Makonnen Tesfaye, 12 June 2019
The just published annual Global Peace Index (GPI) Report for 2019 confirms what many Ethiopians already know, that is the sorry state of peace and security in the country. Ethiopia is ranked 131st peaceful country out of 163 countries in 2019. This is a further decline from its 119th ranking in 2016, which was the begging of the civil unrest that led to the downfall of the Hailemariam Government in 2018 (GPI Reports, 2019 and 2016).
The GPI is the world’s leading measure of global peacefulness that ranks 163 countries according to their level of relative peacefulness, and has been published annually over the last ten years by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). The IEP is an “independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank”, and is headquartered in Australia with offices in other global cities (GPI Report 2019).
The GPI is constructed under three broad domains of Ongoing Domestic and International Conflict; Societal Safety and Security; and Militarisation. The Ongoing Domestic and International Conflict Domain is determined by indicators, such as internal and external conflicts and their duration, whereas the Societal Safety and Security Domain is compiled from indicators that include crime rates, terrorist activities and violent demonstrations, unstable political scene and internally displaced people, or made refugees. The Militarisation Domain refers to the link between a country’s military build-up and civilian access to weapons and its level of peacefulness domestically and internationally. It is poignant that for most Ethiopians these indicators seem to be very familiar features of the current Ethiopian political scene.
Whilst Sub-Sahara Africa’s, consisting of 44 countries, regional ranking remained unchanged; Ethiopia was ranked 33rdpeaceful country in Sub-Sahara Africa, only slightly better than, for example, Mali, Central African Republic, DRC, Somalia and South Sudan in 2019.
It is distressing that the 2018 GPI Report made a specific reference about the deterioration of peace in Ethiopia by stating: “Ethiopia fell six places to 139 after Amhara protesters targeted Tigrayans business interests and foreign investors, leading to deterioration in its scores for violent demonstrations and political terror”(GPI Report 2018, pp.18).
It is a sad affair that Ethiopia that demonstrated phenomenal achievements over the last two decades on broad front of peace and stability, economic development, education, health and social capital - notwithstanding the many significant challenges and legitimate grievances on governance and economic justice issues by the population, in particular the youth - the country is now breaking records on negative measures. These include lack of peace, societal safety and security; political instability; militarisation and mob rule; crime and lawlessness and ethnic targeted persecutions.
We, perhaps, do not need the GPI Report to tell us how un peaceful and insecure the country has become given the close to three million internally displaced refugees; large parts of the population armed to the teeth; the rise of armed mobs and criminal activities; the common occurrences of ethnic targeting and cleansing; and the persecution of minority nationalities, such as the most recent massacre perpetrated against the Gumuz people. Yet, our PM seems to be still in denial (motivated by power alliances and political calculations) given his most recent speech in Axum where he remarked that the problems are exaggerated. Regrettably, most Ethiopians would disagree with his assessment of the current problems of the country as would many independent and evidence-based researches, such as the Institute for Economics and Peace’s GPI Report. It is constructive to note that acknowledging the problems is the first step to finding solutions. It is time that the Abiy Government and the Regional Presidents address the issues head on and without delay, since the safety and security of citizens is perhaps the single most important responsibility of a government of any colour, or hue.
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