By: W.Yilma October, 2/20017
The name Ethiopia is world’s media talks for many decades. This is because of two main things. One is starvation and the second is the prevalence of political uncertainties. To me the former is not an issue at this time, but the latter man-made problem is a reality which need discussions. For the last 40 and more years Ethiopian political landscape is dominated by elites. Although they are masked to disguise, the vast majority of the elites are directly or indirectly affiliated with ethnic politics, but afraid to surface it for open and civilized discussions. Because of this Ethiopia lack stability almost for 4 decades. Other than achieving their egoistic ambitions, the elites from all sides do not pay attention for unnecessary sacrifices, and suffering of the ordinary poor people resulted from their wrong political engagements. How many people died, became handicapped, and displaced from their places since the start of political movements of all types in Ethiopia? Do these ethno-centric or nationally organized movements brought stability, stop un necessary death, and displacement? What are the economic values of all these incidences? Why we as a people who have a common destiny think critically to bring peace and stability by understanding and comprehend the whole Ethiopian political system as our common denominator and find common solutions? The majority of the Ethiopian elites follows the notion “my way or the high way” and have developed a culture of “all I know” mentality to undermine the positions of the other side. Intolerance, and unwillingness to listen to each other to approximate their differences is one of the cause our country is experienced recurrent conflicts. Because of indoctrination by Marxism-Leninism ideology in the 60’s and 70’s, the majority of Ethiopian elites who are actively engaging in politics today are allergic to entertain inclusiveness in the country’s political process. If we scrutinize our political engagements, no organized political group being it ethno-centric or national start their organization and get support not only from the people whom they claimed representing but also from outside actors. Some succeeded in seizing power or managed to create their own new country by violence; and others are continuing to do the same. This trend is not stopped and complicating things to more complex situation. Knowing our weakness, external actors are playing a greater role in Ethiopian domestic politics than the public itself. In some case the public is unaware the hidden agendas of these external actors and show indifference to their actions. This should concern peace-loving Ethiopians to think seriously and actively engage open mindedly in finding solutions to our complex internal problems. The current political situation and ethnic tensions in Ethiopia is the continuation of our collection failed political traditions. One of the reason what provoked me to write (of course if it posted) this article is because of the clash that has happened between the people of Oromia and Ethiopian Somali. Only within one year how many ethnic related conflicts has occurred in the country? Now we have to expecting every day not week ethnic clashes and watch on television screens the suffering of many poor Ethiopians in which their fate is not under the Federal governments protection, but under the local officials which some of them are acting like “war lords.” This is too much for this poor country to entertain this kind of human calamity. With all these problems, it seems the government is talking more about the economic development rather than solving the chronic political problems amicably. The recurrent instability seriously damaging the images of new Ethiopia, and endangering the unity of the country. It seems the nine Regional States are “NO GO “areas for the Federal Government even when there are wide ranges of killings and human right abuses. How the Federal Government lacks a mechanism to know before this kind of ethnic based clashes occurred? If there is a gap between the Regional States and Federal Governments security apparatus that is something the Federal Government should do to close the gaps. Always when this kind of incidences has happened the Federal Government approaches is the same; Acting not as a responsible governing body, but as a spokesperson of Reginal States and telling the public the number of casualties, as if those Regional States officials have immunities for their failure to protect human life. Without any doubt, the EPRDF should take the responsibility for its failure to protect the public from the ethnic clashes that has occurred in Ethiopia in various times. It seems either the government is confused what to do or the situation goes out of its hands. I said this not because of I am opposing blindly the loose federal system the ruling party was implemented, but from the inaction of the government to correct its own made mistakes in which the loose federalism is a contributing factor to ignite the recurrent ethnic conflicts we are witnessing today in Ethiopia. I do not see tangible efforts by the regime to mitigate ethnic clashes in the country. Last year there were ethnic related clashes, and mobs in some parts of Amhara Regional States targeted Tigrians. There were also similar multiple clashes in the past in Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional States targeted Amhara’s and others ethnic groups. Multiple incidence has happened and many people lost their lives in Gambella Regional States (without ignoring the endemic transboundary recurrent conflicts and looting between different tribes). Now many lives were lost in bordering areas of Oromia and in Ethiopian Somali Regional States. Regarding the recent conflict, we were told by the new appointee ambassador Kassa T/Berhan that the border issue between the two Regional States were solved. What happened now? What is the reasons the Federal government failure to implement the agreement reached by the two Regional States? This inaction and failure of the government to secure peace and security inside the country is encouraging Diaspora extremist to continue with their destructive activities in disseminating fake information to aggravate the situation. I truly believe that the remedy for Ethiopia after the fall of Derg is federalism. All ethnic based political movements from Eritrea, Tigray, Oromia, Sidama, Ogaden and others are demands self-governing or determination which is part of federalism. Because the past two regimes choose force to suppress the request, we are where we are now. This gave a chance to ethnic based political organizations to seize the opportunities and implemented the current federal system. However, the loose Federalism implemented by EPRDF has never been free from discussions among many Ethiopians. This means it is still a controversial subject that need civilized discussions among Ethiopians. I also believe that either the concept itself or the implementation process have problems to understand clearly by the EPRDF party members. Federalism should not be a source of conflicts, rather it should be a solution to avoid conflicts between different ethnic groups. It should be clear to all of us that no ethnic group live in peace in isolation from one another! The Eritrean “fiasco independence” should be vivid example for all of us. Both Ethiopians and Eritreans people do not get peace, as a result of egoistic and dogmatic ideology the Eritrean elites are pursuing.
