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Sowing turmoil has no dividend!

Sowing turmoil has no dividend!

The intolerance that has long animated Ethiopian politics is once again rearing its ugly head. Incapable of standing on their own two feet, infantile political actors are peddling poisonous rhetoric to stoke internecine strife with the aim of fomenting instability and thereby garner the public’s vote. They go back and forth between the ethnic and religious cards to accomplish their sinister agendas. This is precisely what they have been up to for some time now. Unless these elements, whose worldview is anathema to modern democracy, are stopped in their track promptly by upholding the rule of law firmly, the country’s future will be imperiled. The lawlessness pervading regions where administrative structures and the security apparatus have failed in their duties needs to be nipped in the bud through the concerted efforts of all stakeholders before it gets out of hand.  

It’s absolutely critical that the transition Ethiopia has been undergoing for nearly two years culminates peacefully. Needless to say the responsibility of ensuring that the transition is smooth does not rest with the government alone. In this regard the government owes the obligation to, inter alia, carry out the tasks entrusted to it lawfully, close any loopholes opening the door for maladministration, undertake steps aimed at enabling the bureaucracy and law enforcement organs to serve the public equally and impartially, and ensure that the upcoming elections are free and fair. On their part citizens organized under various political parties also shoulder a solemn duty towards the success of the transition. First and foremost they need to obey and enforce the law. It should not be lost on them that eschewing the rule of law is akin to advocating for criminality. Second they have to work in close cooperation with each other in assuring the safety and security of the general public. Third it’s imperative they play a constructive role in ascertaining that the elections meet international standards. Failure to see through this critically important mission is certain to engender dire consequences.

As we have said time and again Ethiopia should not let slip through its fingers the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that the change presently underway offers. The political turmoil racking Ethiopia is primarily attributable to sections of the public regarded to be “politically conscious”. Despite being victims of the turbulent past of the country, including the atrocities committed during the Red Terror campaign of the late 1970s as well as in more recent times, they seem to be utterly unwilling to learn from history. Sadly these forces appear to be intent on inflaming inter-communal conflicts and destabilizing the nation instead of making proper use of and nurturing the change. They are preoccupied with fueling hatred and intolerance. And they are loath to promote the rule of law, equality, justice and freedom. How can democracy thrive in an environment where they beat the drums of war? The answer is better left to them.

The events making the headlines these days spell bad news for Ethiopia. The purpose of infiltrating universities to incite students to violence and disrupt the teaching-learning process, escalating disagreements between individuals into full-blown ethnic and religious conflicts, causing a ruckus over controversial flags or spreading dangerous lies is all too clear: it’s to usurp power on the back of the resulting chaos or failing that to engineer the country’s disintegration at the behest of enemies both foreign and domestic. If the instigators of these egregious acts to think that the havoc they wreak will spare them they are sorely mistaken. It only serves to hasten their demise. The specter of tyranny, and worse, a state collapse at the hand of these elements can come to pass if law enforcement and security organs are found wanting in performing their sworn duty. The surest way to avert this frightening prospect is to abide by and defend the rule of law.

Each and every political party leader, member and supporter as well as citizens who feel they have a stake in Ethiopia’s fate must always keep uppermost in their mind that any action they take needs to contribute positively to ensuring the continued survival of the nation. As such it’s incumbent on them to cogitate on why Ethiopians always squander the rare opportunities that come our way; to abandon the habit of trying to correct a mistake with another mistake; to internalize such basic tenets of democracy as the principle of give-and-take and respecting the views of others no matter how unpalatable they may be; and to do everything in their power towards empowering the people to freely exercise the right to choose who rules them through genuine elections. Politicians who disrespect the public or flout the law to get their way cannot have a successful career. Any fame or money that they gain will be short-lived. The public has demonstrated repeatedly that it will drop anyone it has put on a pedestal like a hot potato the second they offend it and that it knows how to separate the wheat from the chaff. Therefore, politicians of any stripe would well to realize that the sole path to winning the hearts and minds of the people is to prove in deeds that they are willing to submit to its will as manifested in free and fair elections as opposed to attempting to grab power through demagoguery or outright violence. Sowing turmoil has no dividend!