Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) and his team have been in power for a little over five years, but they have already altered Ethiopia in numerous ways.
The avalanche of change began with the removal of the 27-year-old bias from the shoulders of Ethiopians. The reform has successfully reconciled the differences between Islam’s and the Orthodox Church’s leadership. The political culture has shifted from hostility to cooperation and partnership.
Today, the rights of Ethiopians to freedom of expression, association, election participation, and assembly have been recognized and are being exercised. It is now commonplace for private, state-owned, and international media outlets to publish criticisms of the government without interference or influence.
The new, younger generation of leaders is committed to upholding public values, and it has earned the public’s trust, acceptance, and support. The populace is filled with high expectations and optimism. Moreover, the ugly side of politics is replaced by public enthusiasm for it.
This reform, or “silent revolution,” has replaced the political style that exacerbated ethnic division with one that promotes unity among Ethiopia’s nations, nationalities, and peoples.
Under the leadership of the Prosperity Party (PP) or prosperitarians, this ongoing reform includes an aggressive push for a green legacy, which has resulted in the construction of several parks that are becoming popular tourist destinations. And this contributes to the national initiative to develop renewable energy resources.
The education sector was also adjusted. The length of the bachelor’s degree has been shortened to four years, the master’s degree to two years, and the doctorate to four years as part of the education policy reform, which has changed the policy to 6:2:4. Students are no longer required to take a national exam at the end of the tenth grade or to complete a three-year bachelor’s degree program.
This demonstrates that the prosperitarians are dedicated and determined to serve both the public and national interests. In addition, they have imposed a tax that discourages the consumption of alcohol and cigarettes.
Another accomplishment of this camp is the 91 percent completion of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). In addition, their diplomatic achievements, including the end of a two-decade war with Eritrea, the United States, and Middle Eastern nations, including China, are noteworthy. The visit of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to Ethiopia indicates that relations between the US and Ethiopia are improving, and there is hope that Ethiopia will be reinstated in the AGOA scheme.
The incumbent’s efforts to address the political concerns of the Oromos and Amharas also merit recognition as a noteworthy achievement. And the statehood movements of nearly a dozen ethnic groups in the Southern Nations and Nationalities are gradually gaining momentum. The matter with Sidamas has been resolved.
Through the reform, tens of thousands of political prisoners have been freed, and opposition groups and figures in exile have been permitted to return to Ethiopia and engage in politics in their home country.
The new leadership has demonstrated responsiveness and responsibility. The nation has successfully met the challenge that the COVID-19 pandemic posed. They have broadened the political spectrum and conducted a national election that was free, fair, credible, participatory, and inclusive in 2021.
This election was won by the PP, while opposition parties won some parliamentary seats. Birtukan Mideksa, an opposition figure and leader of an opposition political party, was appointed chairwoman of the National Election Board of Ethiopia by the government. And the board was impartial and independent while performing its duties.
In the wake of the democratic election, opposition parties such as the National Movement of Amhara (NAMA) and the Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice (EZEMA) have won seats in the Parliament. Moreover, a number of opposition politicians have been appointed to high positions in the executive branches of government, including ministerial positions. Additionally, independent candidates have won seats in the legislature.
With over one hundred registered political parties, the nation has evolved into a multiparty democracy.
The growing autonomy of government institutions is also an area where the change is visible. The judiciary is independent of state interference. Judges’ salaries have been increased. The Parliament challenges the government by holding it accountable and performing its duties independently and transparently. It has also repealed draconian laws such as the anti-terrorism law, the laws on non-governmental organizations, and the media law.
His leadership is participative and inclusive, demonstrating that he possesses exceptional leadership abilities. As the prosperitarians continue their efforts, the alliance between the Amharas and the Oromos strengthens.
The government is working aggressively to increase wheat production, and the nation’s attempt to become wheat-self-sufficient appears imminent.
By reducing the cost of telecommunications services such as the Internet and phone calls, this government hopes to encourage more people to communicate. This demonstrates their genuine commitment to democracy and its consolidation.
PP was able to secure scholarships for 270 of the highest-scoring students on the national exam to study in the United Arab Emirates.
The prospertarians are also moving quickly to combat corruption.
The party has reassured Ethiopians that the security departments, law enforcement agencies, and national defense force are in excellent condition in every way. As a result, Ethiopia currently faces no existential threat.
The peace agreement with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the ongoing effort to develop a policy on transitional justice are additional examples of the prosperitarians’ achievements, advanced by the National Dialogue Committee.
Alongside this tidal wave of political reforms for political liberalization, the party is also implementing economic reforms for economic liberalization. The party has granted foreigners access to the banking and telecommunications industries. As a result, Safaricom has begun conducting business in Ethiopia, and foreign banks are considering investing in the country. A capital market authority has also been established.
But I believe that at this time Ethiopia should prioritize development, good governance, and justice for nations and nationalities, as the absence of an institutional framework will prevent the functioning of democracy. I believe Ethiopia cannot effectively implement democracy.
In addition, the party’s singular focus on Ethiopia contradicts my belief that the group rights of nations and nationalities must be balanced with Ethiopian identity and individual freedom.
Who will govern Ethiopia during the current transitional period is the most important question to address.
I would argue that PP is the optimal reply.
(Tagel Getahun is a law advocate. He can be reached at [email protected]. The views expressed in this commentary do not reflect those of The Reporter)
Contributed by Tagel Getahun