Viewpoint

Ethiopia’s reform rollback creates a vicious circle

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appears unable to oversee a democratic shift, primarily as he has prioritized the consolidation of his and Prosperity Party’s power.

Ethiopia is sliding back into turmoil following the assassination of towering musician-activist, Hachalu Hundessa, on 29 June in the capital, Addis Ababa. His death sparked violence that caused fatalities and destroyed property, as well as the detention of prominent politicians, exacerbating already heightened tensions.

Hachalu’s music encapsulated the struggles and grievances of the Oromo people, serving as the soundtrack to the protests of 2015-2018 that brought down the Tigray People’s Liberation Front-led regime, propelling Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to power in April 2018.

Abiy’s rise brought a promise of fundamental change and the chance to foster a democratic culture in which Ethiopians could finally realize their civic right to shape the country’s destiny. This honeymoon period was marked by unprecedented reforms, opening up previously suppressed spaces that amplified voices hopeful of this apparent turning point in our history.

In his July 2018 address to the Ethiopian diaspora in the U.S, Abiy emphasized his interim administration’s role in facilitating the country’s democratic transition by restoring peace within the remaining two years of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) mandate.

Democratic test

At a time when most observers echoed rhetoric that was enthusiastically propagated by the regime, prominent activist Jawar Mohammed warned that the transition could be derailed if negotiations were not held based on an agreed roadmap for inclusively managing the transition.

Unfortunately, as Jawar argued, and as is often the case with regime changes, it took Abiy only a few months to contradict his own statements and renege on his promises as he began to grapple with the country’s deep-rooted problems.

Abiy’s intention to control the discourse soon became clear from the way he side-lined his own comrades and activists who greatly contributed to the mass protests that brought him to power, as well as opposition figures whose political outlook differed from his.

When taking stock of Ethiopia’s progress on the track to democracy today, two interrelated patterns emerge.

The first is the move to eliminate significant competition by reversing political liberalization in order to create a monopoly of power for Abiy and his political vehicle, Prosperity Party. Starting in late March this year, following the unilateral and indefinite postponement of national elections without valid legal procedure, so breaking the constitutional term limit, the government began to rollback reforms enacted during Abiy’s rule.

The context was that pre-COVID the opposition had capitalized on his failure to respond to the demands of the Oromo protest movement, as well as on the general sense of discontent due to the exclusion of political parties and civil society from key decision-making processes, especially in relation to security and the election.

This growing anti-government sentiment, heightened by the rapprochement of Jawar Mohammed and Lidetu Ayalew in early May, reopened the possibility of confronting the unconstitutional means used to extend Abiy’s term beyond 10 October, when his mandate expires, and compounded by hostile relations with the TPLF, which presented an existential threat to Abiy’s administration.

Thus, liberalization gave way to de-liberalization.

Retrenchment

As was foreshadowed by restrictions implemented during COVID-19, the government seized on Hachalu’s assassination to intensify its crackdown on opposition leaders—high profile arrests included Bekele Gerba, Jawar, Lidetu and Eskinder Nega—and independent media, shutting down the OMN studio in Addis Ababa, for example.

Ethiopia’s fragile political landscape—lacking the foundations of democratic resilience, such as strong, autonomous public institutions—has been shaken by the subsequent wave of repression under Abiy and allies, who instead of sincerely investigating the assassination, or addressing the root causes of the unrest it triggered, exploited it.

In fact, Abiy’s taste for liberalization proved to be short-lived long before recent unrest.

His tolerance for dissent was tested by Jawar’s accusations of creeping authoritarianism, as revealed when government forces allegedly attempted to stage an assault on him in October 2019; an incident that may have helped prompt Jawar to join the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC).

But the rift between Jawar and Abiy began long before the October crisis, ahead of Abiy’s rise to power.

In February 2018, Jawar strongly opposed the replacement of Lemma Megersa as chairman of the Oromo Democratic Party (the regional EPRDF ruling party, formerly Oromo People’s Democratic Organization/OPDO) with Abiy, claiming the latter unfit for the premiership. Abiy was the deputy to his once-key ally Lemma. However, Lemma’s absence from the federal parliament meant that he would not become prime minister, even if he were elected as head of the EPRDF. They swapped places so that Abiy could be elected chairman of the EPRDF and become the next prime minister of the federation.

After the appointment of Abiy and the promises he made to lead the country to democracy, Jawar relented, but, considering himself one of those forces that helped Abiy’s rise to power, he tried to assert his role supporting his government. Despite growing criticism of Abiy’s unilateral approach to the transition, the activist did enough to help rally Oromo youth behind the premier during the early reforms that earned widespread praise domestically and internationally.

However, Jawar’s support for Abiy was short-lived following a closed ODP meeting in Bishoftu in early October 2019, which Jawar attended and warned participants of Abiy’s intention to dissolve the EPRDF coalition, seeing it a step towards creating autocratic, centralized rule. Days later, he openly voiced the same criticism of Abiy’s penchant for personalized authoritarianism to the wider public on social media and LTV, which put him on a collision course with the prime minster.

Consolidated crackdown

In response allegedly to Jawar criticism, Abiy also issued a warning in his speech to parliament on 22 October 2019: “Those media owners who do not have Ethiopian passports are playing both sides. When there is peace, you play here, and when we in trouble, you are not here. We tried to be patient. But if it undermines the peace and existence of Ethiopia …we will take action. You can’t play both ways.”

On 23 October, the day after this warning, government forces allegedly attempted to stage an attack on Jawar after midnight, when the prime minister was in Russia to attend the Russia-Africa summit. Despite attempts to reconcile their differences in the aftermath of these incidents, their relationship deteriorated and turned hostile as the division over mismanagement of the transition escalated.

Subsequently, the past few months only further exposed Abiy’s determination to consolidate his grip on power.

