Ethiopia: The Bridge on a Road(map) to Democracy By Alemayehu G Mariam

April 16, 2012
Last week we had an event to residence a city gymnasium open in Seattle sponsored by a Ethiopian Public Forum in Seattle (EPFS), a polite multitude classification dedicated to compelling extended dialogue, discuss and contention on Ethiopia’s future. we was asked to clear my views on Ethiopia’s transition from dictatorships to democracy in light of my new fatiguing commentaries on a subject.

My views on Ethiopia’s transition to democracy emanate in and are done by my possess deepening concerns over a massive, postulated and sum tellurian rights violations in that country. My active impasse in Ethiopian “affairs” and tellurian rights advocacy dates behind to 2005 when infantry underneath a proceed personal management and control of Meles Zenawi massacred 193 unarmed protesters and bleeding 763 others. Prior to 2005, my seductiveness in Ethiopian “affairs” was educational and concerned editorial work in a announcement of a erudite biography and a renouned repository on Ethiopia.

The 2005 massacres presented me several sheer choices: fake a massacres did not happen; denote passing private dignified snub and conveniently forget a whole thing; wish someone will take adult a means of these victims of crimes opposite humanity, or take an active advocacy purpose and pronounce law to those who abuse and injustice power. we embraced a aged saying, “The usually thing required for a diligence of immorality is for adequate good people to do nothing.” we chose to turn a tellurian rights defender and advocate. Democracy (at slightest in a magnanimous form) is a form of supervision formed on renouned supervision (supremacy of a people), yet it is an dull bombard if it is not infused with a values of leisure (of association, expression, press), and honour for tellurian rights and burden (rule of law, eccentric judiciary, clarity and giveaway and satisfactory elections including rival domestic parties and polite multitude organizations). Article 21(3) of a Universal Declaration of Human Rights forges a couple between democracy and tellurian rights: “The will of a people shall be a basement of a management of government; this will shall be voiced in periodic and genuine elections…” The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights enshrines a horde of domestic rights and polite liberties that yield a substructure for suggestive and functioning democracies. More narrowly, we courtesy a onslaught for tellurian rights in Ethiopia to be a onslaught for democracy and clamp versa. That is since we am meddlesome in Ethiopia’s well-spoken transition from harm to democracy; for we trust that if there is a successful approved transition in Ethiopia, tellurian rights will be protected, promoted and defended.

The Bridge on a Road to Democracy

We can detect of a transition from harm to democracy as a metaphorical tour on a highway to progress, leisure and tellurian note (democracy) or a retrogression to tyranny, confinement and subjugation (dictatorship). Societies and nations pierce along this highway in possibly direction. Dictatorships can be remade into democracies and clamp versa. But a transition takes place on a overpass that connects a highway from harm to democracy. It is on this overpass that a a destinies of nations and societies, good and small, are done and unmade. If a transition on a overpass is orderly, eloquent and decently managed, afterwards democracy could turn a reality. If it is chaotic, quarrelsome and combative, there will be no channel a bridge, usually pedaling behind to dictatorship. My regard is what could occur on a overpass joining harm to democracy in Ethiopia when that time comes to pass.

I trust Ethiopia is fast advancing towards that overpass on a highway to democracy hastened by a far-reaching accumulation of factors: The regime has no legitimacy notwithstanding a absurd explain that it won 99.6 percent of a parliamentary seats. The economy is in shambles. “Ethiopia had a second-highest acceleration rate in [2011], when it appearance during 40.6 percent, according to Addis Ababa-based investigate organisation Access Capital SC”. Last month, a IMF reported, “Ethiopia still faces poignant challenges, in sold containing still-high inflation, lifting savings, and open huge investment needs.” Last year, a IMF warned, “High acceleration is undermining wretchedness rebate efforts. A rarely twisted financial routine represents a serious drag on expansion and is undermining macroeconomic stability. Ethiopia’s proceed to industrial expansion is mostly ineffectual given a intensely low turn of production and industrial development, low capability levels, and determined trade deficit.”

