There are sometimes ironies in life. Today that comes from Addis Ababa and Ethiopia. Where Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali was supposed to reform things. However, with time that isn’t sincere and today the nail in coffin of that was with a disingenuous law. Laws like these aren’t to save the nations from certain speech, but to muffle critics and opposition.
The Prosperity Party and the Prime Minister are really showing that there is no difference in them compared to the previous regimes, which it came from. This is happening in the months ahead of elections. So, expect the leadership of opposition and journalists to be arrested because of this law. As there are easy steps to be hit by this sort of law. Because of this, I am first dropping the key news about the law, before a simple explanation of the “Medemer” and after that breaking it quickly down.
The State own report on it:
“Addis Ababa, February 13, 2020 (FBC) –Ethiopian parliament today approved a hate speech and disinformation prevention and suppression law. The law was approved with a majority vote, 23 against and 2 abstentions” (…) “It is also intended to control and suppress the dissemination and proliferation of hate speech, disinformation and other related false and misleading information. The law prohibits disseminating hate speech by means of broadcasting, print or social media using text, image, audio or video” (Fana Broadcasting Company – ‘House approves hate speech and disinformation prevention law’ 13.02.2020).
What is Medemer:
“Since reformist Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed came into office, his concept ‘Medemer’ has become a phrase of common currency within Ethiopia’s political landscape. ‘Medemer’ literally means ‘adding’ or ‘being added’ based on how its read, and contextually means to come together. According to the Prime Minister, ‘Medemer’ is a homegrown approach that aims to solve the country’s challenges by bringing together polar views, and finding compromise” (Ethiopian Press Agency – ‘Inside ‘Medemer’’ 13.01.2020).
This law is clearly aimed at the ones not speaking their language or their rhetoric, as they can charge and make their expression illegal. As they will control the media, the public online and elsewhere. That is why this is totally opposite of the ideals of ‘Medemer’, as that was to bring together polar views and find compromises.
Now, the state is instead made way to stifle the voices, instead of listening they can ban and make voices illegal. Even if there are ethnic hate-speech, if there is tribal sentiment growing. This law will be most likely hit the dissidents and opposition.
This is the opposite of finding compromise and it’s actually silencing them. If this would target Mohammad Jawar’s Oromo Media Network or Eskinder Nega for that matter. I wouldn’t shocked, if they got into trouble for something they wrote or stated online. Neither, if some media forums like Tigrai Online or Aiga Forum for that matter. Don’t be shocked, if these would be banned or seen as illegal by the authorities ahead of the elections. Because, they just need to write or state something online, which is deemed as disinformation, hate-speech and you got it cracking.
This wasn’t a move of reform, but of going back. They might renamed themselves the Prosperity Party, but this is the old-EPRDF oppressive style of move. Peace.
The picture isn’t as rosy or hopeful as when he took power. Prime Minister Abiy Ali Ahmed has spoiled his opportunity to make significant changes. Instead he has focused on consolidating power. Ensuring his men is in-charge in Amhara. Continuing to use force and Command Post in Oromia. Still persistent violence in the Ogaden. While, he still has flex and popularity abroad. Which is only there because of the PR and positive press surrounding him.
PM Abiy have reformed the Ethiopian People’s Defence Front (EPRDF), first making it Oromia based and taking away power from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). To now start it as one entity, the Prosperity Party (PP) without the TPLF. The other parties has joined into the one party, but it shows frictions. Not only has the Oromo Liberation Front and other Oromo parties gone into an alliance. Even in Oromia, Mohammad Jawar is ahead and has a grand standing.
That means, both Oromia and Tigray are areas where the Prime Minister standing is weak. As he can only survive there on fear and intimidation. He can only get traction, if he suppress the voters and silence the voices of these regions. While Amhara whose been in conflict too, will cause issues as well. It is like the lid is open to several of places, instead of the man of peace mending these. He amplifying them to gain an advantage. Just like his using the violence of Ogaden to export oil too.