Over two months after the high-profile arrests of vocal opposition figures, the government is struggling to present a legal case against them, thus betraying the façade of an unbiased judicial system. The authorities were not able to bring credible charges based on clear evidence against the detainees or secure their release, which indicates that they did not abandon the old practices of arresting first and investigating later.

In addition to leaving Ethiopia’s deep-seated issues unresolved, Abiy’s actions confirm that the dysfunctional status quo he inherited remains intact, and strongly informs his decisions.

Prosperity’s survival

The second pattern is one that was often detectable in Abiy’s approach but is now increasingly reflected in the political grammar of virtually all government officials and media; namely the “prosperity” rhetoric. It is employed to assume legitimacy and its critics are vilified as “banda” to justify their purging, elimination, and imprisonment.

With the “prosperity” rhetoric, the ‘idiom of survival’ is firmly back as a means for Arat Kilo to browbeat exhausted Ethiopians into submission.

Under the previous regime, the securitization discourse of development that framed poverty as an existential and imminent threat to Ethiopia’s survival was frequently invoked to justify the emboldened role of the state in social life and its repression of opposition, critics, and independent media.

Likewise, Abiy’s government is trying to define itself as a regime whose goal is to ensure the prosperity of the Ethiopian people, and this is then utilized to justify all the measures that Abiy takes to strengthen his position in the name of ‘prosperity’.

With a focus on the materialistic, Prosperity Party has often proclaimed that the government will never bow to popular pressure. Abiy, in particular, has been forceful in expressing the position that no one can stop the path taken by his administration: “…this is a period of prosperity for Ethiopia. We would like to make it clear to our enemy that we will not deviate from the path we are on to lead our nation to prosperity… what we are going to do is bring prosperity to Ethiopia. This is the only road. We have already begun the work, there is no retreat and no force to stop the prosperity of Ethiopia…”

The main rhetorical technique that Prosperity Party employs to dominate Ethiopia’s political and economic landscape remains the age-old rhetoric of the ‘survival idiom’ from the playbooks of past Ethiopian rulers. Ethiopians are constantly reminded that in a hostile region only their current rulers have the expertise and wherewithal to steer the Ethiopian ship safely to shore.

The continued availability of ‘enemies’, ‘challenges’ and ‘uncertainty’ is a given. From the millennia-old narrative of a Christian Island sieged by Islamist states, regional instability because of the Ethiopia-Somalia war in 1977, the Ethiopia-Eritrea war of 1998-2000, to global war on terrorism in Somalia, instability in South Sudan, tension over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, a hostile, unstable region is always at hand.

Hence, Prosperity Party often emphasizes that Abiy’s guiding hand is indispensable to the nation’s survival.

A critical part of the narrative is that a fundamental aspect of good governance is the ability to ensure prosperity before a hostile Horn region’s geopolitical crisis strikes Ethiopia. Prosperity Party cadres and the state media also ensure that Ethiopian society is bombarded with information on how the wise hand of the prime minister counters the threats with a comprehensive array of effective policy options guided by his pet ‘Medemer’ ideology.

Coffee talk

Since loyalty to the prime minister is the main criterion for appointments, the technocrats around him are hardly able to express disagreement even on specific topics, as such voices are seen as attacks on the entire administrative edifice of the party and its leader, Abiy, the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

In this circumstance, only a handful of Abiy’s critics were able to speak out against his actions, believing that his strategy is to gradually abandon inclusive process in order to establish a more centralized one-man rule in the country.

In the wake of the recent killing of Hachalu, it has become clear that Abiy’s liberalization measures were intended only to invite more guests into the living room for a ‘coffee talk’—with only a select few welcome to stay for dinner.

He is crushing any civilians or scapegoated groups that stand in his way, as demonstrated during the recent Oromo protests and civil disobedience named 12:12:12 organised by diaspora activists. Protests in Oromia recently began amid claims that Jawar was denied medical treatment in prison, with demonstrators demanding his release. Government security forces reportedly killed more than 40 protesters.

Although formally an Oromia branch decision, Abiy effectively sacked Lemma and two other high-ranking officials from Prosperity Party. Beside the crackdown on the opposition, Oromia authorities have also arrested about 1,700 government officials at the district and zonal levels in connection with the recent unrests. Judges in Oromia are facing arrest and beatings by police.

This raises concern over the cost Ethiopia will pay for the security forces’ brutality and the clean-room approach of Prosperity Party. It produces a sterile sphere, creating a weak, intolerant, and undeveloped political culture, unable to meet the challenges of democratic citizenship, including the task of finding future leaders. Such moves are counterproductive for Ethiopia’s democratic development.

In short, Abiy appears unable to bring about the much-desired decisive democratic shift, primarily as he has prioritized the consolidation of his and Prosperity Party’s power.

His failure to move Ethiopia onto an unambiguously democratic path is the result of a combination of factors.

First, instead of being a transformational leader able to rally support and bring together rival groups, Abiy has operated more as a transactional leader, competing for short-term political gain, shifting his loyalty between Amhara and Oromo. As the first prime minister of Oromo in the country, Abiy was expected to give respite to Oromo politics. His initial approach was to rally them on his side, involving in Gaaddisa Hoggansa Oromoo (Oromo Leadership Convention) with other Oromo politicians, but he later abandoned them, taking the side of the Amhara political elite.

Second, the continued presence of many actors and structures of the previous regime prevented a clean break with the past.

TPLF stepped down, but the legacy of its regime continued to cast a shadow over Abiy’s, as the embedded undemocratic practices persists long after the change of leadership, continuing to influence values ​​and behaviour. A lack of fresh faces, especially at the lower levels, meant that political competition created instability, causing frustration in society at large. The complex system of patronage that operated under the EPRDF remained largely intact—only the rhetoric changed.

Tensions and hostile relations between the TPLF and federal authorities are also of great concern.

