Aklog Birara (Dr)
I have always thought that a poor, aid dependent and least developed nation such as Ethiopia cannot eradicate poverty without good and accountable governance. A lead component of good governance is the elimination of graft, corruption and illicit outflow of funds. It is inevitable that poor and repressive governance leads to corruption and squanders investment resources. Corruption breeds insecurity, instability and inequality.
For almost three decades, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) dominated Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRD) regime inflicted huge pain and suffering on Ethiopian citizens, fused party, state and government into one and plundered the Ethiopian economy.
I should like to underscore one fundamental principle that guides this commentary Where there is state capture by ethnic elites and their allies, corruption is pervasive and debilitating. Where there is no accountably in governance to mitigate excess theft, graft, commission and corruption, illicit outflow of capital is inevitable.
Why is fighting corruption important? Corruption is theft and diversion of resources from public hands to private and group hands. Corruption undermines social justice, creates insecurity and deepens instability. It erodes public trust in public officials and in institutions. It diverts capital and diminishes investments that serve the common good. It enriches a few people who are connected to political power. It creates a toxic environment among citizens and engenders income inequality. It contributes to instability. It forces citizens to migrate in search of opportunities. This is why social scientists agree that “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
The TPLF will long be remembered as an ethnic political party that captured the entire state and government; stole tens of billions of dollars from the Ethiopian poor; and siphoned off these billions and hid them in foreign banks, invested them in firms and institutions under extended family, unknown and non-traceable names. Hundreds of millions of dollars in investments have been made in real estate in the United States and companies in Hong Kong and Gulf nations.
The purpose of this commentary is to argue that tens of billions of dollars stolen by the TPLF from the Ethiopian poor over three decades of crushing and inhumane governance have been taken out of Ethiopia. The billions of dollars in precious assets that would have financed the equivalent of at least 10 Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dams were snatched away from the Ethiopian poor and hidden in numerous nations across the globe.
In order to steal, you organize, plan and execute systematically so that you are not traced. Corruption requires systematic planning and organization. State theft, graft, corruption and illicit outflow of funds perpetrated by the TPLF and its vast network of beneficiaries were planned and implemented carefully and systematically keeping into account future unexpected developments and scenarios, including change in government. This is among the lead reasons why Ethiopian embassies and consulates were staffed by TPLF trusted cadres and beneficiaries. Do not forget that Ethiopian embassies were dominated by Tigreans and supporters and inaccessible to the rest of Ethiopians. Embassies did not serve Ethiopia; but the TPLF and its cronies.
The weaponization of money
Today, many Ethiopians witnessing pain and agony within the country ask me if it would be prudent to change the Birr in order to deny the TPLF and its allies a vital tool in inflicting pain and destruction. Ethiopia is awash with huge quantities of Birr that are literally weaponized by those who possess and deploy it to propagate and to finance hate, killings and destruction across Ethiopia, most notably in Oromia.
Why Changing the Birr Might not be Effective.
Ethiopia is going through one of the most trying times in its long and distinguished history. As of July 13, 2020, the exact number of innocent civilians, including children murdered, hacked, stoned or clubbed to death following the deliberate premeditated assassination of the young Ethiopian artist Hachalu Hundesa is sill unknown. It is in the hundreds. Most were pre-identified and massacred on the basis of their ethnic and religious affiliation. Hachalu was an Oromo national who believed in his Ethiopian identity. He belonged to the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian faith. More important, he was a remarkable artist and a promising bridge in an ethnically polarized society. Such targeted killings of pro-Ethiopians are normalized in Ethiopia.
These killings and the destructions of real investment properties that will take decades to replace would be highly problematic without financial resources. TPLF supplies Birr in abundance.
Whether it is ethnic cleansing, genocide, terrorism against specific groups of people, the dislodging of the Government of Ethiopia or the Balkanization of Ethiopia, internal perpetrators rely heavily on media and other tools to carry out their strategic objectives. They also solicit support from external forces, especially from countries that are inimical to Ethiopia. Egypt is central to the assault. Finance plays a huge role.
