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Ethiopia Under the Misguided Vision of One Man

Abiy Ahmed-Ethiopia-sept24
Abiy Ahmed Ali (Photo : file)

By Selome Esayas

When Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018, it seemed like Ethiopia had found a visionary leader to guide it into a new era. After decades of authoritarian rule under the EPRDF coalition, Abiy promised a break with the past. He spoke eloquently of unity, reconciliation, and a transition to genuine democracy. Initially, his tenure was met with tremendous goodwill and hope. 

However, in relatively short order, it has become clear Abiy’s lofty visions are not matched by results. Despite his rhetoric, power remains concentrated in the office of the Prime Minister. The democratic reforms he championed have stalled or reversed. Instead of healing divisions, his policies have inflamed them. After an initial period of optimism, Abiy’s Ethiopia appears headed toward greater peril.

The roots of this lay in Abiy’s messianic view of himself as the singular leader able to solve the country’s problems. He has spurned consensus-building and inclusion in favor of a top-down approach centered on his own will. Rather than see through the hard work of institution-building, he has amassed personal control and purged perceived opponents. He also relies heavily on support from external allies like the UAE.

Abiy’s focus on flashy signature projects like building resorts and a multi-billion dollar palace complex seems out of touch when ordinary Ethiopians face high inflation and economic hardship. These are further manifestations of his misguided priorities and leadership.

While Abiy dissolved the EPRDF ruling coalition, the ethnic-based political order remains in place. He failed to heal divisions cultivated under his predecessors and instead poured gasoline on the flames. This mindset has undermined the promise of transitioning Ethiopia to a progressive democracy. 

The right to free assembly and speech were trodden upon by security forces acting with impunity. The media landscape Abiy opened up has once again grown restrictive under opaque censorship rules.

These undemocratic actions created fertile ground for armed insurgencies to take root and grow. Abiy dismissed the burgeoning resistance as the work of criminal elements and “anti-reform forces.” He rejected negotiations in favor of military offensives that further inflamed tensions. His sole solution was to consolidate personal control, not make necessary concessions. 

The result is that the Ethiopian state is facing unraveling pressures and violent turmoil unseen for decades. Large parts of Oromia, Amhara and other regions have fallen out of government control. Ethnic militias are ascendant while federal forces are demoralized and overstretched.

All the while, Abiy has shown little willingness for reflection or course correction. He continues claiming provocateurs and foreign actors are responsible for the crisis, not his own failed policies. His rhetoric alternates between exaltations of Ethiopian unity and vilification of internal dissenters who refuse to toe the official line. 

Abiy has now increasingly turned his face towards his native region of Oromia as his main political base. He turns to Oromo regional party officials as enforcers of his authority. This erosion of neutrality as head of state further alienates other groups.

In essence, Abiy has rejected the hard work of democratic state-building in favor of cultivating a personality cult. He fosters a sense of messianic destiny rather than governing through dialogue and consensus. His mystical rhetoric may resonate with some, but it also underscores his deepening disconnect from realities on the ground. 

Rather than serve as a unifying figure, the premiership of Abiy Ahmed has thus become a source of widening discord. His unilateral actions have shattered hopes for a smooth democratic transition. The nation now faces a precarious situation thanks to Abiy’s rigid commitment to his personal ambitions and visions.

However, it is not too late to pull back from the brink. Ethiopia’s fate is not solely tied to one man, even if he tries to present himself as indispensable. The way forward lies in a return to the balanced legal order and power-sharing practices that long maintained relative unity.

All stakeholders must be brought back into a shared transitional framework. That requires Abiy to lift the state of emergency, end mass arrests, and release political prisoners. Good-faith negotiations should aim to organize national reconciliation when conditions allow. 

Most importantly, Ethiopia’s leadership needs to listen to the population’s voices rather than dictate from above. The promises of reform and democracy extended by Abiy, must finally be realized in practice. Only by moving from a messianic vision centered on one man toward genuine pluralism can the country overcome its divisions and reach its potential. Ethiopia’s future should be decided by all Ethiopians.

Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of borkena.com
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3 COMMENTS

  1. There isn’t an iota of “messianic” about Abiy Ahmed the person, his mission or his deeds. His driving force as always been realization of the OLF program of destroying the Ethiopian nation and setting up a 16th century flavored “Oromuma” hegemony.

    His rhetorics about making Ethiopia great were nothing but tactical. In his amateurish book “Erikab..” , he had plainly stated how important it was to sing the song people want to hear as you lead them to the slaughterhouse. It’s what he did. To quote from his book.. “በሬ ሆይ ሳሩን አየህና ገደሉን ሳታይ”

  2. Subject: “Ethiopia Under the Misguided Vision of One Man” September 24, 2023

    HUMBLE CMMENTARY
    A). HE DOES NOT DESERVE WHAT IT IS BLANKETED.
    B). MAYBE HE DOES.
    C). PERHAPS. IT MAY BE A LESSON
    D). IN ANY CASE, THE LAND OF HAILE SELASSIE, MENELIK, TEDROS, YOHANNES, EXETRA, IS IN THE HANDS of ABCD
    and XYZ.
    E). SO, MODERN ETHIOPIANS ! ENJOY YOURSELF TO YOUR UTMOST ABILITY >>> WHEREVER YOU MAY BE

    F). YOU WILL NEVER GET IT [i.e. THE HAPPINESS] IN YOUR BELOVED BIRTH PLACE. NEVER!!!!

    G). YOU ARE, AFTER ALL VERY WISE ENOUGH TO ABANDON ETHIOPIA AT THE RIGHT TIME

    H) NOW YOU ARE FREE AND ENJOYING LIBERTY.

    (I) IN A FREE COUNTRY THAT YOU NEVER HAVE DREAMT ABOUT >>> INCLUDING ME

    (J). HEY !!! KEEP ON ENJOYING LIFE IN A PLACE WHERE PEOPLE UNDERSTAND WHAT IT MEANS TO BE FREE AND
    DEMOCRATIC

    ——————-AMEN — INSHALAH ( in alphabetical order, please)—————–

  3. And so, questions arise:
    1. what is the benefit for Abiy Ahmed to DESTROY Ethiopia into pieces? assuming he has such horrendous ability
    2. What will he gain !?
    3. What will he build as a replacement for the ‘destroyed’ Ethiopia !?
    4. IF NOT, what is his ultimate objective !?
    5. In any case, what would make him so lunatic to destroys a country !?
    6. Perhaps ETHIOPIAN Psychiatrists will shed a light on the mystery !?
    7. NO other Psychiatrists in the world will accept the task
    8. Finally, will Ethiopia survive, and be the same, after such lunacy !?

    ——- THE END —–

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