Mired in controversy, Jawar Mohammed says he is running for office

Addis Ababa (AFP) – Jawar Mohammed, a former ally turned foe of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, told AFP on Saturday he would join the race for a 2020 election to ensure that it is “free and fair”.

Jawar, a media mogul and activist who was at the centre of last month’s deadly protests in Addis Ababa, is credited with helping to sweep Abiy to power but has recently criticised some of the premier’s policies.

Jawar told an audience in the US state of Minnesota that he would run in next year’s vote, a decision he confirmed to AFP by phone.

“I’ve not decided which position or which party. What I’ve decided is to run,” he said.

“The purpose is to help to ensure the election is free and fair. I want to add my voice and my influence to ensure the election is free and fair. And I want to make sure the federalist voices are given enough space in the debate.”

Both Abiy, this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, and Jawar are from the Oromo ethnic group, Ethiopia’s largest, and their feud highlights divisions within the Oromo support base that could complicate the prime minister’s bid for a five-year term.

Jawar Mohammed (C), a member of the Oromo ethnic group who has been a public critic of Abiy, addresses supporters that had gathered outside his home in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa after he accused security forces of trying to orchestrate an attack against him October 24, 2019. – A day after supporters of the high-profile opposition activist took to the streets, burning tyres and blocking roads following rumours of Jawar’s mistreatment by state forces where at least four people were killed and dozens injured in protests in Ethiopia against Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, hospital and police sources said Thursday. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP) (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)

Ethiopian-born Jawar said he would have to give up his current US citizenship and reclaim Ethiopian citizenship to be able to enter the contest, in which he said he could run for the Oromia regional parliament or the national assembly.

Jawar, who has 1.7 million followers on Facebook, said he would return to Ethiopia within 10 days to start the paperwork needed for his candidacy.

Ethiopia’s general election is scheduled for May 2020, but many observers expect the vote to be delayed as preparations are already running behind schedule.


  1. In principle, there should not be any issue for this man planning to run for an office. In democracy everyone has the right to run for any public unless he is a convicted felon. There is no ocular proof that he has already renounced his US citizenship. I think this announcement could be a preemptive strike on his part to allay any legal measure by the regime over there or any member of the victims of violence who may seek damages against him. I see signs of uneasiness in his postings lately. Family man all that!!! Which is fine.

    It will be interesting to see how things will pan out in the next few weeks if not days. Good luck young man!!!

  2. Dear Editors of this esteemed website!!!

    You know me by now that I have nothing but love for every other person from the old country. But such misuse of an image, with a Muslim donning a skullcap(taqiyah) will play part in fanning the smoldering flame. Such punk rocking smart aleck will use that from the bottom of the deck. It will make the efforts of all of us who toil night and day to discredit such ‘republic’ mongering bigots very difficult. I hope the dear editors of this esteemed website will redact this potentially incendiary image. We live in the age where for a white person painting his face black is totally discredited and publicly banned!!! Just don’t do it!!!!


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