Monday, January 17, 2022
HomeOpinionAmnesty for the criminals, a cold heart for the victims

Amnesty for the criminals, a cold heart for the victims

Abiy Ahmed swearing in the Ethiopian Parliament in October 2021 (Photo : ENA/file)

By: Shiferaw Abebe 

I want to be proven wrong but the Prime Minister is out of his mind.  

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I am afraid Sebhat and his group are released as a prelude for an upcoming negotiation with TPLF.  

Jawar and his group and Eskinder and his group are menajo. This amnesty was not made for them, but the  prime minister (PM) understands he cannot release the TPLF old guards and keep the Jawar – Eskinder  group in jail. I wonder what Eskinder feels about all this. He was arrested as a menajo and now released  as a menajo. But I am happy that he along with his colleagues is released. 

Some diehard cheerleaders of the PM argue that by keeping active TPLF members such as Addisalem Balema & Keria Ibrahim while releasing the retirees, the PM is sending the message that he is not  planning to negotiate with TPLF. 

Nonsense! Wake up and smell the coffee. 

If that were true why should the PM connect magnanimity with “victory”? The fight with Jawar, if there  was one, was done a long time ago when the latter was sent to prison many moons ago. Sebhat and  company were captured over a year ago. So their release has nothing to do with the “victory” that has  gone to the PM’s head. 

No, he is talking about TPLF and very likely OLF-Shene. There can be no question about it. But why did he do it? 

Since he, as usual, doesn’t feel obligated to give a straightforward answers for most of his decisions or  actions, we can only guess.  

The first may have to do with money. Remember, Feltman was in Ethiopia this week and reportedly did  meet with the PM. But this single meeting could not have done the trick. We have to think this meeting  was a culmination of meetings the PM had with him, Kenyatta and Obasanjo in the past. In other words,  what transpired just now was in the works for some time. 

Money and revocation of the punitive sanctions is what the US has always hinted would put on the table  for a ceasefire, negotiation and national dialogue that includes TPLF.  

Obviously, Ethiopia needs a lot of money, now more than ever. Money – for reconstruction and to get the  economy going (and also for the Prime minister’s various pet projects). America has also the influence to  unfreeze loan money held by IMF.  

The damage and cost of this war has been so staggering that Ethiopia would have a hard time recovering  from it without aid and loan money from the west. 

America will in return gain face-saving and can claim its own diplomatic victory which the Biden administration was thirsty for. 

Susan Rice and her foot soldier at State Department and elsewhere didn’t save Seyoum Mesfin but she  can say she has saved TPLF’s ass.

So from the dire monetary need angle, I can understand the pressure the PM could feel and the  temptation to taking money on the table. He knows what his government has in its coffers. We only  guess. 

The second reason is more sinister and it is only a theory at this stage.  

We always knew the PM was noncommittal on revising the current constitution to a point where all  Ethiopians are treated as equal citizens everywhere in the country, in other words, the end of the ethnic  federal system. With TPLF out of the game and Jawar’s camp in prison or in exile, the PM could feel he  would not be able to stop a fundamental revision of the constitution or the reconfiguration of the current  political system. If the PM thinks TPLF and the Jawar camp are too weak to pose real and present  challenge to his power, he may want them at the table for the upcoming national dialogue where the  constitution will be a subject matter.  

Whatever the reasons are for the PM’s shocking decision, there are two questions that need some good  answers. 

First, why then sacrifice so much lives and property to arrive at the same conclusion that could have been  arrived at 6 months ago or even 14 months ago?  

Well, the Prime Minister’s track record shows that he doesn’t care about collateral damages as long as it  doesn’t affect him directly.  

An example is how he arrested Jawar. He arrested Jawar only when Jawar led his gangsters to Prosperity  Party Office. The first time Jawar caused the death of some 86 innocent lives, Abiy called him a brother  and dined with him in Harar or somewhere in Somalia region. Jamar’s mistake the second time was not  that he caused even a bigger number of deaths (over 200 innocent lives) and the destruction of scores of  towns. He would have gotten away with all that if he didn’t march to the power corridor of Abiy Ahmed. 

Similarly in this war the PM has shown little concern about the lives lost and the property destroyed in  Wollo or Afar region as TPLF ransacked one town after another. He was busy somewhere in the south  appreciating a wheat field and condemning those who raised arms to defend their community from  TPLF’s onslaught. 

