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Fri. Sep 21st, 2018

Ethiopia: To Hold or Postpone the next General Election?

Following bitter peaceful struggle where many Ethiopians sacrificed their life, we have started to see in our country the beginning of democratic reform tendencies specially in the last 5 months.

The Ethiopian people struggle for democracy and freedom have been able to knock the door of the ruling regime and party ( TPLF -EPRDF); and a progressive reform oriented groups  are able to come to the front seat of power.  The  new leadership led by Dr Abiy Ahmed has started democratic reforms which gave hope to the people.

Prime Minster Dr Abiy and his team have toured in most region of our country and made inspirational inclusive speech, released most political prisoners, invited banned oppositional political parties and lifted the political leaders’  death and life prison sentences (made on false claim in their absentia), created favourable environment and encouraged unity among religious groups specially among the divided fathers of Orthodox Christianity and fellow Muslim leaders. The new  leadership has  started new relation with neighbour countries and specially peaceful beginning with Eritrea, the tour to North America and meeting with Diaspora Ethiopians, relative freedom for in-house and diasporas Ethiopian media outlets and discussion with intellectuals and professionals are commendable activities that install further hopes.

The patience and wisdom of the new leadership team to solve the complicated obstacles are admirable. They are facing daily challenges  being laid by those who lost the direct influence and power ( TPLF elites and their subordinates)  on top of existing generations lack of justice and freedom.

The progressive reform and measures  they have taken though temporarily deflated the public demand, a lot of fundamental work have to be done to solve the quest of Ethiopian people for long term. As per saying of the renowned professor Mesfin Woldemariam, the oppressed, disgruntled and vengeful people that help to dismantle existing regime should not return without forming democratic infrastructure for a new better democratic government which respect people’s right and freedom.

There are fundamental work awaits the new leadership and their subordinates. The democratic infrastructure specially forming or reforming independent judiciary system, police, army, media, election Board/Commission and citizen’s individual right need to be granted in the law of the land The existing Constitution or some laws should be amended to implement the above.  These infrastructures should be free from the influence of the powerful politicians, rich individuals and organisations or lobbies.  Our country should be land of peace and stability with equal opportunity for all its citizen where there should be fairness and justice system that ensure the poor and weak ones are not affected by the rich and powerful ones.

The prime minster Dr Abiy Ahmed informed us that there is no plan for transitional government that comprises of different opposition political parties. He stated his team are the transitional government that would continue until the next General election. He would listen to the different political parties’ suggestions and  people quest otherwise his leadership will not entertain any change of government except waiting for the next election which is due under 2 years.

The most fundamental and worrying thing is rushing to General election without forming democratic infrastructure  will be futile vicious circle. The people struggle and the suffering of the last 40 or more years for fair society would be fruitless, waste and frustrating.

In the next few weeks and month, there should be significant effort by the new leadership to facilitate a means for peaceful dialogue, reconciliation and forgiveness. All the illegal actions carried out in the last 40 or more years by any group or individuals should be overt, the perpetrators should seek for forgiveness and the victim  be able to forgive. Those action which need the Justice system to deal with should be dealt. We need to live in a country where the victims and perpetrators live in high moral consciousness which ensures any grave human right violation shouldn’t happen in the future. This is paramount task to limit or abolish the vengeance culture and begin with fresh beginnings.

Without installing a functioning democratic infrastructure, reconciliation and forgiveness from our past misdeed and define our common future, an election ( General) attempt will be inviting  of propaganda from different political parties which will   inflame these past wounds and incite violence against different political groups or ethnic groups which entail zero sum political game.

Those political parties returned home for peaceful struggle should get enough time and legal cover in order  to be able to introduce themselves and programme, open their offices and be able to have members and supporters. This is also the same for domestic political opposition parties which were limited by the recent past regime from reaching out to the public. They need time and proper legal cover.

There are numerous opposition political parties in our country. In order to be meaningful and make proper change to the Ethiopian people, they need time to merge together based on their political agenda to form significant 3 or 4 strong national opposition parties that can compete with ruling party and among themselves.

Unless those facts stated above addressed, it is straight forward to guess that the ruling regime will win the next election without stealing ballot boxes as it has unfair advantage of popularity of the current leaders and unpreparedness of the competitive political parties which need time to organise themselves. This will give an advantage to EPRDF as it will play in an election field which is not fair to all.

Although Dr Abiy Ahmed and his team are popular and determined to bring democratic changes, all they can sail us is half way!  He and his team will not work or facilitate any means that would allow his political party lose the power. They  will use any means ( except killing, imprisoning, looting and forcing their competitors to exile) to win the election  and maintain the power. They will like and act to keep the next election to go ahead as scheduled under 2 years time. This will give them unfair advantage to win the election not through stealing but as the oppositions parties are not able to be ready by that time  and also at present Dr Abiy Ahmed and his team will benefit from their provisional popularity with in the people which could fade if more time is given.

The other option is to postpone the election by few years. This will be illegal under the current Constitution but it could pave way for fair and competitive General election in our country.  If it is decided to postpone the election and the current leadership  stay on power, the government will be illegitimate. The second options to deal this will be provisional multiparty government which comprises the oppositions. The third option will be to form a provisional government made up of political party free intellectuals, professionals and elders which will report for  political council made of all political parties in Ethiopia.

All the above three options have advantage and disadvantage.  If the current leadership to continue as government after the current mandate runs out ( under 2 years), all political parties have to agree. It is a challenge at present to guess all political parties unanimously agree on that. The advantage is there will be continuity  of government with reform oriented and experienced leaders. The adverse side will be they may do activities that would cost opportunities that can give them unfair advantage in the coming postponed  election.

The second option of forming multi parties government made up of all political parties would be a challenge as there is no enough ministerial post to cover the numerous political parties in our country. But if it is formed, there is likely opportunity that a fair and equal opportunity to run in the election field that they will facilitate to form.

The third option of intellectuals/professionals  and elders government under political parties council would be the best government to ensure fairness among the political parties  but their legitimacy depend on the will of the political council made of different political parties in the country.

These are challenges we all will  face under 2 years time. The present leadership and competitive opposition political parties leaders shouldn’t miss this historical opportunity to form a lasting peaceful democratic infrastructure in our country. You (leaders of all colours) should all hamper personal power ego to solve the  suffering of Ethiopian people. You should dialogue and reach to tangible solution to address these. The Ethiopian people have suffered a lot and any  more suffering would be disaster. The people put their trust on you and you should keep it up,

The people, specially the youth who are the power engine of this change/reform in our country  should continue to support and exert pressure on the new leadership and the opposition parties to fulfil the people quest and trust!

May God help us!

Ame

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