Obbo Taye Dandea’s BBC Afan Oromo Interview – English Translation Transcript

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Obbo Taye Dandea’s Interview on the BBC Afan Oromo

Thursday, December 7, 2023 (part 1 of 2)
Friday, December 8, 2023 (part 2 of 2)

English Translation

Notes:  1. words in [square brackets] added for clarity and will only improve and not change meaning.
2. emphasis is on maintaining the flow of spoken words than grammatical correctness.

Time in bracket is the beginning timeline instant of the YouTube videos at the following url addresses:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VZOs94wcJM (part 1 of 2, Dec 7, 2023)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNWCUX2y67k  (part 2 of 2, Dec 8, 2023)

(Courtesy of the BBC)

Part 1 of 2 Interview: Thursday, December 7, 2023



Obbo [Mr] Taye Dandea, State Minister for Ministry of Peace of Ethiopia, told that he believed the peace talks between the Government [of Ethiopia] and the Oromo Liberation Army [OLA] failed because of the Government [of Ethiopia].

This higher official and part of the Government, well known for his criticisms [of his government] through his social media postings, and [personally well known ??], conveyed this message through an exclusive interview with the BBC Afan Oromo.

When the peace talks failed two weeks ago, the Government and the [OLA] armed groups, were pointing fingers at each other.

This member of Caffee Oromia [Oromia Parliament or Assembly], not part of the Government’s peace talks delegation, who said, they [the Ministry of Peace of Ethiopia] should have been the peace talks delegation, also added that the war that then didn’t solve the problem in Gidaamii [in west Oromia] does not offer a solution now in Sululta [a town near the capital city of Ethiopia].

We started [our interview] by asking this member of high office, how he observes the current situation in Oromia.



In many places there is war. What is [involved] in war, to understand it, it means, everybody knows about this. People cannot go out and return peacefully [to go about their lives]. There are nothing called [human] rights.

And, on both sides, killing each other, are brothers; the brothers who yesterday made a struggle together and brought about change, are today killing one another. Our people have been dying for the last five years—as to the count of the dead, we do not even have the numbers at hand.

It means that what never happened at anytime [in the past], is happening now in Oromia.

As a Representative of the People, this [the current situation in Oromia] is painful, and its wound is very deep.



The peace talks between the Ethiopian Government and the Oromo Liberation Army, in Tanzania, took place as round one and round two. Why did you not participate? Is this not a matter of concern to the Ministry of Peace?



Matters of peace, the [parliamentary legislation] has given us [the remit] through Proclamation 1265/12 and /14. Peace matters, and provisions, what else, are our [Ministry of Peace] concern [or responsibility]. However, the participant [instead of us] was the Ministry of Justice.

I do not have [any clue or understanding] that suggests Ministry of Justice [as having the remit] for peace talks.

Why [I] say this: if any peace negotiation party goes against an agreement tomorrow, the one to adjudicate a breached peace agreement would be the Ministry of Justice. If you are sitting at the peace talks, how can you [come back] tomorrow to accuse the violator(s) of the peace agreement through the application of law?

This participation, we [the Ministry of Peace] should have taken part, we are Ministry of Peace, we did not go to that of Pretoria,  we did not go to that of Dar es Salaam, we were totally unaware, we never heard of it [before the event]; who is doing this, and why they are doing this, we do not know. We do not believe for this to be correct, either.



These peace talks were [held on] two rounds. Both rounds came to no agreements. What do you think are the reasons for not reaching any agreement with the peace talks? How do you explain the problem for this?



After it was said “this is not the way, and only peace is the way”, and the journey started, I believe it was the Government who was hindrance [to the peaceful journey]. The same Government I am part of. The reasons are two reasons.

The first, this government I am part of, I myself and my other comrades [in the Government], saying we are in a problem, and we shall sit down to discuss and seek a solution, I, with those with me, repeatedly pleading, the house [door] was not open for discussion.

There is no desire for peace talks based on just, based on truth that solves the problem, and doing other similar things. All that is desired is pitting people against each other, fool [or deceive] them, and move on. One, my government has this behaviour [the outlined as first reason]. Interviewer agrees “ok”.

Second, the man, this Marro guy, who is in the mountains, leading the OLA, who took the risk of crossing the airspace controlled by the Ethiopian government, saying, “let this peace effort be concluded even if it means my death, if the Ethiopian government has to shoot me down”, [with regard to] making a high risk aircraft journey from the mountains [of Oromia] to Tanzania. To me, this shows bravery [as devotion to peace].

