The past four months were undoubtedly phenomenal in Ethiopia as Ethiopians have witnessed notable changes along the path of transforming the country to a democracy. Political prisoners are released. The government has exonerated political parties which were labelled as “terrorist organizations” and invited them to enter the country to struggle peacefully to achieve their own political ideals. Also, government helped reunite Ethiopian church, made peace with Ethiopians abroad and is engaging them to make them involve in the development effort of the country. Ethiopia has made peace with Eritrea. All these are great achievements.
Yet, as much as Ethiopians have hope that the future holds something good for Ethiopia, politically or otherwise, there are also fears that Ethiopia is facing an existential threat. Manifestations of it are being observed in different parts of the country.
Last week, a regional government in Eastern Ethiopia coordinated unprecedented attack based on ethnicity targeting non-Somali Ethiopians. At least, 29 were killed, not to mention other damages, virtually for not being from Somali speaking community in cities like Jijiga and Kebri Dehar, among others. For some of the victims, these were cities where they lived all their lives as an Ethiopians. Federal government intervention came three days after the attack. There is relative calm, but residents are still living with the fear of being attacked again for who they are.
Today, something even worse and unprecedented happened in Shashemene, Oromo region in central Ethiopia, if viewed from the perspective of morality and Ethiopian social values. The regional police have its own narrative about it; “three people were killed due to stampede during an event organized for the reception ceremony” of Jawar Mohammed, Minnesota based ethno-nationalist activist and director of Oromia Media Network.
A verified image in social media showing the bodies of victims hanged upside down while hundreds and thousands of seemingly radicalized ethno-nationalist youth watch when two mob leaders rant standing in a step ladder like structure besides the bodies rather suggest that the victims were not killed during the stampede. They were killed by the mob allegedly for holding a grenade, according to social media sources, which the police proved to be false.
The story above is just what happened over the past few days. There have been similar stories in different parts of the country in the last few months. And it is this lawlessness and anarchy that has become worrisome to Ethiopians. Some of the them were explained as works of counter-reform forces who lost power due to the political transitions within the ruling party and many people have purchased the narrative. Yet, even those seemingly disruptive moves on the part of counter-reform forces are fundamentally informed by ideologies of ethno-nationalism.
Most Ethiopians are convinced that prime minister Abiy has good intentions to change the country for the better and he has demonstrated incredible level of commitment to make that happen. However, the level of anarchy and lawlessness in many parts of the country is making Ethiopians doubt if Abiy Ahmed’s government can bring stability and order to the country.
We have reached to a point, specially in the regions, when the safety and security of citizens is compromised due to threats radicalized ethno-nationalists are posing. And the problem is that rhetorical engagement might not be a match to defeat radical-ethno nationalists – both the counter-reform block and those who accepted and supported the change to advance their radical ethno-nationalist ideology.
The government of prime minister Abiy Ahmed needs to have institutional reform not only to effectively implement the policies the introduced but also to avert the danger of lawlessness and anarchy which essentially emanates from the fact that his government is, structurally, at the mercy of ethno-nationalists.
Join the conversation. Like borkena on Facebook and get Ethiopian News updates regularly. As well, you may get Ethiopia News by following us on twitter @zborkena