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Oromo group decries ‘ongoing genocide’ in Ethiopia November 20, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Ethnic Cleansing, Horn of Africa Affairs, Human Rights, Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

Oromo group decries ‘ongoing genocide’ in Ethiopia

New group wants Americans to more forcefully oppose alleged abuses in Ethiopia.
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ERIN ADLER, STAR TRIBUNELeft to right: Amy Bergquist, Advocates for Human Rights staff attorney joins Husen Beriso, Endris Hundissa, Kathleen Seestadt, Nagessa Oddo Dube, Genemo Uka and Amsalu Mayessa, all members of the United Oromo Voices group. A panel discussion will focus on publicizing the plight of the Oromo people, including ongoing alleged human rights violations that some say the U.S. government ignores while continuing to support Ethioipia. Oromia is a region of Ethiopia and Oromos are an oppressed ethnic minority.

A new group dedicated to raising awareness of human rights violations in Ethiopia against the Oromo — an Ethiopian ethnic minority with a significant Minnesota presence — held its first event Sunday in Minneapolis.

More than 70 people crowded into Norway House to hear the “Ethiopia to Minnesota” speakers panel, sponsored by United Oromo Voices, a coalition formed about six months ago.

Panelists spoke about Ethiopia’s history and ethnic groups, its current government and ideas for how the country can change.

“We need Americans to understand us, to push their representatives to [be a] voice for the Oromos to stop the ongoing genocide,” said Nagessa Oddo Dube, a United Oromo Voices member.

Minnesota has the largest concentration of Oromos in the United States. The Oromos are Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, making up between 33 and 50 percent of the country’s population.

The state demographer’s office says 8,500 Oromos live here, but the Oromo Cultural Institute of Minnesota believes the number is much higher. Oromos are often mistaken for Somalis in Minnesota and thus not very visible, Dube said.

Dube recounted how he survived years of persecution in Ethiopia as an Oromo activist, including repeated arrests, beatings, threats and a murder attempt.

Ethiopian security forces have killed more than 400 protesters and others and arrested tens of thousands more during widespread protests in the Oromia region since November 2015, according to Human Rights Watch.

United Oromo Voices aims to inform Americans that Ethiopia is the second-largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid among low-income countries, funds they say support a government that terrorizes the Oromos by unlawfully arresting them, imprisoning, torturing and even killing them.

The St. Paul-based Center for Victims of Torture sees more Oromos than any other ethnicity, said Curt Goering, the center’s executive director.

Staff there treat torture victims’ physical wounds — broken bones and perforated eardrums — and provide counseling for the psychological ones, Goering said.

“It gives you some sense of the magnitude of the severity of the human rights violations,” Goering said on the panel.

Sen. John Hoffman, DFL-Champlin, attended the discussion to show support for the Oromo, many of whom are his constituents, he said.

“My neighbors are Oromo, my best friends are Oromo,” said Hoffman, who authored a Minnesota Senate resolution in 2014 calling out Ethiopia for killing 85 college students.

Pending resolutions in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives condemn the Ethiopian government’s human rights violations — including allegedly killing hundreds and arresting thousands of dissidents, journalists and other civilians — and demand political prisoners’ release.

Kathleen Seestadt, an event organizer and group member, has been working with the Oromo community since 2001. The night was a success, especially because many non-Oromos showed up, she said.

“The real challenge is to get people who don’t know the Oromos [to come],” Seestadt said.


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EU Lists Ethiopia Over Money Laundering November 17, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Odaa OromoooromianeconomistThree Woyane travelers claimed the lost money. It was wrapped up with Ethiopian Airlines official bag

The ​European Commission blacklisted Ethiopia for being very risky in money laundering and terrorism financing, urging banks situated in Europe to apply enhanced due diligence on financial flows from the country.
Aiming to ensure proper functioning of the European market, the Commission, in its latest regulation released on October 27, 2017, added the country to the list of high-risk third countries along with Iran, Syria, Yemen and seven other nations.

 

via EU Lists Ethiopia Over Money Laundering

Fascist Ethiopia’s regime (TPLF)’s another genocide plan (state terrorism). Wal-gahiin Mana-maree nageenya biyyoolessaatiin taa’ame shoroorka’u TPLF mul’isa. November 13, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Ethnic Cleansing, Horn of Africa Affairs, Uncategorized.
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TPLF Ethiopia regime federal security officers conduct mass torture in Kilinto and Maikelawi jails.png

AS EXCLUSIVE: DOCUMENT PRESENTED AT THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING REVEALS ETHIOPIA FACING ALARMING MULTI-FRONT CRISIS

Addis Standard, 12 November 2017

Major points discussed in the document include:

  • The country’s federal system is facing imminent threat
  • Security breakdown contributing to rising public anxiety
  • Immeasurable human and material cost caused by recent conflicts
  • Absence of rule of law prevalent
  • Security crisis negatively impacting the economy
  • Diminishing foreign aid due to human rights related concerns
  • Crippling effect on the tourism industry as well as hurting the country’s image
  • Security crisis curtailing the ability of the security establishment to discharge its constitutional 

Although It Mentions Egypt And Eritrea As Two Foreign Agitators, The Document Squarely Blames The Crisis On The “Internal Vulnerability” Of Current Leadership

It proposes the establishment of a joint command post/joint committee between the federal and regional security establishment 

 

Addis Abeba, November 12/2017 – A document assessing the current security and political situation in Ethiopia and was presented at the National Security Council meeting, held on Friday Oct. 10/2017, revealed in detail that Ethiopia was currently confronted with alarming level of multi-front crisis.

The meeting was held at the office of PM Hailemariam Desalegn and was attended by Siraj Fegessa, minister of defense & head of the National Security Council, General Samora Yenus, chief of staff of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces and other high level federal intelligence and defense officials, presidents of regional states and their security officials, as well as federal and regional state senior members of the police and the militia.

The document, which was jointly prepared by the country’s intelligence and defense officials, and was viewed exclusively by Addis Standard, reveals that the current security crisis, which was exacerbated by the prevalent of “absence of rule law”, was the most serious of all threats the country was facing as of late. It blames that”lawlessness” and “dissent” were alarmingly taking national forms by expanding throughout the country, threatening the federal system. Such incidents, according to the document, were fueling public anxiety and loss of confidence in the government.

“Genocide” 

But the most disturbing detail in the document was the part in which it discussed the recent violence in several towns and villages within the Ethio-Somali and Oromia regional states, which resulted in the death of unknown numbers of civilians and displacement of hundreds of thousands of Oromos from the Ethio-Somali regional state as well as hundreds of Ethio-Somalis from towns in Oromia regional state.

The document described the situation as having “resulted in genocide and mass displacement of people; witnessed inhuman and atrocious killings of civilians; and created a moral and psychological scar among the victims.”  It further said that this incident revealed the presence and prevalence of an “unnamed terrorist organization which “has not taken responsibility” for the crimes committed. “The people have lost trust in their constitutional right to move freely and live peacefully.”

The document also mentioned the proliferation of arms within the country and its nature in changing hands among various ‘agent provocateurs’.  The combined effect of this was crippling the country’s security apparatus to discharge its constitutional duty because it was engaged in “putting conflicts sprouting in several places under control”.

Economy & tourism 

The economy is severely hurting, according the document, and the flow of foreign currency was drying. Foreign aid, too, was diminishing due to conditions attached to human rights abuses, and the country’s tourism was significantly affected and its image tainted. But most alarmingly, the document admitted that domestic investment was facing heavy challenges and unprecedented level of capital flight by those who have already invested in the country was seen recently. The economy was also affected by stockpiling of commodities as well as the proliferation of money laundering by increasing numbers of individuals; and it admitted that the country’s taxation system was unable to collect due taxes to help the economy, which was also hit by “illegal export of prohibited commodities” through organized illegal traders.

Blame on leadership

The document mentions Eritrea and Egypt as well as the presence of a coordinated cyber propaganda as fueling tensions within the country; but at the same time it puts the blame on the vulnerability of  the political leadership and its inability to address public grievances in the last two and half years. It also points fingers at the direct involvement of the leadership in recent conflicts. Instead of guiding the public and the youth to productive ways of live, it says, the leadership was involved in guiding them to dissent and destruction, immersing itself in a zero sum game. “The problem is political”, it says, and “it can only be solved politically.”

Joint command post/joint committee

But its recommendation is an establishment of a joint command post (sometimes referred in the document as mere “joint committee”) between the federal and regional security establishments.

The immediate aim of this joint command post/joint committee was highlighted in eight different points. This include the work that needed to be done to secure the free movement of people from places to places; securing major roads throughout the country on 24 hour bases of patrolling; bringing to justice those who were involved in recent conflicts; prohibiting of illegal rallies; rehabilitation of displaced Ethiopians back to their homes; strict control of anti-public armed forces; control of the movement of illegal arms, human trafficking as well as contraband trades; as well as strengthening of the security apparatus at every level.

This joint command post/joint committee, would be organizing a monthly joint meeting between federal and regional security establishment after/on the second week of every month; and it would be submitting its reports directly to the Prime Minister’s office.

Speaking at a press conference after the meeting, which last for several hours, Siraj Fegessa said that a consensus  between federal and regional states was reached to coordinate the security establishment of both to tackle the growing security crisis. “We have evaluated the security risk in the country which has been recurring since last year and we have prepared a detailed plan to control the situation,” Siraj was quoted by a local newspaper as saying . “We met with the stakeholders since we have to work together.”

Addis Standard received further information that there would be additional similar meetings to hammer out more details on the document, which was distributed as a working paper to everyone who participated in the meeting held at the PM’s office on Friday.

AS


Click here to read related article from OE sources: Ethiopia: Government-Fuelled Conflict & the Need for Unity




Wal-gahiin Mana-maree nageenya biyyoolessaatiin taa’ame shoroorka’u TPLF mul’isa.

