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Sun, 17 Nov 2019 12:56 GMT

Rule of Law - A Dilemma for Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed

Counterterrorism & Security

Fitsum Getachew

Tue, 05 Nov 2019 11:39 GMT

The violent incidents of the past week in Ethiopia have reintroduced afresh the issue of rule of law, peace and security in the East African country. During the past eighteen months or so since the advent of Abiy Ahmed to power, Ethiopia has experienced several violent incidents that have raised serious questions on the way security matters have been dealt with by government. Very grave crimes, almost all of them politically motivated, have been committed both on innocent civilians as well as government officials of the highest levels while others have been thwarted at the attempt level. And yet the responses have left a lot to be desired.  

In the mind of the people there is the perception that Abiy Ahmed is too indulgent with certain outlaws. Critics and even supporters want his government to use the right dose of force as a deterrent or else they argue the trust in his establishment could erode dangerously.

Following his stance on national and regional matters Abiy Ahmed did not wait for long to secure the admiration and support of Ethiopians in almost an unprecedented manner and across the board. But the above stated facts and the ones that very recently materialised have put him on the prosecution desk. Paradoxically, his firm supporters as well have been severely critical of his ‘indecision’ when it came to crimes and attacks allegedly incited and orchestrated by factions that he welcomed home from abroad; and if we consider that not enough has been done to prosecute the former corrupt rulers, people have begun to question if he has been taken ‘hostage by his ideas of peace and pardon’ which he discussed in his latest book called ‘medemer’.

Some even go to the extent of arguing that his recent glory as the Nobel Peace Prize winner for 2019 may have further influenced him in desisting from taking measures to be adopted against suspected groups and gangs. Although he never showed leniency on matters of national unity and rule of law at the discourse level, the actions however have not been equally rigorous, critics assert. Many wonder: Is he a prisoner of his visionary ideas?

Furthermore, Abiy Ahmed has often been severely criticised for ‘his mild stance’ against entities that have unequivocally and openly presented themselves as ‘enemies of Ethiopia and Ethiopian unity’. And yet the cornerstone of his popularity and admiration among Ethiopians has been his stance on ‘one Ethiopia’ and a promise to build a great country that could inspire the entire continent. All his plans seem tuned towards that goal and this is perhaps what ‘Oromo nationalists’ do not digest; and make no mystery of it.

Anyone who endeavours to watch their transmissions on TV or follow their social media networks observe immediately that their obsession seems to be ‘Oromia First’ and not ‘Ethiopia First’.

This contradicts what Abiy Ahmed stands for and what other Ethiopians expect him to be. How these two ‘ideologies’ reconcile is anyone’s guess. Ethiopia being a mosaic of nations and nationalities and the federal structure being taken as the only remedy to keep it together it is difficult to understand and sustain how one nationality or ethnic group, albeit the largest in the country, could argue for a priority position of the federation unless of course they harbor other ideas incompatible with the very existence of a united country.

In the meantime, however, Ethiopians are demanding that the government give them immediate and unequivocal response to what has happened the past few days in unambiguous terms and give them the guarantee of safety and security in their homes and country. Recent radio broadcasts the showcased live calls directed towards this idea. People appealed for serious measures.

Outrage over what actually took place has not yet quelled and there are even voices from abroad that claim that the government of Abiy Ahmed faces prosecution at international courts for ‘not duly protecting its citizens’. Farfetched as it may seem, serious measures are expected to be announced shortly from the government beyond the peace and reconciliation conferences that are being held in almost every district in the Regional State of Oromia with the Prime Minister and other high ranking officials in attendance. The recent announcement made by the press secretariat of the premier have not satisfied the public either; and people demand that the true culprits be brought to justice and anything short of that would be another episode of déjà vu which could be truly dangerous for the East African country and the political life of Abiy Ahmed himself. This is because the issue of the rule of law is of pivotal importance that cannot be postponed any further and he knows it. The outcry is that all those who in one way or another have been involved in the violent acts of the past days be brought to account, no matter the costs.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of 7Dnews.

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