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Beating drums of war only hastens mutually assured destruction!

Beating drums of war only hastens mutually assured destruction!

As Ethiopians usher in the Ethiopian New Year the first order of business must be to resolve the dangerous standoff between the federal and Tigray regional state governments over the regional elections held by the latter this week. Elements from within and outside fanning the flames of a conflict between the two sides should also desist from poring fuel on the fire. Unless the forces active on the Ethiopian political season, who are finding it difficult to accommodate their differences peacefully, exert a conscious effort to ease the palpable tension between them, the future will not bode well for everyone. Long afflicted by intolerance, pigheadedness, vindictiveness, mutual animosity and backwardness Ethiopian politicians and their acolytes pose a grave threat to the peace and security of the country and its people. In particular, power-mongers devoid of any qualms about putting their selfish agenda above the public interest have to stop beating the drums of war and immediately embark on constructive talks. The nation should never be subjected to turmoil at the hands of those lusting for power.

There are no winners or losers in a zero-sum politics. Ethiopians have had enough of the internecine conflicts that they have lived under for centuries. Elements inciting the youth to violence in Ethiopia while they and their loved ones are safely ensconced abroad need to realize that one day they will be held accountable for war crimes. Even knowledgeable and experienced compatriots that ought to contribute to broadening the political space are peddling poisonous narratives. The proliferation of public officials who, instead of paving the way for a democratic space that lends itself to win-win dialogues, are pursuing the usual politics of division is quite heart-breaking. What’s even more saddening is the fact that it’s innocent civilians who will bear the brunt of the strife that its architects fan from afar. Ethiopians have to the come together to foil the forces beating the drums of war.

In this modern day and age it’s imperative to seek a common denominator on issues of national importance. Differences in opinion should not be a cause for the derailment of the nation-building project. It’s neither necessary nor rational to resort to tactics destabilizing the country for the sake of winning elections or furthering other political objectives. Bereft of the perseverance and commitment required to exhaust all lawful and peaceful options, bellicosity and extremism are increasingly coming to define Ethiopian politics. This can be borne out by the reluctance of the political elite to obey and enforce the constitution regardless of its perceived or real flaws. That these elites are toiling day and night to sow the seeds of deep division and distrust among various communities as opposed to doing their part to improve the lot of fellow citizens is deplorable to say the least.

Why are the ruling Prosperity Party as well as other parties vying in federal and regional elections loathe to engage in a dialogue that helps identify and tackle the intractable challenges Ethiopia is confronted with? Why do they lack the desire and willingness to sit down and deliberate on critical issues which have detrimental impacts on national unity and the wellbeing of citizens? How can a culture of nonviolent political engagement flourish while divisive and hateful narratives have been dominating the political discourse for decades? Why did the disagreements that led to the call for arms to the Tigray people prove impossible to resolve peacefully? Why have the self-proclaimed federalist forces been reluctant to learn from past mistakes and extend their hands in peace? How come they are warmongering under the pretext of defending a constitution they used to routinely flout? These and several other important questions beg an answer. Politician and political parties that truly have the interests of the public at heart is always open to notion of give-and-take. Sadly, in present-day Ethiopia the forces on all sides of the political spectrum have nothing to do better than beat the drums of war.

As we have said time and again Ethiopia must not squander the opportunities that rarely come its way. The culprits that have wasted these opportunities are sections of the public that should know better. Unfortunately, they seem to be unwilling to learn from history. Some of them are forces that misused state power to make life a living hell for the masses and now are spoiling for a fight to “regain” their glory days. The others are disparate groups whose members were either released from prison or returned home from exile following the introduction of sweeping political reforms two-and-half years ago. The thing is rather than nurturing the opportunity the change has brought with it they seem to be bent on inflaming communal tensions and push the country over the cliff. Whenever they appear on the mainstream or social media they spew vitriol and incite their supporters to violence. They have never ever espoused justice, freedom, equality and the rule of law; all they do is peddle hatred, rumors and violence.

Ethiopia may become a land of peace, justice and freedom through the peaceful pursuit of political goals, not the beating of the drums of war being witnessed nowadays. Whose interests are the forces that claim to stand for the people and yet have deviated from the path of peaceful political struggle really advocating? What is needed to extricate the majority poor of Ethiopia from the clutches of abject poverty is a system where social justice reigns. Needless to say this may be achieved through a civilized brand of politics which empowers the people and eschews violence in all its forms. It’s a travesty to hold oneself out as a defender of democracy while behaving undemocratically. Those imbued with vital importance of public service are not tempted by the trappings of power for they know well that the national interest always trumps personal interests. As such they don’t instigate internecine conflicts or perpetrate destabilizing acts. Transparency and accountability is their byword. No matter what cause someone may espouse they should have no illusions that beating drums of war only hastens mutually assured destruction.