Gedu Andargachew says military actions are not a solution to the problem in the Amhara region of Ethiopia. He also expressed concern that work is underway to incite hate, especially among the Oromo, towards Amhara.
Former Foreign Affairs Minister of Ethiopia, Gedu Andargachew, made on Monday what is said to be a historical speech at the Ethiopian Parliament that was called to approve Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s cabinet imposition of state of emergency in the Amhara region that resulted in a full fledged ruthless military campaign.
While reasoning out why he was opposing the State of Emergency measures citing failures on the part of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government over the past four years, Mr. Gedu was heckled at least three times including by the Deputy Speaker of the House of People’s Representative , Lomi Bedri.
The Speaker of the House, Tagesse Chafo whose home region Gamo is reportedly protesting the government, did not preside over the parliamentary session for unspecified reasons.
The key point of Gedu Andargachew, who has also served as president of the Amhara region for a long time, is that the problem in the Amhara region of Ethiopia is political and that military action will not solve it.
He was a key political player and comrades in arms with Abiy Ahmed and his ethnic Oromo colleagues within the then Oromo People’s Democratic Organization during the political struggle to end Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) tyrannical rule – a process that resulted in the resignation of former president Haile Mariam Desalegne paving a way for the then ruling party to pick Abiy Ahmed as Prime Minister.
“We have not learned from the past five years. …The ruling party is the problem. It creates a political problem and resorts to military means to resolve it…” Gedu said with a tone that seemed bitter and sad at the same time.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration has mobilized the entire state media and regional states to frame the grievance led Fano Movement as a movement of “hooligans and hoodlums.”
Gedu Andargachew trashed that narrative when he said that the movement in the Amhara region has a cause, a legitimate one, and needs to be addressed through a political dialogue.
The link between the ruling Prosperity Party and people in the Amhara region of Ethiopia is broken permanently, he added, withstanding the heckle from the regime supporters in the parliament and the deputy speaker. In that regard, the solution, for him , is to institute an all inclusive transitional administration in the region. He was bold to state that the ruling party, who used to enjoy popular support in the past, has no legitimacy in the Amhara region at this point.
He vehemently opposed that what is happening to the Amhara region could happen to other regions tomorrow and that it is in the interest of parliamentarians from other regions to oppose the military action in the Amhara region.
Moreover, recalling the loyalty of the people in the region for central government institutions and the support they used to have for the defense force, he called on the military to immediately withdraw from the region and enter the military barracks.
Government mobilization of political support for its military campaign against the Amhara region is one that is painting an image of the emergency of rebel groups in the region whose cause is “looting.” Abiy Ahmed’s administration went to the extent of making regional states write what sounds like generic statements condemning the Fano movement. The regime has coined a name for the movement – Jawisa – which many of the regional states used in their statement.
Gedu Andarachagew’s speech in the parliament resonated well with many Ethiopians- as expressed in many social media platforms- and there are speculations that Abiy Ahmed’s government might arrest him.
Last week, Christian Tadele, a member of Parliament, and Kassa Teshager, member of Addis Ababa City Council, were arrested while their parliamentary immunity was not lifted. The government also mounted crackdowns in Addis Ababa and many cities in the Oromia region targeting ethnic Amhara and thousands were detained. The Command Post that is overseeing the state of emergency measure said only 25 people are arrested in Addis Ababa.
Local media outlets are reporting war crimes and genocide in the Amhara region.
In the past few days, the Ethiopian Defense Force intensified attacks in the Amhara region targeting civilians. Yesterday, a drone attack in Finote Selam reportedly killed at least 28 and wounded 20 others. Artillery shelling in Bahir Dar, Gondar and Debre Berhane Towns reportedly killed dozens of people including four family members in Bure town.
In Shewa Robit, there were reports that government forces reportedly took out many unarmed youth from their homes and shot them in the head.
Ethiopian Human Rights Commission expressed concern and recommended to the government on ways of avoiding human rights violation in the course of enforcing state of emergency measures. It also called on parliament, on Sunday, to carefully assess the state of emergency legislation – including their necessity.
When Abiy Ahmed met with his cabinet members and his party officials in connection with the problem in the Ethiopian Orthodox church, he mentioned ( and this one is on a recorded video) that there were killings during the Derg era but “ours will be far more worse than that.”
The “ours” reference is unclear whether he meant the ruling Prosperity Party or something else.
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