Some of us may considered ourselves as nationalist. But we should not be dogma who believe that others should think and feel the same way as we think and feel regarding how the Ethiopian political system should be restructured. It matters how and where we grow- up; how we see and perceived past and present Ethiopian history; how we look the regional, and international political situations and its impacts to Ethiopia. It will be wrong to think that a person who grown-up outside of the area where we grown-up should think and have the same opinion as we have about Ethiopia. We have to listen and understand their side of the story, and share their feelings. This is one of our problem which hindered us from reaching out to each other’s to conduct civilized discussions. Any party program is not free from revision and amendment when needed. As I said above, the EPRDF loose federal system is not free from criticism since its inception, and more during its implementations. What we have seen for the last 25 years is the loose federalism opened a door for the rise of narrow nationalism, chauvinism and this become a concern for many due to endangering the unity of the country. Beside this the system should have to be implemented with the consultation of the Ethiopian people without rush and without any political party impositions. Because the loose federalism implicitly eroded the feeling of “Ethiopiawinet”, and for some groups the word “Ethiopia” considered as offensive, and they become enemy of their own country. I do not think EPRDF has taken this into considerations and show willingness to consider public discussions on the constitution (particularly on article 39). For secessionist group who lacks political conscious article 39 encouraging them to legalize their claims, and open the door for endless conflicts. This must be understood to EPRDF and should consider to consult with the Ethiopian people to find solution. Besides, in time of like this, the ruling party should exert maximum efforts to reach-out any groups for constructive dialog and discussions as long as it can bring peace to our country. It should be clear for all Ethiopians that we will not get peace by blindly supporting the current loose Federal system or we will not get peace by blindly and hatefully condemning it. Civilized conversations with the motto of “country first” is vital to save our country from endless conflicts. If EPRDF is a representative of people, not a collection of elite’s ideologue, it should allow the public to discuss on the constitution. Because constitution should be created by the people to serve the people.
In addition, what has been said above, we Ethiopians have faced 6 challenges at this time.* The first is the ruling party. EPRDF is not transforming itself to one unified party with one party program. It is still a coalition of 4 ethnic based independent parties. The rest, such as Benshangul, Ethiopian Somali, Gambella, and others are not members of EPRDF coalitions. At this time, because of recurrent ethnic based clashes, continuous but targeted negative propaganda coming from outside, I do not think there is a solid unity as before between EPRDF coalitions parties. This and other circumstances eroded people’s mind that EPRDF is not a reliable organization to keep even the loose federalism. This is very serious and dangerous for the survival of the country.
* The second groups are chauvinist (exaggerated nationalist) and narrow nationalist residing mainly in foreign countries, particularly in Eritrea, Europe, Scandinavian countries and north America. These groups are calling themselves as “opposition political parties”, but in reality, they are the Trojan-Horses for our arch enemies, such as Eritrea and Egypt. Although these groups are controlled like robot by Shabia, they have uncompromised political differences between themselves. Because of this these groups do not differentiate between national geo-political interest and domestic politics. As we all know in the 60’s Egypt and Syria are the two main Arab countries initiated and supported the establishment of Eritrean secessionist functions. They succeed in separating Eritrea from Ethiopia. In time like this where there are internal problems, there is no reason for Egyptians not to use Shabia to destabilize Ethiopia. We should not forget the Egyptian role in supporting Eritrea during the 1998 border war with Ethiopia. The majority of this groups vocal supporters are advocates of social anarchism. What makes these groups dangerous is that they are managed to influence western politicians to stand on their side. As a result of this, some ignorant western politicians stand on their side and openly advocating the extremist groups agendas by labelling EPRDF as if it is dominated by one ethnic group, which is TPLF. This is not only troubling but very dangerous. What should be clear here is that the reason why the oppositions groups are daily labeling EPRDF as if it is dominated and manipulated by TPLF is a political strategy to dismantle the ruling party and create a power vacuum for external interference.*. The third groups are fragmented and weak domestic opposition parties, unable to create a viable and strong opposition front to challenge the incumbent government in power. They have limited support both from home as well as from Diaspora communities. Their influence to bring changes in Ethiopia is very limited due to lack of organizational, logistic and financial reasons. The majority of them do not have clear political program. No one is denying the ruling party’s role in weakening them, but their weakness mainly emanated from themselves. Few from these group are sympathizers of those groups stationed in foreign countries. As a result of this to some extent these group get some support from Diaspora communities. *. The fourth group are some section of the public in particular the youth who are eager for change but also vulnerable to easily manipulated by yellow-journalist, and fake news media outlets. The present generation growth in an environment where there are negative forces spewing dangerous hate information that could incite violence. Because of this, this groups become a hostage of group second propaganda machines and addicted to listen what they want, without scrutinizing whether the information they get from various media out lets, in particular social media are true or false. Beside this the current generation of today’s Ethiopia do not have a common psychological make-up about their country. Because they grown-up in 9 different Regional States without little or no Ethiopian history lesson provided in school, the majority of them magnifying their own ethnic psychological make up than “Ethiopiawinet”.