Absence of principles engenders state collapse!
Lately Ethiopia’s political landscape has been roiled by troubling developments, exacerbating the already tense atmosphere. Politicians and activists of all stripes are engaged in shouting matches that drown out rational dialogues; the distrust between them is running deeper, engendering extreme polarization; resorting to violence to achieve a political goal is the new normal; the truth is becoming a casualty of the contradictory information disclosed by the public as well as the intentional lies spread by elements masquerading as its defenders; integrity is being sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. There is one and only one reason behind all this—a blind lust for power that is driving the act of putting the interest of a select few individuals or groups above the nation’s and its people. The unfolding of these developments has reshaped the political scene to such an extent that allies which set out together to bring about the change underway in Ethiopia are presentlyon opposite sides of the fence. Though this rift was gradual, it now threatens to squander the opportunities before the country and push it over the edge. This is what happens when the virtue of standing for a principle goes out of the window. Ethiopians need to reject political opportunism in no uncertain terms and fight it resolutely.
The primary obligation of any government is to protect the safety and security of citizens. Failure to carry out this duty consistent with the appropriate moral and constitutional principles is bound to get it on the bad side of the public. Prior to taking someone into custody on suspicion of participating in a crime it’s of the essence to determine that there is a compelling reason for his arrest. Given that not everyone arrested will be convicted of a crime, their due process rights, including the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, must be upheld while they are detained and undergoing trial. Any violation of such rights is simply unacceptable and liable to rob the government of its credibility. Who can forget the untold suffering citizens were subjected to due to the widespread infringement of these liberties? Therefore, it’s incumbent on all compatriots who genuinely have the national interest at heart to urge the government and other stakeholders to rectify mistakes and clear up doubts within the shortest possible time and to do everything in full compliance with the law. Needless to say this should be done out in the open instead of gossiping about it. Otherwise, they would be guilty of opportunism.
Although the investigation into the assassination of senior government officials and military commanders on June 22, 2019 in Bahir Dar and Addis Ababa could lead to a consensus on the underlying cause of the heinous act if it is conducted in an impartial manner, the way it’s being handled does not seem to inspire confidence in the process. It is entirely normal to arrest persons in connection with the murder. Nevertheless, questions have been raised as to whether the suspects are able to enjoy their rights to treatments respecting their human dignity; to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and communicate with; and to be visited by, their spouses or partners, close, relatives, friends, religious councilors, medical doctors and their legal counsel. Each and every party involved in the process has to see to it that the investigation and the subsequent trial are free of material defects and justice is seen to be served. Apart from that trotting out conspiracy theories, peddling venomous rhetoric intended to sow conflicts or spoiling for a fight is not only destructive and irrational, but also a hallmark of lack of principles.
One of the alarming trends presently taking place in Ethiopia is the proliferation of extreme views undermining Ethiopianness. The ethnocentrism at display in the wake of the assassination of civilian and military officials a fortnight ago is appalling to say the least. Painting their killing as an attack solely directed at the ethnic group they belonged to as though they are not Ethiopians is illustrative of the depth their “defenders” have sunk to; playing the ethnic card at this moment of grief is sick and a dishonor to the dead. The people of Ethiopia though were not driven by ethnic consideration in their heartfelt sorrow on the death of citizens who had served the country and its people well. If Ethiopians do not condemn tribalism as we honor compatriots who pass on having contributed a great deal for the nation, it means we are devoid of a fundamental principle we ought to stand by. The burgeoning of parochial elements who paradoxically swear in the name of Ethiopia demonstrates the severity of the problem. The mushrooming of bigots motivated by hatred at a time they should have been vastly outnumbered by those whose principle in life is to create a country where everyone coexists in harmony renders scary the times we are living in. When the courage to stand for principles disappears, it should not come as a surprise that a nation’s very survival is imperiled. The important thing is to avert the prospect of such a calamity. There is no growth or prosperity without principles.
It’s prudent to examine who stands to benefit from the rancorous division within the forces who claim to be the architects or supporters of the ongoing change. Failure to heed lessons from the tempestuous political dynamics which played out in Ethiopia for the past several decades is certain to hasten one’s downfall. So will the inability to be mindful of the detrimental impact on Ethiopia of letting the numerous good opportunities that had come its way to slip through its fingers. Refusing to acknowledge that its children are to blame for ruining the opportunities will result in bobbing around like an unmoored ship. Now more than ever it’s imperative to stand united for a common purpose by learning from past mistakes and accommodating differences. The people of Ethiopia may enjoy freedom, equality and justice insofar as they exert a concerted effort towards the establishment of a democratic order. If Ethiopians cannot extricate ourselves from a zero-sum politics, we would be committing a crime history will never forgive by making the country the epitome of lawlessness and tyranny. Let’s begin developing a culture of principle-based governance before this specter comes to pass. Otherwise, the nation we love will face the prospect of collapse.