Ethiopia has been at a crossroads for some time now. It lacks a roadmap charting the path it should tread in the years ahead. Sadly, there is absolutely no desire to formulate such a roadmap or to facilitate discussions, debates and negotiations that help choose make the right decision. There is much talk about the elections due to be held in 2020. But concrete action is absent when it comes to how best to ensure that the elections truly reflect the will of the people. Likewise, there is no shortage of public dialogue on democracy, justice, equality and freedom. However, political machination is rife behind the scenes. The most trivial of reasons are used to foment internecine conflicts which lead to death and destruction. And yet no one is held accountable. The cycle of violence does not stop there though. Another agenda is created to precipitate another spree of killing and devastation. What ensues is bitter recrimination coupled with needless provocation driven by false narratives instead of finding solutions through a constructive political engagement. Social media pages created for the express purpose of sowing discord are particularly to blame for the current political turmoil. What justifies expressing sorrow solely on the death of individuals hailing from the same ethnic group or the rush to incite further violence by disseminating fake news and images? What possible benefit or pleasure is gained from doing so? How long can things go on like this? When will cooler heads prevail?
The principal cause behind the crisis roiling the nation ruling is the crisis the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front’s (EPRDF) is faced with from within and outside. The Front, a coalition of four parties, is finalizing preparations to merge and form one unified party together with allied parties. The merger has been a subject of criticism and praise in equal measure both by member parties and external forces. Given this s an internal party matter we shall not dwell on it. This said why are no reassurances forthcoming as the government’s inability to respect and enforce the law puts Ethiopia and its people on a knife edge? Why haven’t organized criminal groups as well as bullies which flout the law with impunity been brought to justice? When will the unnecessary death of defenseless citizens come to an end? How come the elements instigating violence fail to fathom that they are leading Ethiopia down the same path as Yemen and Syria? Why can’t we come together as a nation to seek solutions instead of fueling conflicts day in day out?
Though Ethiopia has been presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity it should let slip through its finger, it’s disheartening that there abound forces bent on squandering it. Forces which put their interest above the nation leave no stone unturned to consolidate their hold on to power, retake it if they are ousted, or wreak havoc in the event that they have no chance of regaining it. They whine that the constitution is being violated even though they are guilty of failing miserably at obeying and enforcing it in the first place. Similarly, it’s perplexing to see elements which used to accuse these same forces of perpetrating human rights violations and other heinous crimes now openly consort with them. There is nothing more frustrating than for Ethiopian politics to be marred by politicians who believe that the end justifies the means no matter the cost. The adage, “There are no permanent friends or permanent enemies, only permanent interests” does not apply to justify such brazenness. True, parties which had a falling out today make up all the time. Wise politicians do not subscribe to the “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” philosophy. It is immature politicians who do that are making life an ordeal for ordinary citizens. That is why it’s vitally important not to squander the opportunity that has come Ethiopia’s way.
Another shortcoming afflicting the Ethiopian political scene is the fact that political parties have become nothing but talking shops. The cardinal obligation of an organization on which it is incumbent to accept the will of the people as expressed through free and fair elections is to abide by the law. When the rule of law is upheld such fundamental rights as freedom of thought, expression, assembly and association will be respected; the conduct of affairs of government shall be transparent and entail accountability; forums instrumental for the free flow of diverse ideas and the creation of a culture of dialog will be created; discharging one’s duties will come before demanding rights; and there will be no place for cheating, lying, conniving, intolerance, hatred, vindictiveness, invoking the people in vain and other moral vices. As parties begin to operate in a manner which positively contributes to the attainment of these goals the youth’s political consciousness will develop; they will mature into inquisitive and rational citizens which do not fall prey to incitement to violence. The creation of such a generation creates a favorable condition for the peaceful pursuit of political objectives. However, elements implacably opposed to this because they view the youth as nothing more than blunt instruments which do their bidding are doing everything in their power to sow instability. It’s at such critical juncture that everyone who feels they have a stake in the fate of Ethiopia needs to exert a concerted effort to find durable solutions to the seemingly intractable challenges confronting the country.
Ethiopia’s continued existence as a cohesive polity can be assured through a brand of politics that eschews violence. The country has gone through countless wars either for control of power or to repel foreign aggression for the better part of its history. The wars fought during the reign of Emperor Tewodros II, who is credited with laying the foundation for modern-day Ethiopia by bringing an end to the Era of princes, to the rule of the EPRDF have resulted in staggering humanitarian and material losses. The only thing Ethiopians have got out of war is abject poverty and backwardness. The era where a certain group of people subjugate others through intimidation or force is long gone. Now is the time to undertake a solemn discourse on how to build a democratic nation founded on equality. The fate of the 110 million people of Ethiopia should never be determined by a handful of vocal individuals or groups intent on furthering their evil agenda. It’s high time to bring them to heel before the damage they are inflicting takes us all over the precipice. What Ethiopia needs now is practical solutions alleviating the woes of its people. Enough talking!