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Enigmatic reformer

Enigmatic reformer

Yilma Debele 9-3-19

I would say the Ethiopian Premier is a very enigmatic leader. I should say, his problem emanates with his own base. This person is an Oromo. He represents an Oromo party. For one reason or another person happens to be a Premier. Look, when this person ascended to the throne, really, nowhere in Ethiopia a rallying support took place but in the Amhara region. Here comes the question and this is where his weakness is conspicuous. Why? Is it because he is a militant tribal? Not necessarily. But obviously, he is surrounded by militant tribal activists from his own tribe. Whatever the cause may be, the fact that he failed to capitalize the popularity he earned divulges that he is indeed, inept to lead.  

The very day he took the premiership he made a lot of promises which left many Ethiopian nationalists in ecstasy. That in return emboldened him to come to all the way to America. His coming to America and speaking to the diaspora community promising a bright future to the country sow a promising future to Ethiopians, especially, to the young. Really, really, the whole world was surprised with that. In Ethiopia, as some scholars liked to call it, it was a mania. I remember if he disappeared for a day or two from the national media some went to the extent of saying he was hijacked. People worried about his health. Wearing a tee-shirt with his picture was a pride. Then what happened is the question.

When blessings, euphoria, praises showered up on him from other ethnic groups especially from the Amharas; paradoxically, he earned curses, condemnations, despises from the Oromos, his own ethnicity. Why? I think that it has something to do with expectations. For the former group all they sought was freedom, the freedom to speak, the freedom to share the country’s resource impartially and so on. On the contrary, the latter group avidly sought to own everything singlehandedly. Especially so-calledOromo intellectuals who are leading the society devotedly incite the youth torise against non-Oromos. They began to mislead the youth citing unfounded historical events. They cite history only in such a way that it may suit their interest.  These unthinking intellectuals instead of inducing the Oromo youth how they may live with their Ethiopian brothers together they indefatigably sermonize differences. They went centuries back to tell the youth how the Amharas subjugated the Oromos. They distort history to justify their inane cause. For instance, the battle of Adwa which happened in the 19th century for all Ethiopians in every corner of the country is a big victory. This battle which was waged under the leadership of Minilik II, brought all Ethiopians together to push back the Italian colonialists. It is considered to be the first black victory against European colonialists. But because, it happened under an Amhara leader the Oromo intellectuals denigrate it saying the Oromos and other non-Amhara ethnic groups were forcibly conscripted.  

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Here is the bet for the Prime Minister. Now he seemed to be sandwiched between these Oromo extremistswho think everything is theirs and those who asknothing but freedom. His popularity is plummeting thanks to the Oromo extremists. His administration leniency when it comes to these extremists, make his fans to question his stand. Some of these extremists act as if they are the ones leading the country. On a public media, they went to the extent of saying there are two governments in this country. Because of their incitement, chaos occurred in different parts of the country especially what is called Oromo state. What is weird, this administration was quick to detain youngsters who peacefully demonstrated against the killings of innocent citizens in Buraio located at the outskirts ofAddis Ababa. This was really a big gaffe as it bolsters skeptics concern. People believe more when they see than hear. This Premier rhetorically ignited most Ethiopians making them auspicious when they think of their futurity. Of course, his emphasis on Ethiopian nationalism, unity was not palatable to extremist Oromos, because, for them it is sickening hearing about unity, Ethiopian nationalism.

As soon as he took office, he travelled most parts of the country making speech. By then, all his speech was nationalistic and it energized all the people he addressed to. His popularity started falling just after that.

