The Two Decades of EPRDF Hegemony in Ethiopia and Somali Region By Mohamed Hassen

May 24th, 2011 Print Print Email Email

The overthrow of the military regime or Derg in May 1991, brought the Ethiopian Peoples Revolution Democratic Front( EPRDF) to the power and everybody thought this will usher a new democratic and prosperous dawn in Ethiopia; however, things are not going the way it is supposed to be in the last two decades. Somali Region governance is one of the worst cases in Ethiopia. EPRDF is celebrating its 20 years in the power seat on May 28, 2011, but the regime has not addressed the notion of power distribution between the Federal government and the region and within regions.

The Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), led by its chairman and prime minister, Meles Zenawi, has radically reformed Ethiopia’s political system. The regime transformed the hitherto centralised state into the Federal Democratic Republic and also redefined citizenship, politics and identity on ethnic grounds. The intent was to create a more prosperous, just and representative state for all its people. Yet, despite continued economic growth and promised democratisation, there is growing discontent with the EPRDF’s ethnically defined state and rigid grip on power and fears of continued mediocre regional states that have been creating political crisis in the nine states.

The case in point is Somali Region. President Abdi Muhamud Omar who is a leader of Somali Region is not only incompetent to manage the region, but the Federal –regional state power is not paying attention to the human rights violation of its “ police Militias” Liyu Police and the power abuse that the President is orchestrating every month with a new corrupted style that reminded us the old dictator Zaid Barre that cost the collapsed state of Somalia whereby mistrust among Somali nation had created chaos and conflicts in the last two decades. For example, Ziad Barre had formed fabricated regions and that had resulted tensions and mistrust. That was the reason, Somalia was dismembered into tiny regions that reflected clannish political groupings; in addition the former dictator of Somalia has exchanged governors and filled all key positions his won sub-clans. Currently, the same thing is happening in Somali region; the current myopic and corrupted President Abdi Muhamud Omar has himself surrender with his own sub-clan, Ali Yusuf Ogadeni, commenced to exchange governors and created several vice presidents. On top of this political nightmare, the President has killed many Somalis elderly from all Somali clans through his happy trigger and criminal “Liyu Police”.

Last week, the police militias, “Liyu Police” consisted of one monolithic sub-clan Ali Yusuf ogadeni and armed to their teeth by the money of federal government killed nine elders of other Somali clan. This is the first time in Somali region history that one sub-clan has dominated the rest of all Somali inhabited and the Federal government is looking other way instead of tackling the crisis. In Somali Region, the tension is very high and invites to a prolonged civil war if the Federal system does not step in and resolve the crisis.

Democratic centralism, the dominance of the party ( EPRDF) apparatus behind the façade of regional and local autonomy, an extensive patronage system and the use of force to silence opposition have severely hampered genuine democratization. The recent Arab world uprising will not teach us a lesson that this kind of political crisis an autocratic system will not last forever. Glaring examples are Egypt and Tunisia. It will take a few groups to take its grievance to the street and will go to unknown state. Although it has broadened its membership, the EPRDF’s support base has continuously eroded since the disastrous war with Eritrea (1998-2000).Once close to their rural Tigrayan constituency, the TPLF and the EPRDF top leaderships now largely operate in seclusion from the general public. The Somali Region citizen are not allow to be part of any party that affiliates to the EPRDF and considered as “AGAR” means to be associated to the ruling party. Last year, when I visited Somali region, many talented and seasoned politician of Somali region are left in limbo. This has led to a situation in which an increasingly smaller number of politicians – the TPLF executive committee and the prime minister’s immediate advisers – decide the political fate of the country.

The government has created nine ethnic-based regional states and two federally administered city-states. The result is an asymmetrical federation that combines populous regional states like Oromiya and Amhara in the central highlands with sparsely populated and underdeveloped ones like Gambella and Somali. Although the constitution vests all powers not attributed to the federal government in them, the regional states are in fact weak and left with predator such as the Somali Region President Abdi Muhamud Omar who is not schooled to lead a government let alone has an experience to run Somali Region.

The constitution was applauded for its commitment to liberal democracy and respect for political freedoms and human rights. But while the EPRDF promises democracy, it has not accepted that the opposition in regional state is qualified to take power via the ballot box and tends to regard the expression of differing views and interests as a form of betrayal. For example, the ruling party (ESDP) in Somali region is the only legitimate one to be elected and advanced its members to any position whether it is regional or Federal. In Somali Region, there is not election.

The party executive members are exclusively from one clan Ogadeni and to certain extent Darrod (my clan). The other Somali clans, Isa, Gadarbursi, Shekaal, Carenle, and Isaaq to name a few, are not allowed to take the key positions. The President of Somali, Abdi MuhamudOmar, is the one who runs the show and does not allow anybody to challenge his opinion.

Before 2005, its electoral superiority was ensured by the limited national appeal and outreach of the predominantly ethnically based opposition parties. Divided and disorganised, the reach of those parties rarely went beyond Addis Ababa. When the opposition was able to challenge at local, regional or federal levels, it faced threats, harassment and arrest. With the opportunity in 2005 to take over the Addis Ababa city council in what would have been the first democratic change of a major administration in the country’s history, the opposition withdrew from the political process to protest flaws in the overall election. The opposition party members were chased from Somali Region.

The Federal government should not close its eyes and leave this predatory regional leaders to their own; The Somalis in Diaspora as well as in the region are puzzled to the treatment of Somali Region’s people by its state.The Federal government should take Somali regional state’s governance problems much more seriously and adopt a more principled position towards the region before all out war breaks out. Without genuine of all clan inclusiveness and democracy, the tensions and pressures in Ethiopia’s polities will only grow, greatly increasing the possibility of a violent eruption that would destabilise the country and region. And ushers the winds of change of Libya and Yemen. As the Chinese military theory put it, “a tactic without strategy is the noise before the storm.”