I believe that there is a direct correlation between targeted ethnic cleansing and genocide on the one hand; and the destabilization and Balkanization of Ethiopia on the other. In almost every instance, those murdered are pro-Ethiopia and Ethiopian identity. When you fuse ethno-nationalism, terrorism and religious fundamentalism, the consequences are lethal. Increasingly, the religious component is pronounced.
The composition and number of innocent civilians preidentified and targeted for ethnic cleansing, murders, killings and genocide may vary from location to location. The impact on Ethiopia as a country and on Ethiopians as citizens is the same. It is devastating. It destabilizes Ethiopia. It makes it poorer. It makes it less secure and less sure of itself. It robs Ethiopians of their humanity as well as their solidarity.
In the light of this corrosive and toxic phenomenon, I suggest that those of us who are committed to Ethiopia’s durability as a country; and to the solidarity of its diverse population as Ethiopian citizens and not as tribes, express outrage against any form of ethnic cleansing and genocide. Do not trust the TPLF’s newly minted propagation that it stands “for peace, for democracy and for the democratic and human rights of ‘nations, nationalities and peoples.” The TPLF murdered thousands of Oromo and Amhara youth. It massacred the Annuak, etc.
The first step is to acknowledge that the problem exists; and that it has persisted for almost four decades. I remind the reader to go back to the time of Professor Asrat when thousands of Amhara were slaughtered, many thrown over the cliff. Suffice to say and regardless of the number of Amhara, Wolayta, Gurage, Christina Oromo and others murdered, these recent killings, most of them reportedly non-Oromos throughout Oromia and in Addis Ababa, fall within the 10 definitions enumerated by Genocide Watch.
In summary, these include
- Extermination and
It is beyond the scope of this analysis to provide specific examples enumerating the classifications. Instead, I urge the reader to be guided by his or her conscience and consider incidents that occurred just recently and put them in each of the 10 categories. It is easy.
I should like, however, to underscore the notion that what is happening in Ethiopia today mirrors what occurred in the former Yugoslavia, where tens of thousands of innocent civilians were massacred on the basis of their ethnic affiliation and their faiths. Economic and social infrastructure were decimated. Families were unable to give proper burials to murdered loved ones.
The ultimate result of these assaults was the total disintegration of Yugoslavia, one of the most successful multinational and multifaith nations and economies at the time. Reminiscent to what we are hearing today, those who participated in genocide denied that such crimes even took place. Perpetrators of genocide fled from the scene etc. Denial is therefore one of the clearest indicators of further genocide and must be dealt with ahead of time. Let us not fall into this trap.
The weaponization of TPLF stolen wealth
This leads me to my primary analysis. The propagation of hate, the demonization and dehumanization of the Amhara population and of others who believe in Ethiopia and in Ethiopian identity requires financial resources. For example, the Oromo Media Network managed by what one foreign news media characterized as a “media mogul” was managed by Jawar Mohamed. You need to ask the question of “who made him a mogul?” He used this media as a tool to propagate venom, hate and dehumanization. He deployed it as a weapon of polarization of Ethiopian society.
The concert of terrorists in Ethiopia led by the TPLF are deliberate in their execution of their destructive power. In my assessment, they had calculated that the value of hard currency such as the dollar is far superior and more fungible than the Birr. It is almost a reserve currency that you deploy as and when needed. Given this TPLF advance calculation, it will be difficult for the Government of Ethiopia to mitigate the huge economic, political and security damage by changing the Ethiopian Birr at present. The method to deploy is to control the transaction itself; and to also nationalize TPLF assets, especially in Addis Ababa; and to decapitalize the TPLF.
I have argued before that Ethiopia must try to recover the stolen billions of dollars through bilateral discussions with countries that serve as a haven for hidden wealth. The IMF and the World Bank should be asked to provide technical assistance.
Evidence shows that the financially well-endowed TPLF in the north, finances shock troops, agents and hired hands everywhere. It called on Tigreans, Oromo and others to rise up against the Amhara and against the federal Government of Ethiopia, labelling it as instrument of “neftegna.” This term is routinely used to demonize the Amhara and any one affiliated with an Ethiopian identity. The constant call is intended to differentiae the TPLF, Shine OLF, Qeerro and affiliate “federalists” against so -called “unitarists.” The theory is that the current Government is dominated by the Amhara, a claim as dangerous as it is preposterous.
