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    “ የሞተ አማራን አይነሳም ብሎ ማመን ይቻላል ነገር ግን የተዳከመ አማራን አይነሳም ብሎ መዘናጋት ቂልነት ነው ” ሩዶልፍ ግራዚያኒ ለምስራቅ አፍሪካ ኮሎኒ አስተዳዳሪዎች ከፃፈው ሜሞ የተወሰደ ኢትዮጵያም ውስጥ በውጭም ያሉ ብዙ ሀይሎች ለአማራ መደራጀት እጅግ ድንጉጥ ናቸው። በእንስሳት አለም ውስጥ አንበሳ ወደ ሜዳው ሲገባ ድኩላ መደንገጡ ተፈጥሯዊ ነው ። አማራ ተደራጀ ሲባል መደንገጡና መርበትበቱ የዛሬ ጊዜ እውነታ ብቻ ሳይሆን ታሪካዊ መሰረትም አለው ።

    በአንድ ሁለት ምሳሌ እንመልከተው።
    1.  በ 1930 ዎቹ አዲስ አበባ ውስጥ በድፕሎማትነትና የምእራባውያን የስለላ ድርጅት ወኪል ሆኖ ይሰራ የነበረው ባሮን ሮማን ፕሮችስካ ለምእራበውያን በፃፈው Abyssenya the powder barrel “ የሚል ርእስ ባለው መፅሀፉ ገፅ 3 ላይ ” The African Menace በሚለው ምእራፍ ስር እንደ ዚህ በማለት ፅፏል ... ... “ ምእራባውያን ወገኖቼ ስሙኝ በምስራቅ አፍሪካ በምትገኘው ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ አንድ አማራ የሚባል ብሄር አለ ። ይሄ ብሄር እኛ ምእራባውያን በአፍሪካ በምናደርገው የመስፋፋት ፖሊሲ ትልቅ እንቅፋት ነው። አማራ ከተደራጄ እንኳን ለአፍሪካ ለእኛም ትልቅ ስጋት ስለሆነ በዚህ ህዝብ ላይ እያንዳንዱ ምእራባዊ ሀገር የሚከተለው ፖሊሲ ከዚህ አንፃር መቃኘት አለበት ። ” በማለት ፅፏል። በነገራችን ላይ ይሄ መፅሀፍ ላለፉት 70 እና 80 አመታት ምእራባውያን በኢትዮጵያ ላይ ለሚያወጡት ፖሊሲ እንደ ግብአት ሲጠቀሙበት ኖረዋል ። 2~ በፋሽስት ኢጣሊያ የአምስት አመት ወረራ ወቅት የምስራቅ አፍሪካ ኮሎኒ አስተዳዳሪ የነበረው ሩዶልፍ ግራዚያኒም ለቀጠናው አስተዳዳሪዎች በፃፈው Memo ማስታወሻ እንደዚህ ይላል ... ... ”

    ከሁሉም መርሳት የሌለባችሁ አማራን ነው። በሁለት በሶስት እንኳን እንዳይደራጅ ጠብቁ ። አ ማራ ለጊዜው የተሸነፈ መስሎን አንገቱን ቢደፋ ቀን ጠብቆ ብድግ ማለቱ አይቀርም። የሞተ አማራን አይነሳም ብሎ ማመን እንጅ የተዳከመ አማራን አይነሳም ብሎ መዘናጋት ቂልነት ነው። ” ፕሮፌሰር አልቤርቶ ስባኪ “ Ethiopian under Mussoloni and fascist Experience በሚለው መፅሀፉ ላይ ፅፏል ። በአገር ውስጥ ያለውንና “ አማራ ተደራጀ ” ሲባል Panic የሚያደርገው እጅግ በጣም ብዙ ከመሆ ኑ ስንቱን ጠቅሸ እዘልቀዋለሁኝ ። አንድ ምሳሌ ብቻ ጠቅሼ የፌስቡኩም ግድግዳ ስለማይበቃ ብተወው ነው የሚሻለው ። መለስ ዜናዊና ህውሃት በየጫካውና በየሰርጡ ከባድ መሳሪያ ታጥቆ ከሚርመሰመሰው ወደ ሃምሳ ሺህ ከሚጠጋው የኦነግ ሰራዊት ይልቅ ቸርችል ጎዳና ላይ ያለችው ቢሮ ውስጥ የሚቀመጠው ፕሮፌሰር አስራት ሲያስደነግጠው ኖሯል።

    ህውሃት አሁንም በህይወት ካለው ሌንጮ ለታና ኦነግ በበለጠ ስላሴ ቤተክርስቲያን በሰላም ያረፈው ፕሮፌሰር አስራት መንፈስ ያስደነብረዋል። የኦነግም የአማራ ፍርሃት ቢበዛ እንጅ አያንስም ። ትናንሽ ካፊያ እየተጠራቀመ ውሽንፍራም ዝናብ ይሆናል፡፡ ከዚያም ጎርፍና ወጀብ ይበረታል፡፡ የአማራ ህዝብ ላለፉት 27 አመታት የተፈራረቁበትን የመብት ረገጣ፣ የነፃነት መታፈን፣ የፍትህ እጦትና፣ የአድሏዊ አሰራር ግፍና በደል የፈጠረበትን ሰዋዊ ስሜት የሚከላከሉበትና “ የማርያም መንገድ ” የሚያገኝበት፣ ጎጆ እንቀልስ ብለው ሲሰባሰቡ ቢጫ ወባ እንደያዘው ሰው የሚያንቀጠቅጠው ብዙ ነው ። አማራ ባለፉት አመታት የማዕበል ገፈት ቀማሽና ተቋዳሽ በመሆን ብዙ ጉዳት አስተናግዷል ። ይሄ የሚቀጥልበት መንገድ ግን በፍፁም መቆም አለበት ። ይሄን የሚያስቆመው ደሞ የተበታተነ ሀይል ሳይሆን የተደራጀ ሀይል መሆኑን የተረዱ ወጣቶች ጀምረውታል። አማራ በተግባር ሲደራጅ ከምእራብ እስከ ምስራቅ ከሰሜን እስከደቡብ ድንኳን ዘር ግቶ ሙሾ ማውረድ ይቻላል ማስቆም ግን ፈፅሞ አይቻልም ። በመጨረሻ አንድ ነገር ግን ሳይመረመር የሚገባን አለ። አዲሱ ማሸነፉ አይቀሬ ነው - The new is invincible ይለዋል የጥንቱ የጠዋቱ ፍልስፍና፡፡ አሮጌው እያረጀና እያገረጀፈ የመሄዱን ያህል፣ አዲሱ እየተፈለፈለ ማደሩ ግድ ነው።የአልገዛም ባይነት ስሜት ከሥር እየጋለ መምጣቱና፣ የላይኛው ወገን እንደ ትላንቱ ካልገዛሁ የሚልበት ትንቅንቅ መቀጠሉ ፣ በአሮጌው ተሸናፊነት እንደሚያበቃ ታሪክ

    ይነግረናል፡፡ አዲሱ የአማራ ትውልድ አሸናፊ እንደሚሆን ምንም ጥርጥር የለውም። ታሪኩም ፣ ፖለቲካውም እውነታውም ይሄው ነው ። **************** ከዚህ በታች የምታነቡት የግንቦት 7 ከፈተኛ አመራር የሆነ አቶ ኤፍሬም ማዴቦ አማራ እየደረሰበት ያለውን ሰቆቃ ለመከላከል ሰሞኑን የተቋቋመውን የአማራ ብሄራው ንቅናቄን አስመልክቶ ብቲዊተር ገጹ የጻፈውን ነው፡፡ ግ ንቦት 7 የአማራ መደራጀት የማይወድ መሆኑን በተደጋገሚ ያስመሰከረ ድርጅት ነው፡፡ በይበልጥ ደግሞ ግንቦት 7 የሚባለው ድርጅት ጸረ አማራ መሆኑ ብቻ ሳይሆን ሌንጮ ለታ የመሰለ የኦነግ ድርጅት አዝሎና ተሸክሞ አገር ላገር ሲዞር እንዳልነበረ ስናየው ደግሞ ግንቦት 7 የሚባለው ድርጅቱ ምን ያህል የሞራሉ የዘገጠ መሆኑ የሚያስይ ነው፡ ፡

     

     

