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The Fulcrum of Development, Democracy, Peace and Security in the region

By Berhane G.
Tigrai Onlne - January 04, 2014

While having ample man power, enormous and untapped natural resource, unique culture and roots in human origin, African nations have been suffering from poor administrative, Abuse and misuse of power and authority, inadequate judicial infrastructure, insufficient numbers of expertise, Reactionary economic policies and practices imported from abroad and deliberately carried out to serve the interest of those in power.

For a number of decades, the horn of Africa has been wracked by wars and famine and the indignities and oppression of misrule by monarchy and dictatorship rulers. In the last half century, the peoples of Eritrea endured 30 years of warfare only to end up with a government that has betrayed the democratic promise of the struggle. The Somali people have been afflicted by misrule and an anarchy dominated by violence and the brutal self-interest of warlords. All across the Horn, warfare has been accompanied by famine and pestilence, and its peoples have been caught in conflicts between their traditions and values and the practices of their political elites and Ethiopia was among these countries.

In the recent years, Growing levels of conflict, terrorism, and the toppling of regimes in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as political violence in East Africa, are driving a rise in political instability worldwide. South Sudan is going under bloody power conflict which is creating ethnic conflict among the two dominant Ethnic groups (Dinka and Nuwer). Somalia is topping the failed state list followed by Syria. Afghanistan, Sudan, Central Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo also may be ranked in the top countries. There is a higher chance for social unrest to exacerbate political instability in these countries due to the increment of the gap between political freedoms and social gains, the erosion of democratic freedoms and unfair economic distribution among citizens compounded by rising food prices and worsening working conditions. This leads to increase in the risk of political violence, including terrorism, poor governance, and regimes vulnerable to popular uprisings.

Within this Global and regional circumstances, Ethiopia has awakened after the overthrow of dictator regime. In the outset the 1990s, Ethiopia was in a mysterious situation. The Enemies and even the friends of the country had been reaching to conclude that the country would disintegrate and collapse. But things have been changed. The government has identified the root causes of the problems which are backsliding the country in to irreversible failure. The problems are poverty, ignorance, backwardness, and infancy of our system of good governance. After that, the government has committed to devise a constitution which gives a comprehensive solution to all problems and did it. Policies have been devised based on the problems identified within the country. Experiences have been taken from developmental state. while formulating its new brand ideology, namely, developmental democratic state, experiences have been taken from other developmental states

While the government was devoting to realize the dreams of the country, the westerns and their puppies started to twist the Hands and Minds of the Government. They tried to give prescription to the problems of the country without diagnosing the real problems. It is know that their intention is to have a weak government that they can control by remote as they did in many African countries. They tried to advise and even to pressurize the government to implement their policies. But the EPRDF government has no room for such deceptive advices.

As everyone knows Development, Democracy and Peace are Questions of the entire people of the world. Cognizant of this, The Government of Ethiopia boldly recognized these Questions and devised policies and strategies to realize them. Development, Democracy and Peace are interdependent to each other. One can`t exist with the absence of the other. Sustainability of equitable development is closely bound up with democracy and Peace. This symbiotic linkage maintains that genuine democracy, characterized by the rule of law, respect for human rights and recognition of the intrinsic dignity of all human beings, freedom of expression, access to use new technologies and information.

It is important to note that there has been a variety of development experiences among democracies and autocracies. This can be attributed to the differing success with which any country can develop institutions of accountability – checks on the chief executive, separation of politics from the civil service, independence of the judiciary, freedom of the press, and independence of the private sector, which are the foundations of democratic systems of governance. Both autocracies and democracies that have developed these institutions have had better rates of economic development than countries without well established institutions of accountability. For this reason, there are some autocracies that have performed better than some democracies; the East Asian “tigers” fall into this category.

The up-and-coming country in the horn of Africa which is Ethiopia is one of the top fastest economic growing countries in the world. The secret that Ethiopia has been registering double digit growth for the last decade emanates from domestic policies and strategies backed up by institutions of accountability and committed government. Every activity conducted within the country is carried on with full participation of the people. There is no stick and carrot. The policies and strategies are owned by the people. Today, millions of ordinary farmers are becoming middle level income, the lives of nomads and pastoralists are changing due to access in education, health care, potable water and other infrastructures. Not only the participation of domestic private sector is increasing but also Ethiopia is becoming the destination of foreign investors.

