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Human Rights Watch Report: Ethiopia: Torture in Somali Region (Ogaden) Prison: Senior Officials Implicated in Nonstop Regimen of Abuse July 5, 2018

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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist HRW

Ethiopia: Torture in Somali Region Prison

Senior Officials Implicated in Nonstop Regimen of Abuse

Human rights Watch, 4 July 2018

በ Ethiopia ከሰሞኑ ግጭትና አለመረጋጋት በስተጀርባ የህወሓት/TPLF እጅ አለበት! June 13, 2018

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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

ከላይ በተጠቀሰው መሰረት፣ ላለፉት 27 ዓመታት በኢትዮጵያ ፖለቲካ ለረጅም ግዜ በስልጣን ላይ በመቆየታቸው ምክንያት በከፍተኛ የሞራል ዝቅጠት ውስጥ የወደቁት፣ በዚህም ሕግና ስርዓትን እንዲያስከብሩ የተሰጣቸውን ስልጣን ለሌብነትና የኮንትሮባንድ የሚያውሉት፣ እንዲሁም የዴሞክራሲያዊ መብትና ፍትሃዊ ተጠቃሚነት ጥያቄ የሚያነሱ ዜጎችን በወታደራዊ ጉልበት የሚያዳፍኑት፣ በዚህም ፍርሃትና ሽብር በመፍጠር ሕገ መንግስታዊ ስርዓቱን ለማስከበርና ስልጣናቸውን ለማራዘም ጥረት የሚያደርጉት ህወሓትና ህወሓቶች አይደሉምን?

በአጠቃላይ ሰሞኑን በደቡብ ክልልና ሐረሪ፣ ከዚያ በፊት ደግሞ በቤኒሻንጉል-ጉሙዝ፥ ኦሮሚያ፥ አፋር፥…ወዘተ ግጭትና አለመረጋጋት የሚቀሰቀሰው በህወሓት ባለስልጣናትና ተላላኪዎቻቸው ነው። ምክንያቱም፣ አንደኛ፡- በዜጎች ላይ ሽብርና ፍርሃት በመፍጠር የፖለቲካ ትርፍ የሚያገኙት ህወሓቶችና የእነሱ ተላላኪዎች ብቻ ናቸው። ሁለተኛ፡- ላለፉት 27 አመት የተዘረጋው መንግስታዊ ስርዓት ሆነ የህወሓት ባለስልጣናት ያላቸው ተቀባይነት ከሕዝብ ፍቃድና ምርጫ ይልቅ በወታደራዊ ጉልበትና የበላይነት ላይ የተመሰረተ ነው። በመሆኑም በዜጎች ላይ ሽብርና ፍርሃት በመፍጠር ካልሆነ በስተቀር ተቀባይነት ሊኖረው አይችልም። ከዚህ አንፃር በተለያዩ የሀገሪቱ አከባቢዎች ለሚቀሰቀሱት ግጭቶችና አለመረጋጋቶች የህወሓቶች እጅ አለበት። በተለይ ከትላንት ጀምሮ ከወልቂጤና ሐዋሳ የሚመጡት መረጃዎች ይህንን የሚያረጋግጡ ናቸው።

via ከሰሞኑ ግጭትና አለመረጋጋት በስተጀርባ የህወሓት እጅ አለበት!

On Ethiopia: The political leaders of the Ethiopian Government have a policy of killing all opponents who take to the streets to demonstrate against them December 19, 2017

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

Hank Cohen’s Africa Blog   On Ethiopia

The political leaders of the Ethiopian Government have a policy of killing all opponents who take to the streets to demonstrate against them. Other opponents who do not demonstrate but make public statements instead, are sent to jail for long periods.

I fail to understand why the Ethiopian regime feels it necessary to exercise such extreme control to the point of committing murder periodically against their own citizens.  The government is receiving good marks from the international community for its investments in infrastructure and agriculture.  If it could relax and loosen up its controls, it could become popular.

For example, the Ethiopian constitution establishes a federal system with “independent” states.  Indeed, the constitution allows the individual states to secede from the federation if the population so desires.  If the government would allow the people of the individual states to govern themselves, I am sure that none of them would vote to secede. At the same time, their self-government would attract the investments of their own business communities.  At the same time, the current regime could continue to rule at the federal level.

With decentralized power, the requirement for the Ethiopian government to kill citizens in order to remain in power at the Federal level would disappear.

My message to the Government of Ethiopia is, “relax and loosen up. Let the people govern themselves at the state level. The more citizens you kill for no reason, the more difficult it will be for you to govern in peace.”

Ethiopia: The Suicidal Decisions of the TPLF and its Self-Defeating Strategies  December 1, 2017

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomistThe rise and fall of fascism in Horn of Africa (Ethiopia). The case fascist TPLF (Woyane)

The Suicidal Decisions of the TPLF and its Self-Defeating Strategies 

Dr. Birhanemeskel Abebe Segni

It is rare to see political parties commit suicide. The TPLF just did that. The regimes that came before the TPLF died trying to save themselves. The Derg Regime declared mixed economic policy on the verge of its collapse. The Regime of Emperor Haile Selassie established new cabinet to deal with the grievances of the people. Both failed to implement their initiatives or their measures were too little too late and couldn’t prevent their ultimate collapse.

The TPLF is not even trying. The abysmal and disastrous failure of the TPLF to come up with no new policy, transformative idea or even a new face at the helm of its leadership positions to meet the challenges of a country at crossroad after three months of marathon meeting proved that the TPLF is the 1960s organization with no vision and purpose to exist in 21st century Ethiopia. In fact, the TPLF before this meeting was way better than the TPLF that come out after this disastrous meeting mortally wounded.

The only purpose the TPLF served in this meeting is unifying all the political forces in Ethiopia against itself. By this meeting, the TPLF ended any glimpse of hope and expectation that one may have that the TPLF might be part of the solution to the problem it created over the last 26 years. It proved that TPLF has no vision and mission that serves the national interests of the Ethiopian people except its failing attempt to hold onto political power through repression, violence and divide and rule.

By this meeting, the TPLF proved that it has no respect for the Ethiopian people. All the people it nominated and appointed to its leadership positions are the same people who created the mess and the disastrous policies and structural problems the Ethiopian people are fighting to change. It is also important to mention the elevation of Mr. Getachew Reda, the man who called the Oromo people devils and vowed to turn the relationship between the Oromo and Amhara people into that of hay and fire. It is highly irresponsible for the TPLF to elect this man to the Executive Committee of the TPLF. It shows the disrespect TPLF has for the Amhara and Oromo people.

Right now the political spaces in Ethiopia are dominated by three political forces. The TPLF by failing to heed to any of the three groups unified each and every one of them against itself. The first and the most important political actor and political force that presently occupied the top tier of the political movement in Ethiopia are the Ethiopian people. The Ethiopian people, led by the Oromo Protests, are mobilized to restore back political power into the hands of the Ethiopian people from groups like TPLF and individual dictatorship based politics of the 20th century. The Ethiopian people want to own and lead their country by exercising full and unhindered political power by eliminating group and individual dictatorship.

The end goal and objectives of the current political movement of the Ethiopian people are to establish the government of the people by the people from the people under the rule of law where justice, equality, and fairness are the rule, not the exception. The TPLF is the primary enemy of this agenda of the Ethiopian people to restore political power back into the hands of the Ethiopian people. TPLF is struggling to continue its agenda of a group and individual dictatorship to control the Ethiopian political, economic and security space by its members and few strong personality against the will of the Ethiopian people.

The outcome of the TPLF meeting will put the TPLF in a direct collision course with the Ethiopian people’s agenda and unify all the Ethiopian people against the TPLF. There is no ifs and buts here. TPLF is the obvious loser of this political war between the TPLF and the Ethiopian people. The recent meeting of the TPLF and its decision to keep the status quo simply delimits the political battle lines between the TPLF and the Ethiopian as black and white with no ambiguity.

The second political forces that presently occupied the Ethiopian political space is the political struggle by member parties of the EPRDF to liberate themselves from the TPLF dictatorship. All member parties of the EPRDF are struggling to liberate themselves from the slave and master like relationship between the TPLF and the other three groups: namely the OPDO, the ANDM and the SEPDM. TPLF has no friends here except opportunists. All three of these parties want some form of liberation from the TPLF repressive, violent and divide and rule policies. All these parties want the EPRDF either to be democratized where TPLF will become the junior partner of all the three but the EPRDF survives. Absent this change, it is very likely that the OPDO, the ANDM, and the SEPDM will form a unified front and vote the TPLF out of office or end up dismantling the EPRDF where each group will go its own way for self-preservation. None of the options will keep the TPLF in dominant positions.

In the last 26 years, with less than 6% population base, the TPLF controlled full political, economic and security power with undisputed and uncontested veto power on everything and anything over these satellite parties, who don’t want to remain satellites anymore, who theoretically represents the rest of the Ethiopian people. None of the EPRDF members want that status quo to continue. The OPDO and the ANDM are already at the forefront of this power struggle, with the SEPDM not that far behind. With the fierce and popular wave of resistance behind them, it is more than likely that the three members of the EPRDF will liberate themselves and their members from TPLF medieval and most brute rule or end up dismantling the EPRDF.

All the TPLF is left to do is to try to buy some members of these political parties with money and false political positions, a method the TPLF used well in the past but now completely unthinkable in the face of the fierce popular opposition and resistance against such parasitic and scavenger members which will cost them their life.

The third political force that the TPLF unified against itself is the Ethiopian political opposition of all shreds. Thanks to the TPLF repression, machination, and sabotage, the Ethiopian political oppositions are poorly organized with no clearly defined political vision for the country. Yet, even here, the TPLF has little allies with whom it could make backdoor deals. Even if the TPLF attempts to deal with some urban-based political opposition groups for face-saving as the failed so-called “opposition groups meeting of over the last one year”, they have no popular support to wield to the save the TPLF. That will lead even the weakest and opportunist Ethiopian oppositions to be unified and resist the TPLF.

The TPLF may attempt to use the following six self-defeating strategies to outmaneuver all of the three political forces it lined up against itself.

1. Using the Ethiopian military, the national security and the law enforcement. Over the last 26 years, the TPLF used and abused these three government institutions against the Ethiopian people, the EPRDF members who resented its rule and the Ethiopian oppositions. It may try to use these three entities again. But, the time has changed. Ethiopian people have said enough is enough. Any further attempt to use the Ethiopian military, the Ethiopian intelligence and law enforcement institutions including courts for further killing, torture, and repression will completely dismantle these institutions. The reason is simple. Every other Ethiopian working in these institutions will pull back and side with the Ethiopian people. The division within the EPRDF will not take any time to manifest in the division within the military, the national intelligence, and the law enforcement institutions. The TPLF dominated chain of command in these institutions have no power to prevent this from happening. The signs are abundant already that Oromo and Amhara military, security and law enforcement officers are resisting TPLF commanders and officials. If the TPLF intends to continue this deadly routes of using these three institutions to hold onto power and repress others, it is more than likely that these institutions will be dismantled in a very short time.

2. Rebuilding TPLF and EPLF alliance to counter Oromo-Amhara Rapprochement. This tactical strategy to counter the Oromo-Amhara rapprochement by building what the TPLF calls the “Union of the Agazians” if the EPLF fails for it, could potentially help the TPLF in one of the following ways. 1) It will help the TPLF by easing the tension with the EPLF at a time when most Ethiopians may not aid the TPLF if a conflict arises between the two groups. 2) The TPLF might try to package this tribal alliance between two Tigrigna speaking groups for dubious purpose as a peace effort and the effort to normalize relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia by implementing the Algiers agreement to win the support of the West. 3) It may also help Eritrea in getting the territories it lost in war, including Bademe, if the EPLF subscribes to the TPLF political power gamble in Ethiopia. 4) Last but not least the strategy may also help the TPLF to mobilize its security and intelligence resources to Oromia and Amhara to attack and cause more harm than it is causing now. Unfortunately, this strategy is self-defeating for at least couple of reasons. One, the TPLF strategy to find alliance with Eritreans to attack other Ethiopians will not find national support in Ethiopia. Second, Eritreans will not be played again by the TPLF after the bitter 1998-2000 war and the strategic blunder and lose it sustained at the end of the country’s civil war in 1991 which lead to the emergence of the TPLF as a dominant force in the region. Third, the chance of TPLF staying in power in Ethiopia is hugely diminished after the Oromo protests and Amhara resistance making any deal the Eritrean side might reach with the TPLF unsustainable and with no future. Fourth, any territorial transfer to Eritrea in the name of implementing the Algiers agreement will cause popular fury and fire that will consolidate the popular movement against the TPLF and ultimately deposing it from power.

3. Consolidating the Somali Janjaweed Militias attack on the Oromo and creating more Janjaweed style Militias everywhere else. This is one of the most disastrous policy the TPLF chose in order to maintain its divide and rule policy to stay in power in Addis Ababa. Here, the TPLF is assuming that the TPLF will always be the ultimate power broker while everybody else is a weapon of war in the hand of the TPLF waiting to be used anytime the TPLF wants to use it. Over the last two to three years, the Somali Janjaweed Militia served the interests of the TPLF very well. The criminal militia that now stands at over 68,000 thousand according to multiple internal sources, displaced over 600,000 Oromo civilians inside Oromia and evicted over 70,000 Oromo civilians from the Somali Region using TPLF adopted ethnic cleansing models copied for Darfur. Still, the Somali Janjaweed Militia continued to attack the Oromo people at the direction and pleasure of the TPLF commanders in order to divert the people’s attention from the TPLF crimes at the center. This policy appears to have run its course now. Poor Oromo and Somali militias will not continue to kill each other to serve the interests of the TPLF over the land and territory each group knows will be restored back in the hand of the Oromo people once the TPLF is removed from power. Instead, it is very likely that both the Oromo and the Somali groups will soon return back to attacking the economic and security interests of the TPLF which will effectively end any meaningful presence of the TPLF either in Oromia, Somali or other Regions of Ethiopia where such strategies will be attempted. This self-defeating strategy of the TPLF to incite violence among various ethnic groups everywhere else will soon fire back by producing nationwide hatred and attack on anyone affiliated with the TPLF including attacks on the economic interests of the TPLF, the Ethiopian military, the federal police and intelligence officers who are being used by malicious TPLF commanders and political leaders. It is also very unlikely that the West will continue to finance and support such criminal enterprise. If the TPLF continue this avenue, it is likely that the Ethiopian military will collapse and the federal government is likely to disintegrate within a very short period of time.

4. Increasing the Urban-Rural Divide: This is one of the strategies of the TPLF is using to contain the ongoing popular movement to take power from the TPFL and restore back into the hands of the Ethiopian people. Except for few cities in Oromia and Amhara regions, most cities in Ethiopia were passive over the last three years of the Oromo protests and the Amhara resistance. The TPLF want the situation to continue that way. It believes it is the dividend and the pay off of the TPLF silo economy dominated by TPLF affiliated local and international benefactors in urban areas by transferring land and natural resources of the Ethiopian people to these TPLF affiliated groups. The Addis Ababa Masterplan and the recently tabled National Urban Planning Proclamation (the Addis Ababa Masterplan in a different name) is meant to play the urban-rural divide to contain the popular movement. This is another self-defeating strategy for a number of reasons. One, noticing the so-called Urban and rural divide as a divide between the TPLF affiliated economic monopolies in the cities and the surrounding Ethiopian poor is very easy. The TPLF silo economy only benefited very few urban dwellers at the expense of the impoverished millions. Every interest group in the urban area including small businesses, civil servants, the youth and the political class will soon turn up the heat on the TPLF. Second, every urban dweller has relatives in the rural Ethiopia and shares the suffering of the rest of the Ethiopian people. Third, as the resistance in the rural areas mounts, the life in the urban areas will collapse and the urban dwellers will join the Ethiopian people to preserve themselves. Fourth, the division within the EPRDF will soon trickle down to the ranks and files of the EPRDF which will soon transfer itself to urban movement. Fifth, the large student population in urban areas will soon build bridges with the urban dwellers to join the popular movement.

5. Faking Individual liberties narratives at the expense of group rights narratives: The TPLF ruled through fake group rights narratives for the last 26 years. It used the Oromo and Southern elites in the name of group rights narratives against the urban-based Amharic speaking elites who mostly were against group rights narratives. After the Oromo and Amhara people started asserting their group rights through the Oromo protests and the Amhara resistance, the TPLF now changed tactic by buying into the urban Amharic speaking elite’s narratives of individual rights and liberties narratives. It might even establish fake individual rights based political party. Theoretically, there is no difference between individual rights and groups rights. These are not mutually exclusive rights. They are mutual complementary rights. One does not exist without the other. But, the TPLF might attempt to venture into this route to buy time and continue its policy of divide and rule if it finds shortsighted urban Amharic speaking elites who will fail for this. Unfortunately, the Ethiopian people are not demanding for the selective implementation of this right or that right. The people are demanding for the transfer of political power into the hands of the people to establish a government of the people by the people for the people where equality, justice and fairness reigns. No group or individual rights will be respected and protected unless the political power is restored back in the hand of the Ethiopian people. Even the dullest of political groups in the country are taking note of this fact and understanding the essence of the Ethiopian peoples’ demand. That leaves no room for the TPLF to manipulate and maneuver.

6. Expanding the EPRDF to dilute the resistance of EPRDF members against the TPLF. The TPLF might attempt to expand the membership in the EPRDF if the resistance from the OPDO, the ANDM, and SEPDM increases. At face value, this might seem a plausible option. One might think TPLF can add the Somali Janjaweed Militia and other groups as EPRDF members to dilute the power balance in its favor within the EPRDF. There are many reasons why this strategy will not work. One, if the TPLF touches the current structure of EPRDF, it is very likely that all the three members of the EPRDF(the OPDO, the ANDM, and the SEPDM) will demand population size based representation within the EPRDF the same way it is in the parliament. If that scenario happens, there is no option out there that will save the TPLF from its minority position. More than 85% of the political power will be in the orbit of other members of the EPRDF. Furthermore, it is very unlikely any ethnic minority group will choose to ally itself with the TPLF against any Amhara and Oromo groups which will hurt them down the line when the TPLF will be removed from power.

Therefore, the TPLF suicidal decision not to reform let alone to transform and adopt new policies, structures and strategies to meet and address the demands of the Ethiopian people will strengthen the popular movement and resistance of the Ethiopian people to take political power and permanently end group and individual dictatorship in Ethiopia.

New World Health Organization Director Accused Of “Genocide” In Ethiopia. #OromoProtests June 3, 2017

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New World Health Organization Director Accused Of “Genocide” In Ethiopia.

Find out why some Ethiopians are not pleased with the new Director-General of World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Ethiopia’s Liyyu Police – Devils on Armored Vehicles May 28, 2017

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It is saddening to witness repetitions of similar tragic events in history. Recurrences of such dreadful events can even sound farcical when they happen in a very short span of both time and space. This is exactly what is currently happening in the Horn of Africa.  It is barely over a decade since the height of the Darfur genocide.  One would hope that the international community has been well informed to avoid repetition of Darfur like tragedy anywhere in the world.  However, it is depressing to observe that the Darfur crisis is in the process of being replicated in Ethiopia.

In this piece, I will explain how the scale of the crisis unfolding in Ethiopia’s Eastern and Southern regions (and those brewing up in other regions) can have a potential to dwarf the Darfur crisis.  The Janjaweed militia (in the case of Sudan) and the so-called Liyyu police (in the case of Ethiopia) are the catalysts for the crisis in their respective regions. For this reason, I will focus my analysis on explaining missions and functions of these two proxy militias.

Sudan’s Janjaweed – Devils on Horseback

In order to draw a parallel between the Darfur and Eastern Oromia, it would prove useful to recap the Janjaweed story.  Janjaweed literally means devils on horseback presumably because the Janjaweed often arrived riding horses while raiding and wreaking havoc in villages belonging to non-Arab ethnic groups. The origin of Janjaweed is rooted in a long established traditional conflict primarily over natural resources such as grazing rights and water control among the nomadic Arabized and the sedentary non-Arabized ethnic groups in Chad and Sudan. The Janjaweed militia were initially created as a pan-Arab Legion by the late Mohammed Gadafi in 1972 to tilt power balance in favor of the Arabized people of the region.  The key point to note here is that the origin of the Janjaweed as well as the conflict between Arabized and non-Arabized people in the region long predates the Darfur crisis which started in 2003.

The beginning of the Darfur crisis signified a confluence of the traditional conflict between ethnic groups with another strand of conflict in the region – the wider conflict between Sudanese national army and regional liberation movements, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army. The latter was still fighting to liberate what has now become South Sudan. In 2003, the government of Sudan encountered setbacks in its military operations against JEM and SPLA. In its desperate attempt to overcome failures in military front and also cover up for its planned ethnic cleansing in Darfur, the Al-Bashir government applied divide and rule tactic, thereby merging the two strands of the conflicts into one.  This was accomplished by organizing, training, arming and providing all necessary logistical support to the Janjaweed militia of the Arabized ethnic group in Darfur.  This was how Al-Bashir’s government has engineered ethnic cleansing and undertaken genocide in Darfur with a brutal efficiency, using the Janjaweed as a proxy militia group.  The number of people killed in Darfur was estimated to range between 178,000 to 462,000. Human rights groups have documented staggering number of rapes and mass evictions and destructions of livelihoods of millions of people in the region.

Ethiopia’s Liyyu Police – Devils on Armored Vehicles

“Liyyu” is an Amharic expression to mean “special”, so Liyyu police denotes a “special police”.  If the Janjaweed are devils on horseback, then Liyyu police can be described as demons maneuvering armored vehicles.  It is instructive to examine why, where, and when the regime in Addis Abeba has created Liyyu police.

The Liyyu police was created in 2008 in the Somali People’s Regional State of the ethnically constituted federal government of Ethiopia.  It is important to note that like any other regional state, the Somali Regional State (SRS henceforth) has a regular police force of its own.  But why was a special police required only for SRS?

The key point is to recognize that Liyyu police is nothing but only a variant of the usual proxy politics that has riddled Ethiopia’s political affair during the ruling EPRDF era.  This special force has no separate existence and no life of its own as such but it is just a proxy militia purposely created to cover up for human right abuses that was being perpetrated by Ethiopia’s National Defense Force (ENDF) but also planned to be intensified in its battles against the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).

The armed wing of ONLF, the Ogaden National Liberation Army (ONLA), has been engaged in armed conflict with ENDF for many years. This conflict reached a turning point in April 2007, when the ONLA raided an oil field and killed 74 ENDF soldiers and nine Chinese engineers.  This was followed by frequent clashes between ONLA and ENDF. The conflicts have led to gross human rights violations in the region at a scale unheard before. In its report of early 2008, the Human Rights Watch accused the ENDF for committing summary executions, torture, and rape in Ogaden and has called for donors to take necessary measures to stop crimes against humanity.

