The Oromo Prosperity Party-led government’s utter incompetence, Oromummaa’s lust to revive the long-expired 16th century hegemonic tribal rule in the 21st century, Abiy’s unending lies, and Shimelis Abdisa’s and Adanech Abebe’s mix of stupidity and arrogance have led to a Fanno Uprising.
The uprising is organic, spontaneous, and widespread, not strategically guided, or centrally coordinated. So far, there is no PR to win the support of wider Ethiopia or the international community. There is no road map to mitigate unforeseen and unforeseeable catastrophe. The danger for a civil war is real and the potential devastation is unimaginable.
Negotiated settlement is the only way. This requires understanding three crucial factors.
FIRST, the Prime Minister cannot be trusted. His track record of bold and often stupid lies and his betrayal of even people most loyal to him and instrumental to his ascension to power make him untrustworthy. His pathetic know-it-all attitude and refusal to learn from his mistakes have led him to squander the near unanimous national and international support he enjoyed in 2018 and 2019.
SECOND, the fast-growing Fanno uprising does not have a leader that can negotiate with the Federal or the Amhara tribal government. Even worse it has neither a national agenda nor a roadmap for a peaceful transition of power. Traditionally, Fanno is an expression of protest, dissatisfaction and call for change. Its traditional scope does not include transition politics. That is what we are seeing now. Political figures who are hovering around Fanno to fill the cap have proven unfit or unprepared. They are a narrow-based clique of Amhara extremists who have proven incapable to embrace the wider political space in the Amhara political landscape. If they cannot or are not prepared to build consensus within the Amhara tribal universe, how in the hell are they going to build national consensus?
THIRD, the status quo as it is and as it is evolving is dangerous and can potentially lead to an irreversible civil war that will make the ENDF and TPLF war look like child’s play. Whether the risk of a civil war is 10% or 90% or somewhere in between cannot be determined with certainty. But given the current polarization along tribal lines, even a 10% chance of civil war must be avoided by any means necessary. Ethiopia cannot go through another round of devastation without breaking apart. The hope that some people express that everything will work out in the end is beyond risky. It is reckless. It is dangerous.
The following are possible soft landings for a peaceful settlement or transition. The aim is twofold: Put a break on Oromo-PP’s and the Prime Minister’s self-destructive governance and mitigate the risk of a breakout of civil war. Neither the government nor the Fanno movement may get all it wants. But that is the essence of a negotiated settlement.
I believe as most people do, the Prime Minister is not worthy of the office he holds. I also believe we are where we are because of his arrogance, never-ending lies and lack of integrity and human decency, not to mention his psychopathic traits that have made him devoid of human sympathy. However, all said, I do not think Ethiopia should risk disintegration in the quest to remove him from office. That process needs to be judicious, well organized and planned. Short of that the focus should be using the constitutional means for change.
Here are some preconditions for a soft-landing.
- Immediate withdrawal of all National Federal Forces from the Amhara tribal land.
- Immediate suspension of the disarmament program in the Amhara tribal land.
- Immediate suspension of hostilities between Fanno and the Amhara-PP government.
- Immediate action to organize national and international humanitarian support to forcefully displaced Amhara people.
- Release all Amhara political prisoners in the Amhara tribal land and across Ethiopia.
- Immediate suspension of media crackdown and harassment of opposition leaders.
- International investigation of mass killings and mass evictions of the people of Amhara. The investigation must be unfettered and time bound – no more than six months.
- Full accountability based on the findings of independent international investigation and full redress for those unjustly victimized.
- Vote of confidence for the Amhara Prosperity Party-led government in the Amhara tribal land within three months. The aim is either to establish confidence in the Amhara leadership or recall them followed by new elections if the recall through a constitutional means leads to removal from office of Amhara-PP leaders. This may be done in other tribal lands as well if there is demand for it by the people of respective regions.
- Vote of confidence for the Oromo-PP led government in the Ethiopian Parliament. This must be held after a vote of confidence in the Amhara tribal land and other tribal lands if the people in the other tribal lands so choose. This opens the door to replace the Prime Minister if the majority of the Parliamentarians so choose.
- No disarmament program until the next election that will be fully monitored by international agencies.
- No hegemonic Oromummaa.
If these conditions are met, they can lead to a democratic election in two years. That can result in a democratic constitutional formation process. The only demand the opposition must have is a democratic constitutional formation, including drafting, ratification, and implementation. Whether that may lead to reaffirmation of the current system, some reform or a total overhaul should be left to the people.
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