Ethiopia’s next battle, the saboteurs within

Ethiopia’s next battle, the saboteurs within

NBE Blog

OPINION – By Aregu Balleh – Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), which as been working against the people of Ethiopia including the people in Tigray region for about half a century, has lost the battle it waged against the central government after being annihilated by the national defense force. However, on the other side, it does not feel a complete victory yet, not because of a lingering fear that the rogue junta may one day resurrect itself and come back to the political stage. However, although TPLF may have died as a political entity, its evil legacies are far from over.

That makes Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s task of bringing an ethnically divided country together even more challenging. The challenge for Abiy’s administration comes not from the opposing political parties but from within his Prosperity Party. Over its near three decades-long reign TPLF erased, distorted, or re-wrote history books and established fictitious narratives about inter-ethnic relations in a way that would serve its divide- and-rule policy.

People were made to believe that inter-ethnic relationships were rather acrimonious, and that one was a threat to the other. Hostility among the various ethnic groups was nurtured intentionally. Even worse tribalism and division, not national unity was promoted in the constitution. As a result, innocent citizens are still being killed in many parts of the country because of their ethnic identity.

Many younger members of Abiy’s Prosperity party are the product of the largely fictitious aggressor-victim narratives, and they still buy TPLF’s ideology that ethnic federalism is the only option for the country while many others consider it as a recipe for disintegration. It is evident that most of the push backs on calls for the amendment of the constitution and changes in the current federal system are coming from members of the ruling party.

Tribalism is an old and still existing global problem. What makes the situation in Ethiopia unique is the fact that it was nurtured and promoted by a government system during the TPLF era. Ethno-federalism was designed to extend TPLF’s minority rule by way of perpetuating mistrust and hostility among the diverse ethnic groups. That worked particularly well in weakening oppositions from majority ethnic groups as they were busy mistrusting one another.

With the demise of the TPLF, there is enough reason to be optimistic about the future of the country, be it in the political or economic front. However, it will only be self-deceiving to think that the country’s political problems will be wiped out with TPLF overnight. Although it may seem an uphill battle the work ahead for the government will need to focus on addressing ethnic conflicts and tensions. That includes measures such as amending the constitution and neutralizing the toxicity of ethnic politics by correcting the distorted narratives about the relationships among the diverse ethnic groups.