Injudicious Politics, Ethnic Conflicts, and the Breakdown of Law and Order in Ethiopia
By Teum Mezgebo
Tigrai Online July 17, 2020
Since Abiy Ahmed took the premiership in 2018, he is persistently preaching populist, antagonistic and injudicious politics against ethnic groups who advocate for self-determination and federal system. Prime Minister Abiy has rejected self-rule and federalism and he has been pressing ahead with his Medemer policy against the wishes of many ethnic groups. The Medemer policy is not designed to unite ethnic groups equally but to revive unitary and dictatorial government of repression and racial segregation. Abiy Ahmed and Amhara elites have ulterior political and personal motives to undermine and deny ethnic groups’ self-determination which is guaranteed by the Ethiopia constitution. Their hostility stance to self-determination and federal system has animated Oromo nationalism and Amhara extremism against non-Oromo and non-Amhara ethnic groups.
When ethnic violence, killing and ethnic cleansing started by Amhara and Oromo extremists against Tigrayeans, Gedeo, Kemant and other ethnic groups in Amhara and Oromia regions, Abiy Ahmed government and his Prosperity Party (PP) have been silent to condemn the atrocities, enforce the rule of law and protect citizens. Kemant, Gedeo, Tigrayeans and Oromo Christians owned businesses and properties have been attacked and burnt to the ground. Innocent and defenceless Tigrayeans, Amharas, Gedeos, Somalis, Oromos, Kemant and other ethnic groups have been seriously injured or murdered because of their ethnicity and religion. Most Tigrayeans have abandoned their livelihoods in Gonder to flee to Tigray.
Abiy Ahmed’s administration has failed to enforce the rule of law and protect the safety and security of citizens in Oromia and Amhara regions. Law and order has been broken down completely. The Federal Police has been reluctant to intervene and protect innocent and defenceless Tigrayeans, Gedeo and Kemant. Instead, the Federal Police have stood still while innocent Tigrayeans were murdered in Awash and Gondar; kemant and Gedeo ethnic groups were killed and displaced from their home. On the other hand, some media outlets have been propagating fictitious news to mislead and polarise the Ethiopian people. As a result, these irresponsible media organisations have been contributing to ethnic violence and they cannot claim the badge of free press and impartiality journalism if they broadcast biased news. The Ethiopian people deserve honest and unbiased news journalism so that citizens can refrain from unwittingly participations on ethnic violence. Reporting the truth and unbiased news matter!
Simegnew Bekele, who dedicated his life to build the Ethiopian Dams, was monstrously found dead in the middle of Meskel Square and Abiy’s Administration has bangled the investigation into his death. It has been a national scandal the way this exceptional national hero's death was not investigated properly to bring the perpetrators to justice. Furthermore, General Seare Mekonnen chief of staff of the Ethiopian Defence Force and General Gezai Abera were assassinated under the noses of Abiy government in Addis Ababa. The mystery surrounding the assassination of General Seare and General Gezai is not seeing daylight to the country and their family. Their killers have not still been brought to face justice. Was Abiy’s administration involved in the assassinations of Simegnew, General Seare and General Gezai? Why the killers have not been brought to justice? Abiy should answer these questions that why his administration has failed to bring about justice and closure to those heroes’ family. The truth always never dies.
Abiy Ahmed government and Amhara elites are in a marriage of convenience and are relentlessly attacking and blaming TPLF, the people of Tigray and other ethnic groups for what is happening in Ethiopia. Abiy is not handling the political and social affairs of all ethnic groups properly. The main highway to Tigray has been blocked and still the road is blocked by Amhara extremists in Woldiya since Abiy took power in 2018. Roads in Oromia region are repeatedly being blocked by Oromo anarchists (Qeerroo). Abiy government has been impotently silent since 2018 to reopen the Woldiya road blockage. He is completely inept to lead the Ethiopian people and turning Ethiopia into Balkanization. Does this show that Abiy is punishing the people of Tigray to starvation as the Derg had done in the 1980s? Instead, Abiy is appeasing the Amhara extremists, the enemy of Ethiopia, particularly, Isaias Afeworki, Arab countries by mishandling of the Blue Nile Dam (GERD).
Meles Zenawi and EPRDF/TPLF started the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) by persuading the Ethiopian people and Ethiopians in diaspora to finance the construction of the GERD. This is a national pride of self-reliance for Ethiopians. In contrast, Abiy Ahmed has begged from the World Bank, IMF and Arab counties. The World Bank agreed to give $2.9 billion loans to Ethiopia. Nonetheless, the Word Bank has suspended the $500 million emergency financial support it had pledged” because of Abiy government weak monetary policy and “sluggish effort to improve the currency exchange rate against the dollar” (Ezega.com, June 29, 2020). Where is Abiy’s national pride? He is just a national embarrassment to all Ethiopians and attempting to drug the country into hefty debt. In addition, Abiy’s leadership and political skills are undermining the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiation with Egypt. When it comes to GERD, Sudan has supported Ethiopia. However, Sudan recently withdrew its support and sided with Egypt. This is a prime example of diplomatic blander committed by utter incompetent Abiy’s leadership. Ethiopia now stands by its own with no support whilst Meles Zenawi managed to persuade all Nile basin counties to rally around Ethiopia.