In an article entitled “Talking Peace in the Ogaden: The search for an end to conflict in the Somali Regional State (SRS) in Ethiopia”, author Tobias Hagmann observes that the creation of Liyyu police is essentially “indigenization of confrontation”.  In other words, the government in Ethiopia established Liyyu police to create a façade that human rights violations in Ogaden and its neighboring regional state are “local conflicts”. This was done pretty much in similar fashion with Sudanese government that resorted to countering freedom fighters in Darfur through the Janjaweed militia.  However, unlike the Janjaweed which were already in place, the government in Ethiopia had to assemble the Liyyu police from scratch, applying doggy recruitment methods, including giving prisoners the choice between joining Liyyu police or remaining in jail. The founder and leader of Liyyu Police was none other than the current President of SRS, Abdi Mohammed Omar, known as “Abdi Illey”, who was security chief at the time.

The size of Liyyu militia is estimated to have grown considerably over the years, currently standing at approximately around 42,000. However, any debate over the size of Liyyu police is essentially a superfluous argument, given that there is a very blurred line between ENDF and Liyyu police.  After all, it requires an expert eye to distinguish between the military fatigues of the two groups. It has been proven time and again that ENDF soldiers often get engaged in military actions disguised as Liyyu police by simply changing their military uniform to that of Liyyu police. In fact, it is a misnomer to consider Liyyu police as a unit separately operating with different military command structure within the Ogaden region.  For all intent and purposes, if we ignore niceties, the Liyyu police is a battalion of Ethiopia’s army operating in the region.

Fomenting Inter-Ethnic Conflict

Liyyu police is a special force with a dual purpose.  The first purpose has already highlighted Liyyu as a camouflage for atrocities being committed by ENDF in the SRS, to relegate such atrocities to a “local affair”, as if it is internal conflict between Somalis themselves.

Liyyu’s second purpose is to aggravate the already existing traditional conflicts between Somalis and Oromos over pasture and water resources.  ONLA in Ogaden and Oromo Liberation Army, OLA (the military wing of the outlawed Oromo Liberation Front – OLF) have frustrated the Ethiopian army for decades.  While OLA has had support all over Oromia, it has traditionally been most active in Eastern and Southern Oromia – Oromia’s districts bordering with the SRS.

Therefore, the EPRDF government realized that it could ride on existing traditional conflicts through a proxy militia to fight two liberation fronts. This was carbon copy of how things were done in Darfur, indicating how dictators learn from each other. Except that the EPRDF had to create Liyyu police from scratch, it acted in similar fashion with the way the Bashir government used the Janjaweed militia in Darfur.

Oromo and Somali herdsmen have traditionally clashed over grazing and water resources but such conflicts have always short-lived due to effective conflict resolution mechanisms practiced by local elders on both sides. These conflict resolution systems have evolved over centuries of peaceful coexistence between the two communities. The EPRDF government’s divide and rule strategy has long targeted to change this equilibrium, and exploit the existing conflict to its advantage.

Conflicts have traditionally arisen when herds arrived at water holes, leading to confrontations as to whose cattle get served first, essentially a conflict over “resource use”, rather than “resource ownership”. Conflicts flare up often among the youth but they were immediately put under control by the elders. Besides, each side are equally equipped with simple tools such as traditional sticks or simple ammunitions, so there has always been power equilibrium.  But the regime sought an effective means of aggravating these conflicts by transforming them in to a permanent one.

Such manipulation of the situation was done essentially in two ways.  First, supplying deadly modern military equipment, training and military logistics to Liyyu police, thereby destabilizing the existing power balance. Second, and critically, by changing the nature of the conflict from “use rights” to “ownership” of the resource itself.  The conflicts were engineered to be elevated from clashes between individual members of communities to that between Somali and Oromo people at a higher scale.

The seeds for conflicts were sown in the process of redrawing borders along adjacent districts of the Somali and Oromia regional states. In this process, the number of contested Kebeles, the lowest administrative units in Ethiopia, were made to suddenly proliferate.  Over a decade ago, the number of such contested kebeles already escalated to well over 400. In order to resolve disputes between the two regional states, a referendum was held in October 2004 in 420 kebeles along 12 districts or five zones of the Somali Region. The outcome of the referendum was that Oromia won 80% of the disputed kebeles and SRS won the remaining kebeles.  Critically, regardless of the outcome, severe damage was already done to durable good-will in community relationships due to purposeful manipulation of the process by the regime in Addis Abeba before, during and after the referendum.

Once the referendum results were known, all the dark forces bent on divide and rule needed to do was to nudge the Somalis to claim that the vote were rigged during the referendum and hence they should aim to get their territory back by other means, that is to say by force and the Liyyu police was created to do the job.

Since it came into existence, Liyyu’s operations have often overlapped but with varying degrees of intensities across its dual-purposes.  During its first phase, Liyyu police focused on operations within Somali region. These operations had much less to do with fighting ONLA but raiding villages and drying up popular support base of the ONLF, in the process committing gross human rights violations at a massive scale. Human rights organizations have widely documented arbitrary detentions, extrajudicial executions, rapes, tortures and ill-treatment of detainees in the region.

Over the years, however, Liyyu’s operations have increasingly focused on the second pillar of the proxy militia’s mission – cross border raids into Oromia.  However, Liyyu’s frequent raids into Oromia have not received enough attention from human rights organizations and hence atrocities committed by this proxy militia on Oromo communities over a decade or so has not been well documented.  The authorities in Addis Abeba, who have purposefully sown seeds of conflict to aggravate traditional clashes, have often deliberately misreported Liyyu Police raids as “the usual fights” between Oromo and Somali herdsmen but nothing could be further from the truth.

In a desperate attempt to gain popular support from the Somali people, the Liyyu police military adventures have been conducted in the name of regaining territory the SRS lost to Oromia during the referendum of 2004.  The evidence one could adduce for this is that every time Liyyu Police encroached into Oromia and occupied a village, they would immediately hoist the Somali flag as a sign of declaring that territorial gains.  The proxy militia has done so after attacking and killing large number of civilians and displacing thousands of households in numerous districts in Eastern Oromia: Qumbi, Mayu Mulluqe, Goohaa, Seelaa Jaajoo, Miinoo. Liyyu Police overrun the town of Moyale in Southern Oromia resulting in the death of dozens of people and forcing tens of thousands to flee to Kenya. It was reported that during an attack on Moyale town in Southern Oromia “the 4th army division [of ENDF] stationed just two miles outside the town center watched silently as the militia overrun the police station and ransacked the town. Then the militia was allowed safe passage to retreat after looting and burning the town while administrators of the Borana province who protested against the army complacency were thrown to jail.”

Alliances and Counter-Alliances

The Oromo Peaceful protests erupted on 12th November 2015 and then engulfed the nation, spreading to all corners of Oromia like a forest fire.  Oromo Protests ignited Amhara resistance, and then ended up with Oromo-Amhara alliance.  It became commonplace to see solidarity slogans on placards carried by protestors both in Amhara and Oromia. It should be noted that Oromo and Amhara population constitute well over two-third of Ethiopia’s population. It was historical acrimony and rivalry between these two dominant ethnic groups which provided a fertile ground for the divide and rule strategy so intensely practiced by the current regime which is dominated by the TPLF, the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front. The Tigre ethnic group account for less than 6% of Ethiopia’s population.

The Oromo-Amhara solidarity sent shock waves among the Tigrean ruling elites.  The Oromo Protest, Amhara Resistance and other popular protests elsewhere in Ethiopia exposed the fake nature of the coalition in the ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Front (EPRDF). It has always been an open secret that EPRDF essentially means TPLF (the Tigrean People Liberation Front). The remaining parties, especially the OPDO (Oromo People’s Democratic Party) was cobbled up in haste from prisoners of war when TPLF was approaching Addis Abeba to control power by ousting the military junta back in 1991. However, even the so-called OPDO – lately joined by the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) – felt empowered by the popular protests in their respective regions sending a clear sign that TPLF was about to be left naked with its garbs removed.

Now that the Tigreans realized that they cannot reply on dividing Oromo and Amhara any more, they resorted to another variant of divide and rule – fostering alliance between minorities to withstand the impending solidarity between the two majority ethnic groups. This strategic shift was elucidated by two most senior TPLF veterans, Abay Tsehaye and Seyoum Mesfin, in their two-part interview conducted (in Amharic) with the government affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporation. The TPLF-dominated-EPRD’s new strategy was to present the Oromo-Amhara coalition as a threat to the minority ethnic groups, such as Tigre and Somali.  The regime has already experimented pitting minority against majority at different scales: Tigreans against the rest of Ethiopians at national scale, Somali against Oromo at regional scale, and many more similar fabricated divisions at regional and local levels in many communities across Ethiopia.  What is new is the fact that these two relatively separate strands are explicitly brought together and extensively implemented at national scale.

In addition to the interview cited above, one can adduce more evidences to illustrate the new machination by the Tigre and Somali political and security alliance.  For instance, there was an incidence in which Amhara popular uprising caused some ethnic Tigreans to get relocated from the Amhara regional state. What happened next raised eyebrows of many observers: Abdi Mohamoud Omar, SRS President who rules his people with iron fist, declared his cabinet’s endorsement to “donate 10 million birr for displaced innocent Ethiopian people [Tigreans] from Gondar & Bahir Dar cities of the Amhara regional state”.

Further evidence regarding the maneuvering of minority alliance with deadly intent comes from Aigaforum, a TPLF mouthpiece. In an article entitled “Liyyu Police: The Savior”, the website came up with the following jumbled up assertion: “they [Liyyu Police] are from the people and for the people of Somali region; to protect the honor and dignity of their own people and overall Security of the region, and Ethiopia at large. This special force has a mandate primarily to protect the people of [the] region, to secure and stabilize the aged conflict in Somali region of Ethiopia.  This Special force is not like a tribal militia from any specific clan or sub-clan in the region, rather they are holistic and governmental arms —who are well screened, registered and recruited from kebeles and woredas and trained [as per the] standards [of] Ethiopian military training package and armed with modern military equipment. Besides being regional state special forces; they are part and parcel of Ethiopian arm[y].”

In an overzealous effort to glorify the devilish proxy militia, aigaforum inadvertently exposes TPLF by admitting that actually Liyyu Police is part and parcel of the national army, a fact the TPLF politicians have never admitted in public.

Towards full-scale atrocity?

The alliance between Tigre elites and Abdi Mohammed Omar’s cabinet got manifested in the transformation of Liyyu police’s mission from sporadic military excursions to full scale invasion of Oromia. This started by deploying Liyyu police in Oromia to attack and disburse peaceful protestors. For instance, based on eye witness accounts Land-info reported that starting from January 2016 Liyu Police was being used against Oromo demonstrators in many locations, including in Dire Dawa and Bededo.

By the third quarter of 2016, popular protests did not only intensify but literally covered most parts of the country.  However, protests that were inherently peaceful were transformed into confrontations between the protestors and the security forces because the latter have already mowed down the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians during the previous months.  In a desperate attempt to hang onto power, the TPLF dominated regime enacted a State of Emergency (SoE) on October 8, 2016.

An essential component of the SoE is securitization of many regions and transport corridors in Ethiopia.   Particularly, Oromia, the birth place of the latest popular protest, was literally converted into a “high security prison” and Oromos were effectively “put under house arrest”.  Oromia’s regional government was made redundant, being replaced at all levels by Military Command Posts, a form of local and regional government by a committee of armed officers. This was exactly the way it has been for the most part of the previous two decades except that the SoE signaled a temporary move to direct control by the military, abandoning the all too familiar indirect controls through puppet civilian parties such as OPDO.

Soon after the SoE was enacted, Abdi Illey declared an all-out war and the Liyyu Police was unleashed on all fronts along the Oromia and SRS boundary, stretching over a total of close to 1200 km. According to information from the Oromia Regional State, the 14 districts affected in the latest wave of Liyyu Police invasion are: Qumbi, Cinaksan, Midhaga Tola, Gursum, Mayu Muluqe and Babile in East Hararghe; Bordode in West Hararghe; Dawe Sarar, Sawena, Mada Walabu and Rayitu in Bale; Gumi Eldelo and Liban in Guji; and Moyale in Borana.  It is highly significant to note that there is at least 500 km “as the-crow-flies” distance between Qumbi (extreme North East) and Moyale (extreme South West).  Therefore, the sheer number of districts affected, the physical distances between them, and the simultaneous attacks at all fronts indicate that Liyyu’s latest invasion of Oromia is a highly sophisticated and coordinated military adventure which can only be understood as planned by the TPLF-dominated regime’s military central command.

The SoE was enacted with explicit intention of laying information blackout all over Ethiopia, particularly in the highly securitized Oromia Regional State.   For this reason, it is difficult to obtain reliable estimates on victims of Liyyu’s invasion of Oromia.  Human Rights Watch (HRW) has been receiving reports that dozens of casualties have been, including many civilians in Oromia but “[R]estrictions on access have made it difficult to corroborate details.” Locals indicate that Liyyu police have so far killed large numbers of civilians.  Oromo civilians have given up with the hope of getting any meaningful protection from ENDF, given that by now it has become an open secret that the latter is complicit in the invasion.  Consequently, in a desperate act of survival, Oromos have organized a civilian defense force.  Based on incidents of confrontation between Liyyu Police and Oromo civilian defense force around 23rd February 2017 in Southern Oromia, the Human Rights League for Horn of Africa (HRLHA) reported about 500 people were killed, over 200 injured.  If so much destruction has happened in a few days and few districts, then it is possible to imagine that wanton destructions must have been happening during several months of Liyyu police’s occupation in all districts across the long stretch along the Oromia-Somali region boundaries.  Opride, an online media, reported: “Mothers and young girls have been gang raped, according to one Mayu resident, who spoke to OPride by phone. He said the attacking Liyu Police were fully armed and they moved about in armored vehicles brandishing machine guns and other heavy weapons. They stole cattle, goats, camels and other properties.”

Publicity and Accountability

When it comes to publicity and awareness, Darfur and Eastern Oromia can only be contrasted.  Although it did not lead to avoiding large-scale atrocities, the international community got involved in the case of Darfur at much early stage of the crisis.  On the contrary, it is well over a decade now since Abdi Illey’s Liyyu police began rampaging in Ogaden as well as Oromia but the international community has chosen to turn a blind eye to the regional crisis, which has gained momentum and now nearly getting out of control.

Perhaps the reason gross human rights violations by Liyyu Police has been ignored or tolerated by the international community lies in the fact that some donors have been directly implicated in financing and supporting the paramilitary group. For instance, the British Press has repeatedly accused DFID for wasting UK tax payer money on providing training to the Somali Liyyu Police.  Similarly, there are evidences to suggest that the notorious proxy militia has also been funded by the US government.  It is no wonder then that the UK, US, and the rest of the international community have ignored for so long the unruly Liyyu Police’s military adventures in Ogaden and Oromia.

Last week, the HRW released a report entitled Ethiopia: No Justice in Somali Region Killings. This report is timely in raising awareness of the general public as well as drawing the attention of authorities in the UK and the US, who are most directly implicated with financing the militia group.  However, I would hasten to add that what has been lacking is the political will to act and curb the activities of Liyuu police.  Starting from 2008 the HRW has released numerous similar reports but this did not stop the atrocities the paramilitary group is committing from escalating over the years.

The HRW’s report asserting that “Paramilitary Force Killed 21, Detained Dozens, in June 2016”, indicates that the report is anchored on an incident that happened in SRS about ten months ago.  Although the focus of the report was on the particular incident in SRS, it has also highlighted Liyyu Police’s latest atrocities in Oromia.  As indicated in the report, the SoE related movement restrictions means the HRW had to release the report on the incidence in SRS with ten months delay.  Clearly, HRW and other human rights organizations could not undertake any meaningful independent assessment on the damages caused by the latest invasion into Oromia.  The point here is that while HRW has been grabbling with conducting inquiries into a case in which dozens of people were killed or detained in SRS in mid-2016, Liyyu police has killed and abducted hundreds in Oromia since the start of 2017.

The TPLF dominated EPRDF regime in Addis Abeba has long started sowing the seeds of divide and rule strategy coupled with deliberate acts of fomenting conflicts between different communities.  The motivation is pretty clear –it is an act of survival, a minority rule can sustain itself only if it turned other ethnic groups against each other.  The case of Liyyu Police and its latest invasion of Oromia fits into that scheme.

If not addressed timely and decisively, Liyyu Police’s invasion of Oromia has a potential to turn into a full-blown atrocities that is likely to dwarf what happened in Darfur. Clearly, the tell-tale signs are already in place. Genocide Watch, the international alliance to end genocide, states that “Genocide is always organized, usually by the state, often using militias to provide deniability of state responsibility (the Janjaweed in Darfur.) Sometimes organization is informal (Hindu mobs led by local RSS militants) or decentralized (terrorist groups.) Special army units or militias are often trained and armed. Plans are made for genocidal killings.”

In Ethiopia, this situation on the ground is rapidly changing and it requires an urgent response from the international community.


Surveillance and State Control in Ethiopia May 21, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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A small Tigray elite dominates a political system that formally derives its legitimacy from ethnoregional autonomy and representation. This has fueled resentment and discontent in many parts of the country. As a result, the government fears that any space for autonomous civic action could spark further mobilization and unrest, potentially triggering defections within the ruling apparatus.

The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front came to power in 1991 as an insurgent coalition intent on transforming Ethiopia’s politics and economy. Over the past two decades, the government’s heavy-handed approach has fostered significant regional and ethnic discontent.


The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) came to power in 1991 as an insurgent coalition intent on transforming Ethiopia’s politics and economy. Over the past two decades, the government’s heavy-handed approach has fostered significant regional and ethnic discontent. As the EPRDF’s grip on power has weakened, it has moved to further close political and civic space. Two laws adopted in 2009—the Charities and Societies Proclamation and the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation—decimated the country’s already weak human rights community. The government’s crackdown has also extended to development and humanitarian groups, which have been targeted with burdensome funding regulations and government harassment.

The closing of civic space in Ethiopia has the following key features:

  • Harsh restrictions on foreign funding for civil society organizations working on a wide range of politically related issues.
  • Violent repression of civic mobilization in the name of counterterrorism and anti-extremism.
  • Efforts to bring all independent civil society groups—including development and humanitarian actors—in line with the government’s national development policy.

Civil Society Growth Amid Constraints

A History of Repression

While Ethiopia has a long history of mutual self-help organizations and informal community groups, the formal nongovernmental sector has historically been weak and marked by adversarial relations with the state.407Any autonomy enjoyed by civil society during the reign of emperor Haile Selassie was severely restricted after the Marxist Derg regime assumed power in 1974. State authorities closed down or co-opted almost all independent professional organizations and interest groups, including traditional associations in rural areas. Those organizations that survived state repression focused on providing emergency relief services. However, the famines of the 1970s and 1980s forced the Derg leadership to open the door to international assistance, triggering an influx of foreign NGOs that often relied on local partners to facilitate delivery of humanitarian aid.408

Ethiopia’s NGO sector expanded rapidly during the brief period of political liberalization that followed the EPRDF’s ascent to power. As aid flowed into the country to support the political transition, new professional associations and development organizations emerged, as well as a handful of advocacy groups.409 The Ethiopian Teachers Association took an active role in challenging the government’s education reforms. Traditional associations such as the Mekane Yesus church in western Oromia and the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region added human rights components to their community work, and student activism flourished.410At the same time, most civil society organizations had relatively limited resources and capacity, and their impact on state policy remained marginal. Given Ethiopia’s dire humanitarian situation after years of civil war, many groups continued to focus on service delivery and relief efforts.411 Those that ventured into advocacy typically worked on relatively safe issues such as children’s and women’s rights and operated within existing policy frameworks.412

Continued Government Suspicion

Despite efforts at liberalization, the EPRDF remained suspicious of independent media and civil society. Beginning in the early 1990s, the government sought to bring independent trade unions under EPRDF control by replacing government critics with party loyalists. The Ethiopian Teachers Association and the Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions—both of which had been critical of the government’s reforms—experienced sustained harassment. The president of the teachers association was convicted of armed conspiracy in 1996, and the confederation chairman fled the country in 1997. State officials also set up a rival teachers association of the same name that was staffed exclusively with EPRDF supporters.413

The lack of a comprehensive legal framework governing civil society created additional barriers for nongovernmental groups, with some being arbitrarily denied registration for having ostensibly political goals. For instance, the ruling party characterized the Ethiopian Human Rights Council, the country’s most prominent human rights monitoring group, as a partisan political movement affiliated with the Amhara-dominated opposition, rejected its application for registration, and temporarily blocked the organization’s bank account.414 When prominent intellectuals and professionals from Addis Ababa’s Oromo community formed the Human Rights League in 1996, the group’s leaders were promptly arrested for being supporters of the Oromo Liberation Front—although their case never went to trial.415

Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, the civil society sector as a whole remained vulnerable to state control. Most civil society organizations were led by urban elites and lacked a strong grassroots base. Many did not have a significant presence beyond the capital and in rural areas. This provided fodder for government accusations of parasitism and rent-seeking. Distrust among NGOs also stood in the way of forming sector-specific coalitions and consortiums that could have maximized their outreach and impact. At the same time, the government rarely consulted civil society organizations in its policy formulation processes.416 Beginning in 2003, it began to consider restrictions on foreign funding of civil society organizations, arguing that external funding for political and rights advocacy amounted to illegitimate meddling in the country’s internal affairs.417

Narrowing of Political Space

The 2005 Postelection Crisis

The 2005 election proved to be a turning point for Ethiopian civil society. The run-up to the election witnessed unprecedented displays of political competition and opposition party coordination. Civil society organizations sponsored televised debates on public policy issues and sued the government to be allowed to monitor the polls.418 Early election results indicated that the opposition coalition had made unexpected gains, suggesting a win of more than 180 parliamentary seats. When official tallies indicated that the ruling party had won, the largest opposition coalition refused to concede defeat. They alleged that the ruling party had stolen the election, while the EPRDF claimed that opposition parties had conspired to overthrow the government by unconstitutional means. The ensuing standoff continued for months, with violence erupting between protesters and security forces across the country.419

In this climate of intense polarization, government authorities accused civil society organizations that had monitored the polls and conducted voter education efforts of sparking unrest and inciting violence.420 Even before the election, the government had ordered representatives of highly visible international organizations providing democracy and governance aid to leave the country, including the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, the International Republican Institute, and the National Democratic Institute. Surprised by the outpouring of opposition support, EPRDF officials concluded that foreign-funded human rights groups and independent media outlets had coordinated with the opposition to undermine the ruling party.421

Yet the EPRDF did not immediately move to impose legal restrictions on civil society. Rather, the clampdown unfolded in two main phases. In the immediate aftermath of the election, the EPRDF was in crisis mode. Its initial efforts centered on quelling opposition protests and consolidating power ahead of the 2008 local elections. Approximately 20,000 protesters and as many as 150 opposition leaders, activists, and journalists were arrested, and numerous independent newspapers and magazines were shut down.422 Two well-known human rights lawyers, Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demisse, were among the first to be charged with conspiracy and incitement to overthrow the government. In 2007, both were sentenced to two and a half years in prison.423

The EPRDF introduced a series of laws that specifically targeted activities that had facilitated widespread popular mobilization during the previous election cycle.

