Ethiopia: Trouble Ahead (By Kebour Ghenna)

By Kebour Ghenna
August 28,2018

By and large PM Abye Ahmed’s FIRST (stress) press conference went relatively well. Except it was long, way too long, with no Ah-Haaa moment for the viewing public!

In general press conferences are said to serve a useful purpose: they allow heads of state to explain their policy decisions to the public, and they provide the press, working on behalf of the public, the opportunity to hold the head of state accountable for those decisions. In truth in this first press conference nothing the PM said merited its own news story. The questions put to him either wasted the time of all involved, or were pitifully easy to disarm with non-answers. Only one or two questions were substantive enough to generate interesting comment. Also the format did not allow any follow-up questions, underlining how poorly the press conference was organized, or rather how restrictive it was.

Anyway what did we learn from this first press conference:.

We saw a PM in search of a political ideology. Today there are game-changing influences from the world’s new economic powers on one hand, and growing ethnic nationalism and increasing mob rule on the other. We find it strange that there is very little, if any, attempt to identify the ideologies in play in a changing Ethiopia.

We heard a PM who understands that Ethiopia faces serious conflicts, threats of terrorism, ethnic division, environmental degradation, poor governance, rampant corruption and increasing inequality but with no new or good ideas, and legislative programs to address these issues.

We observed a PM who favors for a return to traditional Ethiopian values such as solidarity, nationalism, and humanism on one hand, and a PM seeking to exploit the materialistic values of capitalism for development, on the other. In our opinion two conflicting discourses.

In brief, there was no ‘Big-Dream-for-Ethiopia’ sort of vision announcement, but a confident PM with all his usual deferential style and very little specificity on policies. But who cares? For many Ethiopians he is a hero. He is the savior of the nation. People sleep more soundly now, that he is in charge at Arat Kilo.

More observations:

Will the PM keeps on ignoring calls for laying out his political and economic reform agenda to the public? We think he will delay laying out his agenda for a short while. Why? Because he (the PM) has barely started his new job, and delivering effective reform are never easy. To his credit he has set himself out to be a transformative leader. He has promised to establish a decisive role for market forces, and to overcome and control the vested interests which stand in his way. Let’s wait and see.

Will the PM and opposition parties agree on the principles for conducting democratic elections? We doubt it. Increasingly the political space is being filled with political extremists, who exploit the general discontent with the exclusion from decision-making. This situation feeds uncertainty and conflict.

Will the Abye – Essayas public embrace be enough to cement the peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea? We don’t think so. Peace building is a multi-component process requiring political and economic solutions within the framework of nation-state. Much remains to be done to identify and strengthen the structures which tend to solidify peace to avoid relapse into conflict.

Will the PM explore the possibility of calling a constitutional convention to reform power and responsibilities between the national government and state governments? There is no sign of it. Without even dealing with other critical issues, the current political space keeps few regional states and their citizens’ voices on the outside looking in. It’s long past time to change that relationship.

Will the PM propose new reforms to liberalize the economy and launch programs to re-energize the economy? The odds, based on what we’ve seen so far, looks very slim. So far, there is no talk of a bold agenda for economic change, the few actions undertaken remain disjointed and frankly unimpressive. Sooner or later, investors are bound to notice that there is little for the economy to keep growing.

Of course we have frequently been wrong in our analysis of things. When trying to understand and comment on Ethiopian politics, we are bound to draw a few stray lines. And we will no doubt be proven wrong in many of our opinions and predictions.

So dear readers… please feel free to correct us, or help us get our predictions right.
Editor’s note : Kebour Ghenna shared this article first on his facebookpage. Should you like to publish your article here, please do send submission to info@borkena.com or editor@borkena.com



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5 Responses to "Ethiopia: Trouble Ahead (By Kebour Ghenna)"

  1. MoTaQeranyo   August 28, 2018 at 6:19 pm

    My comment is the writer needs to know How to spell the first name of the Eritrean President.

    Reply
  2. wedinakf   August 28, 2018 at 11:20 pm

    PM Abiy has spoken with this people, media is only for the chattering classes who can’t do or won’t to do any other job but re good at peddling hear say, twisting facts and spinning issues to antagonise society in the name of free press, but I say No No!!! there’s nothing for free, all cost money and journalism too even though they are getting cheaper than a hooker!!!!

