OLF issues a press statement on the release of its chairperson, Dawud Ibsa

Published March 16, 2022, 7:46 p.m. by FNN


The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) went back to Ethiopia on September 15, 2018 with a hope of an open political space to freely participate in the political process and election. The OLF was welcomed in the capital Finfinne by a crowd of over 5 million people from around Oromia and abroad. The return of OLF back to Ethiopia was negotiated with the then Oromia Democratic Party (OPDO) officials Lama Magarsa and Workine Gebeyehu in Asmara, Eritrea. Since then, a lot of things changed rapidly. Lama gradually fall out with Abiy Ahmed. The flicker of democracy that started to show mid 2018 disappeared as Abiy Ahmed's thirst to become king became stronger and stronger. Abiy Ahmed surrounded himself with Abyssinians who found it an opportune time to get the Ethiopian empire back to the imperial era where the culture, economy, and power was dominated by a single nation- the Amhara. The likes of Daniel Kibret, Andargachew Tsige, and other Amhara elites dictated the direction of the country. They created the roadmap that Abiy Ahmed was compelled to use to reverse gear on democracy. In words, Abiy Ahmed championed unity and coming together. He published his manifesto book entitled "Medemer" which roughly meant coming together or addition. In practice he started vilifying those he assumed to be the real contenders to his power such the Oromo Liberation Front, the Oromo Liberation Army, and TPLF. 

He waged war on his potential contenders. He started this by calling for the disarmament of the Oromo Liberation Army and by limiting the freedom of the Oromo Liberation Front. OLF offices were shut down and the party resources were confiscated by Abiy Ahmed's security system. OLF leaders were restricted to their homes. The party head office in Gulale was invaded by Oromia, Finfinne, and federal police and some of the top leaders of the OLF including Colonel Gamechu Ayana, Abdi Regassa, Michael Boran, Aman File, and etc were jailed.

The party chairperson was prevented from leaving his home early on a pretext of danger to his security. The situation deteriorated and on May 3, 2021 Dawud Ibsa's home was invaded by the police and he was put under house arrest. His electronics were confiscated and he was cut off the outside world for over 10 months. 

According to the press statement released by the OLF, Dawud Ibsa was visited by the Election Board of Ethiopia to assess his situation in house arrest and to prepare necessary conditions to release him and allow him to move and work freely.

According to an OLF press release, during the visit, the election board officers highlighted human rights violations and illegal detention of the OLF Chairman Mr. Dawud Ibsa. Also, they underlined the importance of returning the properties confiscated during the house arrest and promised that the OLF office that was closed illegally must be opened and resume its functions. Accordingly, mobile phones, computers, and transport vehicles must be returned. Also, the OLF office from where the Chairman will deliberate his day-to-day activities would be reopened and resume functions.


It appears Abiy's regime is now comfortable as it has concluded the sham election and cemented its grip to power for the next five years. It seems the regime is now back to business as usual. It is hard to expect a good gesture but for some reason now is the time to put a facade of democracy and to solicit OLF's support for national dialogue that died on arrival. 

Most of the OLF leaders are still in jail in precarious conditions. Batte Urgessa for example was exposed to contaminated needles after torture and is currently battling viral hepatities that he contracted from contaminated needles while in jail in Awash Malka. His colleagues such as Michael Boran, Kennasa Ayana, and Dr. Geda Oljira are also said to be ill but are continued to be subjected to jail. Batte appeared very hurt and severely sick. He was released for medical care and is currently admitted to hospital. While the OLF leaders listed above are said to be suffering from similar illness as Batte, they still remain behind bars without any crime and are denied proper medical care. 

FNN will continue to follow the conditions of the Oromo political prisoners and update our audience. 

The full OLF press statement is found below. 



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