The Amhara Elites Still Dancing in Political Wilderness
Aynalem Sebhatu 04-26-21
The widespread eruption of protests, especially in urban areas, and opposition to Abiy Ahmed’s leadership is increasing. The waves of protests against the leaders of the Amhara political elites who are in cahoots with Abiy Ahmed are sweeping the Amhara regional state for the last few days now. Where does the protest go from here? You guess as good as mine. But one thing is for sure; the people of Amhara better shop for a disciplined and principled leadership. Leaders who could rise to the position of leadership “for such a time as this.” A leadership which presents the people of Amhara with a meaningful alternative to the status quo. In the absence of a new leadership, it simply will be a continuation of the status quo at best or keep dancing in political wilderness at worst.
Of course, we cannot expect the existing political institutions, however inexperienced and new, alone to protect the rights of the Amhara and stability of the regional state of Amhara; these institutions can in long run be no stronger than the capability of leadership that supports them. This is why the people of Amhara should act with principled political and moral convictions and be willing to stick their neck out in the cause of the international human rights law and the rule of law of the country.
It is therefore timely to examine the relationship between the current leadership (the Amhara Prosperity Party, the NAMA and other political organizations) and the interest of the people of Amhara. While it is perhaps customary to think that the will of the people could not go wrong, the cold fact is the movement could be easily hijacked by organized political elites who might not have any intention in representing the interest of the people. As an observer of political rallies of the people of Amhara from afar, I had the curious feeling that I had been here before. I hope I am wrong.
That is exactly what happened three years ago when Abiy Ahmed came to power. The Amhara and Oromo political elites within the EPRDF, colluded in a superbly organized campaign of youth groups of the Oromo and the Amhara brought Abiy Ahmed, a demagogue to seize commanding positions of state power. This time around, he will be more than happy to be part of the Amhara-jacking political process with the full participation of his security apparatus, and I would not be surprised if he starts killing and imprisoning NAMA members and its supporters before the election.
The country in general is in a unique and unsettling time. Ethiopia has survived numerous man-made problems and natural disasters before. But the current crisis of the country, mainly created by Abiy Ahmed and his cronies, is unique in several ways.
The biggest difference with the current crisis of the country, compared to the previous ones, is the unique aspect that no nation and nationality of the country is immune from it. Almost every Ethiopian, Eritrean and Sudanese life is being impacted. The fears and the insecurities of communities across the Horn of Africa, created by the dictatorial leadership of Isaias Afewerki, the inept leadership of Abiy Ahmed and his political supporters from the Amhara, will create chaos across communities and could lead to the country’s disintegration. Increasingly, the main issue is becoming not how to save the country from disintegration but on how to manage the disintegration of the country in a less costly manner and find soft-landing for the country.
By now, it is probably a surprise to no one that Abiy Ahmed’s anger in his speech he made responding to the Amhara protest. Except, of course, to those Ethiopians who still think that Abiy Ahmed’s ascent to power is a divine intervention. His warning speech to the people of Amhara was littered with his usual deeply seated habits of disrespect, lies and misinformation. Instead of directly addressing the fear and insecurities of the people of the Amhara, the people of the Oromia and by extension the people of Ethiopia, his speech was a vigorous justification of his continuation of power. It could easily be considered his usual standard political manual for mass atrocities: complete silence and indifference to the suffering of people.
Abiy Ahmed has been consistent in his lack of emotional, political and intellectual capacity for accommodating the suffering of people. His attention span revolves around political events that enhance his personal ego and his political power. Within a few years of his ascent to power, it has increasingly become difficult to remember a sense of principled conviction that had emanated from this man. If the fate of Tigrayans and leading opposition leaders seem to offer some insight on the matter, the road to power for such a man is unceasing killing and imprisonment of his political opponents. Therefore, the people of Amhara better be prepared.
The thousands murdered, injured and traumatized in north Showa and other parts of Ethiopia are surely at the bottom of Abiy Ahmed’s moral concern. He was made that way and he will stay that way. Nothing new there unless one just woke up from a three year deep political coma. Why then the people of Amhara protesting against Abiy Ahmed now? What changed now? Are the Amhara political elites organizing the political rallies to undermine and depose Abiy? At least that is what Abiy Ahmed was implying in his recent speech. Time will tell.
Tigray is the site of unspeakable atrocities, mass graves and yet I doubt most of the Amhara protesters are even “aware” of it. I am being generous here. Since Amhara political elites and activists are leading the protest, there is no excuse for ignoring the genocidal war in Tigray. No slogan about innocent Tigrayan’s sufferings under a foreign army and no mounting calls for the Amhara forces to stop ethnic cleansing in western and southern Tigray. This is a classic political amnesia and the political rallies of the people of Amhara against “Amhara genocide” will be hollow with serious lack of conviction to the issue at hand. It will be a political demagoguery similar to Abiy Ahmed. It will be an egregious assumption that protection of a people from genocide is proper for the Amhara but not for the Tigrayans, Oromo, Gumuz…etc leads into such mischievously convoluted positions on human rights that all perspectives are lost.
We all should be appalled at the barbaric deaths of innocent citizens no matter where it happened. Yet more than hundred thousand Tigrayans, not including the unspeakable atrocities against women and girls, are believed to have perished within the last six months. It is still astonishing to me that the diaspora Amhara media outlets’ lack of attention to the suffering of Tigrayans even though these media outlets have all the opportunities to learn from the reputable international media agencies. The international journalists have rightly championed the cause of the people of Tigray who are subjected to months of genocidal war in the 21st century by the look alike of 12th century army of Eritrean and Amhara forces. Surely enough the misery of the Tigrayans does not deserve the neglect of the Amhara people and the lack of attention of the Ethiopian people in general.
Tigray will Prevail!
Eternal glory for our martyrs!
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