By Essayias Lesanu
In the tumultuous arena of Ethiopian politics, the last five years have seen dramatic shifts, unforeseen developments, and challenges to the core unity of the nation. Prime Minister Abey Ahmed’s rise to power was met with initial widespread enthusiasm. Many, including prominent figures, believed that he heralded a new era of unity and justice for the country. However, the subsequent years have seen this hope replaced with disillusionment and anger.
Political support is a double-edged sword. When wielded without caution or bestowed unconditionally, it often leaves deep wounds. Many of Abiy’s erstwhile supporters, who once believed that he would be a unifying force for Ethiopia, must now grapple with the unfolding reality. The act of acknowledging that one was misled or mistaken in their judgment is neither a sign of weakness nor an admission of political naivety. Instead, it is an essential facet of political maturity and self-awareness.
The undeniable drift of the nation towards crisis after crisis under Abiy’s watch is alarming. He has, on multiple occasions, chosen the path of conflict over conciliation, undermining the very unity he once vowed to uphold. The grievances of the people, their pleas for peace and justice, have fallen on seemingly deaf ears. The heartening courage shown by Mr. Gedu Andargachew as he voiced his dissent in the Parliament, surrounded by a quagmire of sycophants, stands as a testament to the simmering discontent. His audacious speech evokes the image of the brave child calling out the Emperor’s lack of clothes. His act is not just commendable but essential. Historical parallels like Mr. Hailu Arya’s brave stance against Colonel Mengistu are reminders that voices of dissent, though stifled, will always find a way to emerge. Leaders like Mr. Gedu don’t just represent a voice of dissent; they symbolize the very essence of democracy – the right to challenge, question, and seek the truth.
Political loyalty, while a vital cornerstone of any functioning democracy, should never be blind. Abiy’s early supporters, initially swayed by his promises of unity and justice, must confront the divisive ‘divide and rule’ tactics that have become emblematic of his tenure. Nowhere is this strategy more evident than in the treatment of the Amharas. As this community seeks justice, raises its voice against displacement, and yearns for its right to live in peace, they are met with labels of being “anti-peace” and “anti-central government.” Such labeling isn’t just misleading; it’s a deliberate mischaracterization designed to quell dissent and mute demands for justice.
The Amharas aren’t adversaries to the central government’s vision, as Abiy’s narrative might suggest. Instead, they are a community seeking to assert their rights in a nation they call home. By casting them as opponents, the Abiy regime hopes to silence a significant voice of the nation. But dissent cannot be drowned by merely labeling it.
Furthermore, the tactical deployment of Amhara figures in his cabinet adds a veneer of representation while obscuring the deeper injustices at play. By using prominent Amhara individuals as the face of policies that disproportionately affect their community, Abiy masks the reality of his agenda. The assignment of his close INSA friend, Tiruneh, to spearhead certain commands is indicative of the puppetry at play. It’s an age-old political tactic: employ members of a community to execute policies against their own, thus providing a smokescreen against accusations of bias or prejudice.
A closer look at the parliament reveals a troubling picture. Some representatives, elected to voice the concerns of the Amharas, seem more interested in aligning with the regime’s narrative, possibly for personal gains. These individuals must realize that dining and wining with those in power, while their constituents suffer, is a betrayal of their mandate.
The situation in the Amhara region is particularly distressing. The narrative, laced with suspicion and antagonism, threatens to pit Ethiopian against Ethiopian, region against region. History has consistently shown that such divisive tactics, if left unchecked, can splinter nations, causing irreparable harm. Furthermore, the militaristic endeavors championed by Abiy, from his new elite war forces to deploying drones against his own people, are stark reminders of the widening chasm between the ruler’s intentions and the people’s aspirations.
Abiy’s dismissive stance towards the media, showcased by his audacious reply about avoiding press conferences, paints a picture of a leader increasingly aloof from his own constituents. Such detachment from democratic norms and public accountability only compounds the people’s mistrust.
Thus, as the political landscape continues its inexorable shift, those who once allied themselves with the Abiy regime must heed the lessons of history and introspect. Blind allegiance, especially in the face of glaring missteps, can be catastrophic. The tales of other nations where unchecked authority and suppressed dissent led to chaos should serve as stark reminders.
In summation, as the political scenario in Ethiopia undergoes seismic shifts, introspection becomes critical. It’s not enough to merely champion a leader or an ideology; one must also confront the darker strategies at play. The divisive tactics employed by the Abiy regime, while not new in the annals of history, must be acknowledged, challenged, and ultimately, uprooted for Ethiopia to truly embrace its destiny of unity and prosperity.
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