There are clear indications that PM Abiy Ahmed is resorting to heavy handed policy – despite failure to protect the security of Ethiopians in the Oromia region – as he is losing credibility but he makes it appear that Ethiopians are losing focus on prosperity
On the day the Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed announced that Ethiopia is exporting wheat for the first time in history, followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in the capital Addis Ababa were restricted, for the first time in history, from attending church service on alleged grounds of security forces drill ahead of the African Union submit.
Wheat production dominated state-owned media outlets’ news headlines for over well over a year now. Today, most of them reported that Ethiopia “started exporting wheat.”
The Ethiopian Prime Minister was in Bale to witness the export. And he made an election campaign-style speech making claims about the productivity of his party to ensure “prosperity” in Ethiopia.
“Exporting wheat process we saw in Bale is the little success that we [apparently he is making a reference to his party] have to achieve for Ethiopia, ” he is quoted as saying. He expressed how proud he is to disprove those who said “you can not export wheat.” His administration has given a production target to different regions in connection with wheat production.
The destination of the first batch of “wheat export” is unspecified by state media reports. However, it is stated that Ethiopia has signed an agreement with six countries to export 3 million quintals of wheat. Sudan and Kenya are cited in name but the remaining four countries are unspecified.
Critics say the food insecurity in the country including in Afar, Amhara and the arid parts of the Oromo region of Ethiopia is still unresolved and the government is preparing to export food.
Abiy Ahmed seized the occasion of his presence in Bale to talk about politics.
“The Ethiopian People should focus on peace, development and prosperity…,” he said. He appeared to be making a reference, without naming names, to the tension last week in connection with what is said to be a government-manufactured problem within the Orthodox church.
Millions of Ethiopians were getting ready to take to the street to oppose what they think is government interference in the Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Three members of the Holy Synod broke away from the Ethiopian church to establish an ethnic Oromo Synod. Abiy Ahmed’s remark on it ( which he made during a meeting with his cabinet ministers) was one that provided a political cover to the group that the Holy Synod excommunicated as an illegal one.
The group was forcefully seizing churches in the Oromo region with support from the government (Oromia region security). Peaceful resistance to it was quelled down by brute force – which the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission called “excessive force,” in places like Shashemene. At least 13 Ethiopian Orthodox Church followers were killed.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, it seems, has attempted to make it appear like the problem is created due to “emotional response.”
He said, during his visit to Bale today, we have to overcome problems we face through consultation in a spirit of brotherhood rather than emotions.
His credibility has plummeted at least since over a year ago due to his government’s failure to enforce law and order. His government’s interference in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church affairs, to weaken it as many tend to believe, has worsened his problem of political legitimacy to rule the country so much so that this focus has turned out to be further strengthening the security apparatuses.
When his government restricted access to Church in the capital Addis Ababa today, the pretext that was given was a drill for security forces ahead of the upcoming African Union leaders summit. But that does not seem to convince many Ethiopians. The problem in connection with the Orthodox Church is yet unresolved although he pledged to address all the demands from the legitimate Holy Synod in what now appears to be a bid to make the planned massive demonstration ( which was to take place on Sunday) be cancelled.
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