My Simple Views on Ethnic-Based Political Organizations and Their Proponents – By Zeleke007
I have heard many times from others regarding the above topic. There seem to be lack of consensus on opinions. Although they may not be dramatically different from most of the rest, I have my own views on the issue and thought to share them through the media.
Let me first establish a few facts. I was born and raised in Ethiopia for which I have great love and respect. The same goes to all its peoples irrespective of ethnicity, religion etc. I believe the TPLF leadership is bent to destroy Ethiopia intentionally or unintentionally.
I dream Ethiopia to be a united, strong democratic country with at least tolerable levels of social, economic and political problems. I believe it deserves to be so and has all the potentials for this. It is a waste of everything and agonizing to see these potentials being cynically and selfishly made unfavorable for taping in the face of desperate needs. Every effort should, therefore, be made to change this man-made calamity.
As a patriotic Ethiopian, my loyalty lies to the country and nobody else. Given the above dream, I am not sure what else it can be. Organizations and individuals I admire and respect are not objects of worship for me but instruments of change for the betterment of my native country. Why am I wired like this? Ethiopia is my identity since I am inherently attached to it. Everything part of me revolves around it and it is impossible for me to abandon this for any reason. Whatever I do for Ethiopia, I consider I am doing it for myself. A better Ethiopia will make me feel better and proud in the eyes of others anywhere in the world– whether it be in US, UK, Germany, Nigeria, Jamaica, India, China, Australia, Egypt or Syria. This can put me in a better footing to get the respect I deserve as a person from Ethiopia, rather than being humiliated and ashamed….
In my view, as I usually express whenever I get any opportunity, the main cause of the problem for achieving the above goal is the lack of strong unity among the Ethiopian people for a common purpose. I believe ethnicity/ethnocentrism lies at the core of this problem. If this has not been the case, dictators would have not been able to stay in power in Ethiopia more than they can be tolerable. For example, Mengistu ruled the country for an extended period despite opposition by the majority of the Ethiopian people primarily because (1) ethnic-based secessionist groups like EPLF, TPLF and OLF played a significant role in diverting the focus of the peoples’ struggle against his regime and (2) democratic forces were infiltrated and weakened by ethnocentric elements who promoted division and secessionist agendas. A good example of the latter is the democratic multiethnic party, EPRP, which was taken advantage of by EPLF and TPLF secessionist infiltrators and also directly attacked and weakened by the ethnocentric army of TPLF. There were also many other less conspicuous instances of ethnic issues which collectively challenged the unity of the people against dictatorship.
Progressively weakened and dominated/dictated by pro-ethnic proponents, we ultimately reached where we are now, serving as a model for the ultimate human misery in our planet. Lacking patriotic zeal for their country, these ethnocentric groups are always prone to be collaborators of foreign adversaries/opportunists who are also a threat to the very survival of the nation, as witnessed time and again. Therefore, it is my stand that fighting ethnocentrism of any origin or cause should be given prime importance while efforts are being made to establish a democratic system and build a stronger Ethiopian nationalism. No matter who is pushing ethnic politics and for what purpose, it should always be discouraged and rejected.
Ethnocentrism is a deadly poison that can chronically eat the fabrics of societies to their detriment and acutely it can explode to uncontrollable catastrophe any time. Representing group interests rather than standing for individual rights encompassing all citizens, it is contrary to the principles of democracy by any measure. It is thus a mistake to entertain any form of ethnic politics for any kind of perceived short-term advantages.
With this understanding, I believe ethnic-based political parties in Ethiopia should not be given any support while functioning under this label, even though they may appear providing significant challenge to TPLF. They should, however, be encouraged and helped to change their objectives and activities along with their names to those with national appeals (for example, as AEUP did many years ago). That is where hard work is needed as far as these groups are concerned. Then and only then support should be extended to them as provided to other multiethnic political parties. The same argument applies to individual politicians advocating ethnic politics. I, therefore, have reservation in promoting leaders of ethnically-oriented political organizations like Dr Merira, Dr. Beyene, Dr. Aregawi, Ato Gebru, etc. despite their opposition to the regime in power. Suppose we assume one of these leaders gets elected for the highest office in the country in the coming election through the currently available process. Can we say with confidence that he would serve as a representative of the entire Ethiopian people? Would the Ethiopian people have confidence on him as their leader? It would be difficult to justify. His present political choice as a representative of a narrow sector of the population would naturally make him at least a victim suspicion…. Is this what we want to see next? As I stated above, a better alternative is for these leaders is to change their organization to a nationally-oriented party and this aspect is worth demanding by their supporters as well as others.
While the handling of ethnic political organizations is recommended as described above, multiethnic parties should be supported with some sort of prioritizing parameters based on their programs and performances in fulfilling the interests of the Ethiopian people. They should be asked to be transparent for evaluation if they are not accustomed to do so. Objective assessment scales should be established and their accomplishments reviewed accordingly from time to time. The fact that priorities are given to support nationally-focused multiethnic organizations can also encourage the ethnic-based political groups to become more nationally-oriented.
As to defectors from TPLF or any other ethnic-affiliated organizations, I welcome them very much to join groups representing the entire Ethiopian people. While this process weakens the primary cause of the country’s problem (ethnocentrism), it contributes to the efforts being undertaken towards the direction of finding solutions. However, until proven with certainty, such defectors should not automatically be accepted as leaders in key positions in their new political “homes”. This should be taken as a standard procedure for any defector. As pointed out earlier, the reason for the probation period is the historical fact multiethnic democratic organizations, particularly EPRP, underwent in the hands of ethnocentric infiltrators and dividers. This should be a big lesson demanding caution. For instance, while I welcome the split of Ato Seye from TPLF and his campaign against the leadership of the Front, presently, I am uncomfortable to give him a determining political role in the affairs any other organizations standing for Ethiopia and its entire population.
These are my simple views mentioned above in the title of this article.
God bless you and God bless Ethiopia.