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Talk of the Town
The Dilma of Ethiopia and the Demise of Amhara Progressives
As one devours both local and global news, one can easily feel that Ethiopia is traveling on a wrong trajectory. Its support from both ends seems to be dwindling. And the leader in Abiy who until recently was taught to be the hope of this rest empire is strayed by a canning elite coming from the North.
As much as Ethiopian colonialism and conquest have been painful to the peoples of the South and the East, there has always been a remote but hopeful silver lining in the struggles waged by progressive Amhara elites alongside those oppressed. Such a hope was embedded in the foresight of struggling for unity with the rights for nationalities and nations respected. That was the genesis of the left’s and the student movement’s struggle in the last 50 years. However, that world outlook has been lost. Most of the Amhara elites today have become more reactionaries and ultra-chauvinists than their predecessors.
Amhara elite’s opposition to federalism, the right of nations and nationalists, goes back to the 1990s. To undermine federalism, they even sided with the fascist regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam’s ideology and lobbied for his return, despite that he annihilated their own intellectuals and students in the era of the Red Terror. Some called for the restoration of the imperial order. Today, one of the architects of the Red Terror program, who lives in Boston and owns a multi-million-dollar house in Addis Ababa, is one of the most admired Amhara elites.
The one ideology these elites push forth and seem to be ready to die for is what they term as the ‘non-negotiable unity of the empire” (ya Itiyobiya andinet fisuminet). Unfortunately, they completely miss the fact that democratic expressions, such as the right of nations, women, rural under-class, in a federalist constitution, mainly promise to protect and preserve rights for such indigent groups.
The total migration of said elites to Dr. Abiy’s camp, conveniently ignoring the unprecedented crisis the current administration is facing, is also telling of how such elite has no solution for Ethiopia but only to add the sectarian climate prevailing there. Dr. Abiy’s administration is squeezed by both internal and external factors. Internally, all the nationality groups have withdrawn their support to his administration because of his tendencies to steer governance towards a less democratic polity. For example, Oromo, Somali, Benishangul-Gumuz, Sidama, Tigray, and others have lost confidence in him.
Globally, he is cornered mainly because of the poor human rights record. Yet, some of his staunch supporters are EZEMA and Fana forces. By just looking at the two ends of who supports Dr. Abiy and who opposes, one can easily see Ethiopia on the wrong trajectory where unity is distant and Arat Kilo is not about to bring it.
Do not even ask me how the Isaias Afworke factor contributed to the demise of Ethiopia – that subject for another time.
– Faisal Roble