Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) made strong some strong statements in a series of tweets at the start of the week. He said law enforcement operations currently underway in the Tigray regional state are set to cease the moment what he called the “criminal junta”—the leadership of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF)—is apprehended and a legitimate administration is restored in the region. He underplayed concerns that Ethiopia may descend into chaos saying they are unfounded and emanate from a lack of a deep understanding of the country’s context. The premier further stated that the operation, which is aimed at guaranteeing peace and stability once and for all by bringing the perpetrators of instability to justice, would wrap up soon by ending the prevailing impunity in the region. The escalation of long-running war of words between the federal and Tigray regional state governments into a heavy military confrontation has evoked mixed emotions. Although some fear that the country could descend into an all-out civil war that may spill over into the Horn of Africa, many are hopeful that the operation against the TPLF-led Tigray administration will bring about lasting peace. Be that as it may there is a broad consensus that the conflict should come to a swift conclusion so as to lift the cloud of insecurity hanging over Ethiopia.
As the nation is dragged unwillingly into an internecine conflict the consequences are bound to be grim for everyone. Aside from wreaking a terrible humanitarian and economic toll, the conflict has grave national security implications as well. That is precisely why the ongoing law enforcement operation needs to brought to a close within the shortest possible time. The existential threat staring Ethiopians right in the face makes a national dialogue on preserving the country’s unity, peace and development absolutely important. Forces that consider their selfish interest to matter more than Ethiopia’s vital interests and think they are untouchable should have no place in Ethiopian politics. If individuals and groups eschewing the peaceful pursuit of political objectives are not willing to abide by the rule of law, law enforcement efforts have to be ramped up. The cloud of insecurity hanging over Ethiopia must be lifted without delay.
As the Prime Minister once said the new generation cannot be ruled with an outdated mindset. Elements bent on destroying the nation with their antediluvean attitudes must not be allowed to poison the youth’s mind. As the new generation is imparted with quality education and moral values it will develop into a rational, inquisitive and truly patriotic citizenry; it will be inclined to settle differences in a civilized manner, not through violence; it will focus its energy on improving, not worsening. the lot of fellow countrymen; it will turn into a discerning consumer of information that does not easily fall prey to lies and incitement to violence; it will attach more importance to fundamental national issues and institution building than personality cults; and it will come to deeply cherish freedom, equality and justice. A concerted and committed endeavor by all Ethiopians were to lay the foundation for the creation of citizens possessing these laudable traits can go a long way towards lifting the cloud of instability hanging over the nation.
At this difficult time it’s of the essence to tone the intensifying ethnic and ideological tensions besetting Ethiopian politics need a notch down. It’s incumbent on Ethiopians to stand as one if Ethiopia’s brand of federalism is to be inclusive; guarantee the right to self-governance; pave the way for the founding of a strong, united and peaceful nation; give birth to a political ethos underpinned by the principle of give-and-take; ensure the prevalence of equality, justice, freedom and the rule of law; and have no place for corrupt dictators and traitors in bed with foreign adversaries. This calls for a renewed commitment to the realization of democratic ideals on the part of all Ethiopians. It’s imperative to keep in mind that failure to create a stable political environment and an economy enjoying sustainable growth is liable to exact a heavy toll on a population projected to rise to 200 million within 30 years. That is why it’s of the essence to promptly tackle any and all security risks facing Ethiopia.
The series of reforms the administration of Prime Minister Abiy introduced since he came to power in April 2018 including broadening the constricted political space; freeing political prisoners and allowing exiled political leaders to come back home so that they return to the fold as responsible actors; and repealing draconian laws are undeniably a step in the right direction. Nevertheless, the real or perceived benefits of these measures will be short-lived without a steadfast effort to assure peace and stability in Ethiopia and thereby secure a bright future for the country and its people. Needless to say peace and stability cannot be realized in the absence of the rule of law. Once they prevail, Ethiopia’s flagging economy will turn around; underperforming producers can restart operating at full capacity; production and productivity will tick up; investor confidence will rebound; millions of jobless youth will be able to find gainful employment; students sitting idle due to the COVID-19 pandemic and security breakdown can resume classes; the incidence of serious crimes in cities and suburban areas will come down sharply; and social cohesion will strengthen. If Ethiopians are to taste the dividends of peace and stability, the specter of insecurity hanging over the nation has to be lifted right away.
All political forces operating in Ethiopian have an obligation to uphold law and order. They have to understand that trying to accomplish their objectives through force or other undemocratic means ends in nothing but humiliation. Our history is an object lesson in the inevitability of the downfall of hubristic tyrants by a popular uprising. In an age and day when good political governance has become the norm, inciting people to conflict and using defenseless civilians as cannon fodder in a pointless war is not only political suicide, but also a harbinger of state collapse. Politicians and activists who believe these manifestly monstrous tactics can get them what they want should have no illusions that the course they are steering is both prosecutable with the gravest of crimes and apt to be judged harshly by history. If the present generation is to bequeath a secure, democratic and prosperous nation to future generations the cloud of insecurity presently hanging over Ethiopia must be lifted before it’s too late.