Back to Front Page

DERELICTION OF DUTY: A tale of a heist, a squander, and how to realign.

DERELICTION OF DUTY: A tale of a heist, a squander, and how to realign.

 

By Daniel Tesfaye 4-27-19

Back in the volatile days of the Oromo Protests and Amhara resistance, the TPLF had a Eureka moment and decided to call a spade a spade, embarking in an arduous task of reshuffling its deck, big time.  Operatives like Dr. Debretsion and Getachew Reda decided to turn their backs to the trappings of glistening Addis and trekked to Mekelle.  Their decision to abandon the ivory federal towers and head back to where the rubber meets TPLF’s road caught everyone by surprise.  The move’s effectiveness was viewed with skepticism.  The chances of its rediscovering its relevance after acting as a divorced dad for decades remained slim at best.  

In the confines of halls full of cadres, the party went through three months of soul searching and bloodletting.  No topic was off limits.  Rank and file operatives were at it divining how to survive as a party and to metamorphose.

The resulting purge of its leader Abay Woldu, and the pseudo matriarch Azeb Mesfin was a sign the party was not just into cosmetic changes.  Not since the OPDO pulled a fast one in the midst of the Master Plan protests did an EPRDF member party make a drastic leadership change.  It is to be noted that Muktar Kedir and Aster Mamo were shown the door with little fanfare.

In the case of the TPLF, the result of its endeavor was tow-folds: a promise to its Tigray constituency that the years of inattention were over and good governance is coming; and using the deep reform template in Tigray to induce a much needed real reform within the EPRDF.  For TPLF, the status quo was viable no more.  Course correction was the only way forward.  A decade of double digit economic growth and strides in enhanced infrastructure were clearly not translating into public satisfaction.  Years of achievements in the education and health sectors were tarnished by the lack of equity.  Basic needs were out of reach and the masses were devoid of any meaningful economic participation.  Ownership of all the success the country was witnessing was concentrated in few hands leaving the rest as mere spectators. The regime exercised zero tolerance in the political arena and countless citizens were jailed denting its international image while eroding domestic support.

Videos From Around The World

When finally the EPRDF conferred in Hawassa and came up with a manifesto after 17 days of horsetrading, the text of the vision for the way forward was a welcome one.  To illustrate the momentous nature of its manifesto, the EPRDF presser was graced by the presence of the chairs of all party members.  The quartet, Hailemariam, Lemma, Demeke and Debtetison, were accompanied by their party flag and presented a united voice.  

The stated outcome of the Hawassa pilgrimage was unlike the Front’s previous incarnations.  For once it seemed the EPRDF was not interested in the feel good stay-the-course shenanigans of previous end of conference press releases.  Sure the Front read the writing on the wall and fell on the sword and admitted mistakes and promised to be wholly reformed.  While admitting there will be some rough waters ahead, the quartet underlined deep reforms are here and pledged to redouble their efforts, and as a token of illustrating what is to come, they announced that political prisoners were to be freed and the notorious Maekelawi to be closed soon.

 

TIMING

 

Timing is everything.  While the long awaited major reforms agenda was a great idea, its arrival was not under conducive circumstances.  

The Hawassa Manifesto was introduced in the heyday of the Oromo Protests also known as the Querro phenomena.  Rivaled only by its sporadic effects of the Amhara Resistance, the Querro movement was a force threatening to engulf the capital city in five directions.  Due to years of inattention that brought about Querros’s existence, and the implicit sympathy and tacit approval of some in the OPDO rank and file, the space for the implementation of EPRDF’s reform agenda in that environment was getting narrower by the day.  The Front was up for a rude awakening and soon realized its trademark central rule had plenty of holes within it.  Rumors were rampant the Qeurro was being used as a tool to pressure the EPRDF by its own members.  A Front that cherished its capability of controlling all aspects of society proved to be clueless in its failure to understand how the Qeurro operated and mobilized and its legendary security apparatus clearly outmaneuvered 

Lawlessness was spreading like wildfire in Oromia and was engulfing the vicinities outside of Addis Ababa in all five directions.  Mobility in and out of Addis were curtailed.  Arson and looting became commonplace.  Regular law and order was no much to the rampant mayhem all around.  Nothing short of state of emergency could address its intensity.  With the reluctance of the commander-in-chief to declare a state of emergency, it caused for his sacking and the measure was invoked.  The sacking resolved the emergent situation but the vacuum it created at the helm would soon become very expensive and provoke existential issues to the Front itself.

