By Andualem Sisay Gessesse – When Abiy Ahmed (PhD) sworn in as the Prime Minister of Ethiopia a year ago, the country was almost at the verge of collapse. Most of the people were lost their hope following the anti-government demonstrations and the brutal responses of the regime under the state of emergencies.
Not long after taking office, the 42 years old reformist leader from Oromo ethnic group secured the full support of most Ethiopians both at home and in the diaspora. He swiftly cracked the most corrupt and the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) dominated Ruling coalition by preaching unity forgiveness. He also fired heads of the military, police and intelligence as part of his reform.
While a few of these corrupt former officials were captured the majority escaped arrest warrant and locked themselves in Tigray, the region they went to bushes vowing to liberate from Ethiopia some four decades ago.
Meanwhile after few months of Abiy coming to power, these corrupt former officials from Tigre ethnic group who hide in Mekele and their puppets who were on power in different regions of Ethiopia advancing ethnic politics over the past 27 years, launch highly orchestrated sabotage to undo the reform of PM Abiy.
The major turmoil PM Abiy faced was in Somali region from where millions were displaced by the gangs of the former president of the region Abdi Illey, who is now in jail. After his gangs killed many people from other ethnic groups in towns such as, Jigjiga, they burned churches and damaged properties of thousands of people.
The federal government led by Prime Minister Abiys has smartly managed to contain the crisis in Somali region, making futile the plan of Abdi Illey to declare separation of the region from the rest of Ethiopia, using the controversial Ethiopian constitution that allows regions to easily declare independence.
This was one the many successes of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who also managed to patiently avoid similar crises in other peripheral regions of Ethiopia namely Benishangul Gumz, Afar and Gambella.
During the 365 days of his leadership PM Aby has also achieved several successes ranging from restoring peace with the neighboring Eritrea, to stabilizing the economy and liberalizing telecom, power, aviation as well as launching study to liberalize the financial sector, among others.
Meanwhile those corrupt former politicians, who escaped justice and their business affiliates from all ethnic groups as well as, the extreme ethnic politics promoters have continued spreading hate speeches, often financing ethnic clashes and displacements of millions.
In my view, the major threat to the reforms of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the danger to the unity and stability of Ethiopia is not only limited to the TPLF hardliners hidden in Mekele and continued making money though their businesses across the nation.
Now the major threat to PM Abiy in fact comes from his party and other Oromo parties and activists pro one ethnic group activists, who have the capacity to flood the streets of Addis Ababa by millions of protesters any day any time.
These includes those who are subscribed to the divide and rule political narratives of the late PM Meles Zenawi, who tirelessly worked hard making many people of Oromo to believe that the Amhara people have committed crimes against their ancestors, especially during the Emperor Menelik II era.
The fact this poisonous narrative is within the bloods of many of the members of Abiy Ahmed’s and Lemma Megerssa’s Oromo Democratic Party (ODP), it has now reached a tipping point getting closer to the capital Addis Ababa.
Violation of international laws
One of the recent testimony for this is the demolition of thousands of houses in the towns surrounding Addis Ababa such as, Legetaffo, Sululta and Burayu of Oromia region.
The leadership of these towns claimed that they are exercising rule of law and the settlers where illegally settled. Meanwhile, excavating thousands of houses by bulldozers without taking proper court procedures and denying citizens their right to fair trial, shows complete dictatorship and grave violations of citizens’ rights to housing.
I don’t know what the reformists think about it, but in my opinion the duty of the government is not to displace thousands of people demolishing houses. Rather the responsibility of any government is to make sure that citizens have access to basic and proper housing, as per the international laws Ethiopia is subscribed to.
Another evidence that made many Ethiopians to be suspicious about the motives of the leaders of the reform in the past few months is the recent statement issued by the ODP. In its statement ODP opposed the delivery of government subsidized condominium houses in Addis Ababa by the city administration to the people who saved money for over a decade.
