Abiy, the would-be Authoritarian in Ethiopia 

Abiy, the would-be Authoritarian in Ethiopia

The youngest Africa leader, and the newly Nobel peace prize winner, is suppressing nowadays his people.

Abiy, was appointed the PM of Ethiopia in April, 2018 since then he made plethora of reforms.  But, many of the politically-minded people argue that, Abiy’s reforms were capricious. Abiy’s magnum opus was depleting the longest-feud in Africa between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Many people believe that, Abiy’s smirk and cloud nine is over, and now Abiy is confronting opprobrium from the opposition and the international community.   

Five months ago, Sidama becomes a new autonomous and the tenth regional states in Ethiopia. The Sidama people were suffering a long-time during the Derg era led by Amhara community; and the TPLF era led by Tigray minority-rule. Sidama is the largest community in Southern Nations region, and the fifth largest population in Ethiopia. Sidama, Oromo and Somalis belong to Cushitic in terms of language.

The federal government leads by Prime Minister Abiy is shambling to hand power to the new region as far as they splitted from the Southern Nations region. Instead, the federal government is engaging mass arrest of the Sidama’s talking heads and scholars. In this regard, many people are skeptical whether the federal government is ready to give their locus standi or not. Because, the hoi polloi of Sidama region are encountering the ruthless and the relentless actions of the federal troops. Almost, more than 2,000 political prisoners from Sidama are in the jails without any verdict, just because of they have spoken. 

Egregious human rights abuses in Oromia region

Shutting down of the internet, phone and all the communication platforms became everyday business in the largest region in Ethiopia, Oromia. For the last three months, families have been restricted from communicating to each other, services were disappeared, and human rights were undermined. Surprisingly enough, these actions were being taken by the administration of no one other than Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who won the Nobel Peace Prize just a few months ago (Human rights watch, 2020). 

Oromia region, is the largest and the most populated region in Ethiopia. This region currently is encountering continues internet and telephones shut down (Bachelet, 2020). So, the inhabitants of this region have expressed their concerns about this temerity taken by the government. Especially, this age of COVID-19. Because, they don’t receive the guidelines and the precautionary measures from the government and the international agencies like WHO to prevent the spread of the deadly zoonotic, asymptomatic Coronavirus, aka covid-19 which is another anathema.

The government of Ethiopia under the watch of prime minister Abiy has taken this decision of internet and communications blackout on 7 January this year. The government reasoned this decision that, there is security concern in that area. Because, Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) has a huge influence and military capability in Oromia region. And there are several clashes happened in the region between the federal troops and the OLF fighters.

Fisaha Aberra, is a young Oromo ethnic who lives in Nekemte, a town in Western Ethiopia. One day he was sitting in a restaurant while he was looking at a handwritten paper with the names of 11 men he said were killed by the security forces in 2019. Fisaha used to live Guliso before he fled along with his two siblings to Nekemte. He added, we left our brother because the security forces were arrested him last month. The government arrested my brother for the second time within a year, and they beaten him badly, and now he cannot walk properly. These extrajudicial killings and culture of impunity became normal issue the remote areas in the Oromia region (Economist, 2020).

Moreover, the Ethiopian government arrested several people, and killed a businessman in February this year after the government evoked its attack against the supporters of the opposition party in the Oromia region. And these brazen attacks resulted international condemnation. It is becoming very difficult in Ethiopia, the oppositions to assemble and express their political opinions (Amnesty, 2020).

In addition to that, the next day, the police arrested and castigated 30 guests after their congregation in a hotel in Burayu (small city locates in Oromia region, and near to the Addis-Ababa) for having a launch. as a result, Oromia region is facing consistent deprivation of their rights as far as the government is mistreating them harshly.

The other side of the coin, Abiy and his government is using this reckless decision as an antidote for the upcoming election. Because, OLF has a deep-rooted influence and presence in that region. Furthermore, there is a youth-movement leads by Jawar Mohamed, who is a media mogul, mover and shaker and Oromo ethnically. Jawar and the PM Abiy used to be close friends during the demonstrations in 2015 against the Tigray led government.

And many people believe that, Jawar is one of those who supported the incumbent Abiy to the premiership of the country. But, for the last couple of months there was a conspicuous dichotomy among Abiy and Jawar. And this division erupted when Abiy dismissed the long-runner party in the country EPRDF, and superseded Ethiopia’s Prosperity Party (EPP) in December last year. Jawar, has a political clout in the Oromia region, especially the young Oromo Movement (QEERROO).

The flipside, the national electoral board in Ethiopia (NEBE) has postponed April,1, the long-awaited election which was scheduled to hold in August this year. The commission justified this because of the pandemic Covid-19. Ethiopia has been recorded 250 Covid-19 cases up to date. Because, Bole International airport has become the leading international transit in Africa (Getachew, 2020). 

On the other hand, when the commission postponed the election, and mentioned that, they will announce the new date later, the oppositions expressed with mixed reactions, and considered this postponement as a sine die. Jawar Mohamed says, the government postponed the election date under the guise of Covid-19. And this is a political gimmick to disband the demonstrations against the incumbent leader and his party.

In this regard, Abiy admonishes and demonizes that, the oppositions are willing to grab the power illegally during this corona pandemic age. Furthermore, he stresses that, this government any action to protect and safe the country. After Abiy announced these ballistic expressions, plenty of political commentators argue that,

Abiy wants to consolidate the power forcefully, and there is potentiality of ruthless actions against the oppositions.  Moreover, Ethiopia’s constitution doesn’t elucidate how the election’s postponement be handled as far as Ethiopia’s lawmakers mandate will expire in October this year. And this leads into constitutional crises and catch-22. Though, the oppositions believe that, the current lawmakers are rubber stampers. 

Tigray region under TPLF party: Another kettle of fish

TPLF party used to be part of EPRDF, the longest-runner in Ethiopia’s politics. But, since Ethiopian Prosperity Party (EPP) superseded EPRDF in December last year, TPLF boycotted to join the new party. 04 May this month, the executive committee of the ruling party in Tigray region TPLF endorsed a decision to hold the forthcoming election at the regional level after three days of discussion about the future of the region. And this news from Tigray region is another sticky situation to the incumbent prime minister Abiy and his EPP party.  And this makes Abiy a gloom leader, and his latest speech which he was intimidating the oppositions is considered as a fall flat and brouhaha.

Conclusion

Abiy’s government draconian actions against the Oromia and Sidama regions is crystal clear that, the incumbent is departing from reformer to deformer which besmirches his credibility inside and outside of the country. Because, the monolithic culture against the oppositions and the dissenting voices, the ruthless and relentless actions against the civilians in Oromia and Sidama regions led public backlash, mistrust and international excoriation on his government. 

The peeping and fastidious of the Sidama people, the political bickering and maneuvering of Oromia region is clear indication of political change. The international opprobrium on Abiy’s government is shit bricks and apocalyptic. The government’s cringe in the Tigray region, Abiy’s lack of versatile is hard nut to crack and leads into doom and gloom. Instead of focusing the epochal issues including the long-awaited election, Abiy and his government is fumbling and fiddling the folk in order to discombobulate and bewilder the gullible people. 

Anwar Abdifatah Bashir (Freelance Journalist, Independent Researcher and Horn of Africa Geopolitics Analyst). The Author is currently undertaking his Fourth Post-graduate study in KOREA at Korea Development Institute (KDI) Master of Global Governance and Political Economy.    Email: anwarcade100@gmail.com