Political solutions for political problems
Reluctance to learn from history is once again recurring in Ethiopia, a nation that keeps on wasting the opportunities that come its way. There are always political solutions for political problems. In a country where administrative and legal solutions can be sought as well, it’s in no one’s interest to cow someone into submission. The recent slanging match between the bigwigs of the ruling Prosperity Party is both an unnecessary distraction and a desecration of the sacrifice being paid to defend the nation’s sovereignty. It’s antithetical to democracy and a folly to reject the accommodation of differences in opinion through dialogue and resort to force to accomplish political goals. Anyone who truly believes truth is on his side has no reason to eschew peaceful political struggle or respect the will of the people as expressed in free, fair and credible elections.
Ethiopians have time and again demonstrated that they will never countenance anyone who compromises Ethiopia’s very survival, who tries to advance selfish political agendas by sowing instability. All political actors need to know that each and every they do should be informed by the vital interests of the country. They also ought to realize that Ethiopia is much more about than the trappings of power, bankrupt ideologies, false historical narratives, ethnic and religious boundaries, and obsession with flags and emblems. It’s then that it will be possible to embark on building a democratic nation enjoying strong unity, durable peace, and sustained economic growth. Political problems have political solutions.
Ethiopia may become a stable and prosperous democracy as the rank of citizens that care more about their country than themselves swells. The toxic brand of politics that has been and continues to be characterized by, among others, suppressing the voice of the masses; placing personal and group interests before the national interest; hiding behind the cloak of ethnic championism to instigate turmoil and forcing one’s views on others instead of engaging in conversations. Undermining the ethical and moral values of communities; killing, maiming and displacing innocent civilians with impunity and aiding and abetting the perpetrators of heinous crimes is a recipe for a breakdown in law and order. These and similar other egregious practices must cease immediately so as to foster an environment conducive to the peaceful and lawful pursuit of political objectives.
The absence of a culture of discussion and negotiation has exacted a heavy humanitarian and economic toll on Ethiopia. Despite the opportunities they had to build a system that treats citizens equally, successive tyrants have subjected Ethiopians —the ultimate repositories of sovereign power—to untold suffering and misery. The misuse of their office to rob the country blind and blatant violation of the principle that the people are the ultimate repositories of sovereign power engendered deep-seated resentment, prompting widespread protests that eventually led to their ouster. Unfortunately, the party that was swept from power in 2018 on the back of a popular uprising was unwilling to mend the errors of its ways and launched a suicidal war that may well spell its demise. The fate of such dictators should serve as an object lesson to gun worshippers and proponents of the divide-and-rule policy that they are bound to meet an ignominious end.
The upcoming general elections slated to be held in the middle of 2021 have the potential to shape Ethiopia’s future for the better or worse. With the exception of a notable few the majority of political forces active on the Ethiopian political owe the obligation to act responsibly and commit themselves to peaceful political struggle. Alien to constructive political engagement and contemporary political thinking, these parties are adept at peddling divisive narratives while hiding behind their ethnicity; labeling rivals as enemies of the people; and inciting supporters to violence. Even though they profess to know that political problems have political solutions, they have no qualms about doing whatever is necessary to get what they want regardless of its consequences.
The people of Ethiopian are entitled to lead a life free from senseless conflicts and abject poverty. They need and indeed deserve clean and suitable living spaces; sustainable employment and income; a transparent and accountable system of governance; and an enabling environment that helps them bequeath future generations a democratic, stable and prosperous nation. The realization of these ideals demands preparations for elections the public can truly believe in. All political parties and other election actors have a responsibility to demonstrate not only in words, but also in deeds, that the people are the real holders of sovereign power. Any party eyeing the reins of power would do well to bear in mind that their very existence lies in the hands of voters and that failure to ensure that each and everything they do abides by the rule of law is apt to elicit a reaction that will cost them dear. Ethiopians have had enough of tyranny. All they want is to live a life of freedom, equality, harmony and justice. That is why it’s imperative to seek political solutions for political problems no matter how difficult they may be.