TPLF dominated the EPRDF coalition until Abiy took office in early 2018. But it has since joined the opposition, accusing Abiy of plotting to replace the multinational federal system with a unitary state. While the TPLF’s claim of this threat is sheer hypocrisy, given the fact that it resisted true regional autonomy throughout the time it ruled the country, there is an element of truth in its version of political developments that have been unfolding since Abiy came to power.

The TPLF was the one who caused these anomalies, abandoning a multinational political settlement in which former strongman Meles Zenawi created the mess that others had to inherit after his death in an attempt to create a dominant party regime.

The rapid dissolution of the EPRDF coalition, the formation of Prosperity Party, and the indefinite postponement of elections, not only cast doubt on the prime minister’s commitment to reform, but are also seen as a behind-the-scenes attempt to subvert the federal structure. Suspicion is sparked by the highly militarized reaction to the ongoing unrest and the arrest and murder of key political figures, including the Oromo’s favourite musician, Hachalu.

The biggest distortion of the situation is the portrayal of multinational federalism as the cause of conflicts in Ethiopia. It is not. In fact, it is the culmination of the struggle to resolve Ethiopia’s long-stalled transition from an empire dominated by one group to a country shared by many nations.

Abiy does not have the luxury of viewing the multinational federation as a policy option if peace and stability in the country are their primary goals, as this is a political settlement that ended decades of conflict leading to the adoption of the current constitution in 1995, which Abiy, like all of his predecessors, is trying to evade sincere implementation of.

He cannot undo the progress made on issues of nationalities and multinational federation, as this is the most important component of democracy in today’s Ethiopia.

This is the most politically sensitive and explosive issue that broke Emperor Haile Selassie and the Derg’s regimes—so it will break Abiy’s if he cannot keep it. It is better for him to stop upholding this pan-Ethiopian chauvinism inherited from the feudal-imperial past, which refuses to recognize other national-cultural entities as equal.

To move Ethiopia forward, it is imperative that the equal status of nations and nationalities, enshrined in the federal constitution, materialize and are internalized as part of the country’s overall political discourse. This does not mean that the federation itself would be a panacea for all Ethiopia’s problems, but it is the glue that holds the country together in a polarized political landscape.

And the split on this issue remains one of the factors that has prevented the creation of a united front that would have allowed a strong move towards democratic stability.

My way or the highway

Third, while the dispute with the TPLF has limited the scope for change, there are other factors.

With Ethiopian society divided along ethnic, cultural, and linguistic lines, the opening of the political space increased ethnic conflicts because of competing demands.

When Abiy rose to the pinnacle of power in early 2018, he was supposed to address the legacy of political exclusion and economic marginalization that have characterized successive Ethiopian regimes by striking a balance between the groups’ competing demands.

However, he was unable to deliver this.

His critics believe that Abiy lacks strategic foresight, knowledge, and understanding of the country’s complex history to fix the structural anomaly intertwined with the imperial past and authoritarian culture. This appears to be compounded by his Messiah complex, which prevents him from taking advice, according to his critics, because he has always believed in his destiny as the country’s leader, as his mother prophetically told him that he would become the “seventh king” of Ethiopia.

This has contributed to the return of the ‘my way or the highway’ attitude, creating an environment in which the history of imperialism, autocracy and economic woes (the ‘neftegna’ system) is glorified, featuring life-size wax replicas of Menelik II and Haile Selassie at the palace, whose eras were the epitome of atrocities for millions of poor Ethiopians.

The inability to tame fiery and competing nationalisms is another exacerbating factor.

While many hoped that Abiy could pacify raging nationalisms by satisfying their basic demands or creating the conditions for a national dialogue where they could debate and agree on the country’s future, instead he rather played a counterproductive role, shifting priorities depending on what would consolidate his power.

As a result, the diverging ethno-nationalist aspirations of various groups, the lack of common demands among the leading ethnic elites, and the historical discontent has created a dynamic that prevented Abiy from advancing his reform. For example, the Amhara branch of Prosperity Party became hostage to the “Amhara first” nationalist movement promoted by the newly created rival National Movement of Amhara (NaMA) gaining ground in the region.

Similarly, the fate of Oromia branch of Prosperity Party became hostage to the Oromo nationalist movements, such as Oromo Liberation Front and OFC. As the two ethno-nationalisms intensified in the two largest regions, their impacts soon grew, significantly diminishing the prospects of Prosperity Party’s success in elections.

Fourth, responsibility for the rollback rests with a number of actors, who rallied behind both the ruling party and the opposition.

The opposition, in particular the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), bears its share of responsibility for the failure of democratization.

The OLF wavered between pursuing a peaceful struggle by demobilizing its fighters and seeking a power-sharing agreement with Prosperity Party to secure important positions; and, alternatively, continuing the armed struggle to take over the country. This ambivalence exposed its vulnerabilities, allowing Prosperity Party to do whatever it could to prevent it from organizing, such as closing its offices, and harassing, and imprisoning its cadres.

There is always a discrepancy between the OLF’s aspirations and potential and its accomplishments. While it was expected to be a major player in peaceful politics, in fact, it never realized its potential, mainly due to weak organization and factional squabbling.

Hence, the intransigence and impending hegemony of Prosperity Party and the continued failure of the likes of the OLF has created an unstable and undemocratic vicious circle.

While it is still a good idea, it is also perplexing that Abiy backed a national dialogue recently on pressing issues such as nation building, national consensus, elections, the constitution, and constitutionalism after imprisoning key opponents. A dialogue that excludes key actors is worse than no dialogue, since such a move can only be an endorsement of Prosperity Party’s desired dominance, further diminishing hope for credible elections and democratic advancement in Ethiopia.

Query or correction? Email us

Follow Ethiopia Insight

This is the author’s viewpoint. However, Ethiopia Insight will correct clear factual errors.

