Wondimu Mekonnen, London 03 April 2018
Whatever will be, will be! Ethiopia has a new Prime Minister. Actually we never had Prime Ministers so far, for the last almost 27 years but Prime Miseries. None of them talked before, about Ethiopia. Dr Abiy Ahmed Ali talked about Ethiopia. That does sound like the Prime Minister of Ethiopia. Does it? Time will tell. Que sera sera!
I have never called the Woyyane House of Cards, the EPRDF, by its fake name. For me, EPRDF was just a cover coat. The real body inside was the TPLF, or the Woyyanes. The so called EPRDF was just there to rubber stamp whatever the Woyyanes wanted. That is all. Therefore, up until now I have been among those who never expected a dove out of a serpent’s egg. Wait a minute. Could this be a wrong assumption? Oh my God! I could be wrong! Que sera sera!
Let us examine history elsewhere, in far, far away country from Ethiopia. Once upon a time there was a country called The Soviet Union. It was ruled by the Communist Party. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union ruled the Soviet with iron discipline. It organised the kids between 9-15 under “Pioneer” (пионе́р) and taught the communist way of life, the only way chosen for the Soviet citizens by the party at the time. When those young kids grew up and graduated from the “Pioneer”, they became “Young Communist League” (Комсомо́л). Every citizen had to pass through these processes, from 1922 up to 1991. It is from the Komsomol that the Communist Party recruited the best to become its fully fledged members. The rest of the population were caught in the web of Communist discipline in a systematic way of control and rule. No chance to revolt against the system from the outside. There was dissatisfaction among the population, but anyone who stepped out of the way ended up in Gulag, the Siberian Prisoner camp, equivalent to our Maekelaw, Karchale, Qilinto, or Shewa Robit – one should be so lucky to come out of there alive,
In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev became the General Secretary of The Communist Party of The Soviet Union. Something unusual happened. Gorbachev saw the communist way of ruling that country did not improve the lives of the people and stiffened development. He stood up to democratise the country and managed to secure followers. “His primary domestic goal was to resuscitate the stagnant Soviet economy after its years of drift and low growth during Leonid Brezhnev’s tenure in power (1964–82). To this end, he called for rapid technological modernization and increased worker productivity, and he tried to make the cumbersome Soviet bureaucracy more efficient and responsive.” That was called “restructuring” (Perestroka). Perestroika lead to the downfall of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The dove came out of the serpent’s egg. The change came from the inside, when it was literally impossible from the outside. Can this happen in Ethiopia? Well, que sera sera!
The USSR was not the only one. The same thing happened in South Africa. The apartheid ended through a series of negotiations between 1990 and 1993 absolutely by unilateral steps taken by the de Klerk government. These negotiations took place between the governing National Party, the African National Congress. The change came within when the popular movement outside became strong. Can this happen in Ethiopia. Wait and see! Que sera sera!
Let’s come back home. The above are lessons for Ethiopia too. The Woyyanes created The Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization (OPDO) from prisoners held in Eritrea to control the Oromo people, Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) was created for the same puropose mainly from Eritreans born in Ethiopia like Bereket Simon, Tadesse Tinkishu, Tesfaye Gebreab .. for the Amhara people , the South Ethiopian Peoples’ Democratic Movement, again mainly from prisoners of war to control the Southern. Then out of these house of cards the TPLF formed what it called The Ethiopian Peoples’ Democratic Front (EPRDF), the masters being The Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (The TPLF). For the last 27 years, these were untouchable Mafiosi group that ransacked the country, controlled the people down to 5 people to one. They went on killing and imprisoning spree whoever did not accept their ways of ruling the country. Change from the outside, be it peacefully by force became impossible. Some picked up guns and started fighting back. There have been popular uprising in the Oromo and Amhara regions. The worst nightmare of the TPLF came when Gondare’s came out in Unison and declared that the blood that is being shed in the Oromia region was Amhara blood! The era of divide and rule started crumbling. The Oromos responded with the same tone claiming that the bloodshed in the Amhara region was Oromo’s blood too. The house of card of Woyyane started crumbling. The TPLF’s spokes person lost his mind and was filmed screaming that their homework was not done properly, otherwise how could fire and hay get on so well, in Amharic[i].