    አቶ ኤፍሬም ማዴቦ የግቦት 7 ከፈተኛ አመራ ር አቻምየለህ ታምሩ ለግንቦት 7 ቱ ከፍተኛ ባለስልጣን የሚከተውን መልስ ሰጥቶታ ል የግንቦት ሰባት ነገር . . . ግንቦት ሰባት « ብሄረተኝ ነት » አደጋ የሚመስለውና የሚጸየፈው አማራ ጋር ሲደርስ ብቻ ነው እንዴ ? አማራ ስልጣን አይገባውም ብሎ የሚታገልና ከሲዳማ፣ ከኦሮሞና ከአፋር ብሔርተኛ ድርጅቶች ጋር ጥምረት ፈጥሮ እየታገልሁ ነው የሚለን ግንቦት ሰባት የአማራን « ብሔርተኛነት » ማውገዙ ትግል ሲጀምር በርዕሰ አንቀጹ ያሰፈረው ጸረ አማራነቱ አሁንም ድረስ እንዳልለቀቀው በድጋሚ ማረጋገጡ ካልሆነ በስተቀር የነገድ « ብሔርተኛነትን » የሚያወግዝበት የሞራል ልዕልና የለውም ።

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    Protesters during the summer 2016 AmharaProtests in Gonder city. Photo: Social media

    Amanuel Tesfaye, For Addis Standard

    Addis Abeba, May 04/2018 – In a speech given at the discussion forum organized by the Amhara  Regional State for academics and few selected business people in the beautiful city of Bahir Dar, newly appointed Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said that he was worried by the growing Amhara nationalism, calling for scholars to study, understand and suggest ways forward to the government. While a lot of commentary has been written on the protests and instability of the country over the past three years, little has been said about the rising potency of Amhara nationalism and its implications. This article is an attempt to provide a cursory look at the trajectory of the movement by identifying its underlying causes, demands, and potential impacts.

    The causes

    While it is difficult to come up with an exhaustive list of factors that precipitated Amhara nationalism, few stand out. It is possible to argue that the first principal factor behind the rise of Amhara nationalism has been the very narrative of Ethiopia’s current federalism, which is based on ethnic arrangements. Most of the ethno-nationalist movements that overthrew the military regime, Derg, held an implicit and/or explicit assumption that the main motivating factor behind their struggle was Amhara oppression. The Tigrayan Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), for instance, believed that the root cause of oppression and injustice in Ethiopia lies in “Amhara’s chauvinistic great nation” mentality, thus making its struggle a de facto attempt to eliminate this mentality within the Amhara. The first ever manifesto of the party blatantly describes its struggle as “anti-Amhara national oppression”[i], clearly identifying the Amhara as the principal enemy along with imperialism. The Oromo Liberation Movement (OLF), perceiving Ethiopia to be characterized by “Amhara dominance”, oriented its fight towards “liberating” the Oromo by overthrowing this oppression. As Mohammed Hassan succinctly put it, “Oromo nationalism emerged partly out of the struggle against Amhara domination”[ii]. With the coming to power of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) spearheaded by the powerful TPLF, this narrative became the hegemonic view of Ethiopian historiography and political discourse. The restructuring of the Ethiopian state along ethnic federal lines with this hegemonic thought in mind meant the narrative was now given an institutional expression. Thus, by design, the federation aimed to ‘liberate’ the multitude of ethnicities in order to enable ‘self-determination’, while simultaneously containing the Amhara so that other groups can continue to exercise their ‘self-rule’. A recent article by Biniam Menberework for Addisstandard insightfully argues that the logical role of the regional party (ANDM) became ‘disciplining’ the Amhara instead of representing them. Derogatory terms like ‘Chauvinist’, ‘Oppressor’ ‘Neftegna (gunslinger)’, ‘Yekedmo sre’at nafaqi’ (one who pines for the old order), became the favorite expressions used by EPRDF officials (including those from the ANDM) and other ethno-nationalists) to refer to the Amhara, with the purpose of frustrating any independent political participation by members of the group. The resentment borne out of this designation of their people have eventually led to the development of a nationalist consciousness with the aim of fighting and reversing this inherently one-sided narrative.

    The second factor is the dominance of this narrative and its disastrous consequence than just frustrating genuine political participation as it led to repeated identity based attacks on the Amhara living in large numbers in different parts of the country. The Amhara thus became victims of mass displacements, indiscriminate killings, dispossessions of property, and complete disruption of livelihoods. While harassment, arrests, exiles, and killings of individuals for political participation and expression of opinions is the common experience of all Ethiopians over the past 27 years, repeated identity-based attack of an entire group has been the unique experience of the Amhara than any other group until very recently. [The recent conflicts between the Oromo and Somali communities have led to massive attacks on members of both groups, producing mass causalities and more than one million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)]. The immediate period following the collapse of the Derg regime saw repeated sporadic violence on ethnic Amharas in various parts of the country, leading to the death and displacement of many. Such violence, however, did not stop with the restoration of order. Among others, in different parts of Oromia, the Southern Nation Nationalities Peoples Region (SNNPR), Gambella, and Benishangul Gumuz regions, hundreds were killed and thousands were displaced for the simple crime of being an ethnic Amhara on multiple occasions.

    The region’s dismal record in terms of socio-economic development constitutes the third basic factor for the development of Amhara nationalism. Absolute poverty, which stands at 24% at the national level, is slightly higher among the Amhara at 26.1%. The development of road infrastructure, which has been touted as one of the biggest success of EPRDF rule, seems to have skipped the Amhara region, which is now one of the worst connected regions in the country. A recent report by the World Bank (WB) put the Amhara region among the ‘remote and economically lagging’ regions, having the worst road density in the country[iii]. The slow expansion of health care coverage meant the region is among the highest in terms of overall mortality rate, infant mortality rate, and maternal mortality rate. The region also ranks first in terms of stunted growth of children as a result of chronic malnourishment (As of 2009, 46% of children in the region experience stunted growth[iv]). Industrial development, which have not been a huge achievement nationwide to begin with, is even worse in the region. Power supply, which is another area touted as an achievement by the EPRDF regime, seems to have bypassed the region. A documentary produced by the regional Television broadcaster exhibited the immense pressures on rural communities as a result of lack of access to electricity, with an official admitting that the last power transmission centers in the region were built by the Derg regime; nothing new added since. The dismal condition of elementary and secondary schools throughout the region have been among the rallying points of Amhara advocates, with activists continually documenting spectacles of collapsed huts, tree-sheds, and tattered tents serving as makeshift schools throughout the region. Social media has thus been another galvanizing factor, enabling activists to bring to the fore the dire condition of the socio-economic development of the region.

    For the young generation of Amhara nationalists, allusions to dominance and hegemony of the Amhara in the face of such pervasive underdevelopment are preposterous. In their view, such pronouncements of Amhara dominance amount to adding insult to injury. This brings us to the fourth factor, namely, the coming of age of young generation of Amhara youth that grew up under EPRDF rule, detached from narratives of Ethiopian unity. Born and/or raised in the age of celebrating diversity over unity and patriotism, the new generation of the Amhara youth has a substantially eroded sense of pan-Ethiopian nationalism compared to its ethno-nationalist sentiments. A generational gap has thus emerged. While the older Amhara population still detest ethnic identification and ethnic forms of political organization, preferring pan-Ethiopian nationalism, the young have no problem pronouncing their Amhara identity, advocating for the protection and advancement of the rights and interests of their ethnic kin within the framework of the multi-nation state, and organizing politically along that particular ethnic identity.

    A fifth factor has been the very slow change of leadership within the regional party that saw more independent personalities coming to power. This of course is nowhere comparable to the sea change that swept away the old-guard of OPDO and brought refreshing young leaders including Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. However, the few leaders who have managed to obtain political clout and a vacillating support of the region’s public have managed to make the ANDM a slightly more viable force, capable of representing the region’s population and its interests. Biniam Menberework has argued that “most of the first-generation leaders of ANDM -who were not born in and hadn’t lived with the community and hence alien to the psychological makeup of the people- have been unimaginative enough to make a mockery of the aspirations of their constituency.” While this reflects the reality of the party for most of its existence, few newly emerging leaders represent a change, not only in terms of living with the community and understanding its aspirations and psychological make up, but also in terms of a genuine attempt to represent their constituency. The region’s president Gedu Andargachew and its Government Communications Affairs Office head Nigusu Tilahun can be taken as examples in this regard. They represent the new face of the ANDM that is struggling to move away from chastising the Amhara to representing them. This change has also allowed lower level cadres of the party to openly air their frustration with the status quo that has kept their party and their region subservient.

