|Politics||Oromo Liberation Front|
Dawud Ibsa Ayana was born in 1952 in Abuna village, Horro Guduru District then Wollega province, aka present day western Oromia. His birth name (hammachisa name) was Megersa Ibsa Ayana. While attending his local school he was renamed to Frew by a local priest. Changing Oromo names to Ahmaric names was extremely common at that time. When he joined the OLF, he changed his name to Dawud Ibasa Ayana.
Dawud started his political journey in the 1970’s when he took part in the Ethiopian Student Movement. He was a student at the then Haile Selassie I University (now AAU), where he joined the Association of Oromo University Students. He became a member of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) Central Committee in the party’s earlier days and had to go to prison during the Derg regime from October 1977 to December 1979. Undeterred, Dawud went back to AAU in 1979 to 1980. Before finishing his studies at the department of statistics, in 1981 Dawud fled to the Sudan and joined the OLF armed unit. In April of the same year, using his limited military training he took in present day Eritrea, Dawud went on to command the OLF unit that started the armed struggle in his hometown. Unfortunately, he would soon be poisoned and re-imprisoned by the Derg where he was tortured and kept in the infamous Kerchele prison without charges until December 1986 when he escaped from prison.
In 1988, he was reelected to the OLF’s central and executive committees, eventually becoming the rebel movement’s Chairman in 1999. Dawud remains OLF’s Chairman even after some group’s broke away in 2008, but the core OLF remained with Dawud Ibsa.
During his stay in Eritrea, the OLF focused on two main areas of struggle: Firstly, organizing the Oromo youth movement known as Qeerroo Bilisummaa Oromoo in Oromia. This movement forced the EPDRF to crumble and brought Abiy Ahmed to premiership in April 2018. Secondly, the OLF strengthened Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) which is still determinant for political future or charting a roadmap of Oromia/Ethiopia. OLA is now independent from the OLF and formed its own central command structure. It is active in most of the western Oromia including west Shawa, Gujii and Borana regions. Low level activities of OLA are also prevalent in other parts of Oromia regional state.
In 2018, a peace deal was signed with the Ethiopian government, thus Dawud returned home leading the main OLF factions to pursue his political ambition.
Recently, the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) issued a certificate of registration for OLF paving a way for the party to participate in Ethiopia’s 2020 general elections.
Ayana attended the Haile Selassie I University in 1970-1971, and participated in the student movement against Haile Selassie. He joined the Association of Oromo University Students.
1974-1976 he participated in the Zemecha campaign. In 1977, Dawud was elected to the OLF Central Committee. From October 1977 to December 1979, he was imprisoned by the Derg.
He returned to University during the 1979-1980 academic year. Dawud fled to Sudan in 1980 and joined an OLF unit operating from that country, before finishing his studies in statistics. He received basic military training in Eritrea a few months later. In April 1981, Dawud commanded the OLF unit that started the armed struggle in Welega Province.
The Derg poisoned Ayana in December 1981, and tortured him for several months. He was jailed without charge at Kerchele Prison during the period of August 1982 to December 1986. Dawud escaped from jail and rejoined the OLF. In 1988 he was re-elected to the OLF Central Committee and Executive Committee, and headed the OLF military department until 1991. In 1998, he was re-elected to the OLF Executive committee and became the group’s chairman in 1999. Dawud told Les nouvelles d’Addis on 29 March 2006 that he was confident that the OLF would form the next government in Ethiopia, a speech which motivated many nationalist Oromo diasporas.