The first fans he lost are from the Tigray region. This may have happened because of his affection for popularity. He usually sees only one side. In an attempt to increase his popularity, imprudently he sullied Tigreans. This helped extremist Tigreans to persuade his Tigrean fans to take off their support from him. True, TPLF had the upper hand in the former EPRDF. Though TPLF had the upper hand, the other allied parties including his own were responsible for everything that happened in Ethiopia in the last 27 years. But, many Tigrean officials were detained for corruption. They really could have been criminals. However, the way it happened was somewhat wrong. Even more, some shows where former prisoners witnessing most of their torturers to be Tigreans in the national TV were shocking to Tigreans. Besides, he disparaged all the works in the last 27 years, knowing it may offend TPLF. Moreover, when he made a speech in the national TV, he used some derogatory terms ambiguously. Of course, here his detractors from Tigray may have used it shrewdly. For instance, on Jun 16, when an attempt had been made on his life in a rallying support at Meskel Square, after it failed he appeared on the national TV and he said ‘yekenjeb’ (a hyena that moves before dusk) he never said Tigreans but by then for the obvious reason most people probably think a member of TPLF did it. On his part, he may be referring to anyone who did it. But that was not how his detractors understood it or wanted to understand it. They insisted on correlating it to Tigreans. Actually, others may have also understood it that way. Not long after that he repeated this same mistake when he appeared on the national TV and said ’tsigrelewot’ (a strange person). Again, his Tigrean detractors used it the same way. Above all, his administration reluctance to take action, when some thugs in the Amhara region blocked trucks that go to Tigray, it deters Tigreans to put trust in his rule. This way his support from Tigray is gone.

Then he lost his popularity in the Amhara region for various reasons. Firstly, it is because of partiality in his administration. He filled most of his cabinmate from his own ethnic group. Secondly, his biasedness when it comes to take action to various political activists which I mentioned above. Actually, this biasedness cost him not only in Amhara region, but in most parts of the country.

His juxtaposition of spirituality and secularity may have also contributed for his eroded popularity. Sometimes he looks to be a pastor rather than a political leader. At the beginning of his rein this may have lured his supporters but when people hear chaos in the country, they couldn’t accept it. Indeed, it prompts any sane person to question if he is serious about his post. It is kidding to appear in a national TV visiting the sick and the elderly in Addis while thousands of people are displaced, or killed by gangsters in other parts of the country. He may be a pious person, but it is preposterous trying to rule a secular society in a form of theocracy.

Should he need to turn around his fortune and stabilize the country, he needs to be determined. Unequivocally, he has to distance himself from Oromo extremists. True, this won’t be without any cost; yet, it is up to him to choose. As mentioned above, he is sandwiched between those who ask nothing but the continuity of the country and those who are determined to destroy the country unless they have everything they ask.

Orally, he appears to be a nationalist, but practically that is not what we are seeing. One fear he may have is losing his popularity from his own constituency; however, this shouldn’t be that hard if he has the audacity. When he became the Prime Minister, he had every support throughout the country. There was a little doubt within his own constituency. He should ask himself. Why was that? Again, it may have something to do with his weakness. Instead of restraining so called extremist Oromo activists, he left them unbridled allowing them to do whatever they wished. By doing this, he earned nothing except making himself vulnerable. Rhetorically, he speaks about unity, togetherness, equality. That pleases everybody who seeks nationalism. On the flip side, the Oromo extremists galvanize the Oromo youth not to stand for unity but to seek a special privilege. Because of his fear, Oromo extremists controlled the Oromo youth. Now he lost his popularity from the non-Oromos. Because of this, he might think his popularity spiraled upwards in the Oromo constituency, but in all the non-Oromo constituencies it is quiet the opposite. Even then, it is moot if his Oromo constituency is really in his favor. Because he is not their leader. They consider their leader to be Oromo extremists.

That is why his determination is needed very musc should Ethiopia continue as a country. Right now, the country is at a crossroad. The Oromo extremists are making a futile attempt, may be to establish a new country. That won’t happen. The Prime Minister by placating these extremists may only speed up his fall. Therefore, if he comes back to his senses and practically fulfills his duties, he can rescue the country.

I think that it is easy. All he needs to do is taking action to detach Oromo youth from Oromo extremists. That can’t be hard should he become serious. As he attracted thousands of non-Oromos rhetorically, he can do so for the Oromo youth. Everybody’s question is nothing equality. Equality for freedom, equality for sharing the resource. Otherwise, it will be repeating the same mistake the previous government did.   




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