Making the Case for an Oromo Prime Minister

By Bekele Negeri
June 20 2009

During and after the 2008 US Presidential election, I have been inspired with a thought of coming up with something that can give Ethiopians a similar experience. I believe that I have come up with one: elect a Christian or a Muslim Oromo for the next Prime Minister of Ethiopia!

For close to three years now, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has repeatedly announced his intention to retire. At this new beginning of Ethiopian Millennium, we deserve the best present in the form of a peaceful transfer of power. The icing on the cake could be an Oromo Prime Minister.

As far as I am concerned, there is no question that the current EPRDF leaders have succeeded in growing themselves and have become one of the best Africa has to offer to the world. On the other hand, however, I have not seen ample evidence to claim they have succeeded to the same degree in growing others to become future executive leaders. To its credit, recently we have seen EPRDF bringing new and young members into leadership. We have also heard EPRDF is working to transition leadership. May be this is a deliberate strategy but to this day there no clear indication as to who will most likely succeed Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

I completely understand EPRDF reserves the full right and defines all required skills and qualification for the next Prime Minister. The election of Meles Zenawi has served the Party very well. I have confidence this time around they will make a carefully considered election as well. Nonetheless, I like to offer my suggestion: I have no doubt, given the continued successful and result oriented policy of EPRDF coupled with the weak, fragmented, divergent Opposition parties, EPRDF will win the majority in May 2010. Then come September 2010, EPRDF will hold its congress to elect executive committee members. That will be precisely the time to elect an Oromo Ethiopian Chairman of EPRDF, a guarantee to becoming a Prime Minister.

I believe an Oromo Ethiopian Prime Minister will afford Ethiopians an American like experience.

America has committed many egregious sins against its Black citizens. Four centuries of America’s wrongdoing has made Black Americans feel like outsiders even as recently as 2008. But when America elected its first Black President, it paid to its black citizens a long overdue debt: gave Blacks a feeling of belonging. We saw millions of Blacks waving an American flag; we witnessed their jubilation and elation; many including First Lady Michelle Obama said for the first time they felt proud to be an American.

For over a century, more so than other nations, Oromo Ethiopians have been in the receiving end of injustices in Ethiopia. They have been feeling like outsiders for a long time. I sincerely believe electing an Oromo Prime Minister will create a similar feeling of belonging in our fellow Oromo Ethiopians. I also believe an Oromo Prime Minister can have a significant uniting and liberating meaning to the rest of Ethiopians as well.

May God Bless Ethiopia with Peace and Prosperity!