Think of how incredible and propestrous it is to suggest that Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed leads a “neftegna Government and that he himself is neftegna. Think of how absurd it is for TPLF, the most repressive, most corrupt and most exclusionary regime in Ethiopian history to turn around and claim that it stands for “peace, democracy” and the rights of all nationalities.
This buffet my argument of the linkage between ethnic cleansing and genocide on the one hand; and the destabilization and Balkanization of Ethiopia on the other. Culprits in this concert have betrayed Ethiopia and have degraded the long-term interests of the Ethiopian people.
The TPLF and its allies convey the false impression that they stand on the side of the “oppressed nations, nationalities and peoples” of Ethiopia. More than two years ago, the TPLF killed thousands of Amhara and Oromo youth, because they protested for change. Do you remember that an estimated 800 innocent Oromo were massacred by the same gang of murderers during an Irreecha celebration? Do you remember that TPLF sharpshooters murdered a large number of young people in the Amhara and Oromia regions? I would ask then what motivated Bekele Gerba, Jawar Mohammed, Shine OLF, Qeerro and Islamic fundamentalists to join forces with the TPLF now?
The TPLF knows what it is doing. Its ultimate goal is to recapture the state and government; and to stop the reform process that dislodged the TPLF from the throne. This is why the TPLF deploys huge amounts of Birr (weaponization of money) by exchanging precious dollars and other hard currency in the black market. It kills two birds with one stone. It creates havoc in the economy. It buys large numbers of unknowing young people and other hired hands to murder innocent civilians; and to destroy real property. The connection between media and armed rebellion is clear. Both are weaponized using monies stolen from the Ethiopian poor.
Given the well tested acumen of the TPLF and its affiliates to flood the market with Birr by retrieving hidden foreign exchange; and by exchanging it with local currency, the TPLF and its allies boost their capacity to buy willing and readily available labor. The OMN, TPLF and Egypt and other externally sponsored media spread hate and incite violence. The TPLF bosses, Shine OLF and Qeerro groups command assaults on innocent civilians and destroy properties. External support from Egypt being part of the concert. Betrayal of Ethiopia does not bother this cohort.
The cost to human life is huge; so is the economic cost. As of July 13, 2020, 934 hotels, restaurants and eating places, shops and schools; 493 private homes and 72 motor vehicles have been destroyed. One Ethiopian Orthodox Church was burned down to the ground. A staggering 19 members of the Christian faith were massacred. You do not kill innocent lives and destroy property unless you hate the idea of Ethiopia and Ethiopians.
Where did the TPLF steal the money and who owns the bulk of it?
There is a plethora of evidence to support my thesis that the TPLF plundered Ethiopia and repressed Ethiopians. I find it hard to believe that Jawar Mohammed and Bekele Gerba allied with the TPLF regime that murdered thousands of Oromo, most of them youth.
Restoration of TPLF or similar rule is unthinkable. Among other things, such rule will reinstate theft, graft, corruption and repression. And Ethiopia will never become a democratic or prosperous nation. I shall illustrate my thesis by presenting data from a non-assailable capitalist.
Before Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed took power, Forbes Journalist David Steinman and author of “Money, Blood and Conscience” wrote a moving commentary under the title “Ethiopia’s Cruel Game,” the former about Ethiopia’s secret genocide and the later about state theft, graft and illicit outflow under the TPLF.
At the time in 2017, Ethiopia was described by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres as a ‘pillar of stability” in a region that suffers from terrorism and instability. Fast forward to July 2020, Ethiopia suffers from a global pandemic, a promising completion of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (the GERD), and pain and suffering from TPLF, Shine OLF, Qeerro and Al-Shabab type assaults encouraged and supported by Egypt. A reign of terrorism and human tragedy have literally engulfed this “pillar of stability.”
