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HomeOpinionJawar’s Interview with Addis Standard: A Clash Between Moral and Political Principles

Jawar’s Interview with Addis Standard: A Clash Between Moral and Political Principles

Jawar _ Ethiopian Politics  _ Yonas
The author (file)

Yonas Biru, PhD

Last week I read a brief-summary of Jawar’s interview on Addis Standard and shared my reaction in an article titled “Jawar’s Political Transformation is Welcomed but Lacks Moral Culpability.”

Today, I read all 24 pages of “The Interview: Jawar Mohammed.” My reaction is the same. In his interview he raises many substantive issues that are useful. His interview has a lot of good points, meshed up with carefully placed façade to cover up the ills of tribalism. That part is understandable because as one who, in the past, has bragged about creating the political calculator for tribal politics, he needs a graceful cover up as he sneaks out to the other side. 

Politics is dynamics. When the political dynamic changes, it forces political actors to change their position. Humans adapt to changing circumstances to survive. That is what Jawar is doing. Tribalism has proven both primitive and degenerative. He is running away from it. What undermines his political resuscitation project is his lack of moral culpability.

He was a leading part of the problem but tries to present himself as a visionary who was not listened to. He wants us to believe that had the government and its opposition forces listened to him, all would have worked out. Here are some examples.

On National Dialogue He Now Says: “A national dialogue would have been an ideal platform to debate, discuss, and negotiate on fundamental issues and contradicting narratives before we can ultimately agree on a new social contract. That is why many of us have pleaded with the new leadership to facilitate a forum for national dialogue since they came to power in 2018. Unfortunately, our plea was not heeded at the time.”

The truth is he did not encourage free dialogue, Nor did he championed for a negotiated settlement. He wanted to shove tribal politics down the throat of all Ethiopians. This is what he wrote on July 28, 2018 “Multinational federalism engrained in the current constitution is here to stay. It’s in not up for discussion, let alone negotiation. Anyone caught in some FANTASY should wake up from their hallucination.” This is the screen shot. 

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On Nation Building He Stated: “Imperial Ethiopia aimed to create a nation-state by assimilating the diverse population into a single identity through the suppression of linguistic and cultural differences. This was not unique to Ethiopia; it was the most common approach to state-building worldwide until the rise of the concept of self-determination.”

This is the same person who maligned the Ethiopian state and coined the popular tribal slogan “Ethiopia Out of Oromia.” 

On Ethiopia’s Resilience to Sustain Coordinated Tribal Assault He stated: “Its long and deep-rooted history of statehood appears to be one of the factors. Look at countries that faced serious social upheaval and civil wars in recent years. Egypt and Syria have managed to maintain their statehood because, like Ethiopia, both have a long history of statehood. On the other hand, Yemen and Libya succumbed to their political predicaments.”

This is the same person who has been telling us Ethiopia is only 120 years old. 

On Tribal Forces Accused of Being “Enemies of the State”, he wrote: “The centrifugal [read tribal] forces, who tend to attack the state as they seek to empower social groups, are accused of being unpatriotic and labeled ‘enemies of the state’. While such accusations might be exaggerated, they are not without merit.”

His resuscitation project faces formidable challenges. His worst problem are the very extremists he nurtured. In 2018, he had millions of followers. His base has abandoned him. Today his OMN program gets 4,000 to 5,000 views. He needs to rebuild his brand. As it stands, his chances for success are miniscule. The first thing he needs to do is be honest and have some moral culpability. If all fails. At least that way he can salvage himself.

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


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  1. It is almost a tautology to say that all political transformations are about political survival. But there is also a genuine moral awakening in Jawar’s political transformation, which we should all praise. I believe he has already demonstrated great moral courage by not pandering to the base and by taking a lot of personal and political risk, and I don’t think it is fair to accuse him of moral culpability at this moment.

    But I am curious to know what really awakened his moral consciousness and triggered his political transformation. When was the day of reckoning for Jawar? I guess we have to wait for the publication of his memoir to get an answer!

    Yet, I wouldn’t mind to speculate. I would venture that it must be right after the assassination of Hacchalu Hundessa. He must have known very well who really killed Hacchalu and why. I think the realization that the political movement he inspired sacrificed such a decent human being and icon of the people just to score a political point must have shaken his soul to the core! I believe it is all too human and decent to be disgusted and to abandon such an inhuman political path.

    Bravus, and kudos to Jawar!

  2. These days, as of late, Brother Yonas is looking for a fight with anyone looking for one. It seems to me that young man Jawar is showing signs of coming a long way. He is not to the level to be considered all constructive but he shows encouraging fixed ways that can be considered valuable. In such instances, individuals like him should be commended so they can swerve in directions right for the country and its noble people. This is a very critical moment when we should all try to get together and device a solution for the problems that country is facing. I would like to see men of intellectual horsepower such as Obbo Yonas, Jawar and others as such come together and have a civilized dialogue devoid of confrontation and name calling. I had said this on many occasions going back to 2018. What I saw then with the coming of the current prime minister was that the old country has come to its last pit stop on a fateful cross road. It must shape up or blow up to smithereens. Since then it has lost more than a million of it priceless children. Unless we get our act together it may end up tipping over into a very deep ravine that it will never be able to crawl out of. It is not the time for a show off. It is not the time for speech contest. This is extremely serious. It is not funny.


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