However, following the dawn of the said peace talks, on this side was a launch of propaganda war. “We have finished Shanee [derogatory name the Government uses for OLA]”, “we are breaking them”, etc, were the propaganda [slogans] in action. Not only the launch of [vocal] propaganda, but futile military attempts were also in the making as if to win the war while the [Dar es Salaam] peace talks were in progress—the war that could not be won over the last 5 years.

The way I see it, I do not think the Government wanted the peace talks to conclude with agreement. With the killing each other of brothers before then, and thereafter, this [scenario] shows me, that the problem is with us [the Government].



As part of the governing body of this country and high leadership position, how free are you from the wrongdoing of the Government?


TAYE DANDEA (11:40):

For the problems that have been exposed, I cannot say I am free from it, and cannot even say my share is [as small as] dirt-under-the-fingernail. However, from 2018/2019 [2011 Ethiopian calendar], I have been shouting that, if we do not:  discuss internally, discuss with Oromo opposition parties,  discuss with nations and nationalities on how to lead this country, and keep the right path, [I said] we shall end up in failure; the people’s struggle would be useless; the country would be in ruins; these [listed items are] known to all the Central Committee Members of the ODP [Oromia Democratic Party that preceded the ruling Prosperity Party].

For all problems to be solved, it means whatever was within my power and wherever I could, I have been doing [positive things].



Why I am asking this question is—conditions going on in Oromia, on existing political situations, you write on these through your social media page, you criticise the Government and the Party you belong to. I am asking you because people say that “Mr Taye is writing all this to absolve himself of historical responsibilities [that may arise from Government’s wrongdoings]”.

TAYE DANDEA (12:50):

What says absolving oneself does not hold water. I, yesterday [in the past], spent 10 years in prison. Now, where people are lost, where the country is lost, where is the freedom I would be having alone [by absolving myself].



Another thing, after the peace talks failed, the government put out an announcement, particularly the Oromia government, saying that this “armed group” [OLA] who refused the peace agreement, will be weakened by force and coerced to come to the peace talks; and the announcement was aimed at a solution based on war. The problem, even now, is that the Government is trying to solve through means of arms; can a solution come about through war?


TAYE DANDEA (13:36):

There is no solution by a means of war. How we travelled in it and got here does not even suggest that war solves the problem. The war that got [closer] here, at the outset was in one or two districts of Qelem Wallaga [in western Oromia]. At the outset. From there on, we have been fighting and it means the war has not solved this problem.

Now the war has expanded widely and there are almost no zones [of Oromia] where there is no war. Now, war is nearby in Sululta [close to the capital Addis Ababa aka Finfinnee]. What we could not fight and defend in Gidaamii [in west Oromia], to think we can defend here [close to Addis Ababa], does not hold.

On that side brothers die, on this side brothers die, in between [the innocent] people get terrorized, winning may be impossible. Let our people have a respite, they suffered for many years, they paid the price for many years, they got enough, if it could be solved through war, it would have been over long ago, but not over.

Also, the Ethiopian history shows the same. If war brought about peace, there is no country like Ethiopia with civil wars, yet now we have no peace. Only peace ends conflicts, war does not end conflicts [nor] bring about peace. Because of this, reconciliation is necessary. That is my stance.


We present, tomorrow, a special [exclusive part 2] question-and-answer session with Mr Taye.


Ends at 15:02 timeline. Total Part 1 of 2 Interview time: 9:05

Part 2 of 2 Interview: Friday, December 8, 2023



Due to lack of security, Obbo [Mr] Taye Dandea, State Minister for Ministry of Peace of Ethiopia, told the BBC that he could not visit his family and the people he represents in North Shawa.

The controversial politician said that after the political change came about, people who actively seek positions of influence and self-interest are the ones causing the current problems. He added, theft has disrupted [or displaced] peace-making. For this, he is referring to an unnamed group.

With so much unknown, and Mr Taye repeatedly accusing people in his government, Maatii Olaana (the Interviewer), asked him, if he brought this matter to the attention of Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed. Here is part 2 of the interview.



We had conversations in person [with the PM]; first, during the massacre of Karrayyu Abba Gadaas [14 elders with traditional “Gadaa” leadership capacity were massacred on December 2, 2021].

