Ethiopia: By Doctor Awol Allo

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The Oromo Democratic Party (formerly OPDO) has been undergoing a process of renewal and transformation for over a year now. During the just concluded Congress of the Party, it concluded the first phase of this self re-recreation. It changed its name, replaced the old guard whose name and image were associated with subservience and capitulation with new leaders some of whom are known for their youthful vigor and enthusiasm.

The evolution of this party from the OPDO to ODP is clearly one of the most remarkable transformations in the life of political movements in Ethiopia. While many autonomous parties that were born out of the struggle of their own people struggled on their way and in some cases failed to achieve their stated aims, ODP evolved from a satellite organization created to serve the interest of others into the most promising political party in the country.

The then OPDO led the momentous changes that took place in Ethiopia from within. It enabled a controlled transition and saved the nation from the brink of a civil war. Had it not been for its leadership, Ethiopia could have descended into a total chaos. Given how sharp those divisions were and how deep the resentments, we could have gone the path of Syria, Yemen, Libya or a much worse nightmare. Today, ODP is the most ambitious and promising political party that holds out a great promise to lead Ethiopia, along with its partners, through this complex and challenging transition.

But, and this is a big but, the party has a long way to go in terms of building the organizational bureaucracy and institutional machinery fit for its renewed sense of purpose and vision. It needs to change the institutional culture at all levels of the organization to take on the challenges ahead. Building a nation is no easy task but rebuilding a highly fractious, diverse, and divided society like Ethiopia is a colossal task.

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