Exiled Ethiopian activist Jawar Mohammed plans to return home

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Oromia Media Network executive Jawar Mohammed. Courtesy: Oromia Media Network

Prominent Oromo activist and director of the US-based Oromo Media Network (OMN), Jawar Mohammed, has told the BBC he plans to return to Ethiopia after 13 years.

Oromia Media Network executive Jawar Mohammed. Courtesy: Oromia Media Network

OMN, which was banned from broadcasting in Ethiopia for what authorities said was inciting violence and promoting terrorism, was behind a three-year push for reforms by the Oromo people. Some believe these made way for the election of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The move comes after terrorism charges against Mr Jawar were dropped as part of ongoing reforms of opening up the media in Ethiopia.

The campaigner had been a thorn in the side of the Ethiopian authorities through his social media activism which he launched five years ago.

Mr Jawar had opposed Mr Abiy becoming prime minister but now says that his reforms will lay the ground for democracy.

He plans to return to Ethiopia on 6 August which marks the second anniversary of a large-scale anti-government protest across the Oromia region.

He says security forces killed 200 protesters on that day.

To honour those who lost their lives, he is planning to walk barefoot in Ambo and Ginchi, the epicentres of Oromo protests.

“I want to support the massive changes undergoing in the country,’’ he told the BBC

‘’We can’t continue our job outside the country. The massive reforms in the country and the democratisation process should be sustained. It has its own risk, there may be a security problem but fear can take us nowhere.’’

‘’We support the transition from dictatorship to democracy. We need to make Oromo people competent in economic spheres. We have a plan to establish a support group like a think tank and also a free media to empower our people economically,” he added.

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