Awash Post, Sadaasa, 12, Bara 2017


Manni-Maree nageenyaa biyyoolessaa jeeqamuu, nagaa fi tasgabbii dhabuu biyyattii irratti marii taasisee jira. Keessattu haala naannoo Oromiyaa keesssa jiru irratti mariin kan xiyyeeffate. Mariin kunis kan gaggeeffame waajjira Minstera Muummee Haayilamaariyaam Dassaalanyitti ture. Walitti qabaan mana mari nageenyaa Muummichi Ministera HD fi Ministerri Ittisaa biyyaa fi hogganaa Mana-maree Nageenyaa obbo Siiraaj Fageessaatin gaggeeffameera. Humnoonni nageenyaa federaalaa fi naannoo, pireezdaantonni naannolee, koomishinaroonni poolisii fi ajajoonni Raayyaa Ittisaa biyyaa marii kana irraa qooda fudhataniiru.

Marii ol’aantummaa isaani kabjsiisuu fi qor-qalbii isaani tasgabbeessu raawwachuu irraa woyyaanonni takkaa duubatti hin jenne. Barbaachisummaan marii kanaas nagaa fi tasgabbiin Oromiyatti qixa barbaadamuun argamuu dhabuu fi karoora nageenyaa kallattii funduraa irratti kaayuudha. Ajandaan dhoksaa marichaas sochii fi gaaffi ummanni Oromoo dhimma abbaa biyyummaa fi dimokraasii irratti kaasaa jiru humnaan danquuf kan kiyyeeffameedha. Qaamolee nageenya federaalaa fi naannoo diriirsuun sagalee ummataa ukkaamsuudha. Qor-qalbii qeerroo fi dhageetti bulchiinsa haaraa OPDO’s cabsuu ni barbaadu.
Haa ta’uu malee ummanni Oromoo sodaa marii nageenyaati miti; labsiin hatattamaa fi ajajni garee komaandi postitiin baati 10f kennamaa ture gaafi fi fedhii ummataa dhaabuu akka hin dandeenye ifa. Hidhaa, tumaa fi dhiigni balbala Oromoo hundatti dhangala’aa ture qabsoo cimse malee tasuma hin gufachiifne. Marii fi konfiransii nageenyaa jechuun qabeenya ummataa fi mootummaa qisaasuu irra gaafi fi yaada ummataa dhaga’uun furmaata waaraa ture. Kana gochuuf woyyaaneen ijaa fi gurra hin arganne. Tuffiin cimaanis keessaa isaaniti belbela. BMNO fi hawaasa bal’aa wajjiin dhimma furmaata ta’uu malu: hidhamaa hiikuu, kan ajjeefamani, qe’ee fi qabeenya irraa buqqa’aniif beenyaa barbaachisu kaffaluu irratti ifaan mari’achuu male. Gochaan hammeenyummaa fi gar-jabeenyaa poolisii federaalaa, Agaazii fi woraanna ittisa biyyaatin ummata Oromoo irratti raawwataa turanif ummataa fi bulchiinsa naannootiin kabaja woyyaaneen barbaaddu mulqamuunis mata dhukkubbi cimaa itti ta’eera.

Qaamolee nageenya naannoo fi federaalaatiin rukutamuu, butamuu fi ajjeefamuun ummata Oromoo haaraa hin turre. Sirna bulchiinsa woyyaanee keessatti Oromoon kanuma keessumeessaa, argaa fi dhaga’aa as gahe. Mariin Manni-maree Nageenyaa biyyaalessaa kaleessa gaggeesse kan calqabaatis miti. Erga labsiin mana marii nageenya biyyoolessa hundeessuu lakk.257/2001 bahee amata 16 ta’eera. Labsichi duras kallattii fi al-kallattiin hojima irra ture. Yeroo rakkoo fi nagaatis dhimmuma itti bahaa turan. Kanaaf maqaa wal-gahii, marii fi konfaransitin shirri qabsoo Oromoo danquuf taasifamu hundi nageenyaa fi tasgabbi biyyaas hin fidu; falmii fi qabsoo ummata Oromootis tasuma gufachiisuu hin danda’u.

The Guardian: Oromia: Ambo: ‘We fear for our lives’: A brutal crackdown on protest and the return of soldiers to the streets of Oromia region has fuelled growing anger and frustration with central government November 7, 2017

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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

“They walk around the city with their guns, intimidating people,”


‘We fear for our lives’: how rumours over sugar saw Ethiopian troops kill 10 people

A brutal crackdown on protest and the return of soldiers to the streets of Oromia region has fuelled growing anger and frustration with central government

The streets of Ambo have seen the return of military patrols since ethnic Oromos protested against a shipment of smuggled sugar on 25 October.
 The streets of Ambo have seen the return of military patrols since ethnic Oromos protested against a shipment of smuggled sugar on 25 October. Photograph: Tom Gardner

It began with a rumour. On 25 October, residents of Ambo, 120km west of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, heard word on social media that a shipment of smuggled sugar was due to pass through town.

“Sugar is so expensive now, the price has tripled,” explains 18-year-old Israel, a first-year undergraduate at Ambo University. “And they’re exporting it to other parts of the country but the people here don’t have any. It’s not fair.”

So Israel joined the large crowd of young men and women that erupted in protest as three trucks rolled down the high street later that day, seizing hold of the vehicles and setting up roadblocks. He threw stones in the ensuing confrontation with police and covered his face with a scarf to avoid the teargas launched in his direction. And he watched in fear as the national military entered the town that evening and, the next morning, began firing live bullets, killing 10 people and injuring more.

“They were shooting at us with silencers on,” he says. “One of the boys killed was only 15. They killed girls too – one was my friend. A lot of my friends have died.”

The sugar rumour and the tragic events it sparked exposed the bitter web of grievance felt by many in Ambo and the surrounding region of Oromia, home to Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group: anger at what is perceived to be an unequal distribution of the country’s wealth, a pervasive sense of ethnic marginalisation, frustration with the endemic corruption that facilitates crime and contraband, and, above all, a deep mistrust of the authoritarian federal government in Addis Ababa.

Protests and strikes have resumed across Oromia since a nine-month state of emergency intended to quell them was lifted in August. In September hundreds of Oromos were killed and tens of thousands displaced amid an outbreak of sustained violence along Oromia’s border with the neighbouring Somali region. And reports of communal clashes in other parts of the country have emerged in recent weeks.

But for many the return of violence to Ambo’s streets was especially significant: it is the symbolic home of the Oromo struggle.

“Ambo is the heartbeat of the revolution,” says Bilisuma Deberie, a former Oromo activist and political prisoner now living in Addis Ababa. “It is where it all began.”

Ambo University
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 The gates of Ambo University. Classes were suspended for a week after the unrest. Photograph: Tom Gardner

Since the October protest, federal police have been stationed in Ambo and other towns along the road to Addis Ababa, some of which experienced similar confrontations between security forces and protesters in the days that followed. Ambo is once again occupied by military troops, whose street patrols bring back unpleasant memories of life under emergency rule.

“They walk around the city with their guns, intimidating people,” says Galana, a student in health science at the university. “People are afraid.”

Shops and businesses were shut for several days after the unrest. Classes at schools and universities were suspended for a week, as students protested against the extra police presence on campus.

“Students fear for their lives,” says Galana’s friend, Ganeti, also a student at the university. “Some don’t want to come to class.”

Though they avoided joining the protests for fear of violence, both sympathise with the cause. In particular, they echo many in Ambo and elsewhere in expressing anger at the mass displacement of Oromos from the Somali region, and outrage at the perceived failure of the central government to protect them from what survivors say were unprovoked attacks and human rights abuses by Somali regional security forces.

In the weeks running up to the protests many of the displaced had arrived in Ambo and the surrounding area seeking shelter.

The fact that the military were sent quickly into Ambo has fuelled suspicions about the motives of the central government. Gadisa Desalegn, head of the town’s communication bureau, says he doesn’t know where the order for the intervention came from. “The people are demanding an answer,” he says.

Since the uprising, the town has been gripped by speculation and conspiracy theory – fed in part by social media – and many now believe the protests were the work of outsiders sent by the central government to incite violence to justify reimposing emergency law.

“The sugar rumour was intentionally circulated to provoke unrest,” says Habtamu Wondemagne, a 28-year-old rickshaw driver. “Sugar always comes through this town – there’s nothing unusual about that.”

He points to two burnt-out trucks on Ambo’s main road and, like other young men in the town, says it was the military, not protesters, who set them alight during the unrest. “This was not a genuine protest,” he says.

The belief that outsiders are responsible for destabilising the region is common across Oromia, strengthened by the mass arrests of largely non-Oromos by the regional government in recent weeks, which has led to concerns that minorities in the area are being targeted unfairly.

Others blame the protests on members of the new Oromo regional administration, pointing to an upsurge in ethno-nationalist sentiment across Oromia in recent months. “A wing has emerged within the leadership that plays the ultra Oromo-nationalist card and could be behind this unrest,” argues René Lefort, a longtime observer of Ethiopian politics.

He is among those who argue that instability across Ethiopia stems in large part from the weakness of the central government and efforts of the various ethno-regional wings of the ruling coalition party, the Ethiopian People’s Ruling Democratic Front (EPRDF), to attain political pre-eminence.

But the most striking shift in Ambo and elsewhere in Oromia over the past year is the widespread popularity of the new regional leadership, with many singling out Lemma Megersa, the regional president, for approval.

“I love him,” says Israel, the young protester. “He is my life.”

Under Megersa, Oromia’s government has promised land redistribution, imposed higher taxes on foreign investors, and demanded that they provide more jobs for local young people.

Locals also note that demonstrations this year have been policed more peacefully by local security forces. The Oromo police, once seen as lackeys of the ruling party, are now widely considered allies in the struggle against the federal government.

For residents of Ambo, it is the assertiveness of this new government that best explains the brutality of the federal military in suppressing the October protest.

“Lemma and his administration are on the side of the people,” says Galana, the student. “The problem now is the central government.”