    The final factor is the most familiar/popular one: the Welqait factor! While the legitimacy and legality of the Welqait identity question is beyond the scope of this article, it has played a greater impact in terms of galvanizing the Amhara activist base and enabling it to mobilize a larger section of the Amhara population for political action. More than anything, the true impact of the Welqait identity question has been tearing down the provincial nature of identity within the region, allowing the Amhara population to stand in unison behind the cause. The hitherto provincialism along the lines of the four historical provinces – Shewa, Gojam, Gondar, and Wollo – seems to have melted in the face of common experiences under ethnic federalism over the past 27 years. The united stance of people across all provinces in support of the identity question is a reflection of the emergence of the Amhara as a politically conscious force, Welqait serving as the flashpoint for the Amhara version of national awakening.

    The dilemma of Amhara nationalism versus pan-Ethiopianism

    Unlike the causes, the demands and ambitions of the Amhara nationalist movement are less clear. To begin with, as a decentralized movement with multiple groups of activists and advocates, a single unified set of goals is nonexistent. Instead, plural demands and aspirations are expressed by these diverse groups and individuals. A look at what it does not aspire to is more relevant in this respect. Nationalism, in its simplest form, is a movement that aspires to attain an independent state for a nation that perceives itself as such. Unlike the usual expressions of nationalism, however, Amhara nationalism does not aspire independent statehood. With the notable exception of Bete-Amhara – an early online Amhara nationalist group that is rapidly losing traction – most Amhara nationalists reject independent statehood as not only impractical but also undesirable. Unlike earlier ethno-nationalism movements within the country that defined their cause in terms of opposition the Ethiopian state, most Amhara nationalists understand that doing so would be banging their heads against a brick wall, as it is their own constituency that would be the first to flatly reject them. Thus, the primary dilemma of Amhara nationalism is defining its relation to pan-Ethiopian nationalism, which still has substantial currency among the Amhara despite relentless campaigns against it over the past two and a half decades.

    So, what are the goals?

    With the above dilemma in mind, among the frequently mentioned aspirations of the Amhara nationalist movement, we can point out few. First, a change in the federal narrative that blames the Amhara for everything that went wrong in the country’s historical trajectory seems to be a dominant theme. Most Amhara nationalists believe this narrative has justified and legitimized attacks and injustices perpetuated against the Amhara since 1991. The usually repeated refrain, “Amhara Tarikun Yadisal” (The Amhara shall renew their history) points in that direction. Second, self-administration and the respect of the rights and interests of the millions of ethnic Amhara living outside the region is another objective. Most Amhara nationalists believe that the Amhara regional state has an impressive record in-terms of handling diversities, with self-governing councils and administrative structure for all ethnic non-Amharas within the region. They also allege that this has not been reciprocated, as constitutions of other regions decline to acknowledge the Amhara among them, thus effectively rendering them second class citizens. Third, a fairer distribution of resources so as to bring comparable socio-economic development is another principal objective. It has been frequently argued that a functioning federal system can develop only when access to resources and power is equitably shared among the people of the country. From this perspective, it’s only through a well-developed sense of ethnic national consciousness that the Amhara can present a united front in order to engage in a principled and disciplined federal bargaining. Fourth, territorial questions, including the Welqait, Raya, Metekel issues and territories along the border with Sudan, have become principal. The repeated display of completely fabricated maps showing a large tract of north-western part of the region wrongly incorporated either to the Tigray or Benishangul Gumuz regional states have heightened the fear among many that these are part of a larger conspiracy to dispossess the people of its fertile land and resources. While there is no credible evidence for such a conspiracy, the repeated nature of such incidents including by the national broadcaster ETV, websites, and educational text books, have led many Amhara nationalists to be wary of possible territorial ambitions by neighboring regional states. A final demand has to do with the increasing number of political prisoners of ethnic Amharas, which has substantially increased after the Welqait identity question became heightened. Arrests, torture, killings, and disappearances have become commonplace for individuals who have been too vocal about the issue.

    To conclude

    As a newly emerging and volatile national awakening, it is still too early to predict where Amhara nationalism is headed and what its impacts would be. However, two important points can be made on its trajectory. First, it presents both opportunities and challenges to the ruling regional party ANDM. If the ANDM chooses to listen to the demands of the public and pursue it in a peaceful, legal, and democratic manner, it will not only enhance the well-being of its constituency but also improve its credibility as a genuine representative of the region. If it chooses to ignore it as usual, the people will be forced to look elsewhere for alternatives. This might mean the emergence of a strong political party that embraces these demands (one is already in the process of establishment); or, if the policy of suppressing peaceful political opposition continues, a return to the streets.

    Second, Ethnic-nationalism is an emotionally charged consciousness that develops alongside actual and perceived threats to the welfare, integrity, and survival of a given group. Unbridled nationalism, in this sense, can become dangerous. More specifically, it can be a threat to the exemplary way in which the regional state has so far handled diversity. Few sporadic attacks on ethnic Tirgreans in different parts of the region over the past two years serve as a wake up call. Nationalism, taken to the extreme, will inevitably result in the erosion of the culture of tolerance the Amhara have perfected in the long-standing history. Thus, the Amhara elite cannot afford to ignore the budding nationalism, nor bury its head in the sand pretending it doesn’t exist. This is not a call to embrace it as such. But to engage it, criticize it, shape it, inform it. Refusing to acknowledge the movement will only allow more extreme and intolerant elements to emerge as leaders of the movement, which will only threaten the peace and security of the people of the region as well as the country at large. Through constructive engagement, it is possible to hinder the excesses of such a movement and ensure that it contributes to the welfare of the Amhara as well as the development of a more inclusive and fairer political economy at the national level. AS


    Editor’s note: Amanuel Tesfaye is a Lecturer at Addis Abeba University Department of Political Science and International Relations. He can be reached at ethiostyle@hotmail.com.  He tweets @ethio_style


    Endnote:

    [i] Manifesto of the Tigrayan Peoples Liberation Front, 1974

    [ii] Mohammed Hassen (1968). The Development of Oromo Nationalism. In Baxter, P, J Hultin & A. Triulzi (Eds.), Being and Becoming an Oromo: Historical and Anthropological Enquiries (pp. 67-80). Uppsala: The Nordic Africa Institute

    [iii] World Bank (2017).What Studies In Spacial Development Show in Ethiopia.Accessed from http://blogs.worldbank.org/africacan/what-studies-in-spatial-development-show-in-ethiopia-part-ii

    [iv]Some of the socio-economic data presented here, including this one that shows the percentage of stunting among children, is taken from the presentation prepared by the ANRS for the discussion forum between the region and academics as well as selected business people

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    Ethiopia Appoints New Army Chief After Peace Vow to Eritrea

    www.bloomberg.com
    • Seare Mekonnen previously headed military’s northern command
    • Authorities this week said they may enact deal signed in 2000

    Ethiopia’s prime minister appointed a new army chief of staff with a specialist’s background on Eritrea, days after authorities said they’d implement a peace deal with their Horn of Africa neighbor and long-standing foe.

     
     

    The appointment of Seare Mekonnen marks the first change at the top in 17 years in Ethiopia’s army, which plays a dominant role in the country that has Africa’s biggest population after Nigeria. Ethiopia is a federal state designed to give autonomy to its myriad ethnic groups, and Seare is from the Tigray community, who’ve largely held the top military, security and intelligence ranks since the then-rebel Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front seized power in 1991.

     
     

    His appointment was announced late Thursday by the ruling party-funded Fana Broadcasting Corp. Named one of three deputy chiefs of staff to the Ethiopian National Defense Force earlier this year, Seare also previously led its Northern Command, whose jurisdiction covers areas bordering Eritrea.

     
     

    “Having headed Northern Command as well as training, Seare really understands where the ENDF are at the moment, and has the credibility as a soldier to have his judgment trusted,” said Sandy Wade, a former U.K. defense attache in Ethiopia who now advises investors in the Horn of Africa. “This is technical: choosing the right man for the job of taking the ENDF forward.”

