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Disparage of our FEDERAL system

Disparage of our FEDERAL system

Amen Teferi  09-21-17

I feel that one of the downsides of the federal arrangement is the ignoble attitude that emboldens a parochial notion that precludes the creation of a single economic and political community. In my view, the federal system is being understood as a modern version of what our historians opt to label as the “era of princes.” The New Year that kicks in a week-ago is ushered with news of egregious border conflict.

The intermittent squabbling over administrative borders is becoming headache to our country that is engaged in tackling daunting issues of critical national importance. The Ethiopian people aspire for peace and a constitutional system anchored in equality and justice. They are ever longing to see a democratic, prosperous and inclusive nation; and never wish to squander a minute sidetracking on trivial issues.

We have put in place a political system which ensures mutual respect, tolerance, solidarity among the various groups, but we seem to be digressing at every interval. If we really are honest and loyal to the fulfillment of the avid interest of the people of Ethiopia we need to engage ourselves in constructive and open dialogue and the enrichment of shared values that help forestall conflicts and thereby strengthen our national unity.

Ethiopia is endowed with considerable natural resources, a wonderful climate as well as a morally upstanding and far-sighted people. It’s painful to see such blessing sullied, whether maliciously or inadvertently, by misdeeds which irreparably damage the strong bond that binds them together.

Politicians and other actors in the political arena need always be mindful of the fact that the supreme authority resides in the people. As such they must safeguard the public from decisions which harm its interest. Unfortunately, decisions which lead to the unnecessary death, injury and displacement of citizens and the destruction of the country’s resources is abound.

It is sad to see such ignoble conflict around the common border of Ethiopian Somali and Oromia regional states in just five months after the federal government announced resolution of the border conflict. Now, the two regional administrations have found themselves in another deadly conflict and very tense political standoff.

The internecine conflict along some areas abutting the border between the Oromia and Ethiopia Somali regions is a crisis that needs to be dealt with immediately and amicably. No amount of misunderstanding should have led to the killing of the brotherly people of the two regions. These people have lived together peacefully for centuries and the local leaders and regional administration officials on both sides are expected to preserve this priceless treasure. They need to make use of customary conflict resolution mechanisms to resolve the problem and to bring about a lasting reconciliation instead of fomenting dispute.  

We should never be oblivion the fact that the great people of Ethiopia have co-existed harmoniously for millennia primarily because the common values that underpin their unity rather than issues that divide them. These values have helped Ethiopians to fend off fratricidal strife that mark the history of many nations. In fact they have time and again demonstrated a united front in paying the ultimate price to defend the sovereignty of their beloved country from the aggression of European colonialists which has inspired not only the anti-colonial struggle of black people in Africa and beyond but also the Pan-Africa movement. And the recent incidents around the broader of the two regions do not reflect the glamorous history of our people.

It is to be recalled that the two administrations were said to have resolved their differences along the expanse of border territory they share with one another. The settlement of the dispute was an extension of a referendum that was conducted in 2005 to determine the fate of the communities who live along the border towns of the two regions.

We were comforted by a historic gesture of unity shown by the leaders of the two regions on the occasion of the peace conference. The leaders then have displayed courage to resolve the contested issues and were said to have reached an agreement to complete the border demarcation process pursuant to the 2005 referendum.

However, this gesture could not last long as the two regions immersed into another round of conflict and severe political confrontation unprecedented in contemporary Ethiopian history. This time around, the conflict took a bigger scale. It was not like the old small clashed between pastoralist communities in border areas of the two regions. The two regional governments were also seen accusing one another publicly.

Now, whichever side of the political spectrum we may find ourselves, all of us who are stakeholders in the political process are duty-bound to take due care when we conduct themselves. The people of Ethiopia are craving for freedom, justice, equality and prosperity, and not animosity.

More than ever before, our country now needs citizens who are prepared to pay the necessary sacrifice for such hallowed purposes as extricating compatriots from the clutches of poverty and backwardness. It is only this way that we can ensure the welfare of our country and its people. Hence, those who were engaged in inciting people to violence must be brought to justice. We need to uphold rule of law and respect the constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms as well as broaden the political space.

We need to listen to each other and respect each other’s views. The tone of the country’s political engagement should not be set by self-serving forces who are disparaging our fledgling democracy. Democracy cannot take root through vicious contests aimed solely at assuming political power as they are destined to wreak nothing but havoc. A political discourse which is neither people-centered nor rational can only have dire consequences.

We know that the federal government is trying to stabilize the tension and trying to help those who are displaced from the two regions. Here I call up on my compatriots to support the effort being made by the federal government and step up their effort to restore peace and stability.    




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