Group Conversation with PM Abiy
Zeru Hagos May 22, 2018.
Since he became the new Prime Minister, PM Abiy has been meeting Ethiopians from all walk of life to introduce himself and bridge the gap that has been created over the last three years. Ethiopians have been taunted and victimized by unprecedented civil strife over the last three years! There have been ethnic conflicts that almost destroyed the fabric of the society in many regions. Though it is still early to tell PM Abiy’s tour has helped to pacify the simmering conflicts. Buoyed by such success, PM Abiy has been talking to a select group of people in Addis over the last few weeks. He started his talk with people from the Oromo Ethnic followed by an Amhara Ethnic group. Recently he met a select group of Tigreans and the following is a short summary of the event as told by a participant.
According to one of the attendee, the Prime minister was humble and gracious in his approach and talk. In fact, judging by his understanding of events and approach to current political troubles he thinks PM Abiy is the right person for the right position at the right time.
PM Abiy assuring the participants not to worry about his government said, for any leader to think he/she can survive long by making an enemy out of the people of Tigrai is a fool. Let alone the people of Tigrai one cannot survive long on power by making an enemy of a small village.
PM Abiy said he respects the people of Tigrai and TPLF. He said, naming by name a hard working well-known business person in Addis as an example, many Tigreans earned their wealth by working hard.! It is true there may be few who may have benefited illegally but he knows most got to where they are today without any support from TPLF.
Speaking about unity, PM Abiy pleaded with the participants to think positive and forgive others. He said, if we can release someone who killed 15(?) security officers what is wrong if Mengistu is allowed to come to Ethiopia to live in peace? What is wrong if Andargachew is released tomorrow? PM Abiy emphasized as a society we have to start fresh and treat each other with love. He understands some of the senior leaders are filled with enmity but we have to move on.
PM Abiy said our ancestors built Axum and Lalibela and there is no reason why we cannot do better.
When asked why he is not at work or has not started real work he said he has been at work. In fact, he said he has done what others before him have not done in two years! He has toured the nation to create peace. Besides, he said, his job is to lead and that he is doing well. He said, in a short time, he has managed to get close to 5 billion dollars in Aid!
When asked about the Ethio-Eritrea issue, he said, he understands Tigrai is the most affected region and he will do everything in his power to bring peace to the region. He said while in Saudi Arabia he has asked the crown prince to help to bring peace between the two countries. PM Abiy told the participants, after he promised the crown prince that Ethiopia will abide by the Algiers Agreement if the regime in Asmara can sit down to talk on other issues, the crown prince tried to call Isaias Afeworki. The call was not returned but he is hopeful with Saudi and US help the issue will be resolved soon.
Speaking about the status of EPRDF, the Premier said EPRDF will live with our deeds not with our words. He said the EPRDF regime has done well in the economic front but has failed to win the people’s heart. He said we have to win the people’s heart and that is what he is doing right now.
Asked about the job assignment of his ministers and government officials, he said, he has increased the deputy minister positions to 13 which is more than the past. The talk about TPLF supremacy and marginalization is simply a white lie he said. PM Abiy said similar to the issues being raised in regard to TPLF and Tigrai, he has faced a similar issue in Oromia from OPDO, chastising him why he is more interested in Ethiopia! He said he told them Axum and Lalibela is yours and you should embrace the history of Ethiopia as yours. He said he was able to convince them to think different and to stop burning factories!
PM Abiy pleaded with the group that he needs their help and they should work with him to change the destiny of the country. He said EPRDF’s legacy should not be lost since too many lives were sacrificed for it!
About the purging of senior leaders, he said, we should respect them and should not undermine them. He said the positions they held needs to be filled by young and newcomers and they should accept their retirement with grace. He said he has personally lobbied ECA, UN and other International Agencies to hire them and thus far he has secured almost 20 positions for them. However, he said, due to stubbornness some of them have declined the offer. Above all, he said no one should be a victim of maladministration and that he will not allow people to be victimized. He said in the past few people were imprisoned wrongly yet there should not be in-kind retribution..
The event lasted for few hours and most participants were positively surprised.