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Lest gangsters destabilize the nation

Lest gangsters destabilize the nation

The appalling murders, pillaging, vandalism and displacement which took place the previous week in the Sidama Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State clearly show that if they find the smallest of openings gangsters can destroy the nation. The images and reports emerging out of the zone are not only gut wrenching, but also graphically demonstrate the ordeals the victims had to endure. Although it is quite apparent that the Sidama people’s demand for statehood should be presented and addressed through legally prescribed mechanisms, contrary to Ethiopians’ age-old culture of civility some chose to use it as an excuse to perpetrate mayhem and destruction. Gangsters carrying placards calling for legal and illegal actions rampaged through villages and towns, killing several innocent civilians from other ethnic groups, vandalizing their properties and leaving them homeless. The culprits who ordered and carried out these heinous acts must be brought to justice. When gangsters have a free rein anarchy will prevail; the safety and security of citizens will be imperiled; and national security will be gravely endangered. Ethiopians need to stand as one to prevent such elements from messing with their beloved country.

Though the vast majority of Ethiopians are law-abiding and patriotic, sadly there abound good-for-nothing compatriots lacking any sense of nationalism and solidarity with fellow citizens. Unsurprisingly, elements devoid of any desire to contribute to the development and prosperity of Ethiopia are the first to undermine its peace and stability. They never miss an opportunity to pour fuel on the fire whenever a crisis arises. Eternally lusting for personal glory and power, they do not care an iota about the centuries-old traditions and values underpinning the social fabric which holds Ethiopian society together. In fact they are bent on inflaming tensions between the people of Ethiopia who have lived through both good times and bad times together by stoking ethnic, religious and cultural divisions. If it were not for the provision of mutual refuge by communities the anarchists would have wreaked unimaginable havoc if they had their way. If criminals and other forces harboring are not brought to heel, there is no guarantee that Ethiopia will be spared catastrophic conflicts the likes of which it had never seen before.

The federal and the southern regional governments alike ought to have taken the appropriate measures the moment threats of violence began to be made after the Sidama people lodged a formal demand for statehood. Unfortunately the manifest gross negligence on their part contributed to the violence which led to the death of many and the wanton destruction of property, prompting the placement of the entire southern region under a federal command post effective July 22 until such time the security situation there improves. This decision was reached after considerable damage was done. It’s difficult to say the least for any rational person to live under the rule of a command post or a state of emergency. Nevertheless, whether one likes it or not the move was mandatory given that the very survival of the nation and its people is at stake and it’s of the essence to bring the full force of the law to bear on gangsters. Forces intent on using unlawful means to further a nefarious agenda need to know that they are answerable for the horrendous crimes they commit. The purview of the Command Post should not be to oversee the security of the region alone, but also to bring the architects and actual perpetrators of the vile crimes against innocent individuals. Thugs should never be able to lead the country down the path to chaos.

The brazen crimes carried out by irregular forces in different parts of Ethiopia in defiance of regularly constituted state structures and the security apparatus have to be stopped. A government becomes weak when its structures are unable to function properly. The victims of sectarian attacks across the country have bitterly complained that the security personnel and police operating in the areas where the incidents occurred either turned a blind eye to or participated in the attacks. They also accused local administration officials of siding with and harboring the attackers. Defenseless civilians cannot be afforded protection when the administrative and security organs of government fall under control of criminal gangs. Even if they join forces to help each other, they cannot stand up to gangsters armed to the teeth. It’s still not late to teach those who seek to sow ethnic, religious or other divisions among Ethiopians in a language they understand that they are doomed to fail.

In a country where the rule of law is not upheld it would be impossible to guarantee the continued existence of country as a cohesive polity as well as the safety and security of citizens the; such fundamental human and democratic rights as the right to life, freedom of thought and expression, and the right to work and acquire property anywhere within the national territory will be severely curtailed. Such a state of affairs enables gangsters to cow the public into doing their bidding. This is precisely what is transpiring nowadays. If Ethiopia is to transition from a dictatorship to a full-fledged democracy, the political sphere must be free of the influence of bullies and crooks. Just as it’s not mandatory to go through conflicts to appreciate the value of peace, it’s not obligatory to live under oppression to undertake the task of building a democratic order. Ethiopia should not become a playground for criminals. And the innocent must not suffer at the hand of gangsters and their lackeys. It’s time to unmistakably show thugs which profess to be law-abiding when it suits them that the days they can act with impunity are over. They must never be allowed to destabilize the nation.