Dr Abiy Ahmed’s calamitous odyssey approaching its climax
By Berhane Kahsay
Tigrai Online, March. 11, 2019
Country wide opposition to the beleaguered Prime Minister of Ethiopia is gathering momentum and shows no sign of abating
Country wide opposition to the beleaguered PM is gathering momentum and shows no sign of abating. So far, serious considerations have not been given to confront the crises emerging throughout the country; and if the situation is allowed to fester for much longer, it would certainly initiate titanic clashes that could endanger the viability of the Horn nation.
Dr Abiy’s insatiable desire for the limelight is getting the better of him; instead of pacifying the nation, which has been slanting towards a civil strife, the mediocre PM appears to be devoting his efforts on side-matters that would have little or no impact in eliminating the lack of security and lawlessness that have been sweeping across the country since he took office nearly 12 months ago.
Genocide is unfolding in Northern Gonder and its vicinities; Demeke is busy preparing to invade Tigrai; and yet, the PM seems to be much more riveted in renovating Menelik’s Palace with an outlay of $130,000,000( birr 5.2 billion) instead of taking to task the ‘Hutu’ warmongers in Amhara region where the rule of law has completely broke down. To put it in context, the refurbishment cost of the palace exceeds the annual federal budget subsidies of Benshangul, Gambella, Dire-Dawa and Harrai put together.
Oromo elites including Dr Tsegaye Ararsa and Prof. Ezkiel Gabissa, who orchestrated the turbulence in Oromia and made it possible for Dr Abiy to assume power, have now overtly conveyed their concerns at the failure of the PM to come up with a road-map for the transition period and beyond. Equally alarming for the bests of Oromia is Dr Abiy’s flagrant intervention in the affairs of the sovereign states, and the creation of a Boundaries and Identity Commission accountable to the PM in breach of the constitution.
By and large, Dr Abiy has lost the confidence of the Ethiopian people because his inability to lead the nation which is literally on fire. Conflict driven dislocations of innocent citizens have been proceeding without any respite and at the last audit, the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) stand at over 3 million. Only last week, more people have been added to the ever growing list of IDPs because of the demolition of 3000 ‘illegally’ built Amhara-owned homes on the orders of Legetafo-Legedadi City Administration. A further 9000 homes have been earmarked to be knocked down very soon. Media coverage of the whole saga appears to be intense, and in terms of air time, the incident in Legetafo has generated much more attention than any other displacements that have occurred in the country since the ascension of Dr Abiy.
On 5 February 2019, USAID released a brief report indicating that there are 9.5 million Ethiopians requiring non-food emergency assistance, 8 million needing emergency food support and 4.5 million suffering from acute malnutrition. But due to safety concerns, it has not been possible to conduct an accurate humanitarian needs assessment, and only recently USAID suspended its operations in Moyale as a result of the widespread intercommunal violence.
In any case, international appeal for emergency fund amounting to $1.49 billion has gone out---- but this time around, Ethiopia’s contributions to this fund will be significantly less than previously due to depletion of government coffers. It is unlikely the country’s financial position will improve in the immediate future due to the political crisis that has drastically slowed down business activities and disrupted the flow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). New Business Ethiopia, an online news feed based in Addis, reported that Ethiopia’s income from export has dropped by 38 %( 24 January, 2019) and FDI declined by 10% compared to last year.
Similarly, the nation is certain to face food shortages because of the fact that most of the IDPs in temporary shelter are farmers unable to return to their homes to tend their land in preparation for the next rainy season. The impact of this is likely to be continued dependency on foreign aid for the coming few years providing the country remains intact. Reduced food circulation in the market would also cause price hike making a basic necessity beyond the reach of those who are already struggling to make ends meet.
Only a few years back, the government of Ethiopia shouldered much of the funding load by committing over $300 million from its own reserves, and this enabled it to circumvent the need for solely relying on outside assistance. Clearly, the huge amount of money squandered reconditioning a palace could have gone a long way to assuage the difficulties our fellow citizens have been encountering on daily basis in their overcrowded make-shift camps scattered all over the country.