The PM has had the opportunity, but he has squandered the momentum. The killings in Addis Ababa, the horrific affairs in Oromia and Ogaden is a sign of what to come. There is no ending and the Command Post and the Liyu Police are both controlling the regions with fierce force. While the Queerro of Jawar is answering these. All of this doesn’t cease the conflict, but enhancing it. Its like he wants this to ensure enough chaos to rule supreme.
The PM could have found other ways ahead of the elections, but he seems to want it like this. That he wants to usher in new public projects every week ahead of elections. Now deals in the sphere of the horn of Africa. Look good with Somalia, Djibouti and Eritrea. While that will overlook the internal problems, which the PM is not solving. His only undermining it and not doing the bidding of the local leaders. The ones whose supposed to follow his medemer.
It seems his making things liberal in the sense of pleasing donors, instead of truly believing in it himself. Doing it to state enterprises to ensure donor support. Some might even call it all a “hijacked revolution”. But at this point, we cannot know.
What we do know is that the elections in August 2020 will either be free and fair or rigged to the smallest detail. Don’t expect PM Abiy to play totally fair, even if he opens up to plenty parties, but that will be for the facade, because he will not loose himself. Then he will loose the power his gained and consolidated in office.
Two years is a mighty long time in office. A lot has happen, a lot of promise and pledges, but not acted upon. The coming months will show, if it was all a play or if it can be a reality. If the PP and Abiy cares about the people or using them as pawns. We can just await, but don’t expect magic, but expect a hard reality. As the forces are still in the fields. The atrocities are still happening and the escalation of it. Is only a few small steps away and that can ordered directly from the PM.
It’s easy to speak of unity and peace, but it’s harder to actually make it happen. When the PM himself hasn’t acted upon those words, but instead amplified it in certain regions. The Ethno-politics are not over, but at a stage where the PM and his folk better be cautious and not reckless.
However, who knows what path he picks, but don’t expect it all to be fair. Instead, expect it to be fanfare and filled with empty promises. As it is not like he has delivered to the hope he spread in the beginning of his term. Peace.
That Prime Minister Dr. Ali Ahmed Abiy are currently loosing a bit of prestige at home and its very visible. His able to get through positive bills, like the recent bill on assembly and such lately. However, that doesn’t overshadow two important things for alliances and to get a bigger picture ahead of upcoming elections in 2020.
He has lost one important party, which was seen as the steering-wheel and the ones behind scenes controlling the old coalition of Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Defence Front (EPRDF), which is now created into one party, the Prosperity Party. The other parties in the old coalition has made itself into one, but the ones now joining is the Tigrai People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) that has deemed the new party even “illegal”.
If the Prime Minister see this as a minor flinch, he should be wrong. That they are still viable and able to create trouble for him. No one should underestimate the TPLF and what they can do. Even as all the lights and stars are directed at Abiy. His still not walking alone in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE).
What makes him even more alone is from his own region, where there is still reports of killings and oppression from the state. As the endless violence persist. Something, that the former Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) could have reacted to and hasn’t acted upon. That’s why you know he has more trouble ahead. As his nemesis in Oromia, Mohammed Jawar have not only plans to join the race in the elections, but also joined the Oromo Federal Congress (OFC). Just merely a weeks after he did that. His been able to get Oromo Federal Congress, Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Oromo Nationalist Party (ONP) to all be one alliance into the upcoming election.
Therefore, there is not only issues with the Tigray and the TPLF, whose not being a part of the new party. Which is a warning signal in itself. But that Jawar is able to become such a figure in Oromia. Says that Abiy doesn’t have the love in his own region, where OPDO was supposed to reside and represent in government.
I’m not defending the TPLF, no their vindictive and vicious history will be reflected in due time. But however with an upcoming election. Abiy needs as many friends as possible, if he wants to reflect positive on him. Unless, he plans to rig it like there is no tomorrow. Than, all of these movements doesn’t matter anyway. Because he will win and the Prosperity Party will be signed off as the victor. A giant launch of the One-Party State, while the others are allowed only to be mediocre parties locally, who has no say in Parliament or in the Federal system.
We should worry that TPLF and Jawar is doing what he does. Because, the undermine the central government. They are making the PP looking foolish. This is not dialogue and not the talks, this is not the acts of strength, but acts of the weak.