 

THE HEIST

 

The Hawassa manifesto was relegated to the backburner.  Housekeeping issues such as King making took front stage.  Prior to this EPRDF had only known two leaders.  The giant Melles and the accidental Hailemariam.  Now here is a new day with a new menu on EPRDF’s plate.  When Mr. Zenawi passed, there existed a pro forma template.  With a deputy in place, the process was a bit easier though some misgivings had been reported regarding the automatic ascension.  Great difference was given to Melles’s hand-picked deputy and Hailemariam easily transitioned to both chair of EPRDF and Prime Minister.   

Naturally, any one chairperson of a member party qualified to head the Front hence the Premiership.  SEPDM had the double effort as it had also lost its chairperson when Hailemariam suddenly resigned.  OPDO was led by a chairperson that lacked the prerequisite membership of the national parliament in order to become PM.  ANDM was led by the deputy prime minister who logically would think himself a shoe in.  TPLF’s leader Debretsion was one that professed no appetite for a federal role as a vanguard of the stated inward looking TPLF elites.  The jockeying in OPDO and the SEPDM saw Abiye and Shigute claiming the top spots from their respective parties.  

In what was reported to be less than pretty maneuverings, the 180 strong EPRDF council settled on a less known yet ambitious personality in the embodiment Dr. Abiye Ahmed.  The terrible, horrible, not really nice self-destructing voyage of a once mighty EPRDF began in earnest.

The national consensus was squarely behind an Oromo ascending to the top.  If anything else, the move was seen as a vehicle of calming the unrest in Oromia.  Before the conflict between expectations and actuality came down as a ton of brick on everyone, Abiye’s composition was what some call as “if not already there, something that had to be invented”.  An Oromo and Amhara decent, a Muslim ex-military with a PHD portfolio was a package tailor made for contemporary Ethiopia.  His maiden speech as prime minister only enhanced the expectations as it was one for the ages.

While the passage of time scored it as hallow feel good pronouncement, the line with which he managed to capture the citizenry’s imagination went like this, “we are Ethiopians when alive, we become Ethiopia in our passage”.  For the Ethiopian polity deprived of its significance and long familiar to deep indifference by its leadership, his words were sweet melody.  Teary eyed Ethiopians across the globe were pinching themselves watching the speech live.  High in euphoria, they were likening him to Mandela, JFK, Gandhi, and Lincoln.  

 

FALL FROM GRACE

 

Abiye committed a cardinal error.  Situational awareness is key to success.  Abiye was not aware of his situation.  As a party operative, his highest achievement was as OPDO’s secretary following the purge of the likes of Muktar Kedir and Aster Mamo.  He was not known for his leadership skills when the scramble to replace Hailemariam began.  Lemma was the chair and Workneh OPDO’s vice chair.  Lemma’s lack of membership in national parliament and Workineh’s storied involvement in the election related crackdown in 2005 paved the way for Abiye’s climb to the top.  Presented as the head of OPDO, the EPRDF council elected him as its chairperson.  The premiership is a natural product of this alignment and its mandate generated from this party mechanism.  No less no more.

Criticisms aside pertaining to whether the EPRDF was a democratically elected institution, its leader owes his mandate to a defined party platform and the premiership is a mere division of labor with the rules of engagement drawn clearly in its books.  Through its member parties and affiliates, the EPRDF dispenses its powers in clearly outlined instruments as provided in the constitution.  The PM took the oath of office to uphold the rule of law and serve as a co-equal chief of the executive branch in relation to the legislature and the judiciary.  In the fog of ascending to the top, however, Abiye lost his marbles as his leadership style became underwhelming from the start.

