Ethiopia, the “State of emergency” and the challenge ahead, particularly with Diaspora Ethiopian communities.
After the unrest in some part of Oromia, and Amhara regional states, various Diaspora Ethiopian extremist groups together with their foreign diehard supporters emboldened and became together to fulfill their ill-fated agendas by hijacking the questions raised by Ethiopian people, in particular the youth. As a result of the unrest many people lost their life, and considerable amount of public and private properties were destroyed and burnt to ash. Because of the dangerous circumstance created by this unorganized, with no purpose riots the government has forced to declare a 6 month a “State of Emergency”. If the riots would have not been under control as quickly as possible, the situation would have been out of control and the damage would have been significant. Thanks to the gallant defense and security forces, the situation has become under control in short period of time.
In seeking of answers to the questions raised by some sector of the public, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has passed various decrees to address the problems through discussions with the public as well as with home grown legal opposition parties. Although actions speak lauder than words, it is my hope that this action taken by the ruling party will bring positives developments in bringing changes in Ethiopian contemporary political engagement which has been rivalry, with no compromise in its nature. The domestic opposition political parties should be encouraged by this decision and engage actively to contribute their shares in the future political affairs of the country. Both the ruling and the oppositions parties should be prepared to abide by the rules both has agreed upon, and their central theme should be focused in fulfilling the Ethiopian people demands; to look each other as an alternative, not as a formidable adversary’s political parties; how democratic process in Ethiopia should be implemented and advanced; how election process should be improved and how the election board should be re-structured if necessary to fulfill the confidence of all political parties , and the public to build new visionary and civilized law abiding society. We should understand that election credibility’s and its transparency with accountabilities is a road to democratization process. Without responsible free press, free speech, separation of the three governmental branches (separation of power a basic principle of democratization process); effective and efficient public and private services, and an effective and free community organizations (being it gender, professional or other consumer advocate groups) it is unthinkable to implement democracy in our country. Therefore, the commitment of the EPRDF to fulfill its promise in timely manner is very crucial. However, is the government speed-up its promise? Although I am optimistic the process is slow moving.
After the declaration of the “state of emergency” the government is occupying by conducting “Tilk Tahadiso” mainly within its own circles. I personally see this process is slow moving and ignored the seriousness of the situation. To me “Tilk Tahadiso” and other actions that were taken so far by EPRDF (allocation of billions of birrs to create job opportunities to the youth, changing or reshuffling its own political appointees and party members) are the concerns of the public, but not fully answering the main questions raised by many citizens. From the past experience, unless and otherwise public offices are assigned by carrier professionals based on their merits, the ongoing “Tilk Tahadiso” or reshuffling few gathering and government officials alone will not bring long term solutions to the chronic bureaucracy the publics are experiencing. Political changes comprise many things which includes but not limited a commitment to bring comprehensive socio-economic as well as political changes. If necessary, and questions raised by the public this change should go up to the revision or complete changes of the constitution. This commitment is necessary because political doctrine of one party should not be a domain to all aspects of socio-economic as well as political activities of the country. It should be clear here that, Politics without win-win philosophy, and unwillingness to work with opposition groups to take a correction measures to public demands in timely manner, will be a source of recurrent conflicts.
Taking into consideration the history of Ethiopian backward political culture, intolerance and deep rooted political polarization, it may not be an easy task for both (the ruling and oppositions) to find a common ground to settle easily their political differences. However, they both should understand the dynamic and seriousness of the current global and regional political situations, and the consequences it may poses to our country if we failed to solve our internal problems in civilized and responsible manner. In particular, the greater responsibility lies on the ruling party shoulder to level the grounds for other oppositions parties to exercise their right freely. It is clear that all opposition parties are weak due to their internal as well as financial problems. Most of them are occupying and addicted in criticizing the government, ignoring their own shortfall (without denying the role of EPRDF to weaken them). This must be stopped. Therefore, it is the right time to note here that the priority for Ethiopia government should be working with domestic opposition groups to enhance democratization process; to increase their participation by letting them to work free and create a conducive atmosphere to participate in decision making process, in particular with national issues. In general, commitments of EPRDF to respect the constitution, and speedup the democratization process at home will not only helping the EPRDF to ease the existing tensions with domestic opposition parties and the public, but also it helps to changes the stance and perceptions of the Diaspora communities. Similarly, the opposition parties should be ready for constructive dialogue, and they should leave aside the old political intrigue and show-up. I truly believe that Ethiopian political problem will solve only by Ethiopian back home, not from those who are seeking power with the help of an external powers, which I believe doesn’t bring whatsoever good result to Ethiopians.
The other front which will be challenging to EPRDF is dealing with Diaspora politics. I do not think there is a short cut solution to solve these problems. As a result of this the political confrontation with Diaspora communities’ will remain indefinitely. This is because not only there are political differences that cannot be solved between the EPRDF and self-appointees “Diaspora oppositions” but the erratic, uncontrollable attitudes, behaviors, and characters observed in the majority of these groups is a constraint. First leave alone for the government for any ordinary Ethiopians it is hard to comprehend what their motives are and second whether their questions are legitimate or not the complexities and in some case illegitimacy issues makes it difficult to accommodate in the context of Ethiopian internal politics. Unless these problems become clear it is hard to settle the differences between EPRDF and Diaspora self-proclaimed “opposition parties”. The other factor which make even difficult is that because of what has happened in those two regional states as a result of fake and very sensitized uninterrupted news channeling from abroad, the so called “silent majority” inclined to the side of extremist groups or take laissez-faire stand. The extremist took this opportunity to increase their bases. As a result of this regrouping in line of ethnic line is intensified and some are passing their hate DNA to their children, denying them to pursue their own destiny freely. This kind of generation, mainly from the generation of the 60’s and 70’s is not only a failed but also committed a crime.