     
     

    Border War

    Eritrea declared independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after decades of conflict, and the nations have been at odds after a 1998-2000 border war that claimed thousands of lives. A peace deal signed in 2000 was never implemented, with Ethiopia refusing to recognize a monitor’s findings on ownership of a disputed town. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed pledged in April that the country will “resolve problems” with Eritrea.

    Seare succeeded General Samora Younes, another ethnic Tigrayan, who’d held the role since 2001.

    Abiy also named Adem Mohammed as new director-general of the National Intelligence and Security Services, Fana reported on Thursday. Adem, an ethnic Amhara who previously commanded Ethiopia’s air force, was also appointed as a deputy chief of staff earlier this year.

    “Defense doesn’t have ethnicity or race,” Abiy said late Thursday in a televised address on the state-owned Ethiopian Broadcasting Corp. “We should know that we die together for one country, for one flag.

    Read more ›
     
    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attends a rally during his visit to Ambo in the Oromiya region, Ethi­o­pia, on April 11. (Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

    SIX MONTHS ago, Ethi­o­pia appeared trapped in a cycle of unrest, repression and more unrest. Stability in East Africa’s largest country, with a population of more than 100 million, appeared to be crumbling, while the once-booming economy was facing a debt crisis. All of this was bad news for the United States, for which Ethi­o­pia has been a key ally in combating terrorism in nearby Somalia. So it’s more than worth cheering the rush of developments in Addis Ababa during the past few weeks, which signal an astonishing turnaround under a new and dynamic young leader.

    In the past week , the government of Abiy Ahmed has lifted a state of emergency, announced a major new program to partially or fully privatize state-run firms and said it would finally implement a peace agreement with neighboring Eritrea that it had been stalling for 18 years. That followed the release of political prisoners and invitations to exiled dissidents and media outlets to return home. Mr. Abiy, who took office on April 2, has been touring the country and promising even more change: He says the constitution will be amended to apply term limits to his position, which has been occupied by only two other men since 1995.

    The immediate effect of this reconciliation campaign has been to stem ethnic unrest that had been threatening to tear Ethi­o­pia apart. Mr. Abiy, who at 41 is one of the youngest leaders in Africa, is an Oromo, a group that makes up one-third of Ethi­o­pia’s population. Oromo-populated areas around the capital were the starting point for anti-government demonstrations beginning in 2015 that eventually spread to other areas, including those populated by ethnic Amhara. The government responded harshly: By the end of last year, at least 700 people had been reported killed and thousands imprisoned.

    Fortunately, a majority in the ruling Ethio­pian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, which has ruled the country autocratically for 27 years, concluded that change was necessary. Early this year, a notorious prison was closed and the first releases of political prisoners began; in February, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who has been in office since 2012, was forced to submit his resignation. A few weeks later came the unexpected appointment of Mr. Abiy, who appears to have the backing of Oromo and Amhara factions within the ruling coalition. His first act was to deliver a powerful inaugural speech in which he apologized for the killing of demonstrators and welcomed dissent — a stance no Ethio­pian government has adopted in modern times.

    It remains to be seen whether Mr. Abiy can sustain his reform drive, which is sure to draw opposition from regime hard-liners. A key question will be whether economic reforms, including the sale of shares to foreign investors in large state companies and the privatization of others, will bring in enough hard currency to allow payments on foreign debts and ease import bottlenecks. A return of economic dynamism would go far to address the long-festering unrest; if that is accompanied by genuine political liberalization, the cause of democracy in Africa could get a historic boost

    Read more ›

    Memorandum No. 8: PM Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia: Please, Please Be Our Guest in the U.S.!

    (Open Letter Version)

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed
    C/o Embassy of Ethiopia
    3506 International Dr., NW
    Washington, D.C. 20008

    Dear Prime Minister Abiy:

    Greetings!

    I am informed and believe that you will not be visiting the U.S. in early July as part of scheduled events.

    I am writing to respectfully request and strongly urge you to maintain your scheduled visit dates in July, if at all possible, to directly engage your legion of supporters and well-wishers in the United States.

    Gandhi once said, “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean, if a few drops of the ocean are dirty not everything in it is dirty.”

    You must not lose your faith in the Ethiopian Diaspora in America because we too are an ocean. Indeed, America is an ocean that is home to immigrants from all corners of the planet. We cherish not only our multicultural diversity but also our right to express our opinions with impunity. I should like to believe diversity is the reason the de facto motto of the United States is “E Pluribus Unum”, “Out of many, one.” It is the equivalent of your cherished creed of Ethiopiawinet, “ONE Ethiopia out of many nations, nationalities and peoples”.

    As you have consistently demonstrated since you took office in April, you must continue to appeal to our common humanity and Ethiopiawinet which bind us together. You have chosen the path of reconciliation and inclusiveness keeping alive Mandela’s legacy in Ethiopia.

    We live in a polarized world where fear and prejudice rule the hearts and minds of human beings. Since taking office, you have taken bold, defiant and courageous steps to win the hearts and minds of the Ethiopian people with uplifting messages of love, understanding, compassion, truth and reconciliation.

    Truth be told, those who speak the truth and preach truth to power are often perceived as a threat by those who cannot handle the truth. Goethe said, “There is nothing more frightening than ignorance.” I believe there is nothing more awesome than the power of truth.

    In my very first public statement in 2006 when I joined the human rights struggle in Ethiopia, I prophesied  how change will eventually come to Ethiopia. “I believe we prove the righteousness of our cause not in battlefields soaked in blood and filled with corpses, but in the living hearts and thinking minds of men and women of goodwill.”

    You have single handedly pulled Ethiopia from the brink of certain bloody civil war and staved off internecine ethnic strife by winning the hearts and minds of Ethiopians of goodwill in the country and in the Diaspora. I am not paying you any special tribute; I am simply stating a fact!

    In my first public statement, I also asked a “question of great interest to all of us: Can we — Ethiopians and Ethiopian Americans– make a difference in our homeland while living, working and struggling in America? I shall argue that we can, and in fact, are making a world of difference today.”

    On various occasions during the past several weeks, you have answered the question I posed twelve years ago time and  again in the affirmative.

    You have unequivocally declared Diaspora Ethiopians are most welcome to return and help their country or provide help from where ever they may be.

    You have said Diaspora Ethiopians are free to return and peacefully compete in the political process.

    You have invited the Diaspora opposition press to open their headquarters in the country and operate freely.

    You have strongly urged reconciliation between Diaspora Ethiopians and their brothers and sisters in Ethiopia.

    You have demonstrated your commitment to inclusiveness of Diaspora Ethiopians beyond a shadow of doubt, and in the process you have paid us great respect.

    It is written, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” In my Memorandum No. 4, I wrote, “We in the Diaspora are behind PM Abiy. He must tell us everything as it is. He must tell us his hopes as well as his fears. He must tell us what he can and cannot do. He must tell us how we can help him succeed and what will likely happen if he fails.”

    In response to your challenge that Diaspora Ethiopians have a duty to improve the tarnished image of Ethiopia over the past 27 years, I challenged you to do the same because “today you are the public image of Ethiopia. You must continue and intensify your own efforts to project an image of optimism, hope and success about Ethiopia to the world.”

    Now, you offered to pay us your respect in person by visiting us in the first week of July tell us about your vision for the New Ethiopia and in the process paint a new portrait of a rising and resilient Ethiopia. Regardless of the unfortunate circumstances, know that legions of your supporters in America could not wait for the opportunity to repay your respect.

    The American novelist Ken Kesey back in my day said, “You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.”

    Over the past 2 months, you have crisscrossed Ethiopia to make the case for the New Ethiopia and to listen to the voice of the people. I applaud you for that because the voice of the people is the voice of God (Vox Populi, Vox Dei.) The goodwill you have generated in these visits has been instrumental in stabilizing the country and inspiring hope for the future of Ethiopia and establish confidence in your extraordinary leadership.

    You have also travelled to neighboring countries to secure the release of thousands of captive Ethiopians and to seek greater cooperation for regional peace, stability and cooperation. You have been extraordinarily  successful in your efforts.

    I regard your offer to visit Ethiopians and Ethiopian Americans in the U.S. as one leg in an itinerary that aims to bring all Ethiopians together to help their country and people.