 

NARCSISISM 

 

For all its slowness to react to the public disillusionment, EPRDF had provided its incoming leader with a great set up with the decisions reached at in Hawassa.  The outlines for reform were practically numerated with their orderly dispensation to follow.  For a country that was not used to real changes, the templates from the manifesto were a big deal.  Literally, there was no need for the reinvention of the wheel that Abiye decided he thought he needed.

As fragile as the country is, steady hands are what can ensure meaningful strides.  With Abiye’s reckless freelancing came counterproductive outcomes.

From the outset, one preventable disaster was when Abiye, blinded by his lust for the formation of personality cult, failed to foresee why a rally in his honor was not a great idea.  When I first heard about the preparations, I was sure he would tell the organizers to call it off.  To me such a rally was premature.  I knew that such a rally would serve as a vehicle to erode the collective leadership nature of EPRDF and cause division by misinterpreting the change was adopted at the Front level.  Not only did he fail to discourage the rally, but he chose to attend and he inserted himself in the middle when disaster unfolded.

Similar rallies in vast parts of the country became manifestations of distinguishing “to those whom the “change came for” and those” upon whom change came against”.

The disorderly release of high profile prisoners was another avenue where lack of leadership was exhibited.  The response he gave when called out in parliament was simply beneath the role he was bestowed.  His handling of the Eritrean initiative and his simplistic rational to an MP left many scratching their heads.  His style of leadership was that of by decree far from based on party discipline.  It was clear he confused popularity with mandate.  For a quick minute, he must have convinced himself he came to power with a popular vote, not by a mundane party mechanism. 

 

THE APPEASMENT TOUR

 

The North American trip by far holds the trajectory for Abiye’s image disintegration.  

In a hall full of Bilal conference participants in Washington, D.C., we were introduced to a cold hearted prime minister when he uttered the words that will live in infamy: “an engineer named Simegn”.  A nation in mourning was dismayed by the pedestrian and callous address of an Ethiopian hero who was synonymous with the country’s renaissance.  Far from comforting, his words were abusive to many with heavy hearts trying to come to terms with the enormous loss.  Putting aside the conspiracy theories as how the beloved engineer met his demise, the lack of empathy shown by the Premier was immensely disappointing.

Another day at the DC Convention Center, his lack of decorum was in full view when he decidedly chose to hobnob with the likes of Tamagn and failed to give cover for his own emissary in Washington, Ambassador Kassa, when the diplomat was loudly booed while accepting a proclamation from the city mayor in recognition to paying homage to its Ethiopian residents.  A word or two would have sufficed if uttered by the Premier on the need to bury the hatchet, which was purported to be the mission of the trip itself:” Tear down the wall, build a bridge”.  He missed a great opportunity right there and illustrated his despise to EPRDF’s old guard the Ambassador represented.

On the same night at invitation only dinner in the higher floors of the Convention Center, it was a sad sight to witness the premier responding to a feisty mother from the North who challenged him regarding his denial of Dergue regime’s demise in the hands of EPRDF fighters.  He ended up serving word salad declaring the Dergue was defeated on day one.  A defeat that lasted 17 years.  Just to deny EPRDF its military victory lest the Dergueists he was attempting to recruit might be mad at him if he told the truth.

 

UNSTATESMAN LIKE

 