As explained earlier, building democratic system and good governance is the top agenda of the government. To realize this, the followings have been were established by proclamations.

  1. The Ethiopian justice system
  2. Electoral law
  3. Proclamation on the establishment of political parties
  4. Human Rights Commission and the Institutions of ombudsman
  5. The Ethics and Ant-Corruption code
  6. Broadcasting Proclamation.

Within the constitution, the following has been clearly outshined. “Every person has the right to freedom of Association for any cause or purpose. Organizations formed in violation of appropriate laws, or to illegally subvert the constitutional order or which promote such activities are prohibited” and under the Proclamation on the establishment of political parties based on the following elements is forbidden.

  1. Parties based on religion and race in convention of international agreements addressed to and signed by Ethiopia
  2. Parties that incite hatred and hostility between nations, nationalities and peoples and who promote war and conflict
  3. Parties organized to reach their objectives by the use of force
  4. Parties aiming to gain political control by overthrowing the government by force
  5. Parties established to promote illegal activities.

Today Seventy nine National and Regional political parties have been registered by the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia. These political parties are participating as individual parties or as part of a front, a coalition or a Union and enjoying their rights by mixing even the prohibited elements. They organize, select recruiting and train their members without any limits of the rights given then by the constitution. Even though they don`t have alternative policies and strategies, they promote what they have through medias and organizing conferences. The government is supporting the political parties thoroughly based on the principles outshined on the constitution to promote multi parties system in the country.

The role of Media in building democratic system and development is crucial. The Ethiopian government promotes developmental media and journalism. Cognizant of this, Freedom of Mass Media has been guaranteed by constitution and establish Broadcasting Proclamation. Under this proclamation No. 590/2008, the following basic elements are boldly reflected.

1. Freedom of mass media is constitutionally guaranteed. Censorship in any form is prohibited.

2. Restrictions on the freedom of the mass media shall only be made by laws issued in accordance with the constitution.

3. All public bodies shall have regard to the right of the mass media, in fulfilling its public function, to;

A. Seek, receive and import news or information;

B. Express opinion or criticism on various issues or;

C. Participate in the process of forming public opinion through other means.

4. Unless otherwise stipulated by express provision of laws enacted in accordance with sub article (2) of this article, administrative measures that impair freedom of mass media are forbidden.

Based on the Proclamation, there are many private and public (electronic and printed) Medias operating their function in this country. Even though, there are some private Medias who are playing a distractive role for the development, democracy and peace of the nation, the government is patient.

Democracy requires the active participation of citizens. Ideally, the media should keep citizens engaged in the business of governance by informing, educating and mobilizing the public. The media can also help build peace and social consensus, without which democracy is threatened. The media can provide warring groups mechanisms for mediation, representation and voice so they can settle their differences peacefully. “Peace journalism,” which is enthusiastic to realize the dreams and hopes of the people endeavors to promote reconciliation through careful reportage that gives voice to all sides of a conflict and resists explanation for violence in terms of innate enmities. In general, media groups have lived up to the democratic ideal of the press as watchdog, public forum, catalyst of social reform, and builder of peace and consensus.

While Ethiopia is implementing the comprehensive constitution which guaranteed all rights of citizens and implementing the tasted policies and strategies which are registering double digit growth, there are also unsolved good governance problems emanated from luck of skills and to some extent luck of integrity of few civil servants and

leaders. Now the government has launched good governance plan to solve these problems. So, these problems will be solved with full participation of the people.

Ethiopia`s unique indigenous policies and strategies are example of real choice for many countries which are being pulled as cart by westerns. This is the reason why westerners criticize our policies. Ethiopia is a bad example to westerners. Ethiopia has an independent policies and strategies. There is clear difference in IDOLOGY AND POLICY which never compromises forever. They will continue baking on us while we are doing our home work. What is interesting here is, the westerners are cooperating with us in important issues putting their differences aside. They are explicitly recognizing the true policies and strategies of the country.

Unfortunately, Ethiopia is not lucky to have genuine opposition parties who have best alternative policies that lift the country from poverty and build democratic system and good governance. Most of the political parties are very weak who propagates western`s agendas’. They have no clear policies and strategies. But the role of the opposition parties should be opposing in parliament and proposing best alternatives or criticizing the government in public or in the news paper in the country when there is limitation and improper implementation of the constitution. All criticisms have to be constructive and the Opposition voiced, in a responsible, loyal and healthy manner. If the Opposition behaves irresponsibly, and indulges in unhealthy, allegedly criticism, instead of constructive discussions, the entire democracy is endangered. Both sides the ruling party and the Opposition should follow the rules of the game. They must not play foul; for one foul inevitably leads to another and yet another, and then the end of folly nowhere in sight. Democracy then becomes a mess.