[I told him that]

the reports that gets to you from the Oromia Regional Administration are all fake reports; what they say [about] investments [for development] are fake and there are no investments; what is being told in connection of security [or lack of peace] are also fake and our people are being killed [in large numbers];

what has not happened during the Woyanee [pre 2018 EPRDF government]—on the pretext of a family member belonging to Shanee [OLA armed groups]—fathers are imprisoned, wives are imprisoned; brothers are imprisoned and interrogated; this thing does not even exist in the history of any other country; torture has become worse [as being commonplace] in Oromia; violations of human rights are like no other [much worse].

I thought they corrected [the wrongdoings]; however, nothing was done.

And, afterwards, after they muted the mike on me at Caffee Oromia [there was incident, in public view on live TV, whereby Mr Taye’s mike was muted in the Oromia parliament so that his Point of Order wouldn’t be heard], and the following day I wrote [about the incident on Facebook page], and on that day the PM met up with me and he said what was going on was not good and he said:

“Why did you do this?” I replied, “this thing, someone is just jumping to try to silence [me], and this was wrong”, and that is why I talked [made my position clear through posting].



With the prevailing conditions, with the problem of security in Oromia, can you [meet up and] talk, in person, with the people you are representing?

Another thing: on your family, and you, is there any problem because of the security [issues]?



So, I cannot personally go to Garba Guracha [a constituency represented by Mr Taye] and talk [with the people I represent].

And, the problem that faced my family—my mother was displaced from there, she is now in town, she is not getting what she used to get from her farmland, she is displaced and out [of her farmland], her brothers, her relatives, my father’s clans, my mother’s clans, there are many of them whose houses are burnt down.

On one side, being suspected as being with the government [as supporter], there are those who were robbed [of their properties] and whose grains were burned down; on the other side, suspected of supporting Shanee [OLA], there are many who got killed, faced whipping [corporal punishment], and lost their livestock to slaughter [the army acting as livestock thieves]; close relatives who got abducted—God knows who did the abducting—and only got released after paying 500,000 Birr, however much Birr.

Our people, when I was initially involved in the struggle, particularly my mother, they were asking me [in the early days], “this oppression or slavery you are talking about–where is it, as we go about tending to our farmlands, going to marketplace peacefully”.  Now, [after witnessing] the burning down of houses, the slaughtering of livestock, and after different things happened to her bothers and relatives, now she said [relating to the yesteryears’ struggles], was this the freedom you were seeking [during your struggle] then?

So, as family, as representative of the people, as Oromia people, the suffering upon our people, because of this war, is not something that you can enumerate.

Therefore, the only way out for us is, rather than lying and faking [pretending], by facing the truth, returning to the place where we slid [where we made a mistake]; we must make peace talks, make genuine peace talks, make the truth prevail; and only reconciliation will save our people. If we do not do this, it means, my thinking now is, that our people are [already at a critical point] between disappearance and existence.



The conflicts exist in Oromia region, in Amhara region; which one do you think is more savage?



To say, that is more savage than this, I have no evidence-based knowledge. However, the war in Oromia is 5 years, and the one in Amhara is now 5 months. When you look closely, the suffering [inflicted] may not be equal, however there is nothing good about war, in both places [regions of Oromia and Amhara] they are Ethiopian citizens who are dying. In particular, what is being introduced [at present], Oromo and Amhara, while both are already under their own [internal] troubles, to cause ethnic hostilities and to make them destroy each other, domestic and external [agents] are creating [incitements] between the Oromo and Amhara. This, it means, our second anxiety.



This was mentioned at the last Session of the House of Representatives; they mentioned that since instituting of the Ministry of Peace, peace has been [an elusive] a distant thing.

Regarding peace making, why is the Ministry for Peace unable to provide [explore] solutions to problems?



People need to know the authority given to the Ministry of Peace. What are given to us are, peacebuilding around discussion; building the country; connected with psychological change; connected with internal peace. These are what are given to us [as our remit].

When chaos starts, when conflicts occur, it means, those things are not our responsibility.



Okay, Mr Taye, we thank you very much for taking the time for our question-and-answer session.



Amen, thank you to you, too.

Ends at 9:15 timeline. Total Part 2 of 2 Interview time: 4:13; Total Interview time: 13:18

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