“Because we joined EPRDF, grew up there, and toppled EPRDF from within, no force will be able to topple us from within. What we know is how to topple from within. It is impossible,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told more than 2,000 senior federal and regional government and party officials this week.
He stated that those who are with the Prosperity Party (the party he established in 2019 by rebranding the defunct Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) without changing the party’s ethnic ideology) and serve a different entity are wasting time as they will not achieve the mission they are given.
He made this statement during his second PowerPoint presentation in less than two weeks. In the first presentation, he made claims about the Red Sea, triggering domestic and international condemnation due to the intent to violate the sovereignty of an independent state.
His second presentation, the video footage of which was released via state-owned media outlets on Tuesday, primarily focused on internal party challenges.
In what he called a “Grand Narrative” presentation, Abiy Ahmed strongly criticized his party and government officials for their failure to deliver results and for serving political interests outside the ruling Prosperity Party. Yet, he expressed optimism that much can be achieved in the remaining three years, especially in the area of agricultural productivity, among other things. The issue of “peaceful coexistence” at the local level is one of the topics he raised and blamed his officials for discriminatory practices based on ethnicity and religion. However, he is now criticized as being a champion of “Oromummaa,” which many understand to be an expansionist form of ethnic Oromo nationalism aimed at securing more territories, including access to the Red Sea, and Oromizing the rest of existing Ethiopia.
“Light and darkness cannot coexist in one place at the same time. It is difficult to be part of Prosperity [his party] and Shane (a militant ethnic Oromo nationalist party that is fighting the Ethiopian government) at the same time. Do not be in both places at the same time. If you are here, be loyal. If there is a problem, correct it. Fix it,” PM Abiy added while addressing his party and government officials.
His “Grand Narrative” comes at a time when conversations and anger stemming from his claims about the Red Sea are far from over.
Many Ethiopian activists and observers consider his second speech revealing regarding the internal state of the ruling party.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has been grappling with chronic political, economic, and security problems. Ethiopia’s political situation has become increasingly polarized. With skyrocketing inflation, millions of Ethiopians are struggling to secure a meal, and unemployment remains high. Citizenship rights have been overshadowed by ethnic entitlement in the ethnic-based regions, affecting Ethiopians from other ethnic groups in various ways. Mobility from one place to another has become a risky business, especially in the Oromia region of Ethiopia, where kidnappings by the armed Shane group have become common. Recent reports from the UN indicate that over 30 million Ethiopians are in need of humanitarian aid.
Moreover, Abiy Ahmed’s government is waging a full-fledged war in the Amhara region of Ethiopia, despite the regional government claiming that the security situation has improved. His government is also combating armed ethnic Oromo nationalists (Shane), mainly in the Wollega area of the Oromia region. The armed group is said to have a network within the government structure, a point Abiy Ahmed raised in his “Great Narrative” speech when he stated that those who work for Prosperity and Shane should not waste their time.
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