Ethiopia is Key to Democracy in S. Sudan & Africa! By Dula

January 8th, 2014 Print Print Email Email

Ethiopia besides being the seat of the African union, cradle of mankind, carries great historical symbol for people of African origin. Ethiopia earned this position as one of the longest independent nations, and for repulsing Western colonial occupation. Despite this legacy, Ethiopians have never enjoyed rule of law or fair and free election.

Representative of warring factions from South Sudan are in Ethiopia to hammer out their differences and to form democratic union where all different groups can live in peace. Unfortunately, Ethiopia is not a place to teach such lessons. The Ethiopian regime pretended for long for things that it is not in order to earn respect and foreign aid.

In Ethiopia the government perfected the Machiavellian system where ethnic groups are pitted one against another, embraced the bantustanization of Ethiopia, resources are controlled like in North Korea and Cuba by the state, where the state owns land, access to Internet, telecommunication, banking and all other vital means of production causing many Ethiopian to live a precarious often miserable economic and political existence. Freedom of the press, free assembly, civil societies, and political parties are barley existent or survive at the whims of the regime.

In 2005, the late Meles Zenawi allowed unfettered debate among candidates believing that he was assured of victory, but when the polls started coming, he realized that he was losing in all major cities and in most of the country side except in Tigre, Silte, Hadre regions, so he stopped the countdown and declared victory. When protest erupted he used deadly force killing over 190 peaceful protesters and arrested hundreds of thousands. The U.S. government and African leaders looked the other way because the sway Ethiopia holds in Africa. After Meles emerged unscathed except condemnation by a few representatives in Europe and the U.S., leaders in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan realized that if Meles can get away by stealing an election, they can do it too. The Kenyan attempt was bloody, others were less bloody, but the pattern for dynasties or one party apparatus were set in motion. Now some elections in Africa are ceremonial because the winner is predetermined.

Ethiopia holds the key to democracy in Africa. So in order to restore democracy in Africa, Ethiopia as the seat of the OAU has to uphold the rule of law, respect free and fair election, then the rest of Africa will follow suit. Ethiopia plays a significant leadership role and that role has to include in promoting democracy in the continent. African leaders come to Ethiopia in a regular basis at least once a year and see Ethiopia’s oppressive system year after year surviving and the West giving a blind eye. So goes the rest of Africa.

Ethiopia will hold its true place in history not as the physical capital of Africa, or as the cradle of man kind, only when it upholds the rule of law and becomes a pride for the rest of the oppressed African masses, as it did during pre-colonial Africa. The Obama administration has tremendous power on Ethiopia, a country landlocked and far dependent on aid ill can afford to alienate the West.

All Africans from Eritrea, Ethiopia and others are yearning for democracy and for American leadership. Unfortunately, leadership has been reactionary only willing to put out fires instead of building a roadmap for democracy for the continent.

Some countries like Ethiopia are exempt from respecting the rule of law despite their repeated defiance. Many African leaders are aspiring to anoint themselves and their children for life whether it is good for the country or whether the people support it or not. The West especially Washington is eager to acquiesce in the name of stability, which in this case is a mirage, because there is no stability without respect for rule of law.

Billions of souls from Third World nations are potential terrorists, unless we end their extreme poverty, oppression and suffering. For Africa, the first place to start is Ethiopia.

Unless other African countries including Ethiopia pledge to hold free and fair election, respect the rule of law and respect the rights of their citizens regardless of their tribe or religion, the leaders of South Sudan may not want to be an exception to the norm. In the long run, for Africa to enjoy peace, stability and economic growth, ethnic and/or one party dictatorship has to be forbidden. The writer can be reached at

  1. Dawi
    | #1

    Say we have free and fair election today what will happen?

    There is a good chance that some religious Waco or an ethnic demagogue would likely win. Then what?

    Wasn’t Morsi’s election free and fair? Egypt is better prepared than us and the biggest Arab state and that asserts its leadership of the Arab world. What Dula writes don’t make any sense to me at all?

  2. the observer
    | #2

    ato dawi….so what do you want us to do and let these bums run the country forever…you don’t make sense at all….

  3. ethiopia
    | #3

    any type of democracy should be brought by ethiopians stop begging the west as if they are gods on earth these are the same people that are looting africa

  4. Dawi
    | #4

    [[..ato dawi….so what do you want us to do and let these bums run the country forever…you don’t make sense at all….]]


    The only way is not necessarily letting the “bums” running the country forever. Opposition can embrace Meles’s vision at least the economic aspect of it.

    The “vision” is the state takes as its overall socio-economic goal, the long term growth and structural transformation of the economy with equity.

    “Developmental state” intervenes and guides the direction and pace of economic development; its components are democracy, active role of the government and the political base.

    EPRDF started implementing these around 2002 and have shown very good results. What opposition and others are suspect of is the “democracy” part that has not taken strong roots. The signs of progress of the other two components is not hard to see if one is honest.

    Why not opposition embrace & continue what is already started? Why try to reinvent the wheel? or Why try to take us back to “neoliberalism” development paradigm already known to be responsible for economic failure in Africa.

  5. Sam
    | #5

    Dula Says “Ethiopia is key to democracy in S.Sudan & Africa.” What does the statement really mean? There are no democratic countries in Africa, and all African countries are waiting to learn from Ethiopian democracy experiment. But there are democratic countries in Africa. South Africa, Botswana, and Ghana could be cited as example. He wrote “all Africans from Eritrea [to] Ethiopia … are yearning for democracy and for American leadership.” The former is true, not the latter. Africans are not waiting America to build democracy. America might help democracy to flourish in Africa, but the initiative should come from Africans. Democracy is not a commodity that could be shipped from continent to continent. Bush told us that could be the case when he invaded Iraq. Well, Iraq is not turned out to be as a model of democracy for the Middle East as Bush imagined would be. The cry I hear from some diaspora, Alemayehu being the vanguard, that there is no democracy in Ethiopia because America does not put enough pressure for that to happen is absolute nonsense. Ethiopia is a sovereign country. America has no right to impose its will. Democracy in Africa should be and will be created by Africans themselves. Should America support such effort Africans will embrace it wholeheartedly. But they do not, and should not, be dictated about their governance no matter how good the intention would be.

  6. Hayat Adem
    | #6

    I think, the ruling party in power in Ethiopia can and should only be judged by the performance it showed since it assumed power, now over 2 decades. In that: it saved Ethiopia from its cliff-cross to disintegration and civil war; there were no big humanitarian crisis such as 1966 and 1984 famine; there were no red-terror experiences and anything sort of that even by remote resemblance; the kinijit borne hiccup the country faced in 2005 was managed with less loss considered the possibility of it going totally wrong as planned by the kinijit lords of machetes and swords…on the other hand, Ethiopia is striding on all major economic advances, political consolidation, geopolitical assertions, regional leadership…and it is now one big source of hope for all of us in the Horn region. I don’t know if some brothers from Ethiopia are stuck in time and blinded to poking realities in their comfort of denial and marriage with the past.

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