“A Nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but it’s lowest ones”– Nelson Mandela
On the 15th February 2018 on National Television, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned as Chairman of Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Defence Force (EPRDF) and also Prime Minister. This happen as sudden swift action, caught many by surprise. Since then the state has re-issued new restrictions and a new State of Emergency, where the state oppress the regions of Oromia and Amhara especially.
Therefore, now after 40 days and long meetings for the Council of Ministers, they have no been able to pick a candidate, the one who become the official chairman of the EPRDF to day is the leader of Oromo People Democratic Organization (OPDO) Dr. Abiy Ahmed. He was elected the chairman of the party, just this 23rd February 2018. So, the rise has gone quickly and seemingly smooth for the 41 year old politician.
Addis Standard reports: “Update: Dr. Abiy Ahmed secured 108 of the 180 and came out the clear winner. The current Deputy PM Demeke Mekonnen, chairman of the ANDM, will remain in his position as deputy Prime Minister” (Addis Standard, 27.03.2018). So we can expect that he stays as deputy in the time coming. So the coalition still has different parties between the various post.
Fana BC Reports: “Addis Ababa, March 27, 2018 (FBC) – The Council of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) today elected Dr Abiy Ahmed as Chairperson of the Front. Demeke Mekonnen was elected Deputy Chairperson of EPRDF. The Council concluded the meeting it has been conducting since March 20, 2018” (Fana Broadcasting Company – ‘Dr Abiy Ahmed elected Chairperson of EPRDF’, 27.03.2018). What they are saying they needed 7 days or a week to vote for the future Chairman and also Prime Minister. They also waited 33 days before starting to have the Council of Ministers to decide the matter. Therefore, you cannot say the EPDRF isn’t careful and thorough on the matter.
This is not a clean slate, but for some a fig of hope, though I am skeptic, since the EPRDF has been a Woyane and a Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) infused government, where their needs has come first. That is why the oppression, the arrests and the killings has happen on their fields and town. With the sieges and the skirmishes to stop people from protesting the state. Therefore, OPDO chairman and now chairman of EPRDF needs time, but also hope. Because, it is a tricky road ahead. As the Command Post and the army are going-in on the population. Not creating peace, but havoc.
Jawar Mohammed put its very nicely: “Congratulation Dr Abiy Ahmed. You have ascended to the helm of power at the most critical time in the country’s history. To save country from the current dangerous crisis immediate task ahead;
1) Start dialogue with opposition to pave roadmap towards democratic transition immediately
2) Lift the illegal state of emergency
3) Release all political prisoners
4) Reform the security sector to reflect diversity of the country
I wish you Good Luck!” (Jawar Mohammed, 27.03.2018).
This here, what Jawar is writing and wishing for the chairman to focus on reconciliation and not further oppression against the civilians. That is what the state is doing right now, with the detaining of writers, journalists, bloggers, activists and politicians. All political prisoners, as well as the wounded and the killings. That has been all done in the favors of the TPLF. The other parties have idly looked by and let it happen.
So thinks this might settle the score with the oppression and stops the protest. Because the EPRDF have picked a Oromo to be the Chairman. It is nice gesture and token of respect, but the means on the ground, the violations and the hurt is still there. The lack of tolerance and the lack of building bridges is the reason for the outcome these days. That the TPLF is eating and taken advantage, while the other groups are left to play second fiddle.
There has to substantial changes to stop the protests in the regions. The EPRDF has to show signs, like they did in the days ahead of the resignation of the previous Prime Minister. Now, there is nothing, except for his ethnic background. But that will not matter if Oromia are burning and people are fleeing the army, like they have done during the recent 40 days.
There is need for progress and change, swift change, since the government are stifling own citizens and their own voices. This was an internal change and we could see how the new chairman of the EPRDF has gone up the ranks, first in his first party after the resignation and now he has been voted in the coalition too. Dr. Abiy Ahmed, has a long road to walk. This will not be easy, he has many pieces to play and uncertain how he will handle it.
He could be a puppet to the TPLF like his predecessor or his own man. Time will tell, but the protest will not unsubscribe because of his ethnic background, they will stop when the state acts right. Not like now, when it acts wrong.
The trust between the Woyane and where the provinces where the protests are is lacking, but is because of the years of oppression and violence. The TPLF has to understand that, they cannot get away with it and the Oromo will continue to block trade-routes, block oil-transports from Djibouti and so on. To hurt the Central Government, therefore, the new leader need to have dialogue and not send guns to the provinces. There is a need for change of methods and change of ways to handle this. So that all parts can feel involved and take parts of the decisions. Not just one group on top.
Therefore, I fear that Dr. Abiy Ahmed might just be a new puppet. But I hope I am wrong. Peace.