August 5, 2018
Dear Ethiopians at home and in the Diaspora,
Many of you may have come across my write-ups on the situations which prevailed in our Motherland, Ethiopia, in the aftermath of the 2005 Election. I tried my best to be as objective as possible to bring minds together. Here is a random collection of topics I shared publicly:
- Ethiopia after Meles
- WHEN OUR HOME IS BURNING – Let us put out the fire FIRST, and deal with the CULPRIT later OR History WILL Judge us also CULPABLE – and RIGHTLY SO!
- The Price of seeking good governance
- Open Letter to Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton
- Youth of Ethiopia – Make your Ethiopia a Hospitable Place!
- Ethiopian Politics – What Price Have You & Your Motherland Paid?
- SOLIDARITY FORUM OF ETHIOPIA.
For 10 years, until now, I have stayed away from politics and focused on my professional duties. The dreams I have been having for all those years appear to be morphing into reality today, so I could not resist jotting down some thoughts!
With the emergence of Prime Minister Abyi, we are all caught up in the whirlwind of continuous reversals of unpopular policies in which the previous administration reveled! It is a protracted celebration which has stretched over four months! But, like all celebrations, this will pass and we all will have to face the realities of life in Ethiopia and in the Diaspora! The most serious danger we face is risk of complacency – us doing nothing, and hoping the Prime Minister will deliver all the goods! If the masses of Ethiopian population don’t rise up to defend and realize this big dream of freedom, justice, and basic human rights, it will not happen! Furthermore, the disruptive forces which have destroyed the fabric of our identity, is looking for opportunities to cause mayhem, and we are witnessing some of that already!
Look around the world and see if you can find one leader who comes anywhere near Abyi in honesty, simplicity, eloquence, integrity, humility, knowledge, humanity, leadership, etc! These have all become obvious only in the 4 months most of us have known him, I believe with support of Patriotic Ethiopians and world at large, this is only the beginning of what the world will witness!
I would like to look at the Abyi phenomenon from archeologic, anthropologic, and historic points of view, and urge every Ethiopian to step back and look at how we got to where we are!
Archeologic studies tell us that the earliest homo sapiens walked in the Rift Valley of today’s Ethiopia. Anthropologic studies tell us that, while human beings from the different regions of the world have certain different physical features which distinguish them from those coming from other regions, the basic building block – the DNA has remained the same through millions of years.
One may find this incredible – how did people travel from Ethiopia to China or Alaska before the days of modern airplanes and other means of transportation to each these places? The answer may be found in the map of the world before continental drift:
None of us were there to witness continental drift(s), but it’s easy to take the current map of the world and see how the continents fit together like jig-saw puzzle! So the conventional wisdom supports the belief that today’s Ethiopia is the cradle of mankind!
Another historical fact which should help us step back and see what role Ethiopia can play in bringing peace and harmony, not just among her citizens, but the world at large! Christianity had established itself in Ethiopia long before Islam was formed in the Middle-East. Pagans in Arabia purged the Arabian Peninsula of Muslims, and many were given refuge in Ethiopia! Muslims and Christians have lived side by side in Ethiopia ever since. Many of us have Muslim and Christian relatives, the most prominent product of this fusion is today’s Ethiopian Prime Minister, Dr. Abyi Ahmed himself! Christians and Muslims, combined, form the largest population of the world. Religious conflicts have stained the history of mankind for centuries! May be the world has something fundamental to learn from Ethiopia, about peaceful co-existence, while respecting each other’s differences! Ethiopia has the responsibility to teach the world her brand of love, respect, civilization!
Over the last century, Ethiopia has undergone all sorts of stresses – inter-ethnic conflicts and subjugation of some by others; effort by foreign powers to colonize the country; military rule and; more recently, divisive, ethnic-based federalist rule. Many have perished in conflicts, many have been killed by the various administrations, thousands have been incarcerated for dubious allegations, and millions have left their homeland to seek refuge all over the world! Yet, in spite of all these trials and tribulations, Ethiopia has survived as a functional entity, thanks to the strong culture which binds its citizens together! The commitment to the Motherland, by those who ran away to seek refuge abroad, has largely remained steadfast. Admittedly, the divisive nature of the federalist administration has, to some extent, eroded inter-ethnic relations abroad. In their adopted countries abroad, Ethiopians have thrived. They have always tried to focus the world attention on the plights of their fellow Ethiopians back home, without having much impact until now. Today, it is a new dawn, a new opportunity, a new chapter! What have we learned from history? What have our own experiences and the world we live in taught us? What are our responsibilities to Ethiopia and the world at large? And, how do we contribute to Ethiopia today, for the benefit of Ethiopians and the world, going forward?
Think about the following:
- Today Ethiopia has a population which has been victimized over the last several decades:
- Who are the Victims
- People targeted by the various administrations as enemies:
- Political opposition
- Civil rights advocates
- People embraced by the various administrations and, seen as enemies by others, e.g:
- Ordinary Tigreans who have/had nothing to do with the activities of the administration – they were victims of TPLF and now, may become victims of Ethiopians who may act with misdirected vengefulness, for considering them part and parcel of the regime led by TPLF;
- Sections of other ethnic groups seen as supporters of the regime led by TPLF.
- Victims of the clashes between the administrations and their opponents:
- The vast majority of people fall in this group although they don’t involve in politics etc. – because of their political tendencies, ethnicity, religion, wealth, education etc.