    I believe your aim in coming to America is to personally deliver your message of national reconciliation and national unity and to mobilize us to join our brothers and sisters at home in building the Beloved Ethiopian Community in the manner of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. You wanted to come and share with us your hopes, dreams and vision for Ethiopia. Above all, I believe you wanted to listen to our concerns, fears and hopes for our homeland first hand.

    Let me assure you that the legions of your supporters in the U.S. of A are ready for you. We can’t wait to have you in our midst and hear you make the case for national reconciliation, national unity and how we can build the Beloved Ethiopian Community. We can’t wait to tell you how ready, willing and able we are to respond to your call for national salvation from decades of misrule and bad governance.

    I wish to remind you that your leadership role model Mandela once said, “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”

    I know you do not like the word “enemy” used in the context of political interaction. You prefer “competitors”.

    Barely two months in office, you have shown leadership skills unseen in modern African history. I make this statement as a matter of fact not maudlin sentimentality.

    You have shown leadership character and qualities that have bewildered and confounded your competitors  and energized, electrified and mobilized your supporters. You have paralyzed and petrified the Forces of the Dark Side.

    You are proving to be the kind of leader Gen. Douglas MacArthur spoke about: “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.”

    To my knowledge (and to the extent that I have been able to research the fact), you never set out to be a national leader but became one by the equality of your actions and integrity of your intent to bring about national reconciliation and good governance in Ethiopia.

    Every day I hear Ethiopians saying you were sent by Providence to lead your people out of 27 years of captivity from the proverbial Babylon.

    I believe you showed supreme courage when you stood up to the Forces of the Dark Side and stared them down and let them know you won’t back down; you won’t be turned around; you will stand your ground! They looked as pitiful as a deer in headlights, frozen in time and space, with a freight train approaching fast.

    You showed supreme confidence when you declared Ethiopia can never move forward looking in the rearview mirror driving on streets called hate, revenge, retribution and retaliation.

    You showed supreme compassion when you emptied the prisons holding political prisoners in Ethiopia and travelled to the Sudan and Saudi Arabia and negotiated the release of thousands of our brothers and sisters.

    You showed extraordinary compassion when you visited a 16 year-old Ethiopian victim of medical malpractice and persuaded the government of Saudi Arabia to pay his family some 22 million birr in compensatory damages. No Ethiopian government official visited the young comatose Ethiopian since 2006!

    You showed supreme integrity when you publicly apologized for the lawlessness and abuse of power of your predecessor regime and openly admitted that the government you inherited is populated by thieves, crooks and swindlers who have converted the public treasury into their  personal bank account. You minced no words when you explained the enormous difficulty of hewing out of a mountain of kleptocracy a stone of democracy, to paraphrase MLK.

    Today, you showed supreme magnanimity when you offered to come and visit us in the U.S. I am sure you made the offer knowing the duties of the shepherd who must care for his flock where ever they may be not because he must but because he is willing and “not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve.”

    Now, I must tell it like it is.

    Your offer to visit us in July was a masterful move worthy of Sun Tzu. “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”

    When you made your offer to visit, you dropped it on us like a thunderbolt. It was a completely unanticipated move. It was a creatively disarming move. It was a strategic move of extraordinary brilliance.

    None of us expected you would make such a bold move, seize the moment and strategically capture the contentious political landscape in the Diaspora by such a simple graceful act.

    I can assure you that the audacity of your offer shocked some people who thought you would be too timid to come and present yourself to friends and foes in an open forum and suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous Diaspora criticism and invective.

    Your offer discombobulated some of us. We did not know what to make of it. We are accustomed to chasing officials of your predecessor government out of meeting halls in America and elsewhere. Now, you flipped our own table on us. You wanted to come and chase us on our home turf, in a manner of speaking. That takes supreme self-confidence!

    Most of us were caught off-guard. I certainly was.

    By simply making the request you kicked us out of our comfort zones. You forced us to put our money where our mouth is. You put us in an extreme predicament: Put me up on your stage and let me say my peace or shut up and stop complaining about how I do not walk the talk!

    When you said you would embrace us with open arms when we return, I thought it was a nice gesture. I felt, “We’ll see you in Ethiopia when we see you. No rush or urgency.”

    But you could not wait for us to show up. So, you decided to show up on our doorsteps in July.

    Perhaps what you did not realize by your offer is the fact that you have put some of us on the horns of a terrible dilemma. You have made life miserable for those of us who have been badgering you about being all talk and no action. Some of us said you were just talking the  talk of reconciliation, peace, forgiveness and democracy and did not mean any of it. Now, you put your mouth where your feet are and asked to be invited to show us how you walk the talk of reconciliation, peace, forgiveness and democracy.

    We like to talk about meeting our political adversaries half way. You said you won’t meet us half way; you will meet us all the way in America.

    In offering to meet us all the way, you have masterfully captured the commanding moral heights. You have shown the courage of your convictions and forced us to show the cowardice of our hypocrisy. By simply asking to speak to us, you backed us into a corner. You have done something no Ethiopian leader has ever done. You reached out to us beyond and above the call of duty or office.

    You have much to be proud of as some of us have reason be ashamed.

    You may recall in my Memorandum No. 4, I offered to coordinate an electronic town hall for you to engage Diaspora Ethiopians. I thought under the circumstances such a town hall would be a more convenient means of communication.

    I must admit you one-upped me on that idea. You decided to forget the electronic town hall and show up in person at our doorstep. By offering to come to the U.S. and engage us directly, you proved to me that an Ethiopian Cheetah could give an Ethiopian Hippo a run for his money any day of the week. I love it!

    Your offer to visit scared some of us because we are afraid of you, more specifically, the irresistible power of your ideas. Some of us fear you because we cannot hold a candle to you forensic prowess in public debate. Certainly, we cannot win an argument against your ideas of Ethiopiawinet, Ethiopian unity, rule of law, accountability and transparency in government. Truth be told, we don’t want you to come to America and embarrass us. So, you forced us, I regret to say, to fabricate laughable subterfuges and bogus excuses about why you cannot come. “You should not come because you have a lot of work to do there. You are coming to America just to show off. We can’t guarantee your safety (as if the Secret Service is no longer in service), blah, blah….

    Let me cut to the chase.

    If you had come, some of us were afraid you would have stolen the show. Straight up! No question about it! You would have brought down the house down and raised the roof. You would have upstaged the stage. You would have been treated like a rock star by the younger generation of Ethiopians and as the leader sent by Providence by the older generation.

    Sun Tzu advised, “The greatest victory is that which requires no battle”. If you had come to the U.S., I have no doubts you would have victoriously declared, “I came; I saw; and I conquered the hearts and minds of Ethiopians and Ethiopian Americans in America.”

    Sun Tzu “teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.” Regardless of your coming or not coming, you have made your moral position unassailable and are sure to win the hearts and minds of Ethiopians and demonstrate the kind of extraordinary political and moral leader you are.

    The fact of the matter is that you checkmated us. We did not know how to respond to you because you win regardless of what we do or don’t. If we accepted your offer, you will come and do what you do best. Capture the hearts and minds of your Diaspora brothers and sisters. If we decline your offer, you will command the moral high ground because we turned down your good faith offer.

    Naturally, we did what we do best: Never lose an opportunity to lose an opportunity.

    But one’s loss is another’s opportunity.

    Know that your legions of supporters in America are ready, willing and able to have you visit us in July, August, September or any other time of your choosing.

    You have said on various occasions that you will embrace us with open arms if we returned home. Well, your legions of supporters in the U.S. of A are willing, able and ready to return the favor by embracing you back in America. If you are willing to travel thousands of miles to deliver an olive branch to us in America, we will wait for you until hell freezes over or a moment’s notice to show up and hand you over a ton of olive branches.

    I remember September 2010 when your late predecessor came to speak at Columbia University. He was made the object of much contempt, derision and opposition. He used to call us “Diaspora extremist”, “terrorists” and such. He even devised a plan to attack and destroy his opposition in the Diaspora in the name of “constituency building”. He never, never made a gesture of good will to us. He never wanted to talk to us. He always talked down to us when he was not scandalizing, vilifying and belittling us.

    But I defended his right to speak his peace because I wanted him to experience the freedom he has denied so many back home.

    On a personal level, your predecessor regime not long ago singled me out by name and announced to the world that they “doubt my Ethiopiawinet”. I was not offended. On the contrary, I was profoundly grateful to them. They gave me a new platform and energized me beyond measure to launch my campaign of EthiopiaWINet and continue my relentless struggle for human rights in Ethiopia.

