It’s frustrating when adults who ought to shape the youth, set an example and right wrongs act as neighborhood bullies. It’s a shame when individuals who have been active on the political scene for over 40 years and the organizations they lead display immaturity. And it’s dispiriting when insurgent groups squander the opportunity that came their way not by way of a successful armed struggle but up on agreeing to lay down their weapons. Elements clinging to their erroneous despite calls to exert a concerted effort towards laying the groundwork for an inclusive democratic space in Ethiopia where forces espousing different views and agendas operate freely need to rethink their strategies. The public should bring pressure to bear on rebels which had been exiled for long by autocratic governments when they actively try to undermine the once-in-a-generation chance at achieving lasting peace. It’s only the people who can bring to heel political parties that act in a manner that is contrary to their best interest. Affairs of the nation are not children’s games where one player declares “game over!” in the middle.
In discussions he held last week with teachers drawn from all over Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) said that his administration was striving to put a stop to the dictatorship plaguing the country with the instrumentality of the reform underway adding it’s wrong to take this effort and the administration’s patience as weakness. Noting that Ethiopian governments had been alien to democracy he underscored that it was wrong to push his administration to the edge of dictatorship. He further underscored that it’s a pipe dream to think that power can be grabbed through the barrel of the gun while the only viable option is the peaceful pursuit of one’s political objectives. He called on all competing parties to make the necessary preparations for the 2020 elections and affirmed that the ruling party would hand over graciously if it were to lose. The crux of the point the premiere made is that Ethiopia can no longer be a stomping ground for tyrants and that anyone opposing this new reality is on a collision course with the public. It should be unmistakably clear to everyone that it’s imperative to desist from derailing the democratization process and plunging the country into chaos.
The cardinal obligation for an organized entity desirous to engage in a peaceful political struggle is to abide by the laws of the land and undertake preparations to make a proper use of the playing field. Apart from that there is no way it can operate legally while bearing arms. Regardless of the pact it reached with the government any insurgent group which returned from exile is duty-bound to demobilize its fighters consistent with the applicable law and must not resort to sowing instability by invoking lame excuses. It has no right to be a lawful actor in the political arena without laying down its weapons. No one should labor under the illusion that anyone other than the government enjoys monopoly on violence, i.e., the right to the legitimate use of force. As the Prime Minister underscored the public has to rebuke rebels which after coming back home from decades of banishment in neighboring countries following an olive branch extended by the government are kicking up dust simply because they don’t want to wait until the next elections to have a shot at power. It should be told in no uncertain terms that the democracy Ethiopians aspire to see cannot be realized by substituting one bully with another.
In this day and age where engaging in a peaceful and democratic rivalry underpinned by a civilized resolution of differences has become a norm it’s a step backward to exacerbate age-old problems for the express purpose of destabilizing Ethiopia. Attempting to implement policies that have been thoroughly discredited only begets failure. In particular politicians perennially at war with the government need to learn from their past mistakes. If they are not to make themselves and the parties they lead a laughingstock, they would do well to desist from swaggering gout of a misguided belief that they have a support base which sticks with them no matter what. Hiding behind the public while beating the drums of war and instigating conflicts for political expediency is a self-defeating strategy. So is prosecuting an armed insurrection while professing to be committed to a constructive political engagement. The era of resorting to the barrel of the gun to get one’s way no longer works in the 21st century. In fact it only serves to earn public scorn.
Presently whether one likes it or not Ethiopia is undergoing a transformative change which came about as a result of the eruption of pent up public discontent that had been simmering for years. The disgruntlement was primarily attributable to the absence of basic liberties. Ethiopians have always yearned for a chance to be truly able to exercise their freedoms. Democracy is a form of governance by which this can best be achieved. Democracy is a market place where differing views compete freely. It lays the ground rules for the equal participation of all wishing to advance their political goals in a peaceful manner and as such does not countenance resorting to force towards this end. No one should labor under the illusion that anyone other than the government enjoys monopoly on violence, i.e., the right to the legitimate use of force. The legitimate way to become a government and lead a nation is to win in democratic elections. Needless to say such elections demand the prevalence of peace and a level playing field. Derailing efforts aimed at accomplishing goes against the public interest and is a recipe for political suicide.