He has at no time to this very day expressed sadness or regret for all the innocent lives that were lost and  the incredible suffering the people of Wollo and Afar experienced in the last 6 months. None! 

Mind you, when the PM withdrew Ethiopian forces from Tigray in June 2021, he didn’t tell Ethiopians the  truth. He knew the withdrawal was forced by losses in the battle field, but by misleadingly assuring  Ethiopians that TPLF would not pose any meaningful threat, he robbed them precious time to prepare to  defend themselves. As TPLF moved from one town to the next leaving destroyed lives and communities  behind it, Abiy was nowhere to provide any explanations. He was dreaming food self-sufficiency in a  wheat field.  

It was only when TPLF was dangerously closing on Addis that he started to get worried and mobilized  Ethiopians to face the enemy with whatever they have. It worked but after so much destruction, sufferings  and loss of lives. 

He hasn’t as yet provided an answer to that initial blunder.

The second question, as criminals get Amnesty and a negotiated deal, what do the millions of Ethiopians  mostly in the Amhara and Afar regions who shouldered the brunt of this war get in return? 

I don’t think they will get anything.  

Truth be told, the PM never cared about innocent causalities. He has no empathy, let alone sympathy for  their loss or miserable situation even though he has contributed to it by failing to protect them. We have  seen his attitude toward those Amharas who were killed by Jawar’s youth brigade or by OLF-Shene to this  day. The best he could offer has been statistics of how many non-Amharas died. 

So their woes will continue. 

Finally about the so-called victory and next steps.  

Some ask: where is the victory the PM is talking about? True, TPLF has retreated back to Tigray, but we  truly don’t know in what shape. The government narrative is TPLF has sustained a mortal blow in the  counter offensive. We cannot take this at face value because the last time the PM said the same thing, he  didn’t tell the truth. Even if we can agree that TPLF’s capacity is significantly diminished, we can’t be sure  that he won’t regroup and pose a serious problem in the future. 

Even today, TPLF still controls Alamata, Korem, Adi Arkay, Mai Tsebri, lands it annexed back in 1991.  People who migrated from Alamata six months ago are still in shelters.  

TPLF’s generals were just the other day scraping the ground for a counter offensive. 

The PM can claim victory as many times as he wants, but he will not get an admission of defeat from TPLF.  And the truth is this war is not over by any stretch of the imagination. TPLF will use any lifeline he gets to  prepare for another war. I only hope the PM won’t be in power when that war happens next time around. 

What next? 

So far the PM has paid no price for his bad decisions or, often, inactions. I think that should change going  forward. He should at least be reminded that there are real political costs for reckless and contemptuous decisions he makes. 

First Prof. Berhanu Nega and Dr. Belete Molla should resign from their cabinet positions as a show of  protest to this decision. I cannot see how they can work for a PM who doesn’t show any respect to them, the Ethiopian people or most of all to those who suffered the most in this war. 

Second, the Amhara and Afar regional governments should publicly express their disagreement with the  decision.  

Third, Ethiopians far and wide should protest the current decision and the way the PM handled the war in  general. 

Fourth, the Diaspora community that has travelled to Ethiopia should at the very least express their  dismay and opposition to the PM’s decision. They should however do whatever they can to help those  impacted by the war.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. PM Abiy’s secret is exposed. His betrayal comes from the negotiation with TPLF terrorists to release Sebhat Nega and the other TPLF leaders from prison. If that is not a dictatorships and betrayal what can get worse? His action speaks to share the same secrets, plots and crime with TPLF.
    The second betrayal is to release the stolen, looted money and properties from poor Ethiopians under EFFORT . And the worse and not so funny Abiy’s decision is treating to punish and arrest anyone that opposes or protests his secretive and traitor decision.
    So Abiy is turning back to clear dictatorial and repressive rule that he learned best under TPLF rule. Case learned must be no one should expect pigeon to come out from snake egg. PM Abiy has shed his new skin. He is neither a good leader nor a preacher or priest. He is the same as TPLF.
    PM Abiy has proven to be dumb as a rock because he already forgot how he came to power. He forgot how the power of people brought him to power. He has no right and cannot silence people who do not want to be ruled by him. He must step down!!!!

