Ethiopia is on the brink under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed – Perspectives by Simon Ateba

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The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the most populous landlocked country in the world and the second-most populous nation on the African continent after Nigeria, is on the brink under Nobel Peace Prize winning Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali.

The powerful East African nation, which shares borders with Eritrea to the north, Djibouti to the northeast, Somalia to the east, Kenya to the south, South Sudan to the west and Sudan to the northwest, has over 100 million inhabitants.

With a strong economy and a reputable airline, Ethiopia has been known in recent years for its creativity, strength and influence. But that is now about to change under Abiy Ahmed who came to power two years ago.

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Violent unrest in Addis Ababa and the surrounding Oromia region late last month and early this month left at least 177 people dead and over 5000 others in detention with hundreds of houses set on fire.

All hell broke loose after Hachalu Hundesa, who was renowned for his politically inspired songs, was shot around 9:30 pm on June 29 in Addis Ababa’s Gelan Condominium area. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival.

On June 22, Hachalu Hundesa was interviewed on the Oromo Media Network (OMN) where he spoke on many controversial issues eliciting public outrage on social media platforms.

Investigation into the killing of Hachalu has not yet been concluded. Police arrested some suspects linked to a militant faction of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and the government has blamed the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and certain prominent activist-politicians for inciting ethnic violence and attempting to derail Ethiopia’s fragile political liberalization.

However, Amnesty International noted last month that “there has been an increase in killings of people critical of the government and political personalities in the country since 2019.”

“These include the killing of the Amhara Regional President, Ambachew Mekonnen, and two other top regional officials on June 23, 2019. On the same day, General Seare Mekonnen, the Chief of Staff of the Ethiopian army was killed at his home in Addis together with a retired military Major General Gezai Abera. On 3 June 2020 Bekele Bidra, the head of Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) office in Bole Sub-City of Addis Ababa was killed in his car,” Amnesty International said.

The respected human rights organization’s recent report, ‘Beyond law enforcement: human rights violations by Ethiopian security forces in Amhara and Oromia,’ highlighted impunity in Ethiopia and calls for accountability and justice.

According to Amnesty International, in Addis Ababa and Oromia region, the police arrested at least 5,000 people, many of whom are in incommunicado detention with their whereabouts unknown.

These recent realities have further eroded trust in the government and public institutions, and put into question the Nobel Peace Prize Abiy Ahmed received in 2019. 

When Abiy Ahmed came into power two years ago, he promised to implement many reforms aimed at strengthening institutions and increasing political space. He also promised to respect human rights, uphold democracy and bolster the economy of Ethiopia.

Following Ethiopia’s peace moves with Eritrea, Abiy was awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. Many also praised him for building peace in the East African region, including in Sudan where former dictator Omar al-Bashir was ousted after decades in power.

However, all that now seems like a distant past as Mr. Abiy has increased human rights violations and failed to address ethnic and political divisions and structural problems in Ethiopia.

For instance, Abiy has failed to address tensions over the division of power between the centre and the regions or even correct tensions arising from Ethiopia’s unfinished federal project.

With Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as well as a raft of other rights groups warning that Abiy was violating basic human rights, the Nobel Peace Prize winning Prime Minister has put democracy at risk in Ethiopia.

With many groups seeking greater autonomy, especially in the ethnically diverse southern region, and with tensions increasing rapidly by the day between the federal government and Tigray region, many now believe that Ethiopia is sliding dangerously backward with worsening levels of militant ethno-nationalism and inter-communal violence.

The indefinite postponement of elections that were due in August 2020 because of COVID-19 pandemic has made things worse, especially because parliament’s term ends in October 2020.

Worse, the Council of Constitutional Inquiry (CCI), a group of legal experts led by the President of the Supreme Court, gave the ruling Prosperity Party (PP), an open-ended extension of their term with no limits set on their powers during the interim period.

The Chatham House recently noted that “This decision sets a dangerous precedent and is a missed opportunity to achieve compromise and advance the democratic process.”