Editor: William Davison

Main photo: Security forces in Wolayta Zone last month where they killed protesters; social media.

Join our Telegram channel

Published under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence. Cite Ethiopia Insight and link to this page if republished. 

We need your support to analyze news from across Ethiopia
Please help fund Ethiopia Insight’s coverage

About the author

Mebratu Kelecha

Mebratu is a doctoral researcher at the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster in the UK. Follow him on Twitter @MebratuDugda

38 Comments

  • Take a binocular and look down the Addis Ababa and numerous Oromia cliffs ‘gedels’ then you will see. Until the mekelakeya liyu police showed up in Oromia for the first few days many Christians in self defence chased these Querros away with many close to a thousand of the Oromos runing away ended up falling down the cliffs into steep ‘gedels’ with their partners leaving them behind just because they were being chased by Amaras.

  • It was said more Querros died than the other side during the recent conflict which arose after Hachalu’s death . The Amara region officials did the right thing in asking the Querro organizer Shimeles Abdissa for forgiveness , so Querro forgives Amaras for the attacks Querro suffered with the hands of Amaras following Hachalu’s death.

  • Dr Abiy is a visionary, democratic and humanitarian leader who works day and night to confirm the prosperity of his country. Here in Ethiopia, the citizens are supporting our leaders but you living abroad are extending your hands and interefere in our poletics to bring about instability in the country. You are working at ethnic level but Dr Abiy is working at national level as a whole. Please stop disturbing our stability.

  • Half truth is as dangerous as no truth at all, I wonder for what end does this so called writers wish to achieve by ignoring millions of other Ethiopians has a far and different argument about the subject? I thought this writers are Ethiopians or they are not? i don’t think we can make a peace by satisfying the hunger of some group only just because the got a chance to speak out, how about the silent majority? We forget Ethiopia is home for 110m. When would the diaspora realize they can’t represent the whole country, we live in Africa, it suppose to mean a lot, their expectations doesn’t apply here, our priorities are different, this so called activities doesn’t even has a single shame to side with our enemies by supporting our only hope to provide some comfort for our nation, just to satisfy the ego and political trust . So i say go to hell you are not allowed to give us advice, you don’t even want to leave with us, you are now a western bother about trump election.

  • TPLF is waiting for what Abiy’s government will do on the day of the day of the election in Tigray to activate the clandestine plan that was sponsored by Egypt and has been scheduled for execution by TPLF.
    advantage of Oromo population size and geography/proximity used 2 years ago to assert political influence is missing because of the leaders’ detention. If and when Oromo leaders are released and regain their freedom, the Oromo movement could recover its political strength, which could perhaps lead to an all-inclusive national dialogue, political settlement. In the meantime, it must be a source of personal disappointment for Lemma Megersa to have been a prominent name to induce “regime change” two years ago, only to end up now under house arrest, unable to speak freely why he was opposed to the dissolution of the previous political parties to form PP.

  • Dr Abiy is dreaming instability in the horn of Africa.
    PM Abiy is the only solution who can survive his country from dust and suffocation of three decades of misrule by tribalist TPLF.
    I wish him the best to pursuade his activivties

  • “My sincere advice to Amhara elites is to accept language pluralism and self-administration within federal Ethiopia. Finally, Amharas will be the victims if they fail to accept equality”.

    Such idiocy just cannot be glossed over and ignored. Ethiopia has always been a multi-lingual society for hundreds, if not thousands of years. The simple testimony to that is the existence in the 21 st century of over 80 languages and dialects still in use in Ethiopia. Ethno-fanatics are barking 24 hours a day, 7 days a week why Amharic became an official language of the nation. They blame the great Emperor Menilik for this historical antecedent that occurred in the 12 th century, nearly 650 years or so before Emperor Menilik was even born. Who can seriously argue with this type of infantile, historically ignorant and deficient rewriting of history. Prior to the ethnic hatred sowed by TPLF, a narrow minded clique of individuals who could not see beyond their isolated village, Ethiopians were multilingual. In Harar and Dire Dawa, it was common to find people who mastered Somalian, Oromo, Amharic, Adergna, some French, Arabic and even some Italian, and English. TPLF cadres were of course ignorant of these multi ethnic, multi cultural, multi faith and denomination society that existed for so long. But sadly, there village mentality and narrow mindedness destroyed these two great places. The elderly population, however, still recall and tell their story, that the people from Harar and Dire Dawa, were among the most easy going, care free, modern and hospitable people in Ethiopia, even considered in some aspects more of city people than Addis residents. Today, Harar and Dire Dawa have become dilapidated, neglected and places, in just less than 30 years, thanks to the narrow mindedness of TPLF, its cadres and the brain washed and hate mongers of the generation they have created.

    Language is a tool. It is a means of communication. Its importance and significance is never more important than the propagation of ideas, the implementation of logic and the fostering and nurturing of mutual understanding between people. Because there was a common language used among various groups of people in Ethiopia, it was possible to communicate, do trade, travel from one place to another etc.

    The extraordinarie federalist country in the world is the USA. In the USA, people of German, Italian, Irish, Hispanic, Asian , African, Middle Eastern and so on origin use the official language, English and work and live for a purpose and a vision higher than their narrow village from their place of origin. In fact, is is not uncommon for second and third generation children of immigrants to completely not even know how to speak their parents’ or grandparents’ tongue. Of course, in Ethiopia, “ethno fanatics” bark day in day out, about federalism with out first even grasping a very basic and rudimentary understanding of federalism. They also do not even know or think about the fact that out of some 195 countries in the world only about 25 have a federal system of government. Federalism does not equate with democracy. Best example of that is the ethnic federalism of Ethiopia vis-a-vis TPLF and its ignorant cadres and followers which has become a disaster for Ethiopia.