Related from Oromian  Economist sources:-

Fascist TPLF Ethiopia’s regime Agazi forces continue with mass killings in Oromia (Ethiopia): At least 10 killed and 20 wounded in Ambo. #OromoProtests

Oromia: Waan Sammuu Abbaa Duulaa Jijjiiree Dhageeffadha. Abadula Gemeda, the Speaker of the Ethiopian House of Peoples’ Representatives, has resigned from his position.  October 9, 2017

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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

Related:-

 

Breaking News: Abadula Gemeda resigns as Speaker of Parliament, Addis Standard reports

Onkoloolessa/October 7, 2017 · Finfinne Tribune | Gadaa.com  

According to a local online-based newspaper named Addis Standard, Mr. Abadula Gemeda, the Speaker of the Ethiopian House of Peoples’ Representatives, has resigned from his position. Addis Standard, through its Twitter account, broke the news a little an hour ago, at 9:49am local time (with the Ethiopian traditional day-hour counting, it was 3:49 in the morning when the news came). Here’s the Twitter published by @addisstandard, and its Facebook post.

UPDATED: The online-based newspaper indicated that one of the reasons for the resignation of the Speaker was his protest over the federal government’s handling of the security issues in the Oromia-Somalia border; the border crisis had resulted in the displacement of more than 50,000 people in the Oromia-side alone.

Twitter:


BBC Afaan Oromoo: Abbaa Duulaa Gammadaa: Jeneraala, Pireezidaantii, Af-yaa’ii … Achii hoo?


Opride News:  Ethiopia’s Speaker of the House, Abba Dula Gamada, resigns

 

OPINION: PROTEST RESIGNATION: RAMIFICATIONS OF A POLITICAL ACT

Prof Al Mariam: ‘My Letter to President Trump Requesting Targeted Sanctions Against the TPLF Regime in Ethiopia’ October 3, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Horn of Africa Affairs, Human Rights, Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

bishoftu-mascare-2nd-october-2016-fascist-ethiopias-regime-tplf-conducted-masskillings-against-oromo-people-at-irreecha-celebration

My Letter to President Trump Requesting Targeted Sanctions Against the TPLF Regime in Ethiopia

October 2, 2017

Donald Trump
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Re: REQUEST FOR SANCTIONS AGAINST PERSONS AND ENTITIES INVOLVED IN THE IRRECHA MASSACRES ON OCTOBER 2, 2016 AND OTHER CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY COMMITTED IN ETHIOPIA 

Dear Mr. President:

I am writing this letter for two purposes. First, I wish to thank you for imposing sanctions[1] on certain senior current and former South Sudan government officials and South Sudanese companies responsible for undermining peace, security and stability in that violence-wracked country.

Second, I am writing to request imposition of similar sanctions against members of the ruling regime in Ethiopia self-styled as the “Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front” led and dominated by the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), an entity listed as a terrorist organization in the Global Terrorism Database[2] (GTD).

The last act of terrorism committed by the TPLF, according to the GTD, was on August 16, 2016[3].

I believe it is fair and proper to give credit where credit is due. While some have claimed the sanctions imposed on South Sudan’s leaders and their accomplices are meager and inadequate[4], I believe the action sends a clear and unambiguous message to all Africans in positions of power that protection of human rights is a central component of an America-first U.S. foreign policy in Africa, a fact that has been underscored by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson[5].

I am especially elated to learn the U.S. Treasury Department “will forcefully respond to the atrocities ongoing in South Sudan by targeting those who abuse human rights, seek to derail the peace process, and obstruct reconciliation in South Sudan.” Such a resolute statement goes a long way in reassuring not only the people of South Sudan but also all Africans that the U.S. will not merely talk the talk about being on the “right side of history” but also walk the talk by acting decisively and selectively against individuals and entities engaged in gross human rights violations.

I wish to point out for the record that the sanctions you have imposed in South Sudan are in stark contrast to the Obama administration’s lifting of sanctions against the Sudan in its last week in office.

During his presidential candidacy in 2007, Barack Obama said[6], the “genocide in Darfur [Sudan] is a stain on our souls… As a president of the United States I don’t intend to abandon people or turn a blind eye to slaughter.”

In the final week of his presidency, on January 13, 2017, Mr. Obama turned a blind eye to the genocidal Sudanese regime and stood on the “wrong side of history” when he rescinded  sanctions authorized pursuant to  Executive Order 13067[7] of November 3, 1997 and Executive Order 13412[8] of October 13, 2006 related to the policies and actions of the Government of Sudan.

In issuing his rescission of Executive Order 13761[9],  Mr. Obama whitewashed the bloody genocidal crimes of the Sudanese regime by speciously claiming that regime has shown “positive actions over the past 6 months”. The “actions” allegedly included maintaining cessation of hostilities in conflict areas in the Sudan, improving humanitarian access and counterterrorism cooperation.

It is said, “one swallow does not make a summer.” It is incomprehensible to me how Mr. Obama could gloss over and excuse atrocities committed over a period exceeding two decades on mere gestures of good behavior over six months.

What is even more appalling is Mr. Obama’s duplicity and hypocrisy in completely ignoring Sudan’s close ties with North Korea and purchase of weapons from that rogue regime for use in the commission of human rights violations and atrocities. In lifting sanctions against the Sudan, Mr. Obama also conveniently ignored the fact that Sudan has been on the list[10] of state sponsors of terrorism since 1993 and had provided a haven to Osama bin Laden.

Perhaps one should not be surprised by Mr. Obama’s stratagems and sophistry in exculpating those on the “wrong side of history”, as he used to call them. When Mr. Obama visited Ethiopia in July 2015, he unabashedly declared the TPLF regime, which claimed electoral victory by capturing 100 percent of the “parliamentary” seats, as “democratically elected[11].”

In light of Mr. Obama’s double-speak and duplicity on human rights in Africa, I find your recent targeted sanctions against South Sudan and the tenor of your administration’s emerging human rights policy forthright, refreshing and encouraging.

I believe selective and targeted sanctions such as the one imposed against South Sudanese leaders and companies can serve as effective tools of an America-first foreign policy in advancing the cause of human rights globally, and particularly in Africa. Targeted sanctions selectively and purposefully focus on leaders, their family members and supporters, political elites and segments of society known to be directly responsible for human rights violations or in aiding, abetting and giving material support in the commission of such violations. Blanket sanctions are more likely to inflict greater hardship and suffering on the general population, and often those engaged in gross human rights violations find ways to circumvent them. It has been observed that “targeted sanctions” or “smart sanctions” are like “smart bombs”, considerably reducing collateral damage on civilian populations.

I believe in the old saying, “What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.” What is good for South Sudan is good for Ethiopia.

I am requesting that you follow up with targeted sanctions against current and senior members of the “Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front” led and dominated by the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front and other entities aiding and abetting that regime in the commission of human rights violations in Ethiopia. The evidence of human rights violations supporting targeted sanctions against the TPLF regime is overwhelming, incontrovertible, substantial and compelling.

The Irreecha Massacres of October 2, 2016

On October 2, 2016, troops loyal to the ruling Tigrean Peoples’ Liberation Front opened fire indiscriminately on crowds at a religious festival known as “Irreecha” attended by an “estimated 2 million people[12] in the town of Bishoftu, some 45 miles southeast of the capital Addis Ababa.

The TPLF regime reported 52 dead from what it said was crowd “stampede[13] caused by anti-government elements”. In a televised address, the regime’s prime minster blamed the victims for provoking troops into using indiscriminate deadly force.

On October 3, 2016, Freedom House issued a statement[14] on the Irreecha Massacres demanding an independent investigation: “The deaths in Bishoftu occurred because security forces fired tear gas and live ammunition at a crowd of over a million people celebrating a religious occasion. The government of Ethiopia should allow a truly independent body to investigate the tragedy at Bishoftu as well as security forces’ well-documented record of using excessive force against peaceful gatherings.”

Eyewitness reports including statements by accredited Voice of America Amharic Service program journalists revealed that heavily armed regime troops had taken tactical positions behind the VIP grandstand hidden from direct view of the crowd and suddenly opened live fire on the unarmed and peacefully protesting crowd after the official program could not proceed due to crowd demands and chants against the regime.

On October 8, the TPLF regime declared a “state of emergency” suspending the constitution and instituting martial law under an entity called “Command Post[15]”.

On November 12, 2016, the regime officially reported[16] arresting “11,607 people, including 347 women”. The U.S. State Department in its 2016 human rights report[17]stated, “Many [of the thousands arrested] were never brought before a court, provided access to legal counsel, or formally charged with a crime.” The actual number of persons arrested was significantly higher than officially reported. In March 2017, the Command Post “announced that 4,996 of the 26,130 people detained for allegedly taking part in protests would be brought to court.”

An “investigative report” on the Irreecha Massacres released by the regime’s human rights organization in April 2016 rubberstamped the regime’s original position: “The violence happened because the protesters were using guns and so security forces had no other option.”

In its June 2016 report entitled “Such a Brutal Crackdown’: Killings and Arrests in Response to Ethiopia’s Oromo Protest”, Human Rights Watch stated, “security forces in Ethiopia have used excessive and lethal force against largely peaceful protests that have swept through Oromia, the country’s largest region, since November 2015.”

On September 19, 2017, Human Rights Watch in its 33-page report entitled “Fuel on the Fire’: Security Force Response to the 2016 Irreecha Cultural Festival” provided details on the regime’s “use of force in response to restive crowds at 2016’s Irreecha.” The report “found evidence that security force personnel not only triggered the stampede that caused many deaths but subsequently shot and killed some members of the crowd.”

Over the past year, the TPLF regime has committed unspeakable atrocities in Northern Ethiopia including Gonder, Wolkait, Bahr Dar and other locations.

The Irreecha Massacres are only the latest in the 26-year sordid history of gross and egregious human rights violation by the TPLF regime in Ethiopia.

On May 16, 2005, one day after the general election, the late leader of the TPLF regime, Meles Zenawi, also declared a state of emergency, outlawed all public gatherings and placed under his direct personal command and control all police, security and military forces in the country. Zenawi personally authorized the use of deadly force against any protesters in the post-election period. As a result, nearly a thousand people were either killed or severely wounded by regime troops. Zenawi subsequently set up an Inquiry Commission. That Commission was forced to go into exile following harassment and threats by the TPLF regime to falsify its findings. In November 2006, that Commission shared[18] its findings with members of the Africa Subcommittee in the House of Representatives. The Inquiry Commission laid the entire blame at the feet of the TPLF regime and rejected their spurious claims and justifications for use of deadly force.

partial list of the names of the victims of the Meles Massacres is publicly available.

list of names of those security, military and police officials directly involved in the post-2005 election massacres is also available. The TPLF regime to date has taken no action against these officials.

