Bayisa Wak-Woya, a veteran UN diplomat, said peace in Ethiopia can only be achieved if an agreement is reached in Oromia, as it was with Tigray forces.
The former diplomat who closely follows the Russia-Ukraine war told the BBC that he was surprised the two-year war between Tigray’s forces and the Ethiopian government ended after weeks of talks.
“For Ethiopia to be at peace,” however, “the parties engaged in armed conflict in Oromia should also reconcile.”
Although the conflict in Oromia predates the war in Tigray, it has not received the attention it deserves, Mr. Wak-Woya said.
“When I was in Ethiopia, none of the international stakeholders I spoke with said answering the Oromo people’s question is important.”
The Ethiopian government’s approach towards the problem in Oromia is equally erroneous, the former diplomat adds.
“Oromos account for 40 % of Ethiopia’s population.”
“If there is no peace and stability in Oromia, there will be no peace and stability in Ethiopia; the simple reason being that Oromos account for 40 % of Ethiopia’s population.”
“It’s impossible to solve one problem through peace and the other by force,” the diplomat argues, adding “the problem in Oromia is not any more complex than the one in the North of the country.”
Mr. Wak-Woya stated that, while it is common for warring parties to defame, humiliate, and demonize one another, the claim that the armed forces fighting in Oromia lack a legitimate cause is totally baseless.
“Nobody leaves his house to fight in the jungle without a purpose. You have to ask them what their questions are and then sit down and deliberate on how it can be answered as per the law of the country.”
The former diplomat also said works are underway to get the the federal government and the militants in Oromia to reach an agreement, adding “Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s statement in the parliament a few days ago indicates that the government is interested in this.”
“There is a war going on in the country. People are dying. I have lost my relatives in Western Oromia. Schoolchildren in the town where I was born and raised have been bombed.”
“The current situation is destroying the lives of ordinary civilians; only dialogue will bring solutions.”