    • Leaving aside your tirade about TPLF, the issue in Ethiopia some 30 years ago was the confluence of anthropology and politics – it was the age of ethnic identity and the rise of ethno-nationalism. TPLF had to contend with the political reality of the country, especially the heightened identity politics of the two groups, the Oromos and the Somalis. Ethnic federalism was found to be a pragmatic solution consistent with the issues at that time. Federalism was done in good faith to hold the nation together, and it worked for 27 years of nation-building. A few days ago Addis Standard had a report on a public opinion survey done: 61% of Ethiopians in the survey embrace a federal system as opposed to a unitary form of government. This finding, this one truth, vindicates TPLF in the matter of federalism.

  • Federalism or no federalism or Zenawism or ethnic federalism or letting Ethiopians know the constitution or not letting Ethiopian people know the constitution is all politics , confusion.

    Self determination is written on article 39 so we heard , whatever else is on the other articles we not heard.

    Whatever is the title of all the other articles I got no clue. do you?

    Youtubers should read the constitution out loud from begining to the end.

    There are so many books published on the market, the constitution is not on the market . 99.9% of Ethiopians want to read or know the constitution but do not have access to it. So 99.9 % of Ethiopians just go by what we hear about the constitution from the Motor mouths know it all elites as always . 99% of Ethiopins don’t know how many articles are in there , 39? 40? 100? Who knows ? Then the one percent go on saying “constitution got improved – constitution shouldn’t be improved -bla election bla not election bla bla bla ….”

    The 99.9% wouldn’t even know how bla bla bla yet

    Any capitalist money maker printing press really should have knowledge to publish the constitution make it accesuble to really try to come up with ideas about how to let the 99.9 percent people of Ethiopians get access to this “constitution” because 99.9% was not and is still not granted access to read the constitution.
    Aba Gadda is planned to be on tv before it is written . Anything is on our faces Abs Gadda , fiction books , make belief preaching it is all on a tip of a our fingers but the constitution the so called federalism document is not anywhere.

    The constitution is papers which the EPRDFites the one percent and very few other lucky ones read it so far, the 99.,9% go on hearing about the constitution from whoever read it. We the 99.9% don’t have to be a politician or don’t have to be called upon for our opinion about the costtitution and get nagged about it , all we nagging back is make this constitution accessible to all .

    So Mr. Or Mss. Philanthropist spend your money on letting people read the constitution first . Federalism or not , we Ethiopians should have access to the current constitution which the so called Memes Zenaei was so busy writing drafting for years and not leading the country abandoning his leadership post or abandoning his family members because it took him years and years of concentration ADHD trying to come up with these constitution which apparently was so important to be drafted for the leader to go awol per Azeb Mesfin and other EPRDFites such as Abiy who are wanna be o e percents wanna be the cream of the crop . Can somebody from within EPRDF please please reform yourself enough to allow them s Constitution to be published and put it on the market or even give it as free handout. Ala moudon can afford to do that but he only gives money to the Saudi prince/king now. I or another Ethiopian shouldn’t be forced to join a political party just to get access to read the “constitution” who some prefer to call it federalism , Zenawism , Gidibism , abayism , electicitism ….. Let’s read it first first hand , make it accessible to all.

  • In addition to TPLF taking a stand to defend regional self-administration and federalism, in the end the future of federalism – as a consensus government – may depend on the revival of the Oromo movement now in limbo, with practically all its political leaders in prison or house arrest. The advantage of Oromo population size and geography/proximity used 2 years ago to assert political influence is missing because of the leaders’ detention. If and when Oromo leaders are released and regain their freedom, the Oromo movement could recover its political strength, which could perhaps lead to an all-inclusive national dialogue, political settlement. In the meantime, it must be a source of personal disappointment for Lemma Megersa to have been a prominent name to induce “regime change” two years ago, only to end up now under house arrest, unable to speak freely why he was opposed to the dissolution of the previous political parties to form PP.

    • Oromo movement had achieved its goal of freeing itself from the dictatorship of TPLF. Then the Minnesota activist felt no longer irrelevant and wanted to make some noise.

      So he continued on a promoting campaign of hatred against non-oromos. How? By using any means necessary to cause violence using his own friends such as Hacchalu. That is why he and the collaborators are in prison my friend.

  • Abiy is killing innocent non politician Oromo people with no reason. Under the cover of governance, he is commiting genocide on Oromo nationalists.

  • Thank you Mebratu. Good understanding and balanced analysis of the current Ethiopian politics. Abiy is incompetent wishy wishy rhetoric.

    If Ethiopia disintegrates, it is due to the assimilationist fans of Amhara elites. Better to dismantle Ethiopia into pieces than to live under the barbaric Amhara Neftegnas.

    My sincere advice to Amhara elites is to accept language pluralism and self-administration within federal Ethiopia. Finally, Amharas will be the victims if they fail to accept equality.

  • I respect the author’s perception given in the piece. He has tried to walk his readers through the pitfalls of PM Abiy and the reasons why the PM failed to address issues he could and should have. However, the author chose to leave out the role of some dangerous elements that actually threaten the entire country under the watchful eyes of the PM.

    More importantly, the author’s dead silence about Jawar Mohammed’s role in causing insurrection is astounding. Anyone with half a brain knows that it was long over due for Jawar , an American meddling in a foreign country’s politics, to face the music for the evil role he played in the loss of lives and the destruction of hard earned property. For instance, it was due to Jawar’s visit to Shashemene that shocking unprecedented upside down hanging of a young man happened. Absent Jawar’s going there, the young man would have been alive today. As if this heinous crime were not bad enough, the same Jawar called his followers to kill innocent non-Oromos under the pretext of “I am surrounded” when the PM was in Russia as the author stated. I found it shameful and disingenuous that the author deliberately chose to say nothing about the lose of 86 innocent lives at the hands of machete brandishing vicious herd-like Qerroos who responded to Jawar’s call. For this reason alone, the author is biased toward Jawar.