- Victims of own misplaced beliefs:
- The administrations – victims of their own philosophies, such as divide and rule; suppression of free speech, etc.;
- Supporters of the federalist administration;
- Opposition to the administrations – OLF, ONLF, etc.
- Victims of divide and rule, the strategy which turned neighboring ethnic regions against each other. Examples: Oromo vs Harare; Guji vs Gedeo; Somali vs Oromo; Borana vs Burji.
- What are the expectations of these various victims going forward?
- TPLF expects to continue making cosmetic changes and maintain power! They see losing power will lead to their persecution, the like the ones they have been mating out on their opponents.
- The various opposition groups may want to assert themselves and push their agenda. They, likely, will feel it is their turn to take control and punish those who have tortured them for decades!
- The majority need to see democratic changes and live in peace – they have suffered enough and live in the hope that better days will come – and it looks like that day may be here!
- What are the likely obstacles to democratic reform?
- TPLF desire to cling to power, while creating chaos!
- Desire by the opposition parties to take control of their own destiny – like Eritrea did – and plunge the country into chaos!
- 27 years of divide-and-rule that has generated so much hostilities between the neighboring regions and ethnic groups!
- Land-grabbing by the few in collusion with the EPDRF administration
With election of Dr. Abyi Ahmed as Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister, there is hope and enthusiasm about Ethiopia’s future, the like of which the country has never experienced in modern times! The Prime Minister has said and done all the right things so far, which gives us all great hope for the future! His rapprochement at home, with the neighboring countries, resolution of decades-old standoff with Eritrea, and the support he enjoys at home and in the Diaspora, are a testament to this belief! But, with all the best wishes and prayers there is just not much a leader can do on his/her own, to change the history of the last century in general, and last 4 decades in particular, without the support of the masses! The problems and obstacles to solutions are as listed above, and much more! In June, while the nation was rallying in support of the Prime Minister and his vision for Ethiopia, a grenade was thrown into the crowd, some 30 meters away from where the Prime Minister was sitting! More than 100 people were injured, and already one victim is dead! God forbid, this may be just a harbinger of what is to follow, as the Ethiopia struggles find way forward.
To allay fears of all of the groups mentioned above, and gain the confidence of all Ethiopians, certain strategic steps must be taken as soon as practicable, to prevent the country from sliding into chaos! In the absence of a democratic framework, constitutional and legal checks and balances, it’s difficult to guarantee safe passage from where the country is to proper governance. It is, therefore, necessary to have a practical framework to bring about a system which is palatable to all Ethiopians who are determined to protect their Motherland.
- What is the best solution to this potential crisis?
- The administration must act decisively against those who terrorize innocent civilians in any way! Indecision in these situations will lead to vulnerable civilians to lose confidence in the administration and, worse, embolden other troublemakers to victimize others.
- Set up the administration of national unity:
- National transition committee to select Administration of National Unity (ANU) composed of:
- Regional politicians
- Regional civil leaders
- Legal experts
- Constitutional experts
- International legal and constitutional experts playing advisory roles
- Tasks of the ANU
- Craft new constitution
- Set rules for amnesty of the individuals in the former administration and rules for administration of justice to the criminals under previous administration.
- Introduction of democratic practice and culture in the local administrations.
- Drafting of the referendum at about 5 years following the formation of the ANU
- Craft Ethiopia’s own version of what democratic culture should be and not to import what has failed in other places: Egypt after “Arab Spring”, Iraq after Sadam Hussein, etc.
- Need for re-thinking by the political entities: Whether a part of the ruling coalition or in the opposition, the political entities must rethink their strategies! It is obvious from the out-pouring of support from the Ethiopian public, at home and in the Diaspora, that the Prime Minister’s message of Ethiopia as one nation and Ethiopians as one people, is the desire of the majority of Ethiopians! So, in this political climate and realities of life today, what is the relevance of any political “LIBERATION FRONT”? By the way, “LIBERATION” from what? Over the last 27 years, thinking people must have been wondering what purpose the word “LIBERATION” in TPLF is! If it served as a reminder that, when push comes to shove, TPLF would declare independence of Tigray from Ethiopia, one wonders what purpose such a strategy of self-imprisonment will serve – being surrounded by hostile neighbors, and why should Tigrean Ethiopians want to be part of such madness? Every other “LIBERATION FRONT” must re-think their philosophy and change their names and priorities accordingly! For sure, Ethiopians, like every other nationality on the face of this planet, have many things to “LIBERATE” themselves from – diseases; hunger; poverty; lack of education; discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, religion, etc.
- The previous regime, led by TPLF, had a definite strategy of creating and enforcing the ethnic-based federalism. Being a minority in numbers, the TPLF’s best bet to survive was by dividing other ethnic groups against each other. Now that they are out of power, we are seeing the result of 27 years of dividing people against each other. Going forward, Ethiopians, while cherishing their tribal identities, must eliminate ethnic LABELS from anything that may have political, geographical, national security……etc. implication!
- Horn of Africa:“Ethiopians and the international community must seriously look at the state of the Horn of Africa and find solutions to stabilize Ethiopia! While there is hope that Ethiopia is at the dawn of new opportunities for peaceful transition to democracy, the power brokers in Ethiopia may see this as a threat to their survival and scuttle any hope peaceful transition. If Ethiopia descends into chaos, the world may see what is happening in Arabian Peninsula transplanted into the Horn of Africa!”
With Best Regards,