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Neither De Klerk nor Mandela: On Dr. Abiy Ahmed | by Derese G Kassa

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1. The Ethiopian people in Oromiyaa, Amhara and SNNPR regions have risen to throw the shackles of authoritarianism, ethnic domination and TPLF’s tried and tested methods of divide and conquer.
2. While Ethiopia’s political elite ( from all ideological dispensations) were wrestling and infighting to set the ideological parameters of all these protests; the young people in Oromoyiaa and Amhara region LED that struggle by drawing the contours. The day they cried ” the blood of the Oromos is our blood” in Gondar and that of the Amharas is ours in Adama. They broke the ethno-national spell of the resistance. They confirmed that the struggle is NOT to put the prospect of Ethiopia on the precipice of self-determination and.or secession but rather to bring genuine political reform for the entire nation. This was the opening salvo.

Then in Bishoftu, these heroic youngsters cried out ” Down Down Woyanie.” Now that cleared up the fog. Qerro did NOT struggle to replace a Wolayita PM with an Oromo PM and continue the same political system that witnessed the land displacement, economic marginalization and political repression of their community. This is NOT a struggle to REFORM the TPLF. This is a struggle to TRANSITION from the TPLF. Again, this ideological benchmark was drawn not by ideologues but by the young people out there at the forefront taking bullets, torture, beatings and harrassment from the TPLF.
Thirdly, Lemma Megerssa and Co. courageously joined the struggle and stood by the people and their latest addition to the political agendum came in the last resolution of the OPDO. That resolution said many things but it is crucial to notice one of them- calling for broad DEMOCRATIC REFORMS inside the country and inviting all Oromo opposition party leaders to work with OPDO. This is unprecedented! To sum up, with little or no help or ideological work, the Ethiopian people have spelt out what they want – a genuinely federal, democratic Ethiopia where there is no domination of an ethnic elite group and the marginalization and repression of the masses!
3. The TPLF was forced to release more than 6000 prisoners because of struggle and because of pressure from its yester donors and supporters. We have to be careful here. The protests pressured TPLF to do this. The TPLF’s intent however was NOT to start bringing genuine democratic transition in Ethiopia! The intent was to escape the Feb 28 HR 128 deadline, and puncture the pressure by putting out the semblance that it is reforming. To be blunt, this was the carrot for public relations. The stick came immediately after. True to form, the military and the security apparatus took the reins of civilian administration “again” by declaring another STATE OF EMERGENCY! So draconian is this SOE, the previous SOE declarations pale in comparison and may read more like our “Bill of Rights”.
This far, not a single TPLF leader hinted and gestured for genuine democratic transition through all this chaos. Not a single TPLF leader admitted the grievances about ethnic discrimination, economic disparity and unbridled TPLF dominance is the HEART of the problem. They all DENY it. Siraj Fegessa capped it all by saying there will be NO ROOM for transition in Ethiopia.
History also serves us well. Meles Zenawi once recounted he left Addis to join his colleagues in Dedebit when the Derg declared a State of Emergency. They then calculated that the revolution is usurped by Derg. Meles Zenawi declared a state of emergency the day he declared he “won” the 2005 election, not because there was any national security threat but he feared public reprisals and protests. HMD’s tenure made us witness two more SOEs, both of them were declared to clamp down of people’s struggle against tyranny.
To sum up, the TPLF did NOT change. It is doubling down on more repression. It is retooling for more repression and another election where it would be the midwife of a post 2020 repression.
4. Given all these, and let us , for arguments sake, say with all the positive intent that the rumored candidate- Dr. Abiy Ahmed- has to effect change, what change can he possibly bring about?? His appointment serves TPLF very well to claim they are reformists- they brought in an Oromo, a “reformer” etc..But everybody knows his office prerogatives will in fact be MORE restricted, regimented and controlled by the military-security complex of the TPLF. In fact, he is going to be a much WEAKER prime minister than Hailemariam. Will he have the powers reverse the state of emergency? Can he disband the military security cabal ( “command post”) the day after his appointment?
He can be an ideal surrogate. The chances are he would begin inviting opposition party leaders to the national palace for photo-ops. He will hold fake national reconciliation conferences. He will do pressers and speeches for international consumption. And yes he will be the Oromo face for the ever “optimistic” ( I am tempted to add “gullible” ) diplomatic corps and donors who assume a change of guard is a change of policy. All of that would be done to buy TPLF time. But would Abiy Ahmed bring real change?
5. Let us remember, the fact that we are having this debate about Lemma vs Abiy, Shferaw Shigute vs Demeke itself shifts the frame of the discussion into the fold or the internal dynamics of the EPRDF. We are sweating the small stuff while the power structure remains the same- a stubborn, vindictive and violent regime hell bent to stay in power by whatever cost.
Dr. Abiy Ahmed is the TIP of the iceberg not the TOP.
I hate to break it to you, he is not Ethiopia’s FW De Klerk let alone its Nelson Mandela.
Source: Derese G Kassa’s Facebook