It added: “The lack of inclusion has angered opposition groups, with whom the government has had little genuine dialogue. Many in the opposition had advocated for a transitional or technocratic government during the interim, despite risks of further divisions and a vacuum of authority, and accuse the PP of manipulating institutions to stay in power.”

The Chatham House noted further that the TPLF, the ruling party in the Tigray region and formerly the dominant national political force, is pushing forward with its intention to hold unilateral regional elections.

“It formed a new regional electoral commission, in spite of objections from the national electoral board and the government, which has implied it could use force to stop the elections. This rising enmity between the PP and the TPLF is extremely worrying and requires immediate de-escalation“.

I agree with the Chatham House that “Ethiopia’s problems can only be resolved through dialogue, compromise and reconciliation. Escalating tensions, particularly between the federal government, Tigray and Oromo opposition groups risk furthering instability and fragmentation.”

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Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba
Based in Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America, Simon leads a brilliant team of reporters, freelance journalists, analysts, researchers and contributors from around the world to run TODAY NEWS AFRICA as editor-in-chief. Simon Ateba's journalistic experience spans over 10 years and covers many beats, including business and investment, information technology, politics, diplomacy, human rights, science reporting and much more. Write him: simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com

15 COMMENTS

  1. What written is the fact on the ground we’re #living day today, I witness Abiy is killer an intimate friend of Isaiah Afewerki

  2. Obviously, Mr . Ateba is a paid troll. He did not even have the audacity to share his own on his social media. Ethiopia is on the right truck to democracy . The 27 years of ethnio apartheid is already over and won’t be allowed to come back . I know times are hard to get by but don’t try to make money by selling your soul . Just a sisterly advice.

  3. ፂላዋቹ በሙላ nice insight ምናምን እያልሽ ለፍልፍ። Abiy is the greatest leader the whole continent ever seen. TPLF I know you guys are butt hurt. We’re just starting to clean up a previous administration that’s filled with thieves and corrupt politicians and their families. Pathetic! We’ll make sure at the end of the day, all the money you guys stole .. all billions of dollars you took from the economy must and will return to it’s people. And all the criminals that’s hiding in there will face justice. It’s already underway you freaking parasites.

  4. FYI. Ethiopia out lasted all adversity and will continue after all Ethiopian strategic enemies are gone. For sure, Ethiopians let you transplant racism and ethnic politics for the past 30 years. They all knew that you will perish before their eyes.
    Pay attention to what you did : during WWII, by using Somalia as a stepping stone, during the military government’s illiteracy campaign, 1991 TPLF take over and the guys that were dispatched to take down anyone against Ethnically oriented.
    Your names and skin hues might vary but you are all seeking to see bad stuff like Yugoslavia, Libya, Yemen, Syria, or Iraq. That is not for Ethiopians. They know each other. TPLF is a group of blood thirsty gang pending to vanish while the blood they spilled still wet. Their attempt to come back to power is next to nothing.
    Amensty International?! Humm…let’s not start that one conversation.

  5. Thank you for basing your article on facts and credible human right reports. Please ignore some of these commenters in here most of them are paid digital Cadre some are anti-fact, anti-reason and they’re hate of Nation/nationalities goes beyond any reason. This is the type of individual commentators that prevents democracy from taking root in Ethiopia. They want the PM to continue the apartheid system to keep out the nation/ nationalities. They operate under the guise of Ethiopia yet they don’t accept diversity equality and democracy most of all federalism. they resort to personal attack character assassination rather than arguing their point and bringing a reasonable vision and mission for the country. The people they call terrorist today are the younger generation that fought peacefully the toppled the previous regime now that they think the current prime minister is in their favor and trying to bring back the old Ethiopia which practiced an apartheid system openly is why they support the current prime minister, in reality, nothing has changed from the old regime. As you stated in your article he even went further than the previous regime and cancel the election indefinitely. Therefore I command you for speaking the truth-speaking, standing for the truth is not a popularity contest.

