Ethiopia under Abiy is, sadly set for a long war.
By Teshale Aberra
Ethiopia plunged in to a long & protracted war, not today when the army is being deployed and unleashed brutal force in Tigray, and like the pre 1974 era began to murder civilians in this region.
It in fact happened long time ago, when PM Abiy ascended to power by clearly declaring that he was meant to be a king; and considering his appointment as coronation shamelessly and in public said that his appointment was the outcome of his faith in the prophesy he was told by his mother at the age of 7, that he was destined to become a king. Given the commitment of the people to the current political arrangement, which doesn’t include a monarch, this was a big blow to democracy and the future of the country which no one dared to deal with on time.
Abiy is still his mother’s boy who is fanatical and who genuinely believe in what he was told: the prophecy. This prophecy has been echoed across many protestant churches. This is for sure. There were ‘prophets’ in the US who believed that Donald Trump is God sent president too. Just turned out that those prophets are god sent not God sent. In Ethiopia’s case there seems to be too many of such prophets. It is as if every individual could get one designated prophet if s/he could afford to pay for the service. With absolute honesty it began to look like that. One can ask around to check about this.
Those who always missed the imperial era and benefitted from it believed in what he said and genuinely fell for it. Many of those not just loved him for that but followed him and lend him a helping hand in his administration. The most fanatic sect called MAHBERE KIDUSAN (the assembly of saints) of the Orthodox religion are the learned and dangerous group who dived in to make him a true king, as someone who must revive the old Ethiopia. This is what s called make Ethiopia great again.
While this is unfolding around him, the rest tried to find some justification in what he was saying from time to time. Particularly desperate and in large part disgruntled and morally bankrupt politicians who lost their way and lived their lives abroad saw Abiy as their ones in life time and only opportunity to taste real power. Some of this group could not get what they wanted. All they got was a piece of land which was distributed by evicting their fellow country men and sell the land and go back to whe6they came from. Few got positions and had to commit their full service to his regime.
Most of the people just wanted to feel good about him at first:, many didn’t seem to face the risk of being let alone in the crowd that is chanting, cheering and celebrating with the king. That, I think is was what really happened to most Oromos, those in the diaspora in particular.
This kind of blind and unprincipled support led many Oromos to ignore the clear signals and led them to turn a blind eye to his declaration of war through what is called the Command Post in Oromia right from the start (2018).
Many people were killed by membersof the army, hundreds of thousands have been evicted from their livelihoods because of the military raids, tens of thousands rounded up and jailed in unknown places by this force; and over the past year a free measure is being taken on detainees by security forces.
It has been reported that political prisoners have been dragged out of prison and executed by security forces. While such and similar brutal actions were taking place in Oromia Sidama, Wolaita, Shakkacho, and in many other places our fellow friends, including educated political activists, fellow lawyers chose to praise him, even vouched for him that he shall be praised and seen as an icon of peace and democracy on globalstage. All they did was making him a god. Now he feels like it, and believes that he is a mini god among the 7 gods of Ethiopia. He in fact said that he was meant to become the 7th king. This is not a joke. He, naively but seriously believes in that. We have to take him by his own word.
Now, the recent invasion in Tigray is nothing short of a pre planned war. Seen from the total closure of roads taking to Tigray since 2018 and continued deliberations to cut all ties from Tigray and the campaign of sidelining the region and the people, this war has already been a matter of inevitability.
When TPLF was singled out as the only perpetrator of the crimes during its reign in power, indeed in coalition with the party Abiy was a member, namely EPRDF, in which he willingly worked as trusted security agent with the responsibility of leading a highly intrusive surveillance system the country ever saw, everyone chose to believe that he was rather victim of that very system as all of us not a villain who took part in those crimes.
This is perhaps because of the fact that the entire country for once chose to hear good news from someone from the biggest political position. That someone tells them that the past regime, which in fact was never past, was criminal. That rush for change gave Abiy to camouflage himself from his past and to pose as a person who could blame the past on their behalf. This person, turned in fact, to be Abiy Ahmed, the top security agent who used to orchestrate the surveillance and tapping in to every conversation and listening to what we were whispering, in so doing kept everyone in line, and even make disappear during those dark days.
On the other hand, Abiy was not just the outcome a wrong choice by the people. There was no choice at all people. In the run up to the creation of a crack in the EPRDF government, Oromo political activists and the media created an environment where people were left for no choice but to believe that 1) a transition to democracy is possible, and 2) elements within EPRDF, particularly some from OPDO politicians could be talked with this assignment. Those who promoted this idea and eventually propelled this man Abiy to power are to blame for what is unfolding today. There is only one person who vehemently opposed the choice(candidacy) of Abiy to facilitate for that assignment: Jawar rather saw ahead of every one that this man was nothing but a wrong choice. He was right on this.
Now the question is whether Abiy could continue pursuing his dream despite all the mess he put the entire country in, and the challenges laying ahead on all fronts. For sure people will come out of their desperation for change and confusion. They will begin to ask tough questions as they already began in many parts of Ethiopia. Blaming on TPLF, all the crimes that had been perpetrated over two decades under EPRDF government has kept him going this far and yet it cannot keep the truth to come out eventually.
We saw, the Oromo Peoples Democratic Organisation (OPDO) ruled over Oromia. OPDO is fully responsible for the widespread crimes in Oromia, which is still painful memory and difficult to forget. Abiy’s new party is formed from the same people who were in OPDO like Abiy himself. The Oromo people who in principle embraced the democratic, political and economic rights envisioned by the 1995 constitutional arrangement had to carry on their back, at least tolerate somehow the TPLF and OPDO out of the conviction that they as a coalition (EPRDF) will one day come to their senses and will eventually respect and uphold the constitution.
Many Oromo still believe that the 1995 constitutional arrangement and the rights envisioned then has some hope, that it will survive somehow. It appears that people are waking up slowly but surely from their dreams that Abiy is a PM who said he really resent EPRDF’s 28 years of repression. He is it, but with little knowledge of what EPRDF promissed to stand for. In that sense, he is not even as good as EPRDF. He is his mother’s boy with a single goal of being and becoming a king.
He dreams the dream of the make Ethiopia great again camp. He is part of the day dreaming society who wish to bring back the Ethiopia which is called the Christian island, an Ethiopia which claims that the country has one religion called orthodox and one language called Amharic and one ethnic identity called Amhara. This is a dream that will never come true. AND this is why this war is set to continue and that it is going to be a protracted and long war to my view at least.