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HomeOpinionA promising leader of Ethiopia turning rogue: What went off beam?

A promising leader of Ethiopia turning rogue: What went off beam?

Abiy Ahmed _ hope _

By: Dansa Abysnic (MD)

Abiy started out as a charismatic leader, a popular leader, a heroic one, a peace laureate, and a promising one. He talked right and walked the walk at the beginning. He released political detainees, lifted restrictions on the press, and made peace within and with neighboring countries. He changed some of the draconian laws of TPLF. I still remember the day of his inaugural speech. I was sitting in my salon transfixed on my small TV. My wife was present, and she does not seem to be impressed much. She knows me well. I am too quick to accept and too slow to reject. For some reason, she does not seem to be impressed by the new guy dominating public opinion and psychics.  

I went on advocating for ABIY on national TV, radio, and both print and non-print media. I wrote article after article. I chose to ignore early signs of dictatorial traits, genocidal attitude, sheer incompetence, and carelessness. I also chose to ignore stupidities, he is only a human and a young leader anyway. After all, they say love is blind. The love of the young promising leader and the thirst for a rescuing hero blinded the whole of Ethiopia. We just wanted a change from devastating ethnic nationalism and politics towards a politics of idea and purpose. Abiy sounded just the awaited messiah

We debated among the learned scholar friends, ABIY was the talk and the agenda. Some fought as early signs of the disease got bolder and more vivid. I kept my allegiance for two years or even more. He can do anything but can get away with it in a few lines of justification either made in front of the parliament or casually oozed on some occasions.

Subsequently, whatever happened to the high expectation and then the vanishing hope? The man turned from a hope, icon, a promised leader to a national security threat. Under his reign, people are culled like sick chickens almost on a daily basis. I am from Oromia, I lost family members and could not visit my parents for about four years now. Northern Ethiopia has gone through hell and living to date the horror that this nation rarely faces. A civil and needless war was instigated by ABIY and TPLF easily fell for the trap and made the worst mistake of its life. It died a well-deserved horrific death, but Tigray suffered a lot. If ABIY is ever to be praised and glorified, he is for tricking TPLF and killing it effectively using Ethiopia and its spirit. NO regrets there.

By the way, what were the early signs that my wife easily detected from day one and I was so blind to it? The first thing she reasoned on and that she told me to keep my expectation low is that, after all, he is a disciple of woyane (i.e. TPLF), and an apple never falls far from a tree. Once, if you go on the path of ethnic nationalism, and cultivated hate, no cure for it. One might pretend but never can one come to a cure. ABIY is ever growing to be a perfect woyane. He even perfected some of the horrendous acts of TPLF, i.e. killing, kidnapping, looting, discrimination, hatred (for people and history, even spirituality), etc. 

Second, she connects every fault in his speech and goes back to her apple reasoning. I remember the day he was acting, one of his sick jokes,  when a coup was claimed to happen. Soldiers went to his palace to ask for a salary hike, and he staged a scene. Then, he was bragging about how he saved the nation claiming that his adherents from around the capital city were marching to rescue their government. What has Addis Ababa (and its residents) got to do with the coup, and why must he divide society after all the whole nation was in love with him at that time.  See, you will know the true character of a person when he is either drunk, happy, or frightened. That is my wife talking again.

In early sign two, where a massacre was executed in Oromia under his eyes because a certain activist felt threatened, he counted the dead along ethnic lines. From these two early signs, my wife came to me and asked me if I needed any more evidence to open my eyes and seriously observe the guy for my own health and sanity.  I did not change my position yet. However, this time around, I was also a bit shaken and confused, and could not defend much but bragged about some pragmatism that is common in politics. I mean, you must lie at times in politics. Pretend to buy the causes of the enemy.

In nutshell, ABIY is failing and is the worst leader in terms of setting priorities and defending national security (including citizens’ safety). A leader that fails on security measures fails in everything. If security lapses, people’s movement is restricted. Trade does not follow, and activities are restricted. In a nation where the greater majority lives just the day, with no savings or reserves, it is essential that people eke out their living every day. Hence, security is bread. 

While people are starving and desperate for some kind of food relief, the guy talks of exporting wheat or unrolling grand city projects that duplicate Addis Ababa. Alas, the city is about to burst from traffic jams and population pressure. If you must build a city, you need to choose some other place. Ethiopia is wide enough for that. Unless he wants to show a parallel to the city of Menelik II.

Furthermore, where the youngsters are jobless, hopeless, desperate, and looking for any way out. He brews trouble here and there. The youngsters join one or the other fighting groups just to hang on to life. Instead of taking measures against policies that prohibit Ethiopia from creating jobs and hope for the youngsters, e.g. land policy, ethnic federalism, etc., he fuels the dividing agenda. The recent case of messing up with the old establishment of the orthodox church is classic stupidity. 

So, let us come to the million-dollar question, can ABIY be salvaged thereby Ethiopia resurrects? They say it is never too late. ABIY can come back if he clears up his motives for Ethiopia and demonstrates his actions clearly. ABIY’s modus operandi was Ethiopia and unity. He advocated multiculturalism. He promised to do away with dividing factors and genocidal documents, including the constitution authored by TPLF. He vowed to put Ethiopian and Ethiopian citizenship to make the trademark of his politics. He distanced himself from the political tricks of TPLF i.e. divide and concur. Ethnic patronage and ethnic warlords. He played well for the first year since every misfortune was attributed to TPLF. Now since TPLF is gone, his brute face is clear. 

ABIY can save his premiership (his ultimate purpose now) and do some good for Ethiopia if he goes on the line of unity rather than ethnic nationalism. He is replicating OLF now. Oromummaa (Oromo first) is his demise and the making of the next great civil war this nation has ever seen. The reason is Oromo is a majority, it can not be tolerated when it behaves like TPLF which is a tiny minority. Oromumaa, if it has space in Ethiopian politics, can only operate under rule of law, liberty, and equality. To wish to dominate every public life, the way a tiny minority did is an impossibility. Because the rest will unite against it. A minority has the advantage to divide and concur, using its deficit in numbers, it can compensate by hiring and handing out incentives to cadres from another group. People feel included so to speak. For the majority playing this is impossible for the available resources and opportunities are far fewer even for their own followers and cadres.

Second, a majority behaving like a minority is dangerous. They will go full-scale to corruption and operate with the mentality that the nation is not theirs. They behave like there is no tomorrow. They rob, steal and try to control literally everything. Or, they might move to destroy anything that does not agree with them including history and social fabrics. The resistance against it will be massive and fierce. Hence, it is essential to work for a strong nation that yields more than a nation to be exploited and destroyed. Rule of law and equality is the way out. 

Editor’s note : views in the article reflect the views of the writer, not the views of 


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