The EPRDF viewed the opposition’s success as an existential threat to its own survival and to the ethnic federation it had constructed. Starting in 2005, the party leadership embarked on a massive party rebuilding effort, investing significant resources in expanding local party structures and bringing the rural population back into the party’s fold.424 It strengthened its control over local administrative units (kebele) that have the capacity to monitor households and restrict access to government services.425 Party membership increased from 760,000 in 2005 to more than 4 million in 2008. The government also passed electoral reforms that ensured the EPRDF’s dominance in the 2008 polls. For example, it drastically increased the number of local council seats, which made it impossible for any but the largest parties to field enough candidates to seize control of the councils. These efforts paid off: in 2008 the EPRDF won virtually all the local council seats. Together with the revival of mass associations and youth cooperatives, these reforms effectively incorporated millions of Ethiopians into EPRDF structures and government organizations.426

Institutionalization of Legal Restrictions

The second phase of the crackdown began as the 2010 general election drew near. Aiming to prevent a repeat of the 2005 crisis, the EPRDF introduced a series of laws that specifically targeted activities that had facilitated widespread popular mobilization during the previous election cycle: independent media publishing, civil society advocacy and monitoring, free public debate, and opposition party coordination. The Mass Media and Freedom of Information Proclamation, passed in December 2008, allowed prosecutors to stop any print publication that threatened national security concerns or the public order—a provision that has been used to target independent newspapers. In addition, the law criminalized the “defamation” of legislative, executive, or judiciary authorities and raised defamation fines to about $10,000.427

In February 2009, the government adopted the Proclamation for the Registration and Regulation of Charities and Societies (referred to hereafter as the Charities and Societies Proclamation), the first comprehensive law governing Ethiopian nongovernmental organizations. While civil society organizations were allowed to contribute to the draft proclamation, they had little meaningful influence over the final version.428 The law imposed a wide range of burdens on civil society. Most important, it divided all civil society organizations into three categories: Ethiopian charities and societies, Ethiopian resident charities and societies, and foreign charities and societies. The first category comprises all NGOs that receive at least 90 percent of their funding from domestic sources, and only these groups are allowed to work on “the advancement of human and democratic rights; the promotion of equality of nations, nationalities and peoples and that of gender and religion; the promotion of the rights of the disabled and children’s rights; the promotion of conflict resolution or reconciliation; and the promotion of the efficiency of the justice and law enforcement services.”429 This means that any organization that receives significant outside funding is effectively barred from a wide range of advocacy, peacebuilding, and rights-focused activities. The government justified this provision as necessary to ensure that organizations working on political issues are “Ethiopian in character” and, in an apparent nod to Russia, to prevent “color revolutionaries” from trying to overthrow the regime.430

For many Ethiopian civil society organizations, this provision was devastating. Given the dearth of domestic funding sources, they had relied almost exclusively on external aid. They had few alternative options; the Ethiopian government was unlikely to fund any advocacy efforts or politically related programs. In addition, the proclamation specified that any charity or society could allocate no more than 30 percent of its budget to administrative activities—while classifying an unusually wide range of expenditures as administrative costs.431 As a result, organizations were forced to count basic operational expenses—including staff allowances and benefits, monitoring and evaluation expenditures, and travel and training costs—as administrative overheads, triggering widespread pushback.432

The 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation also had a debilitating effect on civil society and independent media. Like similar legislation around the world, the law includes extremely broad definitions of terrorist activity and material support for terrorism and imposes long prison sentences and even the death penalty for a wide range of crimes.433 The law’s vague language grants authorities the power to prosecute journalists who publish articles about protest movements, armed opposition groups, or any other individuals deemed as terrorist or anti-peace.434 Rights advocates also found themselves at risk of prosecution for carrying out or supporting terrorist acts.435 The law was particularly pernicious given the Ethiopian government’s extensive capacity to monitor citizen communications, including mobile phones and landlines.436 Since coming into force, the law has been broadly applied in criminal cases involving opposition politicians, activists, and journalists, even though credible evidence of communication with or support for terrorist groups is almost never provided. The judicial system lacks the independence and capacity to push back against abusive applications of the law.437

Repression in the Name of National Security

Targeting of Activists for Security-Related Offenses

With this restrictive legal framework in place, government authorities had new tools at their disposal to suppress civic activism and independent media in moments of crisis. Two key patterns have emerged over the past six years. First, the EPRDF has relied on its almost complete control over radio, television, and print media to cast pro-democracy and human rights activists as terrorists and foreign agents, tapping into popular fears of Islamic radicalism, foreign intervention, and ethnic strife. For example, after the U.S. Department of State issued its 2009 Human Rights Country Report on Ethiopia, the state-controlled Ethiopian Television Agency broadcast a three-part series accusing several Ethiopian human rights groups of supplying false information to the U.S. government in exchange for support.438 Media outlets also regularly blame foreign powers and organizations for stirring domestic unrest and use this alleged interference to justify extrajudicial action.439

These prosecutions had a chilling effect on the country’s online activists and remaining independent reporters—at least sixty journalists have fled the country since 2010.

Second, the government has used court proceedings to selectively intimidate and silence high-profile activists, reporters, and civil society leaders, typically based on alleged national security threats. For example, following repeated demonstrations by Ethiopia’s Muslim community against government interference in religious affairs between 2012 and 2014, Ethiopia’s Federal High Court convicted the protest leaders on charges of terrorism and conspiracy to create an Islamic state in Ethiopia.440 In the thirteen months before the 2015 polls—the first to be held following former prime minister Meles Zenawi’s death in 2012—journalists also witnessed escalating harassment by security and judicial officials.441 In April 2014, this campaign culminated in the arrest of three journalists and six bloggers from the Zone 9 blogging collective, who were convicted under the criminal code and the antiterrorism law for having links to banned opposition groups and attempting to violently overthrow the government.”442 In August 2014, an additional six newspapers and magazines were charged with encouraging terrorism, among other charges.443 These prosecutions had a chilling effect on the country’s online activists and remaining independent reporters—at least sixty journalists have fled the country since 2010.444 Security forces have also arrested and detained rights activists and lawyers who defend political prisoners, often without formally charging them with crimes.445

Extension of Rural Surveillance and Control

At the same time, the state’s extensive administrative apparatus has continued to subject citizens in rural areas to threats and detention, creating a pervasive climate of fear. The state’s surveillance capacities at the local level have stifled civic activism and dissent in many places without the need for violent repression.446 The EPRDF has relied on a pre-existing system of local governance that existed under the Derg regime to extend government control. Officially, Ethiopian officials insist that these local-level institutions are voluntary associations formed in regions like Oromia in order to advance rural agriculture and development. However, human rights organizations report that they are often used to monitor citizens’ activities, report incidents of dissent, and selectively withhold government benefits.447Attesting to this dramatic closing of civic and political space, the EPRDF and its affiliates claimed 99.6 and 100 percent of parliamentary seats in 2010 and 2015, respectively. These overwhelming majorities signaled political continuity after the upheaval that followed the 2005 polls and Zenawi’s sudden death, reminding the party’s rank and file that defection was pointless given that the EPRDF still controlled all access to public office.448

Citizens have nevertheless continued to mobilize, as evidenced by the widespread antigovernment protests that broke out in the Oromia and Amhara regions in 2015 and 2016. The government’s response to these outbursts of citizen discontent has been violent suppression: security forces arrested more than 11,000 people over the course of one month and killed at least 500.449 Once again, authorities have claimed that demonstrators are part of banned opposition groups in order to delegitimize the protests. The current state of emergency, declared in October 2016 and extended repeatedly since then, has imposed additional barriers on freedoms of assembly, association, and expression. The implementing directive initially restricted access to and usage of social media and banned communication with so-called terrorist and anti-peace groups as well as contact with foreign governments and NGOs that could affect “security, sovereignty and the constitutional order.”450 It also allowed the army to be deployed across the country for a period of at least six months. The government has blamed human rights groups seeking to document violations by security forces for stirring up unrest and has denounced diaspora groups for spreading misinformation about the government’s response to the protests.451

Support for Mass-Based and Development Associations

In contrast to its crackdown on independent groups, the EPRDF government has encouraged the growth of mass-based and state-supported development associations as a more authentic expression of grassroots activism. While these organizations have traditionally focused on development and service delivery, the government elevated their role with respect to governance and rights advocacy after the 2005 election—just as it began cracking down on independent media and civic activism. Most mass-based associations have their roots in the armed struggle against the Derg regime. For example, the Women’s Association of Tigray can be traced back to the Women’s Committee of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, established in 1976.452 The structures of these associations typically extend from the national level down to the regional, district (woreda), and village (kebele)levels, providing a wide societal reach. Development associations, on the other hand, are membership organizations that focus on promoting local development in their respective areas of operation.453 In Ethiopia, each regional state has its own development association, such as the Tigray Development Association and the Oromo Development Association.

Both mass-based and development associations generally lack political independence and financial and technical capacity.454 They tend to collaborate closely with sector ministries and bureaus, and government bodies often view them as implementing agencies rather than independent actors that represent the interests of their members.455 For example, owing to their presence in remote rural areas, mass-based organizations have played an important role in recruiting new party members and mobilizing EPRDF support ahead of local and national elections.456 In contrast, the few remaining independent trade unions and professional societies have experienced continued harassment and government interference. For example, the government has refused to register the National Teachers Association, which was forced to hand over its property, assets, and name to the government-aligned Ethiopian Teachers Association. Security agents have subjected the association’s members to surveillance and harassment.457The Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions, the Ethiopian Bar Association, and the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists Association have faced similar attacks.


The Ethiopian government’s efforts to restrict civil society are a function of the EPRDF’s doctrine of revolutionary democracy, state-led development agenda, and struggle for political survival. Despite the party’s control over state institutions, the country’s political structure remains fundamentally fragile. A small Tigray elite dominates a political system that formally derives its legitimacy from ethnoregional autonomy and representation. This has fueled resentment and discontent in many parts of the country. As a result, the government fears that any space for autonomous civic action could spark further mobilization and unrest, potentially triggering defections within the ruling apparatus. The opposition’s unexpected gains in the 2005 election in particular sparked a renewed effort to consolidate party control by eliminating or co-opting alternative centers of power.

The EPRDF’s Ideological Underpinnings

The EPRDF was formed as a political coalition between different ethnic-based liberation fronts that had fought Mengistu Haile Mariam’s military regime. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which had led the insurgency under the command of Zenawi, recognized that transitioning from a rebel movement to a national government would require the support of the country’s many ethnic groups. At the same time, Zenawi sought to preserve the Tigray People’s Liberation Front’s highly hierarchical structure. He and his allies were trained in Marxist ideology and rejected liberal democracy as a viable political model to achieve economic and political transformation.458 Instead, they conceived of the EPRDF as a Leninist vanguard party that rules on behalf of the rural masses. While the party adapted to the end of the Cold War by retreating from an explicitly socialist approach, it retained its core—though ambiguously defined—doctrine of revolutionary democracy, which stresses grassroots participation via mass organizations and party cells. Political competition and interest representation occur under the mantle of the vanguard party. As a result, even in the 1990s, the party had limited interest in encouraging the expansion of an independent civil society, which it considered an urban and elite-driven phenomenon with limited transformative potential.

The EPRDF’s pursuit of rapid economic development further reinforced the government’s efforts to extend its control over the civic sphere. The EPRDF came to power with a vision of itself as the only actor that could effectively tackle the country’s underdevelopment. Other societal actors—including civil society—had to be subordinated to the government’s modernization and industrialization efforts. Party leaders viewed development NGOs as opportunists who sought out foreign money to fund their inflated salaries and expenses without serving the public interest. They also blamed them for fostering aid dependence at the expense of long-term development and argued that their funding streams and activities should be subjected to greater government control.459 According to the EPRDF model, the development state not only intervenes in the economy, but “also has a role in guiding ‘appropriate’ citizen behavior and constructing useful social networks” that advance the national development agenda.460 Local kebele and sub-kebele administrative structures have been imposed from above both as tools of development and mechanisms of political control.461 This approach has gone hand in hand with a dramatic expansion of public goods and services meant to ensure continued popular support—particularly in light of growing ethnoregional discontent.462

A Contested Political Settlement

At the core of the EPRDF’s efforts to suffocate independent civil society lies the fear of further antiregime mobilization. Despite the government’s developmental success record, its position of power remains fundamentally fragile, owing primarily to the internal contradictions of the EPRDF regime. After coming to power, the EPRDF instituted a complex system of ethnic federalism that granted an unprecedented degree of political autonomy and representation on the basis of ethnicity. The EPRDF’s ascent was celebrated as the liberation of Ethiopia’s nations and nationalities from decades of centralized rule. The party also formally committed to multiparty elections and political pluralism.

However, these constitutional guarantees have not resulted in an actual decentralization of executive power.463 Instead, the state has become increasingly intertwined with the ruling party, and political and economic power has gradually become concentrated in the hands of a small elite. Ethiopia’s regions are governed by ethnoregional parties that are de facto subordinate branches of the EPRDF—which remains dominated by the ethnic Tigray, who make up only 6 percent of Ethiopia’s total population. Party leaders know that if the EPRDF were to open space for civic mobilization, it could mean the end of Tigray rule. The opposition’s unexpected gains in the 2005 election justified these fears. Throughout the 1990s and the early 2000s, Ethiopia had held regular elections, but the hegemony of the ruling EPRDF was never threatened. The opposition remained divided, and the ruling party used coercive means and its incumbency advantage to prevent rival parties from participating on a level playing field.464 When political space temporarily opened up in the lead-up to the 2005 polls and opposition actors unified, the EPRDF’s grip on power proved to be tenuous. As a result, the EPRDF under the leadership of Zenawi embarked on a de facto restoration of the one-party state.

After having eliminated the immediate threat of the political opposition, the government’s attention turned to civil society and the media. The ruling party’s continued control and legitimacy depends on regulating access to information and channeling civic activism through party and state structures. The fact that civil society organizations had monitored the 2005 elections, conducted voter education efforts, and condemned the security forces’ subsequent crackdown only reinforced the government’s view that advocacy organizations were partisan actors allied with opposition forces and set on upending EPRDF rule. As a result, most civil society organizations were not surprised when the government moved to enact further NGO restrictions ahead of the 2010 polls, even though many had not anticipated just how stifling the legislation would be.465 In sum, the EPRDF has compensated for vulnerabilities of the current political settlement by continuously extending the party’s control over Ethiopian society; any alternative space—whether in the political sphere or in civil society—could potentially emerge as a challenge to its continued authority.466


The political and legal changes introduced between the 2005 and 2010 elections had a profound impact on Ethiopian civil society. The total number of active organizations has shrunk, and many groups have been forced to shift their focus from political and rights-based work to development and service delivery in order to keep receiving foreign funding. As a result, there are very few advocacy and human rights monitoring groups left in the country. Initially, development organizations did not feel affected by the new legal regime. However, government-imposed budget specifications have forced them to abandon certain activities and have hindered the formation and operation of civil society networks and umbrella organizations.

Consequences of the Crackdown

Shrinking of the Human Rights Community

The Charities and Societies Proclamation and the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation had a dramatic impact on human rights work in Ethiopia. The circle of active and professional human rights organizations was already small before the laws were passed. These groups, which were mostly established during the 1990s, provided legal aid and civic education, monitored elections and human rights violations, and advocated for the rights of minorities, women, and other vulnerable groups. Many were focused on single issues, such as voter education, religious freedom, peacebuilding and conflict resolution, and women’s rights.

The restrictions on foreign funding caused a near cessation of independent advocacy activities.

After the Charities and Societies Proclamation took effect, human rights and conflict resolution organizations faced a stark choice: they could either try to continue their work, which meant they would have to raise 90 percent of their funding from domestic sources, or register as resident charities and shift toward more politically neutral development and relief work. Given the lack of domestic funding sources, the restrictions on foreign funding caused a near cessation of independent advocacy activities. Many organizations opted to change their focus, knowing that they would not be able to sustain their work without international support.467 For example, local and international organizations such as Mercy Corps, Pact Ethiopia, Action for Development, and the Oromia Pastoralist Association abandoned their conflict resolution work and reduced their support for local peace committees.468 Those that lacked the resources and human capacity to retrain their staff and develop new programming shut down their operations altogether. Others fled the country in fear of prosecution under the antiterrorism law.469 The result was a rapid decline in the number of active human rights organizations in the country. Only around 10 percent of the 125 previously existing local rights groups reregistered under the new law.470

Reduced Capacity for Advocacy, Outreach, and Assistance

A small number of organizations—including the Ethiopian Bar Association, the Human Rights and Peace Center, the Human Rights Council (HRCO; previously the Ethiopian Human Rights Council), and the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA)—chose to reregister as Ethiopian charities and societies to continue their work. These groups have faced a dearth of domestic funding, which has forced them to scale back their work. While community-based giving is common across Ethiopia, there is no strong tradition of donating to charitable organizations. Organizations have struggled to raise money through membership fees and fund-raising events.471 As noted above, the Charities and Societies Proclamation imposed additional hurdles by giving the Charities and Societies Agency the power to deny or delay any fund-raising or income-generation proposals.472 The law also prohibits anonymous donations, which means that citizens who donate to human rights groups face potential political repercussions.473 To make matters more difficult, the agency froze the bank accounts of both the HRCO and EWLA after the law had been passed, depriving them of their accumulated savings.474

Faced with harassment and funding cuts, human rights organizations had to disband key training and assistance programs. For example, the HRCO had previously conducted human rights education seminars and workshops that aimed to raise awareness of human rights standards among public servants, police officers, and judicial officials. Despite initial skepticism, participation in these workshops was on the rise before the passage of the Charities and Societies Proclamation: in 2009, a total of 1,034 officials took part.475 After the law was passed, the organization’s budget shrank from $351,000 in 2008 to $26,300 in 2011, forcing it to disband the program.476 Another civil society initiative to establish child protection units at police stations was similarly suspended.477 EWLA—the only major NGO advocating for women’s rights and gender equality at the national level—has had to abandon key areas of work. The association had provided free legal aid to more than 17,000 women and established an emergency hotline for women that received 7,332 calls in the first eight months of its existence.478 After the Charities and Societies Proclamation was passed, EWLA was forced to cut 70 percent of its staff, shut down its hotline, and give up most of its public education work, continuing to provide only a small amount of free legal aid using volunteers.479

Reduction in Human Rights Monitoring

It has also become much more difficult for local and international groups to accurately document human rights violations and security force abuses. Before 2009, the HRCO monitored and documented human rights violations through twelve branch offices across Ethiopia. It was the only civil society group conducting extensive field investigations, including in high-risk areas.480 After the enactment of the Charities and Societies Proclamation and the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, half of the organization’s staff—including the director—left the country in fear of government reprisals. The organization was forced to close nine of its twelve branch offices, which curtailed its ability to effectively collect information and communicate with victims of human rights abuses.481 The number of field investigators decreased from seventeen to four, dramatically limiting the organization’s reach. Increased government harassment makes the work of the remaining investigators more difficult and dangerous.482

International organizations that could complement domestic monitoring efforts have been barred from entering the country or accessing certain regions. The International Red Cross was expelled from the Ogaden region in 2007 for allegedly aiding separatist forces, and Médecins sans Frontières has been denied access to certain areas.483 Ethiopian officials have denied entry to Human Rights Watch researchers and prevented Amnesty International, the International Federation for Human Rights, and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (among others) from opening offices in Ethiopia. The government has then used their absence from the ground to deny the legitimacy of their reports.484

Those who tried to systematically collect information faced government surveillance, threats, and repression.

As a result of these restrictions, it has become increasingly difficult to undertake independent investigations into human rights abuses and monitor the government’s use of international donor funds.485 This became evident during the recent suppression of antigovernment protesters in Oromia and Amhara. As demonstrations broke out in Oromia in 2015, there were few independent analysts on the ground who could corroborate reports of security force abuses.486 Those who tried to systematically collect information faced government surveillance, threats, and repression. In the summer of 2016, four of the HRCO’s members were arrested and detained, likely because they were documenting the crackdown on antiregime demonstrators.487Government restrictions on Ethiopian NGOs have impeded their ability to prepare and submit parallel reports to international human rights treaty bodies.488 The Ethiopian diaspora has attempted to fill this gap by gathering information remotely through their contacts in the country.489

Faced with criticisms, the Ethiopian government has highlighted its own human rights institution, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, which was created in 2000 and has been tasked with monitoring and raising awareness of human rights issues in the country. However, the commission lacks the technical and financial capacity to effectively carry out its mandate. It has yet to publish a single report detailing human rights violations in the country.490 In fact, it has at times been used to counteract the work of independent civil society organizations.491 For example, in 2016, the commission denied allegations made by civil society groups that Ethiopian security forces had used excessive force against demonstrators and declared the government’s response to have been “proportional.”492

Barriers to Election Monitoring and Voter Education

Independent civil society groups have also been forced to strike election monitoring and voter education from their mandates. Ahead of the 2005 elections, civil society organizations conducted civic and voter education efforts across the country. International donors allocated $6.2 million to support a free and fair electoral process, which included $1.6 million for twenty-four Ethiopian NGOs to provide information about the polls to voters.493 The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia initially barred most civic groups from observing the election, but national courts reversed the board’s decisions shortly before the vote. Despite the lateness of the court decision, the HRCO sent out 1,550 observers on polling day to monitor the vote.494

The 2010 and 2015 parliamentary elections occurred in an entirely different context. Ahead of the 2010 polls, independent groups struggled to obtain the necessary accreditation from the electoral board to monitor the elections or conduct voter outreach. For example, the HRCO was asked to remove both election observation and voter education from its statute to reregister with the government.495 The Ethiopian Civil Society Network for Elections, which consisted of twenty-four member groups, was dissolved.496The InterAfrica Group, which played a key role in organizing public debates in the run-up to the 2005 election, had shifted toward other activities and receded from the public eye.497

The Charities and Societies Proclamation encourages mass-based organizations to “actively participate in the process of strengthening democratization and election,” observe the electoral process, and cooperate with electoral organs.498 However, as noted above, these organizations remain closely aligned with the ruling party. The largest authorized domestic election observation group to monitor the 2010 polls, the Consortium of Ethiopian Civil Societies for Election Observation, is a case in point: it found the elections to be free and fair, despite a 99.6 percent victory by the ruling party.499 In contrast, the EU Election Observation Mission stated that the elections fell short of international standards.500Since the 2010 election, the only international observers to monitor Ethiopian elections have been from the African Union. The EU declined to take part after its previous recommendations were rejected by the Ethiopian government.501 Meanwhile, voter education has been taken over by the electoral board, which lacks independence from the government. In 2015, the board launched its voter education campaign just days before the election and limited its efforts to instructing citizens on how to find polling stations and complete their ballots.502

New Constraints for Development Work

Initially, development organizations did not feel particularly affected by the new legal framework.503 A key feature of the Charities and Societies Proclamation is that it treats rights advocacy and development work as distinct areas of activity. While organizations working on issues such as gender equality, children’s rights, and minority protection are prohibited from receiving foreign funding, the same restriction does not apply to development aid and humanitarian organizations. Indeed, the total number of organizations involved in development and service delivery grew in the six years following the enactment of the law.504

However, the government’s new funding rules and the overall shrinking of civic space have nevertheless constrained their work. First, the government’s bifurcation of Ethiopian civil society organizations failed to take into account that many aid organizations over the past few decades have embraced a rights-based approach to development that focuses on the connections between poverty, political marginalization, and discrimination. These groups were forced to abandon their work on national policy questions and shift toward more apolitical and service-oriented activities. The fear of criminal prosecutions for infringements of the NGO law reinforced this trend: many NGOs began practicing self-censorship and refraining from any open criticism of government policies to avoid administrative or legal reprisals.505

Second, the Charities and Societies Proclamation prohibits any organization from spending more than 30 percent of their budgets on administrative costs.506 Government officials justified this provision—what became known as the 70/30 regulation—as a mechanism to ensure that the majority of project funding reaches the intended beneficiaries rather than going toward excessive overhead costs. Yet for many organizations, the government’s expansive definition of administrative overhead meant that they could not comply with the requirement without drastically reducing the scope of their work. Expenses they considered critical to project implementation—such as staff allowances, travel and trainings costs, monitoring and evaluation expenses, and vehicle purchases—suddenly counted as administrative costs. Many organizations noted that spending on vehicles, fuel, and driver salaries was essential to maintaining project sites in remote rural areas. For example, health organizations providing mobile outreach services, trainings for health extensions workers, and clinical mentorship suddenly had to classify all of their core activities as administrative expenses.507 The guideline proved particularly challenging for civil society networks and umbrella groups that aimed to enhance individual member organizations’ influence and shape national policy discussions. Under the new guideline, these networks are no longer allowed to engage in advocacy work and can only finance their work through member contributions.508

Adaptation Strategies

Shift Toward Development and Service Provision Activities

To survive in the new legal and political environment, the majority of Ethiopian civil society organizations have chosen to shift their activities toward technical development and local service delivery work, moving away from any issues that could be construed as politically sensitive. A 2011 survey of thirty-two NGOs conducted by the Taskforce for Enabling Environment for Civil Society in Ethiopia found that 70 percent of development organizations and 44 percent of human rights organizations changed their organizational mandates and activities in order to preserve their access to foreign funding.509

Some organizations were able to simply rebrand stigmatized activities in a way that made them more palatable to government officials. They did so by removing any references to rights or governance from their mission statements, funding applications, and activity reports. Most international organizations successfully reregistered using the same tactic.510 For example, the pre-2010 mission statement of Action Aid’s Ethiopia branch was titled Rights to End Poverty and noted their work with excluded populations “to eradicate absolute poverty, inequality and denial of rights.” In response to the new law, the group changed its mission to ensuring “that poor people effectively participate and make decisions in the eradication of their own poverty and their well-being generally.”511

To survive in the new legal and political environment, the majority of Ethiopian civil society organizations have chosen to shift their activities toward technical development and local service delivery work.