Debretsion Gebremichael might have the ability to sound prestigious with his party. The Press Release was a big-man statement from the Party too. However, that doesn’t change the narrative. Other than they are leaving the EPRDF legacy behind. They are the only boat steaming ahead with non of the former parties. They are becoming an opposition party, instead of being a governing party.
The PP is weaker by this. They have lost one big piece of the EPRDF. One that was historically vital to it all. The Woyane will be missed by some and cursed by others. For all the right reasons. Nevertheless, the loser here right now is Abiy. He needs his buddies. While he gets less and less. Even fewer in Oromia too. Where he get more and more united opposition there. That is what is visible and obvious.
Whatever, Abiy is doing, the state apparatus, the yes-men around him isn’t helping. His not solving or revolving the doors correctly. He is losing, one after another one. There cannot be more sudden rash coup d’etat in the regions. This election has to look real. If he wants to still look like a shining star. However, that star is dimming and its does so slowly. Peace.
There are too many issues, to much outstanding barriers to give way and easily praise the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali of Ethiopia. I cannot with an easy heart give way, even as the fanfare and celebration of becoming a Nobel Laurate. That doesn’t overshadow the hardships, neither the wrongs of the state.
There have already been questionable behaviour of the state in Oromia since his inception as the Prime Minister. The sudden coup in Amhara and the killings there. Combined with the killings and violence in the Ogaden Region. Plus the Ethiopian Army involvement in internal affairs in Somalia.
While the deal and peace-agreement with Eritrea isn’t resolved and the issues remaining are vital to fix it. The deal of open border and questions over land still needs to be worked at.
The other issue is the up-coming election, either as it will be a rubberstamping affair or because more tension, as the former party-block of the EPRDF has become the Prosperity Party. That means they will go in as one unit, instead of one the majority of ethnic groups. Which is a honourable approach, but also a way to mask a One-Party if they tune the whole election to their benefit. Instead of letting all the other registered parties and candidates interested involved in the polls.
That is why for me its to quick. There are too many issues to just give away an award on the goodwill and possible changes he can make. Not that he has significantly changed it all. The Police and Army is still violent. The ethnic violence are still appearing and the allies of the PM is dwindling away. Therefore, it is not like he has forever the mantle and love from the public.
The PM might think he got it and he has the stamina to keep up. Nevertheless, at this point, the reforms are maybe only skin-deep. As he couldn’t muster the courage to be questioned in Oslo. He was silent and just took the award, but wasn’t transparent about it. He only wants the praise, but not the questions about his reign.
That isn’t a sign of strength. That isn’t a sign of hope, but of fear and determination to rule. Because, if he was a man of peace, he wouldn’t only spread the word, but his actions would be there too. He would have the balls and the ability to finesse the ones who are spreading the violence within his ranks and within the security outfits that does it. That is why there are so many internally displaced. So, many who has lost their livelihoods and who has family members scorned by violence.
The PM can act and have the swagger, but that does not mean it is real. That the PM got international recognition doesn’t change the questionable activity at home in Oromia, Ogaden or in Amhara. It just amplifying it. Since people feel boggled and wonder why?
So, I cannot salute this man. Not yet, especially when his not brazen or even have the gratitude of questions from the media. That should be easy picking, as so many are automatic bootlickers to the Nobel Peace Prize. However, the realities remain, the unresolved acts and the questionable activity of the Ethiopian forces within Somalia and Ogaden shouldn’t be forgotten. Neither should the questionable behaviour of the state in concern to Amhara either.
That he has made changes, yes he has, but not all has panned out and certainly Ethiopia isn’t in total peace. Neither is the border dispute with Eritrea. That is why, the PP and Abiy has more work to do. That is, if they only play for PR or the façade, but not actually achieve anything substantial in the end. Peace.
GENEVA / ADDIS ABABA (9 December 2019) – In a sharp break from a quarter century of repression, Ethiopia has embarked on a reform process that is both encouraging and fragile, and deserves international support, a UN human rights expert has found after visiting the country.
