Re The Atlanta Leadership Convention - Ezekiel Gebissa

"Friends:

We appreciate you took time to evaluate the process and purpose of the upcoming Atlanta Oromo Leadership Convention. Your letter to us indicates that you believe the Atlanta Convention will make a contribution to the Oromo struggle. You raised concern regarding the language and brevity of time that remains to craft the proposed foundational documents. These are minor issues that should be resolved with deliberation.

Your main concern is with the process. To be sure, the process has been long and arduous. Trans-Atlantic consultations were held for months. Two signatories of the letter to us were part of the discussion and planning for months. Several groups had worked for months separately, unbeknownst to all that they’re working toward the same goal. The organizing committee of the Atlanta Convention came together from the joining of the separate efforts that were underway for months.

We are not entirely clear why the letter was addressed to just two of us. More than a dozen people are involved in organizing this conference assigned in multiple task forces. The Atlanta Convention is envisioned to be a forum for consultation among Oromo civic, community, religious and political leaders. There is no preordained conclusion on any matter. The organizing committee has invited all of such leaders in North America to participate. Anyone who have not yet been invited will be invited as soon as they are identified.

You have suggested Grand Oromo Convention should take place. We agree and the work is already underway. The Leadership Convention is one among many of such gathering that will take place as we endeavor to shape the course of the political change that we now see is coming. The London Conference organized by IOLA focuses on evaluating the lessons of the long Oromo struggle and the present Oromo protests, ways of preserving Oromo unity and building consensus on the way forward in the context of the multidimensional crisis unfolding in Ethiopia.

The Atlanta Leadership Convention will build on the achievements of the London Conference with a little more detail and breadth including a minimalist national charter and devising strategy for building capacity of humanitarian/ diplomatic institutions.

There is also a plan to organize a bigger convention termed as “Global Gumii Oromo” which we believe is similar to what you propose as Grand Convention. This project is spearheaded by Professor Asafa Jalata and the conveners are civil society organization. We (Ezekiel and Jawar) are a part of it. In fact, the Leadership Convention and the Global Gumii Oromo were involved in the same project. After a prolonged discussion, the members of the group reached a consensus to split tasks into two: the Atlanta Convention to consider the urgent need for a leadership to respond to the immediate issues and Global Gumii gathering to explore larger national issues which needs more extensive consultations and a longer time of preparation to be successful.

If you like to be part of the Global Gumi conveners, please contact Professor Asafa Jalata at ([email protected] ) and ask to be included.

Furthermore there is also a preparation underway to organize an Ethiopian Convention for Grand Dialogue after the three sequentially organized Oromo gatherings are concluded. Organizers of that event are already reaching out to individuals to help facilitate convening an Ethiopian convention. We hope they will make their concept paper public soon.

Once again, we appreciate your suggestions and we will pass them on to the taskforces of the conference to incorporate them in their preparation work. The organizing team still needs more people to help execute this convention. We all know our skills and strengths. We highly appreciate if you could join us and bring your skills and expertise to help manage the Atlanta Convention well. We also hope to see those of who can make it to this convention." Ezekiel G.

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