Minneapolis takes the cake for showing us how the Premier really stoop so low as a statesman.  In an otherwise a city mainly dominated by a large Oromo community, the event in Minneapolis was by far a beautiful ceremony where Ethiopia was well represented in a splendid cultural show.  The downer came when the PM came to the podium and ventured into a political rally.  The statesman who represented Ethiopia decided to pay homage to his junta also known as Team Lemma.  He went on to say “do you know Gedu and Ambachew are members of Team Lemma?  Mufuriat is also a member of Team Lemma, you know”.  His name checking represented the three member parties within the EPRDF; OPDO, APDM and SEPDM.   Left out was TPLF.  So much for “Tear down the wall, build a bridge”.  By any measure this was not only an unforced error, but also very humiliating to those in attendance whose constituency was summarily dismissed.  At that stage he was no more a statesman, he was a partisan demagogue hell bent in sawing the seeds of division.  To complete his realty challenged assessment of EPRDF’s 27 years of leadership, he declared the quarter century voyage as garbage and time of darkness.  To illustrate his cluelessness, he ventured into declaring “infrastructure without intrustructure is nothing”.  This poetic sounding declaration was unfortunate.  If he had researched his theme more closely, he would have learned that the “inf” word refers to essentials of communications, power, transport, water supply etc. big projects that stretch out over years; like public works while the “int” word is more the actual nuts and bolts of large projects; the how’s, other essentials and particulars that are relevant to put all the pieces together.  No conflict here.  Hell bent to saw division between traditional regime supporters and his newly minted worshipers, he justified any means to achieve his end.  So much for medemer, this was a classic mekenes.      

 

 

THE PEACEFUL TRANSITION 

 

It is quite safe to conclude that its finger prints are all over its affiliates who came into being following Legesse Asafw’s tactless withdrawal from Tigray following the Shire rout in 1989.  Controlling the whole of Tigray, TPLF helped form the EPRDF as it transform into a nationally viable revising its narrowly defined mission to liberate Tigray.  OPDO and ANDM formed EPRDF’s coalition and quickly became a force to be reckoned with.  The stride for regime change accelerated with operations Tewodros and Walelign in Gondar and Wello, and Bilisuma Wilkituma in Wollega facilitated the eventual downfall of the Dergue.

It is to be noted that with EPRDF’s military opportunities in high swing, the EPLF abandoned the Carter Center peace initiative aimed at bestowing limited self-administration to the Eritrean question.  EPLF pulled out of the negotiations following the EPRDF’s Kobo military victory that marked the first successful operation EPRDF undertook outside of Tigray.  The military conditions unraveling under EPRDF’s moves were more attractive to EPLF compared the crumbs that would come EPLF’s way in its round table discussions with the Dergue regime.

In the 14 to 15 years of arduous and tenacious struggle the TPLF mounted against the Dergue regime, it should be noted that the movement failed to even control awraja capitals like Adigrat, Adwa, Aksum, Abiye Adi or Endasilassie.

Following the formation of EPRDF in 1989, it took only two years to march into Addis by the EPRDF forces and therefore the EPLF into Asmara.

TPLF, as the victors, could have claimed the rule of the “spoils of war” and institute clone parties thorough out Ethiopia to maintain their hegemony.  Instead they opted to help form regional states based on majority ethnic groups that can address the lack of representation that bedeviled prior regimes.

In a quest to resolve the time tested lack of equitable representation of Ethiopia’s ethnic groups, the TPLF led transitional government embarked on the concept of a federal arrangement based on a union of sovereign regional states with a central government to arbiter issues arising among member regional national states.  The constitution was clearly declarative of the roles between the sovereign rights of the regional states and the mandate of the federal government and its limitations.

The theoretical attractions of this form of government are great.  Its translation on the ground brought about mixed results.  Party ideology generally appeals to demagogues and while there was unlimited supply of such not so bright party operatives in the newly formed affiliate parties, it can be easily stated that those attracted or recruited were not the best and the brightest.  In as much as the country was able to make strides in human and infrastructure development, some real and abundant perceptions of self-enrichment by high level technocrats and their lackeys, simply created a sense of disfranchisement by the public at large.  For all the credit on the balance the regime can claim and should have clearly articulated, the cardinal mistake the government committed and kept repeating was that it forgot to frame the conversation.  Its detractors then stepped in and did the framing for it and was never able to shake its negative label.   