Other groups had to undergo a more radical restructuring process. A significant shift in mandate and programming was feasible only for larger organizations that had sufficient human resources.512 For example, the prominent human rights organization Action Professionals’ Association for the People completely reoriented its mission toward providing socioeconomic services for the poor, producing research, and conducting capacity development activities. The Organization for Social Justice Ethiopia renamed itself the Organization for Social Development and shifted from human rights and voter education to corporate social responsibility. The Ethiopian Arbitration and Conciliation Center stopped providing conflict resolution and arbitration and began focusing on capacity building and judicial training.513

The abandonment of the rights-based focus has had a significant impact on the Ethiopian development landscape. Moving away from the underlying drivers of marginalization, many organizations have ceased their awareness-raising, advocacy, and training activities. For example, NGOs that previously worked on child trafficking, child labor, and juvenile justice had to abandon their focus on children’s rights and focus instead on livelihood improvements and direct support to orphans and vulnerable children.514The Forum on Street Children Ethiopia, which had sponsored child protection units in police stations and trained justice sector officials on children’s rights, ceased its child protection activities at the end of 2010.515Resident charities that have nevertheless engaged in gender equality, children’s rights, and justice sector reform have received official warnings from the government.516 Foreign-funded organizations are also barred from working on women’s rights and gender equality, meaning that they no longer advocate for policy and legal reforms on key issues such as female genital mutilation, unsafe abortions, and childhood marriage.517 On the other hand, those organizations that successfully shifted their work to purely developmental activities have continued to collaborate closely with government agencies at the national and regional levels and maintain fruitful working relationships.518

Compliance and Resistance in Response to the 70/30 Guideline

Adaptation to the 70/30 rule proved to be another significant challenge for the sector. Organizations undertook different measures to ensure their compliance, including cutting down on staff training and salaries, giving up capacity-building and training activities, reducing the frequency of field visits, or refocusing their work on urban or semi-urban areas.519 In addition, many groups had to drastically reduce their expenditures on monitoring and evaluation, which in turn made them less attractive partners for international donors.520 According to civil society representatives working in education, health, gender equality, and food security, the overall impact of the 70/30 directive was a decrease in the quality of service delivery and an inability to meet donor expectations with respect to project design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation.521

After extensive domestic and international pressure, the government agreed to amend the 70/30 guideline in 2015. The regulation now classifies salaries, transportation costs, and training-related expenses as operational rather than administrative expenses. However, the majority of Ethiopian civil society organizations still struggle to fulfill the requirements. While the Charities and Societies Agency has been slow and inconsistent in enforcing the law, it has repeatedly closed down organizations that have failed to comply. In June 2016, the agency announced that it had shut down more than 200 NGOs over the previous nine months. The announcement followed a new directive imposing additional penalties for noncompliance with the Charities and Societies Proclamation.522 The effort may have been triggered by the Federal Auditor General’s performance audit of the agency, which found evidence of widespread inefficiencies and weak enforcement.523

Working Under the Radar

The few Ethiopian human rights groups that remain active in the country have struggled to survive. Raising local funding has proven particularly difficult. Before the Charities and Societies Proclamation came into force, the HRCO successfully negotiated with its international funders to invest some of the organization’s core funding into a property that could generate rental income for the organization.524 Other groups have organized film screenings or music evenings. However, such efforts have raised only small amounts that fail to cover even basic operating expenses.525 In addition, applications to the Charities and Societies Agency for proposed fund-raising activities have often been met with delays, forcing organizations to cancel planned events.526 As noted above, all active human rights groups have adjusted to the new context by further downsizing their activities and disbanding central areas of work.527

The primary survival strategy has been to carve out space at the local level, with the support of international donors. For example, the EU successfully negotiated exemptions in the government’s restrictive legal framework that allow limited amounts of international funding to flow to Ethiopian charities and societies, in spite of the 10 percent foreign funding limit. While these funding arrangements depend on the approval of Ethiopian authorities, they have ensured the survival of organizations like the HRCO, Vision Ethiopian Congress for Democracy, and EWLA that would otherwise most likely have vanished.528 However, receiving aid through government-approved channels has not protected these groups from harassment by security officials. Most recently, in October 2016, security agents raided an HRCO’s organizational fund-raiser—which had earlier been authorized by government authorities—and briefly detained the organization’s leaders before releasing them with a warning not to criticize the government.529 A number of regional organizations registered with local sector offices have been able to continue their work on gender equality, children’s and disability rights, and the rights of the elderly. For example, the Amhara Women’s Association has continued to focus on gender-based violence and the prevention of female genital mutilation. However, these types of regional organizations tend to have limited resources, which reduces their scope for action.530


Similarly as in the case of Egypt, U.S. and European security interests have constrained Western responses to shrinking civic space in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian government’s successful development track record has further complicated international pushback. European and U.S. leaders have primarily engaged in quiet diplomacy rather than public shaming of Ethiopian authorities. They have focused their behind-the-scenes pressure on short-term issues on which they felt tangible progress could be achieved, such as the release of political prisoners. Lastly, they have generally not used overseas development assistance or security cooperation as tools to gain leverage, even though the EU managed to renegotiate assistance modalities to channel limited amounts of funding to embattled civil society organizations.

Competing Economic and Security Interests

International responses to the closing of space for civil society in Ethiopia have to be understood in the context of Ethiopia’s broader relationship to Western donor governments. In recent years, Ethiopia has been one of the largest African country recipients of overseas development assistance, receiving an average of $3.5 billion from international donors.531 However, although the Ethiopian government is highly dependent on external development assistance, Western governments have been hesitant to use this leverage to push back against repressive efforts in the country for several reasons.

First, Ethiopia’s status as a security and counterterrorism partner has made the country relatively impervious to external conditionality. The Ethiopian government has built an international reputation as an anchor of stability in a fragile region.532 The Ethiopian National Defense Forces have a played a key role in the fight against Al-Shabaab in Somalia and served as peacekeepers in the disputed Abyei area between Sudan and South Sudan. From 2011 to 2016, the U.S. military also used an Ethiopian base to launch unmanned aerial vehicles assigned to counterterrorism operations in East Africa.533 The EU, on the other hand, has relied on Ethiopia to stem the flow of migrants from East Africa and the Horn of Africa.534 Western governments fear that heightened pressure could destabilize the Ethiopian government, thereby creating further instability in the Horn of Africa.535Second, Ethiopian leaders have been highly effective at warding off international pressure by highlighting the government’s commitment to economic development and its substantial developmental track record, as well as by threatening to turn further toward China in the event of Western funding cuts. Third, international donors have been unwilling to cut their humanitarian and development assistance out of concern that such a drastic step would only end up hurting the country’s poorest populations, which are already vulnerable to drought and famine.

Behind-the-Scenes Pressure Against the Charities and Societies Proclamation

In 2008, news of the draft Charities and Societies Proclamation triggered international diplomatic pressure behind the scenes. International partners privately lobbied the Ethiopian government to remove some of the law’s harshest provisions. Throughout the drafting process, Western governments showcased an unusual degree of unity and coordination in condemning the law. Delegations from the EU, the United States, and the United Kingdom (UK) expressed their concern over the legislation during high-level meetings with Ethiopia’s prime minister and Ministry of Justice officials.536For example, the assistant secretary for democracy, human rights, and labor traveled to Ethiopia to share U.S. concerns with Zenawi, raising issues such as the 10 percent cap on foreign funding and the limit on administrative overhead.537 However, these efforts did not significantly impact the final proclamation. The government agreed to a few amendments but retained the core features of the law. At the same time, it publicly accused the international community of illegitimate meddling.538

The international reaction to the passing of the law was timid. In a presidential declaration, the EU welcomed the “thorough exchanges of views” it had with the Ethiopian government regarding the law.539 It neither condemned the law nor asked for its repeal. The statement stood in contrast to the EU’s significantly stronger criticism of the 2006 Russian NGO law and similarly repressive legislation passed in Zimbabwe in 2004.540 Moreover, the European Commission simultaneously announced 250 million euros in additional assistance for the Ethiopian government. On the U.S. side, the Department of State issued a public statement of concern.541 Various high-level U.S. officials subsequently raised the issue of the shrinking civic space in meetings with their Ethiopian counterparts, but they rarely addressed the question in public.

Shift to New Funding Modalities

After the law’s passage, Western governments shifted their focus from lobbying to adaptation. The Civil Society Sub Group of the Development Assistance Group—a network of bilateral and multilateral donors established in 2001—set up a monitoring system to track the enforcement of the Charities and Societies Proclamation and collect systematic evidence on the challenges faced by civil society organizations. In addition, the group funded an Adaptation Facility to help Ethiopian civil society groups adjust to the new legal environment.542 The first part of this project was funded by USAID, whereas the second part was funded by a group of donors that included the Swedish International Development Agency, Irish Aid, the Danish and Dutch embassies, and the Canadian International Development Agency and was executed by a local CSO Taskforce.543

The EU also successfully pushed for an exemption from the Charities and Societies Proclamation. Thanks to the Cotonou Agreement—a treaty that obliges EU partner countries to more fully involve nonstate actors in development and policy planning—the EU convinced Ethiopian authorities to label the EU’s Civil Society Fund a domestic funding source. As a result of this exemption, the EU was able to keep funding civil society groups engaged in human rights and advocacy work, which would otherwise have been be barred from raising more than 10 percent of their budget from foreign sources.544 Between 2006 and 2012, the Civil Society Fund dispensed 14.9 million euros in small grants and capacity-building support to more than 250 Ethiopian civil society organizations.545 In 2012, the EU launched a second incarnation of the fund that allocated an additional 12 million euros to Ethiopian NGOs.546 As part of the agreement, Ethiopian government authorities participate in the funding allocation decisions and therefore exercise some degree of control over the process. The program has nevertheless benefited a few organizations working directly on democracy and rights, including the HRCO, EWLA, the Consortium of Christian Relief and Development Associations, and the Vision Ethiopian Congress for Democracy. In addition, the EU has channeled grants to Ethiopian NGOs through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights.547

The U.S. government has struggled to continue its democracy assistance activities in the country. USAID initially continued funding the United Nations Development Program’s Democratic Institutions Program, which provided technical capacity building to Ethiopian governmental institutions, including the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission. Yet it phased out its support after the Electoral Board denied civil society groups the right to provide voter education ahead of the 2010 elections.548 The National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute did not resume their in-country activities after having been expelled from the country in 2005.549 However, the National Endowment for Democracy has continued disbursing small discretionary grants to Ethiopian civil society organizations, including the Vision Ethiopian Congress for Democracy, the Forum for Social Studies, and the Peace and Development Center (see Figure 6).550

Quiet Diplomacy

At the diplomatic level, both the EU and United States continued to address the human rights situation in Ethiopia privately and within the framework of high-level meetings and formal political dialogues with the Ethiopian government. Their efforts centered primarily on monitoring the impact of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and its use against journalists, opposition activists, and religious leaders. U.S. officials raised these issues in meetings of the U.S.-Ethiopian bilateral Democracy, Governance, and Human Rights Working Group.551 EU officials also regularly discussed the Charities and Societies Proclamation and the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation during its Article 8 dialogues with the Ethiopian government. These dialogues derive their name from Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement, which requires the EU and its development partners to “regularly engage” in dialogue about democracy and human rights.552

This type of quiet diplomacy led to little political change. The Ethiopian government adopted a highly formalistic approach to dialogue that provided few opportunities for a genuine debate on governance and human rights. On the EU side, the Article 8 dialogues were hampered by the lack of political engagement by member states and the absence of verifiable human rights benchmarks.553 International lobbying efforts proved most effective when they centered on specific cases, such as the release of political prisoners. For example, U.S. officials privately urged the government to cease the harassment and detention of opposition party supporters, which may have contributed to the release and pardon of a number of opposition leaders and journalists.554 Similarly, the EU expressed strong concern about the fate of the Zone 9 bloggers, who were imprisoned in 2014 and ultimately released in 2015 shortly after Obama’s visit.555

Yet high-level public pressure remained rare, even as the human rights situation in Ethiopia deteriorated further. Several prominent U.S. officials glossed over Ethiopia’s backsliding on democracy in public statements. The former under secretary of state for political affairs, Wendy Sherman, caused a small stir among human rights organizations in 2015 when she referred to Ethiopia as “a democracy that is moving forward” and asserted that Ethiopia was willing to “make every election better than the last one in being inclusive” and “[make] sure everybody’s rights are respected.”556Obama faced a similar backlash in 2015 when he became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Ethiopia—the same year that the EPRDF claimed to have won all 547 parliamentary seats in a landslide victory. During his visit, Obama called Ethiopia’s government “democratically elected,” seemingly legitimizing the flawed elections.557 While praising Ethiopia as an “outstanding” partner in the war on terror, he privately pressed Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn for improvements on human rights and political freedoms.558 Faced with criticism, the Obama administration argued that raising the profile of governance concerns during a high-level meeting would be more effective than sidelining the Ethiopian government.559 As in the case of Russia and Egypt, Obama’s team thus prioritized what they termed “principled engagement” over punitive diplomacy.560

Continued Aid Flows

While the United States and European countries have engaged Ethiopian authorities on democracy and human rights issues in public statements and private meetings, they have not applied any significant financial or economic sanctions to pressure the Ethiopian government to open up political space. U.S. aid to Ethiopia has fluctuated greatly over the years, but it has generally not been subject to conditions relating to democracy and human rights. The Security Assistance Monitor reports that the United States has provided between $300 million and $900 million in economic aid and between $1 million and $25 million in security aid to Ethiopia every year since 2003.561 While Ethiopia’s access to foreign military financing and military education and training funds has been subject to certifications from the secretary of state that Ethiopia has improved along various political indicators, U.S. support for peacekeeping, counterterrorism, and other defense operations is exempt from such certifications.562

In Europe, the Nordic countries and the European Parliament have been the most vocal and public advocates for greater European conditionality toward Ethiopia. In January 2013, the European Parliament passed a resolution imploring the European Commission and other international donors to make military and development assistance to Ethiopia contingent on political reforms, including “the repeal or amendment of the Charities and Societies Proclamation and the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation.”563However, these efforts have translated into few tangible changes in assistance modalities. For example, the EU has never activated Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement to suspend development aid to Ethiopia over democracy and governance concerns.564 After the Ethiopian government’s 2005 postelection crackdown, the EU did cancel its direct budget support to Ethiopia’s national treasury.565 Yet it redirected the funds to the World Bank’s Protection of Basic Services program in Ethiopia, which later came under fire from human rights organizations for enabling the EPRDF’s human rights abuses.566 The EU also approved a “middle-sized” governance incentive tranche—meant to incentivize and reward political reform—even as the country experienced a significant tightening of civic and political space.567 Ethiopia stands out as the only low-income African country other than The Gambia where the European Development Fund has not named democratic governance as a “focal area.”568 Between 2005 and 2014, the EU allocated only 3 percent of its total EU aid to Ethiopia to support governance reform programs.569

The United Kingdom, another major source of economic and military assistance for Ethiopia, has not significantly changed its policy toward Ethiopia since the crackdown on civil society intensified in 2009. In recent years, Ethiopia has consistently been among the top five recipients of British development aid. In fact, between 2015 and 2016, Ethiopia moved up from being the UK’s third-highest aid recipient (313 million pounds) to being the UK’s second-highest aid recipient (388 million pounds), with only Pakistan receiving more aid.570 In the past, UK aid has come under fire for allegedly supporting human rights abuses by the Ethiopian government, as in the case of Mr. O, an Ethiopian farmer who filed a suit against the UK Department for International Development for indirectly funding a “villagization” program in which Ethiopian security forces displaced hundreds of Ethiopian villagers.571

As noted in the introduction, the reluctance to use political conditionality partly stems from donors’ desire to support the Ethiopian government’s development efforts and concerns that increased pressure in the form of financial and development penalties would only hurt the most marginalized and impoverished Ethiopians.572 Donor governments also worry that isolating the Ethiopian government could further increase China’s influence in the country—particularly since the EPRDF already views Chinese investment as an important alternative to Western support.573 They point to existing evidence that democratic conditionality rarely works.574 Moreover, the belief that sustainable democracy in fact requires economic development and political stability remains prevalent among many donors, reinforced by multiple short-term incentives to continue diplomatic and assistance cooperation around counterterrorism and migration management.

Weak Responses to the Current Crisis

The disjunction between Western countries’ aid relationship to the Ethiopian government and concerns over increasing repression in the country became even more apparent during the Ethiopian government’s crackdown on protesters in 2015 and 2016. On the one hand, the frequency of high-level statements and condemnations increased. The European Parliament repeatedly issued strong statements criticizing the EPRDF’s handling of the protests. In January 2016, it passed another resolution calling on the EU to link its development cooperation with Ethiopia to democratic reform commitments and mitigate the “negative impact of displacement within EU-funded development projects.”575 In 2016, the EU delegation in Addis Ababa and various EU member states cosponsored a joint mission to Ethiopia’s Oromia region to conduct field visits, meet with stakeholders, and evaluate the human rights situation of protestors targeted by Ethiopian security forces. Similarly, twelve U.S. senators in April 2016 introduced a resolution condemning the use of violence against protesters and civil society and calling on the secretary of state to review U.S. security assistance to Ethiopia.576

At the same time, U.S. and EU officials have given no indication of a broader policy shift. In November 2015, the EU and Ethiopia signed a Declaration on a Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility, which allocates further financial support to the Ethiopian government to manage migration flows in the Horn of Africa.577 On the sidelines of the European Development Days in June 2016, EU leaders and the Ethiopian prime minister signed a joint declaration, Towards an EU-Ethiopia Strategic Engagement, which sets up a comprehensive process of cooperation along shared interests, including counterterrorism, trade, migration and economic development.578 While the initiative includes annual consultations on human rights and governance, it remains to be seen whether they will serve as an effective forum to challenge Ethiopian officials on the shrinking of civic space. After meeting Desalegn in March 2017, the EU’s high representative, Federica Mogherini, did not address the ongoing state of emergency in Ethiopia, and even praised the government’s establishment of a dialogue with the opposition.579 For now, it seems that the EU will continue to embrace quiet diplomacy while refraining from applying public pressure or conditionality, while the new U.S. administration has given no indication of a shift in approach.


407 Jeffrey Clark, “Civil Society, NGOs, and Development in Ethiopia: A Snapshot View,” World Bank, June 30, 2000,, 1.

408 Clark, “Civil Society, NGOs, and Development in Ethiopia,” 4.

409 Sisay Alemahu Yeshanew, “CSO Law in Ethiopia: Considering Its Constraints and Consequences,” Journal of Civil Society 8, no. 4 (2012): 372.

410 . Ben Rawlence and Leslie Lefkow, “‘One Hundred Ways of Putting Pressure’: Violations of Freedom of Expression and Association in Ethiopia,” Human Rights Watch, March 2010,

411 . Clark, “Civil Society, NGOs, and Development in Ethiopia,” 5–6.

412 . Bahru Zwede and Siegfried Pausewang, eds., Ethiopia: The Challenge of Democracy From Below (Uppsala: Nordic Africa Institute, 2002), 109.

413 . Abadir M. Ibrahim, The Role of Civil Society in Africa’s Quest for Democratization (Cham, Switzerland: Springer, 2016), 137; and “Ethiopia: The Curtailment of Rights,” Human Rights Watch, December 9, 1997,

414 Zwede and Pausewang, Ethiopia, 110.

415 Siegfried Pausewang and Günter Schröder, “Ethiopia,” in Encyclopedia of Human Rights,ed. David P Forsythe(New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 161.

416 . Zwede and Pausewang, Ethiopia, 109.

417 . Debebe Hailegebriel, “Ethiopia,” International Journal for Not-for-Profit Law 12, no. 2 (February 2010).

418 . Terrence Lyons, “Ethiopia in 2005: The Beginning of a Transition?,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, January 20, 2006,, 3.

419 Jon Abbink, “Discomfiture of Democracy? The 2005 Election Crisis in Ethiopia and Its Aftermath,” African Affairs 105, no. 419 (2006): 174–99.

420 . Lovise Aalen and Kjetil Tronvoll, “The End of Democracy? Curtailing Political and Civil Rights in Ethiopia,” Review of Political Economy 36,no. 120 (2009): 193–207.

421 Interview with specialist on civil society in Ethiopia, January 9, 2016.

422 Simegnish Yekoye Mengesha, “Silencing Dissent,” Journal of Democracy 27, no. 1 (January 2016): 90.

423 Ibid., 90.

424 . Sarah Vaughan, “Revolutionary Democratic State-Building: Party, State and People in the EPRDF’s Ethiopia,” Journal of Eastern African Studies 5, no. 4 (2011): 633.

