Ethiopia: PM Haile Mariam Desalegn: Where’s the Political Reform?

By IndepthAfrica
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Feb 3rd, 2013
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Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn attends the African Peer Review Mechanism at the African Union headquarters in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa January 26, 2013. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn attends the African Peer Review Mechanism at the African Union headquarters in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa January 26, 2013. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

By Ewnetu Sime

Mr. Haile Mariam Desalegn, the new PM, marks 100 plus days in office and brought frustration to all pro-democracy campaigners starting from his first exclusive interview with Peter Heinlein the Voice of America – VOA news correspondent. Some people predicted he will be a compromise candidate to bring more political freedom. Some say the predatory TPLF ruling party replaces the deceased Meles Zenawi by another stooge figure to continue dictatorial control. But it was not a secret that he is woven into TPLF autocratic regime in the past several years. In as much as he is the closest ally of the aristocracy of TPLF regime, in some of us thinking there is magical expectation he might bring better vision for the country, or at minimum he will make an effort of some kind for political reform including freeing political prisoners or respect – its own existing constitutions such as press freedom, guarantees of the right of public assembly, etc.. In reality what we observed so far is our citizens continue to carry the yoke of oppression.

It is evident that ethno-centric TPLF paternalistic and arrogant views to Ethiopian people continued by forming a corrupt dictatorship political structure that contain three deputies to control the people along the ethnic line effectively. Due to highly personalized and abusive power structure from top to bottom, Hailemariam Desalegn is incapable of providing any adequate political reforms. Mr. Desalegn is retained by TPLF on this position mainly to give legitimacy to ethno-centric TPLF’s reign. He supports the status quo unequivocally. He demonstrated – his determination to carry out past tyrant legacy on interviews, on news press releases, or addressing his rubber stamp parliament.

The past twenty one years is a legacy of ethnics based rule by TPLF. Furthermore, the TPLF leaders built their political group on marriage ties, nepotism, sectarian loyalties and extensive network among them and other political cronies. Hailemariam is a perfect fit as political cronies. PM or TPLF failed to focus on common causes and shared values of all Ethiopians. As we all know, some of the predominant factors for ethno-centric TPLF survival on power is based on divide and rule strategy. Consequently, the ethno-centric TPLF leaders become big fat fish in the country. They have created state apparatus bloated by rampant corruptions, bribe, and accumulation vast illicit fortunes and became a champion in running robust black market. Flourishing Corruptions and human rights abuse are cited with accompanying evidence on several free media (also for TPLF’s individual’s characters just read the recent Amharic series articles posted by (Eyerusalem Araya). It is upsetting and also an embarrassment to all fair minded Ethiopians.

The new PM unwillingness to rise to the responsibility as true leader and not launching better system is missing opportunity for him to be part of Ethiopian history legend. He has not expressed common vision of the people demands for freedom and social justice. Mr. Desalgen paid no attention to learn from past tyrant mistakes at all. As things stand now, the country is divided along ethnic lines, which is a ground work for anarchy. Examples include the recent ethnic-based clashes that erupted among university students on Arat Kilo campus of Addis Ababa University.

Universities supposed to be – power house to disseminate knowledge in variety of field and search- out solutions for social ills. As we all know, Addis Ababa University which was once the home of the student activism inspired by Marxist ideas of class struggle, upholder of democratic freedoms and hot bed for dissent transformed by TPLF to recruitment center for single ethnic militants. TPLF leaders are proven to us again and again they are not capable of rising above their ethnic line. TPLF’s ethnic leadership behaviors followed by deception, blatant ethnic–based discrimination and try to alienate the Tigreans from the mainstream is not working . Ordinary Tigrian people understood that the systematic pitting each other on ethnic line will not bring peace, democracy or justice. They knew all along we are multi-ethnic nation and have coexisted side by side peacefully for generations. Unfortunately the TPLF’s leaders failed to recognize that but relentlessly attempt to include them in part of their crimes.

Let me quote from Mr. Obama January 21, 2013 inaugural speech “What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:” As we know it, America is most multi-ethnic nation allegiance to an idea not on ethnic origin. This illustrates that allegiance of an idea for national unity is key to achieve economic and social goals in Ethiopia. Imposing the century old Lenin’s polemics nationality rights (ethnic politic) above liberty of individuals will not bring about true political changes, it will sustain the current corrupt thugocracy.

The new PM has not shown even symbolic gesture to free up political prisoners or other needed political changes. Even simple symbolic gesture can be powerful because it does describe something significant is at stake. Freeing up political prisoners is one of thing that got me to the heart of what has been bothering me since Mr. Desalgen becomes PM. I concluded that he is hopeless and lacks political leadership and must be viewed as a continuation of the previous fails politics. He is strengthened the ethno-centric TPLF power. As witnessed to this date, he neglected the needs of Ethiopian people and become a de facto conduit to impose TPLF’s dictatorial repression.

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