Open Ethiopia’s Political Can of Worms
order to halt a late 2015 wave of anti-government protest and eventually
stimulate political and socio-economic reforms, Ethiopians elected Dr.
Abiy (hereafter referred as Abiy) Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic
Republic of Ethiopia on April 2, 2018. After six months in power, instead
of facilitating a peaceful and democratic pathway, Abiy appears more
focused on self-aggrandizing and enhancing his popularity. By ignoring the
parameters and ideological premises of the Ethiopian People’s
Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) in favor of various opposing
groups, Abiy seems to further balkanize the Ethiopian state by opening a
political can of worms.
Abiy has failed to provide conditionality for other Ethiopian political
groups to operate inside the country. Admittedly, the EPRDF is currently
rotten and irreparable. The Oromos believe Abiy’s party, the Oromo
People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO),
is defunct; they believe the Tigrai Liberation Front (TPLF) purposely
created it after the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) declared its withdrawal
from the Transitional Government in 1992 so OPDO could counteract
potential pressure from the OLF (Milkissa, 2015).
this reality, Abiy should assume the Oromo people would naturally choose
their own genuine political organization, the OLF, in the upcoming 2020
election. Unlike Abiy’s OPDO, the OLF has always stood to pursue cession
for Oromiyaa by establishing an independent Oromiyaa after a hundred years
of colonial rule by the ‘habashas’—similar to what Eritrea
accomplished in 1993 (Milkissa, 2015). Since the OLF’s stance
contradicts the ideals of Abiy’s Party, the OPDO, how will Abiy
reconcile this contradiction?
from his original pledge to change Ethiopia, “from the inside out—and
fast” (Sengupta, 2018) in order to galvanize the masses, Abiy has
preached religious dogmas of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation as
Ethiopians either kill each other or flee their homes in fear of
intercommunal violence and ethnic conflict.
claiming to institute democratic order in Ethiopia, Abiy may contribute to
his own downfall by rolling out red carpets and singing procession songs
to welcome freedom fighters and appeal to politically antagonistic
Ethiopian diaspora. The question is, without
seriously investigating their incivility, their ethical positions, and
their lack of any worthwhile vision for Ethiopia’s future, what
leadership judgment did Abiy use to consult the collections of unofficial
advisors or kitchen cabinet? Sooner or later, Abiy may seriously regret
example, Abiy’s confidants have raised
hue and cry to disrupt Ethiopia’s hard-earned economic awakening; after
years of distressing trauma, Ethiopia has established a basic
infrastructure to make it Africa’s manufacturing hub. Instead of siding
with his confidants, Abiy should recognize and preserve the previous
position on Ethiopia’s external economic perspectives seems perplexing.
He is gradually steering Ethiopia’s economy toward dependence upon and
subordination to the American-backed
Arab regimes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Under Abiy’s
leadership, Ethiopia is gradually destroying its hard-earned strategic and
economic partnership with China that took years to develop. Today, Abiy is
shifting Ethiopia’s geopolitical sights from China and toward its United
States and Middle Eastern Clients (Cunningham, 2018). Realizing that these
US-backed Arab regimes are acting mainly to protect Egypt’s ‘life and
death’ interest on the Nile River, as argued by Cunningham (2018), it
seems that Abiy is acting “…more like a Trojan Horse figure whose
entrance to office is primarily serving the geopolitical interests of
Washington and its Arab clients’ regimes, while jeopardizing his own
country’s stability” and economic vitality.
Cunningham’s argument to its logical conclusion, Abiy’s administration
may have decided to delay the privately funded; almost 60 percent
completed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). If he attempts to
complete the GERD, Abiy would create tension within the newly created
hegemonic order he has accepted from his new patrons, the US-backed Arab
states. Since Egypt is a core member of the Arab states, it has been
hiding behind the US-backed Arab league to create the illusion that if the
GERD project is abandoned, Egypt’s water supply from the Nile will
remain steady and Egypt will not face an existential threat from Ethiopia.
conclusion, if Abiy seeks to implement serious political reforms in
Ethiopia, then he must deliver equal footing to all domestic political
parties for fair and effective competition. Importantly, a level playing
field could help these parties act as conveyor belts between their
constituencies and the genuine democratic government Ethiopians have long
aspired to create.
cracking open Ethiopia’s political can of worms, Abiy’s Government
must seriously plan to galvanize and reverse the flow of knowledge through
the “re-integration process so that the Ethiopian returnees are
gainfully employed and can participate in the social and economic
development of their home country” (Desta, 2014, p. 87). However,
if the Ethiopian diaspora have the desire to involve themselves for the
2020 election period, as in other African countries and as my book, “From Economic Dependency and Stagnation to Democratic Development State”
(see Desta, 2014),
explains, Ethiopia must consider extending dual citizenship to
natural-born Ethiopian diaspora.
A. (2014). From
Economic dependency and Stagnation to democratic Developmental State.Trenton,
New Jersey: The Red Sea Press.
S. (Sept, 2018). “Can Ethiopia’s Leader, A Political Insider, Change
His Country from the Inside Out? The
New York Times. Available
Accessed 9/17/2018. Sengupta, 2018.