I had asked then why the world showed solidarity with the TPLF dominated regime; and why the U.S in particular, changed in an instant and sided with Egypt? In about one year after the UN Secretary General visited Ethiopia, popular uprising in Oromia and the Amhara regions toppled the regime and replaced it with the current one. The pertinent question Steinman asked to which I subscribed then and still do is this. “Why, despite ever-increasing amounts of foreign support, can’t this nation of 100 million clever, enterprising people feed itself? Other resource-poor countries facing difficult environmental challenges manage to do so.”
The answer is simple. Poor, corrupt and repressive governance. The bulk of Bilateral and Official Development Assistance (ODA) money was captured and stolen by the TPLF ethnic elite and by its allies. Up to that time, the United States alone had given $30 billion in financial aid to the Government of Ethiopia since the TPLF dominated party took power in 1991. Where did this money go? Almost all of the hard currency was stolen. Ethiopia and the poor lost.
In the words of the Forbes commentary, “The amount stolen by Ethiopia’s leaders since it took power is $30 billion.” This figure “is based on the UN’s own 2015 report on Illicit Financial Outflows by a panel chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki and another from Global Financial Integrity, an American think tank. These document $2-3 billion—an amount roughly equaling Ethiopia’s annual foreign aid and investment—being drained from the country every year, mostly through over- and under-invoicing of imports and exports.” How do you eradicate poverty when thieves of state and government snatch aid from the society?
I want to underscore this point. The amount of money siphoned off from the Ethiopian poor each and every year since the TPLF-dominated Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) elites took power averages $2-3 billion. Even if you take the lower amount of $ 2 billion each year, it is in excess of $50 billion over the years.
“Ethiopia’s far-left economy is centrally controlled by a small ruling clique that has grown fantastically wealthy. Only they could be responsible for this enormous crime. In other words, the same Ethiopian leadership that is begging the world for yet another billion for its hungry people is stealing several times that amount every year.” Try the higher number and get a shock.
I have been arguing for several years that the Ethiopian poor suffer from their own government officials. Despite several studies on corruption, including at least two by the World Bank, no high official was held accountable for economic and financial crimes. “An accountable Ethiopian government would have to allow more relief to reach those who truly need it and reduce the waste of U.S. taxpayers’ generous funding.”
Lack of representative and accountable government means that aid monies would be stolen and taken out of the country without let up. “Like Mr. Guterres, past U.S. presidents have been afraid to confront the regime, which even forced President Barack Obama into a humiliating public defense of its last stolen election. The result has been a vicious cycle of enablement, corruption, famine and terror.”
This is the type of Government that Prime Minister Dr. Abiy inherited, a government robbed of precious hard currency granted or loaned on behalf of Ethiopia’s poor and debt-ridden banks. The entire $30 billion that American tax payers granted to Ethiopia was stolen. Add to this ODA the tens of billions of dollars stolen over 27 to 30 years. The TPLF bankrupted Ethiopia and impoverished tens of millions.
Had Ethiopia invested the tens of billions of dollars in aid systematically and smartly in productive such as the modernization of agriculture, manufacturing and industry, etc. it would have boosted its productive capacity. It would have created millions of jobs. At minimum. Ethiopia would have achieved food self-sufficiency and security. Remember, Meles initiated Agriculture-led Industrialization. Neither agriculture nor industry bloomed.
Who benefitted the most?
In August 2018, Forbes did another masterpiece showing financial capture and outright theft by the few connected directly to the TPLF. The brief background tells the story. “Even though Ethiopia is classified as one of the developing countries in the world there are still rich people who are living and enjoying life like the westerns do.”
Imagine this for a minute. Ethiopian girls and women carry wood and dung on their backs to fuel their homes. Against this harsh reality for tens of millions of Ethiopian girls and mothers are a few Ethiopians who live life “like westerners do.” They send their children to schools abroad. Poor Ethiopian children attend schools built of discarded boards and thatched roofed shelters.