The TPLF indeed had an outsized role in shaping and directing the form of governance throughout the federation but all the handiwork was performed by the regional parties in its ruling coalition.  The Pilates like rush to absolve themselves only from the ill deeds of the EPRDF while quick to paint themselves as disciples that saved Ethiopia from demise is laughable if it was not tragic and costly.  To borrow the eloquence of one Getachew Reda, “with a spoon when hot, and with fingers when cold” sums up the attitude of the change apostles.   

Let’s examine the actors of Team Lemma and it is truism to say that they are all the products of TPLF.  Dialectically speaking, TPLF should be if not proud, pragmatic about producing actors that were able to adapt in the face of percolating changes on the ground proving that the TPLF had taken off its sights from the prize.  As the vanguard organization with all the tools at its disposal, TPLF failed to decipher the organic changes and intra party alliances the junior parties were undergoing under its nose.  As the party with disproportionate tears, sweat, blood, lives, limbs and treasure expended to realize the federation, TPLF’s deficiency of cognitive skills was way beneath the caliber universal observers expected.  To the monumental shock and surprise of citizenry and global watchers, TPLF’s exit from national dominance didn’t come with a bang, but with a whimper.

But solace is found in the method to the madness.  TPLF’s exit with a whimper and not a bang was a matter of practicality.  When the inevitable dawned, TPLF had a binary choice.  Both doable but with starkly different outcomes.  As the party controlling the country’s security and military apparatus, it could have dag in and fight tooth and nail in defense of the status quo.  This would have been a disservice to all the martyrs who never had the chance to see the fruit of their ultimate sacrifice.  It would also have simply been a recipe for disaster that would have made Libya and Syria look like a child’s play.  They took the high road in being pragmatic.  In accepting reality, they showcased their respect to the constitution and the office of the prime minister including the mandates of the federal commander-inchief.

When the survival of the country was the issue at hand, the weight of the prime minister’s office was recognized and its powerful instruments accepted.  EPRDF was left intact and the transition was seamless.  Expectation was all stakeholders would play their respective roles.  The fundamentals of the customary collective leadership clearly stated the powers of the federal government emanated from the voluntarily united sovereign national regional states.  The Hawassa manifesto only decided to address and implement deep reforms and left the fundamentals of the federal arrangement firmly in place.

 

THE BLUNDER

 

Dr. Abiye had his work easily defined.  With the once in a life time glowing reception he garnered across the nation, sticking to the script could have taken him to unheard heights.  But something happened overnight.  Quick was the amnesia that overtook him inducing instant memory loss?  He became oblivious to the process that propelled him to the most coveted and monumental position at the top of the Ethiopian polity.

Dr. Abiye became the prime minister in a country with a bicameral house of federation and house of people’s representatives, as the 547 member people’s representatives chose him once presented by the ruling coalition EPRDF.  Unlike such as the US where the head of state is a product of direct election, Dr. Abiye’s path to the highest office in Ethiopia was via the prerequisite winning an election precinct in Agaro, his chairmanship of a member party in the ruling coalition, OPDO, and chairmanship of the ruling coalition, EPRDF.

While no one can fairly argue the EPRDF as posture child for democratic institutions, it has clearly stated party programs and a well-defined form of government recognizing the rights and responsibilities its member national regional states.  In what many observers can simply deduct as a road to the realization of a unitary state by abolishing the federal states, the PM soon ventured in eroding the arrangement by purging regional presidents and helping install figure heads in Ethio-Somali, Gmbella, Dire Dawa, Harari, SEPDM and Ben Shangul regions.  Only Amhara region and his constituent Oromia were left intact as they were part of his new found intra party coalition with like-minded leadership.  It is also to be noted the regional presidents of both Oromia and Amhara regions have been reshuffled even though is not clear if the move is part of the grand scheme that affected the other regions.  Afar region went through the motions of leadership change but word is that the effort to install hostile elements in respect to its relations with Tigray unrealized.  Dr. Abiye’s grand plan hit a brick wall when it reached Tigray, proving the region as mater spoiler.

