Zelalem Eshete, Ph.D.
It takes two to tango. EPRDF’s talk about democracy appears to deal more with the image of democracy than with its reality. The oppositions’ talk about democracy seems to be targeted more at assuming power by whatever means than at providing a unified alternative for the people to choose from.
That is the drama of democracy played everyday inEthiopia. The vital question, however, is; how can the drama be abandoned and reality be adopted?
Standing at the fore of the stage is the Ethiopian opposition. How the drama would be played out would also be highly dependent on their move.
The political climate on the ground is squeezing the opposition with each passing day. To make things worse, the opposition itself is weak due to divisions. Forgoing its purpose, it settles for mere opposition.
The opposition has to go through rebirth. Otherwise, it will soon become a do-nothing force as far as peaceful struggle is concerned.
Even then, the opposition is not at the mercy of the EPRDF regarding its significance. It is within the grasp of the opposition to chart the way and hold the EPRDF accountable for the democratic deficit inEthiopia.
The people have frequently spoken about the need to be united and to be purposeful. Similarly, opposition leaders echo the need for unity and reinvention.
But, how can it be done?
The political landscape of the opposition inEthiopiais characterised by three major sectors: those who are pursuing peaceful struggle inEthiopia, those who take armed struggle as an option and Diaspora organisations that are trying to have their own role inEthiopia’s future.
Each one of them calls for unity that actually is a call serving its own end. Each one calls the other to join itself. Each one faces dual challenges: first against the government, and second against each other.
Imagine the benefits that could be reaped from embracing a paradigm shift in how all these groups do business. Imagine each group getting out of its comfort zone, redefining its purpose and reorienting its agenda with the grand vision in sight.
Though supposedly impossible, I think that each group should surrender its self-serving quest for power and aim to be an instrument of unity for the rather divided Ethiopia.
The militant opposition ought to reorient its agenda and give peace a chance. Nothing in the order of this magnitude has been tried in Ethiopia.
If these groups abandon violence and join the peaceful struggle, all opposition parties will be committed to a peaceful struggle without distractions.
Oppositions engaged in a peaceful struggle at home have to reorient their agenda and form an alliance with all opposition parties at home. Instead of marching ahead with partisan goals, it is better to find a greater cause to make room for all.
Diaspora organizations, on the other hand, have to reorient their agenda and take on a supportive role for united opposition. Instead of creating parallel organizations here and there, it would be helpful to have a united front with disposable political base to act.
A look at the state of the opposition shows not only the difficulty but also the hope for the opposition. There is indeed an opportunity in disguise, if there are hands stretched to embrace it.
The fact that the oppositions are divided, each with a different program, gives a clue that this is not where one should start to seek unity. Instead, there has to be a search for a common denominator of the oppositions.
A big mistake would be to try to mobilize the whole political opposition towards a single unifying slogan of overthrowing the government by whatever means, fueled by hate. That certainly is a negative energy. It does not work in a peaceful struggle.
Thus, finding a voice that all Ethiopians could stand behind would be crucial. Fortunately, there is one voice that resonates with every one; improving the respect for human and democratic rights in Ethiopia. It is indeed the tune of unity.
Surely, the voice of democratic rights is an opportunity for the Ethiopian opposition to lead the way in abandoning the drama and ushering reality into the political space. Such an act cannot allow the ruling EPRDF to play the drama as usual but face reality heads on.
Real power has nothing to do with having military force, but having eternal ideals that touch humanity now and forever. Such a chance is equally available for both the government and the opposition.
At the moment, the ball is neither in the government’s court nor in the opposition’s court. The real engagement in the democratic motion has not yet begun. The ball is sitting idle in the middle, while the two groups are preoccupied with their own respective obsessions to be right at either extreme polar end.
Time will tell who will assume the higher moral ground and lead Ethiopian to democracy and prosperity instead of being mired in the status quo.
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Zelalem Eshete, Ph.D.
Deeper Walk With God
Book on Ethiopia
This book makes a case for a paradigm shift in our thinking on the matter of Ethiopia. Instead of feeling powerless in our usual political saga, ethnic divide, and religious tensions, the book motivates us to look deeper, rediscover our true identity, and arise to make change. The greater power of change is with the people.
The world has heard enough of our suffering. Let's spotlight the other face of Ethiopia: To Be Known As We Truly Are.
The world has heard enough of our lack of civilization. Let's spotlight the other face of Ethiopia: We Are One Big Intelligent Family.
The world has heard enough of our poverty. Let's spotlight the other face of Ethiopia: Going Global Together.