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Destroying peace engenders dire consequences!

Destroying peace engenders dire consequences!

Presently the rank of elements working hard at destabilizing Ethiopia and subjecting its people to an inextricable political crisis is swelling. At a time the country’s historical enemies are exploiting directly or otherwise geopolitical tensions in the region these elements are bent on destroying its reputation as an oasis of political stability oblivious to the implications down the line. The blood of innocent citizens continues to be spilt due to the inability of the ruling Ethiopian Peoples” Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) to put a decisive end to the unrest that has been rocking the nation for over two years. Areas which have been relatively peaceful are turning into conflict zones. The EPRDF is proceeding at glacial pace in introducing the reforms it had pledged to undertake in response to the demands made by the public. This not only exacerbates the prevailing sense of insecurity, but also has grave ramifications for the very survival of the country and its people. The consequences are bound to be calamitous if the situation does not improve.

The EPRDF alone cannot overcome the plethora of challenges confronting Ethiopia. Nothing can be accomplished without the invaluable contribution of those who feel they are invested in the fate of their fellow citizens. The solution to addressing the root causes behind the current turmoil lies in engaging in genuine dialogues aimed at forging national consensus. It’s imperative to go the necessary distance as well as to conduct negotiations in the spirit of give and take for the sake of national unity and welfare of the public. This holds particularly true in view of the fact that Ethiopia’s political landscape is afflicted by a race to the bottom. Some of the critical reform measures which need to be taken include guaranteeing the unencumbered exercise of such fundamental rights as freedom of expression, upholding the rule of law, putting in place a mechanism ensuring a fair sharing of the national pie and an equitable allocation of political power, and facilitating conditions for free and fair elections. Agreeing on a broad set of principles on these issues would go a long way to restoring stability and rebuilding confidence. 

The resurgent conflict has been playing out across different localities in the North Wollo Zone of the Amhara region for over a fortnight now. Characterized by attacks targeting a specific ethnic group and curtailing freedom of movement the clashes jeopardize the future of Ethiopia and threaten to unravel the solidarity of its people built over centuries. How can progress be made on any front while in the midst of a seemingly endless strife that may well bring about a breakdown in law and order? What explains the recurrence of conflicts even after the EPRDF vowed to renew itself profoundly and meet the basic demands of the public? It would be irresponsible for anyone who professes to love Ethiopia to do everything in their power to pull it back from the precipice lest it joins the club of failed states.

As we always say the blame cannot be laid at the door of ordinary people. After all generation after generation of Ethiopians have been coexisting in harmony for eons. This magnificent tradition was on display in the areas affected by conflicts where residents provided refuge and succor to victims. The problem has always been politicians from both the ruling and opposition parties and self-appointed amateur political activists. Aside from contributing its share to the political crisis by flouting the constitution the EPRDF’s open hostility towards its adversaries, coupled with constant infighting, has exacted and continues to exact a heavy toll on Ethiopia and its populace. To make matters worse certain forces within it which have an axe to grind are adding fuel to the fire in order to advance their evil agenda. What is it waiting for? Why is it not doing something tangible? The public deserves an answer.

On their part some short-sighted forces arrayed in the opposition camp are, be it overtly or through proxies, stoking violence. Instead of developing policy options on how to govern Ethiopia were they to assume power they are consumed with vanquishing the EPRDF—their sworn “enemy”— and have no governing philosophy to speak of. They are intolerant of and excoriate anyone who opposes or does not support them; they foment an extremist agenda and are guilty of practicing the politics of hatred and exclusion that they accuse the EPRDF of; they neither brook resistance nor are willing to heed public opinion; multi-party democracy, freedom of expression, institution building and similar other concepts on which a democratic system is founded are anathema to them. The sad state of Ethiopian politics is also attributable to such immaturity.   

Ethiopia finds itself at a critical juncture in its history when peace, stability and democracy are more than ever before a matter of life and death for its people. If these ideals to be realized it is of the essence to forge national consensus. Should all stakeholders exhibit commonsense and commit themselves to a civilized and dialogue underpinned by mutual respect and adherence to the principles of negotiation, political dividends will be manifold including fulfilling the needs of the public in their order of priority as well as closing off the gaps Ethiopia’s historical enemies exploit to provoke political instability. Failure to undertake measures aimed at accomplishing these lofty goals will render the country vulnerable to the machinations of its foes and even endanger the ruling party’s stay in office. This could result in the unconstitutional assumption of state power. All this is a recipe for mutually assured destruction. That is why it is of the utmost importance to be mindful of the fact that destroying peace is liable to engender dire consequences. It is an act history shall never forgive!