425 . Aalen and Tronvoll, “The End of Democracy?,” 203.

426 . Vaughan, “Revolutionary Democratic State-Building,” 634.

427 Mengesha, “Silencing Dissent,” 92.

428 Hailegebriel, “Ethiopia.”

429 . “Civic Freedom Monitor: Ethiopia,” International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), last updated October 27, 2016,; and “Ethiopia: Proclamation No. 621/2009 of 2009, Charities and Societies Proclamation,” Federal Negarit Gazeta, February 13, 2009,

430 Dereje Feyissa, “Aid Negotiation: The Uneasy “Partnership” Between EPRDF and the Donors,” in Reconfiguring Ethiopia: The Politics of Authoritarian Reform,eds. Jon Abbink and Tobias Hagman (New York: Routledge, 2013), 208–9.

431 . “Civic Freedom Monitor: Ethiopia,” ICNL.

432 . Berhanu Denu and Ato Getachew Zewdie, “Impact of the Guideline to Determine Charities’ and Societies’ Operational and Administrative Costs (70/30 Guideline)—Phase III,” Development Assistance Group Ethiopia, September 2013,

433 . Lewis Gordon, Sean Sullivan, and Sonal Mittal, “Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Law: A Tool to Stifle Dissent,” Oakland Institute, January 2015, 9.

434 “One Hundred Ways,” Human Rights Watch.

435 . Gordon, Sullivan, and Mittal, “Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Law,” 9.

436 . Hilary Matfess, “Rwanda and Ethiopia: Developmental Authoritarianism and the New Politics of African Strong Men,” African Studies Review 58, no. 2 (September 2015): 194.

437 Leonardo R. Arriola and Terrence Lyons, “The 100% Election,” Journal of Democracy 27, no. 1 (January 2016): 82.

438 “One Hundred Ways,” Human Rights Watch.

439 “Ethiopia Blames ‘Foreign Enemies’ for Stoking Unrest,” Al Jazeera,October 10, 2016,

440 . Awol Allo, “Ethiopia Politicizes Courts to Strangle Dissent,” Al Jazeera America,July 10, 2015,

441 Shannon Orcutt, “Caught Up in Bitter Contests: Human Rights Defenders Working in the Context of Elections in Sudan, Ethiopia, Burundi and Uganda,” East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP), Human Rights House, September 2015,, 18.

442 Agence France-Presse, “Ethiopian Bloggers and Journalists Charged With Terrorism,” Guardian, July 18, 2014,

443 . Orcutt, “Caught Up in Bitter Contests,” 18.

444 Ibid., 19; Mengesha, “Silencing Dissent,” 89; and “Journalism is Not a Crime: Violations of Media Freedoms in Ethiopia,”Human Rights Watch, January 2015,

445 . Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Ethiopia,” U.S. Department of State, March 11, 2010,

446 . “‘One Hundred Ways of Putting Pressure,’” Human Rights Watch.

447 “Suppressing Dissent: Human Rights Abuses and Political Repression in Ethiopia’s Oromia Region,” Human Rights Watch, May 9, 2005,

448 Arriola and Lyons, “The 100% Election,” 85.

449 “Ethiopia Extends State of Emergency by Four Months,” Al Jazeera,March 30, 2017,

450 “Legal Analysis of Ethiopia’s State of Emergency,” Human Rights Watch, October 30, 2016,

451 . See, for example, “Human Rights Watch Encourages Opposition Violence in Ethiopia,” Official Blog of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, October 22, 2016,

452 Tracking Trends in Ethiopia’s Civil Society (TECS), “Mass Based Societies in Ethiopia: Prospects and Challenges,” Development Assistance Group Ethiopia, March 2012,, 16.

453 . Gebre Yntiso, Debebe Haile-Gebriel, and Kelkilachew Ali, “Non-State Actors in Ethiopia—Update Mapping,” Ethiopia–European Union Civil Society Fund and Civil Society Support Programme, March 2015, 66.

454 TECS, “Mass Based Societies in Ethiopia,” 23.

455 Ibid.

456 Dupuy, Ron, and Prakash, “Hands Off My Regime!,” 29.

457 Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “2013 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Ethiopia,” U.S. Department of State, February 27, 2014,

458 . Arriola and Lyons, “The 100% Election,” 79.

459 . Feyissa, “Aid Negotation,” 209.

460 Matfess, “Rwanda and Ethiopia,” 186.

461 “‘One Hundred Ways of Putting Pressure,’” Human Rights Watch.

462 Meles Zenawi, “States and Markets: Neoliberal Limitations and the Case for a Developmental State,” in Good Growth and Governance in Africa: Rethinking Development Strategies, eds. Akbar Noman, Kwesi Botchwey, Howard Stein, and Joseph E. Stiglitz(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).

463 Tobias Hagmann and Jon Abbink, “The Politics of Authoritarian Reform in Ethiopia, 1991 to 2012,” in Reconfiguring Ethiopia, 3.

464 Pausewang and Schröder, “Ethiopia,” 160.

465 . Author interview with specialist on civil society in Ethiopia, January 9, 2016.

466 Feyissa, “Aid Negotiation,” 214.

467 “Stifling Human Rights Work: The Impact of Civil Society Legislation in Ethiopia,” Amnesty International, March 2012,, 12.

468 Yntiso, Haile-Gebriel, and Ali, “Non-State Actors in Ethiopia,” 43.

469 Author interview with specialist on civil society in Ethiopia, January 9, 2016.

470 Dupuy, Ron, and Prakash, “Hands Off My Regime!,” 15.

471 “The Impact of the CSO Proclamation on the Human Rights Council,” Human Rights Council (HRC), July 2011,, 8.

472 . Ibid., 4.

473 . Ibid.

474 . Amnesty International, CIVICUS, and Human Rights Watch, “Ethiopia: Supreme Court Ruling Marks a Further Erosion of Human Rights Work,” joint public statement, Human Rights Watch, October 19, 2012,

475 “The Impact of the CSO Proclamation,” HRC, 12.

476 . Ibid., 9, 12.

477 . HRC et al., “Joint UPR Submission by the Ethiopian CSO Taskforce: Human Rights Council (HRC), Vision Ethiopia Congress for Democracy (VECOD), Ethiopian Human Rights Service (EHRS), Ye Ethiopia Ye Fiteh Seratoch Ma’ekel (Center for Legal Pluralism in Ethiopia,” UPR Info, September 2013,, 5.

478 . “Stifling Human Rights Work,” Amnesty International,26.

479 Ibid.,13.

480 Ibid., 24.

481 . “The Impact of the CSO Proclamation,” HRC, 9.

482 Ibid.

483 . Xan Rice “UN Fears Humanitarian Crisis in Remote Ethiopian Region,” Guardian, September 20, 2007,

484 Addis Standard, “Ethiopia: The Slow Death of a Civilian Government and the Rise of a Military Might,” AllAfrica, January 24, 2017,

485 Kenneth Roth, “Ethiopia: Development Assistance Group Should Address Human Rights in Ethiopia” (letter to Kenichi Ohashi, Ethiopia country director for the World Bank), Human Rights Watch, December 17, 2010,

486 “140th Special Report (Executive Summary),” HRC, March 14, 2016,

487 “Ethiopia: Civil Society Groups Urge International Investigation Into Ongoing Human Rights Violations,” press release, Amnesty International, August 30, 2016,

488 . Yntiso, Haile-Gebriel, and Ali, “Non-State Actors in Ethiopia,” 43.

489 “Ethiopia’s Compliance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities” (submitted to the 16th Session of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, August 15–September 2, 2016), Advocates for Human Rights,

490 HRC et al., “Joint UPR Submission,” 2.

491 Addis Standard, “Ethiopia: The Slow Death of a Civilian Government.”

492 . Ibid.

493 “Ethiopia: The 15 May 2005 Elections and Human Rights,” Amnesty International, April 2005,, 6.

494 . “The Impact of the CSO Proclamation,” HRC, 13.

495 . “Stifling Human Rights Work,” Amnesty International,18.

496 . Dupuy, Ron, Prakash, “Hands Off My Regime!,” 16.

497 Addis Standard, “Ethiopia: The Slow Death of a Civilian Government.”

498 . “Charities and Societies Proclamation,” Federal Negarit Gazeta.

499 . “Coalition of Civil Societies Says Ethiopia’s Elections Fair, Democratic,” Xinhua,May 25, 2010,

500 . European Union Election Observation Mission to Ethiopia, “Final Report on the House of People’s Representatives and State Council Elections,” Election Observation and Democracy Support, May 2010,

501 Marthe van der Wolf, “No Western Observers for Ethiopian Elections,” Voice of America,May 20, 2015,

502 Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, “2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Ethiopia,” U.S. Department of State, April 8, 2011,

503 Interview with Ethiopian civil society activist, January 9, 2017.

504 Yntiso, Haile-Gebriel, and Ali, “Non-State Actors in Ethiopia,” 14.

505 Barbara Unmüßig et al., “Closure of the Heinrich Böll Foundation Office in Ethiopia,” Heinrich Böll Stiftung, November 29, 2012,

506 Denu and Zewdie, “Impact of the Guideline.”

507 . TECS, “On CHSOs Engaged in the Health Sector,” Development Assistance Group Ethiopia, December 2013,

508 TECS, “Impact of the Proclamation and Guidelines on Consortia (Networks),” Development Assistance Group Ethiopia, August 2013,

509 Dupuy, Ron and Prakash, “Hands Off My Regime!,” 16.

510 . Ibid., 17.

511 . Ibid., 18.

512 . Ibid., 11.

513 . Ibid., 18.

514 TECS, “Charities Working With Children,” Development Assistance Group Ethiopia, August 2014,

515 Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011: Ethiopia,” U.S. Department of State, May 24, 2012,

516 . Yntiso, Haile-Gebriel, and Ali, “Non-State Actors in Ethiopia,” 43.

517 “Stifling Human Rights Work,” Amnesty International, 22.

518 . TECS, “Charities Working With Children.”

519 Hiwot Getachew Gebreyohannes, “The Challenges and Prospects of ChSA ‘70/30 Guideline’ Implementation on the Performance of NGOs in Ethiopia: A Case Study of Food for the Hungry/Ethiopia (FH/Ethiopia)” (master’s thesis, School of Management Studies, Indira Gandhi National Open University, April 2016),, 22–23; and Denu and Zewdie, “Impact of the Guideline.”

520 Berhanu Denu and Ato Getachew Zewdie, “Early Evidence of the Impact of the 70/30 Guideline to Determine Operational and Administrative Costs (Guideline 2/2003 EC) Phase II,” Development Assistance Group Ethiopia,

521 Ibid.

522 Yoseph Badwaza, “Ethiopia: Attack on Civil Society Escalates as Dissent Spreads,” Freedom House, July 22, 2016,

523 Author interview with specialist on civil society in Ethiopia, January 9, 2016.

524 Ibid.

525 Ibid.

526 . CIVICUS, EHAHRDO and HRC, “Joint NGO Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review,” CIVICUS, September 16, 2013,, 4.

527 “Stifling Human Rights Work,” Amnesty International,5.

528 . Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011: Ethiopia”; and Yntiso, Haile-Gebriel, and Ali, “Non-State Actors in Ethiopia,” 76.

529 . “Ethiopia Undermines Financial Support for Human Rights Groups,” Freedom House, October 24, 2016; and interview with specialist on human rights in Ethiopia, November 25, 2016.

530 . Yntiso, Haile-Gebriel, and Ali, “Non-State Actors in Ethiopia,” 69.

531 Luis Flores, “Development Aid to Ethiopia: Overlooking Violence, Marginalization, and Political Repression,” Oakland Institute, 2013,, 1.

532 . Awol Allo, “Ethiopia’s Unprecedented Nationwide Oromo Protests: Who, What, Why?,” African Arguments, August 6, 2016,

533 “US Shuts Down Drone Base in Ethiopia,” BBC, January 4, 2016,

534 . James Jeffrey, “Europe Pays Out to Keep a Lid on Ethiopia Migration,” IRIN,October 24, 2016,

535 . Interview with specialist on human rights in Ethiopia, November 25, 2016.

536 . Hailegebriel, “Ethiopia.”

537 Alphia Zoyab, “Criminalizing Humanitarian Aid—Ethiopia’s Controversial New Law,” International Affairs Review, December 7, 2008,

538 Hailegebriel, “Ethiopia.”

539 “Declaration by the Presidency on Behalf of the EU on the Adoption of the Charities and Societies Proclamation by the House of Peoples’ Representatives of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia,” press release, Council of the European Union, January 30, 2009,

540 . Lotte Leicht and Georgette Gagnon, “Letter to the European Union on Their Disappointing Reaction to the Ethiopian NGO Law,” Human Rights Watch, February 10, 2009,

541 Robert Wood, “New Ethiopian Law Restricts NGO Activities,” press statement, U.S. Department of State, January 8, 2009,

542 ICNL, “The NGO Legal Enabling Environment Program (LEEP): Quarterly Programmatic Report, July–September 2009,” U.S. Agency for International Development,, 3; and Hailegebriel, “Ethiopia.”

543 . Yntiso, Haile-Gebriel, and Ali, “Non-State Actors in Ethiopia,” 14, 48.

544 “About CSF,” Ethiopia–European Union Civil Society Fund,; and “Answer Given by High Representative/Vice-President on Behalf of the Commission,” European Parliament, March 9, 2012,; “Annual Action Programme 2011 Covered by the Country Strategy Paper 2008–2013 for the European Development Fund in Ethiopia,” Germany Trade and Invest,; Max Hennion et al., “Evaluation of the Commission of the European Union’s Co-Operation With Ethiopia,” European Commission, January 2012,

545 “Quarterly Newsletter of the EU Delegation to Ethiopia (July-October 2016),” Delegation of the EU to Ethiopia, November 2, 2016,—october-2016_en; and “Supporting Non-State Actors, Building Partnerships,” Ethiopia–European Union Civil Society Fund,

546 “About CSF,” Ethiopia–European Union Civil Society Fund.

547 Karen Del Biondo, “Multiple Principals, Multiple Agents: EU and US Democracy Assistance in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, December 2014,, 19; and Yntiso, Haile-Gebriel, and Ali, “Non-State Actors in Ethiopia,” 55.

548 Ibid., 18.

549 Ibid.

550 “Ethiopia 2015,” National Endowment for Democracy,

551 . “U.S. and Ethiopia Hold 6th Bilateral Democracy, Governance and Human Rights Working Group in Addis Ababa,” press release, U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, March 30, 2016,

552 “Answer Given by High Representative/Vice-President Ashton on Behalf of the Commission,” European Parliament, November 9, 2012,; “Answer Given by High Representative/Vice-President Ashton on Behalf of the Commission,” and European Parliament, March 9, 2012,

553 Federica Petrucci et al., “Thematic Evaluation of the European Commission Support to Respect of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Including Solidarity with Victims of Repression),” European Commission, December 2011,, 49.

554 Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Ethiopia.”

555 . “Answer Given by Vice-President Mogherini on Behalf of the Commission,” European Parliament, September 11, 2015,

556 “Press Availability by Wendy R. Sherman,” U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, April 16, 2015,; “The United States’ Irresponsible Praise of Ethiopia’s Regime,” Washington Post,April 30, 2015,; Mohammed Ademo, “US Official Praises Ethiopian ‘Democracy,’ Rest of World Begs to Differ,” The Scrutineer (blog), Al Jazeera America,April 18, 2015,

557 . “Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia in Joint Press Conference,” White House, July 27, 2015,

558 . Katrina Manson, “Barack Obama Urges Ethiopia to Improve Political Freedoms,” Financial Times, July 27, 2015,

559 . Edward-Isaac Dovere, “Obama Differs From Top Aides Over Ethiopia’s Democracy,” Politico,July 27, 2015,

560 . Richard Youngs, “The End of Democratic Conditionality: Good Riddance?,” FRIDE, September 2010,, 3.

561 “Security Aid: Ethiopia, 2000–2016,” Security Assistance Monitor,

562 Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012, H.R. 2055, 112th Cong. (2011),; Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014, H.R. 3547, 113th Cong. (2013),; Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015, H.R. 83, 113th Cong. (2013),; Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, H.R. 2029, 114th Cong. (2015),

563 . European Parliament, Resolution of 15 January 2013 on EU Strategy for the Horn of Africa, 2012/2026(INI), January 15, 2013,

564 Karen Del Biondo and Jan Orbie, “The European Commission’s Implementation of Budget Support and the Governance Incentive Tranche in Ethiopia: Democracy Promoter or Developmental Donor?,” Third World Quarterly 35, no. 3 (2014).

565 Ibid.

566 “Development Without Freedom: How Aid Underwrites Repression in Ethiopia,”Human Rights Watch, October 19, 2010,; and Helen Epstein, “Why Are We Funding Abuse in Ethiopia?” New York Review of Books, March 14, 2013,

567 . Del Biondo and Orbie, “The European Commission’s Implementation of Budget Support and the Governance Incentive Tranche in Ethiopia.”

568 Christine Hackenesch, “Good Governance in EU External Relations: What Role for Development Policy in a Changing International Context?,” Directorate-General for External Policies, European Parliament, July 2016,

569 Ibid.

570 . UK Aid Development tracker,; and “Ethiopia Is Top UK Aid Recipient,” Voice of America, February 28, 2011,

571 Claire Provost, “Ethiopia’s Rights Abuses ‘Being Ignored by US and UK Aid Agencies,’” Guardian,July 17, 2013,; and David Smith, “’Britain Is Supporting a Dictatorship in Ethiopia,’” Guardian, July 6, 2014,

572 . William Easterly and Laura Freschi, “Why Are We Supporting Repression in Ethiopia?,” New York Review of Books,November 15, 2010,

573 . David H. Shinn, “The Evolution of China-Ethiopia Relations,” This Is Africa, March 31, 2015,

574 . Youngs, “The End of Democratic Conditionality.”

575 European Parliament, Resolution of 21 January 2016 on the Situation in Ethiopia, 2016/2520(RSP), January 21, 2016,

576 “Cardin, Rubio, Colleagues Condemn Ethiopia’s Crackdown on Civil Society,” press release, U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, April 20, 2016,

577 . “European Union and Ethiopia Sign Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility,” press release, European Commission, November 11, 2015,

578 “Ethiopia, EU Sign Joint Declaration Towards Strategic Engagement,” Ethiopian News Agency, June 15, 2016,

579 “HRVP Federica Mogherini Meets Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegm,” press release, European Union External Action, March 17, 2017,

End of document

Global Voices: As WHO Director-General Election Nears, Ethiopia’s Candidate Is Accused of Cholera Cover-Ups. #WHA70 May 16, 2017

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As WHO Director-General Election Nears, Ethiopia’s Candidate Is Accused of Cholera Cover-Ups

A Unicef-supported pump in Ethiopia. © UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Ayene. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

In January 2017, when Ethiopia’s candidate for director-general of World Health Organization, Tedros Adahanom, stormed to the top of the final three candidates — beating out six other candidates — it was a high time for Ethiopia’s government.

Although Adahanom had faced ferocious opposition from his fellow citizens, he has largely made it through unscathed, giving a propaganda victory for Ethiopian state media. With his well-funded campaign, Adahanom has traveled to more than 120 countries, and his supporters felt confident that his election is all but a matter of time.

Then on May 13, the New York Times ran a story reporting that a “prominent global health expert” had accused Adahanom of concealing three cholera epidemics from 2008 to 2011 during his tenure as Ethiopia’s health minister. Lawrence O. Gostin made the allegations; he is an informal adviser to one of Adahanom’s opponents in the director-general race, the UK’s David Nabarro, but Nabarro told the New York Times that he had not instructed Gostin to make the accusations on his behalf.

Finally! The @NYTimes calls out @WHO DG candidate @DrTedros for covering up cholera epidemic using the euphemism of Acute Water Diarrhea. 

Abebe Gellaw, a prominent Ethiopian journalist in the diaspora, wrote on Facebook that it was only the beginning:

New York Times has a hard-hitting article on Tedros Adhanom. Tedros says it is a “smear campaign”. But the revelation is just the tip of the iceberg. A lot more will come out in the next few days…

A screenshot of the New York Times article on Tedros Adahanom. Click the image to read the story on

The explosive article made Adahanom and his supporters defensive while it created a sense of vindication for his opponents. Adahanom has denied the allegations. A former Reuters journalist who wrote Ethiopia’s cholera outbreak in 2009, however, responded on Twitter that the accusations as detailed in the New York Times story was consistent with what he had seen.

In 2009, when Tedros was health minister, I obtained minutes of an NGO/UN meeting, in which a cholera outbreak was acknowledged.

NGOs, UN and government refused to comment. And UN officials pressured me not to run story. Full story here: 

Photo published for Cholera/diarrhoea outbreak hits 18,000 in Ethiopia

Cholera/diarrhoea outbreak hits 18,000 in Ethiopia

Cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases have infected 18,000 people in Ethiopia over the last three weeks in many parts of the country, including the capital Addis Ababa, according to a document seen…

At the time, UN officials regularly complained in private that lack of acknowledgement from govt stopped them getting more aid in.

In responding to the allegations, Adahanom accused Nabarro’s camp of engaging in smear campaign with imperialistic intentions. Pro-government groups took this line of accusation even further, claiming Nabarro is working with Ethiopian opposition groups that are labeled as “terrorists.”

Ethiopia’s semi-official news outlet accuses the current special advisor to the UN Secretary General, Dr. David Navarro with terrorism.


Since April 2014, a popular protest movement in Ethiopia has challenged the government, which in turn has responded brutally. According to Human Rights Watch, at least 800 people have died, and thousands of political opponents and hundreds of dissidents have been accused of terrorism. Since October 2016, authorities have imposed some of the world’s toughest censorship laws after it declared a state of emergency.

Now, the tactic of calling opponents “terrorists” has spilled over Ethiopia’s borders and might create blowback for Adahanom as his record is examined critically by international media.

The health ministers of WHO member states will vote for the new director-general on May 23, 2017.

Ethiopia: The TPLF Tyrants clan encapsulated in the Ring oF Fire October 23, 2016

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

The TPLF Tyrants clan encapsulated in the Ring oF Fire



By Odaa Hora,, 23 October 2016

An Irish proverb says, “Put a silk on a goat and it is still a goat.”  As whatever  pretext, name they attest to themselves,  portrayes and propagates, history has repeatedly proved that tyrants are always tyrants independent of time and place.


They possess contradictory behaviors of an anomaly, live with fear because  they do  know their deeds in thier life. They consistency lies, and posses the culture of denials, hypocrsy, nepotism, fabrications used to erect false edifices that must maintain at all costs till they cought red handed, captured and brought to justice or killed. Power for the tyarnt is a license to corruption, killing, torturing, incarcerating, burning, looting and lust for wealth. Tyrants held power by armed supression, grisly combination of maschine-gun and mysticism on down-trodden populations.


They  generally moves with four M’s (Motivations, Muscles or Maschine-guns, Murder and Mysticism) in their lifetime. Their primary motivation sets on lust to acquire wealth, chauvinism, cynicism, greediness, and selfishness. To achieve their goal they implementes a grisly  combination of muscle; machine-gun in holding, maintaining  and clinging into  political power as the main means to achieve their goal and solutions  for ever challenges they face.