In May 2014, troops loyal to the TPLF regime massacred at least 47 university and high school students in the town of Ambo 80 miles west of the capital Addis Ababa. Eyewitnesses reported significantly higher casualties and fatalities than officially reported. Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a statement[19] condemning the “shooting at and beating [of] peaceful protesters in Ambo, Nekemte, Jimma, and other towns”. According to HRW, the student “protests erupted over the release of the proposed Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan” which would “expand Addis Ababa’s municipal boundary to include more than 15 communities in Oromia” and displace Oromo farmers and residents.

In December 2003, the TPLF massacred hundreds of Anuak people in Gambella in Western Ethiopia. Human Rights Watch documented  that TPLF troops “subjected Anuak communities throughout the region to widespread and systematic acts of murder, rape, torture, arbitrary imprisonment and the destruction of entire villages.” Genocide Watch sent a fact-finding team in Gambella and secured[21]  authentic documents “proving that the Gambella massacres were planned at the highest levels of the Ethiopian government, and even given the code name “Operation Sunny Mountain”. A report[20] by the Harvard Law School Human Rights Program on the Anuak Massacre concluded, “From December 2004 to at least January 2006, the ENDF (Ethiopian National Defense Forces) attacked and abused Anuak civilians in Gambella region – wantonly killing, raping, beating, torturing, and harassing civilians.”

In 2007, the TPLF regime massacred hundreds of people in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. Human Rights Watch in its June 2008 report[22] entitled “Collective Punishment: War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in the Ogaden area of Ethiopia’s Somali Region” documented, “Ethiopian troops have forcibly displaced entire rural communities, ordering villagers to leave their homes within a few days or witness their houses being burnt down and their possessions destroyed and risk death.”

The TPLF regime has refused to undertake meaningful and credible investigations into these crimes against humanity despite requests by human rights groups and even the U.N. The TPLF regime has refused entry to all UN special rapporteurs since 2007 to investigate human rights violations in Ethiopia.

The TPLF regime has dismissed and ignored all calls for an independent investigation of the Irreecha Massacres by United Nations top human rights official[23]the African Commission[24], the European parliament[25], and members of United States Congress[26].

The difference between the South Sudanese regime and the TPLF regime on human rights is the difference between Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Both regimes are peas in a pod. Thus, what is good enough for the South Sudanese regime is good enough for the TPLF regime.

I believe an America-first human rights policy which employs targeted sanctions to promote human rights, democracy and peace in Africa is not only necessary but also likely to produce outcomes that are consistent with the values and principles of American taxpayers.

Millions of refugees are leaving Africa to come go to Europe and North America because life is hell for them in Africa under brutal and bloodthirsty dictatorships, not merely to seek better economic opportunities. The U.S. can effectively deal with this problem by addressing the root cause of migration out of Africa, namely, brutal and oppressive dictatorships that treat their citizens as slaves and their countries’ treasuries and resources as their private estates. Selective and targeted sanctions aimed at the financial and logistical incapacitation of leaders, political elites and segments of society known to be directly responsible for human rights violations or engaged in aiding, abetting and giving material support in the commission of such violations in Africa is the proverbial two-by-four that will quickly get their attention.

For well over a decade, I have argued without pause that the best way to help Africa is to let Africa help itself. Africa can never be free until African leaders are held to account and forced to abandon the culture of panhandling, which have perfected as an art form. The U.S. must end its aid welfare program to African dictators who siphon off much of that aid and deposit it in their private offshore bank accounts. Your transition team hit the nail on the head when it demndaed answers from the State Department to the following question: “With so much corruption in Africa, how much of our funding is stolen?”

I wish I could definitively answer that question for you. But I can say definitively that to begin the effort to find out “how much of our funding is stolen” in Africa, we must make targeted sanctions a central part of the America-first foreign policy in Africa.

Mr. President, what I am asking is not anything extraordinary. I am merely requesting that you impose the same targeted sanctions you imposed on the leaders, supporters and business entities in South Sudan to the leaders, supporters and business entities responsible for human rights violations in Ethiopia. What is good enough for South Sudan is good enough for Ethiopia.

Mr. President, when Mr. Obama visited Ghana in his first trip to Africa in July 2009, he said, “Now, make no mistake: History is on the side of these brave Africans, not with those who use coups or change constitutions to stay in power. Africa doesn’t need strongmen, it needs strong institutions.”

The people of Ethiopia and the people of Africa are on tenterhooks to find out if you are going to stand with African dictators or the common people yearning to breathe free.

I am betting my bottom dollar that you will stand with the people of Africa and not the dictators who lord over them, as did Mr. Obama.

I will guarantee that you will have 100 million fans in Ethiopia if you institute targeted sanctions against members of the TPLF regime and its cronies involved in gross human rights violations, and win more than a 1.2 billion Africans if you make targeted sanctions a core part of your America-first policy in Africa.

I guarantee it!

Sincerely,

Alemayehu (Al) G. Mariam, M.A., Ph.D., J.D.
Professor and Attorney at Law

Cc: Hon. Rex Tillerson, U.S. Secretary of State
Hon. Steven T. Mnuchin, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
Hon. Nimrata “Nikki” Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

==========================
[1] https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/sm0152.aspx

[2] http://www.start.umd.edu/gtd/search/Results.aspx?perpetrator=2127

[3] http://www.start.umd.edu/gtd/search/IncidentSummary.aspx?gtdid=201608260003

[4] http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/09/06/u-s-sanctions-south-sudanese-leaders/

[5] https://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2017/05/270620.htm

[6] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEd583-fA8M

[7] https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Documents/13067.pdf

[8] https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Documents/13412.pdf

[9] https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/DCPD-201700026/pdf/DCPD-201700026.pdf

[10] https://www.state.gov/j/ct/list/c14151.htm

[11] https://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/28/world/africa/obama-calls-ethiopian-government-democratically-elected.html?mcubz=3&mtrref=www.google.com&gwh=BBE0F6C584580DEF4C73E4D0F43ECE1F&gwt=pay

[12] http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/03/africa/ethiopia-oromo-deaths/index.html

[13] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/ethiopia-stampede-violent-clashes-death-toll-oromia-disaster-bishoftu-protest-more-than-100-a7342951.html

[14] https://freedomhouse.org/article/ethiopia-more-150-dead-after-security-forces-fire-crowd

[15] http://www.ena.gov.et/en/index.php/politics/item/2067-command-post-established-to-oversee-implementation-of-emergency-rule

[16] http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/11/ethiopia-state-emergency-arrests-top-11000-161112191919319.html

[17] https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/#wrapper

[18]http://www.ethiomedia.com/addfile/ethiopian_inquiry_commission_briefs_congress.html

[19] https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/05/05/ethiopia-brutal-crackdown-protests

[20] http://hrp.law.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Ethiopia_2006_Report.pdf

http://www.genocidewatch.org/ethiopia.html[21]

[22]https://www.hrw.org/report/2008/06/12/collective-punishment/war-crimes-and-crimes-against-humanity-ogaden-area-ethiopias

[23] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-ethiopia-violence-un-idUSKCN10L1SY

[24] http://www.achpr.org/sessions/59th/resolutions/356/

[25] http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P8-TA-2016-0023+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN&language=EN

[26] https://www.congress.gov/115/bills/hres128/BILLS-115hres128ih.pdf

ETHIOPIA IS GRAPPLING WITH HEIGHTENED RISK OF STATE COLLAPSE, IT IS TIME FOR ORDERLY TRANSITION   September 27, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Ethiopian Empire, Ethnic Cleansing, Horn of Africa Affairs, Uncategorized.
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Thousands of internally displaced Oromos from the recent conflict in eastern Ethiopia remain in temporary shelters

Addis Abeba, September 27/2017 – Ethiopia is fast descending into turmoil as the result of incessant state-sanctioned violence and repression. Popular demands that precipitated a three year-long protest, which started in Oromia in 2014and then spread to the Amhara and other regions, remain unaddressed. The discontent in the two most populous regional states, Oromia and Amhara, home to two-thirds of the country’s population of over 100 million, is deep and widespread. The resulting anxiety, expressed by serious Ethiopia watchers, is confirmed by the country’s leader, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who once warned that the continued protests could push Ethiopia into a situation similar to what has prevailed in neighboring Somalia for the last 26 years: state collapse.

The popular protests signaled a regime in crisis. After ruling for a quarter century, the ruling coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), began to exhibit signs of decomposition. Nowhere is this well archived than the reporting by this magazine over the last six years.  The economy, once touted as the envy of the world, started experiencing a downward spiral. Tensions emerged at the highest echelons of the security apparatus with the civilian and military intelligence at loggerheads over the direction of the regime’s response to the protests. Beginning in December 2016, two months into the state of emergency that was declared to suppress the protests, the situation got further complicated with rising tensions between regional states – first between the Amhara and Tigray regions and currently between the Oromia and Somali regional states.

Escalating Tensions

For years, Oromo residents near the regional frontiers have complained of an aggressive attempt by the Somali Regional State to forcefully dispossess their land. Until recently their grievances fell on deaf ears. The conflicts escalated in February and March 2017 as incursions and raids conducted by the Somali Special Police (the Liyu Police), also known as the Liyu Hayil, and militia intensified along the border between the two regional states stretching from Chinaksan in the East (near the border with Somaliland) and Moyale (near the border with Kenya).

Cross-border raids and fighting increased in frequency and intensity in early August and tensions boiled over in mid-September in Oromia’s East Hararghe Zone, where at least 60 people were killed, according to locals. In addition to its assault on Oromo civilians in Oromia, members and sympathizers of the Liyu Police are currently attacking and expelling Oromo residents and merchants from the Somali region.  As a result, hundreds of Oromos have been killed and tens of thousands displaced from their homes in the Somali region. Authorities in the Oromia region have begun sounding alarm about an all-out war of aggression by the notorious Somali Special Police.

