Why Abiy Ahmed’s Prosperity Party is good news for Ethiopia

Filed under: Opinion & Analysis |

The new party is a positive step towards ending ethnic strife in the country.

by Yohannes Gedamu

 

In November, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed established a new pan-Ethiopian political party. It brings together three of the four ethnic-based parties that make up the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition and five other smaller parties that were previously condemned to the periphery of the country’s political scene.

The establishment of the Prosperity Party (PP) only a few months before the May 2020 general election caused much controversy across the country, with even some in the upper echelons of Abiy’s own government criticising the move.

Nevertheless, many Ethiopians appear to be pleased with the merger, seeing it as an opportunity to unite the country and resolve its many deep-rooted problems. Indeed, it is difficult to deny that a pan-Ethiopian party led by people who have ample experience and significant public support has the unprecedented potential to address major challenges like growing ethnic polarisation and violence.

EPRDF and ethnic strife

Ever since the downfall of the military regime in 1991, Ethiopia has been administered by the EPRDF coalition, which is made up of four parties, each representing an ethnic group: The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the Oromo Peoples Democratic Organization (OPDO), the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) and the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM).

While on paper the coalition appeared to provide equal representation to all four of its members, in reality it was dominated by its creator, TPLF. This core imbalance brought the legitimacy of the ruling coalition into question and made reforms within the EPRDF an urgent necessity.

While there had been repeated attempts to reform the coalition over the years, strong resistance from the TPLF made any meaningful change impossible. Eventually the people of Ethiopia took the matter into their own hands and held widespread demonstrations against the TPLF for three consecutive years, paving the way for real change. In April 2018, Abiy Ahmed was elected as the leader of EPRDF and the prime minister of Ethiopia on the back of these protests.

From the very beginning of his tenure, Abiy worked on creating an Ethiopia where all citizens are politically and economically equal. And in the short time he has been in power, he has overseen unprecedented reforms and an unrivalled political transformation. Political prisoners were released, a landmark peace deal was signed with Eritrea, important political and economic reforms were put in place, and corrupt officials and human rights abusers were prosecuted.

Unfortunately, however, Abiy’s time in power has not been devoid of challenges. In the past year and a half, ethnic relations across Ethiopia deteriorated further and violence became the norm in many parts of the country. The fact that the political system was still very much dominated by the EPRDF and its ethnic components further fuelled ethnic strife.

Thousands of people were displaced as a result of the violence, making Ethiopia the country with the highest number of internally displaced populations in the world. The demand of the Sidama people to secede from the diverse Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) was another major test for Abiy’s administration. It intensified ethnic tension and violence until it was peacefully resolved through a referendum which paved the way for the Sidama to create Ethiopia’s tenth ethnic-based regional state.

The rise in ethnic strife across the country was the direct result of the deep state’s resistance to Abiy’s political reforms and fight against corruption. EPRDF heavyweights who lost clout following Abiy’s rise to power used the influence they have over their communities to heighten tensions and challenge the prime minister’s political transformation project.

For example, in January this year, some Tigrayan youth, undoubtedly under the direction of TPLF leaders who were displeased with Abiy’s efforts to secure peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea, attempted to prevent Ethiopian army vehicles and soldiers from leaving the border area.

Nonetheless, Abiy’s government is not completely blameless in all this. It was slow to respond to the ethnic conflicts and the displacement of people caused by them. Although some progress has been made in tackling ethnic strife, it is far from over.

While Abiy Ahmed is undoubtedly committed to strengthening Ethiopia’s democracy and bringing peace, stability and unity to the country, he clearly cannot achieve this while the old EPRDF structure that encourages ethnic rivalry and empowers old political elites is still in place.

This is why the demise of the EPRDF coalition and the establishment of the PP is good news for Ethiopia, its democracy and its diverse peoples.

The promise of the Prosperity Party 

Throughout its 28-year rule, the EPRDF coalition weakened Ethiopia’s bureaucracy and paralysed state institutions, leading to a major brain drain. Moreover, as each region was administered by an ethnic-based party, conflicts across regional administrative boundaries were common. To make matters worse, only four regional parties were part of the ruling coalition in Addis Ababa. This has left the other five regional governments that are administered by parties that are outside the EPRDF coalition having no say in federal decisions, reducing the Ethiopians living in these regions to second-class citizens.