“Less than two years ago, Ethiopia’s human rights record was atrocious, repressing civil society, crushing independent media, and jailing journalists and activists,” said David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, in a preliminary statement at the end of his week-long mission. Kaye was the first mandate holder of the Human Rights Council’s Special Procedures system to visit Ethiopia since 2006.
Only 18 months ago Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed – who will receive the Nobel Peace Prize on 10 December – initiated change by ending the state of emergency, freeing journalists and human rights defenders, opening up civil society and launching a reform process, Kaye said.
“Ethiopia has made remarkable progress towards freedom of expression,” said the expert. “However, this is only the start of a process that will take years of legal and policy commitment, and persistent dedication to public participation and human rights oversight.”
Kaye noted widespread concern that hate speech, in the broadcast, print and social media, posed a threat to the stability of the reform process. In October, 86 people were reportedly killed in unrest that many attribute, in part, to an environment of hate speech and disinformation, including on social media.
“Into this mix of reform and unrest the Government has introduced an ill-advised draft law on hate speech and disinformation that could well undermine the long-term reform process,” said the Special Rapporteur. “I am concerned that the draft ‘Hate Speech and Disinformation Proclamation’, if adopted as constructed, would threaten freedom of expression in the country and reinforce rather than ease ethnic and political tensions.”
The Special Rapporteur welcomed efforts to counter hate speech and address disinformation, and provided the Government with suggestions for how to approach the topics in a manner consistent with human rights law.
Kaye also expressed concern about the Government’s continuing use of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, which he urged the Government to repeal as swiftly as possible. He also condemned the fact that the Government, without clear authority, had shut down the internet at least eight times this year.
In May 2020, Ethiopia will conduct a major national election. “In sight of the coming election, I urge the Government to renew its efforts to promote and protect freedom of expression, take strong measures to combat any forms of harassment, attacks or violence against journalists, protesters and anyone exercising her right to expression, and strengthen a national dialogue and tolerance across the country,” Kaye concluded.
Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.
This is just me thinking freely, not having the answers as an outsider looking in. It is not like I understand all the players nor the objectives behind the merger. But too me, this seems like a step in a ONE-Party state direction. The idea might to have a party, which isn’t directly bound by region/ethnicity, like all the parties of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) was.
That with the party of Amhara, the party of Oromo, the party of the Southern Ethiopia, and the party for the Tigray. This being the ADP, ODP, TPLF and SEPDM. All of them merged into the Ethiopian Prosperity Party (EPP) seems like a trick to get one unit and centralize power. That is what looks to me. Instead of having other outfits and parties with their own constitution and their policies for their regions. This is to have one party and one organization instead of several.
I have a feeling there will be deflections, as someone will not follow this model and this vision. Everyone will not follow the line. There will be renegades at the Council of Ministers and within the Parliament. Who feel overshadowed and feel left behind. They will feel tricked and exposed for their lack of progressive thinking. Even if this opens up doors, which the EPP doesn’t seem to think off.
The EPP might be a good idea, but the structure, the ability to guide and lead within this paradigm shift. Will cost. The Prime Minister and his closest associates will be tested. Because, they still have to find a solution where all the old parties are embedded in the new big-party. Where they are not a coalition, but one party. They got to give way and give positions to everyone. Therefore, this will not be an easy trade.
Lastly, there are other parties in Ethiopia. There are a 57 opposition parties, but its not like the EPRDF nor the EPP have listen to them. Not like the Parliament is without other parties, but they are dominated by the ruling parties, which it has been for so long. There are the Coalition for Unity and Democracy, also the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces. So, its not like there is other parties in the Parliament, but they got no say. Just like the new election laws whose in favour of the old coalition and the new party.
That’s why my mind goes to the idea of the EPP is in a way of launching a one-party state. Nothing else. I might be wrong, but the other parties doesn’t have the state machinery behind them nor the other helpful ways of appointing people into the judiciary and the electoral body. That’s why I am thinking this is another way of having what I worry about.
I hope I am dead wrong, but to initially make the coalition into a party is a first step. Especially since it has the parliamentary majority and with anticipation that it will have that after the election in 2020. To think otherwise is naive and the plans for that is in the making. Peace.