by BefeQadu Z. Hailu
Some Facebook friends are recently tagging me with their posts of ‘solutions’ to the contemporary crisis in Ethiopia. (i.e. the anti-government protests in Oromia and Amhara, two biggest regions in Ethiopia). Most of these Facebook friends recommend maintenance or what’s otherwise called ‘cosmetic change’ to the regime. Others seem to be conspirators against the ‘unprecedented’ cooperation of biggest players in Ethiopian politics, the Oromo and Amhara people, against the ruling Tigrian elites group, TPLF. (The group claims to represent 6% of Ethiopian people (Tigrians) as compared to 62% – Amhara + Oromo people). The latter (of facebook friends suggesting solutions) claimed that it is only Oromo Protests that’s genuine and some went far to portraying Amhara protests as an act of power mongering.
There is no Half Liberty!
In my opinion, it is hardly possible to give one sect of a society its freedom and denying the rest. Freedom will either be assured for all or is denied for all. One of the nations in Ethiopia cannot be given regional autonomy and proportional representation in the federation while others are denied these. It will be oppressed with the rest, or get freedom with them. Even TPLF (which is the supreme Front in the coalition of four parties in the name of EPRDF) including its makers and supporters will only get liberated or be free when it lets others free. The common understanding that a jailer is not free until it frees its prisoners is true. One has to free their prisoners to regain their freedom of movement; otherwise, they will have to be sitting there watching their victims.
So What to Do?
The solution should be all inclusive. But this happens only if all of us have the genuine intention to compromise on our interests for the sake of justice, fairness and peace. Now, all the power and opportunity is controlled by the ruling party, EPRDF. So, EPRDF must be the sole body willing for this to be true. The issue is freeing the party itself as well as its dissent. Otherwise, however its oppression increases, the public grievance and riot will also increase and the challenge that can be solved through compromise today may not tomorrow.
In this, maybe naïve, understanding of mine that EPRDF may become willing to hear alternative solutions, I suggest a filtered compilation of alternative solutions from what I heard of people’s recommendations.
Ethiopian people deserve an apology. TPLF/EPRDF should ask the Ethiopian people an apology for all the mistakes and wrong doings that it has done from its conception up until today and even for leading the country to a dangerous end. This has to be done in a written format.
2) Amnesty and Warranty
We have to cross the bridge of past failures at some point. EPRDF should give amnesty and release all people who were convicted and are on hearings of court proceedings in relation to their political stance. The amnesty should not be with any pre- & post-conditions. In addition, the ruling group should cancel the proclamation that labelled dissent organizations as ‘terrorists’; it should give warranty for the return of exiled politicians, journalists and activists so that they would be able to contribute for the political fate of their country. Rebel groups should also be given the guarantee to peacefully and legally act according to their political program. A proclamation of amnesty and warranty should be passed by the parliament as to this end.
Anti-terrorism proclamation, the charity law and the press laws inacted in the country are used to restrict democratic discourse. Therefore, they should be cancelled for the time being until a legitimate house ratifies other ones (or until it amends them in a way) that don’t stifle constitutional rights. In the meantime, successive and multiple country-wide dialogue that are broadcasted live in the state-owned television with the participation of all stake holders and with moderation of international rights groups should be conducted.
Finally, by freezing the current parliament including the electoral board and by establishing a temporary electoral board of technocrats from other independent countries, there should a new election to be launched at ‘national’ and regional level.
Having suggested that, I have also considered possible criticisms for these alternative solutions:
A) These don’t consider TPLF’s position not to ever compromise;
B) A naïve comment that has assumed the recent protests have shakedown EPRDF’s hold;
C) A solution that encourages dependency on foreign support;
D) A comment that disregarded the immediate necessity of resolving the controversial issues regarding federal structure, electoral system, Parliament system, land ownership and others in the constitution.
Regarding the first two possible comments (put in ‘A’ & ‘B’), it is because I have the fear that the crisis we are in go worse than better that I wanted to take the risk of being ignored speaking rather than keeping quite. On the other hand, I suggested the participation of independent foreign technocrats and rights groups because they are the only possible bodies who wouldn’t have much interest to rig the election for transition. My answer for the possible criticism put in ‘D’ is my enthusiasm that if we once established a legitimate house of representatives, the rest would be taken care of by them. Controversial issues will always be there. But, in the way down the road from there, everything to reform including constitutional amendments is possible for it is easy to do so once a platform is lay for democracy. The most urgent and important issue, for me, now is forming a legitimate government for the majority.