Ethiopia: The leader of Oromia’s ruling party and EPRDF, Laid to Rest

Addis Ababa (HAN) March 16, 2014 – By Daniel Berhane – Alemayehu Atomsa, President of Ethiopia’s largest state Oromia, was laid to rest on Saturday, at age 45, in a rare state funeral.

Nur Kafi’s Column on the Eye of the Horn of African Affairs, at

Alemayehu Atomsa wa chair of OPDO (Oromo People’s Democratic Organization), which is Oromia’s ruling party and a core party of EPRDF – that has been in charge of the federal government for the last 23 years.Alemayehu Atomsa, leader of Oromia. In 2010, The Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) today replaced its chief Abadula Gemeda, also current President of the Oromia region, by Alemayehu Atomsa. Later, Alemayehu Atomsa “resigned” from his post as president of the Oromia Regional State.

Alemayehu Atomsa was born to Atomsa Mijena and his mother Ayelech Biru in Oromia region, eastern Wolega zone, Bileya Boshe woreda, Koye Koche kebele in 1969 (or 1961 Ethiopian Calendar).

Alemayehu attended school close to his home district at Gubo Leyo elementary school and Siri secondary school.

He graduated in Bachelor in Laws at Ethiopian Civil Service University, then a Masters degree in Public Policy Analysis at Beijing University.

Alemayehu joined the armed struggle against the military junta of President Mengistu Hailemariam in 1989.

He had been part of the leadership of OPDO and EPRDF since the ouster of the military junta in 1991; among others, as head of Oromia’s eastern Wolega zone and head of Oromia’s western Wolega zone.

Alemayehu served as Oromia’s chief of security, as head of OPDO’s political department and as head of OPDO’s head quarters from 1996 to 2002.

He was head of Oromia’s Communications Bureau head, then Director General of Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency from 2006 to 2010.

In 2012, Alemayehu became Chairperson of OPDO and President of Oromia region.

Months later, Alemayehu became seriously ill.

Since then, he spent more times at a private medical center in Thailand than at home. A fact that was never confirmed nor denied for the past three years.

Alemayehu has been frequently seen in public since mid-2012, thereby reinforcing the perception that the worst time has passed.

However, three weeks ago the executive committee of OPDO suddenly announced that Alemayehu requested to be relieved of duty for medical reasons.

Last Friday, March 7, 2014, the Federal government disclosed that Alemayehu passed away that very day.

Alemayehu’s body was laid to rest at the Holy Trinity Cathedral Church of Ethiopian Orthodox Church on Saturday March 8, 2014 – in the presence of the President of the Republic, Dr. Mulatu Teshome, and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalgne as well as the Presidents of the nine federal states.

Alemayehu is widely-perceived as a man of strong personal ethics. Though the government didn’t disclose the causes of his death, the prevalent rumor in the capital city is that he was poisoned by corrupt colleagues due to his campaign to clean the Oromia leadership.

The House of Peoples’ Representatives ordered that the Federal flag to flown at half-mast for three days as of Saturday, in his honor.

The entire Horn Affairs’ staff expressed their sincerest condolences to the family of Alemayehu Atomsa, his friends and colleagues, to the the Oromo people as well as to all Ethiopians who are in mourning.
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