Easy Does It in Next PM’s Nomination

I am old enough to have witnessed the last time there was a change in regime. I was a 10th grader, and soon after the fall of the Dergue, the capitalism we had known to be the devil all throughout our school life had turned into an angel overnight.

We would ask our teacher many questions, and he would lose his mind trying to explain to us exactly what a mixed-economy was. It was a new dawn, and most things the communist junta had come to realise were dismantled.

The decision by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to resign from his post, both as party chairman and as the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, seemed like one of those moments of transition to many people I knew. It marked a significant shift in what we have all come to expect from our government.

Few were quick to ask why Hailemariam had resigned as many of us had already formed our assumptions. The most popular one was that he was pushed out of his post. The Prime Minister himself said that he believed that new leadership, which can better handle the political situation, must come to the fore.

And perhaps the truth is closer to what the Prime Minister himself claimed. Indeed, repeated failure to calm the protests has led to more loss of life and destruction of property. The senior leaders of the ruling coalition are perhaps finally realizing that they must be accountable for their failures.

Hailemariam, who is less colourful than his predecessor, the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, may indeed be a decent and knowledgeable person. But persistent protests that have ruined the country’s image across the world, undermined investments and led to the loss of life, continually betray that whatever reforms he may have overseen have not worked.

These protests have only intensified and are taking on uglier forms. People are being targeted and attacked based on their identities. When protests take on this violent character, any government should be worried and should take responsibility for the failure of not being able to stop it.

It should be evident that the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) should not lose hope. It should not be too late to think of ways to curb the current unfortunate state of affairs. One way is to start by choosing a leader that is better suited for the job; one that can command the legitimacy of the popular masses.

Soon after Hailemariam briefed members of the media of his decision, Shiferaw Shigute, now chairman of the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM) announced that his organisation had accepted his decision. Hailemariam will remain, chairman of the party and the Prime Minister of the nation, only until the EPRDF’s Council elects someone new for the chairmanship.

The Revolutionary Democrats have already set the ball rolling and it seems that another plan is on the table. This is a worry for many people. Indeed, the time for political games has passed. Many are disenchanted with the current state of affairs and political gambles could drive the situation past the boiling point. The EPRDF’s Council must take care to make the right decision as the future of the country depends on it.

The reform agendas that senior leaders of the party have mentioned should not be overlooked either. The ruling coalition must continue to negotiate with opposition political parties and strive to bring about meaningful change to the working of government. The ruling coalition must learn to give in.

Moreover, the EPRDF must engage in discussions with those it believes have come to represent the public, such as town elders. Such negotiations should also be extended to the diaspora community and the many academicians in the higher learning institutions. Officials must stop pretending that this is an issue that only they can resolve. It will take nothing less than a concerted effort by people from all walks of life.

Here, what would determine the future is the willingness of the ruling coalition to put its money where its mouth is. All of that dialogue will be meaningless if it is not followed up by meaningful actions and reforms. Officials must be able to sense the hope that the release of thousands of detained politicians and journalists has brought to the Ethiopian people.

Further reforms must be able to follow along that path. Otherwise, we will be back to square one. What has brought such unrest is people’s belief that the government is not fulfilling its promises. This has driven many to lose hope in the democratic systems and the various government institutions.

No one dreams of instability in this day and age. Citizens just want the chance to be heard and live in a country where there are equal opportunities for all. The government must, therefore, fulfil these wishes and demands by making people trust that the government is full of officials who take the moral imperative of ensuring the well-being of citizens, and of allowing for the equitable distribution of wealth.

This could only happen when there are leaders that put the country before the party. They must be able to look beyond economic development towards the suffering people experience in their daily lives. The EPRDF claims that it wants to see a prosperous, and democratic Ethiopia that is inclusive of multiple parties. To that end, we are hoping the party succeeds.

By Hintsa Andebrhan
Hintsa Andebrhan is interested in politics and history. He could be reached at hintsa1974@gmail.com.

Published on Mar 03,2018 [ Vol 18 ,No 931]



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