A doubly discredited Prime Minister Dr Abye Ahmed, leader of an ethnic apartheid regime in Ethiopian
A doubly discredited PM Dr Abye Ahmed chooses to be a leader of the Oromo ethnic group rather than the leader of Ethiopia. Dr Abye, the new chairman of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) came to power as the third PM of Ethiopia in 2018 pushed through his Oromo Democratic Party. He captured the heart of millions of Ethiopians as he reassured the nation he will bring an end to the 27 years of the brutal and undemocratic rule by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a regime constituted by a minority Tigrean ethnic group. This group which was the mirror image of the white supremacists Afrikaner regime in Apartheid South Africa, dominated all of the political and economic spheres of the country; but also controlled the police, the army and the intelligence. Corruption was rife in the country and was openly practiced by the late PM Meles Zenawi and his cronies from 1991-2018. In their bid to hold on to power, the minority Tigrean regime delivered numerous failed elections resulting in brutal push backs to opposition parties , silencing journalists and crushing political activists. These led to a massive incarceration of everyone opposing the regime and especially the youth. However, this did not stop opposition parties to continue the struggle from abroad, and from neighboring Eritrea resulting in greater pressure and unrest in the country.
In April 2018, due to internal power struggle within the EPRDF and upon the resignation of former PM Hailemariam Desalegn in February 2018, Dr Abye Ahmed got elected as the new PM of the country. He brought renewed hope to the people promising hefty political reforms that will lead to free and fair elections within a couple of years. Elections are scheduled to take place in May 2021.
The new PM comes from an obscure background of a long career in the military and the intelligence. His ascension to power stemmed both from his own narrative of calculative moves and being a shrewd politician. His position in the intelligence kept him abreast of all intricacies of the country’s political internal and external landscape which helped him achieve his goal. In recent months, large amount of airtime were spent on the analysis of the collapse of the country’s political transition. For most opposition political supporters, this was obvious from the beginning as the new PM and his party are dire proponents of the existing Constitution of the country whereas it was the biggest bone of contention among opposition politicians and activists, particularly Article 39 which stands to grant the right to self-determination (or Bantustan for the designated ethnic groups only). Members of the Oromo nationalists’ party to which Dr Abye belongs aspire for such a self-governing status where Addis Ababa which remained stripped from its federal city status since 1995 would serve as the capital city of the Oromia state.
In the beginning of his tenure, the PM performed his role very well and notably in the case of Ethio- Eritrean peace, and the horn of Africa in general which awarded him the 2019 Nobel Peace prize. Internally, his promise of a peaceful and democratic transition of the country to a full-fledged democratic elections was well received by the citizens, opposition parties and the media. The unbanning of opposition parties and the release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscious led to suspension of their armed struggles and the return of many political exiles to their home country.
Labeled as the evil and Machiavelli PM, Dr Abye did not show a credible vision for the country. His empty rhetoric of reform speeches of “killing is a sign of defeat”, “we will not arrest without due process”, “we are Ethiopians when we live, and Ethiopians when we die”, have not been followed through as prisons in Ethiopia have currently been filled to capacity and deaths and displacements are every day encounters according to many human rights activists, journalists and political commentators. There are compelling and abundant evidence in the public domain to show that the PM is implicated in the ethnic cleansing of the Amhara and Orthodox Christian population in Ethiopia. In fact, the state machinery which includes the police, the Oromo Special Armed Forces and the Oromo Liberation Front Army are used to conduct such operations. Just recently, state sponsored radical activism and terrorism were the reason for the deaths of more than 50 000 people and the displacement of close to one million people. The non-Oromo ethnic groups, especially the Amharas have been at the receiving end of the brutal battering, ethnic cleansing, mutilation, murders and displacements.
The sate sponsored terrorism is practiced through the “Qero” which is an Oromo boys youth organisation similar to the German “Hilrejugend”, the Oromo Special Armed Forces and the Oromo Liberation Front army referred as “OLF Shene”. The group is armed with various weapons ranging from machetes to rifles and advanced automatic weapons supplied by Dr Abye’s Prosperity Party leaders. Members of the group have been indoctrinated in hate and racist ideology by their leaders Jawar Mohammed, Bekele Gerba, Shimeles Abdissa, Dawud Ibssa, and Merera Gudina. This group is motivated by the promise of wealth and position of power resulting from the looting of land and other possessions owned by non-Oromos. The group is used to terrorize and murder state identified enemies such as the “Neftegna” (derogatory term used to label Amharas and Orthodox Christians), to burn churches and mosques, to interfere with meetings held by opposition parties or civic organizations that oppose Abye’s regime, to close roads, and to burn and destroy businesses, burn and destroy crops, burn and destroy houses belonging to non-Oromos. This group is used to undermine the traditional values of Ethiopians regardless of religion and ethnic background. Some political activists have labelled the “Qero” group that is led by Jawar Mohammed and the Oromo Liberation Front group led by Dawud Ibsa as terrorist groups which should be outlawed and have demanded the arrest of their leaders, some of which like Shimeles Abdissa are part of the current government structure. In this turmoil, the PM is pointing fingers at the likes of Eskeder Nega who is a nationalist fighting for the rights of the residents of Addis Ababa or peace loving youth opposing the youth group of Qero and the Oromo Liberation Front who are responsible for the genocide and that is practiced on non-Oromo people in Ethiopia.
For a PM who claims to be pro-peace and an Ethiopian nationalist, he failed to give equal respect and justice to all citizens of the country, especially to the most vulnerable children, women and the elderly. The creation of the new Prosperity Party in replacement of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) seems to only be a cosmetic change to ethnic politics as the actual problem is the Constitution of the country that was the foundation for ethnic federalism. Instead, the transition has provided for the transfer of most federal state power from EPRDF officials of the Tigrean ethnic group to EPRDF officials of the Oromo ethnic group bringing the fear of increased ethnic polarisation and violence.