Ethiopia: Beyond Relaxing Authoritarianism
Relaxing authoritarian rule is just that, relaxation, not political liberalization.
Releasing some political prisoners, interrupting proceedings of some political trials, dropping ‘terrorist’ charges of some media and activist personalities, and lifting of the state of emergency (SOE) are all positive measures aimed at relaxing the heavy grip of oppressive authoritarian rule. (The regime is yet to complete these acts of relaxation by removing the list of political parties that are banished as terrorists.)
These may be very much in line with the so called ‘deep reform’ of the regime but they still fall short of the much needed liberalization of the political space.
If further progress is going to be made in the direction of democratic transition, these measures of relaxation may be the earliest phase, the preface, to the transition to come.
The first step towards democratic transition, i.e., the process of democratization proper, starts with the opening up of the ‘political space.’ This opening up of space is said to exist when the infrastructure of repression, oppression, and exclusion are dismantled step by step. It’s done through liberalization of politics by renouncing and conuter-acting exclusion, oppression, and repression.
This happens when, among others:
1. The counter-terrorism law is repealed or revised as appropriate;
2. The draconian rules of the press proclamation, the law on media freedom and freedom of information, and broadcast media are repealed or amended;
3. The rules on freedom of assembly (i.e., the law on peaceful political meeting and demonstration) are repealed or amended as appropriate, especially the administrative directive that imposes duty to seek permission (replacing the mere duty of notification);
4. The rules on freedom of association, on the establishment of a civil society organization (such as activist non-governmental humanitarian and human rights organizations), are repealed or amended (which can be done, for example, by repealing or amending the proclamation on Charities and Societies);
5. The rules on the formation, registration, and participation-in-election of political parties are amended or revised as appropriate;
6. The rules on funding election campaigns, access to, and use of, the public media institutions (print, electronic, and broadcast outlets) for election campaigns, etc are repealed or amended as appropriate;
7. The electoral rules on nomination, assignment, and registration of candidates; the electoral rules (laws, regulations, and directives) on electoral districts (for local, regional, and federal seats), etc are transparently made and adhered to (or existing rules on the same are repealed, amended or adjusted as appropriate);
8. The electoral rules on observation and observers of elections and the modes of managing, adjudicating, and resolving election disputes (eg. modes of making and/or receiving complaints, responding to, arbitrating, and/or deciding on them in a neutral, timely, and effective manner) are repealed, amended, or adjusted as needed;
9. The rules of ouster, i.e., the rules that ousted the courts from decision-making by denying the latter of their (judicial) review power over administrative agencies (such as those on the power of Rental Houses, Customs and Inland Revenue, Land Administration (nuisance cases), and Electoral authorities) are repealed, amended, or adjusted as necessary; and
10. The constitutional rule that denies courts to have a final interpretive power on strictly non-political disputes (by giving ultimate interpretive power over ‘all constitutional disputes’ to the Council of Constitutional Inquiry [CCI] and House of Federation [HOF]) is relaxed by amending or repealing the relevant laws (especially proc 250/2001 and 251/2001 and even of arts 62 cum 81-84 of the Constitution);
The above are acts of political liberalization. They help expand the free sphere of public political action, thereby bringing about a more open ‘political space.’
Once this is achieved, the transition proceeds to democratization proper when the regime oversees the conduct of a FREE, FAIR, and COMPETITIVE election.
After the election is conducted and a government with a legitimate democratic credential is put in place, the work of building consensus (horizontal and vertical) starts. Thus begin dialog/multilog over issues of inter-party, inter-group and inter-generational conflicts.
With a view to coming to terms with our past as a polity (and to bury the hatchets of political violence), we may need to engage in some kind of ‘transitional justice.’
This and the work of ‘democratic consolidation’ that is confirmed by another peaceful, free, fair, and competitive election completes the process of democratic transition.
To not put this process on course, to tinker on the margins (in the name of ‘deep reform’), and to jump into the bandwagon of privatizing the economy (without any democratic political mandate) poses a veritable threat not only to the hope of democratization but also to the longing for social justice that has been, and still is, a rallying point for the #Oromoprotests that forced this current ‘dispensation’ onto the political terrain.
“Haaromsi OPDO shawaa lixaa goonkumaa hin fudhannu. Aanaa tokkorraa Aanaa biraa geessuu, Godina biraarraa Godina biraa geessuu kana hin fudhannu. Yoo miseensa OPDO ala nama eessaa finna yoo jedhan namoota keessan warra walgahii miseensaarratti gaaffiin sin joonjeessan Sana , warra guddina dhorkattan, Sana maqaa isaanii sinii ergina isaan aangootti nuu fidaa.
“Warri amma haaromsaan fidaa jiran hunduu bara 2006- ammaatti warra Qeerroo akka bineensaatti ariisisaa , hiisisaa Raagaa sobaa itti bahanidha.”
Governments privatize state owned companies when they struggle to be profitable. For companies which are 100% known to make profit (Ethio telecom, ethiopian airlines), why would a government wants to transfer its ownership to someone else?
Lets say it is purely just get the much needed foreign currency. Will these investors agree with the price tag on these companies assuming competition is at play? Of course investors will be so happy there will be no competition and they just pay their dollar to get it back multiplied in many folds.
It should be clear.
Looter and thieves who have stolen billions of dollars from often very same companies, now that they have lost the political power, want to have an economic power by buying these companies.
It is Russia in early 90s all over again. When USSR broke up, those in the helm of power in Kremlin bought all state owned companies and some of them sold these companies back to the government in huge profit. I know future Ethiopian governments will probably want to keep specially the Rail, Water and Electricity in public hands. The airline and ethio telecom might use different model because they have to compete with regional and global market.
Via : Biyya Oromiyaa
Is this something you can imagine the leader of your country doing?
Dutch PM Rutte cleans up his own coffee spill.