In a more ominous development, officials from the two states are engaged in an unprecedented war of words, particularly on social media. Their tangling is not limited to words.  The security organs of the two states have been battling each other over the territories along the common border.

All of this is happening under the watchful eyes of the federal army and security forces, which are now ordered by the Prime Minister to man the common border between the two states and all major roads in Oromia. Oromo residents in the affected areas question the neutrality of the federal army, particularly the impartiality of Tigrean kingmakers in the ruling EPRDF coalition, and not a few accuse them of abetting and enabling the still-ongoing Liyu Police incursions into undisputed Oromo territories.

Critics contend that Tigrayan generals and intelligence officials, the current de facto rulers of Ethiopia, have two overarching objectives for empowering and enabling the Liyu Police and leaders of the Somali region: to cripple the three-year-long Oromo resistance against the EPRDF government, and to undermine, weaken and control the new leaders of the Oromia regional state, who have recently shown some signs of autonomy from the overbearing center. The development risks provoking a total breakdown of law and order on the peripheries, which can gradually creep toward the center—leading to state collapse.

Signs of Collapse

Predicting state collapse, a complex phenomenon with multiple causes and effects, is never easy.  However, those writing on state collapse, such as Caty ClementRobert Rotberg, and Claire Vallings and Magüi Moreno-Torres, agree that the legitimacy, or lack thereof, enjoyed by state institutions and their capacity or failure to deliver the political and economic goods needed by society are the primary indicators. Having refused to open up the political space to allow the population to render judgment on its political legitimacy, the EPRDF regime, in power for over a quarter of a century, had instead sought to predicate its legitimacy on the economy’s exaggerated performance. The resulting political instability now threatens to bring the economy to a standstill.

Many observers in and outside Ethiopia, including current and former Ethiopian officials, have offered a bleak prognosis about the country’s fate. For example, last year the former Chief of Staff of Ethiopian Defense Forces, General Tsadikan G/Tensae, warned that the mass protests in Oromia and Amhara regions in particular and EPRDF’s failure to contain them augurs the onset of a full-fledged political crisis. His colleague, Gen. Abebe Teklehaimanot also expressed similar concern about the country’s prospects for stability unless significant reforms are implemented.

Similarly, a string of international media headlines and expert analyses warn of a growing political crisis. Articles appearing in Open DemocracyForeign Policy JournalForeign Affairs,  and the Guardian, just to mention a few, have joined the chorus about an impending collapse. Perhaps acting out of this fear, Ethiopia declared a state of emergency in October 2016, which lasted for nearly ten months. The declaration was a stunning reversal for Ethiopia’s rulers, who had some success portraying Ethiopia as an island of stability in a troubled region and propagating a myth of “Ethiopia rising.”

Several trend indices point to Ethiopia’s growing state fragility. According to the Fragile State Index, for example, Ethiopia’s fragility has been rising steadily since 2006. The Index of State Weakness designates Ethiopia as one of the world’s critically weak states. Noting the complete lack of political rights, Freedom House has consistently rated Ethiopia as Not Free — with a score of only 14 out of 100 in its 2017 report.

And all states that collapsed had one thing in common: a violent dictatorship locked into a win-lose conflict with a populace determined to untangle the incumbent regime from the reins of power. The breakdown of state-society relations marks a milestone in a trajectory towards state collapse.  Other credible risk assessments underscore this same bleak picture for Ethiopia.

Recently, Christopher Clapham, a long-time Africa watcher, noted that Ethiopia is both the anchor and the main source of the perennial instability that has haunted the Horn of Africa region for decades. Should the Ethiopian state implode, as all indicators point toward, the whole region, where a quarter of a billion souls eke out an already precarious existence, would go down with it.

This is not an implausible scenario. Ethiopia is situated in a region harboring two already collapsed states (Somalia and South Sudan), two failing states (Sudan and Eritrea), and yet another fragile state (Kenya). It also abuts the world’s most volatile region, the Middle East. All of these factors about Ethiopia’s increasing fragility ought to have set off alarm bells in Washington, Brussels, London, and Addis Ababa itself, seat of the African Union.

To be sure, the EPRDF is not the sole culprit for all of Ethiopia’s ills. There are factors beyond its control that contribute to the ongoing political convulsion. One such factor is soaring population growth. Ethiopia’s population has doubled since EPRDF came to power, putting unbearable pressure on the environment and natural resources in a country where backward agriculture is the dominant means of agricultural production. In addition, there are a number of quite contentious issues hampering any consensus among the political class.

Divided elites

Ethiopia’s political class is beholden to deeply divergent diagnoses and remedies to tackle the mounting problems. It doesn’t agree even on such uncomplicated issues as the bases of the country’s statehood. EPRDF is convinced that Ethiopia is a nation of nations. Structuring Ethiopia as a federation of nations, nationalities, and peoples stemmed from this conviction.

The elites of the Oromo and other marginalized groups hold the view that the structuring of Ethiopia as a multinational federation was a positive step but dismiss EPRDF’s federation as bogus. Indeed federalism without democracy is an oxymoron. Their fear is that an undemocratic federation of nations could produce a repeat of the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia’s disastrous fates. Members of these groups insist that only democratizing the present federation can avert such eventuality.

Another vocal group, hailing predominantly from the previous ruling elite, rejects the emphasis on Ethiopia’s multinational nature and aspires to forge the country’s numerous ethnic groups into a single Amharic-speaking nation—resurrecting the policies and memories of successive feudal and military regimes that stoked decades of armed conflicts and brought the state at different junctures to the brink of collapse. Since neither of these groups is willing to heed the fears, pains, and perspective of the other, a debate of the deaf has been going on among them for the last three decades.

These contrasting positions come with the dangerous implication of pulling the country in opposite directions. The concern that this configuration of political stands could culminate in ripping Ethiopia apart should not be underestimated.

A successful mobilization by multiple rival groups against a resented centralized power is a harbinger of regime collapse. All indications are that mobilization by both the Oromo and the Amhara, even within the EPRDF, is gathering momentum, thereby exacerbating the regime’s incoherence. To date the protests among the Oromo and Amhara have largely remained peaceful.  However, increased repression has made the breakout of armed insurrection all but certain. Most disconcertingly, regime collapse could easily morph into state collapse in Ethiopia as the regime has intricately tied its fate to the survival of the state.

Precipitating factors

The second most threatening factor is the refusal of the ruling party to institute the reforms demanded by the protesters. When the ruled refuse to live under the old order and rulers are unable to carry on in the old way, breaking out of the impasse could be achieved only by instituting significant reforms. And this is just what the EPRDF has been utterly unable and unwilling to do. Without reforms, the specter of a revolutionary breakdown looms around the horizon.

The excessive securitization of the Ethiopian state to stifle growing dissent is also having two unintended consequences.  First, it is making rising dissent inevitable. Second, ballooning costs of securing the regime could easily bankrupt it. The recent tax-hike, which resulted in one of the first successful attempts at a general strike in decades, presages what is to come.

The main obstacle to instituting any kind of reform is the lack of democracy and honest conversation within the ruling party. The EPRDF is composed of four entities: (1) The Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), (2) The Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), (3) The Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) and (4) The Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM). Of all of these, the TPLF, speaking for the least populous constituency, plays a dominant role, thereby standing the EPRDF pyramid on its apex. The inherent instability of this setup accounts for much of Ethiopia’s fragility than anything else.

Growing fragility

States become susceptible to failure when two factors come into play. The first occurs when rulers lose their mandate to govern and their administration of the affairs of the state becomes illegitimate in the eyes and hearts of a growing sector of the concerned populace. The three-year-long protests in Oromia and Amhara regions bespeak the loss of mandate to govern. The second happens when the rulers’ capacity to keep the governed in tow is exhausted. The failure of the state of emergency to quell the popular appetite for resistance against the system attests to this fact. And there seems to be a dialectical relationship between soliciting legitimacy and seeking domination. As coercion is deployed more frequently, the consent of the ruled plummets, and rulers would be forced to increasingly resort to naked coercion, which further diminishes their legitimacy and necessitates the application of even more coercion.   For the EPRDF regime, more repression is not yielding the anticipated results.

This vicious cycle has characterized EPRDF’s rule ever since it came to power in 1991. It started with a questionable legitimacy, which steadily diminished with each passing decade. In order to make up for this falling legitimacy, EPRDF bolstered and fine-tuned its instruments of coercion and control. The crude application of these tools in the absence of an astute political leadership creates more security problems than it solves. To make matters worse, since the death in 2012 of its strongman, Meles Zenawi, the EPRDF has shown signs of atrophy, discord, and unraveling. In place of the centralized rule that characterized earlier decades, multiple sources of authority are currently vying for influence—at times violently.

Political fragmentation

Within the EPRDF, inter and intra-party relations have broken down. Both ANDM, ruling the Amhara region, and OPDO, ruling Oromia, are pressing for more autonomy from the TPLF-dominated center in a bid to respond to the growing popular chorus to end Tigrean domination of the country’s politics, economy, and security apparatus. The gap between the official rhetoric of the devolution of power and the reality of continuing centralization has undermined the resilience normally accruing to a federal arrangement. At the moment, the system is more brittle than it has ever been. The failure to stop armed incursions into Oromia from the Somali region, which has led to the killing of innocent people and mass expulsion of Oromo civilians from the Somali region, is a worrisome sign of the breakdown of central control.

The Oromo protests happened despite the long running process of extending party control over the populace, which culminated in 1 out of 5 Ethiopians (i.e., 20 million) being harnessed into an elaborate state surveillance system. This level of regime penetration of society is unprecedented in Ethiopian history and quite likely in the entire African Continent. This panoptic surveillance structure, however, proved totally useless in averting mass uprising particularly by the Oromo and the Amhara.

That is why authorities resorted to a state of emergency as part of the regime’s increasing reliance on force and coercion to stay in power. Yet even after martial law was imposed, the rebellious societies remain restive and will likely rise up again. It had to be lifted because it had become ineffectual and a burden. This begs a very important question: What would EPRDF do that it has not done to date in order to contain the imminent mass upsurge?