By transforming the EPRDF into an all-inclusive, pan-Ethiopian, national party, Abiy is creating a political force that could bring an end to all these problems and ensure Ethiopians have the option to elect a governing party that represents all of them.

Individuals and groups that are opposed to the emergence of the PP as a new national party argue that the unified party could threaten the tenets of Ethiopia’s federal arrangement, which was designed to promote the rights of ethnic groups. This could not be further from the truth.

Ultimately, regardless of how divisive and dangerous Ethiopia’s federal structure has become, in the current climate, no political merger or transformation can threaten it. Ethiopia’s ethnic communities still value their hard-earned right to self-govern and are not willing to give that up at any cost. A PP government will not pose a threat to the country’s federal structure, as each region will continue to self-administer.

Actually, a PP government would strengthen, not damage, Ethiopia’s federal arrangement. If a national party with a wide base takes control of the federal government, this would encourage the regional states to work on their relations and increase their collaboration. Moreover, the states that did not previously have representatives in the EPRDF would finally get a say in the central government’s policies, which would increase their commitment to the federal order.

As regional states learn to work together under the umbrella of an all-inclusive central government as equal partners, a true and fair federalism can finally emerge in Ethiopia. Furthermore, once in government the PP would have the opportunity to protect the rights of individual citizens against the actions of regional states and ethnic groups.

All in all, the PP could be the political force that Ethiopia has long been waiting for to start the second phase of its political transformation. If Prime Minister Abiy manages to convince his critics to give the party a chance and ensures that it does not become a new vessel for the political elites to consolidate their power, the establishment of the PP could be a cornerstone in Ethiopia’s journey towards becoming an enviable democracy where its diverse peoples live in peace, unity and prosperity.

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2 Responses to Why Abiy Ahmed’s Prosperity Party is good news for Ethiopia

  1. Without going into any sort of argument and descriptive explanation about the so-called Prosperity Party, it is self-evidently clear that what is going on in our country is just very deceitful and disingenuous political orchestration of renaming basically the same ruling circle that has been badly stained with the very untold sufferings and blood of thousands and thousands of innocent citizens not only for the last quarter of a century but also for the last two years of very hypocritical politics of change for the better . I do not know why our intellectuals allow themselves keep writing and talking about something that is as crystal clear as anything . There is no any meaningful new chapter of change for a democratic system in the books of our political history at all! Look into the very continuation of the constitution that is basically the very copy of the politics of ethno-centeric dictatorship of the former TPLF/EPRDF and the current ODP/EPRDf/Prosperity as well as the very same structure and function of government . Is there any sense of change with these most basic issues of political discourse ? Absolutely there is no! So, why our intellectuals keep talking and writing about something that has nothing to do with the reality on the ground ? Why don’t they come forward with something that helps the people strive for a fundamentally democratic political system that has to become a reality through an Inclusive National Platform and create a genuine transitional mechanism?It is really sad to see
    Our intellectuals regurgitating the same if not much clumsy and going no where type of political theorization !!!

    T.Goshu
    December 19, 2019 at 10:16 am
    Reply

  2. An Episode of Protest by soldiers that Dr. Abiye turned into alligance to Ethiopia.

    https://youtu.be/X581y7AoCnc

    Dr. Abiye Ahmed is a leader who is Leading from the Heart

    With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan — to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.

    Abraham Lincoln

    There are two kinds of leadership. First one is of the ordinary kind which at the best can maintain an efficient status quo and at the worst allows things to degenerate into a chaos. The second one is the uplifting leadership which can save alive a nation’s soul from disaster and raise the individual and corporate life to a higher level of values. Dr. Abiye Ahmed is an exemplar of this second kind of leadership a replica of Abraham Lincoln.

    We can get a glimpse of Dr. Abiye’s character when we look at the composition of the Cabinet formed by him after he was elected as the PM of Ethiopis. His cabinet consist of women power which never existed in Ethiopian history.

    Dr. Abiye released almost all prisoners and welcomed activists from abroad. ‘best among any politician in Ethiopia’s history.’ and ‘superhuman’ in his magnanimity.

