Ethiopia's Opposition Parties and the Way Forward

Ethiopians in the Diaspora demonstrating against the Ethiopian dictatorship 

By Sisay

Ambassador Dr. Tesfaye wrote about dire conditions of the Oromo. In my view the Oromo is center stage of modern Ethiopian State Building. There will be no democratic Ethiopia with out the freedom Oromo who are majority . The question how do the Oromo people get their freedom. They can only be free by uniting with other Ethiopian ethnic groups genuinely. The Oromo uprising is the root of bad governance and lack of democratic rule in Ethiopia and lack of land rights. What you are narrating applies to all Ethiopians in my view.

When real democracy and good governance becomes real then the Oromo and all other fellow Ethiopians will be free. The Oromo or any ethnic group cannot exclusively free itself and session is not an option because it will be following Eritrean road to disaster. The question then is how do all ethnic groups free themselves.

My personal and humble advice to get rid of tribal political parties both ruling and opposition struggle for freedom of Ethiopia as citizen and individual which will free citizens and his group ethnic or other. This will bring real freedom for the Oromo and all Ethiopians. Current "killils or social and economic barriers" structure that Meles left will not free any one including Tigreans. Ethnic federalism governed by minority is a zero sum political game that progressive African states have constitutionally rejected. These include Ghana, South Africa after 1994 apartheid collapse, Botswana, Nigeria, and lately Rwanda after Uniting leader Paul Kagame outlawed tribalism experiencing Genocide in 1994 where millions of hutus and tutsis murdered each other by boxing themselves to tribal identity instead of calling themselve simply Rwandans. Today, I hear Kigali is the cleanest city and the internet is wide open way ahead of Ethiopia, and massive investment is flowing to Rwanda that ethnic politics led to Genocide in 1994 by combined tribal culture and foreign intervention.

An enlightened leader has risen as benevolent uniting dictator said let us unite as Rwandans and not repeat Tutsi and Hutu politics and constitutionally outlawed ethnic politics. He said from now on we are all Rwandans and then Africans. A deeper and close study of Ethiopian society shows Ethiopia is least tribal nation due long term intermarriages, migration historically, but misguided elites are trying to impose ethnic politics and Ethiopian political development has moved backward even by average African Standard. The late Meles is the god father of ethnic politics is left a terrible legacy for divide and rule and tried to force politics of ethnicity on Ethiopians. Unfortunately he still rules from the grave based on recent trip and observations.! Before that Colonel Mengistu committeed humanitarian crime through mass murder and created TPLF, EPLF, OLFetc . TPLF is born from abuse of power of killing Ethiopians across ethnicity in the name of "Ethiopia tikdem".

My view of political failure of Ethiopia began in 1974 in a more severe manner, before Ethiopia was an integrated and relatively united and positively evolving nation state that built on tradition of long statehood in spite lack of democracy. But, last Monrach, Atse Haile Selassie failed to reform two critical areas: Real Federalism along traditional provinces and real land reform or securing land on farmers and communities.

Later, a generation of students were murdered by calling "land to the tiller" and did not say land to state or one irresponsible land lord. Ethiopian government needs to open dialogue to politicians, scholars and citizens and allow them to speak the truth instead of forcing them to lye to each other or being silenced or rebelling.

Before that Ethiopians need stop fighting about their past which they have no control and dialogue peacefully and freely about current and the future and produce thinking political leaders with wisdom not just clever talkers simply interested in grabbing state power at any cost.

