Abiy Ahmed: Rainmaker or Con Man?
Today, PM Abiy Ahmed in a speech to parliament said: “Last week’s rains in northern Shewa and Gojam were not divine but man-made.
Not so long ago, Abiy visited Djibouti and Kenya, where it was raining and he said, the rain was with me. Col Abiy Ahmed believes that he is chosen by God and he is the only man who can save Ethiopia and thus his actions and wills are divinely-guided, no hurdles can stop him, and will ultimately win.
Those who know him very well say, Abiy Ahmed, is a man whose Pentecostalist faith dictates his political vision and actions. Many people believe that he brazenly exploits this faith to reinforce his legitimacy. One analyst argues that “Abiy has deliberately crafted a deceptive ethos as a persuasive tool”.
Abiy who mimics Emperor Haile Selassie, the “conquering lion of the tribe of Judah” and “elect of God” once describes Ethiopia as “a nation of the Creator’s cardinal wisdom”. Ethiopians largely hold to an age-old millenarianism, the belief in a prophet who will come to save the country, and Abiy has duly acquired the title of “messiah”.
In the words of one adherent, Abiy “wants the soul of our nation to rise and shine once again”, a soul which “has been buried for more than 44 years, damaged and darkened… with evil intent and design”.
Conversely, in the words of René Lefort, for the subjugated peripheral populations, however, Abiy’s vision for Ethiopia is more often perceived as an attempt to return them to a former position of subordination, of assimilation into Abyssinian civilization, a prospect that they fiercely opposed and will continue to oppose.
What are your thoughts on Abiy’s claims – is he a rainmaker or Con man?
Key takeaways from Abiy Ahmed’s speech in the parliament
Ethiopia has for the first time acknowledged that Eritrean troops have crossed the border. The prime minister told parliament today that Eritrea had sent troops into Ethiopia for security reasons. He noted that Eritrea feared that the TPLF would attack them while Ethiopian troops were engaged in fighting with the TPLF.
Ethiopia and Eritrea have previously denied various reports that Eritrean troops are involved in the conflict. Abiy Ahmed noted that Eritrea was pushed into the war after the TPLF launched a rocket attack.
The prime minister told parliament that Eritrea had said its soldiers were acting to secure the .border, taking over trenches there abandoned by Ethiopian soldiers who had gone off to fight. He added that he was not happy with the Eritrean military’s actions and assured Eritrea would withdraw its troops at the request of Ethiopia but still he needs the help of the Eritrean army.
Abiy Ahmed’s confession could be a disgrace to the government after it had repeatedly denied the allegations since November last year. Rights groups allege Eritrean soldiers have committed atrocities in towns like Aksum, which include killing unarmed civilians, raping women, and the widespread looting of public and private properties.
Abiy, too, said the conflict had caused problems. He said war is bad, and I know the devastation that it resulted in. The prime minister said any soldier who raped a woman or looted civilian property would be brought to justice.
The Prime Minister emphasized that Ethiopia has the right to deploy troops, including the Amhara Police, anywhere in the country when needed. He described it as a mistake to view Amhara troops as foreigners.
Abiy noted that nearly 1.8 million people in the Tigray region have been dependent on food aid for the last 20 years of the TPLF rule. He noted that the situation was exacerbated by locusts, COVID-19, and other obstacles. He said his government was working to deliver aid to those in need.
The prime minister said the worst massacre in the country’s history took place in Mai Kadra but did not receive any attention from the international community because the TPLF was behind the massacre. In his speech, Abiy accused Amnesty, the United Nations and other agencies of being “part of the TPLF family”.
Speaking on the land dispute between the various administrations in the country, he noted that it will be resolved legally. Abiy accused the TPLF of rejecting the commission in charge of border and identity disputes.
The prime minister has said his country will not go to war with Sudan. He noted that Sudan is in a state of crisis and is not ready for war with its neighboring countries. Abiy pointed out that the border dispute should be resolved peacefully.
He said the government is working to hold free and fair elections with the participation of all concerned. The prime minister said the ruling party is ready to hand over power peacefully if defeated.
Hours after Abiy’s parliamentary address, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission released its preliminary report into serious rights violations in the Tigrayan city of Axum, where accounts of atrocities by Ethiopian and allied forces were detailed last month in reports by The Associated Press and by Amnesty International.
According to the new report by the government-established rights agency, Eritrean soldiers killed over 100 people, including pilgrims attending an annual religious event, on Nov. 28 and the next day in Axum, which is also spelled Aksum. The victims included some “killed in front of their children, spouses, and mothers,” the report says, citing witnesses.
“These widespread human rights violations are not ordinary crimes but grave contraventions of applicable international and human rights laws and principles, marked by intentionally directed attacks against civilians who were not directly taking part in the hostilities,” the report says. “As these grave human rights violations may amount to crimes against humanity or war crimes, it underscores the need for a comprehensive investigation into overall human rights situation in Tigray region.”
It was not immediately possible to get a comment from Eritrean authorities.