The few rich did not build manufacturing and industry and or hire hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian youth. In 2019, Ethiopia’s per capita income per annum was $867 compared to Egypt’s at $3,022. In 2018, Ethiopia’s Human Development Index was 173rd of 189 countries. Multidimensional poverty is pronounced. More than one million Ethiopian youth serve as migrant workers in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Gulf countries.
I urge you to weigh in and consider the few rich against the lives of the vast majority of Ethiopians. It is probable that the richest few gained their wealth not through hard labor but through political connections. Below is a list that Forbes ranked as among the “Top 10 Richest People in Ethiopia in August 2018.”
I do not know any of the persons. Their pictures were identified and placed along with notations by Addis Star on August 26, 2018. The data is vetted by Forbes.
- Suhura Ismail Khan
Chat or Khat is a major commodity with high trade value in East Africa and the Middle East. Ms. Suhura Ismail Khan is among the richest in this cohort. Her successful trade is reputed to have emerged as a consequence of her strong links with the TPLF. Her net worth was estimated by Forbes at $200 million in 2018 and may be significantly higher today. She ranks number 10 among the cohort.
- Eyob Mamo
Eyob Mamo is of the chosen few with special links to the TPLF and to lucrative businesses. He joined the petroleum company called Capitol Petroleum Group and spearheaded the export of edible oil to different countries, including to clients in the United States. His business headquarters was located in Washington DC where his firm had reliable supporters within the Diaspora community.
At the time Addis Star posted the Forbes list of Ethiopian billionaires and millionaires Eyob Mamo served in the capacity of CEO and Chairman of Capitol Petroleum Group. His estimated net worth was $500 million
- Omer Ali Shifaw
Ethiopia is not only the source of coffee; it is also a major exporter of this valuable commodity. Access to suppliers and to export licenses have enabled Omer Ali Shifaw to establish his company, Nejat International to acquire and supply high grade coffee to many countries around the world.
Most of the coffee produced in Ethiopia is exported. This gave Nejat International unsurpassed competitive advantage. It also gave him the firm the means to diversify into other sectors of agriculture. Although profit margin has declined due to competition, Omer Ali Shifaw’s net worth was estimated by Forbes at $500 million.
- Abay Tsehay
Abay Tsehay is a key member of the TPLF establishment, with considerable influence and a network of supporters. As a veteran, his voice mattered not only within the TPLF but also with the broader EPRDF infrastructure. Similar to other high powered TPLF members, he made connections and made tons of money by influencing policies, programs and investment decisions across Ethiopia.
Abbay Tsehay invested selectively and heavily in various sectors and businesses of the Ethiopia economy targeting profit making entities. The shares from his web of companies have earned him an estimated net worth of about $1.5 billion.
He is among the wealthiest persons in Ethiopia.
The closer to the throne a person is in Ethiopia; the higher his or her chances for making money. Samuel Tafesse partnered with Meles Zenawi’s widow and prospered. His investments in the booming construction business proved hugely lucrative and profitable. He and Meles Zenawi’s widow partnered and leveraged their connections to the maximum. They each made millions of dollars in profits in the construction sector and in other businesses.
6. Samuel Tafesse
Forbes estimated Samuel Tadesse’s net worth at estimated at $1.6 billion
- Seyoum Mesfin
More than any other political elite group in Ethiopian history, the TPLF illustrates the corrosive, degrading and destabilizing nature of bribery, graft, commission and corruption on the entire society. The fifth billionaire, Seyoum Mesfin represents what is wrong with Ethiopia’s repressive, corruption-ridden and exclusionary governance.
In previous Ethiopian governments, it will be extremely unusual and unprecedented for the country’s foreign minister and or ambassador to become conspicuously super rich.
The primary motivation in joining the foreign service was to serve Ethiopia and the Ethiopian people.
This phenomenon has virtually evaporated under the TPLF dominated government of Ethiopia. You will remember the Ethiopian wise and enduring adage that I shall cite in Amharic. ”ኢትዮጵያ ሃገሬ ሞኝ ነሽ ተላላ፤ የሞተልሽ ቀርቶ የገደለሽ በላ።”
It is hard to translate this powerful and meaningful message that depicts state and government led graft, commission, corruption and massive illicit outflow of funds than this descriptor.
