By Feleke Alemu
It was with great shock and disbelief that I watched Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed threatening our people during the conference that was held at his office a few days ago. Compare the Abiy who talked about democracy, justice, equality and Ethiopianwinet at his inaugural speech and the man who we watched at the Conference. Compare the Abiy who preached love, peace, forgiveness and reconciliation a year ago and the man who we watched at the Conference. The vehemence of his expression of intent to “go to an open war” against those who attempt to organize in civic groups such as those led by Eskinder Nega, the Council of Trustees “Ye Bale Adera Mikir Bet” is very troubling!
In his remarks, Dr. Abiy claimed several outrageous things that must be confronted and nipped in the bud. He blamed those who advocate a citizen based politics in favor of those who drive ethnic politics and at times come out with machetes and sticks.
It is amazing to hear Dr. Abiy blaming those in the conference and others in the opposition for not organizing a panel discussion in Tigray to find out why “they isolated themselves” whereas in fact the TPLF mafia criminals have been taking our Tigray fellow Ethiopians hostage and sieging the region so they are not held to account for the crimes they committed against the people of Ethiopia for nearly three decades.
The other appalling comment he made was regarding journalists where he said they haste to be imprisoned to become heroes instead of complimenting his government for the absence of imprisoned journalists. By his assertion, those journalists who paid dearly and suffered from the brutal dictatorship of the TPLF regime for merely speaking truth to power paid sacrifice to simply become heroes. Based on his claim, those who stood for freedom, justice and equality paid great sacrifice merely to become heroes. Martin Luther King Jr. paid the ultimate sacrifice to become a hero. Nelson Mandela spent nearly a third of his life in jail to become a hero.
As we all know, leaders of political parties and other Ethiopians while supporting the change that started to take place a year ago have been pointing out the need for a road map so we know how we as a country could go about realizing a political system that is genuinely democratic for all Ethiopians. He claimed that road map is not a political economy concept! He alleged that the idea of a road map was first written by somebody under the influence of “khat” and has been picked up by everyone else since!!!
The Merriam-Webster defines road map as, “a detailed plan to guide progress toward a goal.” Accordingly, what our people have been asking for is simply a strategy, step-by-step detailed plan that should be undertaken by your government and all stakeholders to create a genuinely democratic society. This could mean restoring peace and security across our country, building democratic institutions, revising the ethno-centric constitution that was imposed on the Ethiopian people by TPLF with one that maintains the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ethiopia as well as protects the individual and group rights of all Ethiopians, revoking other draconian legislations made by TPLF such as anti-terrorism, press freedom, and civil society organizations, preparing for a genuinely free and fair democratic national election, ensuring the democratic rights of all Ethiopians, making national economic and social policy reforms, replacing the ethnic-based narrative with an Ethiopian one through education, art, etc. especially among our youth, mending the rift that TPLF viciously created among our people through its ethnic-based politics and federalism, recreating a federal structure that unites rather than divides our people, etc. A road map can and should be developed to not only know how we go about in creating a democratic society but also to institutionalize the process and hold all stakeholders to account.
Dr. Abiy did not spare a slight to leaders of political parties who he said that while sitting alongside him have been asking him to “walk the talk”. He claimed that there was no better democracy than having said leaders sit alongside him!!! As we all know, democracy is “a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.” And in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” It is not about sitting with a Prime Minister!
The fundamental change for a genuinely democratic system that generations have sacrificed for and which we all hoped had started a year ago is off track. I believe it is not late for Dr. Abiy to introspect and return to the Abiy we met a year ago, a person who showed humility, respect and love for our people and country! I believe it is not late for Dr. Abiy and his team to reflect, get back on track and do the right thing not just for a specific ethnic group but for all Ethiopians since the destiny of all our people is inseparable for better or worse!!!