Political turmoil is still engulfing the country and displays no sign of waning. The PM is solely responsible for the volatile situation that has gravely threatened the solidity of the nation. Until recently, Ethiopia made world headlines for its socio-economic triumphs but now, thanks to Dr Abiy, the Horn nation has come to the attention of the international community for the size of its IDPs that has surpassed Syria’s which has been in a destructive civil war since 2011. To date, PM Abiy has not bothered to visit a single IDPs camp.
But the incompetent and exhibitionist PM seems to have plenty time to meet up with the Presidents of Eritrea, Somalia and South Sudan to ostensibly consider forming an ‘East African State.’ These failed leaders aspire to create a supra state, and yet, they have shown time and again their complete inabilities to manage their own domains. Only a couple of years ago, President Esayass, who is about to surrender Eritrean sovereignty, was accused by the UN for committing crimes against humanity including torture, rape, murder and enslavement of the youth in concentration labour camps.
So far, the protracted bedlams have been centred in the regions, but now, the capital Finfinnee, which is claimed by both Oromo and Amhara, is set to become a fierce battle ground for ownership of the metropolis. As predicted, the tactical alliance between ADP and ODP that was designed to weaken the TPLF has completely unravelled. EPRDF does not exist anymore, and the treacherous ADP is struggling to control the rampant lawlessness that seems to be worsening by the day. Anarchism has prevailed in the region and, arms-trafficking and looting have become lucrative business opportunities for plethora of gangs who have taken the law into their own hands. Gedu is gone; and the schism within ADP is likely to be mortal clearing the path for the extremist National Movement of Amhara (NAMA) to assume control of Zone 3.
ODP is not faring any better either; come next general election, it would be defeated by OLF which appears to have a solid support from a cross section of the community including the literati. TPLF has subsisted the combined onslaughts of ADP and ODP but the fates of these two bogus partners hang in the balance. PM Abiy, has lost the confidence of his constituents as he appears to be getting closer to the chauvinists labouring to erase federalism that the Oromo people fought hard to introduce. Moreover, Dr Abiy has not made his position clear with regard to the ownership of Finfinnee which the Oromos believe is rightly theirs. His partner in crime, Lemma Megersa, has declared his stance and this likely to open a split between the two initiating the beginning of the end for their catastrophic odyssey.
Unitarians have been waging a persistent campaign against the Oromo using their media outlets including ESAT, Amhara TV, Fana, EBC and Walta. Both sides appear to be determined to have their own way and the highly politically charged ambiance shows no sign of dying down. At the eleventh hour, PM Abiy came-up with a new committee composed of eight members to examine the longstanding dispute. It is not clear the need for a new agency when the unconstitutional Boundary and Identity Commission (BIC) that was approved by the House of People’s representatives in February 2019 was formulated to deal with such matters. It is now becoming clearer that BIC was solely established to secure Welkait and Raya for ADP and nothing else.
In any case, the ownership of Finfinnee and the struggle between federalists and pan-Ethiopianists would definitely push the country to the verge of a civil war unless the latter capitulates on both subjects and line-up behind the nations, nationalities and peoples’ of the mosaic state. TPLF, which has successfully neutered the menace that hailed form ADP and ODP, has to come off the fence and side with the Oromos who are the strategic allies of the Tigrian people vis-à-vis federalism.
With regard to Finfinnee, it is possible the metropolis could still retain its self-governing status accountable to federal government as a compromise. In such an event, the TPLF ought to mobilise the nearly one million Tigrians aboding in the capital, and compete in the forth-coming parliamentary and municipal elections. By wining seats, it can become a power broker in a hung election outcome.
Here in the UK, the Democratic Unionist Party ( DUP) of Northern Ireland with 10 MPs has an agreement with the Conservative party, which does not have a majority in the House of Commons, to support PM Theresa May in key votes such as Brexit and budget matters in return for political influence, and financial and investment packages. The TPLF can exert similar sway for the benefit its constituents and the region it represents