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Civic Engagement and a Care-taker Government can save Ethiopia and Eritrea

By Fikre-Egziabher
Tigrai Online Nov. 1, 2020

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Ethiopia is on the brink of suffering bloodshed and dissolution. All due to the folly of Abiy Ahmed and Isaias Afeworki, respectively the aspiring dictator of Ethiopia and the affirmed dictator and tyrant of Eritrea. These two have become close buddies since the coming into office of Abiy Ahmed in April 2018, and paved was the way to the destruction of Ethiopia: a country of over 100 million inhabitants of rich ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity.

The dictator of Eritrea managed to create a one man rule in Eritrea by murdering, imprisoning and forcing to exile of Eritreans, and in the process the nation is destroyed and its citizens scattered abroad.

Abiy Ahmed is following the footsteps of the senile dictator. Since his taking office in April 2018: thousands of civilians have been murdered by the military; political assassinations have multiplied including high profile figures such as the Military Chief of  Staff  (Gen. Seare Mekonen), the Chief Engineer of Ethiopia’s biggest project of the Nile dam ( Simegnew Bekele), Governor of the Amhara region (Ambachew Mekonen), an iconic Oromo singer and activist (Hacaaluu Hundeessaa).

Tigrayans were the first victims of the dictatorial aspiration of Abiy Ahmed. Only a few months in office, Abiy Ahmed started the marginalization of Tigrayans from the political, economic and social activities of the country. Politically motivated charges, imprisonments, and sacking from offices of Tigrayans have become very frequent. Abiy Ahmed even went as far as engaging in a treasonous project of conspiring with the Eritrean dictator to encircle and force the surrender of Tigray. Abiy’s relentless pressure on Tigray in the last two years include: closing highway connecting Tigray to the capital; hindering foreign investors from going to Tigray; excluding Tigrayan school children from the benefit of receiving face masks against COVID-19- a benefit allowed to other school children of Ethiopia; Excluding Tigrayn poor farmers from receiving international donors’ assistance donated to all poor farmers of Ethiopia; Denying assistance in the fight against the locust swarm that invaded Tigray. Lately, Abiy is threatening to deny federal budget to the state of Tigray. Tigrayans endured all these attacks and concentrated on strengthening their unity. True to their history, they managed to create an island of peace and order in Ethiopia. In the last 2 years, Tigrayans even managed to win the heart of a significant segment of Eritreans, and federalist citizens and politicians among the various nations and nationalities of Ethiopia.

Abiy’s repression soon started to involve other Ethiopians too. Other Ethiopians soon started to be victims of murder and imprisonments. Hundreds of Sidamas were brutally murdered by Abiy’s soldiers and several hundred were imprisoned for just asking their constitutional right of having the status of a state for their people. Several dozen Wolaytas were murdered and arrested for the same reason. The Oromo youth carried the highest toll in being murdered and being imprisoned in numbers exceeding several thousand, for just demanding justice for the assassinated and the arrested Oromo heroes. The Amharas did not have a much better fate, hundreds of civilian Amharas were massacred due to the inability and unwillingness of Abiy Ahmed to maintain order. Several Amhara politicians are languishing in Abiy’s prison. Millions of Ethiopians were internally displaced in the last two years and thousands were victims of inter-communal violence sponsored by provincial politicians, because Abiy was absorbed in consolidating his personal power and in some cases he approved such atrocities.

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In a complete disregard of the Federal Constitution of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed demoted governors and appointed new ones for all states of Ethiopia. Only Tigray avoided such interference. Most of Ethiopian territory is under military rule. Abiy achieved a one man rule all over Ethiopia; except in Tigray. Tigray still resists, and it’s unlikely that it would surrender.

Abiy Ahmed overstayed his legal mandate. General election should have been held before October 2020, and a new elected government should have started its mandate on October 5, 2020. None of these was done. Politicians who called for the respect of the federal constitution are jailed; To name few of those jailed since the end of June 2020: prominent Oromo politicians Jawar Mohammed and Bekele Gerbe; well known Amhara politicians Eskinder Nega and Lidetu Ayalew; popular Wolayta leader Dagato Kumbe.

The new government of Tigray, that came out of the September 9, 2020 Tigray election, and federalist political parties such as the Oromo Liberation Front, underlined that Abiy Ahmed’s legal mandate is  expired and they called for national dialog involving all political forces of the country to solve the constitutional and political crisis Ethiopia is drowning under.

The expiry of a mandate has deep and multiple practical implications. Citizens, parties, States, the Army and other institutions have no legal or moral obligations to obey orders of an illegal prime minister. Abiy Ahmed can thus impose his will only by force. And this is what brings Ethiopia to the brink of horrible bloodshed and dissolution. And due to the deep interference of Eritrea’s dictator in Ethiopian affair, Eritrea and Eritreans will also suffer the same lot. Any miscalculation of instigating war in the region will cause an incalculably high massacre and destruction that will never end before the complete fragmentation of Eritrea and Ethiopia. The time for the type of guerilla war between rebels and government forces is over. Now, numerous actors, even foreign ones, will participate in any war of the region; and the destructive capabilities of weapons have skyrocketed. This horrible consequence should be averted by all means.

The way out is not complicated for sensible politicians. Eritrea’s dictator should be stopped from interfering and a care-taker government of Ethiopia should be constituted. The care-taker government should involve all political forces of Ethiopia, and it should have the main mandate of leading Ethiopia into a fair and free election within a reasonably short time of six to nine months.

Not much sense is expected from Abiy Ahmed and the Eritrean tyrant. Thus, other politicians and regular citizens and civic associations should raise their voice and say “We, Eritreans and Ethiopians, have got tired of being murdered. Enough is enough!!!” Regular citizens should stop being the silent victims of the folly of the rulers. Citizens should incessantly call for dialog among the political parties. Civil disobedience is another option. Members of the army should cease obeying orders from Abiy Ahmed and the Eritrean dictator.

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