The abdominal anti-regime opinion is tangible via a nation and magnified some-more conspicuously in a regime’s vast crackdown and repression. The banishment of vast numbers of people in what some have called “ethnic cleansing” seems to have crystallized clear patterns of enmity towards a regime from all sides. The finish closure of domestic space has spawned fear and loathsome in a population. The inconsistency between a statute regime and a supporters and a masses continues to fuel vast discontent. The regime is totally bereft of any new or artistic ideas to overcome a formidable social, domestic and mercantile problems proliferating in a society; and a cosmetic PR about building dams and expanding investments to facade simple problems has drawn some-more antithesis and gibe domestically and from outmost sources. In sum, a justification and signs of spoil in a regime are perceptible and numerous. Whether tumble comes from inner implosion, renouned overthrow or other factors can’t be predicted.

A Bridge Too Near

If we accept a philosophical element that tellurian story is radically a onslaught for leisure and opposite restraint and dictatorship, afterwards a healthy tellurian bent is to find leisure and equivocate tyranny. Tyrants and dictators trust that they can always suppress a people’s emotional for leisure by a use of force or corruption. But a indomitable impetus towards leisure imposes a possess permanent chronological laws on tyrants. The inaugural law of dictatorships and tyrants is that they always fall. As Gandhi noted: “All by history, there have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they seem invincible, yet in a end, they always fall. Think of it, always.” Just over a past year, we have seen dictators tumble like dominoes in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen. The incentive for leisure and tellurian grace could no longer be contained by a tip troops and a armed army of a dictators in these countries.

The second law is that depressed dictatorships always leave behind chaos, dispute and strife. That has been abundantly demonstrated in a arise of a “Arab Spring”. The third law is that a outcome of a tumble of dictatorships is unpredictable. To be sure, a tumble of dictatorships does not pledge a arise of democracy. In fact, some-more expected than not, it mostly leads to a arise of another harm because, some-more mostly than not, those who find to unseat a dictators aim to enthrone themselves and continue to do business as usual. Stated differently, new bottle aged wine.

The fourth law is that some dictators will quarrel to a finish to equivocate a tumble and adhere to power; others are some-more calculating, deceit and rational. When a hop is up, some dictators will quarrel and others will locate a subsequent flight. Ben Ali of Tunisia held a initial craft out to Saudi Arabia. Ali Saleh of Yemen fought even after he was singed and crippled in a rocket dispute on his palace. This past Feb Zenawi postulated him haven after Saleh was denied entrance in each other nation where he sought refuge. Gadhafi fought to a sour finish until he was prisoner in a hovel and killed like a cesspool rat. Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d’Ivoire also fought to adhere to energy until he was collared like a travel bully and incited over to a International Criminal Court to face charges of crimes opposite humanity. Bashir al-Assad continues to quarrel and adhere to energy as his confidence army kill, censor and excommunicate thousands of Syrians.

The fifth law is that a transition between a tumble of dictatorships and transition to democracy can be managed to minimize a effects of a initial 4 laws. The fifth law relates to a overpass on that a transition from harm to democracy takes place and is a many vicious proviso in final a destiny of Ethiopia for generations to come. The initial 4 laws are historically predetermined, yet a fifth law is wholly in a hands.

Chaos Creates Ideal Conditions for (Power) Thieves

On a overpass to democracy, there is mostly a collision between people and groups doggedly posterior power, a common people sleepy of those who abuse and injustice energy and a dictators who wish to adhere to power. The disharmony that occurs on a transitory overpass from harm to democracy creates a ideal conditions for a hijacking of domestic power, burglary of democracy and a reinstitution of harm in a name of democracy. There is an exegetic Ethiopian proverb that helps explain this conditions some-more clearly: “Helter-skelter creates ideal conditions for thieves (gir gir le leba yimechal)”.

On a overpass to democracy, all sorts of actors and players will yield out of a timber work to manoeuvre for power. All sorts of intrigues, energy games and shenanigans will be played out. A illusive unfolding formed on chronological justification in Ethiopia suggests a following: Major outward army will try to control and conduct a transitory bridge, a transitory duration and a transition itself. They will benefaction themselves as “mediators”, offer their resources to conduct a transition by handling a stakeholders. They will expected activate their prearranged “leaders” and groups and theatre a transitory play for a ubiquitous open who are usually too happy to see a finish of harm and wishfully carefree of a new approved beginning. In such a situation, a “mediators” will be in a motorist chair of a transitory bus. They will ride a passengers over a overpass to wherever they want.