It is quite obvious that unless the people are vigilant and alert, all power would pass into till hands of clever professional politicians and demagogues who seldom hesitate to exploit the ignorant masses and pursue policies that help them. But what our opposition parties do is criticizing all activities of the government erroneously and promoting the baseless allegations of westerns. Most of them have no positive contribution to building democratic system and Economic development. They have no unturned stone to create mess and destabilize our country. Specially, BLUE party and MEDREK are the

spokesperson of terrorists. They strongly oppose the development of the country and lobbies to donors and lenders not to give loans, aids and support for the infrastructures and development projects carrying on by the government. Their dream is to hijack the power by any means or destroy all infrastructures and destabilize the country. The reason why they prefer violence and hostility is that these political parties have no alternative policies, wise and loyal politicians, and structured organizations that help them to get the voice of the people.

Unfortunately, few local medias have been fanned the flames of discord by taking sides, reinforcing prejudices, muddling the facts and peddling half-truths. ESAT is the spokesperson of these Hopeless political parties like Ginbot 7 Currently other private Magazines like Addis Guday, Fact, Addis Neger, Lomi Konjo, Ethiopian Review…are joining ESAT. They are publishing and casting fabricated baseless articles, bulletins and news papers targeting individuals, calling chaos and mess and denying the public secret economic development. I think these immoral activities emanate from selfish and premature thinking of individuals. These Medias are toiling their best effort to destabilize the country. But their evil dream will never succeed, because the people of Ethiopia are engaged in nation building. Nobody can hear them at this particular time of transformation. Ethiopians are in a bright future if the ongoing developments of continues in this pace and situation, no doubt that the country will join in a short distant time to middle income countries.

Ethiopia is not only registering fast economic growth but also it is becoming a centre of peace in the region. It`s dreadful history of famine and conflict has been changed. Ethiopians with their diversified ethnic, religion and Culture are living in the atmosphere of tolerance and respect. As a citizen, I enjoy this and proud by having such a colorful society. Today, we Ethiopians are singers of peace and we need peaceful Ethiopia and the whole region. That`s why the Ethiopian Government is genuinely supporting the peace process in Somalia and between south Sudan and Sudan. Currently the newly erupted power struggle among the south Sudanese leaders is threatening the region. In coordination With the IGAD member states, the Ethiopian Government is mediating the parties and Hope this will bring the conflict to end.

We remember the launching of war on Ethiopia by Somalia`s Islamic Court Union (ICU) and continued intimidation and infiltration of terrorist from Somalia. Shebab who is the member of International terrorists together with domestic terrorists like ONLF and OLF has committed terrorist attacks causing death of hundreds of our citizens and distraction of properties. At that time, we had only one alternative. That is defending our national security and we did it. But we had no problem with the Somalia. We hope stable and prosperous Somalia and Somalis now clearly understand our objectives. They have positive attitude towards Ethiopia except few extremists. As we know Somalia has been unstable for decades. The government of Ethiopia believes that Peace cannot be achieved through violence; it can only be attained through understanding. That`s why we are strongly supporting the peace process of Somalia with IGAD and the international community. Somalia is now being stable. Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with it and Somalis have started to cope with it.

After the turning of new leaf in Ethiopia in 1991, a new chapter has been opened with bright future to Ethiopians and the region as a whole containing development, building democracy and peace. We are now within this chapter which transforms us to a new chapter that is a middle income level. So, we Ethiopians should be aware of all things that hinder us from struggling against poverty. We should have no tolerance for those who try to impede our way and pollute peace air that we breathe. We should unite and stand together holding hand in hand to fight our common enemy that is poverty. Our friends and enemies should understand this. In my opinion, the time that we can bury poverty is now and the instruments we can use are changing ourselves and supporting the MEGA projects carrying on by the government. The difference between a successful person and others is not strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of WILL. Let Visualize our end results as having already been accomplished. Let the image of our success play on the giant screen in full color with surround sound - so real we can smell and taste it.

I promise to renew my commitment and to pursue others! DO YOU?