What approaches or strategies EPRDF should follow to ease the tension with self-proclaimed “Diaspora Opposition groups”?
We have to accept the reality that some splinter chauvinist and narrow nationalist groups have effectively exploited and infiltrated effectively to western bureaucratic system to advance their ill-fated agendas (this is not only a new struggle but also very effective for many dishonest intellectuals). To disguise themselves they talk about democracy and human rights just to attract the attention of naive easy going western officials. These groups formed a fragile unity (imposed by their sponsors) with the aim either to disintegrate or to rule Ethiopia with their own terms. Because of the complexities of their motives, and organizational structures it is very hard and a challenge for the government to deal with these fragmented Diaspora communities. Beside this citizenship issue is another legal challenge for the government to accept these groups as a legitimate citizen to accommodate their direct involvements in the internal affairs of Ethiopia. Except in limited circumstances, there is no different preference or treatment for naturalized Ethio- American or indigenous American citizen. According to the constitution of Ethiopia, foreign citizens does not have the right to serve in military, work in foreign affairs and occupy political offices. And the same apply here to naturalized Ethiopians who changed their citizenship to their host country. Beside these some armed groups not only loyal to their sponsors, like Egypt and Eritrea but also advocating the same program contradicting with Ethiopian geo-political interest. These are some of the concerns and hard to get clear answers how to deal with these groups. In addition to the above two countries, different armed groups regularly collecting money from some Diaspora Ethiopian communities through organizing seminars, meeting and entertainments. This happens in day light with the knowledge of western countries officials. Hence, we should not be amazed if the Bill H.R 861 is preparing as a first phase to drag Ethiopia to a war similar to Libya, and Syria which I will not discuss this issue at this time. These extremist groups together with their supporters do not have any remorse to drag Ethiopia in to civil war. What is strange is that with unknown reasons some western officials are acted as if they are members of these terrorist affiliated groups.
Let me raise one issue here. For any fair minded Ethiopian free from hate, what perception he /she could have towards those armed groups who are working under Shabia commands in the name of “Ethiopian opposition?” What name is appropriate to call those groups agitating other Ethiopians not to fly with Ethiopian airlines; working under Shabia is a right choice for Ethiopian oppositions; not to send remittance to support their in-need of family members help; opposing and openly promising Egypt they will stop the construction of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dame if by chance they seize power in Ethiopian? Is it not “betrayal” of their country? There shouldn’t be any ambiguity here. Look how the US America mass media outlets and some sector of the public including politician from both parties overreacted and recommended a thorough investigation to some of Donald Trump surrogates “secret contact” with Russians secret service and government officials. Ignoring whether or not this action is appropriate, it show one thing. Even, having a contact with a country considered as an enemy is a treason, leave alone trained and armed by enemy countries, like ours stationed in Eritrea. I do not think I should be politically correct not to call them other that what I mentioned above.
Last, but not least, confrontations of any forms have a negative impact for peace, and sustainable economic development. In particular, our current situation where there is a lack of tolerance to entertain differences of all forms, changing courses to civilized political engagement is important. It should be clear here that Diaspora communities are a vital source of remittance and technological transfer. Therefore, no matter how hard and difficult it may be, EPRDF should think critically and cautiously to ease the confrontation with the majority Diaspora communities. I said this because one of the causes of the incidence that has happened in some parts of Oromia and Amhara regional states came from Diaspora extremist through spreading of fake and deceptive make-believe stories which sensitized particularly the youth to take desperate actions. Beside this the dishonest “intellectuals” are vigorously working hard to use every necessary means with deceptive manners to destabilize the country by misleading the public. Some even go far in creating make-believe novel type “history” to create confusion and doubt the historical relationship between our diverse societies. This act was deliberate and intentional aiming at to conjugate the “preferred” and to disassociate the “undesired”. Because of this kind of unstoppable false and cozy propaganda flow, the silent majority become an easy target for these dishonest intellectuals and their media outlets dominated by unethical yellow journalists. Dealing with this kind of deliberate action needs comprehensive approaches with intensive diplomatic efforts.
Finally, Ethiopia is located in a very hostile region. Beside this the world politics is becoming polarizing in particular at this time where right wing groups both in Europe and US America managed to convince their base to follow isolationists’ policy. Nobody knows what will bring this political shift to the world order, in particular to Africa. Beside this the countries like Eritrea and Southern Sudan are likely to attract those hostile countries to form new military allies in the name of land lease or developmental cooperation. In particular Egypt is advancing its hideous “face value diplomacy” just to disguise its true intentions against Ethiopia due to the construction of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). One of the core issue Egyptian disagreement with Ethiopia is not about the technicality issue of the GERD but it is why in the first-place Ethiopia started the construction of the dam. This must be clear for Ethiopians regardless of their ethnic, religion or political differences. With all these odds and differences, we have to have a moral courage and a sense of responsibilities to listen each other’s and to discuss in issues concerned both of us, such as democratization process, human right and socio-economic policy issues. Therefore, the challenges ahead are not easy to solve unilaterally in isolation. We have to remember that we have more common than we don’t!
Long Live Ethiopia!