The troops (at slightest a leadership) will find to squeeze domestic energy with a forgive that there is a need to say law and sequence during a transitory duration and with fake promises of elections and burden for crime and tellurian rights violations in an try to win open and donor support. If a troops intervenes in a transitory process, there will be no transition, usually converging of troops energy over civilians. Political parties will regroup and ready for a energy play. Repressed inner army will expected resurface after a tumble of harm to claim their interests and take a chair during a negotiate table. They will try to take advantage of a transitory disharmony to position themselves for energy and flex their muscles to denote their intentions. New groups will be constituted and benefaction themselves as energy contenders and stakeholders. Regional powers will find a purpose in a transition to establish an outcome that is auspicious to them. Supporters of a depressed harm will try to regroup and retrieve power, or some-more expected realign themselves with any organisation they trust will strengthen their interests and defense them from accountability.

As a several groups manoeuvre for energy and influence, a people will be small pawns in a gambling diversion of energy theft. They will be mobilized along ethnic, linguistic, religious, informal and community lines. Historic protest will be unearthed, threats of secession and acts of rebellion will be undertaken, mutual recriminations, accusations and denunciations will browbeat a open airwaves. In a end, a people will be left holding a bag filled with confusion, despair, misery, hardship and heartbreak.

On a pell-mell (gir gir) transitory bridge, one thing will certainly occur: A energy vacuum. It is in a disharmony and energy opening that a few calculating and well-organized groups and people will govern a well-planned devise to fast constraint a ultimate esteem of domestic energy and frustrate a transition from harm to democracy.

Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

We need to devise for a inevitable, unavoidable and unstoppable transition of Ethiopia from harm to democracy. Dictatorship will finish in Ethiopia. It is usually a matter of when. Democracy will also arise in Ethiopia. It is a matter of how and what type. Let me use another Ethiopian proverb to make my indicate clear: “Sergena meta, berbere kentisu.” (The marriage celebration has arrived, let us start to ready a meal.) The indicate is that it required to start a eloquent discourse and devise forward about a prerequisites for an effective and well-spoken transition to approved governance now, not when a harm falls.

I trust discourse needs to start now on during slightest 4 critical emanate areas: 1) how to rivet and boost a ability of pivotal stakeholders in brand intensity triggers of assault during domestic transitions and preventing them; 2) identifying and devising strategies and opportunities for shortening ethnic, eremite and community tragedy and dispute in expectation of a transition; 3) enhancing a purpose of polite multitude institutions in facilitating open rendezvous and communication during a transitory period, and 4) expecting vicious inherent issues that could significantly deteriorate a transitory process.

The disaster to devise for an unavoidable event for approved transition is tantamount to formulation to frustrate democracy and outrageous insusceptibility to a reinstitution of another dictatorship. We contingency learn from new chronological experience. The Libyans unsuccessful to devise for a transition and conveniently (with a assist of outward “mediators’) joined to move down a Gadhafi dictatorship. Today, Libya appears to be teetering on a hill of genealogical crusade and deeply raid by political, informal and domestic antagonisms. Tunisia seems to be doing many improved both since Ben Ali left fast that done a transitory duration easier and also since a troops was noticeably absent in a transitory process.

Egypt seems stranded on a transitory bridge. After a immature demonstrators mobilized to finish Mubarak’s harm with good sacrifice, they were sidelined by a really troops that kept Mubarak in energy for decades. Civil multitude organizations that were a pushing army of a series are now confronting harm and hang-up by a military. Egypt’s presidential choosing is scheduled for May yet final week an Egyptian executive justice dangling a 100-member inherent open that was ostensible to breeze a new structure for post-dictatorship Egypt.

