by Anwar A. Bashir
The world is encountering enormous challenges, especially during the pandemic where all the countries are suffering because of the invisible and the invincible Covid-19. Moreover, some countries are exploiting the Covid-19 in order to extend their mandate and disband the dissenting voices. Here I juxtapose Aung San Suu Kyi and Abiy Ahmed for their leadership, both received the Nobel Peace Prizes.
Myanmar, formally Burma is Southeast Asian country where more than 100 ethnic groups live in. Aung San Suu Kyi The first and incumbent State Counsellor of Myanmar, she is also the leader of the National League for Democracy and did play a pivotal role in the state’s transition from military junta to partial democracy. She used to advocate democracy, freedom of speech, and human rights for long-time against the army brutality in her country Myanmar, formally known as Burma 1989 which paved the way to receive Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.
After she spends six years of house arrest, she became the leader of the country, she failed to speak out against the army crackdown in Rakhine state. Several human rights organizations including UN’s human rights excoriated Aung San Suu Kyi’s administration the relentless against the Rohingya Muslims. The army committed magnitude of human rights violations including massacre, rapes and torture. Since, the ruthless against the Muslim minorities in Myanmar begun in 2016-2017, tens of thousands have been killed, and more than 700,000 have fled the country and live in refugee camps in Bangladesh.
Aung San Suu Kyi appeared at International Criminal Justice (ICJ) in December, last year for the protection of the Muslim minorities in Myanmar. The indiscriminate killings, rapes and other castigation were considered as crimes against humanity. She insisted to deny the egregious human rights violations, and the naked aggression against the Rohingya. Plenty of people dumfounded and flabbergasted Kyi’s denial. As a result, many people are still advocating to nullify Kyi’s Nobel Peace Prize as long as she is trying to abnegate the conspicuous genocide committed by the army under her watch. Though, the secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee elucidated that, the committee gives the award the people who did some commendable issues in the past, and has nothing to do after that.
On the other hand, since Abiy become the prime minister of Ethiopia in April, 2018, Ethiopian politics has changed dramatically. He has promoted media freedom. He has unleashed the political prisoners, and augmented inclusion of women into the political arena. He has also invited the opposition to the discussion table, and shrinked tension in the 18-year of the longest bad blood in Africa between Ethiopia and Eritrea. As a result, some politically-minded Ethiopians believe Abiy has taken exquisite, inimitable, plausible and peerless actions.
The flipside, there are enormous deplorable issues including the communal violence which has peaked and reached zenith whilst the agreement with the oppositions is still needs to be implemented. Furthermore, the internally displaced people (IDPs) reached apogee. These dismay issues led the human rights organizations to rebuke Abiy’s administration. In this regard, plenty of talking heads believe that, Abiy’s actions under the guise of transformation was merely a veneer, formality and capricious. Because, his agreement with the oppositions which may give him much accolade and public kudos is still pending.
Moreover, the most populous region in Ethiopia, Oromia is encountering all families of human rights abuses including shutting down of the internet, phone and all the communication platforms for several three months. Abiy’s government took these horrendous actions while the people are desperately in need information because of the pandemic Coronavirus. And this ruthless and relentless actions freaked out all the human rights organizations including Human rights watch and excoriated famously the incumbent’s actions. Because, these actions are crystal clear how the newly Noble Peace Prize winner Abiy is departing from reformer to deformer.
The slain prominent Oromo-singer triggered public backlash and communal violence
Amidst the pandemic and the political instability in the country, last Monday an Oromo sought-after singer-activist and song-writer (Hatchalu Hundessa) has been killed by unrecognized gunmen. The slain singer was popular among Oromia region. As a result, Oromo starts a demonstration and public backlash against this heinous and inhuman act. During the protests, the government cut-off the internet which makes the situation worse. After few hours, the government arrested Bekele Gerba, the vice-chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), and Jawar Mohamed who has a deep-rooted clout in the country, especially Oromia region. Jawar is going to contest with Abiy for the forthcoming election. Also, the government arrested several prominent oppositions, and colossal of the Oromo Media Network (OMN) personnel. As many news agencies reported, for the last three days, more than 250 have been killed including several police officers.
Covid-19 as political gimmick to procrastinate the election!
For the last months there has been burgeoning skepticism towards whether the upcoming election will take place as scheduled or not? Since Ethiopia announces her first case of Covid-19 in March this year, the incumbent government under the leadership of Abiy was envisioning Covid-19 as political tool to disband the oppositions and postpone the long-awaited election.