TPLF’s perceived luck of popular base was the gamble Dr. Abiye hoped for but when it mattered, mercilessly failed.  While his reading regarding the Tegaru’s disillusionment vis-à-vis the TPLF was generally correct, the variable he failed to recognize was, unlike other regions Tigray has always had existentialist concerns when it came to its relations with the rest of Ethiopia, especially its rulers.  This was a result of its history.       

A short flash back to 1943 and we are reminded of the formation of common solidarity for Tigray and its children.  Two years into the end of the Italian occupation, rebellion was brewing throughout Tigray.  With the Monarchy restored and following the King’s appointment of his emissary in Tigray, taxation was going through the roof angering the peasant population.  A powerful illustration of the King’s ill-advised acts was the decision to reduce the number of schools in Tigray from 39 to only four.  He closed 35 schools leaving the ones in Adigrat, Mekelle, Adwa and one in Axum, the one in Axum for religious schooling, in a province with a population estimated three million at the time.  The move, literally, was to keep the population ignorant.  Resentment soon led to organizing and farmers were volunteering in large numbers and revolting as Woyane, the rebels.  The revolt achieved swift military victories against the King’s army and its British advisors and liberated Mekelle.   Following the freeing of Mekelle, the Woyane leaders adopted a modest proposal. They proclaimed an autonomous self-administration while emphasizing adherence to the Ethiopia flag and its unity.  They also declared Tigray shall be ruled by Tigrean customary laws with a self-appointed leader that rejected the installation of an elite Shoan Imperial designate.  To cap their demands, they rejected the excessive taxation flowing the Emperor’s way.  This unique and short-lived rebellion was mainly led by selfless figures such as Fitawrari Yeebio, Dejazmatch Negusse, Bashay Gugsa and Blata Hailemariam.

The King was merciless and descended into an all-out annihilation of the rebellion that was marked by indiscriminate aerial bombardment with the aid of the Royal British Airforce.  The mayhem killed countless number of civilians and the rebels were scattered and the rebellion severely quashed.  The brutal nature of the Imperial response left a scar in the collective memory of Tegaru.  It was only a matter of time for the first Woyane rebellion to be reincarnated.

The deliberate deprivation of educating Tegaru by limiting the numbers of schools was, as irony would have it, compensated by its production of large number of students making it to higher education.  Haile Selassie I University was hosting superior numbers per capita of Tegaru.  As products of their punishing conditions in Tigray, they were easily bonding and discussing ways to address the neglect their home province was enduring.  Swapping experiences with students from other regions, they were easily convinced the situation in Tigray was much worse even in the generally suppressing national context.  Following the formation of several successive student associations at the university and satellite groups in main cities in Tigray, the case for armed struggle was made over a period of some years and paved the way for the formation the TPLF by the likes of Seyoum Mesfin, Arkebe Oqubay and Aregawi Berhe.

Dergue’s approach to the contemporaneously formed armed group was no different from that of the King evoking the memories of the brutal suppression of the first Woyane.  The new movement was equipped with the memory of its predecessor while aware not to repeat the same mistake the former made forcing its quick demise.  The first Woyane was an urban struggle making it an easy target.  TPLF chose to organize in the country and fight as a guerilla force.  Through 17 years of relentless struggle that marked symbiotic relationship with the people of Tigray, the second Woyane rebellion was concluded at the door steps of the Menilik Palace.    

The fateful decision Dr. Debretsion and his comrades made prior to the Hawasa conference proved to produce a huge dividend.   During that sober autopsy in Tigray, TPLF had admitted responsibility, cleaned house, and drawn a road map for better governance.   The public response to the home coming was mainly positive but pragmatic reserving final judgement to practical effects on the ground.

Dr. Abiye’s agenda aimed at creating a wedge between the people of Tigray and TPLF quickly backfired.  Pretty much after his well-received Tigrigna speech in Mekelle, his stock was in free fall immediately.  Even the pragmatic way he discussed the issue of Wolqayit when he was in Mekelle was instantly altered in Bahirdar earning him the moniker manta melhas, to mean double-speak.   His insinuations of day-time heyina and tsegure liwit gave Tegaru whip-lash.  As instantly as he had gained residence in the hearts of Tegaru, his exit was swift.  The generations old existentialist concerns of the people of Tigray was immediately revived and left the people with no other option than rounding TPLF’s wagon.

