By E. Akele
EPRDF, coalition of four political parties which are neither equal nor share similar vision, has never been as confused as the recent arbitrary detention, tortures and extrajudicial killings. Its excesses have been compiled, reported and made available by both opposition parties and International human rights group. It’s effective propaganda which has been tailoring public opinions according to its ideology for over two decades has suddenly given way to suspicion.
Whatever the party claims to have achieved becomes a public ridicule. Social media has played a major role in dwindling the influence of government propaganda.The effective use of social media as witnessed by the recent exposition of the regime’s blatant lies and deliberate misinformation has shown the naked truth about the spate of corruption in oromiya, (the Dembi Dolo airport news which is corrected three times ) the level of brutal crackdown of peaceful demonstrators and; revenging oppositions members unconstitutionally with tacit agreement of the court are became a norm. There are living witness to these gross human right abuses. Reyote Alemu’s, torture survival from the the Ethiopian gulag is a living witness who escaped the threat of death by a dent of chance. Habtamu Ayalew’s, although acquitted by a competent court, the refusal to give permission to leave the country for life saving medical treatment sanctioned by a kangaroo court, is an instance of abuses perpetrated by the regime.
This refusal would have its boomerang effect in the near future. Most youth in Ethiopia have preference for an armed struggle as a potentially effective means to bring regime change. In the Diaspora the level of support given for some groups have shown how people skewed from peaceful struggle to an insurgency. Such polarization has multiple effects to the legitimacy as well as continuity of the system, at worst, for the survival of the state itself.
The moral ground of a regime who boastfully declared that the nationality questions are resolved once and for all is now dwindling as it is plagued by a number of national liberation. Some fronts are waging an armed struggles. From the Ogaden, Oromo, Benishangul, Gambella, Afara and a host of others are struggling to ensure self- rule in a democratic state. The political balance sheet of the last two decades show the regime is increasingly becoming isolated. The lose of popular support, within itself and by the larger population, has led the party to assume a war of attrition against the opposition and the people alike. The asymmetrical nature of this attrition is visible from the number of people killed each day. Children and women are the prime victims of this indiscriminate spate of killings. Awoday, Sahahmenae, Wolkite and Gambella are all the epicenter of the crisis.
The major political deficient of the regime which could determine its fate is the erosion of faith in the constitution and on the constitutional system of the country. Most people would agree, off course as a matter of fact, the constitutional system has lost its relevance by the majority of its people. The court case of Birhanu Tekelyared and et al, who are charged for an attempted terrorism, has no-doubt demonstrated that the courts are becoming another political battle ground. People dared to speak to authorities the only option to change the regime is an armed struggle contrary to constitutional provisions that would make the statement itself crime of contempt, is an example of the level of political desperation in the system. This will take us to the same point that the current regime itself when it embarked its struggle of national liberation by secession, had endorsed similar political position and accordingly adopted its political program. So if they have the gut they have to consider that such political resolve would definitely bring its unmaking. Caution is of the essence: unless a very well mediated democratic transformation is held the future of the stability and integrity of the country is not warranted.
Most political analysts argued, frustration is one of the major political forces in revolution. The youth who suffers from unemployment, corruption and political nepotism have several times showed the level of frustration through violent encounters. The youth of Oromiya, despite a sustained violent crackdown and bogus promises of economic development are neither lured by incentives nor cowed by fear. The level of frustration now has passed the contour of political dialogue. What seems conclusively agreed by the various political groups is the need for a regime change by any means. This is where the EPRDF, although day and night blew its propaganda trumpets, have lost its political legitimacy. The frustration has been transformed to a latent force of aggression. Beyond this point, most observes will agree, the regime will lose the bridle to control the speed as well as the direction of change.
Famine, political unrest, and gargantuan corruptions has robed the regime its moral ground to stay in power. The more it is exposed, it becomes violent. What have been praised as development is actually turned to be the development of under development. Ethiopians now hit by unseen migration and famine in its history. Any propaganda concerning economic achievements and democracy is just only taken as hypocrisy of EPRDF. The language of hypocrisy is lie.
What should be done then? When such confusion rocks the party the internal dynamism also changes. It is very critical to know the internal dynamics of the party: the relation among its members, the power balance between the coalition members and the level of influence exercised by the security organs over the political structure. The recent articles by a former military bigwig had made it clear that the party is becoming hostage to the security organ. Such unhealthy development is a precursor to a crisis of constitutional order.
The opposition should become more organized in order not to be taken by surprise. Change may come at any time. And political changes, particularly in a precarious political system like Ethiopia, could happen as usual in unexpected manner. The regrouping of political parties, the strengthening of civil society, religious and various labour associations is one way of ensuring a broad based democratic processes.
The usurping of political power by derg in 1974 is partly the absence of an organized political party that can lead the process. Therefore, experience is the best teacher to one how should be prepared so as not to repeat the pervious mistakes. The opposition should actively pursue a strategy of mixing the unionized or any labour groups and civil society in a bid to strengthen grassroots participation. It also develops ownership of the process. The conscious political strategy employed by EPRDF to further fragment political parties may be an obstacle for coalition formation, but one should also note if sudden change comes this fragmentation would not pay off neither to the people of Ethiopia, the political parties nor to the regime. Therefore, identifying potential areas of cooperation, reducing differences through minimum political programs and forming coalition or unit are all the homework of the opposition.
EPRDF has put on hold its propaganda of achieving unprecedented economic developments and ensuring democratic administration, and should opt for inclusion of political forces through national reconciliation in order to safe guard themselves from unforeseen circumstances. Democracy could be used as safety value for the oppressed and the oppressor equally. The only way out to the present political quagmire is instituting genuine democratic process that could ameliorate the mushrooming ethnic cleavages and reduce the level of political hate among the political forces. Reducing the polarization of political forces may lead to peaceful change.
Countries who have emerged from civil war like Sierra Leone, Liberia, Rwanda and Burundi have underwent a successful transition and established national consensus through national reconciliations. They managed to build a strong national consensus on major political issues and the dominant core values of the nation. The political system in those countries, therefore, as a result have never been questioned for its legitimacy unless very recently where the issues of third term election pops up in Rwanda and Burundi.
EPRDF’s hypocrisy lies here. Neither they have established a functioning democracy nor willing to discuss to find sustainable solutions. So the future of the country’s survival is at stake. TPLF’s strategy and propaganda of “unless we are not at the helm of power the country will disintegrate” seems working for its gradual unmaking.