments, this fuels the demand of the people, they can not debate freely on the interest of the region, they are not allowed to speak on the article of 39 which gives self-determination. Historically Ethiopia seized Ogaden region in the late of 19the century. The region is populated by Somali ethnic group and its population is estimated approximately 4-5 million. According to the regional administration, the ceremony day means to them closing the chapter of conflict between, Somalia and Ethiopia over Ogaden Region. however The administration not realized the fighting is now between Ogaden people and Ethiopia but wants to divert the conflict. Ethiopia and Somalia fought over Ogaden in 1977 war, which Somali wanted to liberate Ogaden region. Many Somalis are still dreaming the pan-greater Somalia composed of, Southern Somalia, Somaliland, Ogaden Region (Western Somalia) Djibouti (French Somaliland) NFD, Northern Front district in Kenya, many others see the opportunity of pan-Somalisim collapsed. Ogaden people wants to be independent state, a vision that many holds after the collapse of Somalia 1991. Still in Ogaden there is a conflict between ONLF and Ethiopia and the aspiration of independence of Ogaden region has not yet dead, many believe that Ogaden will be independent state a day in their life or their future ancestors will see that bright day, it is a really a long dream. Ogaden National Liberation Front, “ONLF” is a secessionist group fighting for the independence of Ogaden Region in eastern Ethiopia since 1994, the group was founded by Somali Ogaden former fighters of Western Somalia Liberation Front(WSLF) and Intellectuals from Ogaden region. The group is supported by the majority people of Ogaden Region.
The author of this article is Ogadentoday Cheif Editor Mohamed Faarah and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org