    Dr. Abiye forged peace with Eritrea in shortest time after more than two decades of deadly war.

    This have signaled the world leaders that peace can be achieved if there is sincerity in the will. It has brought pride and prudence to Ethiopia in the world. And peace to both COUNTRIES.

    People world over and within in Ethiopia and Diaspora admire him as a near perfect human being.

    It is becoming clear that Dr. Abiye Ahmed would emerge as the undisputed captain of the most unusual cabinet after 2020 election truly a team of rivals but with doctrination of MEDEMER.

    The powerful competitors who had originally criticized him are welcome within the ambit of MEDEMER the symbol of Peace and synergy amongst fellow Ethiopians without discrimination. This again symbolizes all the virtues of symbolic Ethiopian flag.

    Dr. Abiyes would 100% form the cabinet in May 2020 and is likely to include colleagues who have been not only been his political rivals but also strong and powerful personalities with a big ego and of very different temperaments.

    He shall not surround himself with weak sycophants but strong men who can complement him, who can support him with skills and qualities which he value as good for Ethiopia. They are also men who thought very differently from Dr. Abiye and bold enough to express their disagreement in strong words but again in line with MEDEMER.

    Dr. Abiye Ahmed shall come to power in May 2020 when nation is in peril and on the verge of getting split into Ethinicity and Radicalism.

    Dr. Abiye feels strongly that in such a crisis situation personal likes and dislikes and old animosities or hurt feelings should be set aside in choosing the leaders of a nation.

    Do not be surprised to see his new cabite after election with majority women.

    Dr. Abiye believes Ethiopis need the strongest persons of the party in the cabinet. And he considers NON CORRUPT and MEDEMEARIAN most fit.He believes women are the strongest And so he believes he has no right to deprive the country of their services.”

    Dr. Abiye has the intelligence, and the self-confidence, to know that he need the best people by his side, people who were leaders in their own right and who were very aware of their own strengths. That’s an important insight when you’re the leader of a country. At the core is Medemer virtues of peace and plasticity and non corrupt qualities

    Dr. Abiye is endowed with a keen and wide intelligence but he is not an intellectual by temperament. He is basically a man of action who leads from his heart. One of the most prominent qualities of his personality, which made him an endearing leader is his Himalayan magnanimity…

    PEOPLE OF ETHIOPIA AND DIASPORA AND FRIENDS OF ETHIOPIA regards this “singular ability to transcend personal vendetta, humiliation or bitterness” as one of the great leadership qualities of Dr. Abiye. His magnanimity is not confined to his VIP colleagues but flowed equally to people in all the levels of the economic, social and political hierarchy.

    An episode of coupe that he turned into alligence. See video.

    This magnanimity of Dr. Abiye temperament expressed itself in his mind as a wide, mental, tolerance with a readiness to listen to, accept, understand or learn from different and conflicting view-points or in other words, the ability for democratic leadership. Dr. Abiye listens patiently with a genuine openness to the view-points of his colleagues before coming to a decision.

    The other aspects of his mental magnanimity is his willingness to accept his mistakes and also assume responsibility for others’ mistakes. “He has been seen and able to acknowledge his errors and learn from his mistakes and “took responsibility for what he did and he shared responsibility for the mistakes of others.” Greatest quality of an honest leader.

    The other important quality of Dr. Abiye character is his empathy, which according to what we have seen in peace with Eritrea is the ability to put himself in the place of another, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires. Dr. Abiye is uncommonly tender-hearted.

    This quality of empathy made Dr. Abiye Ahmed not only compassionate and a little melancholic but also successful as a leader.

    This inner character of Dr. Abiye is made of a sharp, brilliant mind, gifted speech, a will persistently focused on the purpose and above all an extremely magnanimous heart — all the qualities of a born leader.

    Dr. Abiye cast a spell and a charm over whoever came into contact with him.

    Dr. Abiye is a charismatic leader by virtue of his tranquility and smile, appearance and manners.

    Dr. Abiyes charisma come from his inner being, an inner charm that came from his mind, heart and soul. True MEDEMEARIAN.

    Nitin varia.

    Nitin N Varia
    December 20, 2019 at 5:28 am
    Reply

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