Ethiopia: A call for genuine road-map for democracy

By IndepthAfrica
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Oct 3rd, 2012
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Enough is enough: a call for genuine road-map for democracy, maintaining the status quo of the Zenawi regime is a recipe for disaster


by Adisie Tesfu, Oslo, Norway

Ethiopia’s political landscape for the most part of the century has been volatile, controversial, unpredictable and at times chaotic. The Emperor’s Ethiopia was monarchical with its own defects; Mengistu’s Ethiopia was “Marxist” and Ethiopia under Zenawi and his continued regime remains under the noxious ideology of ethnic politics. All past and the present regime of Ethiopia had their own varied values, albeits, diametrically opposite to each other; there had never been smooth transition of power, it was all marked with bloodshed, violence, social and economic destruction and the loss of millions that could and should have been the foundation of human capital and material resources for now and the future. All those who assumed political power did so by iron fist and not by the will of ballot. They all did little to construct Ethiopian; preserve the constructs of the past but did their utmost in deconstructing Ethiopia in their own ways – the monarchy wrecked Ethiopia in the name of divine right, Mengistu in the name of socialism, Zenawi and his vestiges in the name of ethnic dogma.

One would ask should this trend, the so called legacy of Zenawi continue or should there be a change for the better? Does Ethiopia deserve better? Save for an insane and /or cynic, the answer to this question is in the affirmative; if not if, then, the central issue would be, when should we make change to happen? – Change for the better. Or should we wait for a certain change to happen by miracle, where such miracle doesn’t exist! Should we expect from the West? But not oil, would it be feasible? Or should we expect a mishap to happen or a planned and concerted effort should guide our actions? Should it always take the earthly life of a leader? What guarantee do we have for the next leader not to be a turncoat? Should we trust individual leaders? Or is there a room for experiment? Why should the fate of Ethiopia be left to the will/ego of individual leaders than the will of the nation? Arguably, no leader is indispensible, and no leader worth’s more that the will of our people. Therefore, it is the will of the people, ballot, social contract that should prevail above and over leaders, prime ministers or presidents, who are determined to rule the county at will: Ethiopians should have the gut and the determination to say enough is enough.

The quest for genuine multi party- system, democracy and rule of law.

Our country needs changes that could encourage genuine democracy, multi – party system , establish democratic intuitions but also allow them to evade irrational, unlawful actions, foster long term ideals, visions as opposed to short term targets that suit the need and ego of individual leaders. It is time that sound political, structural transformation is put in place, it is time that the country’s economy – not ethnic based economy, science, commerce, industry, agriculture, …education is developed in light of Ethiopia’s best interest and not in the best interest of this or that ethnic entity and identity.

Sadly, Zenawi and his continued regime, have had appeared as forces of progress, visionaries, development orientated, peace and tranquillity, modernity though by deception and misrepresentation of facts. The last 21 years of multi-faceted havoc should and must not be allowed to continue; if indeed allowed to continue, it is an insult to this generation and the generation to come. The very doctrine of ethnic ideology is toxic, dominance of TPLF for wrong reasons should be clogged, enacting bad laws with a view to target opposition groups such as the anti terrorism law should be amended, or re written, political prisoners MUST be released with no condition, press should be allowed to flourish, journalists detained or imprisoned must be released, rule of law transparency, accountability must prevail- the rationale behind the most needed change, change for the better. No need of cosmetic changes, Ethiopia deserves better.

The argument that the status quo should be maintained, Zenawi’s legacy should continue is inept to say the list , there is nothing to learn from the so called “legacy”, it has always been marred with human rights violation, genocide, unlawful killing, imprisonment , torture and total domination of one ethnic entity and party. Reports including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch disclose as follows:

Human Rights Watch 2012

“Long-term pre-trial detention without charge, often without access to counsel, is common, notably under the Anti-Terror law, which allows police to request additional investigation periods of 28 days each from a court before filing charges, for up to four months. Human Rights Watch is aware of at least 29 opposition party members, journalists, and an actor who at this writing were currently held in remand detention under the Anti-Terror law”

Torture and violations of pre-trial safeguards: Amnesty International 2012

“Amnesty International regularly receives information about the use of torture in pre-trial and arbitrary detention in Ethiopia. Particularly notorious is the Maikelawi Federal Police detention centre in Addis Ababa, where political detainees, including the journalists, opposition members and Muslim activists referred to above, are held and subjected to pre-trial interrogation”

The above citations would only attest one thing, but not the only, that this most “celebrated achievement” of TPLF, Zenawi is nothing but of callous human rights violation. But the legacy of Zenawi and his continued regime is notoriously known for the demise of greater Ethiopia and identity, division of the biblical, historical nation into ethnic & Pandora boxes that failed to neither feed themselves nor defend their own sovereignty or the sovereignty of Ethiopia. The Zenawi legacy worked for the reduction of Ethiopia, ramshackle Ethiopia’s sovereignty, ethicized the economy, created cultural and educational mayhem. Hailemariam’s (PM) pledge that he would continue Zenawi’s legacy, is a pledge to continue with the noxious ethnic policy, which has nothing to do with liberal and democratic values and has nothing to do with the long term effect this doggy and noxious ethnic policy would inflict; this ideology and its ideologues bear no value to the great picture of the country, their utmost strategy is their breakfast served on a silver plate.

Clearly his recent interview about the continuance of the Zenawi legacy tells the whole truth but the truth: the hallmark of Ethiopia’s continued saga. We thank him for being honest; and for telling us of his absolute allegiance, and we understand why … but this heralds another inauguration, further repression of the Ethiopian people, unrest, and political turmoil, economic and social disintegration. It is arguable that Ethiopia under the continued legacy would be worse of than late Zenawi. It is probable that Ethiopia’s external influence would diminish under the continued regime. It is certain that the continued legacy would be short-lived, die out of its own contradiction; but we should be concerned of an unintended consequence!

The legacy of Zenawi is tyranny, authoritarianism, divisive, conflict –ridden; misrepresentation of facts, suppression of dissent- political, social groups that do not support the one size fits all theory. Therefore, any rational thinker, organised or unorganised is likely to continue to reverse this political tide. The so called Zenawi legacy begun with TPLF and must be forced to end with it. Therefore, the legacy of Zenawi is bad…bad …bad for Ethiopia. There is nothing like the legacy of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and the living legacy of Nelson Mandela where not only their respective countries followed their legacy , but their legacies cherished universal values, honoured by all rationale societies and progressive individuals. Surely, it is possible for some individuals to live with bad legacies, like that of Nazism and Fascism, but it was remotely possible for states to continue to live with these legacies. Those legacies of the past are now non existent; they all have become full fledged democracies.

The way forward: roadmap for change.

Knowing international and regional developments, the way forward, bringing about a dynamic change, and change for the better could probably be achieved if the opposition works towards persuading the west to initiate an internationally brokered route in designing a roadmap for change and democracy. USA, UK, EU – as dominant donor countries could play crucial role. But the opposition should be seen as a reliable force to bring about the desired change. With a firm and organised move it is not impossible to urge the so called legacy followers to open the political space and draw a roadmap for change, where fair and free election is carried out to form an inclusive government marking an end to TPLF, ethnic based rule.

The writer Adisie Tesfu could be contacted at: (florida16@)hotmail.com)

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