Seyoum Mesfin is among the most visible and globally well-known members of the TPLF. He served as Ethiopia’s foreign minister; its ambassador to China. China’s increasing clout in Ethiopia is a function of numerous activities. China invested heavily in infrastructures such as rails, major roads, inputs into large hydroelectric dams, telecommunication etc. TPLF owned or affiliated entities and persons benefitted hugely from these investments. High commissions were standard practices.
In his prominent role as foreign minister and as ambassador to China, Seyoum Mesfin influenced trade policy and investments. In his capacity as Chairman of Ethiopian Airlines, he influenced the staffing of this iconic Ethiopian institution.
According to Addis Star, Seyoum Mesfin is reputed to have used his connections and influence with Ethiopian Airlines to “smuggle a lot of drugs within Africa and Asia.” This attribution gained Seyoum Mesfin the unsavory name of “the richest drug lord in Africa selling or empowering others to sell illegal drugs.”
Under normal conditions, smuggling and or selling illicit drugs would be a crime in Ethiopia but was not.
Regardless of these and other attributions, Mesfin Seyoum made a huge amount of money. For those of us who remember the rug tug ‘TPLF” fighters who stormed into Addis Ababa with no financial assets, it is remarkable that, in a few years Mesfin Seyoum’s net worth was estimated by Forbes at $1.8 billion. This makes him among the top billionaires in Ethiopia.
- Sebhat Nega
“Aboy” Sebhat Nega is a vocal veteran of the TPLF. He served as member of the politburo of TPLF. He was among the closest to the late Meles Zenawi. He has a vast network of extended family members.
Sebhat Nega once boasted arrogantly and dismissively that his party had “finished off the Amhara and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church He served as a member of the committee for Endowment Fund for Relief of Tigray (EFFORT). At one point, this this conglomerate owned a bulk of the Ethiopian economy—telecommunications, electric power, cement, the military industry etc.
According to Forbes, Sebhat Nega is among the top billionaires. His net worth was estimated by Forbes at $2 billion.
- Berhane Gebrekristos
Berhane Gebrekristos was among the closet family members to both Meles Zenawi and to his wife, Azeb Mesfin.
It is said that Meles Zenawi trusted, mentored and groomed him for leadership. He became a trusted confidante and a business partner with Azeb Mesfin.
Meles Zenawi gave influential and coveted diplomatic assignments to key countries to those trusted by the TPLF Politburo. Among the beneficiaries was Berhane Gebrekristos. Addis Star opines that his assignment as a diplomat was intended to facilitate “money laundering.”
A few years ago, Net Worth, an independent organization, had reported that the late Prime Minister of Ethiopia, a Marxist, had a net worth of $3 billion. This would have made him the richest of the “club of thieves.”
In any case, Forbes estimated that Berhane Gebrekristos’ net worth is $2 billion. the TPLF cohort.
- Azeb Mesfin
Azeb Mesfin is full of intrigues; and denies that she is rich. Insiders paint a different picture. She owns or co-owns shares in numerous and diverse enterprises throughout Ethiopia. Some within the Tigrean community call her “the mother of corruption.” She may or she may not be. I am not convinced that she is more corrupt than the others. She was the mover and shaker behind EFFORT.
Azeb Mesfin is a stakeholder in some of the largest construction, industrial and manufacturing firms in Ethiopia. She either own or co-owns or grants privileges to family and friends to own real estate in Addis Ababa and other cities. Her family live lavish lives similar to the 1% of the West.
Forbes estimated Azeb Mesfin’s net worth at a staggering $4 billion.
- Mohammed Al-Amoudi
By all accounts, Mohammed Al-Amoudi is one of the richest men in the world and is the richest man in Ethiopia and is No. 1 on the list.
Following the privatization initiative by Al-Amoudi’s friend and confidante Meles Zenawi, he bought numerous previously state-owned enterprises at the lowest prices imaginable. There was no transparency or competition. The bidding process was rigged. He owns lucrative and high value gold mines gratis Meles Zenawi.