  1. Sheger
    | #1

    Dear Ogadeians please unite with rest of Ethiopia and fight it with unity not ethnic based wars. Except probably oil
    Ogaden is a very dry land you won’t serviv any anyways. Live with your brothers and sisters (Ethiopia) in peace and
    Stop this crazy war. We need to stand together and fight peacefully for our freedom and our nation together and live together. Somalia is in keas, so many truble, you don’t need to be part of it, we wish we can change Somalia to a democratic country and peaceful. But may be one day it will be. How ever we can not continue like this we need to
    Stand together with out saying freedom to a point of self determination. Ethiopian people gave their lives to protect
    Our borders at every corner of our territory besides we lost some and maybe not forever. At this point some people
    Should just decid if they want to live in Ethiopia or not and just live us alone and do what ever because we are not going to give our national land to no body no more. BASS! BEKA! YAKEL! ALONY! NATANDOM!

    Besides I want you to know that I am not asking you to choo the bred that is not in your mouth but your not alone on this, we are talking about a nation who has been suffering for ages but it is not some thing we can not over come if
    We have respect for each other and stand for commen cause and love and respect for our nation and naional rights and freedom. And we share much more commen things than we can think of if you know I mean unless may be it is some kind of a plan or some thing….which I dout but I don’t know for sure, like the names ISA, Isaak and stuff. Besides it can may be be religion genetics or generated but I don’t know for sure. But how ever we are all Ethiopians, We have such
    A beautiful, and rich country. Not that we have to kill each other for it. And we should demand what is taken from us
    Like the land and the people of Eritiria and somali land and may be so on or may be that is just enough if we can get it back.

    Long live Ethiopia!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Ali
    | #2

    Very interesting article as somali ethiopian it is first time i see when ogaden clan person claiming his clan mohamed hassan you are hero for somali ethiopian we are yor side please let the world whatis going on in ethiopiaan particulerly somali region of ethiopian and abdi ilay propaganda and his double agency.

  3. አለባቸው ማሞ
    | #3

    አንደምን አላችሁ? የምታቀርቡት ፕሮግራም በጣም ደስ የሚያሰኝ ነው ቀጥሉበት ከአስመራ አርትራ

  4. rezene kadissaba
    | #4

    Good job Mohammed – your visit make all the difference on your observation. Unlike most writers who havent seen the places they are writting about for so long, you sound relevant and to the point.
    I will share this link as wide as possilbe – on my facebook, office portal etc…

  5. Entire Ethiopia is in crisis!
    | #5

    Let us unite and recognize that, what TPLF are doing in Eastern Ethiopia, is also the same in Western, Northern and Southern Ethiopia. Members of TPLF and their disgraced looter supporters will continue to loot and kill innocent people wherever they might be and whoever is in their way. As long as we stayed divided and not see the whole picture what is happening in every part of Ethiopia including in Tigrea, the TPLF dictatorship will stay in power for a long time. Our unity is very crucial in order to topple the illegitimate TPLF Dictatorship and the Hitler of Ethiopia. The last twenty years have shown us that Tyrant Meles and his despicable supporters are in Ethiopia to get disgustingly wealthy by robbing 80 million Ethiopians and careless if the rest of Ethiopians have enough to eat and drink, or die of starvation.

  6. Sam
    | #6

    Mohamed with due respect you are all over the map. After reading your article, I am not enlightened whether you favored the regional power to have more say in their region politics. You started that way though. All of a sudden you made U turn and declared ” the Federal government should not close its eyes and leave this predatory regional leaers to their own.” If what you meant was the Federal government should step in when political corruption occured, it might make sense. But the ethnic politics you seem to applaud makes it difficult for the Federal to be considered a fair arbiter. The corrupt politicians pull out their defense weapon, using ethnic politics. The problem is when the premise of the politics is to brainwash the people that the Tigre politicians do better to the Tigres, the Amharas for Amharas and so on that same principle used by corrupt politicians to discredit the intent of the Federal government. As you implied at least they would be supported by their sub-clan, if not by the whole clan. Your writing suggest the regional Somali president somehow is not up to the task, probally excellent only in parotting ethnic based political slogans. Get a grip, Mohammed. That is exactly why he became the regional Somali president: He learns ethnic slogans well, and he said them loud.

  7. Sheger
    | #7

    Dear people, wether we live or we die I think some tomes it’s good to talk about what you think.

    Remember Ato Meles saying on al jazira. “you get what you see or you see what you get” or some thing? I think he was talking about Ethiopians in a way that he was saying, if an Ethiiopian sees you and if you look like an Ethiopian, that is what matters to wine the heart of an Erhiopian and do what ever you want. I am not saying this to embaress the Tigray
    People who are supporting Meles. At the end of the day Meles can be categorized as an Ethiopian one way or another if you know what I mean, wether as mixed or as… God knows what. But how ever he is an Ethiopian isn’t he? Wether he is or not? How many Ethiopians that we know are for sure Ethiopians? Not to say that all Ethiopians work for
    Ethiopia and wore always Ethiopians is another question and some thing els to talk about.

  8. Sheger
    | #8

    That is why we need to stay focused on our national agenda but not ethinesezem and so on for all we know
    A lot of Ogadians can be from Somalia or any where.

  9. Dires Nega
    | #9

    Abugida – This is not to be published.
    I would like to write to Mohamed Hassen but his email is not here.
    It is a very important article.
    Thank you
    Dires Nega

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