Note: I wrote this article on January 15, 2016, two years ago. My friend Babsa Tula believes this article gave birth to the OroMara movement. TeamLemma assumed Office almost a year after this article was posted. After I read Babsa Tula inbox message, I kind of thought rereading it, which I did. I found most of the proposals, if not all of it, still very valid. I encourage my readers to reread, share and debate it. I did not add or edit the original post.
EPRDF as a political organization is unable and unwilling to channel and address the legitimate demands and grievances of the Ethiopian people.
EPRDF’s undemocratic nature and lack of even nominal decision making independence among its member parties have made the coalition unresponsive organization. Within the EPRDF, the party that represents 50 million people and that represents 5 million people have equal seats. Worse, even having that equal seats will not guarantee equal votes. The smaller party controls the larger parties.
EPRDF is trying to rule the country on the basis of the status quo TPLF once had during the civil war four decades ago against the Derg regime. Time, generations, and eras have changed since but EPRDF did not. Over 74% of the Ethiopian population are born and came of age after the EPRDF came to power 25 years ago. Unless it changes or transforms itself, the sun has set on the EPRDF rule in Ethiopia.
The two largest member parties of the EPRDF, the OPDO and the ANDM, are neither able to govern nor able to channel and respond to the demands of the Oromo people and the Amhara people respectively within the framework and party structure of the EPRDF.
The OPDO and ANDM are mere proxies for the EPRDF interests in the Oromia and Amhara regions. This is in a country where the Oromo and the Amhara people together constitutes more than two third of the Ethiopian population.
The Oromo and the Amhara people must take joint responsibility to lead and govern this country as amajor stakeholders It is high time for the Oromo and Amhara youth to immediately establish joint platforms to hammer out differences and chart common vision on the future direction of Ethiopia. (I will post a brief outline of what I think this should look like shortly.)
Other than the current status quo which is untenable, the EPRDF has three scenarios in front of it:
- Democratize EPRDF
Ideally, this is the best scenario for the EPRDF. If the EPRDF gets democratized, power will shift from TPLF, the creator of EPRDF, to OPDO and ANDM given the population size these two parties represent within EPRDF. Unfortunately, losing power to OPDO and ANDM is something TPLF is unlikely to accept. First, there is no institutional culture for EPRDF to democratize itself. Second, the weak cadres and yes-men TPLF handpicked within the OPDO and ANDM are not just competent to govern the country. One even wonders whether these two organizations are in fact organizations.
Therefore, it is unlikely for the EPRDF to democratize. Similarly, OPDO and ANDM are unlikely to evolve into credible political organizations with the eyes to see the people, with an ear to listen and mind to make sound judgment to lead the country and the people. The democratic deficit in the EPRDF structure have blinded and deafened them, and have made them become things, not beings.
- Abolish EPRDF and let the TPLF alone assume the direct rule of the country instead of the current indirect rule through proxies.
Everybody knows that TPLF is one ruling indirectly through the shell game called EPRDF. Then, why don’t we just allow the TPLF rule the whole country by itself?
TPLF can just copy the French model of the direct rule instead of the current British model of indirect rule. It can abolish the current nominal “so-called parliament and the court system” to avoid an unnecessary headache. The TPLF Central/Executive Committee and the well-oiled security apparatus and the military together with the “Prime Minister’s cabinet” are enough to ‘govern and render justice’.
Allowing TPLF to govern alone might also help it to attend to the interests of the Tigray people more freely and affirmatively in response to the demands of the Tigray people.
This option is the best to relief the Ethiopian people from the periodic lies in the name of elections every two and five years. It will also relieve OPDO and ANDM from their unpleasant proxy services which most detest.
Unfortunately, this option might not be realistic either. TPLF come to power with the promise of answering the questions of nations and nationalities, among other things. No one will accept the TPLF as a legitimate ruler. TPLF itself might not accept this since this will change the current “constitutional order”, and we all know how difficult this is.
- Let OPDO and ANDM exit the EPRDF
This is the only plausible option EPRDF currently have to save the country and itself. If OPDO and ANDM exit the EPRDF and become independent parties in their respective regions, the two groups are likely to become the organization of the Oromo and Amhara peoples respectively instead of their current proxy status. Exiting EPRDF will also redeem OPDO and ANDM and guarantee their continuity in the Ethiopian body politic.
Or else, no Oromo or Amhara youth have any interest or purpose in joining these two organization. It will be a hard sell for TPLF to find among Oromo or Amhara youth who will join EPRDF to sell the interests of the Oromo or Amhara people. The past 25 years have taught them how risky that business will be. If the current #OromoProtests is any indication, anyone who dares to mess with the life of our people is bidding on his/her life.
In its current status, it is unlikely people will join OPDO and ANDM. In fact, unless EPRDF changes itself, the Oromo youth and Amhara youth are likely to leave these two organizations. If Oromo’s and Amhara’s abandon them these two organizations will die their natural death. I assume there might be individuals who have an interest in the continuity of these two groups as independent parties. That might not be also bad for the country.
Furthermore, independent OPDO and ANDM will give good guarantee for the TPLF. They are unlikely to be as hostile as other independent opposition parties to the interests of TPLF as former comrades in arms.
Therefore, the exit of OPDO and ANDM from EPRDF in response to the people’s demand, particularly in Oromia and Amhara, will be a win-win scenario for the country, the two organizations, and the TPLF.
I hope OPDO and ANDM will take my advice and exit from the EPRDF to save the country, themselves, and their respective peoples!
I see no reason why TPLF also opposes this proposal. After all, both OPDO and ANDM are over 18 years old and are able to lead their own houses. If that is not the case, TPLF is to blame for failing to raise good kids:)
Moreover, this proposal will have an added benefit of relieving the TPLF from the perennial deafening calls to democratize the country and receive all the blames for all Ethiopia’s ills. It is a blessing in disguise for the TPLF.
Birhanemeskel Abebe Segni