The incumbent regime shows no indication of heeding and addressing the protesters’ grievances. The regime’s effort to placate the people, including through declarations of war on rampant corruption, abuse of power, problems of good governance, cabinet reshuffles, and promises of “deep renewal” have come to naught. And the kneejerk reaction of violently putting down resistance protests has not worked so far and is unlikely to work in the future. This is what makes state failure in Ethiopia a real possibility.

In addition to the mounting political crisis, Ethiopia also faces a looming humanitarian catastrophe. Drought and famine are back in the headlines: See, for example, the  TelegraphBBCDWWashington PostEuro NewsSave the ChildrenOxfamWorld Food ProgramCBC, and IRC, just to mention a few. According to the United Nations, 20 million are suffering from acute food shortages, and in many places the situation has already developed into a famine. This time the crisis is not affecting the traditional famine-prone regions of northern Ethiopia, but the Eastern and Southern regions.

Call for action

The escalating conflict along the vast border between the Somali and the Oromia states indicates that Ethiopia’s political crisis is showing no sign of abating. Instead, it is deepening. It is almost universally believed among the Oromo that the conflict is not between the two brotherly populations, the Oromo and the Somali. Rather, it is a proxy war waged by the Tigreyan military brass, which practically rules the country, to intimidate the Oromo as well as the new OPDO leaders, who are increasingly asserting their autonomy from the TPLF under whose hegemony they grudgingly toiled the last 26 years. The Liyu Police happened to be another handy element in its toolbox of the strategy of “divide and conquer.”

The conflict between two large states of the Ethiopian federation has worsened the growing fear of state fragility. Ethiopia’s implosion would have catastrophic reverberations not only in the strife-ridden Horn of Africa but for the entire continent and beyond. The combined effect of these crises is bound to affect neighboring states and could reach as far as Europe, where the flood of refugees from the Middle East has already led to the rise of nativist and populist far-right-extremists. Until now, the EPRDF regime has been given the benefit of the doubt by its Western and other backers despite its gross abuse of power and persistent violations of human rights.

What would further destabilization of the Horn, home to a quarter of a billion, do? Africa and the rest of the world cannot afford Ethiopia, with a population of over 100 million, disintegrating into chaos. The EPRDF regime has laid the groundwork for this eventuality by design or default, and its continued hold on state power would only worsen the crisis. This should not be lost on anyone harboring the least goodwill toward Ethiopia, the troubled Horn region and its suffering population.

The international community has a stark choice: either it wakes up to the dangers and saves Ethiopia from collapse, or faces the consequences. Only an orderly transition toward a legitimate and accountable political order could avert the imminent danger of collapse. It is the best way out for the regime. And the international community needs to step up efforts to come face to face with the ensuing reality. The alternative is being swept away by a tidal wave of popular anger that has been building up for 26 years under a brutal, corrupt, and unyielding dictatorship.

The international community can no longer hope that the regime can muddle through these crises as it has always done. This time around the gravity of Ethiopia’s collapse is qualitatively different from previous situations, not to mention deadly serious.  The writing is on the wall: state collapse is on the horizon. AS 


 

Oromia: Ethiopia: Making Sense of the Liyyu Police Aggression September 23, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Horn of Africa Affairs, Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomisttplf-ethiopias-federal-army-abbay-tsehaye-and-samora-yunus-are-architects-of-the-ongoing-ethnic-cleansing-against-oromo-in-south-and-eastern-oromia

Making Sense of the Liyyu Police Aggression
By Tsegaye R Ararssa, 21 September 2017

1. Introduction

The Liyyu Police aggression in Eastern and South Eastern Oromia has caused the death of hundreds and the displacement of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands. Needless to say, it has immensely exacerbated the already fragile conditions of human security in the region. Human suffering is piling.

The actual impact of the aggression is yet to be accounted for. The real story of the conflict is yet to be told. To date, the aggression has been (mis)conceived by many as an ethnic conflict, a border dispute, a counter-insurgency measure, etc. In part, this is because of the deliberate mischarachterization of the aggression by TPLF as a conflict between ethnic Somalis and ethnic Oromos.

In this piece, I consider the question of how to make sense of this phenomenon. In so doing, I shall try to explore what Abdi Ile’s war is and what it is not. I will also explore the actors and interests involved, the motivations behind their involvement, what challenges there are to solve the problem, and what needs to be done as we look ahead.

2. Making Sense of the Conflict: What it is not

Contrary to what apologists of TPLF say, the atrocities perpetrated by the Liyyu Police are NOT about ethnic conflict. Nor are they about a border conflict. Granted, there have always been low key conflicts among pastoralists living in the border areas. Often, these conflicts are over shared water wells or grazing land. When these occur, elders from both sides of the border (usually the Gurtii from the neighbouring Somali villages and the Abba Gadaas from the neighbouring Oromia villages) settle the disputes in accordance with the traditional laws (known also as Xeer in the Somali region and Seera Aadaa Oromoo in Oromia) of the two groups.

As numerous studies by anthropologists and other social scientists routinely show, such conflicts over shared resources do occur frequently and seasonally, especially in times when drought affects one or the other, or both, sides of the borders.
They are never perceived and performed as border conflicts between Oromia and Somali regions. They never involved regional (and federal) forces with heavily mechanized military facilities. Security forces of the formal sector appear on the scene only when the conflict escalates beyond the capacity of the elders and the local security actors (Peace Committees, local militias, district police, and other law-enforcement agents including the social and district courts). There has never been a time when a mechanized military formation invades local towns; perpetrates unspeakable atrocities on residents (including arbitrary executions, rapes of women and children, forced disappearances, eviction of residents, looting and vandalzing offices of local administration, etc); hoists the Somali region’s flag in the place of Oromia flags in Oromo towns; issues new Somali identity cards; etc. There has never been a time when a paramilitary force brutalized civilian local population claiming that the territory belongs to the Somali, and not to the Oromia, region.

Granted, the inter-state borders in the Ethiopian federation are porous. And that is as it should be. Granted, given most of the borders are drawn top-down (often without any consultation of the consent of the local populations), there are spots where peoples’ settlement pattern do not fit the political map of the regions. There are thus demands for reassignment of people into regions that they have been cut off at the moment of forming the regional self-governments (as per Proclamation No 7/1992) and later sates (as per the provisions of the 1995 constitution).

The fact that the boundaries are not properly delineated at the time the states were constitutionally recognized as such made inter-state and inter-ethnic borders open to adjustments through ad hoc political negotiations and/or decisions, constitutional litigations, and/or referendum. There have been areas between the Somali and Oromia regions where such border-related issues were variably politically negotiated, constitutionally adjudicated, and popularly decided through referenda (in 2004). However, none of these areas were raised even as a pretext for the current Liyyu Police aggression in East and West Hararghe Zones, in Baale Zone, in Gujii Zone, and in Borana Zone. The only towns at issue in the referendum were Mi’essoo (in Hararghe Zone) and Moyyaale (Borana Zone). None of these warranted such a vast aggression that, in time, led to the murder of hundreds of peoples and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of peoples.

Apologists of the TPLF regime in Addis Ababa often invoke the Ethio-Somali war of 1977 to revive a remembered sentiment widely held among the habesha public that there is a covert measure orchestrated by ONLF to satisfy the irredentist dream to secede from Ethiopia and form ‘Greater Somalia’. Given Somalia itself is a failed state whose future is yet uncharted at this point in time; given Somaliland is a quasi-sovereign state waiting to be recognized by the international community; and given the ONLF is denied a space by years of brutal attack by the Ethiopian military and Abdi Ile’s Liyyu Police (especially since 2007/8); any casual observer of the region knows that the Liyyu Police aggression on Oromia has NNOTHING to do with the urge to suppress irredentist movements. Nor does it have any semblance to the ethio-Somalian war of 1977. That it is NOT a war conducted to form ‘Greater Somalia’ (the propaganda in some circles aside) cannot be overstressed.

TPLF seeks to portray this as a counter-insurgency war against the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), operating in the area. It is NOT! It was a memory of a short time ago that Prime Minister Hailemariam and the then spokesperson of the Ethiopian government, Getachew Redda, asserted that “the OLF is dead and buried in Oromia.” These phantoms of OLF and ONLF as ‘terrorist organizations’ are deliberately ‘produced’ at will in order to justify the state violence in the areas.

While the President of the Somali region, Abdi Iley officially talks about border issues as the reason for his soldiers’ aggression, the TPLF government in Addis Ababa claims that the cause of the violence is the existence of “insurgents, terrorists, and extremist forces” bent on destroying “the constitutional order.” (The question to ask in this regard is: if the constitutional is in danger, what then is the Federal Government doing to avert the danger? Of course, the answer is too obvious to need reflection: this is TPLF’s war on Oromos, this time, from the outside in.)

It should also be clear that, contrary to the TPLF propaganda otherwise, this is NOT a counter-terrorist war. If it is a counter-terrorist war, according to law, it is not a regional force that is supposed to act unilaterally to wage war on another region. As per the counter terrorism law and the general principle that terrorism is a matter of national concern, combatting terrorism is primarily the responsibility of Federal Security Forces (Federal Police, Federal Army, and the Federal Intelligence, alias National Security, office).

3. Making Sense of the Conflict II: What it is

If, as we have seen above, the violence is not about inter-ethnic rivalry, border disputes, suppressing irredentism, counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism, combatting extremism, etc), what then is it about? How should we understand what the conflict is about? First and foremost, one needs to understand the Liyyu Police aggression in juxtaposition with the ongoing Oromo revolution and the political dynamics emerging in Oromia. Pressed by a survival instinct, the ‘ruling party’ in Oromia, OPDO, has started to make a few symbolic concessions (albeit feeble ones at that) to some demands of the Oromo Revolution. Whether OPDO is doing this as a strategy of co-opting the revolution to calm down the region for TPLF rule, or as a populist alignment of interests with the revolution so that they can have a better bargaining capacity vis-à-vis TPLF, or out of a genuine interest to see the just demands of the Oromo be heard and vindicated is rather dubious.