  6. The recent mayhem has nothing to do with Abiy. It was the work of ethnonationalists led by Jawar Mohammed, who is vying for power by unleashed the unemployed Oromo youth as his cannon fodder and to kill innocent non-Oromos, burn and destroy hotels, businesses and industries. It was this machination by TPLF and OLF that led to the assassination of Hachalu Hundesa in order to incite violence and to bring down the Abiy government.

    So far Amnesty International that I used to respect highly has missed it mark, like this author. This report is shallow, almost yello journalism despite claiming to have a brilliant team of experts. No research, no corroboration on site or first hand victims. Over 200 Ethiopians were killed by Oromo mobs instigated by Jawar and TPLF. There was no atrribution for heinous crime or ethnic cleansing. Once a narrative started by Amnestry International or anybody, the rest of the media seems to rejurgitate the same without checking whether factual or not.

  7. Ethiopia is the home of misery with the all hole-sheet leaders like Abiy Ahmed.Oromo is the indigenous and big nation in the Horn of Africa.The nation is socially and economically marginalized for more than 150 years.The home of Oromo is Oromia.The nation is fighting and on debate for equal share of all opportunity with the ruling government for more than a century. since 2015 Oromo-Qerroo (The young patriots) started fighting with ruling EPDRF for freedom and liberty.After three bloody years the oromo qerro and all other oppressed nation managed to overthrew EPDRF-TPLF dominated party.Pr Minister Abiy Ahmed who came to power with great promise failed to answer The question of Oromo people and Ethiopians at all. The man is simply here and their for symbol without answering the genuine questions of the citizens.He arrested and jailed all political party leaders for the fear of losing the battle during the election.He persuaded his hand picked chair man of National Election board to postpone 2020 general Election because he is going to lose the premiership if election is conducted on free and fair.The strongest opposition party may came from the side of lovely leader Jawar Mohammed (OFC) .He lost his public acceptance.
    World should give ear towards so called Peace noble prized naive man.The man lost every thing but left with his gun and bullet for killing his nation.
    Thank You

  8. This is a classic example of tendentious reporting – loading the country’s multifarious problems and challenges on Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed. The reality on the ground, however, is that of gross abuse of freedom and priveledge accorded to hitherto exiled political dissidents who were quick to find execuses to mug Ethiopia’s constitutional order in order to quench their thirst for power. In fact critics of Prime Minister Abiye Ahmed had for long been accusing him of mollycoddling opposition parties who are hell-bent of destroying Ethiopia. The Prime Minister must continue to be friendly by all means, but every one agrees that he must also be firm: no nonse approach agains those trying to take the law into their own hands. Make no mistake: push has now come to shove for Abiye.

  9. Comment:Hi Simon
    First of all I would like to thank u for sharing us and letting us know what fake journalism is all about and how they will try to manipulate and misguide audience’s trust.
    You and others like u don’t care about the nation’s peace and people’s life because of ur saddistic character like z weyanes(tplf).
    While people especially the Amharas are being slaughtered through out the country and thier properties are being set on fire in z name of fake freedom and democracy, u r crying about election and the removal of Dr. Abiy from his office and his entitlement of the Nobel Peace Prize. I have no word than calling u a psycho-path and jealous person. You want to act as if u are worried about z future of the nation. What a demon u are? Why were u not worried when the tplf led govt win the last 5 unforgettable elections with a LANSLIDE ViCTORY.
    Simon I beg u to join the DW(ድምፂ ወያኔ).