    In July 2018, you want to come to us in America and  not only share the good news of freedom, democratic change, national unity and reconciliation but also affirm to us in person that Diaspora Ethiopians matter to Ethiopia. You acknowledged that just like Diaspora Indians, Jews and others have helped build their countries, so can Diaspora Ethiopians.

    You must think some of us Ethiopians and Ethiopian Americans in the U.S. are a strange breed. We did not want to hear the messenger of hate and division in 2010. We don’t want to hear the messenger of love and reconciliation in 2018.

    But the fact of the matter is that there are legions of us who want to invite you to come to America and listen to what we have to say. We want you to come and share the good news with us. We want you to come and tell us how long the road to freedom is. We want to tell you what we think and how we can help you get the job of getting Ethiopia on the right track.

    Personally, I want you to come to America and answer the questions I asked in my January 2018 commentary:

    How long, eske meche (እስከ መቼ!) will wounded justice, lying prostrate on the dirt roads in the countryside and the highways be lifted and the hearts and minds of every Ethiopian healed?

    How long, eske meche (እስከ መቼ!) before the truth crushed to earth rises up again in Ethiopia?

    How long before the dark cloud of oppression is lifted from the Ethiopian skies and the sun of freedom returns to the Land of 13 Months of Sunshine?

    How long will justice be crucified in Ethiopia, and truth bear it?

    How long before Ethiopia is free from the yoke of ethnic apartheid?

    I am sure I know how you will answer these questions, but I want to hear it from you.

    How long Abiy?

    “Not long! Qenu derswal (ቀኑ ደርሷል)!”

    I would like to hear you say in America that you will fulfill Mandela’s promise in Ethiopia: “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.”

    In my self-appointed role as the Diaspora defender of Ethiopian human rights, I have a feel for the pulse of Ethiopians and Ethiopian Americans. There are legions who pray for you every day to succeed. There are legions who watch you online and hang on to your every word. There are legions who doubted you at to first but are slowly changing their minds and becoming your supporters. There are legions who believe you are sent by Providence.

    Then there are a few who have made a religion out of negativism, defeatism, cynicism and pessimism who simply can’t stand you. I wrote all about them in my Memorandum No. 4.

    Lastly, I am going to try and use all of my forensic skills to appeal to your deep sense of Ethiopiawinet  to come and be with your legion of supporters in America.

    I will offer you seven compelling reasons why you should come to visit us soon.

    Reason No. 1: We love you. Machiavelli wrote it is better for the Prince to be feared than loved. Your late predecessor believed in that maxim and failed. Your late predecessor weaponized hate. You weaponized love and reconciliation. He lost. Every day you prove to the world love conquers all. Everyday you are winning hearts and minds. Well, come to America and let’s show you some LOVE!

    Reason No. 2: We respect and admire you as a role model for political leadership and engagement. I do not believe there an instance in the last 27 years in which a high official from Ethiopia has come to America to engage Ethiopians and Ethiopian Americans and not faced the wrath and opposition of the activist community. They have all been tarred and feathered, humiliated and disgraced. Against this historical background, you displayed supreme self-confidence by offering to come in person and brave the slings and arrows of those who may disagree with you.

    On a personal level, I have the greatest respect and admiration for you as a human being and as a leader. As you know, I was not enamored of your predecessor regime. In fact, I coined at least a dozen new unflattering English words to describe them. It testifies to the moral authority of your leadership that I should completely cease any negative references to that regime and its members despite the fact that there have been many occasions for me to say a word or two to them since you took office. I have resisted the temptation to lash out following your counsel that we cannot move Ethiopia forward by engaging in the politics of recrimination, denunciation and castigation. Come and let’s show you our respect and admiration.

    Reason No. 3: We are super proud of you. As the youngest leader in Africa, you make us proud. Is it not ironic that the oldest country in Africa should have the youngest leader? We are proud of you for the uncompromising and courageous stands you have taken on the issues. You make no compromises on the rule of law. On democracy. On human rights. On corruption. On peace and reconciliation.

    A couple of days ago, you spoke truth to the “generals”. You said “a sergeant in free country has more respect than a general in a poor country.” In doing so, you demonstrated the true constitutional meaning of Art. 74(1) of the Ethiopian Constitution: “The Prime Minister shall be the head of government, chairman of the Council of Ministers and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.” You schooled the “generals” on what it takes to have a professional army. The armed forces must be a nonpartisan and nonpolitical institution that fully respects and takes orders from its commander in chief. A professional army is not a “shadowy semi- autonomous paramilitary group accountable only to a select few senior echelon members of a party” or a “private army resembling a mercenary group that is hired by warlords to protect their interest”. Come and let us show you and all of America how proud as a peacock we are of you!

    Reason No. 4: Our young Ethiopians and Ethiopian Americans want to see you, hear you and have you listen to them. I am sure you know that America’s higher educational institutions have a substantial number of Ethiopian and Ethiopian American students at the graduate and undergraduate levels. I know because I interact with them all the time.  In my view, they probably love Ethiopia more than many of us in the Hippo Generation. You need to come and talk to them and persuade them to come and help out their ancestral home for however long they choose. For a very long time, the best and brightest of these young Ethiopians in America have been turned off by the political situation in the country. They will visit but say they will never live in Ethiopia given the way things are. But you can talk to them in person and turn them around. You are young like them. They will listen to you because you speak their language and understand their culture of technology, science, innovation and entrepreneurship. Think of these young Ethiopians as incubators of  innovation and entrepreneurship for Ethiopia. Come and reach out to them and convince them that they can achieve personal success in Ethiopia while ensuring Ethiopia succeeds.

    Heed Margaret Mead’s advice, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” You have a powerhouse in the young Ethiopians in America who can change not only Ethiopia but also the world. Come talk to them and win their hearts and minds!

    Reason No. 5: As I have assessed your role since taking office, I have concluded that you strive to be a man of principle intent on living out the true meaning of those principles. I have also concluded that you  have been as much a teacher as a political leader. There is an old saying that “leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” I see you doing just that. You want to produce more leaders and fewer followers.

    In your public statements and speeches, you do not fail to teach the people the true meaning of good governance. At the foundation of good governance is truth and reconciliation. You resonate MLK every chance you get: “An ‘eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing. The end of nonviolent social change is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the Beloved Community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opponents into friends.” You resonate Gandhi every chance you get: “Before we can change the world, we must change ourselves. You must be the change you want to see in the world. The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” If you had been in Tanzania, they would have called you “Mwalimu”.

    Your supporters in America admire and seek to emulate your commitment to the principles of Ethiopiawinet, national reconciliation and unity, respect for the rule of law, nonderogable sovereignty of the people and protections against government wrongs by human rights. Come and give them a lecture or two.

    When Britain staggered under relentless Nazi bombardment and was almost defenseless against the Nazi war machine, the world wrote off Britain as “gone, finished and liquidated.” But Churchill took a defiant stand as he told some school children: “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.“

    Two months ago, the world had written off Ethiopia to the doomsday of ethnic civil war. They said Ethiopia’s account is closed and she is finished.” Our young people never, never gave up their commitment to the principles of civil disobedience and peaceful resistance and produced you, Abiy Ahmed, as the result of their triumphant struggle.

    I say come to America and teach us about commitment to principle. Nations are built on principles; whether they live up to them is another question. America is founded on the “self-evident truth” that all men and certainly women are “created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; and that governments are instituted to protect those rights and derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

    Come to America and tell us on what principles the New Ethiopia will be built on. Will it be founded on truth and reconciliation…?

    Reason No 6. Come to America and meet the “enemy”

    In my commentary in July 2008, I addressed the very issue involved in your visit today using the lessons from an old comic strip called “Pogo” which appeared regularly in American newspapers. The funny animal characters in Pogo lived in a swamp community, which figuratively represented the diversity of American society and issues facing it. That community began to disintegrate because its residents were incapable of communicating with each other to deal with the most important and urgent issues facing them. They wasted valuable time on non-issues. One day, Pogo saw the swamp they live in filled with debris and litter. In reflective frustration he sighed, “We have met the enemy. He is us!”

