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Protecting public safety, national security!

Protecting public safety, national security!

In the latest spate of violence to hit Ethiopia scores died last weekend in brutal attacks on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. Tens of thousands have fled their vandalized homes and staying in churches and community centers due to what many described as barbaric acts that are not dished out to enemies let alone fellow citizens.The perpetrators of such egregious crimes must be swiftly brought to justice. Though the government issued a strong statement, albeit belated, vowing to uphold the rule of law, it needs to demonstrate in no uncertain terms that it does not countenance crime and anarchy. After all, the foremost responsibility of any government is to protect the safety of the public and national security.

Guaranteeing public safety and the survival of Ethiopia is not the sole obligation of the government though. All stakeholders need to do their part as well. Religious leaders, elders, political parties, intellectuals, the business community, the youth and women ought to determine the underlying cause of the seemingly interminable bout of internecine conflicts rocking the country with a view to find a lasting solution. At a time it is imperative that Ethiopians stand united in building a democratic order asthe government undertakes major reforms after 27 yearsin power, it would not bode well for everyone if the individuals behind the conflicts and their motives cannot be identified. Should the abhorrent act intended to derail the change underway and instigate another cycle of violence continue unchecked hopes of democracy and freedom will be dashed threatening to leave the nation teetering on the edge of collapse.

Presently the extreme nature of partisan politics in Ethiopia is clearly engendering instability. Forces bent on instigating political wrangling, which in no way advance the welfare of the public and are entirely aimed at asserting dominance, must be brought to heel. Democracy can take root through a display of genuine respect for the rights of others, not by attacking or causing attacks to be carried out against countrymen and women. Trying to plunge Ethiopia into chaos with impunity while the right thing to do is to support the government’s reform measures by defending basic liberties and the rule of law is a lose-lose proposition for all. The obvious endgame of killing and displacing children, the elderly and other defenseless people is to wreak havoc and take the reins of power on the back of the resulting public discontent. The evil agenda of plotters intent on undermining the public’s trust in the architects of the change and provoke violence has to be defeated. The rule of law should triumph over lawlessness. It’s primarily the duty of the government to rein in forces determined to usurp state power by sacrificing the innocent. Needless to say it’s incumbent on the public to provide the government with the required support in discharging this responsibility.   

The youth and other segments of the population have to guard against allowing themselves to become the blunt instrument of elements with an axe to grind. On their part communities must urge those guilty of deliberate blood-letting and impassioned youth easily provoked into committing horrendous crimes to refrain from engaging in destructive acts.  Security forces also need to do a better job of enforcing the law as they have been accused of turning a blind eye to wanton crimes by victims. Although the government has said it will no longer tolerate lawlessness it has to back this up with action including holding to account administration and security officials culpable of gross dereliction of duty. Otherwise, the rule of law and the wellbeing of society will be gravely imperiled.

Currently there is a trifecta of elements that threaten to jeopardize Ethiopia’s very survival. First are forces whose interest was dealt a severe blow by the unfolding change. The second consist of those who have been unable to keep pace with the change but are working day and night until they accomplish their nefarious objectives. The third are thugs who will do anything to get rich quick by exploiting any opportunity that comes along. Instead of contributing one’s share to help steer the change on the right path in cognizance of this fact, many social media users are regurgitating the poisonous rhetoric and falsehoods spewed by zealots. Given that these users do not care to verify the veracity of or the motive behind the information they consume they are easily swayed by the peddlers of such information to participate in deadly conflict that endanger public safety. For the sake of the nation it’s of the essence that everyone critically examines any piece of information he receives, especially one which is inflammatory, before acting rashly.

Late as it may be the strong-worded statement government this week affirming that it will not tolerate lawlessness is commendable. However committed it may be though the government cannot do anything meaningful if each and every citizen does not contribute his due share. In this regard it is useful to develop such important habits as critical thinking, abiding by the rule of law, reporting crimes to the police as opposed to taking the law into one’s own hands, exercising prudence rather than rushing headlong into trouble and displaying a willingness to engage in a civilized dialogue. Political parties and activists which have returned back to Ethiopia from exile have in particular a lot of work to do in this regard. As such they are duty-bound to desist from inciting anyone into violence and focus on upholding law and order. Whatever their background or political persuasion may be Ethiopians should always bear in mind that nothing comes before protecting the safety of the public and national security.