In the mean time, the old prisoners of war became too old and the new generation started replacing them within EPRDF. It was Yared Hailemariam who had pointed out that a change could come from within EPRDF way back in March 2016[ii]. This was evidenced sooner than later, when Lemma Megersa of OPDO made an official visit to Bahir Dar. We started hearing amazing statements, OPDO defending Ethiopia on Amhara soil. We all were taken aback by the statement we heard from this young Oromo leader. Then we heard, he had a team that included Dr Abiy Ahmed Ali. These young Oromos came talking about the unity of Ethiopia.
Team Lemma and Abiy pushed the boundary farther and started preaching Ethiopian Unity. The TPLF were unhappy. The popular uprising continued. The former powerless Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn resigned unexpectedly on 15 February 2018, ‘after years of upheaval in the troubled east African nation.’ The TPLF wanted to replace him with another stooge, a useless vessel who would carry only its messages.
That paved the way for the Team Lemma to regroup. A week-long meeting did not help the TPLF to get its Trojan horse’s saddle. It was Demeke Mekonnen of ANDM they wanted to be in power. However, we hear that the ANDM rank and file were warning him. At the last minute of the vote, Demeke Mekonnen announced he was not running for the post. That paved the way for Dr Abiy Ahmed Ali to get ANDm’s vote. That was a disaster for the TPLF. They had to bank now on Shiferaw Shigute of SPDF. Eleven of their own members also betrayed them. At the end of the vote, this was the outcome:
45 OPDO Dr Abiy,
45 ANDM Dr Abiy
18 SPDM Dr Abiy
27 SPDM Shiferaw Shigute
32 TPLF Shiferaw Shigute
2 TPLF Debretsion
8 TPLF Abstain
3 TPLF Absent
Dr Abiy Ahmed Ali got 108 votes while the runner up got 59. Fait accompli! Dr Abiy Ahmed is the Prime Minister. Can he handle that? Que sera sera!
From his inaugural speech, I gathered only positive things. For the first time over the last 27 years, I am encouraged that Dr Abiy Ahmed Ali may just bring about the change that Ethiopians needed. Here is the Garbachev of Ethiopia, for you. He can do it. The dominance of the TPLF can soon be over.
Here is what has to be done. All military command power has to be removed from the hands of the TPLF and handed over to the right leader. The State of Emergency and the Command post has to be immediately removed. The Draconian rules that the TPLF declared to imprison opposition leaders and journalists has to be abolished. He can do that with the help ANDM, OPDO rank and file members and half of the SPDM.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali has already won the hearts and minds of Ethiopians. To consolidate this support, he has to take the following measure immediately after getting rid of the State of Emergency and The Command Post. Release all political prisoners, including those monks from Waldeba Monastery, whom the TPLF caged when their monastic land was bulldozed to make way for the TPLF agro conglomerates, who wanted to confiscate the holy land for sugar plantation.
There is one more immediate task to face. Free all the journalists and bloggers including journalist like Eskinder Nega, Temesghen Desalegn, Zone 9 bloggers Befekadu Hailu and Mahlet Fantahun,and Zelalem Workagegnehu, who have been rearrested by the TPLF security forces after being recently freed and gathered for a social event outside the capital, Addis Ababa, with family and friends. These journalists and bloggers have been sacrificing their lives for one simple reason – for voicing for the voiceless, for democracy and respect rule of law. If Abiy truly stands for democracy, human rights and rule of law, he should not only release them, but make all of them his own advisers with regards to respect for human rights and the law. They deserve that!
Finally, I am beginning to believe that at last, we have a Prime Minister! I think, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali can stop the killing, the arrest and vanishing of citizens into exile, and make a positive difference in the political landscape of Ethiopia. Therefore, I wish him luck and success to bring out Ethiopia from the hypnotic stupor she has fall into.
Anyway, que sera sera! Whatever will be will be!