Under Meles Zenawi government, the Ethiopian Economy had flourished in double digits and infrastructure had been built in a massive scale including many universities, hospitals, schools, financial services, roads, airports, etc. Ethiopians have had relatively stable and peaceful living. It is true; since 1995, TPLF had abandoned its zero-tolerance policies on corruption, nepotism, cronyism, crime and allowed justice, accountability and good governance to be fragmented. Elite EPRDF/TPLF officials, elite ethnic allies and their family have enriched themselves by diverting public money and squandering investment funds and resources in the expense of Ethiopians. The people of Tigray have not benefited from the rule of TPLF and EPRDF. TPLF promised Tigrayeans prosperity, freedom, justice and peaceful coexistence, but TPLF has not delivered the promises it made to the people of Tigray. The people of Tigray have been silenced by TPLF administration not to freely express their political views, raise their concerns and demand accountability and good governance.
Consequently, Corruption has been eroding public trust, undermining social justice, creating insecurity and inequality, deepening instability. Many Tigrayeans and Ethiopians are disillusioned and have lost trust in TPLF and EPRDF leadership. Politicians are elected and civic officials are appointed to serve their citizens. Quite the reverse, the people of Tigray and Ethiopians have been experiencing ethnic violence, crime, nepotism, corruption, lack of accountability and good governance in their lives. Corruption, nepotism, cronyism, and maladministration by elite EPRDF, TPLF and PP politicians, public and civic officials have become the norm in Tigray and all over Ethiopia. Tigrayeans have been frustrated and still are frustrated by TPLF and civic officials (police, judges, municipal officials, politicians, civil servants) who are engaged to prolong simple administrative processes into systematic, bureaucratic and endless nightmare processes (i.e. until bribes are paid to officials to speed up the processes at every stage). Will TPLF correct the mistakes it has made in the last 25 years and reinvent its image as it was during the 17 years’ struggle? Many Tigrayeans are hoping that TPLF will swiftly remove corrupt officials and device good governance that cherishes accountability and eliminates corruption, nepotism and cronyism.
To stay in power, Abiy is ferociously using blame game and populist propaganda, briefing unsubstantiated allegations and conspiracy theories publicly against the people of Tigray and TPLF, which are designed to disguise his chaotic leadership and baseless Medemer policy. The reform speech he made in the Ethiopian parliament, the peace process with Eritrea and the speech he made at his Nobel Peace Prize award about his experience of war with Eritrea at Badme do not qualify him to be a worthy of peace maker and Nobel Peace Prize winner if he is not prepared to make bridges with the needs of more 80 Ethnic groups in Ethiopia. He is incapable to make peace with his own people. The Eritrean peace process has been stalled in limbo and the opening of the borders did not last long and were closed in a matter of few months since he shacked hands with Isaias Afework, the Eritrean President. Under Abiy’s administration, ethnic violence and ethnic cleansing against non-Oromo and non-Amhara ethnic groups are becoming the norm in Oromia and Amhara regions. Abiy’s political gamble is to orchestrate ethnic unrest in order to prolong his premiership. The threats of war against Tigray has become his trademark to supress and deny the people of Tigray, Sidama and Welayta and other ethnic groups’ rights to their self-determination.
To stalk more tensions, Abiy Ahmed has recently blamed the Southern Nations and Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR) leaders using the term leadership failure for allowing Sidama and Welayta political activists to demand own regional state (Borkena.com, 13 July 2020). Abiy’s malicious attack against SNNPR is designed to mask his leadership failure and mislead the Ethiopian people.
All Ethiopians should know two facts. Firstly, The People of Tigray and TPLF has never compromised and will not compromise the security of Ethiopia. The people of Tigray and TPLF have never sold and will not sell their country to Egypt or any other foreign country when it comes to the GERD. To affirm, the people of Tigray have always been at the forefront to defend Ethiopia against foreign invaders, in Gundet, Gura, Metema, Dogali, Saati and Adwa. Secondly, TPLF relinquished power since Meles Zenawi’s death in 2012. Why are the people of Tigray and TPLF blamed for the atrocities committed since 2012 and bad governance of Hailemariam Desalegn (EPRDF) and Abiy Ahmed (PP)? At least, Hailemariam Desalegn had the decency, maturity, courage to resign hoping that someone better than him will lead the Ethiopian people. In the history of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn transferred power peacefully without any bloodshed and he should be admired to set a legacy of good exemplary to current and future Ethiopian leaders. Will Abiy follow Hailemariam Desalegn exemplary and resign?
The people of Tigray and other ethnic groups including Oromo opposition parties want autonomous self-rule and federal system. Conversely, Abiy government and Amhara elites are opposing to self-rule within the federal system of government. Why are Abiy Ahmed and Amhara elites opposing to autonomous self-rule within the federal system of government? Democracy is all about self-determination and freedom to decide own affairs where the power is shared between the central government and regional state governments. It seems that Abiy Ahmed and Amhara elites do not want to share the power with regional states so that they do not want ethnic groups to peacefully coexistence within united Ethiopia, but they thoughtlessly want to unitary government as it was during Haile Selassie and the Derg by abolishing self-determination and federalism.
