By Tibebe. Birihan
The constant sermon like parlance by the PM doesn’t seem to be holding the same resonance it once had. People are becoming increasingly circumspect of what is orated by their Nobel Prize winning PM and looking for answers to the monumental problems the country is facing elsewhere. The pain felt and the trauma caused by the recent debacle in the Oromia Region, the massacre in Jigjiga and the wanton destructions and persecutions in Sidama Zone are glaring dissensions that exacerbate the already paranoid national sentiment. The lullaby of the PM is now having difficulty to calm the nation.
The center of gravity for all the havoc seem to once again circle around the way the Federation is structured and the manner in which “Oromo Question” is framed and tried to be resolved. Notwithstanding the involvement of ethnic entrepreneurs who are bent on manufacturing and fueling of crisis for their group and individual gains, we need to dig beneath the facade to shed light on the true aspirations of the Oromo people as political and cultural entity. As such, we need to distill the noise from the legitimate quest of the people and properly manage to get to a solution that is a win-win for the Oromo people and the country at large.
Despite its botched implementation, the federalization of the country as it stands now somehow crudely seemed to address the pillars of not only the of Oromo question but also of those ethnicities which have perceived to have been disadvantaged throughout the long existence of the Ethiopian state. The constitution as crafted by the few ethnic lords at the outset and its selective application subsequently has created problems that now are complicating the already sensitive issues. When TPLF aided by EPLF as victors against the Dergu Marxist junta came to control Menilik Palace, it took the shortest path of rewarding itself substantially at the expense of the country. It legalized its bounty through unacceptable constitutional means as possibly as it could and went on to be the “godfather” to the rest of the country for close to three decades. Further narrowing the political field at the inception, TPLF kicked out OLF and sidelined other political forces which were thought to be the genuine representatives of their respective constituencies and established its hegemony that further solidified the marginalization of true representations.
At the backdrop of all these, what slowly evolved is the increasing ethnic polarization of the various groups and widespread feelings of insecurity and hopelessness by significant portion of the country. These conditions necessitated a great desire by the people to free them from the colonial style of TPLF discriminatory ethnic oligarchy regime and finally brought the system to the brink. The TPLF dominated reign with its insatiable greed and one-sided overly self-aggrandizing propensity relegated others to the level of serfdom. The inhuman way they treated their opponents and the gruesome torchers they constantly inflicted on their victims, further created the fertile ground for the rest of the country to face this alien entity head on and be done away with it at any cost.
On the cusps of these, there came some relief with the coming to the helm by the PM Abiy and his reformist colleagues. Despite the fact that the PM is also a member of the umbrella party EPRDF, the larger section of the society was very ecstatic and supportive of the transfer of power to the new PM. Unexpected by the larger public, the glorifying of the country by the PM in his acceptance speech on his inauguration day and his pontification that “We are Ethiopian when we live and we will be Ethiopia when we die” brought resurgence of hope to unite the severely divided country.
What made the Extremist Oromo ethnic politicians to stand suspicious of the PM who hailed from Oromia is a question that we all need to ponder on. By every practical measure, the current government is fast replicating the one it chased out by planting en-mass ethnic Oromos in place of Tigreans. The previous semblance of balancing federal government position appointments is now given its way to anchoring Oromos as fast as practically possible. Despite all of these measures by the Abiy administration, the ever elastic demands of these extremist Oromo parties are nowhere to be nearly satisfied. They have now started to openly articulate their determination to see a confederated Ethiopia and the complete ownership of the Capital City of Addis; they seem to be heading in a direction to contravene against the spirit of the constitution they espouse as untouchable. These extreme ethnic parties continuously seem to move the goal post by creating demands that are contrary to what they accentuate as official party positions thereby deliberately clouding their true intentions. They try to frame the debate as if between unionists’ vs federalists and creating a murky understanding around their true intentions while knowing fully well that there is no any movement that is standing to support the phantom unionist camp.
If we are to argue from the notion that the seemingly ambiguous discourse between ODP and the Oromo extreme ethnic adherents is about federalism vs Unionist, we are missing the very critical ingredient about the very grotesque motives of the so called Federalists spearheaded by TPLF. Their oblivion about the cost of their nativist ambitions and the danger it causes for the country to stand as one polity is a glaring testament about their nefarious plots. Such reckless ambitions and their ever dynamic ploy together with the bold move they are making to realize their dream are now greatly contributing in diminishing the wherewithal of the society that has been built through centuries of co-existence. The open campaign of hate in sync by these parties against a particular group of the society for their shared reckless desires is now shrinking the ground for meaningful compromise. The constant inability or willful negligence of the government to bring about law and order and worse yet, camouflaging such inabilities as cost of nurturing democracy is further eroding the thread holding the nation together. Cooperation is replaced by unhealthy competition, mutual respect has now been replaced by mutual suspicion, and working together has given its way to working against each other, common country vision is ransacked by narrow ethic nightmare. The constant unimaginable savageries of the mobs in attacking innocent civilians are further indications that our social wherewithal is fast dwindling and giving way for breaking the country apart.
As witnessed recently the practical abdication of their duty by the Oromia security establishment in protecting the lives and properties of citizens in the face of widespread brutality and ethnic cleansing targeting minorities in the Region is nothing but a cue for something larger and sinister. What seems to have been construed as tacit encouragement of the rowdy provocateurs by the same security establishment further cements the suspicions that the establishments has been percolated by ethnic extremists. This aberration, whether perceived or imagined, sets perfect precondition for people who firsthand witnessed the inaction by the authorities to arm themselves and protect their family and properties. Such conditions feed off of each other and potentially could end up leading us to a complete breakdown of law and order thereby precipitating a widespread unrest and bloody civil war.
The lateness by the PM in addressing the deadly ethnic targeted killings and, the characterization of the mayhem as simple clashes has now casted its heavy shadow if indeed the PM is equally a leader to all citizens of the country. The immediate action taken by the PM and his top officials of trying to preserve the unity of their base as opposed to consoling the victims and assuring the nervous country by bringing those perpetrators to face the law is now compounding the confusion felt by the wider public in this despondent nation. The continuous malarkey given by the officials is further emboldening zealots and fast eating away the confidence the super majority of the country have on their government. Such timidity of the administration is also further emboldening the perpetrators to continue their brazen demands and perpetuate their cruel actions as justifiable means towards their targeted end. Unless such trends are corrected swiftly and law and order are restored, the once seemed infallible PM and his reformist mantra are doomed to fail and biblical proportion gloom to befallen on the country.
The writer could be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org