Debretsion and company never flinched in the face of the many pronged onslaught attempting to dislodge their public support and it had the opposite effect.  TPLF’s standing went through the roof.  This was the second time for TPLF to garner vast acceptance, the first one in the aftermath of the Kinijit debacle.  

TPLF’s persistence may be at the end what saves the federation.  As the sole properly functioning region in the country, Tigray still maintains the last remaining link to the revitalization and resurrection of the republic.

 

REALIGNMENT

 

It is astonishing Dr. Abiye lost the endorsement of early supporters like Dawit Woldegiorgis who openly called for his resignation and recommending for the EPRDF to go back to its wholesome leadership style so as to save the country as he diagnosed it as a failed state in its current incarnation.   This vote of no confidence is significant because he was an early proponent of the banishment of the federation and the abolishment of parliament so Dr. Abiye can transform Ethiopia into a unitary state that would fulfil the PM’s ambition of becoming its president.  

Currently, Dr. Abiye has ventured in his second round of mischief to weaken the resolve in Tigray by sawing division.  His favoring of some washed up has-beens like Arehawi Berhe and mediocre politicians from the Arena party is in full view.  So far the returns have been very dismal.

At the end of the recent EPRDF council meeting, it was very telling there was inserted a choice word to describe the lack of consensus pertaining to the Front’s declaration.  It said it was a majority decision to illustrate the absence of cohesion.  Course correction demands by the TPLF is sure what caused the dissention and denying the Front to look united.

Two regional presidents with proven lack of good governance in their regions have been brought to the federal side and assumed the portfolios of foreign and defense ministries.  

In the endless shenanigans of unholy intra-party alliances, we were served up a sorry menu in Ambo in the name of enhancing people to people dialogue between the Oromo and Amhara.  As it is always the case, the amateur hour was dedicated to TPLF bashing.  The formula was a tired one.  When you gather to profess the beauty and harmony of the Oromo and Amhara, the road you travel is the one that blames a third party.  For a change, what is wrong if real attempt can be made to just highlight the commonality of your peoples and stop scapegoating?  

Addisu Arega’s irresponsible and historically inaccurate power point presentation statements in Ambo were in direct contrast to the well-received impromptu speech made by Dr. Debretsion during the farewell dinner in honor of the newly appointed Defense Minister, formerly head of Oromia regional state.  Is speech was very pragmatic and well-tempered and emphasized on the need to address the plight of internally displaced people, and for the rule of law to be affirmed.    

Gauging from the immediate reactions to Addisu’s ill adventure in his reckless expose to link a work of fiction like Ye Burqa Zimita to create animosity between TPLF and the Oromo people, it has blown in his face.  The incident has actually given reason to many Oromos to declare that the author of the book, Tesfaye Gebreab, played a bigger role in the lives of Oromos than OPDO did at the helm of Oromia all this years.  As unintended consequences go, his grand wedge issue was dead on arrival.  Dr. Ambachew’s constitutionally correct but counter intuitive pronouncement regarding Oromia’s special privileges on (some say the honey wine played a role) Addis Ababa was also both unscripted and damaging to the false bonding Oromara touted to achieve.  

 

However, Dr. Debretsion was right.

 

Recognizing supreme role of the constitution, respecting the sovereign rights of national regional states and law enforcement are the only pragmatic solution.  With election only a year away, maintaining what is working and building upon it is no brainer.  Silly experiments and cheap intra party alliances are sure ways to hasten Ethiopia’s fate as a failed state.  The promise of the Hawassa manifesto was an attempt at fixing what was broken.  Defying the existing constitution and reengineering the form of government was never a mandate given to Dr. Abiye or his hodgepodge Team Lemma and the miserable philosophy of medemer.        

Back to Front Page