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April 10, 2021
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Half Truth and Half Deception at the Sheraton Addis Meeting

by Mekuria Gize

I heard PM Abiy’s speech he made at the Sheraton Addis hotel. His speech has mixed messages. It was full of rhetoric with some truths (truths like Addis Abeba River projects, the Eritrea-Ethiopia relationship, Tourism, Volunteer work, Road map were well intentioned). Let me start first with the best truths he spoke about. The explanation he delivered about Addis Abeba River projects and tourism is flawless and convincing. It is illogical logic for us to comment against the Addis Abeba River Projects simply because Ethiopia has so many poor people to worry about. Even the Egyptian pyramid that was constructed by slave Jewish labour has a great value for the world today. So we Ethiopians should not criticise every new idea. We rather have to discuss the feasibility of the project, benefits and social costs (if any displacement of people as a result of this project). So the correct approach is to create Advocacy Group to defend the right of people living near the rivers the projects are envisaged. The peripheral argument he gave about the value of tourism is also right considering the monetary values Ethiopia can generate from the sector. However, I want to remind PM Abiy that tourism is in danger from the continued inflation in the country.  PM Abiy has a lot of jobs to do to contain inflation. Otherwise, tourism is to collapse soon. I am telling you this with no economics background but no economist has told you up to now.

Eskindir Nega’s Movement

I am in favour of Eskinder Nega’s movement to change into a political party platform like Addis Abeba Democratic Party or Addis Abeba Peoples’ Party (AADP or AAPP).  At the moment Ginbot 7 has failed miserably. Semayawi party led by Yeshwas Assefa has been fooled into abolishing his party and do nothing. These Pan Ethiopian parties should have been at the forefront when Addis Abebans are threatened by qerroo and the ODP. This was the occasion they could have mobilized their supporters but instead, they preferred to have lobbying job inside Menelik’s palace. So Eskinder can have the momentum going if he formed a party or help create a party he believes in if he wants to stay in his journalistic profession. I urge well-intentioned Ethiopians including Reyot, and professionals known to teach us at Reyot to urge Eskinder to go that line, even if he is doing a peaceful mobilization for Addis Abeba caretaker council. The former is preferred. He will permanently lock out the pretenders like Ginbot 7 and Semayawi.

The critiques PM Abiy made on the so-called “road map” often demanded by the misguided intellectuals is quite right. We often try to bring words we learned in university courses or heard from political parties programs overseas and want to apply it to Ethiopia.

Elsewhere in his speech, as usual, the prime minister walked in a fine like with words that can be interpreted either as affirmative or negative. He is skilled in that job. But we need to be focused on the substance. He has not denounced the extremists in Oromia (including the ODP) which are the main cause for Addis Abebans to be concerned. Instead, he blamed  Addis Abebans for not going to Oromia and ask their problems. Addis Abebans do not need to do that. What they are demanding is their universal right written in the constitution – the right to administer themselves. Another saddening line of the PM’s speech is his challenging of  the audience at Sheraton why they have not opened a similar forum in Tigray and ask them why they are frown. These are the people who caused unimaginable harms to us Ethiopians for 27 years and embezzled the country to its bones. There are many criminals in Tigray that are wanted by his own court system. He failed to bring these criminals, yet he sends his attack dogs  stop peaceful demonstration in Addis Abeba or even incriminate them. The PM’s speech is alarming, in some cases, having the rhetoric of Meles Zenawi and Mengistu Hailemariam. He is starting to move into territories of dictatorship

One line of talk the PM often cites is the issue of patience. When he talks about patience, it is different from what we say. Yes, he needs to show patience for people who exercise their rights per the country’s law. But it will be unimaginable to accuse those that exercise their rights, and do nothing against instigators like Jawar Mohammed, Eskiel, Dereje Etena, Tsegaye Ararsa, etc. We know he made sure the Oromos dominate the army and the security to call his biting dogs in time of need. Ethiopians must stand alerted to defend themselves until the PM condemns the extremists and the wanton press release of ODP, and recognise the right of Addis Abebans on Addis Abeba.

The prime minister had warned Addis Abebans that they are only safe when the regions around them (Oromia, Amara, SSEP, and etc) are in peace. It seems he forgot his main duty as PM of Ethiopia- keep peace and security in all parts of the country, and protect Addis Abebans as well. A leader has to execute his/her duties and not blame Addis Abebans for demanding their rights. Addis Abebans did nothing wrong except reacting to the frightening messages of Oromo fundamentalists and the ODP. His neglect in protecting Ethiopians and inability to stop displacement of people in the whole of the country is surely a reminder of the era of the Soviet Union in 1991, where each federal states warlord took the law into their hands and disintegrated the country. PM Abiy is promoting disintegration indirectly by not maintaining peace and security in Ethiopia.  Gorbachev’s Perestroika did not stop the Soviet Union from breaking apart. The world must watch the dangers of not keeping law and order in Ethiopia. If Ethiopia is in problem, the whole East Africa will be engulfed in violence facilitating conditions ripe for the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism.

 

Conclusions

PM Abiy’s vision for the Addis Abeba River projects is laudable except social problems have to be addressed at an amicable level. There are many good ideas he raised as usual.

Prime minister failed to assure Addis Abebans, and denounce Oromo extremists who dine and wine at the taxpayers’ money in five-star hotels. His own party, the ODP threatened Addis Abebans and he never criticised it.

PM Abiy’s view on who transgresses the law and needs punishment is different from the views of the public. The public wants instigators who demonstrate using clubs, machetes and sharp objects are contained. Prime minister wants to send his attack dogs (the police) to suffocate democracy by arresting people who demanded their God-given right, the right to assemble peacefully and denounce the attempt to take away democratic rights.

The prime mister failed to understand that the Meles Zenawi constitution was written before any legally elected government took over. Mengistu Hailemariam and Meles Zenawi have come to power changing previous constitutions.

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