    The other thing that I found astonishing is the author’s disregard of the arrested individuals’ relationship with TPLF; especially Jawar and Bekele Gerba. These individuals are power hungry rabid dogs leashed for a good reason. At least as Oromos, Jawar and Bekele were expected to demand justice for the spelled blood in Oromia and the mother’s who were forced to sit on their children’s corpses at the hands of the TPLF. To Oromos’ surprise, these mad dogs befriended the TPLF and continued rubbing feathers with its leaders. Even if Bekele Gerba actually suffered at the hands of the TPLF and has been urinated on his face, he still went to Mekele to conspire against the PM. Last but not least, these two individuals are arrested for snatching the body of Hachalu Hundessa for their political gain and inciting insurrection. The slain hero Hachalu Hundessa, a true Oromo, who fought TPLF and defeated them, unambiguously disapproved and reviled Bekele Gerba and Hizkiel Gebissa (another TPLF vassal) for their sycophantic relationship with the TPLF and their visit to Mekele to share a dinner table with the true enemies of Oromo and accept agendas from them. According to the dead hero Hachalu, any Oromo who cooperates with the TPLF, a a disgrace to the people of Oromo. I endorse my hero’s stand.

    On the other hand, Abiy has made serious mistakes that I share with the author. Just to add to what the author stated, immediately following his coming to power, Abiy had to restrain if not confine the TPLF. He failed to do so and now the country is paying a hefty price. The TPLF is currently conspiring with Egypt to destroy the GERD. For instance, just two weeks ago, 87 highly trained Tigre (13), Beneshangul Gumuz and South Sudanese soldiers have been sneaked to the Beneshangul Gumuz region waiting for orders to accomplish what they are trained to do in Agbe, Tigray. The source is one of the TPLF CC members who disagreed with the evil plan.

    TPLF is waiting for what Abiy’s government will do on the day of the day of the election in Tigray to activate the clandestine plan that was sponsored by Egypt and has been scheduled for execution by TPLF.

    Over all, the piece is weaved with some factual “columns”and biased assertions. A crude factual acid test shows that the author is biased.So, Mr. author have a balanced observation and state facts. Cherry picking is ugly for an educated professional. BTW, Abiy is not my cup of tea either, but he is what Ethiopia has now and I would like him to succeed.

    As for the ethnic based Federal system, it excluded people like myself who are from two different ethnic groups and imposed unimaginable burdensome and intolerable emotional load upon us to choose from two equally important parents. So, I prefer that the Federal system get changed and changed quickly, if need by by force.

    • THANK YOU! I got that to. The author doesn’t seem to have spent day in Ethiopia since abiy came to power. He is biased and leaves out important details that will cast Jawar and his buddies in bad light. Hundreds of Ethiopians and specifically sons of ‘the-elites’ have been murdered following multiple insurrections called upon by them. The PM seems detached with that regard and even seems to play some role by proxy but the author shows a clear bias toward the opposition. It just gives me more detest people in foreign countries giving unbalanced opinions that will lead to further deaths

  • “Hamid
    September 7, 2020 at 5:11 pm
    Great analysis.
    The only way out of the mess he is making is to institute the true Federalism in Ethiopia.”

    What is true federalism in Ethiopia? It is a sad fact that proponents of Ethnic federalism do not even have a very basic grasp of the rudiments of federalism. In nearly 30 years of practice their ethnic group controlled ever sector of the economy, destroying professionalism for good, and they claimed to have won up to 99% of seats at a time- a farcical and statistical anomaly. The past 30 years in reality was the most unitary and centralized system of governance even worse than the monarchic “Empire” of yesteryear. A case in example, the reduction of over 25 million people of unique cultural, territorial and historical story and tragic lumping under one index of Southern people. Now an other ethnic group with uncontrollable greed and power hunger wants to usurp everything for itself and destroy Ethiopia for a non existent utopian ethnic enclave. Ethiopia when shall your suffering and wounding by thousand cuts from your ungrateful sons and daughters end. When will the tears of your defenseless victims, children, men, women and the elderly ever stop?

  • Is it ever possible, just even for one second, or a fraction of a second, for Oromo extremists, Oromo political elites, and their finances and orchestrators of violence and murder to consider some minor inconveniences called the law and the rights of others. Ethiopia and Ethiopians cannot and must not be victims of the greed, desire for dominance and blood thirsty struggle among Oromo political opportunists whether they are in the Jawar group, Prosperity party, OLF, OFC, or the poisonous TPLF orchestrators and cadres of destruction and chaos. The writer laments about the process how Prosperity Party was formed, how Abiy became its leader, how Lemma was ousted etc. How on earth are these issues used to justify the slaughtering of hundreds of defenseless victims whose only fault was to be living as minorities and of the Orthodox Christian faith in a region??? The writer should understand very well that those who kill, murder, destroy properties of others, who steal will be held accountable even if they did it for his “utopian Oromia”. His beloved Jawar propagates repulsive ethnic cleansing, massacre of Christians and non Oromos, and the dismemberment of Ethiopia himself and through his OMN media. Jawar’s citizenship status is not known. If he has American citizenship, as evidenced by his and his followers’ attempts for intervention by members of US congress, in particular from Minnesota where he lives, then Ethiopians need to demand that it is none of his business to interfere in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation. If he claims to be an Ethiopian citizen, then he is subject to the law land like any other Ethiopian. If he is a US citizen and suspected of a crime, he can be questioned, interrogated, brought before the
    law for violating the law of the land, Ethiopia, where he, that is Jawas is just a guest!!!! He is not a god despite suffering from god-complex, he is not above the law, and he is just a mere mortal like everybody else. Oromo extremists can bow down and prostrate before the charlatan and opportunist scammer, all they want, that is their right. Again, the internal power struggle of Oromo political opportunists is the business of Oromo political opportunists and their orchestrates and financiers. To the rest of Ethiopians, it was told that meetings were held, votes were cast, and party leaders were selected. That is party politics. That is your business. Prosperity party is just one party. If the current prime minister makes the PP and its members popular by caring for the rights of every Ethiopian, promoting the rule of law, the establishment of meritocracy, technocratic efficiency, accountability before the public, elimination of nepotism, clan based robbery of state resources, he will become a popular leader. If he chooses to represent the over blown greed and egotism of one ethnic group, he will soundly be rejected by the rest of Ethiopians. As for leaders and cadres of OLF, TPLF, OFC, OPDO, APDO, or even members of PP or any other political competitors, if any of them promote violence, massacre and destruction, they will be held accountable. Simple as that.

