Yonas Biru, PhD
For the first time, domestic and diaspora opposition forces have become agenda setters, forcing the government to take a defensive position. We are witnessing encouraging developments, but there is a lot to be done. The success of the opposition depends on its ability to be strategic and determination to stay the course. Lest Ethiopia will be destroyed by Oromo-PP that is increasingly pandering to the Oromummaa criminal establishment.
On the domestic front, the Amhara tribal land has refused to submit to Oromo-PP tribalist agenda. Other regions are also showing increasing resistance. On the international front, the diaspora’s campaign has caused panic in the Oromo-PP universe: #RerouteRemittance, #SanctionEthiopianGov, and #InternationalInvestigation
Though the most important part of the opposition campaign is at home, the diaspora is providing a game-changing supportive role. The diaspora’s campaign was developed in a 20-page document titled “Averting Civil War in Ethiopia: An Emergency Manifesto.”It presented on half-a-dozen TV and YouTube social media outlets. Nearly 90 percent of the people’s reactions on the comment sections were supportive. Here are a few examples:
- አዎ ሬሚታንስ ግድ ይላል በህውሃት ዘመንም እንደዚሁ ተደርጎ አሽመድምዶታል እደግፈዋለሁ
- Thank you. We should not send money legally. We must push for sanctions.
- It’s very refreshing and enlightening strategy-based proposal.
The support is not limited to social media comments. People are volunteering to raise funds and contribute to the effort in any way they can. People have started canceling planned trips to Ethiopia. They are approaching their senators in the US to support the campaign’s call for sanction. Similar efforts are being initiated in Europe.
The conflict between the Federal and Amhara Fanno and the diaspora campaign seem to have rattled the government. Three new developments are attributable to them.
Twitter Discussion Forum for Oromo and Amhara Generals.
Of recent, the government seems to propagate independent discussions about the state of the nation and a way forward. Yesterday, one such discussion was conducted on the Twitter space. Invited speakers included General Baጫa Debela, General Endalkachew W. Kidan and Colonel Getenet Adane. The moderator was a certain Kiya Negash. The topic of discussion was the need to maintain a professional army whose allegiance is to the Constitution.
What necessitated it? There are two possibilities. The first possible explanation is fractions within the military along tribal lines caused by Oromo-PP’s pandering to Oromummaa criminal establishment. Shimeles Abdisa may have succeeded in winning the support of the Oromo tribalist camp when he publicly declared: “The Future of Ethiopia” is Gedaa.
He may also have secured the favor of the Oromummaa criminal colony when he assured them “Some Oromo fools may not understand the strategy. Our enemies understand our intentions” behind building Sheger City, encircling Finfinnee. Add to this his public announcement that the “Prosperity Party is built in such a way to advance the interest of Oromo. The head of the Party will always be an Oromo or an Oromo plant.”
The Twitter forum was organized to avert resentment within the non-Oromo community of the army. Another explanation is that the PM is losing control and worried. In this regard, he may be trying to show the military is with him.
Proposal by Independent Think Tank to Reform the Constitution
The fact that an independent think tank proposed a constitutional reform is not surprising.
What is surprising is the timing and the PM’s effort to publicize it.
The story behind the story is obvious. When the Oromummaa criminal establishment gained political momentum, the PM pandered to it. Two things happened that complicated the love affair between the PM and the Oromummaa demigods. First, the demand from the Oromummaa clan proved unmeetable. Here is one example put forth by Birhanemeskel Abebe Segni, Abiy-appointed former Ethiopian Embassy Consul General in the US.
ክርስቲያን ታደለ የሚባለው የመርዝ ብልቃጥ፤ የኦሮሞ ህዝብ ጠላት እንጂ ወኪል አይደለም። ስለዚህ ኦሮሚያ ውስጥ ፊንፊኔ መኖር አይችልም። አሁን እርሱ የሚኖርበት ቤት ከፊንፊኔ ለተፈናቀለ አንድ የኦሮሞ ገበሬ መሰጠት አለበት። ክርስቲያን ታደለ እና መሰል ዘረኞች ወደ ፊንፊኔ መምጣት የሚችሉት ለስብሰባ ብቻ መሆን አለበት። ስብሰባ ከጨረሱ በኋላ ተመልሰው የሚወክሉት ህዝብ አገር መኖር አለባቸው። ይህን ካላደረጉ የኦሮሚያ መንግስት ከፊንፊኔ በህግ ማስከበር ሂደት ልያባርራቸው ይገባል። በተላይ ደግሞ ክርስቲያን ታደለ አሁን እንደሚያደርገው ለኦሮሞ ህዝብ ብሄራዊ ጥቅም ስጋት ከሆኑ ወይም unfriendly act ካደረጉ፤ እግራቸው የኦሮሚያን ምድር እንዳይረግጥ ማደረግ ወይም ይዞ ማሰር የኦሮሚያ መንግስት ሙሉ መብት አለው። የኦሮሞ ህዝብን ብሄራዊ ጥቅም ለማስከበር ግዴታውም ነው።
Second, the Ethiopianist camp, the Amhara tribal land and the diaspora gained momentum in pushing back the Oromummaa’s criminal agenda.
