[By: Dejene Sojato]
Recently, a wave of illegal demonstrations and protests had been taking place in some parts of Amahara and Oromia States. The conflict threatened stability of the states and its continuation posed threats to the country’s peace and security. No matter what the immediate cause of those anti-government protests, the situation has created a fertile ground for anti-Ethiopian forces and terrorist groups to scale up their futile efforts to destabilize the country and toppling the constitutional government by force. One should know the use of force and violence to snatch power from the ruling party and government is simply self-destructive and suicidal. Violence begets more violence and bloodshed, even civil war, not peace and democracy.
The recent anti-government protests clearly show the involvement and animosity of foreign actors to destabilize Ethiopia. There are many historical evidences that manifest the interference of foreign actors whenever internal divisions and conflicts prevailed in the country. Whatever name they may have — be it right group or humanitarian — they rushed to add insult to the injury only to exacerbate the situation.
They are always scheming to destabilize the country by whatever means necessary including political dissidence. The undying desire of foreign forces bent on destabilizing Ethiopia is very well known. It is still fresh in our memory that some foreign politicians were caught on live television broadcasting while proposing a support for rebels who would put pressure on Ethiopian government to abandon its development activities.
On the other hand, other rouge states, mainly the Eritrean government officially permits, and raise funds and holds alliance with anti-Ethiopian elements. It is not new that the regime in Asmara has been plotting many manoeuvre bent on obstructing the peace and development of Ethiopia, besides, being one of anti-peace elements in the Horn of Africa.
Leaving for another time who or what is behind the recent violence in some parts of Ethiopia, there is no doubting on the wistfulness of foreign enemies’ efforts to fuel crisis in Ethiopia. Ethiopians should be concerned about foreign forces bashing their country for the sake of getting funding or advance their interest at the expense of Ethiopia’s peace and stability. They know that stability in Ethiopia means socio-economic progress and a strong capacity to fend off or pre-empt anything they may throw at it. Thus the presence of durable peace and security means the country is capable of using its natural resources and succeed in the fight against poverty and backwardness.
The well-being of this country is better served when those who claim to have the welfare of Ethiopia and her peoples at heart fully adopt and abide by the fundamental values, principles, rules and procedures of democracy as well as a strong spirit of reconciliation, compromise, tolerance and political magnanimity, if not complete unanimity. To the satisfaction of many, the Joint Council of Political Parties, which comprise nine parties, recently condemned the violent anti-government protests in some parts of Oromia and Amhara states.
Following its deliberations, the Council said the demonstrations held in various areas of the states were “illegal and against the constitution”. The Council underscored the importance of public discussions with the government at all levels to address the demands of the public. The parties urged their members to refrain from such acts that could jeopardize peace and stability in the country. This is a milestone by itself to resolve any differences or any kind of demand in accordance with the country’s constitution.
It is true that uncompromising posture and style of politics will only have undesired consequences to the peace, democracy and development of the country. For long, political struggles in this country were characterized with the ultimate desire to cling to power at any cost than any meaningful concern for policy alternatives and the good of the general public. That is why their day-to-day actions bear out overwhelming scope of hatred in Ethiopian politics.
Ideally, the causes of political parties are to consolidate democracy and to seek national prosperity. So, the place of hate politics has no place. The confrontational style of politics ulterior motive is a selfish ambition for nothing but power; power as an end and not as a means to serve the Ethiopian people.
The smooth governance of any country will be effective when opposition parties function within the bounds of the law and refrain from the use of inflammatory and provocative language. Mature opposition parties do not use emotive and unreasonable arguments, merely for the sake of inciting opposition and violence or to draw the attention of the media.
Over years, Ethiopia has enjoyed peace, democracy and development in a troubled Horn of Africa because of rightful policy and leadership. Since 1991, the political power belongs to the people and the political fate of the country is determined by them with no room left for any political party to come to power without majority vote. Ethiopians have the desire of promoting and encouraging the democratic process in the country.
The only option for political power is via election in a peaceful and democratic approach. Whereas the reality on the ground shows a very conducive environment for a peaceful political process, few individuals and groups prefer to use violence to slake their personal and/or group ambitions. As the Council stated any kind of demand by political parties or their supporters should be forwarded in accordance to the Constitution.
Generally, all stakeholders in Ethiopian politics have to show great tolerance and magnanimity towards each other. The ruling party which formed the government particularly shoulders the responsibility in creating conducive environment that does include and not exclude all opposition parties to participate in the political process; allow them to operate peacefully and smoothly throughout the country, participating in the genuine democratic political system.
In essence, all sides in a democracy share a common commitment to its basic values, rules and procedures. Political competitors don’t necessarily have to like each other, but they must tolerate one another and acknowledge that each has a legitimate and important role to play.
Further, the Ethiopian people want democracy and many believe it is the only possible solution to the twin ills of poverty and misrule. It must be also understood by all protagonists in the nation’s political arena and the populace at large that elections alone will not produce democracy and do not necessarily bring about democratic culture.
After all, democracy alone does not make societies more civil and stable; it requires strong civil and democratic institutions, a tolerant political culture, and a long period of time. It is only those who are committed to the values of democracy, the rule of law, civil and political liberties, and human rights, who will succeed in realizing democracy and development, peace and stability in the end.
Though Ethiopia’s unity in diversity stands on the firm basis that never to be disturbed by any anti-Ethiopia and anti-peace elements. Tolerance, dialogue understanding, the supremacy of law as well as respect for one another must be upheld to reconstruct a civilized society. No matter how long it will take, such core values of humanity must be followed to narrow the difference, strengthen the health relationship and cooperation amongst Ethiopians and forge a civilized society. And most importantly, such imperatives would help reduce and avoid damage and destruction and enhance mutual respect and unity in diversity among nations, nationalities and peoples.
The democratic process will impose responsibilities on both parties in view of national obligations of the highest order. Foreign hands, whatever their role will always remain foreign, and will never be allowed to meddle in Ethiopia’s internal affairs. It is true that Ethiopia has suffered from manipulative behaviour of foreign hands and their mass media. Ethiopians are the sole owners of our country; they should never be dictated to do this or that in their affairs.
There should be a clear boundary as to what constitutes a proper political struggle. The public and political parties must take elements upon the line of violence to advance The public has to play a decisive role in this regard. It needs to exert considerable pressure with a view to making the country democratic. It must also denounce elements that are engaged in destabilization.
The Ethiopian public must be condemning foreign actors who want to meddle in the affairs of our country. Thus, legal political parties and forces who still pursue their causes through violent means must refrain from serving foreign interests. They must share the stance of the government that the politics of Ethiopia must be left for Ethiopians. Moreover, Ethiopians both from within and abroad must focus on developmental issues to improve the economic condition of their country.