Well, for the most part of the last two decades, Ethiopia had been peaceful and tranquil amidst the seemingly ever volatile region of the Horn of Africa. However, it has recently faced with the most serious political chaos that had a little bit subsided with the promulgation of the state of emergency and fully come to halt with Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s coming to power.
As we have been witnessing over the last few weeks, his ascension to the position of the PM had a tranquilizing effect on the nation to the extent of defying every rational explanations. In short, Ethiopia has got a new broom that revamps the whole system, tingle the drowsing government apparatus and filled the whole nation with hope.
However much we may be revolted by the havoc we had experienced in the last two years, let me contradict myself, there is a positive side to the crisis that had rocked our beloved nation, as it finally has triggered a general process of “deep renewal.”
As failure to bring about reforms in the ruling party will leave the crisis to deepen and incur risks that would seriously damage our federal-democratic system, the “deep renewal” is a serious venture and here the ruling party EPRDF cannot afford to be half-hearted.
The upheaval we saw in the last couple of years had all the ingredients of monstrosity that had kept everyone in Ethiopia sleepless. Following the swansong of Hailemariam Desalgn, who had decided to resign from office after rigorous stock-taking of his premiership, the situation of the country had turned round and heads to political Eden, if I may say so.
In fact, prior to Dr. Abiy’s accession to the position of the Prime Minister, we were briefly comforted with a tensed peace that had been brought about by the declaration of the state of emergency law that had been helpful in averting the speedy deterioration of things.
Nonetheless, after the historic acceptance speech made by Dr. Abiy Ahmed at the House of Peoples Representatives that has magically nipped in the buds of rages that had engulfed the whole country, Ethiopia had begun to tread on completely a different path. That speech was so powerful as to suppress dozen of months of widespread political upheaval or deadly anti-government protests.
If you spare yourself from nit picking, you will for sure have chance to realize that the coming of Dr. Abiy Ahmad as a Prime Minister had a magic effect to halt the monstrous violence that had been ravaging the nation. Then, the havoc had begun to subside and now we are enjoying a stable situation that gave us a respite to be able to fix our broken politics.
The positive development we have been witnessing over the last two months is so comforting that it has predisposed us to be so anxious not to make a mistake that would gravitated us to the horrible scenarios we had experienced in the past two years.
We understand that bans and restrictions of freedoms do not help us to solve the underlying problems that have given rise to the unrest; we made a decision to revoke the state of emergency. Thus, the government is looking-forward to widen up the democratic space that would allow every citizen to participate and to promote the growth of unfettered democracy. In so doing, the government has made concessions that would invigorate the spirit of nationalism and national consensus.
In this regard, the government has offered to reform the winner-takes-all electoral system. EPRDF has always been clear that its existence would only be meaningful as far as it maintains the federal system by promoting democratic governance and thus push the country further on the path of development.
As a matter of fact the government is credited with real economic progress that saw a decade of around 10 percent annual growth. Besides, infant mortality and malnutrition is halved over the same period. Regrettably, these achievements have been accompanied by a growing outcry over widespread maladministration and rampant government corruption. Therefore, EPRDF has decided to change the situations that give impunity to officials and ensure accountability.
EPRDF has well understood that lack of political will to change the shape of things that bring about such kind of degeneration would ultimately trigger the explosion of violence that seriously undermines Ethiopia's reputation as a stable country. Thus those protests have given the ruling coalition a chance to engage itself in “deep renewal” process so as to take genuine reform measures that would fully satisfy the general public and halt another eruption of protest.
Accordingly, the government is holding meetings with the public to listen to their grievances and had opened up platforms to discuss problems with all political parties. Moreover, in a bid to expose corruptors and ensure good governance, the ruling party has urged the public to actively be involved in the ongoing deep renewal process. The Premier has repeatedly advised the public to stand against corruption and bad governance.
The ongoing rejuvenation effort involves all ranks of the government structure and anchored on fighting corruption and malpractices that have hampered the delivery of effective public service.
The renovation of the political system also takes the opposition block as key partner in consolidating the nation’s young democracy and the PM has encouraged them to play their share. He has also expressed his party‘s willingness to work closely with opposition political parties on any issues of their concern.
We know that EPRDF has been working with political parties that are willing to cooperate under the umbrella of the joint political parties’ council. It has also declared its readiness to work with other political parties that are non-party to the council and are peacefully operating in the country, like the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC). This time around the EPRDF has even reaffirmed its commitment to create inclusive political platform by inviting the exiled Oromo Democratic Front (ODC) to national dialogue.
The negotiation between the Ethiopian government and ODF has clearly transpired the dawning of a new era and as such declare EPRDF‘s readiness to work with every stripe of opposition political parties. Working together with opposition political parties and debate on their differences would allow citizens to make informed political decisions. The public will have chances to know the political agendas of the parties to make decision that would determine the fate of their nation. The dialogue forums were organized with a view to deepen the democratization process, and as it stands today it is moving forward as many Ethiopians have expected it to.
Here, we want to remind all parties concerned that this is not time to vie for dominance. This is not time to promote parochial interests and this is not time to play a zero-sum game. This is only a time to work genuinely for democracy to thrive. We want no one to come out victorious from this engagement but democracy, peace and development. This has opened a new chapter where our beloved country Ethiopia can live at peace with itself.
BY AMEN TEFERI