    • He steps down and then what???? The problem is that people like you are unable to think beyond their line of sight, which usually doesn`t go past their nose. Him stepping down from power at this critical time is gonna end up creating a vacuum of power that will cause further division and instability. And who do you think it`s gonna come and use the situation for their advantage??! That`d be non other than the US. And guess who they’re gonna reinstate to their former position, the TPLF. The current administration has assured the public multiple times that there won’t be any type of dialogue or negotiations with the TPLF or shene. The problem is that you like so many others are commenting because you are emotional and that`s understandable. But to say that Abiy has betrayed this country and to liken him to the TPLF seems that you mean to create further strife and suffering in a country where the situation remains fragile.

  2. Who is going to pay for the lives and property of so many poor Afar and Amhara farmers who were left at the mercy of the killing tplf gagsters and their PP allies OPDO and in general OR generals. WHO?WHO?WHO? Answer me. And PP is awarding Field Marshall and other trophies to clueless generals when the real fighters the Militia, Special Forces and Fano are not even mentioned in passing. What is happening? Aren’t you Tigrean and oromo fascists had enough of amhara blood? Do you want to drink Amhara blood like vampire? WHY?WHY?

  3. Abiy went ahead and gave another of his laboriously boring speeches to justify the arbitrary decision he and his PP made regarding the rescinding of charges against the top TPLF leaders who he told us were among the many responsible for the attack on the Northern Command and the subsequent war against Ethiopia that unfolded. He blatantly claims the amnesty act was not a pardon but the cessation of charges by the judiciary against the suspects. ABIY THEN CLAIMED, IF WARRANTED, THE CHARGES CAN BE REINSTATED!!! HOW??? ABIY CONVENIENTLY FORGOT ONE HUGE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM!!! NOT ONE OF THE TPLF MEMBERS RELEASED SUBMITTED TO THE RULE OF LAW INITIALLY. THEY WERE FUGITIVES THAT EVADED THE LAW, AND A LAW ENFORCEMENT OPERATION WAS REQUIRED TO APPREHEND THEM AND BRING THEM TO FACE JUSTICE!!!! Therefore, his speech is completely useless, there is no logic to it and it is 100% unconvincing. A democratic society demands accountability, and equal treatment before the law for all citizens. Abiy cannot play god, and conveniently have political opponents he dislikes get killed and play god once again and save those who he thinks will benefit his ulterior political motive. The rule of law, due process and separation of powers, namely the executive, the judiciary and the legislative, are nonnegotiable. Abiy may find it hard to comprehend, but the judiciary branch led by Dr. Gedion Timothewos, the Ministry of Justice, would be an equal branch of government no less in power to the the executive branch, which he leads as a prime minister, if Ethiopia were a democratic state. In July 1931, Ethiopia got her first written constitution under Emperor Haileselaasie. It is a shocking dilemma that for nearly 100 years, after the first written constitution, it has become impossible for Ethiopia to have a judiciary that is free from the incessant interference of the ruler of the country at various periods, whether as Emperor, a military dictator, ethnofanatic zealot and now Abiy. Ethiopians from many walks of life, elected Abiy as prime minister, gave him a mandate, millions in the diaspora and at home coalesced for a cause greater than the mundane, set aside differences, gave time, energy, and contributed hard earned money. The least Abiy could do was avoid playing dictator perpetuo. Fragile as the institutions of democracy in Ethiopia are, this irresponsible, not cogent and overtly political act with hidden malicious motives at worst, is detrimental to the primacy of written laws over political office power. To make matters worse, Abiy did not even convey solace, comfort, and support to the millions displaced in Amhara, and Afar. Those who had so little to begin with now are uprooted, displaced,killed, murdered, abandoned, women and children young and old, raped, marginalized and neglected. Yes on Christmas Day, Abiy plays pastor and premier, lectures on the virtues of forgiveness and peace. What about justice, safety and security. Where is the accountability that needs to be demanded from this prime minister- must be willing to come to the podium, and the pulpit and answer the questions of the victims.Tour their ruined cities and towns, be in their shoes. They do not have international media to be their voice, they do not have billions in looted treasure to buy lobbyists, they do not have the clout to be heard by their own leaders, either. Last Abiy mentioned about not being bribed in making this decision. What was that about????

  4. Cry me a river. Abiy’s action is a surprise only to his blind supporters: those who willingly wore blinders on their eyes and shoved ear plugs in their ears. The man’s duplicitous nature was, and is, as clear as day. Now the loyal sheep are cannibalizing each other. Where were you when the man was tearing the country apart, making Amara and Tigre mortal enemies, and the only possible outcome of his blunder was the balkanization of Ethiopia? Could you not see that or did you think Abiy had a direct line to god to perform miracles when you cheered his hate and destruction?

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