First class citizenship aspiration
In my opinion the statement shows that ODP leadership has either fallen under the influence of ‘Oromo first and Finfine kegna (Finfine or Addis Ababa is ours)’ political elites camp. Or the reformists are not walking the talk deliberately because they may have the same motive of favoring one ethnic group and their supporters from other groups like the TPLF did for 27 years, though the later robbed the nation systematically abandoning the poor people of Tigray in extreme poverty.
What is in the mind of such group of people is clear. They believe that just because Ethiopia’s leader is from Oromo tribe, they believe that they are first class or special citizens. Somehow it is understandable if people feel that way, because it used to be like that in Ethiopia as far as I know.
I suggest the reformists need to fight back such attitudes, which is often followed by action like killings in Burayu at the outskirt of Addis Ababa and the recent displacements of thousands in Guji area of Oromia region.
The fact that the ODP issued that statement on the condos following the protest led by one of the Oromo hardliners and activists Jawar Mohammed, has made the people of Addis Ababa to be suspicious about the hidden marriage between Abiy’s ODP and Oromo first and Finfine kegna.
In my view whatever dispute Oromia Region and Addis Ababa City Administration have, the two leadership should have been handling their administrative issues in closed doors. ODP shouldn’t be issuing that statement confusing Ethiopians living in Addis Ababa, who saved their hard-earned money to get those houses.
The fact that such incident has been followed by another controversial and rather toxic statement from the famous Oromo opposition party leader. Bekele Gerba. and the silence of the federal government and ODP about the danger such hate speeches, also signal presence some kind of hidden marriage between the reformists and those who consider the people in Addis Ababa as aliens.
Mr. Bekele told the Oromo people not marry other people…No one has guarantee what comes of the mouth of such a person. What if he tells Oromo youth tomorrow morning to do something evil against their neighbors from other ethnic groups? Is it not what happened in Rwanda?
I think this hidden marriage between the two has come to light when PM Abiy opposed the movement of Balderas, a civil society led by Eskinder Nega, journalists and human rights activists recently released.
For the people of Addis Ababa and anyone who believes in equality and justice, I think it is appropriate to question, why the reformist PM Abiy warn the Balderas indicating that he considers the movement of Balderas as war against his regime?
As leader of ODP, which claims to deserve special benefit over Addis Ababa, of course one shouldn’t be surprised if PM Abiy opposes the Balderas. Because the Balderas clearly indicated that it is going to lobby Ethiopians not to vote for any party that claims to deserve special benefit over the city of Addis Ababa.
And why does the government forbid the Balderas to hold press conference a few days ago? Are we going back to square one, which is if you are not with me then you are against me era?
Walking the talk
This is another testimony that shows the reformists are not walking the talk because PM Abiy has time and again was saying that Addis Ababa, the political capital of Africa, belongs to everybody, but not to Oromia only.
In my conclusion, during the first 365 days the reformists have achieved tremendous success and obtained trust support of the people of Ethiopia including those in the diaspora and the international community.
Meanwhile, their actions over the last few months has confused many Ethiopians who supported them including me. This is because they have acted against what they talk. Simply they didn’t walk the talk during the last few months. So my advice is fix it quickly.
If the reformists are genuinely working for the unity of the country as they talk, then then they have to prove your divorce from this crazy idea of “Oromo first and Finfine kegna“or officiate your marriage!
It doesn’t matter which one you choose, knowing exactly where you stand is a relief for Ethiopians and the country because the people then make informed decision, which saves this co
By the way, I really appreciated the fact that the President of Oromia Region Lemma Megersa, who is the mastermind of the reform, has come out last week to clarify the controversial issues of which I mentioned above. Most of all I like what he said about his right to make mistakes as human being and the need not to multiply his team’s achievements by zero.
Last night’s PM Abiy speech with his boldness asking forgiveness to the people of Ethiopia who may be disappointed by his decisions, was also amazing.
I believe you will finish the reform without fearing or favoring one group. Now let’s get back to work and walk the talk, as Dr. Merera Gudina, leader of Oromo opposition party often says.