Possible Challenges for the Newly Elected Prime Minister of Ethiopia
Professor Asayehgn Desta
Last Tuesday, March 27, 2018, the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation announced Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s landslide election to Chair the ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). Voters elected Dr. Abiy assuming he was a progressive voice, a reformist, cue-taker, open to suggestion, and because he has a proven ability to divert profound social crises in his hometown, a point he developed into his doctoral dissertation.
Based on his talent for crisis control, voters expect Dr. Abiy to calm the rampant political unrest throughout the Oromo region in Ethiopia. Given these qualities, the House of Peoples’ Representative of the Ethiopian Federal Parliamentarian System had no choice but to elect Dr. Abiy as the next Prime Minister of Ethiopia.
Despite Prime Minister Hailemariam’s resignation and the public’s opposition to the government’s state of emergency declared in February 16, 2018 tailored to uphold the rule of law and stem a wave of anti-government protests, the Oromo youth’s anti-government protests that emerged in late 2015 and gradually spread to the northern part of the Amhara region of Ethiopia, demanding more political inclusion, economic equality and social justice. Thus, protesters temporarily suspended changes in decision-making process immediately after Dr. Abiy’s victory (Quartz Africa, Feb, 16, 2018).
It is too early to forecast the various positions that Dr, Abiy’s regime might take to maintain peace and prosperity in Ethiopia, and the writer will explore the issue further as developments unfold. Nonetheless, to calm Ethiopia’s emerging political havoc, Dr. Abiy’s regime will likely face the following demands.
The short-term demands will focus on:
1. Halting the state of emergency put in operation by the previous regime;
2. Initiating the political will necessity to safeguard human rights and release prisoners who have challenged the status quo;
3. Designing a visionary plan to create permanent jobs designed to employ wayward scattered throughout the country;
4. Beginning to dissolve the embedded relationship between the ruling political party and the state bureaucracy.
Mid-term demands could include:
1. Beginning to reform the Ethiopia’s higher educational institutions and design them to articulate the demand for and the supply of human capital; and
2. Implementing the devolution of power and the empowerment of local communities to create a political system with a core interest in its local citizens.
Long-term demands are likely to focus on:
1. Restructuring Ethiopia’s political system to provide an effective mechanism for initiating a peaceful and democratic pathway to build a united Ethiopia; and
2. Initiating a political culture to profoundly change and bestow equality and justice to all Ethiopian citizens.