    As members of the Ethiopian pro-democracy movement we have been unable to look in the mirror and ask basic questions of ourselves: Why can’t we unite as a global force for justice and human rights advocacy in Ethiopia? Why can’t we build strong bridges across ethnic lines and use the language of human rights to communicate with each other? Why can’t we support a leader of good will and demonstrated competence? Why do we have to be crabs in a basket pulling back the one trying to get out and lead? Why can’t we join hands, lock arms, put our noses to the grindstone and help our suffering people?

    We cannot get to our destination of the New Ethiopia by traveling the same old road paved with accusations, recriminations, denunciations and castigations. Nor can we get there on the wings of bitterness, pettiness, subterfugess and bogus excuses.

    We must take a different road, the road less traveled, the road of truth and reconciliation of which you speak. In the verse of Robert Frost:

    … I shall be telling this with a sigh
    Somewhere ages and ages hence:
    Two roads diverged in a wood,
    and I — I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.

    Come to America and meet the “enemy”. Come and hold hands of friendship with the “enemy” and lead us into the future on the road less traveled by, the road not taken. The road of truth and reconciliation. It will make all the difference for us as human beings! It will make all the difference for us as a people, and as a nation known for millennia as Ethiopia!

    Mandela believed a good leader follows his people. I say come to America and follow us back home.

    To those who do not want to lead or follow, I say, “Get out of the way on the road of truth and reconciliation”.

    P.S. Kudos for lifting the state of emergency. There was no doubt in my mind you would lift it. There will be a state of emergency only if you are not at the helm of S.S. Ethiopia!

    “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Gandhi

    ETHIOPIAWINET TODAY

    ETHIOPIAWINET TOMORROW

    ETHIOPIAWINET FOREVER!

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    Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday warned his government is investigating public officials who allegedly have illicit foreign bank accounts.

    Ahmed, made the remarks during a discussion with senior government officials at the Prime Minister residence office, reported state media Ethiopia News Agency.

    The PM didn't specifically identify government officials currently under investigation or the names of foreign countries that are collaborating with his government to uncover alleged illicit foreign bank accounts.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was sworn in on April 2, with promises to instill good governance and fight corruption in one of Africa's star economies.

    The Ethiopian government has identified corruption and rent-seeking activities as part of the reason Ethiopia was rocked by sweeping unrest in 2016.

    The Ethiopian government has since then promised to crack down on grand scale corruption which has afflicted one of the world's fastest growing economies.

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    በኢሕአዴግ ምክር ቤት በተሰጠው ድምፅ መሠረት ዶ/ር ዓብይ 108፣ አቶ ሽፈራው ሽጉጤ 59፣ ዶ/ር ደብረ ጽዮን ገብረ ሚካኤል ሁለት ድምፆች ማግኘታቸው ተሰምቷል!

     

    ኢሕአዴግምክር ቤት ከማክሰኞ መጋቢት 11 ቀን 2010 .ጀምሮ ለአንድ ሳምንት ባደረገው ስብሰባ፣ የኦሮሞ ሕዝብ ዴሞክራሲያዊ ድርጅት (ኦሕዴድ) ሊቀመንበር ዓብይ አህመድን (ዶ/ር) የግንባሩ ሊቀመንበር አድርጎ መረጠ፡፡

    ማክሰኞ መጋቢት 18 ቀን 2010 ዓ.ም. ከምሽቱ አምስት ሰዓት ከምክር ቤቱ የወጣው መግለጫ እንደሚያመለክተው፣ ዶ/ር ዓብይ በምክር ቤቱ በተደረገ ምርጫ ተመርጠዋል፡፡

    የብሔረ አማራ ዴሞክራሲያዊ ንቅናቄ (ብአዴን) ሊቀመንበር አቶ ደመቀ መኰንን ደግሞ በኢሕአዴግ ምክትል ሊቀመንበርነት እንደሚቀጥሉ ታውቋል፡፡

    በኢሕአዴግ ምክር ቤት በተሰጠው ድምፅ መሠረት ዶ/ር ዓብይ 108፣ አቶ ሽፈራው ሽጉጤ 59፣ ዶ/ር ደብረ ጽዮን ገብረ ሚካኤል ሁለት ድምፆች ማግኘታቸው ተሰምቷል፡፡ የኢሕአዴግ ምክር ቤት አባላት ቁጥር 180 ቢሆንም፣ በተለያዩ ምክንያቶች የተጓደሉ አባላት እንዳሉ ይነገራል፡፡

    ምክር ቤቱ የኢሕአዴግ ሦስተኛውን ሊቀመንበር ከመምረጡ በፊት የጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር ኃይለ ማርያም ደሳለኝን የሥራ መልቀቂያ በሙሉ ድምፅ ተቀብሎ አፅድቆታል፡፡ ከሊቀመንበርነት ምርጫ በፊት ምክር ቤቱ የአራቱ የግንባሩ አባል ድርጅቶችን የጥልቅ ተሃድሶ ግምገማ ሪፖርት አዳምጦ ሰፋ ያለ ውይይት አድርጎበታል፡፡

    ምክር ቤቱ ለአንድ ሳምንት ያህል ሲያካሂድ የነበረውን ስብሰባና የግንባሩን ሊቀመንበር ምርጫ በተመለከተ ረቡዕ መጋቢት 19 ቀን 2010 ዓ.ም. መግለጫ እንደሚሰጥ ተገልጿል፡፡

    ከምክር ቤቱ አስቀድሞ በተደረገው የኢሕአዴግ የሥራ አስፈጻሚ ኮሚቴ ስብሰባ የአራቱን አባል ድርጅቶች ግምገማ በጥልቀት ገምግሞ ከጨረሰ በኋላ፣ ለምክር ቤቱ የሚያቀርበውን የመወያያ ሰነድ መዘጋጀቱን  የደቡብ ኢትዮጵያ ሕዝቦች ዴሞክራሲያዊ ንቅናቄ (ደኢሕዴን) ሊቀመንበር አቶሽፈራው ሽጉጤ ተናግረው ነበር፡፡ በወቅቱ በምክር ቤቱ የጠቅላይ ሚኒስትርና የግንባሩ ሊቀመንበር አቶ ኃይለ ማርያም ደሳለኝ መልቀቅ የፈጠረውንየአመራር ክፍተት ለመድፈን፣ የአመራር መተካት እንደሚኖር አመላክተው ነበር፡፡

    በኢሕአዴግ የተለምዶ አሠራር የፓርቲው ሊቀመንበር የአገሪቱ ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር እንደሚሆን ስለሚታወቅ፣ ተመራጩ ሊቀመንበር በፓርላማ እንደሚሰየሙ ይጠበቃል፡፡

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    Ethiopian security forces have re-arrested a number of recently freed politicians and journalists as they gathered for a social event outside the capital with family and friends, a lawyer said on Monday.

    Amha Mekonnen has represented a number of the detainees. The lawyer told the Associated Press news agency the arrests Sunday afternoon occurred because they were accused of displaying a prohibited national flag.

    “I also understand they were accused of gathering en masse in violation of the state of emergency rule.”

    Among those arrested are journalists Eskinder Nega and Temesgen Desalegn, politician Andualem Aragie and prominent blogger Befekadu Hailu.

    Government officials were not immediately available for comment.

    State of emergency

    Under Ethiopia’s latest state of emergency declared earlier this year, people are prohibited from such gatherings without authorities’ prior knowledge. A proclamation regarding the use of the Ethiopian flag prohibits the display of the flag without the emblem at its centre and those contravening the law could be sentenced to up to a year and a half in prison.

    In a surprise move early this year, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced that members of political parties and other individuals would be released from prison in an effort to open up the political space for all after months of the worst anti-government protests in a quarter-century.

    Several dozen journalists, politicians, activists and others arrested under a previous state of emergency were freed. Since then, however, the prime minister announced his plans to resign, and Ethiopia introduced a state of emergency for the second time in two years.

    A new prime minister is expected to be installed by the ruling coalition in the coming days.

    Ethiopia is one of Africa’s most prominent economies, Africa’s second-most populous country and a key security ally of the West but is often accused by rights groups and opposition groups of stifling dissent and arresting opposition party members, journalists, activists and bloggers.

     

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    Art & Culture oF ETHIOPIA

    Wosene Worke Kosrof, America — The New Alphabet, (2017).