Of all desirable human freedoms, the freedom of expression or speaking the truth is the most fundamental. What is difference between North Korea and South Korea, who are same people? Why have North Koreans turned to robots and starving under one man and family long rule and their brothers and sisters of South Korea rose from devastating war in 1950 and rose to the most vibrant dynamic middle income state? It is because of later free institution that allowed democratic developmental state. The reality was when Ethiopia was integrated and united her soldiers helped free South Korea from communist when the Atse Haile Selassie sent over 6000 brave Ethiopian soldiers who helped free South Korea from communism in 1950s when all African states were still under colonial rule. The politics of ethnicity will not bring democracy in Ethiopia or any where in the world. The reason is simple, as soon as one organizes party on an ethnic basis he has excluded other ethnic groups and Political development requires inclusiveness of all citizens in a nation . When I study Ethiopia it is least tribal society compared to Kenya, Yemen, Nigeria, but political elites want to force tribalism from the top down to impose minority rule unless this changes through civilized dialogue a uniting and kinder leader with some wisdom, Ethiopia will not progress. The truth will free everyone even though in the short run it is dangerous under dictatorship.

The truth will also free dictators who unwisely impose it and risk implosion or collapse since they cannot resolve internal and external conflict. So if you want help Ethiopia as former ambassador of EPRDF, tell them the truth and ask them to reform and change direction of repression by immediately releasing journalists and political prisoners from Ethiopian jails and use the money for building quality schools and health units.

This means democratic reforming leaders in the government beginning current PM who has no reason to follow the god father ethnic politics and reform both electoral system and constitution. By the way in spite of my strong view, I do not advice Arab uprising for Ethiopians. Ethiopians if they are free and unite by miracle can build democracy from the bottom regimes allowed to speak the truth. When I say fear. It affects everyone including members of ruling regime as well as civil society groups and scholars.

In attached policy research papers I have specific personal recommendation and I speak for my self as scholar and do not represent any political group since I have never been any member of political party in my life by my own choice . But, I feel politics is important to be to politicians and my education in economics includes Politics, since the two cannot be separated. Market development requires free mobility of labor and capital and freedom of citizens and there cannot be economic transformation unless politicians transform their minds.

As person who knows growing up in rural Ethiopia born in rural Arsi and lived with Amharas and Oromos including Ethiopian Muslims with respect and peacefully. My own heritage is both Amahara and Oromo for which I am proud of. There are millions of Ethiopians of mixed heritage that is why ethnic federalism is silly and misguided. Why have progressive African states such as Ghana, Botswana, Tanzania, even Nigeria rejected organizing parties based on ethnicity and refrained to name their territories based on ethnicity.

Just look at the two maps attached to my policy research paper. The worst top down is to call 50 different ethnic groups as "Southern Peoples" giving them direction not natural identity!. Is there a real identity called "yedubub sew" which is an insult on tradition of how Southern Ethiopians defined themselves with some 50 ethnic groups of varying numbers. It is also wrong to homogenize the Oromo and Amhara which are diverse simply to divide them and rule. I am copying to our brothers Dr. Merera, Dr. Aklog, Professor Petros and other fellow Ethiopians. Also read my further clarification about attached paper.

I advise MEDREK convert to single party with opposite policy options in the type of federalism and land policy to avoid a shameful "100% victory" of TPLF/EPRDF and not to wait until 6 months before 2020 to avoid another election defeat . No country that itself "democratic" has produced such results any where in the world. The outcome is based on politics of "tenkol" and divide and rule as well as flawed electoral rules and constitution, both of which need urgent reform. By the way I have said the same papers when the late Meles was alive who is known to have said "reforming ethnic federalism and land policy is over his dead body!" Unfortunately he got his wish! I was told he read my papers but of course he ignored it since he wanted to rule for long like Mugabe even though he passed at the age of 57 in 2012 after he became one man rule Colonel Mengistu style before him.
PS: I am sorry you could not download my PDF which is related to slow internet which I talk about in the appendix. Another form of repression is to control internet out of fear and put is backward even compared to Somailand,Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda. This will retard Ethiopias effective global engagment in improving education, banking as well other areas of services. It is also more expensive to control the internet than to enable it due to self-inflicted fear. I will try to paste and copy per your request.

PS: Happy July 4 American Indepence Day from British Colonial Rule after which Americans said give me liberty or death and late formed one nation with liberty and justice under democracy with all its challenges.

Peace and freedom for the great People of Ethiopia with Unity in diversity!