    • T. Wolfe,
      Thank you much. The power hungry Oromo politicians are impossible to please. They have been given the opportunity to govern Ethiopia but they behave like vultures hovering around a carcass. They made the beautiful palace look like a zoo at feeding time. They are closer to beasts than humans! Their archbishop in evilness TPLF is banking on their demise fighting one another.

    • Wollde is one of those who believe in reversing the situation back to his grandparents era. You and your group dream of old days when the Amharas ruled over all Ethiopians. It is supposed to be in 21st century thinking, rather you are in the feudal era that was gone for a while. You call Oromo politicians opportunities. What you are suggesting is your candidacy to lead them to the future. If you are asked and if are to answer honestly say the words Jawar used to instigate problems between Ethnic groups. I am 100% sure you will have none. 83out of 84 ethnic members of the federal government are opposing PP. Very unfortunate you are overwhelmed by this fantasy of greater Emiye, that would never be materialized even if all the people of Ethiopia let it try its luck. It is like evolution. Can humans mutate back to apes? Can that happen? Never. So let us be in use of our intelligence to the whole whole society than killing oneself and putting innocents in danger.

  • The author choose to ignore the fact that the arrested activists and politicians tried to use the death of the singer hachalu to cause a mass unrest and push their plolitical agenda at the cost of innocent Ethiopian lives and as a result hundreds of lives were lost.

    • Rebels, the government orchestrated the killing of the singer. The response of the political prisoners was a natural response as people who lost some one very valuable to them

  • In Abiy’s defense, with all his weakness, Ethiopia will probably not see a leader who is as liberal as he was in 2018. And look what that resulted in. He assumed it would be an open political play-field. But he overlooked the fact that politicians in Ethiopia, especially the new ones, are nothing but ethnic activists.

    Liberalism would work when the politicians check identity politics at the door and try to work on bigger agendas. Even US has fallen ill with the bug of identity politics and soon will lose its status as a super power.

  • I always wonder the motives of those who equate current federalism to a simple ” ethnic federalism.” No it is not. There is no where in the constitution explicitly defined as such . Current federalism is more complex and is based on distict physical erritories, linguistic and historical groups and distinct nations, nationalities and people and so on. You can’t give a bad name things for the sake of it. Mark my words folks: there’s no going back to the old statues
    quo. Give it up this absurd dream.! It will never happen. It will either end up in complete chaos and disintegrationn or an improvement of the current model with minor changes in terms of practicality and the basic frameworks.

    • What historical groups? There was no historical group that stood as one state called Amhara. Same goes for Oromia.

      An Oromo person from Kemisse has more historical background with an Amhara from Dessie. But just because this person speaks the same language as somebody from Wellega, he has to abandon every part of his history and be administered by someone who is ‘president of Oromia’ residing in Addis or Adama.
      The current federalism used common language as the ONLY basis for its constitution which is infactual.

      • If Somali the regional territory was illegally trasnfered by the Britih colonials to Abyssinian occupiers in 1946 and 1956 respectively, If the independent suldanet of Harar and it’s surrounding region wete invaded by Menilik’s militia and with the help of Europeans in 1897. If the suldanet of Afar , the suldanets of Bale and Arsi , the Aba Jiffar of Kaffecho state and many other regions were similarly invaded and occupied in various dates by the Abyssinias neftagnas, don’t constitute of distinct historical regions, nationalities and nations , I don’t know what it is..

        • You answered your own question Awale. All the regions you mentioned: Afar, Arsi, Bale, Harar, Kaffecho are old regional identities by themselves. If they have to fight for self-determination, it should be for those kingdoms only.

          Then 1991 came and they were grouped into language regions. Arsi , Bale, and many more kingdoms clumped into one new region called Oromia just because they share a language. Wello, Gojjam, and others into Amhara for the same reason.

          That is why federalism in Ethiopia should be based on the actual and historical regions, not shared language.

          • 1991 was the result of freedom fighters. There was no alternative to form a functioning government. 1991 saved the country from falling apart. Ethnic federalism was the right choice and will stay right.

  • imho “federalism” based on ethnicity in a country of 80+ ethnic groups in a dozen of ethnic enclaves called states is a recipe for disaster and chaos and it will never possibly work. To get it working federalism should be based on residency only, alternatively you get this endless conflict between autocracy and tribalism.

    • and then notice the paradox in the article: the author states then and again that people wants “equality” AND wants to keep their “diversity”. Now, politics is about law, and law is about equal treatment. If you can’t accept that ethnic minorities in “your” land get equal treatment, then sorry but you have to secede and go by yourself. There is no possible compromise on this.

  • The article walks you through the current political climate and political landscape of ethiopia plainly. Mr. Mebratu not only exposed the inept leadership of PM Abiy Ahmed but also suggested the way out of this political mess.

    Ethiopia is facing a complex political crisis under PM Abiy Ahmed at a time when the geopolitics of the Horn Africa is changing dramatically.

    The economic and political visibility of Ethiopia in the region is diminishing significantly under PM Abiy as he has engaged in dismantling the existing Federal system. He has choked up the country. He is a complex disaster and must go!