A year after the  current regime led by Meles, the architect and the brain of the TPLF–gangster clan took power planned, calculated and systematically implemented Stalin style of power-holding and maintaining. The regime began the process of elimination of  the genuine political parties and their  political leaders with whom they drafted the charter of transition after the collapse of the military junta in 1991.


The regime began in overt and in covert operations against them, began targeted killing,  jailing in mass, hunting closed all offices, facilites, pludrerd  their properties and forced to exile. The overt and covert elimination was  ordered against formidable political forces, personals and institutions and systematically and cold-blooded killings followed all form atrocities committed  against their sympathizers, business mean artists, e.t.c. people from all sphere of life, indiscriminately, who said no to the tyrant WAYANE hegemony.

The regime operated and still do operates under the masks of Federalism, Democracy, Terrorism, Development, e.t.c., as a client stuck with the political west, mentored,  financed, blessed as “good guys” by the same people who tells us today that  the regimes stakeholders belongs to one clan, the very minority and tell us the statistics.


During his Stalinist-style of power consolidation and maintenance, the regime conducted the act of genocide, in Oromia, Ogaden, Gambel, the lists go on, and evicted millions of the  indigenous people from the ancestral soil,  incarceration  in  one of the poorest barbaric, predatory empire in the horn of  Africa ruled  iron-fisted until his death  in the year 2012.


Haile Mariam Desalgn a perfect assimilate from the south was brought to the position from nowhere to avoid the internal clashes between the deep-rooted TPLF rival groups after his master, Legesse “Meles” Zenawi has physically gone that turned his back against his own people and becomes a marionette and  a talking drum of the TPLF commanded and ruled regime. fabricated, cloned, branded  by Meles as a good product, loyal servant during his iron-fisted rule.That is why  people official says and continues saying that “Meles is ruling from his graveyard” and that does not come out of the vacuum, rather based on the facts on the ground of the commanding power of WEYANE. Once they brought him to the post, H. Mariam sworn to proceeds with his master’s project, plans, and preaches in the name of his master.


The famous anti-slavery hero of the  African-American  Frederick Douglass reminds us that:

Those who profess to favor freedom; and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its waters. This struggle may be a moral one ; or a physical one ; or it  may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did, and it never will. Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them;and this will continue till they are resisted with other words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. He further said: Where justice is  denied, where poverty is  enforced, where ignorance prevails, and  any one class is made to fill that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and  degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.

Today while we thank our Heroes and Heroines of our people who sacrificed their life to preserve our culture and tradition that went through planned, calculated  and implemented wars and waged to wipe out Oromummaa:, the Gada-Seeqqee System:the unique primordial pure African culture and holidays like Irrecha, the apex of  Oromo cultural celebration  among many others.


Oromummaa went through extremely genocide and ethnocide for centuries by aliens of the north, the Habeshas /Abyssinia to the very date. Never theless, whatever vilification was done and still do, It survived. Now more than every, our culture is found in renaissance (the revival of of anything which has longbeen in decay or  extent), in the position of flowering, in each and every angle of Oromia and no one on the planet reverses it and  furthermore gained global reckon. Let the pictures of Hora Sadii speak for itself.


Irreesa as the apex of  the holidays of thanksgiving to Waaqa to all Oromo people, the  Omnipotent, the creator of the universe according to Oromo philosophy, and Worldview. Irreessa  has been celebrated two times annually, in Birraa (Spring) and Arfaasaa /Afraasa (Autumn) seasons before it suffered extreme ethnocide since the Occupation of Oromia. Irreessa a signature of the  identity of the Oromo people (Orommumaa/ Oromonesss) part and parcel of the complex  unique egalitarian system of Gada-Seeqee System of Oromos in the horn of  Africa.


The  Oromos celebrate their symbolical rituals of their Irrecha in the open air around their Waaqas (God) given beautiful natural lakes (Hora), Malkaa (Streams), Mountains, Hills, e.t.c. Water is  primordial, a source and maintains of Life  in Oromo philosophy and mythology.  They prepare from one to the next Irrecha holiday  celebration and show up with their beautiful cultural dressings and symbolical  tools and express their personal and collective experiences of the past and their hopes for the future after the Rainy season (Gana) has passed.


Nothing is new, but there are new Ears!  

The Declaration of a state of emergency by TPLF tyrant regime: Today, while we thank the heroes and heroines who sacrificed their life for freedom and liberation with empty hand crossed and  to the technological advances of human endeavor, Internets, face books, youtubes, twitters, google etc, an era of flowering Oromo medias and  global medias like Aljazira,  the gruesome acts of the regime, at list can’t leave hidden to the world. It will not stay long as untold history buried in the empire whatever major the tyrants deploys.


The planned, calculated and systematically implemented massacre (ethnocide) committed by the regime  on  holy Ireessa  celebration of 2016 Sunday,  October the 2nd  in Bishooftu at Hora Arsadii on Pilgrims  was brought to the world at the spot to be watched and judged.


The world had witnessed  fighter jets flying lower and lower to the Masses, again and again, spraying  tear- and- burning gasses, dropping  stones packed with paper right from the top  tanks  rolling and shooting on the ground, armed disguised surrogate killers intermingled within the crowd and shooting the person next to them


The atrocities committed  by trained sniper-shooters with modern automatic rifles hidden in the bushes around Hora Arsadii hills began precise shot in the head and heart. As the military jet began spraying the gas and shooting began from all sides the masses of the pilgrims were turned into panic, Hora Sadii was turned to a death toll of the beautiful colored Oromo pilgrims.


The massacre what the world has destined to witness in Horsade, Bishooftu at an umbilical cord of Oromia on the day of IRREECHA PLIGRAMAGE on October 2, 2016 is nothing more than spilling more Benzine to the Ring of Fire and Flame of the Liberation Struggle people blowing toward the  the heart of OROMIA, and to others with similar historical fates and victims of genocide and ethnocide  to dismantle one of the most gruesome tyrant’s, TPLF-Fascist regimes that controlled the empire at gunpoint for the last solid 25 years and conducted genocide and annihilation policy.


The year 2016 was expected  to be the final phase of Irreessa or Irrecha Oromo culture and Religion celebration in Bishooftu, Hora Arsadii  to be registered as the UNESCO World Heritage in Human History. For this unique holiday, a conservative estimation of about two million people who succeed to arrive at  Hora  Sadii/Sadee, Bishoftu to their destiny for celebration by hook or crook, breaking down all hurdles and manipulations the regime has worked on it  in every angle to  block them once the Abba Gada had announced the Date of  celebration of Irrecha festival of year 2016 on Sunday, October the  2nd.


Right know we are witnessing that the tyrant TPLF gangsters are acting like a dog  infected by theRabies virus and do not know what come out of their stinging mouth and calcified Brain. They do sense that they are sitting on the epicenter of the  HOT VOLCANO at the umbilical cord of OROMIA in Finfinne surrounded by the RING OF FIRE and FLAME blowing toward them in every direction with tempo and to melts them as a piece of butter droped in to flame the  very soon.


Attribute to those Pilgrims who lost their life by TPLF-Bloodthirsty Ogres in Hora Sadii, Bishooftu;Oromia. one of my favor Poet, let her Soul RIP, Maya Angelou:


A Last love,
proper in conclusion,
should snip the wings
forbidding further flight.
But I, now,
reft of that confusion,
am lifted up
and speeding toward the light. 

Maya Angelou


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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

Addis Standard

“What is being seen right now is that people come out to protest, EPRDF kills. It is trying to govern by the force of arms, but the Ethiopian people are not going to accept that. If things continue this way, we are getting into a very dangerous road. Talking about development while refusing to protect the rights and freedoms of the people, who are the main instruments of development, is both insanity and an embarrassment. Any dictatorial regime can build infrastructure but development, in its essence, is intertwined with the rights and freedoms of the people who benefit from it. Unless EPRDF tries to seek its legitimacy from respecting these rights and freedoms, it is taking the country in a wrong way, to a very dangerous place where there might be carnages.”



Gebru Asrat

(Addis Standard) — Born in Mekelle, the Capital of the Tigray regional state in the north, Gebru Asrat became one of the early members of the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF), Ethiopia’s all too powerful member of the governing coalition, Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). But Gebru left EPRDF in early 2000 following a major split within TPLF in the wake of the 1998-2000 war between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Prior to that Gebru served as the president of the Tigray Regional State from 1991 – 2001 and was one of the top executive members of the TPLF’s politburo as well as the executive member of EPRDF. After leaving EPRDF, Gebru established the opposition Arena Tigray and became its chairman in 2007. Today Arena Tigray is one of the member parties of the larger opposition block, MEDREK.  In 2014, Gebru has published an acclaimed book: “LualawinetEna Democracy Be Ethiopia” (Sovereignty and Democracy in Ethiopia).  Addis Standard’s

Addis Standard – In your 2014 book “Democracy and Sovereignty in Ethiopia” you argued that TPLF’s culture of secrecy had helped its eventual triumph in overthrowing the militarist Derg and most of the party’s followers were indoctrinated with the propaganda of Stalinist determination. What’s the context of that culture, if you will, in light of the current situation in the TPLF-dominated-EPRDF led Ethiopia?

 GebruAsrat – TPLF was initially formed to pursue a political struggle. In order to meet that political goal through military means, it had established an army. This is one of its features. In its early days TPLF was a Marxist Leninist party. An army needs prudence [and] caution; secrets are not needed to be passed to the opposing group or to the enemy. But there is also fierce centralism which comes from the Marxist Leninist ideology.

These two factors [contributed to TPLF’s culture of secrecy] and helped it for the success of the armed struggle. But later on, after the armed struggle came to an end [with victory] TPLF denounced the Marxist Leninist ideology, and its militarist approach was seemingly replaced by a political program. But what TPLF did was to remove the flesh from its Stalinism structure, not the bone and the skeleton.  It kept the skeleton so that it would help it to rule the people of Ethiopia. It did so by using the fundamental principles of centralism; there is the rule of one party, which now they call the dominant party under the guise of revolution ary democracy.  The party kept its culture of secrecy and its centralism principle because they are convenient to rule [with an iron first].All the talks about democracy, justice, equality and the rule of law were eventually abandoned. Although it somehow shifted the gear to Capitalism during the early days of its rule the transition was not clear either. The party didn’t completely abandon the old Marxist Leninist ways; it selected what it needed to rule, to maintain its power and sustained them. Transparency was lost and a highly centralized one party dominated system was established. This secretive nature of the dominant TPLF and its refusal to be open to the public has impacted the democratization process of the country. More than that the features it has brought from the Marxist Leninist ideology like centralism, the concept of a dominant party and revolutionary democracy has eventually hampered the road to democracy and gave way to our reality today in which one party does whatever it wants.

 AS – There are people who argue that TPLF betrayed its initial noble goals, which were its foundations, after it assumed power. But judging from what you just said above (its culture of secrecy and its loyalty to an out-of-date ideology) one could say that the formation of TPLF was essentially flawed from the very beginning. And it seems that the problems we are witnessing today are the manifestations of those flaws. Am I correct?

GA – We have to clarify this in two ways: there are those who argue that TPLF’s noble goals could have only been attained through [the guiding principles of] Marxist Leninist ideology. I was one of those who believed in this. I used to fully believe that other ways of democratization were wrong; that it would not bring equality, liberty and justice. It was a mixture of belief, philosophy and ideology. So people who saw [the party’s last minute conversion to capitalism] felt they were betrayed. Many of the old guard (the old cadres), were carved in this way, so they clearly felt betrayed. On the other hand there were those even in that time who asked [if TPLF] shouldn’t have to be a democratic organization in which a marketplace of ideas were entertained. People who saw things from this perspective felt like the Marxist Leninist ideology, in its essence, could not have brought democracy. These were people who felt betrayed from the very beginning. At the end both of them have lost. There is no democracy; and there was no Marxist Leninist as it was envisioned in the beginning. Those ardent Marxist Leninist ideology supporters were betrayed because at the dawn of victory when the rebel soldiers entered into the capital the ideology was not even to be mentioned. And those who yearned for democracy were also betrayed because we ended up having a system of one dominant party rule.

AS – In chapter two of your book you explained the rocky relationship that often existed between TPLF and other armed groups that were operating in the country during the armed struggle. As someone who has been in the inner circles of the TPLF both during the armed struggle and afterwards, how do you characterize this nature of TPLF as a party vis a vis its relationship with the other sister parties within the governing coalition of EPRDF?

 GA – Yes I have written that TPLF often ended its relationships with other armed groups, which did not identify with it, by force and war. That was during the time of the armed struggle. Now, these four parties that make up the EPRDF are sister parties. More than that they say they have the same program and objective. But even in that case, there is something that must be known:  these parties are not unified and it is not clear why. If they do not have a program difference, if they have similar national visions, if they do not have a principle or ideology difference, as they claim, they should have been one national party [or] should have formed a unity. But this didn’t happen because there is this notion that EPRDF can keep the interests of each party, so it stayed this way for 25 years.

As it is known, of the four parties the one with the highest influence and the most veteran is TPLF. The amount of influence TPLF has, or we should rather say had, on other parties is not a minor one. This is not visible during eventless and peaceful times. But when there is a problem, things start to surface. For example in 2000, when EPRDF as a governing coalition was hit by a serious crisis, the value of these parties began to be measured by their loyalties to the late MelesZenawi, or TPLF. The leaders of some of these parties have even found themselves in dangerous positions.  Senior party members who have a sense of independence were kicked out and were replaced by others. This is to say that during the times of peace, the parties appear to be equal. Gradually this led the umbrella party to become what we can call a one man tyranny. As a result every party or member, who is not loyal, has faced difficulties.

But now there appear to be changes following the death of MelesZenawi, which had a very big tactical implication to EPRDF. The late Meles was a leader who managed to control and rule all the parties as well as the army. After his death all the parties within EPRDF, or rather senior leaders within those parties, have nominated him/herself to be the next Meles, showing visible signs of an increasing distance between the four parties.

AS  – In the past intra-party or intra-region conflicts which are common in federal states like Ethiopia were effectively managed by TPLF/EPDRF. This was attributed to the absence of the role of opposition parties in any of the regions. Since EPRDF governs all the regions, it has found it to be easier to manage potential intra-party or intra-region conflicts. But recent regional squabbles, for example between the Amhara and Tigray regions, seem to be on the rise. These are not simply expressions of discontent by the people of the two regions.  They are rather conflicts between the two parties governing the two regions. What is at the bottom of this? These are two parties under the same umbrella. What does this say about the two parties which are seemingly loyal to the principles of the mother party EPRDF?

GA – We can call these parties one and at the same time four. They are one because they have a common program and a national vision. On the other hand they are parties formed to maintain the interests of their individual regional interests. So this problem, even if it was not as accentuated as now, was seen before, especially in border issues. There were problems about border demarcation between Tigray and Amhara in two particular places; one in Wolkait, specifically in the place called Dansha; the second around Agaw, in the area called Abergede. There were conflicts. At the end of the day what are these parties loyal to? Their own regions or the country in general? It is not clear. Even if we see them as members of one party, they are also four different entities. So they give precedence   for their respective regions. This in itself creates conflicts; here it is expressed in the form of border conflict. It might as well be expressed in a different form. In benefits, in budget, for instance.So it can stem from the regional interest each party is trying to pursue. But essentially the Wolkait situation can be resolved by following the dictates of the Constitution. The same with Addis Abeba and Oromia. They can be solved following the Constitution. But the questions raised by the public go beyond that. They are questions of basic rights and liberties. They are questions of justice. They are questions of governorship. But in EPRDF’s Ethiopia whenever there is a problem, there is a tendency to externalize the sources. They point fingers at others. They are even saying that the public movement we are seeing now is the doing of the Eritrean government, the doings of our enemies from abroad. I think it is pure insanity to assume that millions are bought by the enemy; it is insane to assume that the Eritrean government has the power, in our country, to mobilize all these people. This externalization is also visible in other ways; whenever there is a problem in Oromia, the others see it as the fault line of OPDO. Whenever there is a problem in Amhara, the others point their fingers at ANDM and so on. They do not see it as a national problem. So when big problems, like we are witnessing now, occur, they tend to pull each other. We have seen it in 2000. It was triggered by the Eritrean question and how sovereignty was handled. There are problems within one party, let alone a front of four parties that are not unified.


AS – Ethiopia is experiencing frequent protests almost in every corner. With that in mind some prominent veterans say TPLF/EPRDF is at a crossroads and they are calling for a reform from within. What is your take on that? Do you agree that their prescription of reform within the TPLF/EPRDF is what a better Ethiopia needs now?

In my view TPLF was at the crossroads for a long time now. It’s been a long time but now it is very clear. It is failing to even manage the situation in its own backyard. There are demonstrations, for example the one in Embasenet. There is public discontent. There are questions of absence of good governance and democracy, and the presence of rampant corruption. These problems, through time, have penetrated into the party itself. Last year in August and September when the TPLF held its convention, the questions were raised from within the party. Party members were saying that the party was not in the right track. They criticized TPLF for being so weak that it can’t even manage its own region properly let alone impact the wider country. These questions are still alive.  Now the situation is very critical. For an entire year, there have been public gatherings, public meetings by members of civil servants and the society at large. But as [Albert] Einstein said it well it’s insanity to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.  They have tried it for more than twenty years without a change. And now we have reached at a tipping point. This problem cannot be solved in a similar way unless there is a fundamental change in the country. So these people, my older comrades, appear to be concerned by this reality. I agree with the analyses they give about the presence of a critical situation in the country.  I see their initiation to do this as a much needed positive move. However, when we come to solutions they subscribed, I must say that, they have said what I have said personally and as a member of Arena Tigray Party, which is also a member of the larger Medrek. We, as a party, have long put what we saw as the solutions to the problems in Ethiopia on several occasions. Fundamental democratic change is needed, much different from what EPRDF is following right now. If there is no democratization in Ethiopia, the problems will keep on escalating and they will put the country in a very dangerous situation. So I agree with some of what they had to say personally. But there are also suggestions that revolutionary democracy is still right. I disagree with that. It is not right. It hasn’t been right. It never worked. It cannot be a means to cultivate democracy. In fact it chokes it to death. And those commentators are saying that they agree with the principles of the developmental state. This is a scheme to put the entire economy in the hands of the state; to put the land, the budget, the country’s wealth in the hands of the state to oppress the others more easily. So I don’t agree. I do not have any problem with the government putting its hand in the economy. But like the way it is now, when the government controls everything, it becomes wrong. But the main thing is they have seen it that the country is in a critical state. And there are some solutions they suggested, like mass public discussions. But I don’t have the naiveté to believe that EPRDF is capable of reforming itself. I don’t believe that. To be fair, these are not the only solutions they suggested. They also recommended the party to have a dialogue with other opposition parties and to open the political space, which I agree with. If EPRDF reforms itself it might be useful for it. However I, as an opposition, and as someone who is a member of a party representing an alternative way,  I say, as long as democracy is not practiced in its entirety, I don’t see a way out of this quagmire for Ethiopia. There will not be justice. A fundamental change is what is needed; not a mending reform.

AS – But do you believe TPLF/EPRDF is capable of reforming itself? The language of reform has been applied for over 15 years. It’s been that long since the late MelesZenawi himself admitted EPRDF was ‘rotten’ inside out. Can TPLF/EPRDF reform itself or is the fear that if it does it might bring in its own demise takes precedence? Which one do you believe in: is it the unwillingness or the incapacity to reform that’s holding it back?

In my view reform can come in two ways; from the forces within or from the outside public. In TPLF/EPRDF when they talk about reform, it is all about keeping the status quobecause on many of the important questions the party falters.  They believe any change must happen over the graves of the party. They say they are ready to debate but they are not open for debate because they are afraid; they work from the assumption that any change on the status quo will be dangerous for them.  They tried it after the split in 2000 and during elections in 2005, but the results became overwhelming. So they used all means to close until they ended up taking a 100 per cent of the parliamentary seats. They have managed to have eight million members in an attempt to control every village. The recent statement by Prime Minister HailemariamDesalegn can be read in this light. For over a year, he has been saying they have problems of all sorts. But recently he resorted to force as a means to relinquish these pubic demands. All he said was they have the military power and they can control the situation forcefully.  He didn’t solicit political legitimacy. He didn’t see democratization as a solution, unless nominally. So far the way TPLF/EPRDF follows is guided by the principle that it controls the army, the police and the intelligence to rule the country with an iron fist. So the pressures witnessed from within are not making TPLF/EPRDF to reform. Now we have to wait and see how the public demands are pressurizing them into having a reform.

AS – Perhaps getting into the bottom of the party’s way of governing the county may help us understand on whether or not applying the language of reform could yield any result. You have, for instance, served as the president of the Tigray Regional state for about ten years. And one of the long standing problems of TPLF/EPRDF is its failure to implement the federal system as stipulated in the constitution. You had a chance to see how exactly that was played out during your presidency. How do you evaluate, for example, the fault lines in the federal-regional nexus? And what’s its contribution to the current crisis?

GA – This is a good question. Constitutionally speaking Ethiopia is a federated country. There are authority levels and limitations between the Federal government and the Regional governments. But the Constitution is not functioning. EPRDF is not practicing the Constitution. The fundamental rights and freedoms stipulated in the constitution are not respected. They are being muzzled. Human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of organization, are to mention few. My opinion is that the government is not operating following the Constitution.  It must be known that EPRDF is a highly centralized party which has and follows its own program outside of the Constitution. There is nothing like revolutionary democracy in the Constitution; it is a liberal constitution. There is no centralism in the Constitution. The Constitution is designed in such a fabulous manner only to appease the public and the wider world. But what is practiced is EPRDF’s party program. The party releases so many regulations and directives and that is what is used to govern the county. Almost all these papers are written to ensure the hegemony of one party. And all the cadres are guided by these papers. The ‘shared-rule’ and ‘self-rule principles of federalism cannot work in a highly centralized party.  Let me make myself an example. [In 2000] the split within TPLF occurred. When the split occurred, I was the President of Tigray Regional government. I was elected by the Tigray people. But I was sacked by the central government.  This means that the people have no right at all. The party ousts, sacks anybody that it wants to. The regional government, the regional entity has no power at all. This didn’t happen only to me. Abate Kisho, the president of the Southern regions was sacked in a similar manner. In Benishangul and Gambella and Somali regional states the leaders are changed frequently by the order from the EPRDF office. This flawed operation of the Federal system is just one example. But it works in all aspects. The justice system suffers from similar fate as is the military. EPRDF’s central hand is stretched in every aspect.

AS – Often time people talk about first 2000 and then 2005 being the turning points or the downward spiral in the country’s democratic experiment. The implications of these assertions are that all was well before 2000. You were the President of a Regional government before the first turning point in 2000. Do you believe that the country was on the right track before that?