Spearheaded by the Qeerroo Oromiyaa, the Oromo Revolution had demanded, inter alia, autonomy from TPLF in administering the region; more self-rule in the federation and better representation in the country (shared rule), protection from eviction from one’s own land, evacuation of the Agazi from Oromia, withdrawal of the infamous Master Plan, greater representation (cultural, socio-economic, and political) in Finfinnee, implementation of constitutional ‘Special Interest’ (I Article 49(5), land justice for the displaced, linguistic justice for Afaan Oromoo (the demand to make Afaan Oromoo a co-equal working language of the Federal Government), accountability of the federal forces for the Irreechaa Massacre of 2016 and the over 1000 killings since October 2015, release of all political prisoners, etc.

These demands were all made manifest peacefully in demonstrations, boycotts, strikes, and other forms of civil resistance. Very soon, OPDO’s gesture of wanting to address these demands, albeit reluctantly, and its gaining a hearing among some sectors of the Oromo public, started sending shockwaves to the TPLF’s leaders and a measure of tremors in the TPLF patchwork of coalition called EPRDF. The populist rhetoric of the new team of OPDO leaders (of the relatively more visible Lammaa Magarsaa, Dr Abiy Ahmed, and Addisu A Kitessa) started to unsettle the TPLF officials. The gestures towards economic empowerment of the Oromo youth through a program they called ‘The Economic Revolution’ agitated TPLF’s special interest groups (whose largely illicit business empire is based in Oromia). In this new OPDO, the TPLF saw more a threat than an ally who rules Oromia for TPLF. If the Oromo Revolution has to be crushed or tamed somehow, then this OPDO team must be sabotaged, distracted, or removed altogether. Abdi Ile’s war on Oromia, aimed as it was at achieving these goals easily, was TPLF’s response to the threat the Oromo demands posed against their interest in Oromia.

The Liyyu Police aggression should thus be characterized as nothing but a counter-protest war on Oromia. In addition to deflecting the questions being asked, the war is planned as a vengeful act of destabilizing and eventually dismembering Oromia. The TPLF’s portrayal of this as an ethnic clash between Oromos and Somalis was a deliberate act of mischaracterizing and hyping the conflict so that TPLF comes intervene in the name of ensuring peace and security in Oromia (thereby authorizing itself to remove the administration, and decide unilaterally on the boundaries and reconfigure the standing of Oromia as a constituent unit in the Federation in such a way that it benefits the economic and political power of TPLF and embedded Tigrayan elite).

The war conducted by Liyyu Police is TPLF’s usual act of trading in fear and terror. As the major conflict entrepreneur in the Horn of Africa in the last several decades, TPLF has made it a habit to contrive sub-national conflicts and manipulate them to its advantages. It instigates, or directly enacts, violence and creates a narrative that entrenches hostility and mistrust among groups. When the conflict escalates, it acts as a peace-maker and entrenches its presence as a peace keeper. In this way, it circulates hostilities intermittently and manipulates the groups to view each other as permanent enemies.

This rule through fabrication of conflicts is TPLF’s mode of operation as the party that has captured the state that literally embodies the rule of violence. The inaugural violence encoded into the body politic known as the modern Ethiopian state continues to simmer and boil. The State is still saddled with political contradictions that it never found a resolution for. TPLF’s rule, instead of finding the much needed resolution, conserves the contradictions and cashes them out as needed to play groups against each other.

For TPLF, war is—and has always been–a way of doing politics. This war by Abdi Ile now is TPLF’s way of repressing dissident politics through war. One can even go further to say that it is TPLF’s governance style to fabricate contrived, often low key, conflicts as a way of galvanizing (international) legitimacy as a peace-maker.

More concretely, we need to remember that Abdi Ile’s war is TPLF’s method of destabilizing the Oromia regional government in order to undermine its efforts to check contraband trade trafficking in weapons and small arms, illegal export of commodities such as caat, food items, sugar, etc to neighboring countries and importing various other commodities therefrom.

Owing to the heavy investment of TPLF’s economic elite in the region’s illicit trade and trafficking, this can as well be characterized as a war of special interest groups against accountability. The people with these ‘special interests’ are linked to, or are themselves, senior political, intelligence, and military officials.

As such, it is also a war of lawlessness against incipient forces of legality. That is why even the OPDO repeatedly invokes legality, respect for the constitution, and justice as a justification and a vindicating ground in its power struggle with the ‘gentry’ in TPLF’s business, political, and military complex.

To the extent that it is also a war against OPDO, as Abdi Iley makes it look like, the war may be the first signs of a ‘house divided against itself’. It may be the beginning of the end of TPLF and EPRDF as we knew it so far.

From statements by the regime’s propaganda machine (online and offline), TPLF now has developed a distaste for federalism pluralism, and democracy (even as a rhetorical tool). Federalism checks its unbridled power in the regions. The TPLF media machine flirts with the rhetoric of national unity and territorial integrity as more paramount than federalism. The recognition of diversity and the rhetoric of plural (almost consociational) democracy is seen as an obstacle to ‘unipolar rule’ by TPLF as a hegemon.

Seen in this light, Abdi Ile’s war is a war against federalism and the plural democracy it promises in the light of popular demand for democratic self-expression at the regional level.
In the remaining sections, I will explore the actors involved, their interests, and their motivations in greater detail. I will also reflect on what needs to be done to resolve the problem and submit some ‘modest proposals’ for the ‘way forward…..

 

Related articles to read:-

The Wire: Decoding the Eastern Ethiopian Conflict

ANALYSIS: RISING DEATH TOLL, DISPLACEMENT AND PROTESTS IN EAST, SOUTH AND SOUTH EAST ETHIOPIA. WHAT LIES BENEATH?

Ethiopia’s Liyyu Police – Devils on Armored Vehicles

“List of TPLF Military and Intelligence officers involved in planning and commanding the Somali region Liyu Police mercenary paramilitary!!
=====================================
1. Col. Gebremedihin Gebre, Shhinelle Zone Coordinator and deputy commander of Somali Special Forces
2 Col. Fiseha, chief of intelligence of somali regional government, specializing particularly in Oromos and Oromia issue, also heads and supervises Fefem zone security
3. Col. Gitet Tesfaye , coordinates and leads disputed borders issue and security
4. Major Desalegn Haddish, Babile front intelligence chief
5 Major Abraha Sisay, heads training of mercenaries and
somali recruits at Bobas training center
6 Brigadier General Hadgu Belay, advisor to the president of Somali region on security and organizational affairs on
security at regional government level
7 Col. Gebretensae, heads and coordinates Somali militias organization Oromo mercenaries working with the TPLF officials
1. Lieutenant Hassan Ali, former member of defense forces of Ethiopia, now commands a Liyu Police unit consisting 120 members at attacking Erer district( wereda)
2. Captain Mohammed Ibrahim, with a unit of 120 members at Babile front( WEREDA)
3 Sergeant Usman Mohammed, Garalencha district
4 Sergeant Jibril Ahmed spies on Oromo militia in Gursum district, to Fafam direction
5 Sergeant Mohamed Usman, Raqe, Meyu Muluke areas military operations
6 Sergeant Fuad Aliyi, Chinaksen district
* The Liyu Police and Somali region militia are organized in 26 regiment each consisting up to 500 personnel.”

HRW: The Long Arm of Ethiopia Reaches for Those Who Fled September 21, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Ethnic Cleansing, Genocide, Horn of Africa Affairs, Human Rights, Human Rights Watch on Human Rights Violations Against Oromo People by TPLF Ethiopia, Oromian Affairs, Uncategorized.
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HRW

The Long Arm of Ethiopia Reaches for Those Who Fled

Ethiopia’s Refugees Unsafe in Kenya and Elsewhere

Ethiopia’s economic growth hides fears and repression in one-party rule September 21, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Horn of Africa Affairs, Human Rights, Uncategorized.
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Ethiopia’s economic growth hides fears and repression in one-party rule

By Graham Peebles, September 19, 2017


Scan the mainstream media for news about Ethiopia and discover headline after headline describing the country’s economic successes: double-digit economic growth, foreign investment and aspirations to become a middle-income country by 2030. Ethiopia, we are told, is a functioning democracy, an African tiger economy and an important ally of Western governments.

According to such eminent sources as the BBC, CNN, the World Bank and the US State Department, Ethiopia is an African success story; a beacon of stability and growing prosperity in a region of dysfunctional states. Dig a little deeper, speak to Ethiopians inside the country or within the diaspora and a different, darker image surfaces: A violent picture of brutal state suppression, state corruption, widespread human rights violations and increasing levels of hardship as the cost of living escalates.

For a country to be regarded as broadly democratic a series of foundational pillars and interconnected principles are required to exist and be in operation: the observation of human rights, political pluralism, a flourishing independent media, an autonomous judiciary and police force, a vibrant civil society and a pervasive atmosphere of tolerance, inclusion and freedom. Where these are found to be absent so too is democracy.

The Ethiopian government – the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) maintains that it governs in accordance with democratic ideals: a brief overview of their methods however makes clear this is far from the truth. The EPRDF rules in a highly suppressive manner and has created an atmosphere of fear and suspicion throughout the country, employing a largely uneducated security apparatus to keep the increasingly mobilized populace in order, and a state-run judiciary to lock troublemakers away.

Political dissent is all but outlawed, and should protestors take to the streets they are shot at, beaten and/or arbitrarily arrested; opposition leaders are imprisoned, branded terrorists, intimidated and persecuted; all major media outlets as well as the sole telecommunications company are state owned or controlled — outspoken journalists are routinely jailed, trade unions are controlled by the government, and humanitarian aid, including food and fertilizer, is distributed on a partisan basis, as are employment opportunities and university places. Refuse to pledge allegiance to the EPRDF and see that job offer withdrawn, the seeds, fertilizer and humanitarian support withheld.