The PM’s shenanigan in publicizing the proposal for constitutional reform is a futile effort to use it as a pressure release bulb. His thinking is that his opposition from the Ethiopianist camp will soften. His problem is that he has zero thrust capital left in him.
The PM’s Statements About Domestic & Diaspora Oppositions
The government’s recent statements about the diaspora campaign show that it is worried about two of the core messages of the Diaspora Manifesto: Growing dissatisfaction within the Prosperity Party (PP) and the diaspora campaign.
The takeaway is that the PM is in a panic mode. His response is a two-prong counter-offense. The first prong is to address the growing discontent within the PP community. The second prong attempts to find a diplomatic means to refute or address the diaspora’s campaign.
Ethiopians at home and abroad should not pay too much attention to his shenanigan. The Diaspora has put forth specific conditions. The diaspora must work in close collaboration with domestic opposition forces sticking to the seven strategic pressure points that are specified in the diaspora manifesto. They include four domestic and three international actions.
Four Coordinated Domestic Campaigns
The first and most potent campaign is mobilizing the silent majority. The key to getting the silent majority to rise is forging a win-win strategy that avoids extremist positions and find a peaceful approach.
The second domestic campaign is supporting regional PPs and opposition parties who are committed to a peaceful campaign. This is what has made the PM to lose sleep. As noted in the above-noted manifesto, there is a growing dissatisfaction within the PP. A significant number of PP members did not attend the PM’s recent briefings. When the Parliament met to remove the terrorist designation on TPLF, the meeting barely met quorum, and over 60 of them voted against the measure.
As the diaspora manifesto stressed, the focus must be on mobilizing and supporting members of PP to challenge the Oromo-PP. What needs to be done is working with the rank-and-file members and creating pressure on the leadership to stand up for their people.
The third domestic campaign is holding the Prime Minister accountable. This is where work needs to be done to involve disgruntled members of the PP in the Parliament. In many places, the Constitution affirms the people’s representatives “shall have the duty” to honor and protect the people’s constitutional rights. Article 12 outlines the “Functions and Accountability of Government” and affirms “Any public official or elected representative shall be made accountable for breach of his official duties.” This includes honoring and protecting the constitutional order and holding those who violate it accountable.
The fourth domestic campaign must focus on recalling members of the Peoples Representatives who fail to uphold their oath. In accordance with the Constitution, a national campaign will mobilize a recall campaign to remove members of the House of Representatives from office and replace them with people who will honor their oath and perform their constitutional duties. This applies with equal force to Addis Ababa Council members who are governed by similar sets of duties and accountabilities.
International Investigations and Sanctions Including Drying Up Remittance
The first critical campaign is international investigations of crime against humanity not only in Tigray, Amhara and Afar, but also in Oromia and Addis Ababa regions. An international investigation is not a desired choice but a choice of absolute necessity.
The second part of our international campaign is targeted international sanction that mitigates the cost on the poor. Targeted sanctions will not affect humanitarian aid and programs such as AGOA that help the poor. Its focus will be on starving the Oromo-PP beast by denying it foreign funds that it is using to fortify an Oromo hegemonic rule.
The third part of the international campaign is drying the Diaspora’s financial contribution. Diaspora remittance accounts for the lion’s share of the nation’s foreign currency. The Diaspora must stop sending remittance through the Banking system. It also must stop using the government’s black-market exchange business in the US. Their $1 for 105 Birr exchange may be financially attractive, but the PM is using the dollars he collects from the black market to buy weapons and to kill opposition forces. That is why we say #BloodMoney. We must reject his black market. We also need to stop visiting Ethiopia unless it is for family emergency.
Building on the Diaspora Campaign’s Momentum and Adding More Pressure
The diaspora manifesto has shown us that identifying strategic pressure points and building a coordinated campaign around them are key to setting up a winning agenda. In addition to the growing protest in Ethiopia, the diaspora campaign was a critical support block in setting up an opposition agenda and forcing the government to be on the defensive.
It is time to keep up and raise the pressure by adding well thought out action points and mobilizing more support. This is no time to water down or slow down the diaspora campaign. Speed up and scale up!
ABIY AHMED’S GOVERNMENT IS WAGING WAR ON THE AMHARA PEOPLE OF ETHIOPIA