G7, OLF and EPRDF in 2012 By Yared Ayicheh
Ethiopia’s politics is hungry for result, for that matter, any result, from anyone, from Satan or God. But we want result. At least I know I want result, not talk, I want to see the political stalemate to end. But deep inside I know that is out of desperateness and disillusionment. Yesterday’s, January 1, 2012, Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) meeting in Minneapolis, MN is exactly that, a result. I felt excited and yet lost; hopeful and yet terrified. But one thing is clear, Ginbot 7 (founded in 2008) has delivered, and it only took it 4 years to do so. In the context of Ethiopia’s political discourse, that is remarkable, even miraculous. But where are we heading from here on? Has Ethiopia’s politics entered the point of no return?
Last year I wrote a piece expressing some of the possible dangers Ethiopia is heading into. One of the dangers I listed is that opportunist groups will jump in and take advantage of a power vacuum if and when Ethiopia descends into an uprising. I believe that is the driving force behind the result the G7 and OLF scored. But the whole thing is fishy. An OLF living in Shabia’s land, and Ginbot 7, a group albeit politically very astute and adoptive, also in cahoots with Shabia, is a terrible recipe. Not that the recipe may not achieve its aims, but once it achieves its goals, it is not going to survive its success.
The Abused will be the Abuser
An OLF with no military force to resist it will be a terrible fate for Ethiopia. I have no reason to believe the OLF at large will not push its anti-Ethiopian modality over Oromos once parts of the ‘new’ OLF gain control of the nation’s political machine. Why? Well, why would a 40+ years old organization with arms and no organized pan-Ethiopian militia to threaten it abandon its goal of a sovereign Oromia? That, too me, is an appalling gamble. When TPLF came to power in 1991 it did exactly that: it consolidated power, kicked out anyone that threatened it and dug in deep.
We are heading to another dictatorship and authoritarianism. It’s nothing new. The liberators, with no experience of liberty and freedom, will rise to the occasion to be dictators and tyrants. Did Ato Meles Zenawi hold a dream of being in power for 20 years? Or having a total control of all branches of government with no checks and balances? They all start as liberators, freedom fighters, human rights advocates. And yet, one can not claim to be something he/she already is not. Neither EPRDF, OLF nor G7 are democrats; but they all have extensive experience of being abused.
EPRDF is not in a position to compromise, at least that is what its track record clearly shows. It has arrested many peaceful activists in 2011. It has not shown any change of heart or show of willingness to even work with the parties in Ethiopia who have chosen nonviolence. This stance looks more like Derg’s position few years prior to its fall. In any case, even if EPRDF now is willing to form a coalition government with the opposition parties in Ethiopia, that may only send a message that EPRDF is in crisis consequently emboldening the G7/OLF’s resolve. EPRDF is indeed cornered, but not trapped yet.
Dr Messay Kebede’s Proposal
Politics is always for the likes of G7/OLF, who deliver results, even though they have miscalculated and gambled with Shabia. For EPRDF to be trapped, Ethiopia’s politics needs more results. Those who continue to talk, and not act, will be left behind. Those who continue to yell and scream about saving ‘Ethiopia and Ethiopianism’ will decay further in 2012. But a better result oriented politics than G7/OLF’s may be the only path that will save Ethiopia from the gambles of G7, OLF, and Shabia. EPRDF needs to pay attention to the likes of Dr Messay Kebede, who have proposed a win-win alternative based on political reform. Reform is in the best interest of the EPRDF, its supporters, and ALL of us. Else, Dr Birhanu Nega and others, who are politically savvy and shrewd, will produce more results and their political capital will quickly surge and their supporters will grow, for people always gravitate towards results not notions. Political reform is the only path that will neutralize the G7/OLF gamble.
May the year 2012 be a win-win year for Ethiopia!