The path Ethiopia is on right now is a path to nowhere – a stride into darkness.
It has been two months since Haacaaluu was assassinated, and all formidable opponents of the PM were thrown into jails based on trumped-up charges. From Jawar Mohammed and Bekele Gerba to Eskinder Nega and Lidetu Ayalew, his most outspoken critics, except those in the self-governing region of Tigray, are languishing in jails for political reasons.
Make no mistake – these trials are political. Once again, the law and the judicial apparatus are being weaponized by the regime to purge its political foes from the political space. What goes on before the courts in these cases are the continuation of the political battle by a legal means. The courts, rather than being independent guardians of truth and justice, are being used as mere instruments at the disposal of the gov’t.
Abiy wants to make sure that he continues to live in his garishly ornate palace (which he wants Ethiopians to view it as a model for what the country would look like under his leadership) and he seems to have come to the conclusion that he needs to get brutal if he is to avoid being ousted from his obtrusively decorated palace.
But can a dictatorship endure in today’s Ethiopia? Isn’t this steadfast political archetype of the last two centuries on the way out everywhere?
Why does this gov’t think they can get the job done (whatever that is) through force and violence? The military-run dictatorship of the Derg, one of Africa’s most brutal military dictatorships, crumbled under the relentless onslaught of liberation movements. TPLF’s dictatorship, which maintained power through a combination of violence, and the distribution of patronage through personal and ethnic networks, succumbed to the persistent protests of teeming Oromo youth.
Abiy’s dictatorship, and its neo-Neftegna apparatchiks, will prove to be one of the most unstable, out of place, and untimely of dictatorships seen anywhere in the world.
Ethiopia, as a plurinational state, faces a very complex future, and it does not need a dictatorship and a return to that dejected past to chart a mutually acceptable path and a future. What is need is finding a way to work towards a constitutional settlement for the nations and nationalities, and a commitment to secure that settlement in a new social contract, which hopefully lays the foundation for the state-building project that has failed for so long.
One way of working towards that settlement is via a process often called National Dialogue (not the one Abiy’s started after jailing all his opponents).
The path Ethiopia is on right now is a path to nowhere, a stride into darkness.
Release all political prisoners and return to the transitional process. This gov’t is not elected and it does not have a democratic mandate to impose a political settlement for the future.
– Awol Kassim