By Aman Awalo
October 27, 2019
Although Ethiopia has survived for thousands of years though not with such weak leadership, it will despite Abiy’s rudderless organization and blind faith in humanity.
Dr. Abiy has become a figurehead without power to uphold the rule of law. He has turned Ethiopia into a lawless country by failing to follow known protocol of leadership. Rule of law is paramount in any society for the protection of life, liberty and property.
He knows that ethnic federalism is unworkable in the 21st century, mostly after recent bloodshed and displacement of millions of people simply on the basis of ethnicity. Such systems failed in the old Soviet Union, in Yugoslavia and other places without a strong leader at the center. Unfortunately, he is gutless or still believes naively in fairness and wisdom of humanity to bring the ethnic system to an end, ushering a democratic system based on principles applied in the rest of the world.
Dr. Abiy talks great, makes peace with Eritrea, in Sudan and everywhere, but not in Sidama, not in Tigre, not in Gonder, not in Wollega. Paramilitary forces or ethnocentric groups trample the rule of law without any consequences on a regular basis.
In Wollega, dozens of banks were robbed and there is no evidence anyone was arrested. When the first bank was robbed, one can understand absence of readiness or the surprise elements of the attack, but when over a dozen banks get robbed repeatedly, you would expect the government would put police or security to stave off more bank robbery.
When Asamnew planned to murder or organize a coup, there was no intelligence to stop him before undertaking his surprise assassination. When the gangs in Sidama burn churches, rob shops, kill innocent people, there was no one to stop them despite the fact that they were threatening and organizing all along.
When Jawar Mohammed stokes religious and ethnic division to make the country ungovernable or when he exhorts protection money from minorities such as Siltes, Adares and others against attacks from his own gangs or sometimes mistakenly called Querros, there is no consequences.
When the Woyanes fled with all the loots or billions in gold, U.S. dollars and birr which is financing most of the current insurrection in the country, there was no plan to freeze their assets or arrest some of the culprits.
When Mengistu Hailemariam was in power, he organized a militia to counter any opposing forces. When the Woyanes saw a threat to their hold on power after the 2005 election, they undertook a membership drive by creating up to 6 million cadres and created 1:5 spy network, although for the wrong reasons, primarily to keep their minority and oppressive system. Although Querros, Zerma and Fanos were organized as an ethnic group to oppose the Woyanes, unfortunately there was no plan by Abiy’s government to co opt them under his wing or entice them to join the democratic process instead of letting them be captive or taken over by fanatic forces like Jawar and Asamnew.
One of Abiy’s resume that made him so attractive was his intelligence background making some people believe he knows what is going on and he is keeping a tab on potential rogue forces. When hundreds of soldiers arrived in the palace to assassinate him, he had no prior intelligence, though he was able to deflect it. When Woyanes organized to assassinate him during his speech in Addis Ababa, he again had no prior knowledge or intelligence, though he got the assistant police chief fired in protest.
This shows that Dr. Abiy has no idea what is going on in the country and he has no intelligence network to keep the country safe from rogue forces. In the past, when local forces were unwilling to keep security, it was the federal police that intervened to handle any crisis. Now if the local police failed to uphold the law or gangsters start killing or burning, Abiy has to get permission from local police or zone administrator before the federal forces can intervene. He has the whole system turned over its head. It seems local forces have more authority than the federal government instead of being vice versa.
When TPLF started vetoing the federal government there was no action or again when OLF starting killing and robbing banks in Wollega, there was no action.
When Governor George Wallace refused to let black students to enter the University of Alabama in June 1963 because of their race, it was the federal government that took charge and enforcing the rule of law and gave protection to black students from an angry white mob. The same process took place in Arkansas. In Ethiopia when ethnic mobs and gangs burn churches, mosques, businesses and kill people, there is no federal force to intervene, as the local police have become part of the problem.
In most cities like Bahir Dar, Nazareth, Shasheme, Jimma ethnic policies are in charge of policing, even if the population is diverse and is not dominated by any ethnic group. For example in Nazareth or Adama, majority of the population is non-Oromo, but Oromos are in charge of Mayor’s Office and policing and refuse to speak the official language, Amharic in dealing with constituents. This fact is true in other cities. This put ethnic minorities at the mercy of local ethnic gangs because the police don’t seem to care about giving equal protection to other Ethiopians. This encourages mobs and gangs to act in wanton and reckless manner. This also leaves all Ethiopians in Nazareth or Debrezeit and other cities at risk and vulnerable to attacks and intimidation by organized gangs.
In most places around the world, leaders or administrators are elected by the residents of their city, unlike Ethiopia. This alone is a major factor fueling lawlessness in the country. This inhibits investments because of high risk of looting and gang violence, exacerbating youth unemployment and gang activity. No one has representation because the mayors are appointed instead of being elected by their constituents. Historically most appointments even if tainted with nepotism were merit, not ethnic based.
Failing to hold election of local representation in Addis Ababa and other cities as promised by Dr. Abiy has brought about most of the problems and lawlessness the country is facing now.
This is raising a cloud of suspicion about Abiy’s ability and legitimacy to govern, meaning, there has to be a change or some form of intervention before the whole country becomes ungovernable.
To prevent Ethiopia from unraveling, there has to be another social movement via social media and on the ground organizing the youth on common grounds. If Dr. Abiy was as shrewd as he wants us to believe, he would have coopted Fanos, Querros, Zerma and other youth movements under his wing by now.
Ethiopians should not put all the burden on Dr. Abiy instead start blasting Jawar in Facebook, distrusting his network and supporting and encouraging other Oromos to defy his destructive strategy. It’s also important to identify all Oromo agitators and their followers who are engaged in criminal activities by passing their name to the State Department and human rights organizations.
Dr. Abiy has to come out of his laurels as a pontificator, call an election in major cities to create a fair representation, and act as an enforcer of rule of law by coopting the youth from the likes of Jawar, Asaminow and slowly reign on ethnic and religious fanaticism that is engulfing the country.
While Dr. Abiy is letting the likes of Jawar and gangs associated with him run roughshod against the rule of law, Ethiopians need to document each and every incident and individuals engaged in such heinous act. Mayors, police chiefs and governors who are letting such act take place by abrogating their duty to protect innocent people and to apply the rule of law in the protection of all citizens in their jurisdiction should be identified so that they can face crime against humanity and ethnic cleansing in the International Court of Justice and their name to be blacklisted by U.S. State Department and the treasury.
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