Unity Overrides Everything! By Messay Kebede

January 20th, 2016 Print Print Email Email

Those who closely follow current events in Ethiopia, especially those who honestly wonder, like me, why other ethnic groups, especially the Amhara who are the number one target and victim of the TPLF since it seized power in 1992, are not joining the Oromo uprisings, cannot but feel that a crucial ingredient of the whole situation is eluding their grasp. How otherwise could one explain the hesitation of other ethnic groupswhen it is but obvious that (1) the TPLF would lose control of the situation if the protest spreads and takes a national dimension; (2) without a national expansion of the protests, the TPLF will end up by violently crushing the Oromo rebellion, the outcome of which will lead to a tightening of control and repression? In other words, it is of no interest to any ethic group that the Oromo uprising be defeated. Why, then, are other ethnic groups going against their own interest by their reluctance to join the ongoing Oromo protests?

Only one answer seems to make sense, namely, that other ethnic groups see some kind of threat in the Oromo uprisings. By threat I mean that other ethnic groups fear the possibility of a generalized unrest leading to ethnic conflicts, which can easily turn into civil war. The fear is legitimate: anyone who underestimates the possibility of ethnic conflicts in Ethiopia subsequent to a weakening of the central power is either an enemy of Ethiopia or a fool. But the tragedy of the situation is that, even if one is perfectly aware of the danger of ethnic conflicts, one cannot also miss the fact that Ethiopia does not have much choice

Indeed, the continuation of the TPLF’s rule does not decrease the danger. On the contrary, it makes conflicts inevitable: as people lose all faith in the possibility of change in Ethiopia, theyperforce begin to think exclusively in terms of ethnic solidarity, if not of secession. The TPLF’s constant political and economic hegemony and its ingrained policy of undermining Ethiopian legacy can only cement the drift toward ethnic fragmentation and animosity. The best and only policy to counter the trend of fragmentation is democratic change: only the sharing of economic and political power through real decentralization and self-rule can create a common interest and turn secessionist tendency into an irrational and self-damaging option, obvious as it is that prosperity and democracy are better achieved with larger entities that harbor diversity in addition to offering more material and human resources.

The current events and the absence of any other choice than democratic change make one thing perfectly clear, namely, that the most important issue is no longer how to get rid of the TPLF, but how to forge the unity of opposition forces. The overthrow of the TPLF has become a secondary issue in that it is still an issue because divisions of opposition forces persist, and not because of the strength of the TPLF. Let there be no misunderstanding: I am not saying that removing the TPLF no longer requires sustained and bloody confrontations with many ups and downs and huge sacrifices. According to me, those who think that the TPLF is on its last legs are mistaken. Instead, what I maintain is that the primary condition of a successful fight against the TPLF is unity. What the current situation demonstrates is that the TPLF prevail because it does not encounter a national opposition. It draws its main strength from the fragmentation of opposition forces, which therefore should become the primary concern.

I know that since the TPLF seized power, most of us have been preachingunity as the sine qua non for defeating it. Nothing is therefore new in what I am saying. Yet, it is one thing to advocate unity, quite another to see with our own eyes how disunity makes us all powerless and victims. The daily sight of the repressive machine of the regime charging on peaceful Oromo protesters shows that unity is no longer a political choice; it has become a necessity. That for which we are fighting, to wit, the recognition of ethnic identity and self-rule, has turned into the very reason of our submission to the hegemonic power of the TPLF. This inversion of our legitimate aspiration into self-imprisonment requires that we transit to unity as a necessary step to realize our aspiration. For unity has indeed become the condition by which we get rid of hegemonic rule, the very rule that antagonizes our aspiration toward self-rule. From unity to regionalism and back again to unity that integrates regionalism: such seems to be the ideal path awaiting Ethiopia.

This much is then absolutely true: unless we remove the TPLF and replace it by a democratic system, which, in turn, requires unity, whatever we want is unachievable. National unity has changed into the very condition that we need to implement our goals, be they national or ethnic. Since both self-rule and national integration are impossible under a dictatorial rule, unity emerges as the condition by which alone we can remove that rule.As the above image shows, unless the one hand grabs the other, both individuals will fall. So that, the only thing that matters now is what we need to do for the peoples of Ethiopia to grab each other’s hands, and the rest will follow.

  1. Dawi
    | #1


    “Independent” is relative; OPDO is part of EPRDF; So how much independent do one expect them to be? For historical reasons TPLF plays the leading role.