    • +

      You all must be a jihadists who is dreaming instability in the horn of Africa.
      PM Abiy is the only solution who can survive his country from dust and suffocation of three decades of misrule by tribalist TPLF.

      • Agreed, I don’t know how they can’t see the other alternative. If not Abiy who? who else is more qualified and trustworthy ? what is their message ? if there are, why should we believe them ? Can we just stop complaining and be compassionate about others. Ethiopia never had a mindful and loving leadership leadership than Abiy Ahmed.I hope that he wins the next election so he makes sure that Ethiopia stays undivided and still stands as a nation. Otherwise, is there hope but to go separate ways ?

        • TZ
          Agree,

          The “writer” is practicing for his thesis… and only mentioned half a chapter from the book called Ethiopia, most of it injected by the “editor” (the only, popular of late, borrowed from elsewhere in recent fictitious story telling on our land named William Davison, as is the case when the “delusional s” from Europe (the west) become your “trusted” leads, you go nowhere but in circles… as they suck your wealth one way or the other… seen everywhere specially the middle-east (oil) lately… and you keep dancing following their drum beat… to the demise of your country and people.
          All our “educated’ few (0.01%) of Ethiopia are vomiting about “concepts” and “slogans” like Federalism, linguistic this, ethnic that, liberalism… etc; the west created to “convince or confuse” whomever that has something they want…
          Nothing about “life”, aside from the “the slogans ” they were given to so called “activists” /opportunists who want to grab something themselves along the way… the population at large wants a peaceful life wherever he/she happen to live… according to the “time” they are living in… at some point everyone on the planet was living on farming and times change and you only can live according to the time and do what is the norm… and the people of Ethiopia are not any different, lived according to the times… and have to act accordingly to maintain or and improve their situations… In all regions of Ethiopia people lived together, married across ethnic, religious beliefs, language lines… etc and raised children, passed on the family traditions, participated in local events of all kinds regardless….
          In 21 st century, here Come our “educated” morons try to fix the “past” ignoring the present and what they can do to “improve” upon what their forefathers have achieved… no, they have to bring over what “William Davison’s” forefathers creation and try to force it on our people.

          It is just a “slogan” that destroyed millions of lives in Europe for centuries and lately in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and many other places on Earth.
          Now “corona” is dismantling these “slogan” and the Slogan creators in a spectacular fashion, for the world to see (those with “brain”) soon you will recognize it was all made-up to “LOOT”. Between now & 2025 the truth will come out and all this “shiny” nothings will collapse big time and for GOOD.

          Life is SIMPLE, it is not that complicated, when you are at PEACE, you neighbors will be at peace, and the nation will be at peace, and will other nations… The PROBLEM are the “foxes” in sheep clothing like the “William Davison” and his kind… messed up the world for thousands of years from the Roman empire to the present day.

          Work for “life” not for meaningless “terms” /slogans that will not put a bread on the table for kids in your local societies… Look around, the slogans created nothing but “blood shade”…. In Ethiopia our forefathers created banks in the form of “Ekube” to fiance each-others projects, “maheber” to create close ties and friendships, “Edir” to bury their dead united in a time of sorrow, without any mentions of all the “differences” only 👉 you the “Educated ones” suddenly woke-up-to, but were there all along and no one wanted to create “misery” in creating “division” based on “communication tools”, “location one came from”, other such trivial things the “limit” progress, peace, living life to the fullest with “win/win” for all.

          European bug, “only I have to have “MORE”, else life is not worth a thing, and I will do my best to make sure i got it all, regardless of any life.”

          This DELUSIONAL “concept” is not worth killing your BROTHERS for.

          These are just “constipated concepts”, nothing more; designed to benefit the 1% screwing the 99%; look around in your favorite cities/countries in the “West”. In Just 2 weeks of “lock-down” in the US people were lined up for “FOOD BANK”, is that what you want for Ethiopia?
          Do not be fooled.
          These are Vultures; they will eat you alive (literally).

          I UNDERSTAND, your HERO IS “America”, assume the “Native People america” were like the Oromo people, where are they now??? They were “eradicated” from the face of the Earth, never to be seen again. Is that what even remotely happened in Ethiopian history????

          The British Empire massacred millions and LOOTED the plant bare… Are these, your HEROs?

          Read WORLD HISTORY, and Think and think HARD AND deep.

          • To support my argument above and to assist you learn the history of the so called “great nations” you take as your “Hero”(s) US & UK … here are some links that will give the “writer” of this article (and many similar ones…) and our young people in Ethiopian who may not have been exposed to this historical records, to help them acquirer some perspective about “tribal injustices” committed by countries we admire as our “Hero” (s) “for justice and DEMOCRACY”.
            (1) https://www.history.com/news/native-americans-genocide-united-states
            (2) https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-53603250
            (3) Why after 400 years in America Blacks are not EQUALS in america, and the ongoing divide… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Lives_Matter
            (4) UK Starving the Indians during WWII, by confiscating their grain/food so send it to England… 👉 “Churchill deliberately ordered the diversion of food from starving Indian civilians to well-supplied British soldiers and even to top up European stockpiles, meant for yet-to-be-liberated Greeks and Yugoslavs,” https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/04/churchill-policies-blamed-1943-bengal-famine-study-190401155922122.html
            (5) The British role in America’s tainted past 👉 https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-53603250

            Ethiopia with all the difficulties we have had, managed to preserve all diverse cultures, languages, way of life without having tribal-segregation the kind we have seen elsewhere, including the Indian “cast system” and the “untouchables”…
            We had 80 plus languages and tribes for eons and we still have them today.
            The Amhara tribe is one of the poorest in economic terms in the country; so, where is the ADVANTAGE?
            Except the belief in a country “Ethiopia” and the willingness to die to preserve it; as did our forefathers…
            I did not mean to offend any one, but we need to have some prospective, based on fact on the ground.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.