The dearth of ideas characterizing Ethiopia’s political landscape has created a favorable condition for lawlessness. Inciting one’s base to wreak havoc instead of trying to earn public consent with superior ideas has become the badge of contemporary politicians. No meaningful measure has been taken as bullies who have utter disregard for democracy and the will of the people roil the country and dash the hopes of the youth. Many seem to forget that fomenting violence over issues that ought to be settled through dialogue, peddling vitriolic rhetoric while suppressing constructive ideas and sowing instability with intent to vanquish rivals who cannot be defeated otherwise only beget anarchy and mayhem. Considerable destruction has been wrought owing to the government’s failure to discharge its primary obligation, namely to protect the wellbeing of citizens and uphold the rule of law, out of “strategic” patience. Presently though Ethiopia finds itself at a time the rule of law must be enforced given the grave risks imperiling its very survival. This is a duty that must be accorded precedence over all other tasks.
Democracy may take root in Ethiopia insofar as fundamental rights and liberties are respected, the rule of law is upheld, the democratic space broadens and undemocratic tendencies are rooted out. When attitudes and practices unfit for the 21st century are eschewed by society rabble rousers will have no place, enabling compatriots who feel they can contribute their share to do so; party politics will be rid of deep-seated animosity, scheming and backbiting that have beset it for long and pave the way for civilized discourse. Blockading roads to traffic and defiling the emblems and flags of political opponents are essentially undemocratic. The forces instigating lawlessness, which ironically claim to be rights advocates, are actually harming the national interest. Anarchy and other criminal acts must not be countenanced any more. Law and order need to prevail.
We have always underscored that nothing is more important than assuring Ethiopia’s very survival. As Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) told lawmakers this Tuesday no matter who he may be anyone posing a threat to Ethiopia’s peace and security should be held to account. In particular the imperative to neutralize troublemakers holding the passports of foreign countries who can beat a hasty retreat anywhere they want to after stirring up chaos has never been greater. Ever since widespread mass protests forced the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), a coalition of four parties, into introducing political reforms some 18months ago scores of politicians and activists who were released from prison or returned from exile are operating freely. Despite this, however, a handful of individuals whose “fame” has gone to their head are resorting to violence to accomplish their political objectives. Consequently, the administration of Prime Minister Abiy has been the target of frequent criticism. But now that the premier has affirmed that criminals will be brought to justice there should be no backtracking. The principle that all persons are equal before the law must be demonstrated in deeds.
The importance of upholding the rule of law cannot be overstated here. One’s reputation as a freedom fighter or an activist can never justify lawlessness on his part. The government needs to look into itself critically as it carries out its law enforcement duties. It’s simply impossible to give life to the law with institutions and personnel that kowtow to criminals. The government may be deemed to be committed to defend the rule of law as long as it displays the attributes of a government. There is no way it can govern a nation while its appointees say the right things officially but actually sympathize with subversive elements. If free, fair and credible elections are to be held in Ethiopia, political parties have to be able to operate in an enabling environment. In a situation where unruly mobs routinely barricade roads and break up meetings or rallies organized by someone espousing views different from theirs, it’s very challenging to conduct elections. That is why it’s absolutely vital to bring the full force of the law to bear.
No one stands to benefit from anarchy except conflict entrepreneurs. The killing, displacement and disparagement of innocent Ethiopians may become a thing of the past when the government carries out its law enforcement duties with resolve. Failure to bring to heel belligerents who threaten to retaliate when the government vows to enforce the law is bound to embolden them and rob the government of credibility in the eyes of the public. When the people turn their back to the government, lawlessness is certain to rear its ugly head. The public just wants peace, democracy and justice; it neither cares whether the EPRDF merges to form a single national party nor gives a damn about individuals and groups pushing ethnocentric narratives to amass wealth. What worries it the most is the fate of the country and itself because it knows well that if Ethiopia does not embark soon on the road to democracy and prosperity it will continue to be dogged by instability and poverty. It’s for this fundamental reason that Ethiopians are desirous to see pseudo politicians and activists abandon the backward and nihilistic politics they practice and engage constructively with each other. They need no one to tell them that the future will not bode well if lawlessness becomes increasingly prevalent. As anarchism is put under control and different ideas begin to flow freely peace, democracy and justice will flourish. This is precisely why lawlessness must be reined in. The sooner the better!