    Yes, OPDO started as ex-soldiers & others who had bones with Derg as opposed to University students and others (soldiers included) of TPLF; So what? They were all concerned Ethiopians who joined a revolution that overthrew the Derg regardless of their society rankings. What “accident” are you talking about? Meles came from the rank of AAU pre-med., less prepared for fighting. Are you kidding me?

    Post Meles EPRDF seems to have moved to consensus politics. That is probably why you see EPRDF members like Abadula playing an assertive role in their own right during the protest; according to Ermias, Abadula is a known grass root organizational genius. He is the go to man today. Regardless, he is EPRDF first as opposed (OROMO first?). He is a convinced EPRDF who is gong to defend the organization he paid a price for first and foremost. How much he fights “corruption” depends how deep he is in it himself? That applies to all EPRDF members if you ask me. BTW, this is similar to China today; consider Abadula & Erkabe as Tigers? :) China’s president Xi Jinping, has vowed to crack down on both “tigers” and “flies” – powerful leaders and lowly bureaucrats.

    Can HD do the same thing? We will see but, folks like you in the mainly diaspora opposition, are still sadly not recognizing and supporting his historic role; that is probably one reason that is not helping him have a stronger over all position to take such major action yet. He is trying though. The reason I say that is because authority is earned and public support helps; if all things are in place no can stop HD from doing that; The circumstances differ but, his mentor Meles took authority, no one handed it to him.

    I have heard Ermias on the role of TPLF as well but. that is a role a leadership played at the time. HD & others today can legitimately reverse some of that & take hundreds of thousand hectares of land away from one investor and offer it to another. They can compensate citizens whose land is ripped off by corrupt officials and put the “ones that moved to Tigray” (is not Eritrea) to jail by bringing them to court.

    I say, TPLF’s role should be respected for historical reasons; power is moving to the center in consensus politics today; the new generation leaders are taking over and eventually majority rules. No matter how you slice it the future is in OROMO’s & the rest of all Ethiopians favor.

  2. Anonymous
    | #2


    Yes, I am talking about the prisoner soldiers when I said accidental politicians.
    Yes also things are moving to the new majority which has always been there. I don’t see this majority as an ally of TPLF. It has never been and will never be. This majority is an adversary to TPLF.
    Abadula was one of those soldier prisoners who were doing some hard labor before he was handed over to to the TPLF for the project called OPDO. Today he is some one who is trying to stay in power by whatever means. His finger prints are all over the Ambo killings and others.

    You are entitled to compare those two people you mentioned to Chinese leaders or any other leader for that matter, but that will not change anything just because the TPLF thinks highly of them. No amount of propaganda can save this regime that continues to brutalize its citizens for airing their grievance.
    I really don’t make that much distinction between who is an Eritrean or who is from Tigray because there is none. There only quarrel is on who should rule Ethiopia. They all are connected by blood or marriages even at the leadership level of both countries.

  3. Garo
    | #3


    Abadula was a conscript who went to fight in a war he had no bone in it.He surrendered to EPLF and was handed over by them to their younger cousins, the TPLF. Those are the people I was referring to when I said accidental politicians.

    This business of power politics and talk about it is earned not given takes us back to the ” ager maqnat days”. I remember “atintachinin keskesen” phrase too. We all know what that meant. Put in today’s context you have the TPLF saying that same thing and doing that same thing too. And the struggle goes on because for the people at the receiving end, it the same ol the same ol.

    Now we are hearing from people like you that EPRDF is even an identity that is bigger than millions of Oromos adhere to. That’s a new revelation for sure. That is also a mind set of the Abyssinian elites that has no place for others in Ethiopia except themselves or what they believe in.

  4. Dawi
    | #4

    Garo said:

    [[..Yes, I am talking about the prisoner soldiers when I said accidental politicians… majority is an adversary to TPLF…]]

    If one was a “Prisoner” OR a “peasant soldier” (per Yelma), what that tells us is s/he went through some hardship. Other than that nothing can stop them from ending up becoming brilliant politicians? Right?

    On the other hand, it is wise not to underestimate the core of TPLF or MLLT who were the same people who helped form EPDM. Bereket (who is the least corrupt according to Ermias), didn’t grab land in AA, has told us of TPLF “internationalism”; they were never as narrow many of us think according to him. You can look his speech up. The core understood Dialectical Materialism and scientific philosophy what helped them reach the height of power; therefore, should have no problem knowing when their time is up to dissolve as a party. I suppose same thing goes with EPRDF coalition?

    So it is a non issue to worry about them going away now. When the Oromo majority is ready to go beyond “ethnic boundaries” and is prepared to take over the county, even if TPLF forgets to go away, the masses shall show them the highway as is done in other comparative countries.

    We don’t have a major disagreements then; and was nice discussing with you.


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