By Asfaw Regas
I am one of those Ethiopians who read your articles over the years and appreciated your taking the time to write every week during TPLF’s brutal dictatorial rule. I believe your articles, as well as articles from many other fellow citizens made positive contributions to the struggle against then dictatorship by exposing the regime’s heinous crimes as well as educating us all. However, the changes that we have been witnessing in your writings and public oral statements since the ascendancy to power of Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed have been dramatic in that they seem to be more of a propaganda stunt used to elevate the Prime Minister to great heights than incisive, critical, above all objective statements that reflect the reality on the ground. This is unbecoming of a professor who teaches constitutional law and political science and claims to stand for truth, freedom, justice and equality for all our people.
In your recent article on ZeHabesha titled, “Hope Springs Eternal in Africa with Leaders Like Abiy Ahmed!“, as you have done several times before, you have gone the “extra mile” to not only commend but also glorify and make the Prime Minister look like an angel with some magical power to bring Sudanese opposing forces to the table and bring about a solution. Whereas the Prime Minister and others who played a positive role in the said process should be commended you seem to lose sight of the fact that the Prime Minister shuttles the East Africa region in a diplomatic mission to resolve conflicts and bring opposing parties together while ignoring the ethnic conflicts that are taking place in various parts of our country, the mass displacement by millions of our fellow Ethiopians including young children, women, and elderlies including in Kamashi, Assosa, Gedeo Legetafo, Sulultata, Dire Dawa, and other Somalia, Amhara, Beninshangul, and Oromia towns and cities.
I recall in one of your weekly articles several years ago you rightly criticized the late vicious dictator Meles Zenawi for his claim of trying to resolve problems in neighboring countries while ignoring problems at home noting that “he stirs someone else’s pot while his own is burning”. However, on the contrary you now bestow sainthood to Dr. Abiy Ahmed who has consistently ignored the various ethnic conflicts at home and taken reactive instead of proactive measures to prevent the massacre of fellow Ethiopians and destruction of property in Burayu, Jigjiga, Gedeo, Hawasa, etc., a double standard that you’ve employed blinded by your worship for the latter.
The danger that is hovering over our country is palpable, an everyday reality that is manifesting itself through ethnic conflicts and displacement of our poor and helpless citizens, a result of an apartheid rule by EPRDF, now being exacerbated by the tireless efforts of few lunatic extremists such as Jawar Mohammed and Ezkiel Gabissa to disintegrate our country. These individuals are treated like royals at a certain star hotel with all their living expenses covered and provided bodyguards, all cost borne by the poor Ethiopians taxpayers’ money by none other than the Prime Minister!
Your continuous attempt to depict the Prime Minister as someone with some mystical power able to accomplish things no one else was able to accomplish including African and European powers is nothing but a cheap propaganda. If the Prime Minister has such power why ignore the crisis unfolding in our country before our eyes, including conflicts between different ethnic groups resulting in the death, brutal injury and displacement by millions of our fellow Ethiopians, the destruction of churches and other public property in many parts of the country!!! As the saying goes, “Charity starts at home” and if the Prime Minister is indeed bequeathed with such capacity and is true to what he has been claiming to lift Ethiopia over the past one year, he
shouldn’t have ignored the crisis in our country. In fact, on the contrary, it appears as though he has given a tacit green light to the destructive efforts perpetrated by the likes of Jawar Mohammed and Ezkiel Gabissa (at a minimum, “Silence is agreement”)! I would like to remind you here that it is the Prime Minister who shared a stage with Jawar Mohammed at a stadium in Minnesota when he visited the U.S. a year ago and raised the latter’s hand and touted him as a “Freedom Fighter”!!! Jawar Mohammed is nothing but a terrorist who is widely believed as being used by some foreign powers who are historic enemies of our beloved motherland financing his media network in return for his destructive project against our country. He is a guy whose place should be nowhere but at a kids playground but emerged from nowhere, thanks to social media, a decaying apartheid regime and disgruntled youth baptized in ethnic politics, however he now plays “the tail wags the dog” politics in our country. In its long history, our country had a multitude of great men and women, I would say in many walks of life, be it in politics, journalism, sports, government, literature, academia, civil service, religion, the military, private sector, etc., who “wowed” foreigners and fellow citizens alike by their knowledge, wisdom, foresight, humility, grace, mannerisms as well as patriotism. Despite such history it is heartbreaking to see our country having become a playground for the likes of Jawar Mohammed, Ezkiel Gabissa and their accomplices!!!