    So journalist we’re done with your free but skewed, misleading, manipulating and confusing. Ethiopians, the Horn’s population have heard him clear if you like it we heard it from the horse’s mouth so stop whining like a little boys!!

    Reply
  3. medinasf   August 31, 2018 at 8:03 am

    You are too pessimistic starting from your title. You don’t seem to be following what has been delivered so far by PM Abiy. All the mentioned activities as not being done are already in progress.
    you should also note that he has been tied up in crisis management so far and introducing any new major program needs time and various reconciliation efforts as per the current dynamics of the country.
    All in all, there is a bright future ahead of us not trouble!!

    Reply
  4. selam   September 6, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    The issue being pessimistic as medinasf said. It is correct or incorrect. Ethiopia’s politics is hit or miss because, while we have enemies within for the past 40 years, the people didn’t act for so many years, I mean cleaning out enemies within, that Ethiopia’s situtation has become complicated it was designed that way. The owner’s of Ethiopia as of now don’t know which one is the end of the tail. What is amazing, many thought a country like Ethiopia will never be affected because it is enormous. Think again, Soviet Union crumbled, what makes you think Ethiopia won’t knowing in its past histroy of zemenemesafint. Let alone Ethiopians do not understand, grab the knowledge how the enemy within think, except the ever tyring diatribe of “Weyane! Weyane!” for the past 27 years, how do they know how to beat this enemy or any enemy for that matter without ever creating a well organized Ethiopa organization and ativism in the diaspora? I am not talking about G7/Esat or the usual protest. How is it that Ethiopian failed to creat 1 organization under Ethiopia in the diaspora? I remember, Ogang Metho who is not even in the mainstream of Ethiopia has been talking about this! What is bizzare to me, for the past 27 years; 1. not one Ethiopian has come across on media to talk about warning, advice or reconcilitation, forgiveness, that would bring in exremists, ethno nationalists. 2. Not one Ethiopinas who are non Oromo or Tigray, which the vast majority of Ethiopianss I am sure speak Oromo especially, and in the diaspora, did not to reach out or open platform by utilizing both languages to ease tension and to show the closeness and the interconnectedness of Ethiopians who share cross cultural differences, especially Amaras should have done that. Recently, I read article, you have no idea how Shabia has created a link between Oromo and Eritrea for its own agenda, he made sure that many Eritreans learn Oromo language and in fact, it is said and Eritrean had created the writing for the langauage and how the Oromo have been greatful for that. Both are involved and exchange socially and culturally heavily especially Eritrea pushes this because it wants to take away the relationship between Oromo and Amara which it succeeded. This had made many Oromos to open their heart to Eritrea while at the same time for Shabia it is finally to break the Ethiopian state and for its own benefit.

    Reply
  5. selam   September 10, 2018 at 8:09 pm

    I realize another issue. Things for sure slowly but surely taking things to another issue.. the rise of Islam in Ethiopia. I notice, Dr. Abiy is appointing Muslims. Although democracy for sure what we want, almost the top leaders including Amara Demeke Mekonen are muslims. Ethiopia by its nature was/is christian country. Eventually Islam will take over no matter what.. look at Middle East, N Africa, its people who were once Christian have been annhilated and oppressed and forced conversion to Islam. Egypt was once Orthodox nation, now only 5% of Christians left. Our fate is exactly the same. It doesn’t matter, the West fully support Islamic nation except certain nation. The reason they love Saudi, Dubai, etc, is because it had opressed the people, especially women, and gave up its natural resources. Abyi is not talking about the occupation of Sudan and Tigray from North, Somalia already occupying Ogaden, S Sudan occupying Gambella. Ethiopia is already signed up under this, its entire neighbor is Islamic. Aby is per Western demand to form Horn of Africa Union, which entire Union horn of Africa will dominate the culture, religion and social nature of Ethiopia, so even though the name of Ethiopia is there, its esssence will be gone. Dr. Aby is playing the game or maybe it is to appease his rich Arab nation but if this continues, the end of what was Ethiopia. When the anti Ethiopia elements speak of “New Ethiopiia” it means, the end of Orthodox, the end of Amharic, its writing. Dr. ABy soon will integrate Arabic language. What they are telling us is forget who you are. Amara has little power and it will take years to organized. Debub is very fragile and easily create war among themselves. Opdo/olf has learned a great how to opress vial tPLF.

    Reply

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