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The need for institutional development over-reliance on individual figures

Mengistu Musie (Dr)/ from Dallas, TX

Ethiopia’s journey towards democracy and stability has been fraught with challenges, marked by a recurring pattern of charismatic leaders who initially inspire hope but eventually disappoint. This pattern, evident since the YEKATIT revolution 1974, underscores the imperative of prioritizing institutional development over-reliance on individual figures. The transition from the TPLF/EPRDF regime to the populist leadership of Abiy Ahmed epitomizes this dynamic, where initial promises and charisma gave way to authoritarian tendencies, revealing the inherent risks of placing excessive faith in individual leaders.

The trajectory of Abiy Ahmed’s leadership serves as a cautionary tale. His rise to power was accompanied by a wave of optimism, with promises of reform and a new era of governance. However, as his tenure unfolded, concerns about authoritarianism and repression emerged, highlighting the dangers of unchecked executive power. This disillusionment underscores the importance of cultivating robust institutions that can serve as safeguards against the arbitrary exercise of authority.

In Ethiopia’s context, the need for institutional development is further compounded by the complexities of its ethnic-based political system. Overcoming entrenched divisions and fostering national unity requires reforms that transcend narrow ethnic interests and promote inclusive governance. Building institutions that reflect Ethiopian society’s diversity and uphold accountability and transparency principles is essential for creating a resilient democracy.

The lessons of history loom large in this context. From the brutal regime of Mengistu Hailemariam to the dashed hopes of Abiy Ahmed’s leadership, Ethiopia has experienced the consequences of placing undue trust in individual leaders. The atrocities committed under Mengistu’s rule serve as a stark reminder of the dangers of unchecked power. At the same time, the disillusionment with Abiy Ahmed underscores the fragility of relying solely on charismatic figures.

To break this cycle of disillusionment and betrayal, Ethiopians must commit to the long-term task of institution-building. This entails creating checks and balances that limit the concentration of power in the hands of any single individual or group and promoting a culture of civic engagement and participation. By investing in institutions that outlast transient leadership, Ethiopia can lay the groundwork for a more stable and inclusive democracy.

Moreover, prioritizing institutional development can help address underlying socio-economic disparities and promote equitable development. Strong institutions are essential for ensuring all citizens have access to opportunities and resources, regardless of their background or identity. By fostering a sense of trust and confidence in the political system, institutions can help bridge divides and forge a common national identity based on shared values and aspirations.

In this endeavor, the role of civil society and the media is paramount. An independent and vibrant civil society can serve as a watchdog, holding those in power accountable and advocating for the interests of marginalized groups. Similarly, free and pluralistic media can help counteract misinformation and propaganda, enabling informed public debate and decision-making.

In conclusion, Ethiopia’s quest for democratic stability hinges on prioritizing institutional development over the cult of personality. By building strong and inclusive institutions that uphold democratic principles and promote national unity, Ethiopians can chart a path toward a future where the promise of democracy is not contingent on the actions of individual leaders but firmly rooted in the strength of its institutions.

Strengthening Fano: Beyond Individual Leaders

In the ongoing struggle to defend the Amara people against existing threats, the support outlined earlier is crucial and pivotal for Fano’s resilience. However, it’s imperative to understand Fano not just as a transient force but as an enduring institution that must evolve to remain a formidable defense force in the future. At this critical juncture, all stakeholders must recognize that while individual leaders may emerge, they are not the sole source of power for the Amara people. Advocating for and relying solely on individual leaders undermines the ongoing struggle and inhibits the development of Fano as an institution beyond its tenure.

Fano’s Role and Challenges:

Fano is an essential defense force for the Amara people, dealing with various threats and safeguarding its interests. Fano faces multiple challenges, from external aggression to internal cohesion and sustainability. To effectively navigate these challenges, it is essential to strengthen Fano’s institutional capacity and resilience.

Understanding Fano as an Institution:

Fano should be perceived as a collection of individuals and an organized institution with defined structures, objectives, and principles. By recognizing Fano’s institutional identity, stakeholders can better appreciate the importance of long-term sustainability and development beyond the influence of individual leaders.

Supporting Institutional Development:

Efforts to support Fano must extend beyond bolstering the leadership of charismatic individuals to encompass broader institutional development. This includes:

  1. Structural Reinforcement: Strengthening Fano’s organizational structure, governance mechanisms, and operational capacity to enhance its effectiveness and resilience over time.
  2. Capacity Building: Investing in training, education, and skill development programs to empower Fano members with the necessary knowledge, expertise, and capabilities to fulfill their roles effectively.
  3. Strategic Planning: Engaging in strategic planning processes to define clear goals, priorities, and strategies for Fano’s long-term development and sustainability.
  4. It promotes accountability, transparency, and good governance practices within Fano to foster trust, integrity, and public confidence in its operations.
  5. Community Engagement: Actively involving the Amara people in decision-making processes, fostering a sense of ownership, solidarity, and support for Fano’s mission and objectives.

Moving Beyond Individual Leaders:

While individual leaders may play significant roles within Fano, it is essential to avoid over-reliance on their leadership and instead focus on strengthening the institution. Emphasizing all members’ collective efforts and contributions ensures continuity, stability, and resilience in the face of leadership transitions or challenges.

Advocating for Institutional Values:

Promoting the values of accountability, inclusivity, and collective responsibility within Fano reinforces its institutional identity and fosters a culture of collaboration, innovation, and adaptability. By championing these values, stakeholders can nurture a solid and sustainable institution that transcends the influence of individual leaders.


In the struggle to defend the Amara people, Fano represents not just a force of individuals but an enduring institution with the potential for long-term impact and sustainability. By supporting Fano’s institutional development and advocating for values that transcend individual leadership, stakeholders can ensure its resilience and effectiveness in safeguarding the interests of the Amara people for generations to come.

Despite the challenges of the path toward democratic transition, it also offers opportunities for positive change and transformation. Fano must navigate complex political dynamics, manage competing interests, and address deep-rooted societal divisions to effectively advance its objectives.

Fano must prepare for the broader task of uniting Ethiopia and advancing democratic transition while still defending the Amara people on its journey. By embracing the principles of inclusivity, cooperation, and democratic governance, Fano can help ensure that all Ethiopians receive equality, justice, and prosperity in the future. By working strategically, collaborating, and firmly committed to democratic values, Fano can help build a brighter and more democratic future for Ethiopia.





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