Many countries in the world use a federal system of government. USA, UK, Germany, Canada, Mexico, Nigeria, Brazil, and Australia are prime example of federal system of government, which power is shared between central government and regional states. If these countries can devolve power to reginal self-rule and make federalism works for good and peaceful coexistence, why is Abiy denying nations’ and nationalities’ rights to self-determination under the Ethiopian constitution. Why is federal system of government despised as evil system by Abiy government and the Amhara elites? Abiy’s and Amhara elites’ vision and ways of thinking is not going to benefit ethnic groups in Ethiopia to peacefully coexist, but their strategy seems to persistently provoke ethnic groups who are not part of the Prosperity Party coalition. This amateurish political approach could trigger a civil war and lead to the disintegration of Ethiopia.
Abiy Ahmed’s Medemer political agenda is incompatible with the situation the Ethiopian people are experiencing of ethnic violence, kidnapping, killing, ethnic hatred, ethnic cleansing, political antagonism and repression. He is leading a government of chaos and the country is engulfed with the most heinous crimes, ethnic violence, killings, destruction of properties and businesses. Anarchists, criminals and killers live freely in villages, towns and cities. Innocent people have been killed because of their ethnicity and religious belief. Aby government is no different from the brutal Derg regime of Mengistu Hailemariam who committed gross human rights violations and violent political repression during the “Red Terror” in 1976 -1977. Abiy has been deceiving the Ethiopian people that he would be pursuing love, peace, work together, unity and reconciliation to all Ethiopians.
Soon after he became Prime Minister, he has dismantled the Ethiopian constitution instead of improving it. He is not living up to his promise and responsibilities to maintain the rule of law and defend citizens’ freedom and rights. Roads are repeatedly blocked by Oromo anarchists in Oromia region and the road to Tigray in Woldiya is still blocked by Amhara extremists since 2018. Politically motivated kidnappings, killings and violent ethnic cleansing are becoming widespread in Oromia and Amhara regions. He has allowed individuals, who tortured and killed many Ethiopians during the brutal Derg regime of Mengistu Hailemariam, to participate in the Ethiopian political process. Instead, he is despising political parties who advocate self-determination under federal system of government.
Where is Abiy’s Medemer (“love, peace, work together, unity and reconciliation”)? He has completely abandoned his Medemer philosophy and is fiercely engaged in to amplify ethnic conflicts and hatred using political antagonism and imprisonment of opposition parties. Evidently, he is using TPLF and the people of Tigray as a scapegoat from day one for his administration failure to device meaningful and workable policies that can accommodate all ethnic groups. Ethiopians must remember that Abiy was a member of the Oromo Democratic Party (ODP) and part of the ruling coalition EPDF since 1991 and Hailemariam Desalegn administration that imposed state of emergency in Oromia and Amhara regions which led to many human rights violation and imprisonment of political opponents.
Abiy is constantly threatening war against TPLF and the people of Tigray. Ethiopians have had enough war and are tired of war. Ethiopians deserve peace and decent living standards. If the Prime Minister has a little love and decency for his country and the Ethiopian People, he should hold a peaceful dialogue with all political parties to stop the rebirth of bitter civil war of the 1970s and 1980s or resign so that a transitional government of peace and reconciliation can be formed through peaceful political dialogue between all political parties to come out of the current political crises. Ethiopians need a leader that accepts accountability and responsibility and what is good for citizens. The Ethiopian people do not need mayhem, and injudicious political warfare, but they need a government that eliminates corruption, poverty, inequality, and enshrines good governance and the rule of law under the Ethiopian constitution.
Prime Minister Abiy must learn from Sudanese peaceful dialogue between the military and opposition parties that led to the formation of transitional government. Peaceful political dialogue and reconciliation with all political parties can achieve consensus and accommodate the needs of all ethnic groups without causing mayhem and spilling bloodshed. Will Abiy learn from history and prepare to a peaceful dialogue with TPLF, Sidama, Welayta, Oromo opposition parties and settle their political differences? Will Abiy respect or carry on denying ethnic groups’ rights to self-determination and federal system that is guaranteed by the Ethiopian constitution?
Ethiopians must reject those who advocate violence, hatred, oppose self-determination and undermine peaceful coexistence between ethnic groups. Abiy Ahmed is leading Ethiopia into the Abyss that could benefit the enemy of Ethiopia. All Ethiopians should demand to elect a leader who can build a peaceful coexistence amongst all ethnic groups and can uphold the constitution and the rule of law with deeds not words or relentless blame game. Tigrayeans and the majority of ethnic groups will not accept Abiy’s and Amhara elites’ backward unitary (apartheid) system of repression and racial segregation government. The only choices for Ethiopians to coexist in peace as one nation are sustainable democratic election, devolve self-determination and federal system of government that recognise and celebrate diversity and equality of all ethnic groups.