You mention that Dr. Abiy Ahmed is a potential top candidate for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. For what? Ethiopia on Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s watch has become the number one nation in the world in internal displacement of people, an infamous title not even secured by Syria, Libya, and Yemen, countries that have been going through destructive civil wars for several years now. The peace and security of our nation is at stake due to the divisive ethnic politics that has been perpetrated by EPRDF for 28 years to this day, which Dr. Abiy Ahmed is a part of! Citizens get stubbed, murdered and persecuted at whim as a result of such politics and extremist propaganda by Jawar Mohammed and company. You just need to watch on youtube Jawar Mohammed’s recent speech in Hawasa and ensuing murder of citizens, destruction of churches and other property, as reported by Government media! You need to put yourself in the Hawasa mother’s shoes who was narrating the story of her ailing daughter who was stubbed while in her bed!!! In my opinion, it would be an insult to injury to those millions of Ethiopians who have been subjected to politically motivated arrests, injuries, murders and displacement under Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s rule if he is awarded a “Nobel Peace Prize”!!! Your further attempt to liken Dr. Abiy Ahmed with H.I.M. Haile Selassie was a great spin and good try! However, that’s a bit of stretch to say the least, Mr. Professor.
Your characterization of fellow citizens who do not bow to and worship Dr. Abiy Ahmed as “ungrateful brain dead in Ethiopia and in the Ethiopian diaspora”, “windbags and empty barrels” is very indecent and un-Ethiopian! It is not your first time to make such an outrageous statement in your writings and in public fora. You once claimed at a meeting held in Alexandria, VA something like, “No one can oppose Dr. Abiy Ahmed.” It is perplexing to hear such a statement from you who has taught constitutional law and political science for years. It is no-brainer that each and every citizen has a right to have an opinion of their own, criticize Dr. Abiy Ahmed or whoever in public office for what they do and they don’t do and the ultimate judge should be the people of Ethiopia, not a self-appointed professor who claims to be omniscient.
Finally, I would like to mention that the power-sharing deal in the Sudan creates a joint military and civilian council to rule the country for three years until elections can be held. As such, at least on a theoretical level (of course no one can predict what happens in the country’s politics
between now and three years from now) this will be an inclusive transitional government that creates a fertile ground for a path to a democratic system through building institutions needed for such a system. It is paradoxical that Dr. Abiy Ahmed commended the parties for taking this road, whereas he claimed to transition our country to a democratic system on his own (exclusively) when asked about it during his visit to the U.S. In addition, our Sudanese brothers and sisters are taking the time to make the necessary preparation for a democratic system whereas Dr. Abiy Ahmed and his EPRDF party are rushing to proceed with an election in less than nine months working in concert with his rubber stamp parliament despite opposition from many political parties and other concerned citizens saying that it would be unrealistic to conduct a free and fair election in a country where there is no basic peace and security. Mr. Professor, your article has also lost sight of this fact vis-à-vis the Sudanese power-sharing deal. In conclusion, Mr. Professor, I would like to say that no one questions your right to support and stand firm by the Prime Minister, however your excessively effusive statements and glorification of the Prime Minister, which cannot be objectively corroborated by what’s going on in our country, and insults toward fellow Ethiopians who disagree with him earns you nothing but disrespect and rejection. It is only my hope that you will be open to criticisms that come across your way, introspect and revert to assessing the reality on the ground objectively and free of any bias, and continue to make a positive contribution to our country that is going through one of the most difficult times in its history.