Dr Abiy is approaching the 1-year anniversary of his installation or appointment as the prime Minister of Ethiopia. It is correct to use the term ‘appointed’ because he was not elected by the people.
The duty of any government in principle is to serve its people – the true and rightful owners of political power. Yet, this is not true in the world’s least-free places, and obviously Ethiopia is a de facto member of such group.
Over the past 1 year, plenty of good and plenty of bad things happen under Dr Abiy’s premiership.
The good things
- Release of political prisoners
- Return of exiled political parties, their leaders and other activists
- Banning of TPLF group from the Federal political scene
- Opening of press and media
The Bad Things
Sadly, the bad things are so many and complex, I limit myself to enumerating the major ones:
- Over 1 million people from Gedeo were displaced from their land on account of ethnic conflict and left to die of starvation
- Over 3 million people were displaced on account of ethnic conflict
- Tens of thousands of our fellow men and women including children lost their lives due to ethnic conflicts
- Homes were demolished in broad day light without compensation creating homeless citizens
- Unruly group of young people started a campaign, ‘Addis Ababa is ours’ including the condominium for which citizens have paid with their hard-earned birr
- Protests of unruly youth with ቆመጥ፣ ሜንጫና ገጀራ while the administration says nothing
- Banks were robbed in broad day light and robbers roaming the capital freely
As the Prime Minister of the country, Dr Abiy is responsible for everything that happen under his watch – the good and the bad. Credit is due to him for the good and full responsibility is on his shoulder for the bad.
The main thesis of this piece is based on the recent remarks made by the Prime Minister directly attacking the renown journalist and human rights activist Eskinder Nega and the ‘Baleadera Group’.
The relevant part of the remark reads “…ምርጫ ሳታሽንፍ፤ ባለ አደራ ምናምን ጨዋታ ውስጥ የምትገባ ከሆነ፤ ግልጽ፤ የሆነ፤ ጦርነት፤ አንገባላን፤፤” This is unbecoming of a Prime Minister.
When and where did Eskinder say he would like to be the Prime Minsiter or the Mayor of Addis Ababa by force? Where and when did he even say he is a politician vowing to ‘overthrow’ the Abiy Woyane government? Dr. Abiy knows Eskinder did not say such things but that did not deter him to threaten the residents of Addis Ababa with a warning that ‘you are encircled by unruly youth’.
Luckily, like few Ethiopians who doubted anything good can come out of EPRDF, I have not been duped by the brilliant catch phrase ‘Medemer and Ethiopiawinet Addiction’. So, his remark simply confirmed to me what I have suspected since his ascendency to power. In a word, Dr Abiy is but a hard core EPRDFlite (Woyane) and a closet ‘dictator’.
I am fully aware and prepared that such labels would invite the wrath of his staunch advocates and supporters and frankly paid surrogates. And, this is typical of dictatorships. They are masters of explaining away the obvious human rights violations, instability and killings. Like any dictatorships, Dr Abiy has dictatorial mouthpieces tasked with explaining the regime to the outside world. These surrogates are business people with cozy relationship with the regime, officials hired for such a role, and these days social media ‘activists’ on the government payroll.
Lies and More Lies
Just take time and listen to or watch the documentaries coming out to show us how lucky Ethiopia is to have Dr Abiy as Prime Minister. Or read the writings or postings of the hired guns. You begin to see consistencies in the way they rationalize the actions and omissions of the administration.
One of the most common bromides goes something like this: “You have to understand Ethiopian culture is different. Ethiopians have no experience of democracy. Reform takes times.” “የለውጡ ፅንፈኞች በሚረጩት የውሸት ዘመቻ ሳንደናገጥ በጥርጣሬ ከማየት ይልቅ ለውጡ እንዳይቀለበስ ከጎናቸው ከመሰለፉ የተሻለ ሌላ መፍትሄ የለም። Or as the Prime Minister himself said “ኢትዮጵያ ዩጎዝላቪያ አይደለችም፣ በፍጹም አትፈርስም”
Despite the grave and precarious situation, this is still the song the regime and its cronies are singing in Ethiopia and across the virtual world. In short, ‘don’t protest, don’t report, don’t object, Dr Abiy is your Messiah’. This is not new though. You will find the same kind of song played out in all countries suffering under authoritarian rule whether China, or Uganda or Rwanda.
Dictators thrive in telling lies and doublespeak, and above all in silencing truth. Despite a declining economy, ever growing instability, still ongoing human rights violations, and a weak national government, every time the Prime Minister open his mouth, we witness the blather of nothing except only flowery prose.
This is possible because of his ability to have words mean nothing. “When we live Ethiopian , and when we die Ethiopian’’ or Ato Lemma’s famous slogan ‘’Ethiopiawinet is addiction’’ etcetera. He just keeps talking and taking with a purpose – to create an impression that he knows what he’s taking about and, in the process, to drown the public in meaningless stuff. Just tell me what benefits the displaced Gedeo or the Legatfo residents would derive from “When we live Ethiopian , and when we die Ethiopian”? Nothing at all.
We must understand for such rulers “lying is the message”. That is, when they lie with the ease of breathing it’s to assert power over truth. “አንድ፤ ነገር፤ ሆነ፤ አሉ፤ ለገጣፎ::”.
Didn’t the Prime Minister know what has happened even after the fact? If so, why did he dismiss the gravity of the event in such a callous manner?
Those persons or political organizations with authoritarian leanings they not only have no trouble lying about everything, but they even go one step further and employ a sophisticated disinformation highway to amplify the lies. They employ ‘botnets’, State news agencies, paid flacks like the ‘digital woyane’ and political sycophants and opportunists.
As patriots like Eskinder and others spend their time refuting the lies, those on the disinformation payola keep up the “theatre craft” and the tornado that creates the fog like the “Mekele group” has caused this or that or “we discovered gas” etc. While many who loved their country cry foul, unqualified, but extremely loyal henchman are being installed into power at the highest levels. Make no mistake about it what is really taking place is the consolidation of power.
The rulers fear the truth. Prime Minister’s Abiy remark is a clear testament of this timeless truth.
There is no moral equivalency between what Eskinder and his group were trying to do in Addis and the unruly youth with a machete. There is no moral equivalency between what Eskinder and his group were trying to do in Addis and what has happened in Wollega with the abduction, killings and bank robberies. Yet, Dr. Abiy’s audacity to rebuke and threaten Eskinder and the Addis Ababa residents is nothing short of a fury of a naked dictator in full display. It is in fact a shame! And, for peace loving citizens, intellectuals, elders and religious leaders not to call a spade a spade and condemn this remark by the Prime Minister is a travesty.
Truth always prevails eventually, but havoc is wreaked in the meantime. That is how we must see the current events in Ethiopia. To my fellow country men and women, I say – do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but temporary. Love always wins and the hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. There is a righteous Judge, the Almighty God, who will dispense judgment sooner than we think.