The cessation has thrown things into a tizzy and tensions are flourishing between a several physical and Islamist groups and a statute troops legislature that now binds power. Having a new boss but a structure (worse nonetheless with a aged constitution) is like putting a transport before a horse. But there are genuine problems with a inherent open that is dominated by members of a Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and a Salafist Nour celebration (who reason a infancy in parliament). Secularist members and even Islamic and Christian member withdrew from a open reading a scratch on a wall. Women were grossly under-represented on a open as were member of polite multitude institutions. Few of a open members had adequate trust of inherent law to attend in suggestive drafting of such an vicious document. Beyond satisfactory illustration of stakeholders, there are some deeply divisive issues of inherent stress in Egypt. The critical one is a purpose of Islamic law (Sharia) in a new constitution. What safeguards will be in place to strengthen particular freedoms, women’s rights and a rights of eremite minorities and other groups? Ethiopians can learn a good bargain from a Egyptian transitory experience.

Who Should Lead a Dialogue on a Transition from Dictatorship to Democracy? Conventional trust says a vicious charge of handling a transition from harm to democracy should be left to a elites—the politicians, celebration leaders, bureaucrats, academics and other institutional leaders. They are believed to have a best and a brightest ideas for building a “roadmap” and “action plans’ for a transition to democracy. But for there to be a truly a successful transition followed by a durable democracy, a discourse bottom contingency be stretched to broadly embody polite multitude organizations, tellurian rights advocacy groups, women and a youth. In fact, a odds of a successful transition is increasing plural if polite multitude organization, advocacy groups, women and girl take a heading role. The reasons are self-evident. Civil multitude organizations are vicious to polite rendezvous and citizen movement for participatory democracy. They are vicious in facilitating broad-based mobilization in a transitory duration and in ensuring manageable governance in a post-transition period. They are also many effective in giving voice to a poor, a minorities and a vulnerable.

The girl are vicious since a destiny belongs to them. As George Ayittey explains, there are dual generations in Africa: a Cheetah Generation and a Hippo Generation. “Cheetahs find knowledge, origination and demeanour for solutions to their problems while Hippos censure others, find handouts and generally expostulate a continent to a ground… The Cheetah Generation is a new multiply of Africans who creek no nonsense about corruption. They know what burden and democracy is. They are not gonna wait for supervision to do things for them… Africa’s shelter rests on a backs of these cheetahs.” Ethiopia’s shelter rests in a palms of these Cheetahs.

Women need to be given a distinguished purpose in a transitory discourse since they have been historically ignored, discounted, ignored and lost yet they paint one-half of a population. There could be no loyal democracy where there is no gender equality, and that is one of a vivid inequalities in Ethiopia today. The justification is flawless that Ethiopian women currently humour poignant sociocultural and mercantile taste and have distant fewer opportunities than group for personal growth, education, and employment. But women’s impasse in a transitory discourse is critical since they move their possess singular insights and perspectives to a problems. we trust women have special care qualities that are critical to approved transition and governance. On balance, they tend to be some-more honest, intelligent, bargain and guileless than men. They are some-more merciful than group and some-more expected to negotiate and compromise. But we will never know know a care intensity of Ethiopian women since few have been given a possibility to infer themselves. They contingency have a critical purpose in a discourse on Ethiopia’s transition from harm to democracy.

From One Transitional Bridge to Many Permanent Bridges

All of a discourse on Ethiopia’s transition to democracy contingency offer to build bridges opposite a racial divides, a eremite chasms, linguistic and informative cleavages and geographic differences. The discourse eventually contingency lead to a inhabitant accord on a prophesy of democracy — that we wish will lead to a origination of a supervision that always fears a people and a domestic complement where a people never fear their supervision – that promotes peace, bargain and settlement of a people of Ethiopia.

So, let a dialogue, discussions and debates continue in a city halls, in a streets, parks and open squares, a villages and hamlets, a neighborhoods, a newspapers, a offices, a girl and women’s organizations, trade and farmers’ associations, open halls, a stadiums, restaurants, schools and universities, courthouses and parliaments and on a radio, television, a webpages, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Skype, present messaging, blog pages and by email…

Let’s get to work building bridges that bond people all opposite a Land of Thirteen Months of Sunshine!!!

Posted on April 16, 2012, in AFRICAN NEWS, ETHIOPIA ENGLISH, WORLD NEWS and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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