Amid recurring security crisis that is claiming hundreds of lives, Abiy Ahmed’s government is preoccupied with fundraising for tourism projects
September 24, 2020
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has repeatedly expressed an aspiration to build a prosperous Ethiopia. The establishment of the Prosperity Party, out of the ruins of what used to be a coalition of four major parties that ruled the country for over a quarter a century, in November 2019 as a single national party was meant to be a vehicle to achieve “Prosperity.”
Yet, his government failed time and again, as seen in the past two years, to fulfill the basic functions of government- providing security to Ethiopians living in different parts of the country.
When more than 240 Ethiopians were massacred in the Oromo region of Ethiopia in early July 2020, just to mention the most latest security incident that affected thousands of Ethiopians, with the guise of protest against “the killing of Hachalu Hundessa,” Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government inundated the state-owned media with the message “the government-run out of its patience and that it will no longer tolerate acts of violence against civilians.”
His government dared to explain the “patience” in terms of “broadening the democratic space” in the country. What it means is, essentially, that there was confusion about the government’s duty of protecting the security of citizens and broadening the democratic space in the country. The recurrent carnage in the Oromo region of Ethiopia was an orchestrated one ( at least the government has admitted that the massacre in July 2020 was an orchestrated one and that some government authorities took part in it) and perpetrators were none other than radicalized ethnic Oromo nationalists.
In most cases, the attack was against non-Oromos (mainly Amharas) and the followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church when the victims were ethnic-Oromos. However, government authorities dared to cover-up the ethnic-based nature of the attacks.
Another large-scale massacre happened in the Metekel zone of the Benishangul Gumuz region of Ethiopia early this month. Weeks after the attack, the government has not yet provided the public with accurate information regarding the extent of casualty. In this latest attack, the victims were ethnic Amhara and ethnic Agaws. But again, the government denies the ethnic-based nature of the attack that is said to have claimed the lives of at least 89 people, according to a report by Amhara Association of North America. As in the case of Oromo region of Ethiopia, some government authorities in the Benishangul region had facilitated the massacre in the region.
Metekel zone is also placed under the so-called “Command Post” – the Ethiopian government’s practice of putting troubled regions under the temporary administration of military commanders. It did not resolve security problems in some parts of the Oromo region of Ethiopia, and it is unlikely to resolve the problem in the Benishangul region.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has made it customary to arrest hundreds of thousands of people in the aftermath of such a large-scale attack, and that is what happened in connection with the Benishangul Gumuz region’s latest massacre (note that there had been repeated massacres in that region too). The regional government announced that it has arrested about 370 suspects in connection. The political system that has made recurrent massacres possible in different parts of the country is not yet a point of conversation in the government that is priding itself as “reformist.”
The rule of law and protection of the security of citizens continue to be a priority for Ethiopians. But Abiy Ahmed’s government is toiling on projects to boost the tourism sector in the country. These projects are given extensive coverage on state media outlets while the security challenges are essentially ignored. In fact, government media outlets did not even cover the attacks on ethnic Amhara and Agaw in the Benishangul Gumuz region.
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