The flipside, the oppositions were announcing mixed reactions toward the possibility of the election’s postponement as an antidote.
Since EPRDF, the longest-runner political party in Ethiopia supplanted by (PP) in December last year, the dichotomy and the political disagreement among the incumbent party and the oppositions was deteriorating. Not only the oppositions, but also TPLF which used to be part of the disappeared party EPRDF, but now is the only party which boycotted to be part of the newly pioneered EPP. 04, May last month, the executive committee of the ruling party in Tigray region TPLF endorsed a decision to hold the forthcoming election at the regional level after three days of discussion about the future of the region. Additionally, June, 12, the council of Tigray Regional State has passed their final decision to give the green light with their regional election as planned.
This news from Tigray region is another sticky situation to the incumbent prime minister Abiy and his EPP party. And this makes Abiy a gloom leader, and his latest speech which he was intimidating the oppositions is considered as a fall flat and brouhaha.
Because, TPLF is completely and utterly controlling their region (KILIL) without any federal meddling. And this makes Tigray region as a Dormant Volcano which can explode any time.
Ultimately, the House of Federation (HOF) announced unilaterally Wednesday, 10 the postponement of the election. This reckless decision and the temerity taken by the HOF because of Abiy’s meddling, freaked out the oppositions, and they released collectively and singularly press releases which they expressed their dismay towards this case. OLF, the longest opposition party, ONLF, the second oldest, and OFC boycotted the HOF’s election delay, and anticipated that, this will wreak-havoc and convulsion. This sickening and dumfounded decision came after the former speaker of the HOF Keria resigns Monday, 8, and replaced by Somali regions’ vice-president Aden Farah. Keria denounces Abiy for dismantling and meddling the internal affairs of the HOF. The other ludicrous and ridiculous thing is, after two-day of her resignation, the HOF announced the election’s postponement which gives competitive advantage to the incumbent government to extend their mandate limitless.
Abiy vs. Jawar: Former Allies, new Foes!
Many people, especially the talking heads believe that, Jawar, who is media mogul, is one of the former inner-circles of Abiy and his closest partner. Moreover, Jawar was one of the key drivers of the demonstrations which begun in 2015 in Oromia region, and later metastasized Amhara and other regions, and paved the way the resignation of the former prime minister Atto Hailemariam Desalegn in Feb, 2018. But, for the last couple of months, there was conspicuous dichotomy and animosity among them. Plenty of people believe that, Jawar is one of those who enabled Abiy to the premiership. But, since Abiy divorced and disbanded EPRDF, their relations became blowback. Still, Jawar has a deep-rooted political clout in the Oromia region, and majority of the young generation in the region are staunches to him. Jawar joined late December last year, Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) under the leadership of Merera Gunida. He believes that, the new party of PP is invalidating the federal system in the country. With all these factors, Jawar is the biggest pet-peeve of Abiy when it comes to the upcoming election.
The growing political chaos, and the constitutional crisis in the country are clear bellwether for an apocalyptic. The singular decision of the HOF for delaying the election, and the robust pushback from the oppositions can create another political instability and communal violence. The oppositions expressed the unilateral decision of the HOF for the election’s postponement as a sine die. And they considered HOF as a lame-duck and rubber-stamper. Ethiopia, as the second most populous country in Africa with mosaic people and rainbow federalism, compromise and inclusivity are paramount when it comes to reaching national decision. But, Abiy’s recklessness, and the HOF which tended sycophant are vanquishing the fledgling hope and crawling democracy in the country after three decades of Tigray-minority rule which tended under iron fist. The new brutal action of killing a well-known singer, and the arrest of the Jawar can trigger another feud among the communities.
The Topsy-turvy and vortex situation in Ethiopia, the internecine communal violence, the slain prominent Oromo singer by armed to the teeth, the detention of the Mover and Shaker (Jawar) and colossal of Oromo’s talking heads who have perspicacious minds in Ethiopia’s politics, the rhapsodize vitriol brouhaha of Abiy is crystal clear the democracy backslides in Ethiopia.
Anwar Abdifatah Bashir (Freelance Journalist/Independent Researcher and Horn of Africa Geopolitics Analyst). The writer is the Author of Four Books, including “Horn of Africa Geopolitics, with especial consideration, the Somali region in Ethiopia”.