The challenges of Ethiopian democracy
Abiy Ahmed (PhD) is a pro-democracy leader. I am pleased to see a massive political reform in the making. But I am skeptic when it comes to the issues of Ethiopian democracy. Of course; democracy is a means to good governance, development and justice. Moreover it is the liberty of the people.
Justice is a wider concept than democracy. Societies are more intolerant for injustice than tyranny. The ongoing political reform is a correction of injustice.
The present day Ethiopia is ethnically divided that is fruiting to several and irreconcilable political interests. The politics is rather a conflict of ethnic interests. It is not based on ideological difference. And this is hampering democracy.
There are no strong institutions that could support democratic processes. It is hard to envision democracy without strong institutions.
The absence of viable political alternative political parties is another factor that is hindering democracy.
Moreover the ruling party has to gain enough time to smoothly finish the political reforms it has started a couple of years ago.
There is a high degree of ethnic consciousness in the society. This yields to a high probability of narrow nationalists to win elections as the narrow nationalist is the favorite for a society with a high degree of ethnic consciousness. Narrow nationalists are known for compromising both the public and national interests. They are short sighted. It is the moderate nationalist that is useful for the betterment of the societies in the long run. The existing ethnic division would be intensified if narrow nationalists from different ethnic groups were to come to power. We should do everything we can to stop narrow nationalists from coming to power.
The next national election should not be conducted in a time when ethnic consciousness is heightened.
In Ethiopia we do not have an informed society. There is no mechanism that aims to create an informed society which is a prerequisite for democracy.
The existing few media outlets are not accessible to the larger public. They do not analyze political issues independently. Furthermore, the inadequate penetration of education in Ethiopia is another factor that impedes democracy.
The existing political culture is not conducive to practice democracy in Ethiopia.
State machineries are too weak. Power has to be handled by a single and strong political party. The civil service is not viable. Besides we have not yet done the job of separating the bureaucracy from the politics.
If a democratic election is to take place, the result will be a factor for controversy that would result in chaos and unrest.
There still exist deep rooted problems of good governance which hampers our democracy.
Our society is one which is characterized by a collective mentality. This contrasts with democratic culture. We need development to change this to individualism.
Poverty is another big factor that denies democracy to our fair nation. Thus, we need to work on development more aggressively. Development will help in reducing the heightened ethnic consciousness of our society and change the political culture.
I believe that Prosperity Party is the sole political party that is capable to handle power at this given moment in time as it is the strongest and moderate party.
More importantly Ethiopia’s experiment on capitalism has failed.
An Ethiopian identity, which is commonly shared by all Ethiopians, need to be developed in advance.
Education for democratic citizenship” means education, training, dissemination, information, practices and activities which aim, by equipping learners with knowledge, skills and understanding and molding their attitudes and behavior, to empower them to exercise and defend their democratic rights and responsibilities.
No consensus exists on how to define democracy, but legal equality, political freedom and rule of law have been identified as important characteristics. These principles are reflected in all eligible citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to legislative processes.
Despite all these impeding factors, Abiy Ahmed is racing for democracy. What would be his response for these problems?
Ed.’s Note: The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Reporter. The writer can be reached at [email protected]
Contributed by Tagel Getahun