During the height of land grab in Ethiopia, Al-Amoudi acquired thousands of hectares of lands, most notably in Gambella, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples, in Oromia and in Addis Ababa. A memorable article, “The man who stole the Nile” depicts him as a ruthless land grabber who displaced thousands of indigenous people and produced rice for the Saudi market.
Al Amoudi has strong family and business ties to the Saudi royal family and to numerus Gulf and other Arab nations.
Numerous observers argue that Al-Amoudi did not bring in foreign capital. Instead, he used the Ethiopian banking system and financed his agricultural and other investments. The TPLF allowed Al-Amoudi to mine and export gold without any inspection. No one knows how much gold was mined or the amount of foreign exchange earnings from this precious metal. Earnings from gold exports have definitely increased his net worth.
Forbes estimated Al-Amoudi’s net worth at more than $10 billion.
Lessons and Recommendations
Those of us who believe in Ethiopia as a durable country; and who also subscribe to the guiding principle by embracing the term Ethiopian as a national identity must:
- Defend, promote and propagate the primacy of Ethiopia and Ethiopiawinnet (ኢትዮጵያና ኢትዮጵያዊነት ለድርድር አይቀርቡም በሚል መርህ) throughout the globe and teach others to do the same.
- Condemn the TPLF, Shine OLF, Qeerro extremists, religious fundamentalists as well as their external ally Egypt for inciting violence and for inflicting pain and suffering on the Ethiopian people by targeting and killing them deliberately and selectively on the basis of ethnicity and religious affiliation; and for the destruction of huge amounts of property and infrastructure.
- Demand that the cohort of criminals led by the TPLF cease and desist from weaponizing the billions of dollars they stole from the Ethiopian people to destabilize and Balkanize Ethiopia; and hold the cohort accountable for economic crimes and for their betrayal of Ethiopia; and further demand that thieves of party, state and government return the stolen money to the Ethiopian people.
- Demand that all stakeholders including the Governing party deal with the root cause of constant mayhem, cruelty and deaths, dehumanization and demonization and the destruction of property by dealing with systemic and institutional hurdles emanating from ethnic federalism and the kilil system.
- Urge the World Bank and the IMF to provide technical assistance to the Government of Ethiopia in order to identify and retrieve the stolen billions of dollars that is hidden in foreign destinations; and ask the Government of Ethiopia to take the lead. The Nigeria model might serve as an example; and the person to ask is the former finance minister of Nigeria who also served as Managing Director at the World Bank.
- Demand that the Government of Ethiopia take bold actions and decapitalize and deny TPLF and its allies the capacity to weaponize huge quantities of Birr and other financial and other economic assets within and outside Ethiopia in collaboration with motivated and committed members of Ethiopia’s Diaspora.
- Demand that the Government of Ethiopia take unwavering measures against any person and or group accused of murders and incites ethnic and religious violence, destabilizes Ethiopia and sides with Ethiopia’s mortal external enemies; and make it a crime to promote and propagate hate speech; to incite or to propagate ethnic and or faith-based hatred.
- Urge Tigreans who believe in Ethiopia and the unity of the Ethiopian people to dissociate themselves from the cohort of thieves and plunderers that still dominate the TPLF and reject its pretense that this gang of thieves and murders represent the hopes and aspirations of the patriotic Tigrean people.
- Call on all those who believe in Ethiopia and the unity and solidarity of Ethiopians to close ranks; unite for a common purpose; conduct a global campaign against foreign interference in Ethiopia; against terrorism, ethno-nationalism and religious fundamentalism; and come up with a road-map that will address the root causes of constant turmoil and the deaths of innocent civilians.
- Call on Ethiopian-Americans to reach out to their American friends, decision makers, academics, foundations and the media; and present an Ethiopian narrative debunking the false and misleading narratives of such hate mongering media as OMN.
- Urge Ethiopian-American lawyers, human rights activists and civic society leaders to stop working in silos; and begin the hard work of logging legal complaints together in local and international courts concerning hate speech, terrorist acts, ethnicity and faith-based killings including genocide.
July 16, 2020