Ethiopia’s sham election does not constitute a new beginning
There is simply no conceivable universe in which a sham election that proceeds by excluding critical stakeholders could be considered a ‘new beginning’ or a ‘step in the right direction’. This election is a shambolic exercise designed to manufacture legitimacy for the incumbent and will do nothing to address Ethiopia’s ominous challenges. If anything, it exacerbates existing contradictions and hastens the disintegration of Ethiopia as we know it.
A key part of Abiy’s systematic and calculated campaign of repression in Oromia is the elimination of popular politicians who represented a formidable electoral threat to his childhood dream of becoming a King. Without locking up people like Jawar Mohammed, Bekele Gerba, Hamza Borena and others, his coronation as a PP leader would not become a reality.
The Prosperity Party & its reactionary Ethiopia-First ideology have no support in much of the country. With the exception of the Amhara region and Addis Ababa, there is no appetite for Abiy’s delusional Make Ethiopia Great Again ideology. However, the Prosperity Party has already rolled back the limited progress made thus far in the areas of self-government, pluralism, & respect for diversity, leading to civil war & massive unrest.
In 2018, Abiy inherited a shambolic mandate from Hailemariam Desalegn but he ruled Ethiopia as though he had an overwhelming democratic mandate and continued support for his policies. Abiy took drastic measures that effectively changed the constitutional fabric of the country. After his expected coronation, he will continue to rule in the same way and ultimately impose his totalitarian idea of ‘unity’ by any means.
After Abiy’s coronation, the political demands and proposals for change will change. Opposition groups are likely to demand gov’t of national unity and insist that a genuine national dialogue that will sort out the country’s ominous troubles cannot be held under Abiy’s direction.
Abiy is unlikely to accept those demands. If he could not accept domestic and international pleas for dialogue and a peaceful end to the crisis facing Ethiopia over the last three years, one could not reasonably expect a newly crowned Abiy to accept any conditions to end Ethiopia’s woes?
I predict the election will end without a significant episode. The parties running in the election are ideologically homogenous and they see those excluded from the process as bigger threats to their long term vision than the ruling party. But one thing is clear: this election will not end Ethiopia’s menacing crisis. It will complicated and exacerbate it.
The country will likely plunge deeper and deeper into the abyss, gradually. Ethiopia will revert to its authoritarian self to repress those it excluded and this will further harden and entrench feelings of marginalization. The government will produce new governing narratives to obscure and gaslight people – they will do the same thing all over again. But this time, Ethiopia may not survive & the Empire could fall under the weight of its contradiction.
– Awol Kassim Allo