GA– There are two things here: on the one hand I was the President of a regional state, on the other I was a member of EPRDF’s central committee as part of TPLF’s Executive Committee. Decisions were always made not by the regional parliament but by the party’s Executive committee. After that happened, the decision was taken to the public. In what I mentioned earlier as democratic centralism, it is not possible to refuse this. Even if it was wrong, you can’t refuse it. Of course there are possibilities to convince the committeeby raising arguments but it was up to the committee, not the public. One of the flaws of the system, I believe, is this. The party members are everywhere. They are in the Federal system. They are in the civil service structure. And they decide based on the instructions that they receive from above, from the party. Not according to what the public demand and need in every aspect. It must be known that the cause of public resentment, especially now, is this. What the people need is one thing, the party’s interest is another. There is a gap. When I look back at what was happening in the party then, there were arguments and dialogues but when it comes to the relationship between the Federal government and regional states, the dominance lies within the party. It makes the decisions.


AS – Despite these blatant failure of the ruling party to implement the federalism arrangement many people, including some opposition parties, point their fingers at the ethnic (some call it linguistic) federalism to be the main cause of the problem the country finds itself today. What is your opinion of that? Do you think the federalism arrangement is something that is worth protecting or something to blame for the country’s problems today?

GA – I don’t agree with such accusations. Federalism can be arranged in various ways. Now, what we have here in Ethiopia is an ethnic Federalism arrangement. There can also be a Federal arrangement based on geography. But the main thing is not this; the main thing is whether there is a condition for the pubic to choose these freely. Is there a condition to protect the people’s rights and freedoms? I believe that is the fundamental thing. As long as there is no democracy, there is going to be a problem. I mean, if there is a democratic system, those things can be debated upon. If the people don’t like them, the people can change them. But in the absence of democracy, there can’t even be a debate. So what I say is the source to all problems is lack of democratic practices, rights and freedoms by and for the public. As I said earlier the current federalism is not practiced rightly.  It’s just nominal. Yes, people work in their own languages, they celebrate their cultures. But when it comes to essential decisions, the Federal arrangement is not functioning at all. As long as there is a dominance of one party, federalism, ethnic or geographical, cannot function. I don’t think the root of Ethiopian problems is this arrangement. Problems were there long before the system came in place.  TPLF and OLF and others started armed struggle in the absence of this arrangement. It was the lack of democracy. In fact what I believe is that, the structuring of the current system has lessened ethnic resentments.  What the Ethiopian people, including intellectuals should focus on is the absence or presence of democracy. Rights and freedoms must be respected. Without doing this all the attempts will be futile. What I am saying is that this is not the root cause of all problems the country is facing today. It is the dominance of one party and the lack of basic democratic practices.

AS When you say the dominance of one party, are you saying EPRDF in general or TPLF’s dominance over EPRDF?

 GA – To make it clear, I don’t think EPRDF is a non-existent entity. Their level of power might be different but OPDO is an existing party. ANDM is an existing party. I don’t think those parties are free from taking responsibilities from whatever is happening in the country. I don’t think they have no influence on what is going on. TPLF used to be the most influential one; I doubt if it is like this now. It’s not clear. When I see what is going on and ask if TPLF has the level of influence it used to have, I have [doubts].  But even if TPLF is the most influential party, the other three cannot be exempted from taking the blame.

 AS – What do you mean when you say TPLF might not have the level of influence it once has?  The protests in Oromia throughout the year and quite recently in Amhara have laid bare not only the level of public discontent, but also the deep seated dissatisfactions by the two parties representing the two regions, the OPDO and ANDM against the all too powerful TPLF. Do you agree with that?

 GA – I find it difficult to answer this question with full certainty. However I tried to explain it earlier. Whenever there is a problem, pointing fingers is very common. In my opinion, for the lack of democracy in the country, for the muzzling of rights and freedoms, and for the rampant corruption all member parties of the EPRDF are blameworthy. They participated in the thievery; they have participated in the oppression so they can’t claim innocence. But as I said earlier pointing fingers is very common. TPLF points its fingers at others. It says it has been betrayed as the recent article on Aigaforum claims. It is nothing more than casting blame on others. And the fact is in a union that was not formed in a democratic way, this is inevitable.  Because whenever individuals or groups become stronger the others develop a sentiment of antipathy. When I see TPLF and others, I don’t think the lower level party members think like the leadership. I don’t think the leadership has enough control, influence, on its own members, like it used to have. It’s weak now. Each party has more than a million members. Those members can’t even control what’s going on in oneKebele, or in one Woreda. So when this happens, instead of saying this happens because of us, because of the roads we follow, they say it’s all about failed implementation, even worse, they say it’s because some betrayed us. It’s an inevitable accusation.

AS – What do you think is the best way to address the country’s not only political and economic but also historical crisis without causing a regrettable outcome? What do you see as prescription for redemption, if you will? 

GA– As I see Ethiopia is a country at the verge of crisis. In this regard I agree with what my previous comrades have written about. The crisis is created. In this reality, there are things not just politicians but also the general public must think about. The first one is that in Ethiopia there is lack of one strong guiding vision. So the main thing, I think, is to have a consensus of vision for the country. When I say this I am not denying the fact that each party has its own vision. But it has become a country without a vision which can gather people around. So in order to salvage the country out of this crisis, we must have more dialogues, more ideas. We need ideas, strong ideas that can gather the public together. But since ideas are not enough, strong institutions are needed. Strong parties are needed.  By this I don’t mean dominant party.I think Ethiopia lacks strong national parties that can gather people of all spectrums together. Some of them incline too much to their region. Some others deny the questions of nations and ethnicity; they claim to be national but their influence doesn’t transcend from one region. So I don’t see alternatives in which strong parties with strong vision can be created. We evaluate EPRDF on many parameters and we understand that the party is finding it difficult to bring forth solutions to the problems the country is facing. Or we are saying the party is in crisis. But we must also ask does the alternative certainly has principles and organizations that can bring forth change? We can’t bring in change using the same ideas. What Ethiopia needs is a change of ideas. Besides that there is yet another question that must be raised. Before now, during the Derg and Imperial regimes, there were problems in the country such as lack of democracy, lack of justice, lack of equality. But the country somehow survived these problems and stayed as one. We should be careful that the current situation isn’t any different.  What I see now dominantly, among the radical opposition and EPRDF alike, is the proliferation of racial or ethnic hatred. We can see that in the state owned and affiliated media there is a proliferation of mixing the ruling party with the people. This will lead us to irrevocable conflicts. There is no weak area in this regard, even if it is small. But sadly EPRDF is using it to its advantage. To put it bluntly, TPLF is doing a lot of mobilization saying to the [Tigray] people that chauvinists are going to invade them and they should gather around it. It is trying to make the [Tigray] people believe that all the critiques it is receiving are critiques not against the party but against the [Tigray] people. This is very dangerous. Similarly there are others who mix up the party and the people and spread rumors that the Tigayans are about to do this or that to this or that people. The opposition finds it easy to collect followers by telling people that what’s happening to them is done to them by Tigrayans. The ruling party is doing the same. They have been doing it for quite a long time actually. Every time an election approaches they tell the people in Tigray that chauvinist Amharas are going to engulf them.  And they tell the Amhara that narrow Oromos are coming to destroy them. And for the Oromo they say the chauvinists are going to sabotage them. This is an age old way of the party. And I believe that it has contributed to what is going on now. If religious leaders in this country were not followers and executers of EPRDF’s program who never slide an inch from the party’s dictates, they would have been important in looking for solutions for the country’s problems. The intellectuals and religious leaders must be part of the solution. So what I see as a strategy to get out of this quagmire is there must be an organization with a strong vision which can be an alternative to the EPRDF and which can gather the people of Ethiopia around this vision.


AS – Owing to this monumental failure to uphold the rule of law, many people say the ruling party in Ethiopia has forced its relationship with the people of Ethiopia to become violent. Your own party Arena Tigray has been pushed left and right to a point where peaceful politicking has become virtually impossible. This is leading many people to say that the idea of armed struggle is now becoming the last resort to deal with EPRDF. As a party which is denied the means to a peaceful struggle, do you see Arena Tigray responding to EPRDF’s dominance in what many say is the only means EPRDF understands: armed struggle?

 GA – Your question is right. EPRDF is pushing the people, especially the youth, to the extreme. It made me recall a Central Committee member we once had. He raised an argument that with EPRDF in power it’s impossible to have a peaceful struggle. But we said we have to use the political space that is available, as narrow as it can be, and conduct a peaceful struggle. Otherwise the other way is going to unleash calamity. He finally moved to Eritrea to join TIMIHT. This man represents a way of thinking among the youth. And the narrower the space gets, the more the youth are pushed to pick up armed struggle because they see what they see; they believe peaceful struggle is just getting to jail. But I don’t believe in that; I believe the current movements [the protests in various parts of the country] are essentially peaceful. I have a belief that it is possible to force the government to change. I also believe that it is possible to execute policy in a peaceful way.

Right after the election [in 2015] we have three of our members killed including a member of our central committee here in Addis Abeba. Another of our member was poisoned to death and we have about twenty members in jail. Incidents like this make peaceful struggle difficult. But paying the prices requires us to continue the peaceful struggle. And the protests we are seeing now, I count them as part and parcels of peaceful struggle. Other than that I don’t see anything but bloodshed from armed struggle.

AS – Where is EPRDF taking Ethiopia to?


 GA – This is a very difficult question. A hard one. In its own book, it is taking the country to development, to wealth, to job creation, to the providing of health services and what have you. That’s what it says. Of course there are some changes in some regards. This is undeniable. Access to health and education is better than what it used to be. There are foreign and domestic investments. But this cannot be a source of legitimacy for a regime. The main thing is: is there democracy? Are the rights and freedoms of people protected? A person who owns a cart feeds the horse that pushes the cart but it doesn’t mean that he gives the horse freedom. And humans are different from horses, from animals. Freedom is the main foundation and element of development. What is being seen right now is that people come out to protest, EPRDF kills. It is trying to govern by the force of arms, but the Ethiopian people are not going to accept that. If things continue this way, we are getting into a very dangerous road. Talking about development while refusing to protect the rights and freedoms of the people, who are the main instruments of development, is both insanity and an embarrassment. Any dictatorial regime can build infrastructure but development, in its essence, is intertwined with the rights and freedoms of the people who benefit from it. Unless EPRDF tries to seek its legitimacy from respecting these rights and freedoms, it is taking the country in a wrong way, to a very dangerous place where there might be carnages.

Click here to read related article: The Conflict between the Ethiopian State and the Oromo People

WP: The tyrannic/fascist Ethiopia’s regime (TPLF) doesn’t want you to know these things are happening in the country August 19, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Dictatorship, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Tyranny, Uncategorized.
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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

World Views and Analysis: Ethiopia doesn’t want you to know these things are happening in the country

August 19, 2016


Ethiopians wait to fill water cans in February during the recent drought. With the return of the rains, however, have come flooding and disease — something the government is reluctant to discuss. (Aida Muluneh for The Washington Post)

Ethiopians wait to fill water cans in February during the recent drought. With the return of the rains, however, have come flooding and disease — something the government is reluctant to discuss. (Aida Muluneh for The Washington Post)


ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — After going through its worst drought in 50 years, Ethiopia is again seeing rain. In fact, in some places, it’s falling too hard and has set off floods.

So while the number of people requiring food aid has dropped slightly from 10.2 million in January to 9.7 million, according to the latest figures, there is a new threat of disease in a population weakened by drought.

Measles, meningitis, malaria and scabies are on the rise. And most seriously, there has been an outbreak of something mysteriously called “AWD,” according to the Humanitarian Requirements Document, issued by the government and humanitarian agencies on Aug. 13.

“There is a high risk that AWD can spread to all regions with high speed as there is a frequent population movement between Addis Ababa and other regions,” it warned.

The letters stand for acute watery diarrhea. It is a potentially fatal condition caused by water infected with the vibrio cholera bacterium. Everywhere else in the world it is simply called cholera.

But not in Ethiopia, where international humanitarian organizations privately admit that they are only allowed to call it AWD and are not permitted to publish the number of people affected.

The government is apparently concerned about the international impact if news of a significant cholera outbreak were to get out, even though the disease is not unusual in East Africa.

This means that, hypothetically, when refugees from South Sudan with cholera flee across the border into Ethiopia, they suddenly have AWD instead.

In a similar manner, exactly one year ago, when aid organizations started sounding the alarm bells over the failed rains, government officials were divided over whether they would call it a drought and appeal for international aid.


Police break up anti-government protest in Ethiopian capital

Play Video0:57
Hundreds of protesters on Saturday clashed with police in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa after campaigners called for nationwide protests due to what they say is an unfair distribution of wealth in the country. (Reuters)

The narrative for Ethiopia in 2015 was a successful nation with double-digit growth, and the government did not want to bring back memories of the 1980s drought that killed hundreds of thousands and left the country forever associated with famine.

“We don’t use the f-word,” explained an aid worker to me back in September, referring to famine.

Like many of its neighbors in the region, Ethiopia has some issues with freedom of expression and is very keen about how it is perceived abroad. While the country has many developmental successes to celebrate, its current sensitivity suggests it will be some time before this close U.S. ally resembles the democracy it has long claimed to be.

Ultimately, the government recognized there was a drought and made an international appeal for aid. The systems put into place over the years prevented the drought from turning into a humanitarian catastrophe — for which the country has earned praise from its international partners.

In the same manner, even though it doesn’t call it cholera, the government is still waging a vigorous campaign to educate people on how to avoid AWD, by boiling water and washing their hands.

Yet this sensitivity to bad news extends to the economic realm as well. Critics have often criticized Ethiopia’s decade of reported strong growth as being the product of cooked numbers. The government does seem to produce rosier figures than international institutions.

After the drought, the International Monetary Fund predicted in Aprilthat growth would drop from 10.2 percent in 2015 to just 4.5 percent in 2016.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, maintained, however, that growth would be a robust 8.5 percent, despite the falling agriculture productivity and decreased export earnings.

In the political realm, news of unrest and protests is suppressed. During a weekend of demonstrations on Aug. 6 and 7, the Internet was cut, making it difficult to find out what happened.

Human rights organizations, opposition parties and media tried to piece together the toll from the deadly demonstrations, which according to Amnesty International may have been up to 100.

The United Nations has called for international observers to carry out an investigation in the affected regions, which the government has strongly rejected even as it has dismissed estimates of casualties without providing any of its own.

“That is one of the factors we are struggling against with this government, the blockade of information,” complained Beyene Petros, the chairman of a coalition of opposition parties. “Journalists cannot go and verify. We cannot do that.”

Local journalists are heavily constrained, and as Felix Horne of Human Rights Watch points out, Ethiopia is one of the biggest jailers of journalists on the continent.

“Limitations on independent media, jamming of television and radio signals, and recent blocking of social media all point to a government afraid to allow its citizens access to independent information,” he said.

Foreign journalists do not fare much better, especially if they attempt to venture out of the capital to do their reporting.

In March, the New York Times and Bloomberg correspondents were detained by police while trying to report on the disturbances in the Oromo Region.

They were sent back to Addis Ababa and held overnight in a local prison before being interrogated and released.

In a similar fashion, a television crew with American Public Broadcasting Service was detained on Aug. 8 south of the capital trying to do a story on the drought conditions.

They and their Ethiopian fixer — an accredited journalist in her own right — were released after 24 hours, and they were told not to do any reporting outside of Addis.

In both cases the journalists were all accredited by the Government Communication Affairs Office, with credentials that are supposed to extend the breadth of the country but in practice are widely ignored by local officials.

The government spokesman, Getachew Reda, has dismissed the allegations about the information crackdown in the country and in recent appearances on the Al Jazeera network he maintained that there are no obstacles to information in Ethiopia.

“This country is open for business, it’s open for the international community, people have every right to collect whatever information they want,” he said.


The tyrannic/fascist Ethiopia’s regime (TPLF) doesn’t want you to know these things are happening in the country, click here and read more at Washington Post


PBS Newshour :How my reporting trip to Ethiopia came to an abrupt end August 18, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Famine in Ethiopia, The study of Evil, The Tyranny of TPLF Ethiopia.
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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

Column: How my reporting trip to Ethiopia came to an abrupt end

BY FRED DE SAM LAZARO, PBS Special Correspondent,  18 August 2016
Women wait to receive food at a distribution center in Gelcha village
Women wait to receive food at a distribution center in Gelcha village, one of the drought stricken areas of the Oromia region in Ethiopia, on April 28. Photo by Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

Women wait to receive food at a distribution center in Gelcha village, one of the drought stricken areas of the Oromia region in Ethiopia, on April 28. Photo by Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

We came to Ethiopia to report on the country’s response to a historic drought. We left with a very different story and a taste of how hard it is for journalists, even those covering what should have been a mostly positive story.

For years, Ethiopia has struggled to shed its association with vast human suffering earned during the epic famine three decades ago.

Gleaming high rises in the capital, Addis Ababa, are testament to what today is one of Africa’s most robust economies. An infrastructure building boom has connected the farthest reaches of this sprawling nation of 100 million people, many of them now covered by a government social safety net.

As a result, even though Ethiopia’s current drought has been far more severe than that in the ‘80s — one-fifth of its population suffers moderate to severe food insecurity — there’s very little of the classic, horrible imagery: the emaciated faces of children with distended bellies, which became the backdrop of those historic famine relief rock concerts.

More hours went by before we finally got our “hearing” before five unidentified men. … Each of us was interviewed separately about exactly what our story was, why we chose to go where we did.

We went to Ethiopia to tell this new story, that drought does not have to lead to famine. Many experts say planning and good governance can greatly mitigate human suffering. Ethiopia’s government has won some kudos for its drought response this time, yet its abysmal record on human rights, its harsh treatment of journalists and political dissidents can hijack attempts to tell this story. And in our case, it did just that.

For foreign correspondents, obtaining a journalist visa requires extensive paperwork, documenting the serial numbers of all equipment down to cell phones, a detailed account of every place to be visited and, once approved — if approved — stern warnings not to deviate from it.

The treatment of Ethiopian journalists is far harsher: some 60 of them have fled into exile since 2010, according to the international group Human Rights Watch.

The morning after we arrived in Addis, armed with all required permits and paperwork, we set off for the Oromia region south of the capital, shooting images of the extensive housing and road projects under construction or newly completed, some images of farmland and finally a small farm whose owners were being trained in business skills while cultivating new specialty crops to help cope with climate vagaries.

It was here where we were summoned by Ethiopia’s “security services” to the police station. It is amusing to reflect now that our first reaction was annoyance: this would rob videographer Tom Adair of the afternoon’s best light. If only that was all we would lose.

About two hours into our wait in a dimly lit office, we were told to surrender all electronic equipment, including cell phones, and our passports. No explanation was offered, only the threat of arrest if we continued to insist, as we did, that our paperwork was in order, that it is illegal to confiscate a passport, especially without a receipt.

“Report to Immigration tomorrow, and you can collect it,” we were instructed by a plainclothesman who never introduced himself. That meant a six-hour journey back to the capital and to a building teeming with Ethiopians and foreigners alike, applying for passports or visas. In our case, our chance to get our equipment and documents returned.

More hours went by before we finally got our “hearing” before five unidentified men. They’d combed through every corner of our luggage in pursuit of hidden cameras or memory cards and demanded to see every inch of footage we’d shot. Each of us was interviewed separately about exactly what our story was, why we chose to go where we did.

An emaciated cow walks through a dry field in Ethiopia's famine

An emaciated cow walks through a dry field in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. Photo by Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

An emaciated cow walks through a dry field in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. Photo by Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

Our explanation was simple: Oromia was hard-hit by the drought. It is where we planned to film food distribution and other retraining programs run by the government and by Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services, the largest nongovernment aid group operating in Ethiopia. A CRS official accompanying us was also detained through this ordeal. This was mystifying since his agency, far from being subversive, is a key government partner in relief work.

As it turns out, Oromia is also one of several regions that have seen political unrest and protests — unrelated to the drought — which the government has put down violently. In the days just before we arrived, Human Rights Watch reported 100 deaths at the hands of riot police in the Oromia region.

It’s fair to assume that the security services were looking for footage or evidence of any encounters we might have had with protests or protesters, highly improbable given that we’d barely arrived in the country. A glance in our passports could attest to that.

Finally, 24 hours after they were taken, our passports and gear were returned with the only “official” explanation we would get.

“You did not get permission from Security,” we were advised, even though no such requirement is published anywhere.

Oromia was now off limits and interviews already scheduled with government ministers about the drought were now canceled.

In Ethiopia, “Security,” the National Intelligence Service, appears to hold the biggest sway, enforcers for a government hell bent on controlling the flow of public information and the images it sends out to the world.

Internet service was shut down throughout the country in the period just before we arrived, presumably to muzzle social media and to prevent protest images from being exported, a virtually impossible task in this day and age. Nevertheless, footage of the protests were broadcast and distributed.

Given that weeks of careful planning (to say nothing of the hefty travel costs) were wiped out by the whims of a paranoid security apparatus, it’s unlikely we’ll be able to return and tell this important story any time soon.

TPLF/EPRDF Ethiopian Regime is a Contra to a Developmental State January 12, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Odaa OromooThe TPLF Corruption network


TPLF/EPRDF Regime a Contra to a Developmental State

By Dr Barii Ayano, Economic Thinker



One of the catchy phrases the TPLF/EPRDF regime leaders and their cadres often use to describe the regime is “limatawi mengist” or “developmental state”. However, the TPLF/EPRDF regime is not pursuing a development state economic model since the regime’s economic system does not meet standard features of a development state. Actually, the regime’s economy and its rhetoric are in contradiction with the conventional features of a developmental state enshrined in nation building and economic nationalism that unify a nation. There is difference between state-led developmental state and state-controlled and state-owned economy of TPLF-led regime. The regime’s rulers and bureaucrats have predatory and kleptocratic motives, which are fed by structural and institutional corruptions and rentseeking. Unlike a developmental state, which builds foundations for private entrepreneurship and innovative enterprises, Ethiopia’s monetized economy is dominated by interest groups affiliated or aligned with the regime such as REST. The regime marginalized and displaced most of the traditional entrepreneurial and business class. The foundation of Ethiopia’s economy under the current regime is not entrepreneurial or business skill but alliance with TPLF leaders. The leaders of the TPLF/EPRDF regime and interest groups aligned with them designed get-rich-quick schemes based on land grabs and cronyism, which have nothing to do with economic efficiency, entrepreneurship, innovative value adding, business acumens, etc. of a developmental state. Therefore, the regime’s leaders and their cadres use of the phrase ‘developmental state’ to the describe economy is similar to the regime’s leaders and their cadres use of the word ‘democracy’ to describe the current political system. It is also important to note that a developmental state is not always synonymous with authoritarianism and dictatorship, but many Asian states have been authoritarian to a degree, particularly at the earlier stages of development.

What is a Developmental State?

A developmental state is a term coined by Chalmers Johnson that is used to describe states which follow a particular model of economic planning and management. It was initially used to describe post World War II Japan and its rapid modernization and economic growth. It is the developmental state of Japan that led to innovative creation of world renowned Japanese brands such as Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nisan, Sony, Toshiba, etc. Other examples often cited as developmental states include Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Malaysia, South Korea, and Indonesia. In terms of an economic jargon, a developmental state is a state where the government is intimately involved in the macro and micro economic planning in order to grow the economy whilst attempting to deploy its resources in developing better lives for the people. Developmental states invest and mobilize the majority of capital into the most promising sector of an economy that will have maximum spillover effect for the society and reduce the dislocations caused by shifts in investment and profits from old to new sectors. Such state plays the social engineering role to restructure the national economic system for promoting long-term (industrial) development. Thus it is based on combinations of nurturing innovative private enterprises as the key owners and the positive role of government via an ambition use of the interventionist power of the state and its fiscal and monetary policy to guide investment in a way that promotes economic solidarity of different interest groups based vision for national economy and its growth.