  10. Thanks Steve, the concerned African for clearing things out. TNA and its journalists are so biased and only see things from a single side. It is the Oromo and Tigrayan ethno-fascist group which is responsible for all violence and chaos in the country and put the country on the brink of disintegration. Abiy is doing all he can to keep the country stable and united facing all these internal and external enemies and surely God will help him in conquering his enemies which are also enemy for the country and its people. TNA journalists, if you truly care about the stability of Ethiopia, then first do an in depth analysis and try to find the core problem. Just dont write nonsense like this article only by superficial observation.
    #AbiyMustLead

  11. The last 28 years of Ethiopia has been a worst nightmare for its citizens which is summarized by systemic racism, divisions, human rights violations and large scale theft of resources. The current instability is the result of those years of divisions and inaccurate historical teachings. Let me give you some examples…
    1. As I’ve lived among Tigrayan people, I can definitely say that what TPLF has been doing doesn’t belong to the Tigrayian culture… Like The theft of Airplane and Ships in broad daylight, what MeTEC has be doing
    to big projects including GERD etc….
    2. The recent ethnic violence, killings of influential people( including Haachaalu,M/General Seare…) are the works of TPLF using its 27 years of networking to destabilize the country. This is not a conspiracy theory there are facts to anyone who want to “see” the truth.. And to last but not the end point
    3. What we are seeing in Ethiopian diaspora specifically violence by raciest Oromo nationalists are mostly young Ethiopians who grow up taking those teachings who doesn’t represent majority of Oromos and definitely say doesn’t know anything about their GEDA culture

  12. You did a good job. You and international organizations have tried to indicate a little image about the exact situation in Ethiopia. Following the rising Political tension the economic situation has been deteriorating, which is obviously going to put in the country more in dangerous condition.
    Those Ethiopian, who are opposing or trying to defend this fact are working for speeding the country’s journey towards worst failure. Labeling opposition party as terrorist and making them accountable for any thing happened and happening due to government failure dose n’t make sense.

  13. Thanks Simon Ateba for your deep insight in to Ethiopia’s current situation i am here in Ethiopia to witness your writings.Abiy Ahmed’s in competence is leading Ethiopia in to disintegration & anarchism.the last 28 years Ethiopia has done great strides in eliminating poverty through out the country but Abiy Has forgotten that & started friendship with the under dog & dictator eritrean president Isayas Afewerqi leading ethiopias disintegration & failure.
    With Greetings

  14. it a shameful article which gives a distorted image of Ethiopia. I believe you should hear what the feelings of Ethiopia before judging. For the case of Amnesty international or Human Rights watch, we Ethiopians are observing their behavior and noticing a pattern that will, in my opinion distort the true image of those prestigious organizations by some profile who have political links/interests in the country.

  15. Simon Ateba,

    You should be ashamed of yourself! You use Amnesty International as the basis for your “article” without providing any critical thinking or originality from your part. You should have simply provided a link to the Amnesty International report instead of needlessly wasting space on this website.

    Also Amnesty International is late, uninformed, and certainly not qualified to have an opinion on Ethiopian matters.

    In case anyone reads this, please note the following:

    -Tigray People’s Liberation Front is a terrorist organization that has been destabilizing the Horn of Africa for 3 decades (from Somalia to Sudan), and it led Ethiopia under the guide of “revolutionary democracy”
    -Oromo Liberation Front is a terrorist organization that has been responsible for the deaths of the hundreds of people throughout Ethiopia, including politicians and prominent members of communities throughout southern Ethiopia
    -Oromo Media Network, led by Jawar Mohammed (a US citizen), is a channel used for radicalized Oromo youths by promoting both ethnic cleansing and religious warfare

    TODAY NEWS AFRICA!!! PLEASE HIRE BETTER WRITERS TO REPORT ON ETHIOPIAN MATTERS!!! SIMON ATEBA IS ADDING TO THE ISSUES FACED IN THE COUNTRY THRU DECEPTIVE JOURNALISM WHILE BEING FAR REMOVED FROM THE REALITY ON THE GROUND!!! I QUITE LIKE THIS WEBSITE, BUT READING ARTICLES LIKE THIS ARE DISCOURAGING ME FROM RETURNING!!! PLEASE TAKE DOWN THIS ARTICLE AT ONCE!!!

    Sincerely,
    A Concerned African

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