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Abiy Ahmed’s government true image Exposed from different vintages

By Sintayehu Ayele

In the past week, the Ethiopian one-man show leadership and his government was exposed in different ways. Internally, his incapability to lead the country has become more evident to all the citizens. Previously, only those in the capital city used to feel secure, but now even they are living in fear, corruption, and facing extreme living expenses. In the Oromia, Tigray, and Amhara regions, Abiy has zero control. That is why he brings paid cadres to the capital to create an illusion of leadership in these main regions of the country. Most importantly, the subtle, resilient, and fierce fighters in the Amhara region, Fano, are proving daily that he is the most unfit person to hold 4-kilo in the history of the country. However, in the past week, Abiy Ahmed’s government’s true image was exposed by three different bodies outside of the country: REUTERS, EU experts and Kenyan Journalists. 

First: State Capture

First, there was an investigative report by REUTERS entitled “In Ethiopia, a secret committee orders killings and arrests to crush rebels,” by the name Koree Nageenyaa. The report revealed that a secretive committee of senior officials in Ethiopia’s largest and most populous region, Oromia, has been ordering extrajudicial killings and illegal detentions to suppress an insurgency there. This hidden government was set up by the Ethiopian prime minister and his close associates, such as the President of Oromia, Mr. Shimelis Abdisa. This  state capture phenomenon is not new to many Ethiopians, although the name was not widely known, its doings were out in the open. Its influence across the spectrum of the country’s affairs was already being felt by many. Some speculate that this body became stronger during the two-year war with the TPLF, as while the rest of the country was preoccupied, this body took control of the economic sector, security, military, and intelligence institutions. Every sound-minded leader, personality, scholar, politician, activist, journalist, and so on has been systematically sidelined since then. It is only a one-man show, with this hidden body capturing the country’s power and having the final say.

There have been reports of kidnappings and killings of numerous people, both famous and not famous, across the country, particularly in the Oromia region. High-level politicians, elites, and journalists have been killed, imprisoned, and kidnapped without the knowledge of the country’s formal institutions. Now, Reuters has exposed this situation. The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has confirmed the existence of such a body. The existence of a state capture body implies that all those institutions and formal organizations, including the ministerial body, the parliament, the judiciary, law enforcement, security, the central intelligence office, and ministerial offices, are merely symbolic and lack real power and responsibility. They serve as platforms for a one-man show of leadership. To provide a few examples, it is not the Minister of Agriculture who oversees wheat production in the country, but Abiy or Shimelis who have complete control and benefit from it. That is how the Prime Minister received the FAO prize a month ago, even though food security remains an issue in the country for various reasons. Another example is that Shimelis and Abiy constructed two palaces without parliamentary approval. Billions of dollars are being used without accountability by bypassing the country’s priorities and sidelining the Minister of Finance’s office. Many such examples can be added. These examples sufficiently demonstrate that the state capture phenomenon has occurred in Ethiopia. 

Now, one may ask why REUTERS leaked this secret at this time. People are asking many questions, which has opened the door for conspiracy theories. It might be just a coincidence, or it could also be a well-orchestrated move by a group that wants to undermine the current ruling party. It could also be a signal to those who are disloyal, urging them to stay loyal to the leader. In fact, there have been reports of an ongoing conflict between Obbo Shimelis and Abiy himself. Shimelis might conspire with specific individuals within the hidden government to overthrow Abiy if that is true. In response, Abiy might expose them to the rest of the world. The REUTERS report tries to distance itself from Abiy by only mentioning him a few times.   So, something deeper is going on. The world of politics is always complicated.

Second: Failed Leadership 

The EU held a hearing on the status quo of the Ethiopian state and its leadership. One representative described Abiy Ahmed as “a person who shows little respect for human rights” and asked the question, “How do you think the EU should engage with Dr. Abiy Ahmed?” Dr. Sara, an expert in the Horn of Africa countries, presented six points to describe the status quo of the Ethiopian one-man show of leadership. First, she debunked the notion of food security in Ethiopia under the current government. Second, she defined the one-man show leadership as a conflict-inflicting leadership: “What we see is an increasing centralization of power and an increase in the marginalization of those who do not cooperate, resulting in violence.” There has been a two-year war in Tigray, and the conflict status is still ongoing. In Oromia, there has been violence in most places for the past five years. In the Amhara region, a government-initiated war is currently taking place. Third, she pointed out the government’s exacerbation of division along ethnic lines, especially between the Tigray and Amhara people, using areas of conflict as a means to stay in power. The government is not engaged in solving problems but rather using them to keep the people in a state of conflict with each other. Fourth, she also raised awareness of the involvement of Gulf States in Ethiopia: “The Gulf States have influence on Ethiopia, with potential risks for the EU.” The relationship between the UAE and Ethiopia is not based on principles and solely depends on one man. She emphasized that such a relationship undermines institutionalization. Fifth, she described the main purpose of the MOU signed with Somaliland as having nothing to do with port access, but rather setting up military naval port access. Finally, she mentioned Eritrea as a regional spoiler of peace, which continues to create migration to EU countries.

The EU sympathizes with the TPLF-led system in general. They claim that before Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia was practicing democracy, which most Ethiopians disagree with. However, compared to the present Abiy-led government, Ethiopia was in a far better position regarding the rule of law. The EU is afraid that their strong partner in the Horn is heading towards a failed state position, with the potential to create a wave of refugees to EU countries.

Third: Danger for Horn Region

Intrigued by the MOU signed by Abiy Ahmed with Somaliland, a region in northern Somalia, Kenyan TV panelists grilled the Ethiopian Prime Minister in depth, describing Abiy Ahmed’s intentions and actions with strong words. One of them said, “He (Abiy) is making the Horn the most unstable region in the world.” The commentator explained that Abiy intends to build a Cushitic empire in the name of the Oromo state, which will include the Oromo community in Kenya. This means Kenya could be the next target, according to the panelists. The panelists emphasized that Abiy is looking for a marine force station, not just a port, since Ethiopia already uses around ten ports in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. They stressed that due to this wrong move with Somaliland, the country faces tremendous diplomatic failure and isolation, while Somalia has galvanized support worldwide. They referenced Ethiopia as a country where “the headquarters of the African Union is; a founding member of IGAD; as a country emphasizing the rules-based system like territorial integrity, sovereignty has been its hallmark.” But now, due to the one-man show, the country is losing its status. They even described the Nobel Laureate as “unfortunate for Abiy; he has discredited himself; he is a problem, and maybe somebody should remind him to be careful; you are alone here; and you are overambitious.” These panelists have voiced the concerns of their country. They may have a good reason, but they are not alone. Even Ethiopians within the country and diaspora share the erratic actions of one man, showing foreign policy as a danger to their country. It does not fit into the country’s long-standing exemplary foreign policy.

The people mentioned above expose the actual image of Abiy Ahmed’s leadership. Once hailed by almost everyone, inside and outside the country, he lost all his credibility in only three years. The erratic nature of his leadership is leading the country to the brink of disaster. Ethiopia can only be strong with a strong team of leaders, institutions, and the rule of law. It cannot be achieved through a one-man show and a hidden style of government. Ethiopians from all corners of the country must come together and build a nation with a solid leadership team. The EU, US, UK, China, Russia, and others should help Ethiopians develop their country in the right direction. Otherwise, the consequences will affect everyone. It is not suitable for Africa, nor is it good for the world. The Gulf states should respect the lives of the 120 million Ethiopians. They can support one man, but not at the cost of millions in the country.

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


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