Key Features of a Developmental State

In order to understand the concept of a developmental state, it is important to highlight some of the characteristics of a developmental state. Although dictators pursuing developmental states generally believe that they will attain state legitimacy through delivery of services to citizens rather than through the ballot, they use economic nationalism to unify the nation based on a collective goal of economic development. Developmental states hugely invest in quality education, especially in technical fields in both domestic universities and overseas scholarship. This leads to the emergence of bureaucratic layers populated by extremely educated people, who have sufficient tools of analysis to be able to take economic leadership initiatives, based on sound scientific basis, at diverse levels of decision making within the government structure. Moreover, developmental states have been observed to be able to efficiently distribute and allocate resources and, therefore, invest optimally in critical areas that are the basis of growth such as education, research and development, infrastructure, etc. It is this ideology-structure nexus that distinguishes developmental states from other forms of states. Let me elaborate the ideology-structure nexus of a developmental state in two areas.

1. Economic Nationalism as an Ideology

The successful developmental states are based promoting economic nationalism as a unifying ideology. The state promotes economic nationalism as an essential keystone, which unifies different interest groups. A developmental state conceives economic development as its national mission and the mission of the country at large. Although a development state establishes its principle of legitimacy as its ability to promote sustained development, it does not alienate experts of diverse interest groups and political views in participating in economic nationalism since real development requires expertise for steady high rates of economic growth and structural change in the productive system, both domestically and in its comparative competition in the international economy. In spite of dictatorial development states control of political sphere, there is economic freedom where experts of diverse professions are able to establish an “ideological hegemony” based on economic nationalism to which key actors in the nation adhere voluntarily in order to contribute towards economic development for the benefits of their country. The main force behind the developmentalist ideology has usually been economic nationalism, inducing nations to seek to “catch up” with countries considered as more developed. It is essential to stress the ideological underpinnings of state policies knit together the ruling class and the ruled class of a country with economic nationalism as a unifying factor. In other words, the centrality of economic nationalism as an alternative ideology points to de-politicized national quest for economic development, which is driven by professional expertise with the help and support of a developmental state. The economy falls under some kind of technocratic governance of the best and the brightest a country can offer for economic development to carry out state policies that are good for the nation without focusing on cronyism and self-serving profiteering of politicians and their relatives. The TPLF-led regime does not function in this mindset. Economic development is not only a central preoccupation for political leaders but also by professional technocrats of a developmental state. Nationalist-cum-developmentalist ideology is used for both unifying nation building and economic development. Economic nationalism ideology is used to rally the masses for national unity and economic development. The centrality of economic development was such that it acquired the status of an ideology (“developmentalism”) national ideology, which seeks to subordinate the energy of the people behind a single national goal. Among others, the role of the government is maintaining public investment in infrastructure, research and development, and education to stimulate private investment, create skilled labor force and entrepreneurial class, etc. In the politics of nation building, the developmental state leadership focuses on the economics of nation building. In dictators-led developmental state leaders swear by economic growth and seem to view good growth indicators as the main source of their legitimacy. The developmental state is also committed to resolving conflicts in the on-going process of social restructuring as it tends to induce winners and losers in economic development. Conflict management in this regard involves ensuring that the benefits, expected benefits, of the growth process are widely shared and discussed among politicians, experts and the public. The developmental state is understood to be identified with its actual achievement of economic  growth, since its legitimacy stems from the significant improvement in standards of living for a broad cross section of society. Thus economic nationalism can include political interest groups molded into a developmental coalition for a common goal.

2. Developmental State-Structure: Professional Capacity Building

The state-structure of a developmental state emphasizes building structural capacity to implement economic policies sensibly and effectively. The capacity is determined by structural, institutional, technical, administrative, and political engagements and professional bureaucrats. Undergirding all these layers is the autonomy of the state from social forces so that it can use these capacities to devise long-term economic policies unfettered by private interests of corrupt politicians and unprofessional bureaucrats. The quest for a “strong state” in the development process is aligned with building administrative capacity more than the political ability to push through its developmental project using political power. The developmental state has some social anchoring that prevents it from using its autonomy in a predatory manner and enables it to gain devotion of key social actors. It does not rely on asymmetric nature of centre-periphery power relations, which tend to produce various class structures. Rather, it focuses on building capacity for appropriate state structures and functions that effectively promote development as a national goal. (See “a” and “b” below) The foundation to building a developmental state is to develop an educated population and a knowledgeable society with high levels of scientific literacy in building a knowledge economy based on professional business people and entrepreneurship. Economic nationalism leads to a harmonious society with a strategic partnership amongst labor, government, industry and society, which leads to a society that efficiently allocates and distributes resources.

a. Competent and Efficient Bureaucracy

It goes without saying that cooperation between state and major industries is crucial for maintaining stable macroeconomy since policies decided at the top levels of government are administered by middle-level bureaucrats. One of the main characteristics of a successful developmental state capacity building is creating an extensive bureaucratic layer consisting of mainly professional technocrats with highly developed economic and innovative visions, who are able to plan in large cycles that extend over long time periods. The bureaucrats also pay special attention to reconfiguring the social sphere so that the culture of appreciating the value of education is entrenched since technical education is the driver of increasing developmental capacity. For instance, in East Asia, the developmental state’s bureaucracy has several important characteristics. There was an extensive discourse on ‘developmentalism,’ the necessity of industrialization and of state intervention to promote it. The professional bureaucracy in Asia has a powerful social group of highly educated bureaucrats with predictable and coherent national interests. Thus, the public-private cooperation between the bureaucracy and business sector has been developed and refined through institutional adaptation over time, and responds flexibly to changing new realities in the respective country and international economic conditions. By and large, the behavior of Asian bureaucrats has been bound to the pursuit of collective goals rather than individual opportunities presented by the market, allowing the state to act with autonomy from certain societal pressures. The fact that formal competence, as opposed to clientelistic ties or loyalties, is the chief requirement for entry into the bureaucratic network makes it all the more valued among people. A competent and efficient bureaucracy dedicated to devising and implementing a planned process of economic development is central role of a developmental state. Developmental states staff the bureaucracy by the respective countries best human resources, who are charged with the task of directing the course of their countries’ development. Thus the chance to join the state bureaucracy has a high degree of prestige and professional legitimacy. This allows a developmental state not only to continue recruiting outstanding personnel, but also to utilize policy tools that tend to give them additional authority. As a result, the developmental state economies have developed the greatest state capacity not only to formulate development policies but also to implement them effectively to promote economic development. The TPLF-led regime has never nurtured bureaucratic professionalism but bureaucratic clientelism of loyal servants.

b. Embedded Autonomy of Professional Bureaucrats and Entrepreneurs

A competent and efficient bureaucracy under a developmental state is able to maintain effective relationship, especially regarding the direction and funding of investment projects, with the domestic business sector without direct intervention of the central government. Thus, the professional bureaucrats, entrepreneurs and the business sector have “embedded autonomy” when it comes to the relationship between the developmental state and the business sector. A successful developmental state needs to be sufficiently embedded in society so that it can achieve its development objectives by acting through “social infrastructure”, but not so close to business sector that it risks ‘capture’ by particular interest groups, which tend to lead to entrenched corruptions and rent-seeking. This no demarcation between the TPLF-led regime’s politics and the economy since politics and economy, including dominating economic ownership, are meshed together in Ethiopia-politics is economy; economy is politics.

TPLF-led Regime: A Kleptocratic State

The TPLF/EPRDF regime vividly lacks an ideology of development anchored in some form of economic nationalism that unifies Ethiopia as a collective goal. The government has not attempted to build national consensus on economic development of different interest groups with the exception of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Some argue that the GERD campaign by the regime is more for finance and political expedience than unifying the people under a national project. Economic growth rhetoric is sold as the domain and monopoly of the regime whereas the general public is ridiculously divided into “pro-development” and “anti-development”. And the opposition groups, by and large, fall under the category of “anti-development”. Surely, this is anti-thesis to a developmental state’s theme of building economic nationalism, which binds different interest groups of a country so that they all accept and take part in it as a collective national goal. Abay Tsehaye, in one of his interviews, clearly stated the economic goal of the regime in the long run. He stated that the regime has the agenda of creating an economically empowered class, which will control the economy and lead politics. This agenda has nothing to do with a developmental state agenda founded on building national consensus and economic nationalism as an ideology. The regime’s economic agenda is aligned with “divide-and-rule” and long term goal to lord over Ethiopia. Like the political goal of the regime, the economic agenda is also inherently discriminatory in its nature. In the lack of nurturing national development ideology and intrinsic one-party rule, loyalty to the regime easily overrides societal development goals. Individuals aligned with the regime often hold highly idiosyncratic mindset that they flout with impunity and with no moral qualms in politics, the economy and their general interaction with the business sector and the society at large. Consequently, TPLF/EPRDF regime’s leaders have no moral basis on which they could demand enthusiastic and internalized compliance to whatever “national project” they launch due to the lack of ideology of development, which addresses the public demand and national economic interests shared by all interest groups. Unlike the developmental state, the central political stage and layers of bureaucracies of the regime are not occupied by well educated professionals, who are guided by the aspirations of nation building and economic development. Loyalty is the major factor in bureaucratic appointments from top to the bottom, and hence most of the regime’s bureaucrats are less merited to occupy their offices. Rather than being competent and efficient bureaucracy, the processes of appointing less qualified individuals based on loyalty has led to an inescapable “development of underdevelopment” in Ethiopia’s bureaucracy, which in turn produced a series of political and economic contradictions and bureaucratic cronyism. Moreover, unlike a development state, the TPLF/EPRDF regime portrays foreign dependence syndrome, with a significant part of the regime’s budget covered by international budgetary aid. Externally dependent growth is not conducive for dynamic capital accumulation, which builds basis for a development state economy. Thus, even accepted at face value, equating the regime’s claimed booming economy of Ethiopia with a developmental state becomes problematic since the economy heavily depends on external factors, such as export of primary products and aid inflows.

TPLF-led State Controlled and Owned Economy

The institutional and economic structures of the regime are reinforced and constructed by political power to control the economy rather than developing national economic ideology or creating discourses with interest groups. Structural aspects of the regime’s economy include mass dislocation of society without offering alternative settings or means of survival. This kind of economic structure resembles settler colonial economy much more than a development state. This is most apparent in land-grab and the privileging of elements of the regime, their families and supporters. Access to politicians paves way for getting rich much more than individuals’ entrepreneurial and business skills. Large chunk of renowned entrepreneurs and business people have been forced to leave Ethiopia and migrate to other countries. The economic system and its bureaucracy are structured as a predatory state, where top rulers and layers of bureaucracy have predatory motives, and hence less willing to part with corruptions and rent-seeking. The aim of regime is to exploit the physical, human, and economic resources for the benefit the leaders of the regime and few others aligned with them. The economic goals of regime are simple. It is to provide maximum economic benefit to the individuals in power at the expense of the majority. Like colonial settlers, the individual needs of their subjects are neither important nor part of their economic goals. The imposition of economic policy is often arbitrary and unrelated to any real need of the majority of the people. This led to inadequacy of the food entitlements and chronic malnutrition and famine. Unlike a development state’s national development driven by all-encompassing economic nationalism, the TPLF/EPRDF regime’s economic agenda is more about economic subjugation and about the regime’s ability to control of the economy. Improving the production methods and strengthening national economy for all people are not the priorities. It’s all about empowering the likes of REST to be unchallengeable economic giants of Ethiopia. There is a crystal clear lack of autonomy of the business sector due to the unholy relationship of state-society and state-business under the TPLF-EPRDF regime. There is bureaucratic malaise into both market and state structures and it has eaten into the very core of the edifice of modern administration rendering it both weak and incoherent, at best. Mired in clientelism, the state has not been able to provide the bureaucratic order and predictability that business sector and entrepreneurs need to engage in long-term investment and contribute to long-term national development. TPLF-led regime is literally driven interest groups and mired in state-clientelist relationships. And hence it is even lacking in “stateness” in a strict sense of the word. Self-interest groups which control the state adopt policies that generated rents for them. The TPLF/EPRDF state is essentially a rent generating institution that inhibited efficient allocation of resources. Rent seeking usually involves redistribution of income from one group to another, and in Ethiopia, it is redistribution from poor to the rich through corruptions and rent-seeking. Let alone being a development state, the regime cannot pursue the collective task of development in the long run. It has crushed most of the strategies and institutions that build a solid foundation for development. State-society relationships are inherent to national development, and mistrust runs both ways-the regime does not trust the people and the people don’t trust the regime.


The developmental state refers to the collective economic and human development via state’s essential role in harnessing national human, financial, etc. resources and directing incentives through a distinctive policy-making process. The foundation for building a developmental state is the ability to establish nationalist educated population by creating a harmonious society with strategic partnerships amongst labor, government, industry and society as well as efficiently allocating and distributing resources. The success of the developmental state also stems from the ‘embedded autonomy,’ in which the developmental state is linked intimately with the private sector but preserves sufficient distance for the renegotiation of goals and policies when capital interests are inconsistent with national development. The key government actors under the TPLF-led are irredeemably greedy, corrupt and captured by rent seekers and economies of personal wealth accumulation, and hence focus on promoting vested interests over national development. They don’t think creatively of modes of social organization at both macro and micro level that can extricate Ethiopia from poverty and lead it to the long term path of development. Appropriate institutional structures do not exist in Ethiopia to socially engineer a developmental state since a development state is a social construct consciously brought about by a state, its bureaucracy and societies. Economic nationalism of a developmental state cannot take root. We cannot draw parallels between TPLF-led regime and developmental states implemented in Asia. Unlike TPLF, Asian dictators were/are very nationalist with the goal to change the living standard of their people and promote their countries in the world. TPLF leaders have beef with most of the people in Ethiopia such as Oromos and Amaras. TPLF’s governance resembles settler colonialism of the apartheid system in South Africa and British land-grab system in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) much more than the developmental state systems in Asia. The regime does not pursue collective economic empowerment agenda. In dictatorial developmental states, even where was no political freedom but people had economic freedom. Under the TPLF/EPRDF regime, there is neither political nor economic freedom. Discriminatory economic policies, with enclave economy nature, are more aligned to colonial policies. TPLF governance is unequivocally becoming ethnic apartheid in political, economic, etc. fronts. Its policies are designed to marginalize dissenting people from economic benefits and then to impoverish them for long term political and economic control whereas the leaders and their relatives profiteering through deeply entrenched cronyism. Developmental state dictators in Asia were not consumed by self-enriching schemes via corruptions and rent-seeking. Actually, the Asian dictators were very tough on corrupted individuals, politicians, etc. Although they did not stop it, corruption leads to very long imprisonments. But people join the TPLF/EPRDF regime to get license to be corrupt and rent-seeker without any repercussion. The TPLF –led regime is structurally and institutionally corrupt, which was not the case under Asian developmental state system. Finally, the TPLF-led regime is weak, over-extended, and interfere with the smooth functioning of the markets with its repressive characters and draconian policies. It heavily depends on foreign powers for its existence. Therefore, it is not an example of a developmental state by any account. I think phrases like the “rentier state”, the “overextended state”, the “parasitical state”, the “predatory state”, the “crony state”, and the “kleptocratic state” better fit the TPLF/EPRDF regime. I think it is a kleptocratic state/autocracy (rule by thieves) made up of very greedy individuals addicted to personal wealth accumulation through structured and institutionalized corruptions and rent-seeking.

The article is originally published at:-

TPLF-led Regime is not a Developmental State


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When Peace Wreckers Become Peacekeepers: Why Do Authoritarian Regimes Make Their Armies Readily Available to Participate in International Peacekeeping? By Alem Mamo June 16, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in The study of Evil, The Tyranny of Ethiopia.
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“Peace is not merely the absence of war but the presence of justice, of law, of order – in general of government.”
—Albert Einstein

Why Do Authoritarian Regimes Make Their Armies Readily Available to Participate in International Peacekeeping

When the first United Nations Peacekeeping force was proposed by the Canadian Foreign Minister Lester B. Pearson in 1956 in response to the Suez Crisis the idea was received with a mixed reaction in the international diplomatic and policy circles. Some welcomed it as a ground breaking and watershed moment for global peace and security while others viewed it as a strange and impossible idea to build consensus from all member states. Whatever the initial reaction, establishing an international peacekeeping force eventually won the support of the majority, and Lester B. Pearson who subsequently became the Prime Minister of Canada won a Noble Peace Prize for his contribution in proposing and designing and building consensus to the establishment of UN peacekeeping force.

Since its founding UN Peacekeeping has come a long way in scope, mandate, mission and size. The traditional peacekeeping force contributors, such as Canada, have significantly reduced their participation to peacekeeping and moved into combat and combat related missions, creating a gap in troop contribution. As a result, nations from the global south are filling this void. This shift, in return, has raised the question of the human rights record of regimes, their armies and policies participating in peacekeeping missions in different parts of the world.

Over the last six decades UN peacekeeping operations led by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) have played an irreplaceable role in maintaining peace and stabilization in countries facing inter-state and intra-state conflict. This general achievement record, however, is not without a history of spectacular failure resulting in a tragic consequences. The slaughter of 800,000 Tutsis in1994 by Hutu extremists and the failure of the UN to prevent the genocide remains one of the darkest chapters of the UN and international diplomacy and multilateral response to crisis.

In the recent years UN peacekeeping operations ushered in new guidelines, frameworks and mandates to respond to each conflict dynamic effectively. Alluding to this point the United States Ambassador to the UN Samantha Powers was quoted as saying, “This is not your mother’s, or your grandmother’s, peacekeeping.” Indeed, most of the changes that have taken place over the last decade or so are commendable and they could significantly strengthen the capacity of the UN peacekeeping missions and their effectiveness. However, some of the changes, particularly the expansion of the pool where the uniformed and civilian peacekeepers comes from, is a case for concern both for the reputation and prestige of UN peacekeeping missions and for upholding the principles of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

In this regard, one particular case among many others stands out. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF)-led authoritarian regime in Addis Ababa has significantly accelerated its contribution to international peacekeeping, and currently there are 37 police, 113 military experts, and 7712 troops volunteered by the TPLF regime serving in peacekeeping missions in Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, the Sudan regions of Darfur and Abeyi, and South Sudan.2 The basic question to be asked here is why would the TPLF regime in Addis Ababa be interested in participating in international peacekeeping? Is it driven and motivated by world peace? World peace as a motivation certainly is a noble cause, however, the fact is world peace and regional stability are not TPLF’s primary concerns. Peace is the least defining characteristics of the regime. In fact, since its inception the TPLF has exploited conflict and directly and indirectly manufactured national and regional conflicts to advance its political and economic agenda.

So, why get involved in international peacekeeping? There are four key motivations for the regime to jump on the bandwagon of international peacekeeping. Money, international prestige, creating an illusion of peace at home, projecting military capacity and preparedness. Let’s review each one of these rationales separately.

First, TPLF sees international peacekeeping as lucrative business / money making opportunity. According to the UN’s publicly available information “countries volunteering uniformed personnel to peacekeeping operations are reimbursed by the UN at a standard rate, approved by the General Assembly, of a little over US$1,028 per soldier per month.”3 Which means based on the current troop contribution TPLF pockets close to a million US dollar a year (7862 x $1028= $80,811.36 x 12 =$969856.32). How much of this fund is allocated to the participating troops or police officers is not disclosed and there is no system of accountability or audit.

Second, the regime’s eagerness to dispatch troops to international peacekeeping is motivated by gaining some level of international prestige/recognition, which it often propagates for a local audience, as well as the outside observer. This allows it to project an image of internationally responsible regime. In doing so the regime believes it can harvest legitimacy to govern, which it has lost from the citizens of the country it rules with an iron fist.

Third, participating in international peacekeeping helps the regime create an illusion of ‘peace’ and ‘stability’ at home. Although, there is no full scale inter or intra-state conflict at the moment, sporadic and low-level conflict in different parts of the country continues. Most importantly, the undemocratic and authoritarian nature of the regime has led some groups to consider challenging the regime through armed resistance.

While the primary objective of this article is to highlight the deceptive nature of the TPLF regime and its selfish motivation for participating in international peacekeeping, it is also worth noting that other authoritarian undemocratic regimes marred in internal conflict and violated the rights of citizens are participating in international peacekeeping. It is an open secret that TPLF treats the army and police as its own private force instead of a national force that protects its citizens from any harm. In fact the biggest harm inflicted upon the people of Ethiopia comes from the police, Special Forces, and the army that the regime dispatches to squash any peaceful dissent or opposition to the regime. Structurally, the army and police senior ranking positions are reserved for members of a particular group instead of merit based representation of the all members.

Authoritarian regimes such as the TPLF use their military and police to silence dissent, torture citizens, and murder peaceful protesters, as has been the case in Ethiopia over the last two decades. How it is morally and ethically acceptable that members of the same police and army are welcomed the fold of international peacekeeping? Doesn’t this contradict the very values and principles of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)? The UN must uphold its own values and principles and hold those who violate the rights of citizens accountable instead of allowing them to participate in international peacekeeping. It is also worth noting that regimes known for violating citizen’s rights, such as Burundi, D.R. Congo, Central African Republic (CAR), and Yemen among others are participating in the UN peacekeeping missions. More significantly, these are regimes year after year failed to provide political, social and economic leadership that are vital for building sustainable peace in the countries they rule and yet they are part of the UN peace keeping missions.

‘Positive peace’ is not the absence of war, it is rather the presence of economic, political, social and cultural structures that promote, enhance and strengthen justice, inclusive economic growth free and fair political participation and promotion and protection of human rights. In the absence of these, one cannot claim sustainable peace in its complete form.

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Political Ponerology January 25, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopian Empire, Ethnic Cleansing, Genocidal Master plan of Ethiopia, Janjaweed Style Liyu Police of Ethiopia, Polish psychiatrist Andrzej Łobaczewski., Political Ponerology, The study of Evil, Uncategorized.
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‘The political ponerology is an interdisciplinary study of social issues primarily associated with Polish psychiatrist Andrzej Łobaczewski. As a discipline it makes use of data from psychology, sociology, philosophy, and history to account for such phenomena as aggressive war, ethnic cleansing, genocide, and despotism… A form of government interesting to ponerologists is one they have called pathocracy, in which individuals with personality disorders (especially psychopathy) occupy positions of power and influence. The result is a totalitarian system characterized by a government turned against its own people. A pathocracy may emerge when a society is insufficiently guarded against the typical and inevitable minority of such abnormal pathology, which Łobaczewski asserts is caused by biology or genetics. He argues that in such cases these individuals infiltrate an institution or state, prevailing moral values are perverted into their opposite, and a coded language like Orwell’s doublethink circulates into the mainstream, using paralogic and paramoralism in place of genuine logic and morality.’