    One of the most exciting features of Art Dubai is the Ethiopian art on show, as the country’s leading gallery, Addis Fine Art, brings two notable artists to the emirate in a thoughtfully curated collection.
    While the annual art fair – like its home city – is as multicultural as it gets, this is the first time Ethiopian art has made an appearance, with the hope of building an international audience for the country’s burgeoning arts scene.
    While Ethiopia has a rich and ancient art heritage – dominated primarily by religious art led by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, until around the middle of the 20th century, when secular art started to be created – the arts have certainly made a resurgence in recent years.

    Girma Berta, Moving Shadows II, I, (2017).

    According to Rakeb Sile, co-owner of Addis Fine Art: “The number of Ethiopian artists invited to participate in art fairs and to show their work in prominent galleries and museums around the world today is unprecedented. International collectors are noticing and buying, while local collectors are also spending significant amounts on artwork, which was unthinkable just a decade ago.
    “The growing public participation in art-related events is also very encouraging. The youth of the city, in particular, are the most visible participants, and the most receptive to new forms of expression that challenge traditional norms.”
    Getting to this point hasn’t been easy, however, with the geopolitical challenges that the country has faced for decades. “Soon after the transition from church-influenced art to modern expression occurred, the political revolution from the early 1970s onwards greatly inhibited artists’ ability to practice freely along with their counterparts across the continent,” explained Mesai Haileleul, Rakeb’s partner and co-owner of Addis Fine Art gallery.

    Girma Berta, Moving Shadows II, II, (2017).


    However, thanks to the persistence of dedicated members of the art community and institutions such as the pioneering Alle Felegeselam School of Fine Art and Design, today there is a growing number of gifted Ethiopian artists practicing their craft across various media, and enjoying increasing interest and appreciation from the global art world.
    One such artist who has had a significant impact on the current scene is painter and sculptor Wosene Worke Kosrof. His journey of becoming an artist back when “it was not viewed as a viable occupation” to be exhibited around the world — including at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC — and being considered a vanguard of modern Ethiopian painting, can be considered a metaphor for the Ethiopian art movement, in fact.
    He represents the old guard of Ethiopian painting with his use of Amharic script forms as a core element, which he often combines with abstract influences from the American Modernist movement.
    “I want to present to international audiences something of the richness and complexity of Ethiopian culture. However, my artworks are not just about Ethiopia; they are about our shared human experience. American jazz is also a major influence and inspiration in my work,” said Wosene.
    Offering an appropriate counterpoint to his seminal works will be young photographer Girma Berta, whose signature style of creating painting-like images of solitary figures set against vivid backdrops has rapidly garnered international acclaim.
    The Instagram-savvy millennial artist effectively portrays the new Africa, one that is in the midst of a digital revolution.
    “My work relies heavily upon this digital age, both through the technologies required for my artworks, as well as social media — which is not only a reality of the millennial African’s life, but has also provided me with a global audience,” he said. “We have a unique story to tell, our own personal narration of Ethiopian culture. And like many of my contemporaries, I seek to take back control of our narrative, and convey our own story to the world.”

    Girma Berta, Moving Shadows II, X, (2017).

    It will, no doubt, be a story that many aficionados at Art Dubai will want to hear.
    As Rakeb put it: “The art world’s interest in art from Africa is a positive, albeit a belated development. And we believe that the discourse on African art and the global contemporary art movement would be incomplete without recognition of the immense amount and quality of contemporary expression coming out of Ethiopia.”
    As growing international interest elevates African art on the global arena, the hope is, in this era of diversity and inclusiveness, that some of this art will “transcend the label and become sought-after on its merit, hence sustaining itself by integrating into the mainstream.”
    The 12th edition of Art Dubai takes place March 21-24, 2018, at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai. Wosene Worke Kosrof, My Favorite Things II, (2018)

     

    SOURCE: http://www.arabnews.com

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    In Summary

    • Controversial deal between UAE's DP World and Ethiopia has opened old wounds of the decades-long discord between Somalia and Somaliland, in a major diplomatic stand-off that has sucked in several Arab countries.
    • Somalia argues that Somaliland cannot enter such international contracts with other countries as the responsibility to sign such agreements remains to the Federal Government of Somalia, but Somaliland said that it is a sovereign state that can enter into independent agreements.
    • Somalia refuses to recognise the 1991claim of autonomy by Somaliland

     

     

    Ethiopia’s latest attempt to overcome its geographical and economic disadvantage as a landlocked country by acquiring a stake in the Somaliland port of Berbera earlier this month has re-ignited a long-standing rivalry between the Federal Republic of Somalia and the self-declared autonomous region of Somaliland over the latter’s determination to separate from Somalia.

    Sources privy to the matter say that the controversial deal which was signed on March 1 has opened old wounds of the decades-long discord between the two countries, in a major diplomatic stand-off that has sucked in several Arab countries.

    Sharmarke Jama, principal consultant at UAE-based consultancy Clear Horn Ltd and a former Somaliland trade and economic adviser, said that Mogadishu’s resistance to the deal could be linked to the involvement of Ethiopia, which has traditionally conflicted with Somalia for over six decades.

    “Somalia feels betrayed by Somaliland,” said Mr Jama.

    Through the tripartite agreement, Ethiopia acquired a 19 per cent stake in the Berbera port for $80 million, while UAE logistics firm DP World and the Republic of Somaliland retained 51 per cent and 30 per cent stakes respectively.

    Somalia opposed the deal involving Ethiopia, declaring it null and void on the grounds that it breached international standards and violates the sovereignty of Somalia, a stance that Somaliland and DP World have dismissed.

    This week, the dispute exacerbated with Somalia’s Upper and Lower Houses voting in a Bill declaring the deal defective and banning DP World from Somalia. The Somaliland parliament responded by voting unanimously to approve the deal.

    The EastAfrican has learnt that the deal is yet to be formally approved, as the concession agreement, including the new shareholding, is yet to be tabled before the Somaliland parliament.

    DP World has been running the port since May 2016, when it took a 65 per cent stake after it won a 30-year concession billed at $442 million for the development and management of a multi-purpose Port of Berbera.

    Somalia argues that Somaliland cannot enter such international contracts with other countries as the responsibility to sign such agreements remains to the Federal Government of Somalia, but Somaliland said that it is a sovereign state that can enter into independent agreements.

    Addis-Berbera Corridor

    “If Somaliland didn’t have a compelling legal argument for claiming sole ownership of Berbera Port — Ethiopia and the UAE wouldn’t have conducted business with Somaliland,” said Robleh Mohamud Raghe, the former communications aide to Somaliland’s fourth president Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo who signed the original agreement with DP in 2016.

    Sources say, the dispute has already spread beyond Somalia’s borders as the two parties seek support in and outside Africa.

    According to local media reports, Somaliland’s President Muse Bihi Abdi flew to the United Arab Emirates last week Tuesday, while Somalia President Mohamed Abdulahi Farmajo is expected in Qatar next week in what sources say are moves to strengthen ties with Arab allies.

    “Arab world interests and politics definitely have role in this situation and that’s why all the leaders are rushing there amid this dispute. In fact, the plane the Somaliland President used to UAE was chartered by the UAE,” a source told The EastAfrican on condition of anonymity said.

    “Somalia is siding with Qatar while Somaliland stays with the UAE.”

    Landlocked Ethiopia which exported $1.71 billion and imported and $19.1 billion worth of goods in 2016 is banking on the port to secure an additional logistical gateway for its expanding import and export trade.

    “Ethiopia has been a friend to Somaliland. The two have several bilateral trade and transit agreements including the $300 million Addis Ababa-Berbera Corridor financed by the UAE which is set for completion three years and the green field economic free zone,” Jama said.

    Ethiopian Airlines, Ethiopia’s national carrier has two daily flights to Somaliland’s capital of Hargeisa and the country plans to add electricity to its vegetables, cement and khat exports to Somaliland once it completes the construction of its construction $4.7 billion, 74,000 million cubic meters, Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

    Somaliland has declared itself and autonomous region since 1991, after the collapse Somalia’s central government and has been fighting to officially separate from Somalia for close to three decades without much success.

    In 2001 referendum and 97.1 per cent of the two-thirds of eligible voters who took part voted for its separation, from Somalia which has been heavily objected by Somalia.

    “Although, it is not internationally recognised, Somaliland is technically an independent country with its own army, constitution, elected leaders and currency,” Mr Jama said.

    The lack of international recognition has made it impossible for Somaliland to have access to loans from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other international financial institutions.

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