Putting an end to senseless bloodletting
After a brief respite the massacre of innocent civilians is once again making the headlines. The western Benishangul-Gumuz Region of Ethiopia has particularly seen a spate of gruesome killings, the majority of them taking place in the Metekel Zone. Though the latest bout of violence in the zone, which occurred barely three weeks after 200-plus people were slaughtered by gunmen, was heartbreaking, it did not come as a surprise to many who had been expressing misgivings that it was certain to recur. The national outcry in the wake of similar incidents in the past that led to the death and dislocation of innocent citizens and the destruction of their property has not brought about significant improvement in Metekel, which continues to be a hotbed of carnage. Despite assurances by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) and his deputy Demeke Mekonnen that it was committed to snuff out unrest in the region and the deployment of a joint security force led by a senior army commander, there seems no stopping the death of ordinary folks for political ends. Ethiopians deserve an honest answer as to when they will be able to lead a life free of death and destruction.
The Metekel atrocities are by no means the only of their kind Ethiopia has been grappling with since Prime Minister Abiy came to power in April 2018 and began introduced a series of reforms that broadened the democratic space. As the premier recently noted the country has been experiencing every week one deadly conflict on average since he came to office. While foreign adversaries may have played a hand in stoking the violence, the primary culprits are the architects of an agenda intended to sow the seeds of division and hatred between a people who have co-existed in harmony for centuries. These elements view violence as a means to cow into submission the communities living in the areas they operate and eventually become a force to be reckoned with. The mayhem and destruction they cause constitutes a grave challenge for the nation and as such needs to be dealt with promptly. Failure is a prospect that ought to be averted at all cost.
The unremitting bloodshed unfolding in Metekel gives rise to a host of questions. Why in heaven’s name can’t the butchery be stopped? When will the plight of innocent citizens come to an end? How long can the bandits behind the murderous rampage be allowed to terrorize defenseless compatriots? The inability of the regional and federal government authorities to provide a clear explanation as to why they have been found wanting when it comes to discharging their basic duty—protecting the safety and security of its citizens—has Ethiopians both perplexed and suspicious. They wonder how why the government has found it impossible to stamp out or significantly degrade the capability of lightly-armed insurgents who have been a thorn in its side for over two years now even as it vanquished in a three-week war a force boasting superior weaponry and organizational capacity, tens of thousands of fighters as well as financial clout. Moreover, the impunity with which the rebels have been operating has compelled the zonal residents and the public at large to question whether the government is genuinely committed to quelling the violence. This credibility gap needs to be filled soon.
Although several of the insurgents responsible for the egregious acts perpetrated by the insurgents have reportedly been liquidated or apprehended, it’s also of the essence to purge from the ranks of the regional government two-timing elements that consort with the insurgents if law and order is to be imposed in Metekel. In this regard the arrest and removal of a number of officials of the regional administration suspected of being complicit in the attacks is a step in the right direction. Nevertheless, it’s paramount to ensure that the individuals appointed in their place are not cut from the same cloth and possess the requisite ability and mindset to deliver the sort of governance the inhabitants of the zone desperately need. Furthermore, it’s vital to undertake a coordinated effort involving all stakeholders with the aim of starving oxygen to the conditions that spark internecine strife. The government can ill afford to ignore the grave threat that the inability to know what is happening under its nose poses to the security of the zone and beyond.
Ethiopians have had enough of the senseless bloodletting that has been rife for quite some time now. In an age and day when it’s eminently possible to settle political differences through peaceful means peddling the destructive politics of hatred must be roundly condemned by all citizens no matter which side of the political divide they are. The hawking of a revisionist and false narrative that has been the root of the deadly political wrangling is part of the strategy of Ethiopia’s age-old adversaries whose endgame is to engineer the country’s collapse or failing that to weaken it using domestic proxies. Ethiopians have to wise up to this fact and work towards strengthening the ties that bind them and assuring that the Metekel and similar other massacres do not recur by holding the perpetrators accountable to the fullest extent of the law. It’s only then that the nation can heal from the traumatizing conflicts that have been afflicting it and move forward.