In justification of this tyrannical rule, the government states that Ethiopia is an evolving democracy, that change takes time and that economic growth is their primary concern and not the annoying niceties of universal human rights law, much of which is written into the liberally worded, systematically ignored constitution. And whilst the EPRDF commits wide-ranging human rights violations, and acts of state terrorism, the country’s major donors, America, Britain and the European Union, remain virtually silent. Indeed their irresponsible actions go beyond mere silence — they promote the fictitious image of democracy and stability in Ethiopia, and in some cases conspire with the regime against opposition party activists, as many believe the UK has done in the case of Tadesse Kersmo, a British citizen and leading member of the opposition party Ginbot 7 – Movement for Unity and Democracy in Ethiopia. He was recently arrested at Heathrow on vague terrorism charges, as well as Andargachew Tsege another British citizen. Tsege was kidnapped while transiting through Sanaan airport in Yemen, and rendered to Ethiopia as part of a brutal crackdown on political opponents and civil rights activists. He has been imprisoned inside Ethiopia ever since, and the British government, to their utter shame, has said little and done nothing.

Development aid from these and other benefactors, including the World Bank, flows through and supports “a virtual one-party state with a deplorable human rights record,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) states in its aptly named report, Development without Freedom. The Ethiopian government’s “practices include jailing and silencing critics and media, enacting laws to undermine human rights activity, and hobbling the political opposition.”

Who benefits?

In 1995 the then Prime Minister Meles Zenawi stated that the plan was for Ethiopia to “sustain current double-digit rates of growth for the next 15 years so that by 2025 we become a middle-income country.” And they would achieve this in a manner that would “allow us to have zero net carbon emissions by 2030.” Economic reforms and growth controlled by a highly centralized political system, mirroring, many have suggested, the methodology of China, is the EPRDF’s approach. It is largely Chinese money and organization that has built the new dams, roads and railways. Industrial parks have sprung up offering new jobs at increased wages, and the government plans to build another nine such facilities. But manufacturing is a tiny part of the country’s economy: almost 85% of the workforce is employed in agriculture, which accounts for 41% of GDP, coffee being the main export.

Certainly there have been some economic achievements over the past 25 years and the country’s carbon emissions during the period 1999 to 2012, have, according to the World Bank, remained static. This is indeed positive, as is the commitment to hydro, geothermal, wind and solar power. Overall unemployment has fallen slightly to 19.8% (from 2009 when it was 20.4%), but 50% of young people remain unemployed, and Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the famous ‘double-digit growth rates’, has been consistently high, averaging 11.35% in the years since 2010, according to Trading Economic, although this dropped to 8% in 2015/16. The UN relates that there has also been substantial progress in the achievement of Millennium Development Goals, particularly relating to those living in extreme poverty. This figure has fallen from 45% in 1995/6 to 30%.

Whilst these figures and the commitment of sustained investment are encouraging, no level of economic growth, green or otherwise, can justify violent, suppressive governance, as is being perpetrated in Ethiopia, and a nation’s GDP is only one measure of a country’s health, and a narrow one at that. It reveals nothing of the political landscape, the human rights conditions under which people are forced to live, the dire levels of poverty or where any new wealth has settled. Many claim ‘crony capitalism’ abounds in Ethiopia, that the principle beneficiaries of economic growth have been government members and close supporters and people from Tigray, the regional home of the majority of the government and senior members of the armed forces.

Desperate for change

With a population of almost 100 million, Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Africa after Nigeria. And with a population growth rate at a tad under 3% it’s growing apace (in the EU e.g. its 0.23%, the US 0.81%), meaning over the coming five years the country will have 25 million more people to feed.

The median age is a mere 17 years of age (44% are under 14), life expectancy is just 67 years of age (158th out of 198 countries) and the country (according to the US State Department) is still regarded as one of the 10 poorest nations in the world, with some of the lowest per capita income figures on the planet – just $590 (World Bank): it’s hard to live on $49 a month anywhere. The combination of low income, low life expectancy and poor education levels – only 39% of adults are literate and 85% of rural youth don’t complete primary school – means that Ethiopia is ranked 174th (of 198 countries) on the United Nations Human Development Index.

None of this, plus other stark details of daily life, the inflated cost of living for example, increased taxes, or the lowest level of Internet access in Africa – just 3.7%, is featured in the country’s routinely championed GDP figures. Headline numbers which mean nothing to the majority of people: most can barely feed themselves and their families, are increasingly angry at the level of state suppression and live in fear of government retribution should they dare to express dissent. As HRW correctly states, “visitors and diplomats alike are impressed with the double-digit economic growth, the progress on development indicators, and the apparent political stability. But in many ways, this is a smokescreen: many Ethiopians live in fear.”

Fear that has kept the people silent and cowering for years, but, encouraged by movements elsewhere, long-held frustration and anger spilled over in 2015 and 2016, when large-scale demonstrations erupted. Unprecedented demonstrations that followed hard on the heel of elections in May 2015, which, despite widespread discontent with the ruling party saw the EPRDF miraculously win 100% of the seats in both the federal and regional parliaments.

Thousands marched; firstly in the Oromia region than in parts of Amhara (areas that constitute the two largest ethnic groups in the country), until in October, after scores of people were killed in a stampede at Bishoftu in Oromia, a State of Emergency was announced by the ruling regime. Extreme measures of control were contained in the clampdown that lasted for 10 months. Draconian rules, which undermined the rights of free expression and peaceful assembly, and prohibited any association with groups labeled terrorist organizations, such as independent media stations, ESAT TV and Radio and the Oromia Media Network. Break the rules and face up to five years in jail, where torture is commonplace.

HRW made clear that the Directive, which was lifted in August, went “far beyond what is permissible under international human rights law,” and “signaled a continuation of the militarized response” that characterized the government’s reaction to people’s legitimate grievances, peacefully expressed. Tens of thousands of protestors, including opposition party leaders, were arrested and detained without due process. Hundreds of people killed, many more beaten by security forces that act with total impunity. None of this is contained in the World Bank data, the IMF forecasts or the BBC news headlines, nor is the state terrorism taking place in the Ogaden region and elsewhere, where murder and false imprisonment of pastoralists is routine and women tell of multiple rapes at the hands of soldiers and the quasi Para-military group the Liyu Police.

Ethiopia desperately needs a renaissance, true development built on a firm foundation of human rights, inclusion and political pluralism. Human development that caters to the needs of all its citizens, not economic growth based on a prescribed outdated, unjust economic model, which inevitably benefits a few, strengthens inequality and fosters corruption.

Far from building a democratic society in which freedoms are observed and valued, an atmosphere of fear, suspicion, and inhibition has been cultivated by the EPRDF government, a brutal regime that is determined to maintain power, no matter the cost to the people of Ethiopia, the vast majority of whom are desperate for democratic change.

Graham Peebles is a freelance writer. He can be reached at: graham@thecreatetrust.org  

Statement by the U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa on Reports of Ethnic Violence on the Oromia-Somali Border September 19, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Horn of Africa Affairs, Human Rights, Uncategorized.
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Addis Ababa, September 19, 2017 :– We are disturbed by the troubling reports of ethnic violence and the large-scale displacement of people living along the border between the Oromia and Somali regions, particularly in Hararge, although the details of what is occurring remain unclear.

We urge the Ethiopian government to conduct a transparent investigation into all allegations of violence and to hold those responsible accountable.  At the same time, on the local level, communities must be encouraged and given space to seek peaceful resolutions to the underlying conflicts.

We believe Ethiopia’s future as a strong, prosperous, and democratic nation depends on open and inclusive political dialogue for all Ethiopians, greater government transparency, and strengthening the institutions of democracy and justice.  These recent events underscore the need to make more rapid and concrete progress on reform in these areas.

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የአሜሪካ ኤምባሲ  በኦሮሚያ-ሶማሌ ድንበር የተከሰተውን የጎሳ ግጭት አስመልክቶ ያወጣው መግለጫ

አዲስ አበባ፤ መስከረም 9፤ 2010 ዓ.ም. – በኦሮሚያ እና ሶማሌ አዋሳኝ አካባቢዎች በተለይም በሐረርጌ  የጎሳ ግጭትን እና የበርካታ ሰዎችን መፈናቀል አስመልክቶ በሚወጡ አሳሳቢ ዘገባዎች ተረብሸናል፤ ምንም እንኳ ዘገባዎቹ ስለሁኔታው ዝርዝር መረጃ ስለማቅረባቸው ግልጽ ባይሆንም፡፡

በመሆኑም የኢትዮጵያ መንግሥት ግጭቱን ግልጽ በሆነ አካሄድ እንዲያጣራ እና አጥፊዎችን ተጠያቂ እንዲያደርግ እንጠይቃለን፡፡ በተመሳሳይ ሁኔታ፤ ግጭቱ በተከሰተባቸው አካባቢዎች የሚኖሩ የኅብረተሰብ ክፍሎች ለችግሩ ሰላማዊ መፍትሔ እንዲሹ መበረታታት ይኖርባቸዋል፡፡

ኢትዮጵያ ጠንካራ፤ የበለጸገች እና ዴሞክራሲያዊት ሀገር መሆን የምትችለው፤ ግልጽና ሁሉን አቀፍ የፖለቲካ ውይይት፤ ግልጽ የመንግሥት አሰራር፤ እንዲሁም የዴሞክራሲ እና የፍትህ ተቋማትን ማጠናከር ስትችል እንደሆነ እናምናለን፡፡ የሰሞኑ ሁነቶች በተጠቀሱ ዘርፎች ይበልጥ ፈጣን እና ተጨባጭ ለውጥ አስፈላጊ እንደሆነ አመላካች ናቸው፡፡

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The Dictatorial and Predatory Ethiopian TPLF Regime Will Never Succeed in Instigating Conflicts Between The Sisterly Oromo And Sidama Nations! September 13, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

The Dictatorial and Predatory Ethiopian TPLF Regime Will Never Succeed in Instigating Conflicts Between The Sisterly Oromo And Sidama Nations!

SNLF Press Release, 12 September 2017

Sidama Nation Flag

 

The predatory Tigre Ethiopian Empire is crumbling from within and without. It is destroying itself from endemic economic and political corruption from within. The demise of the brutal regime is precipitated from without by the mass uprising of the majority Oromo nation who are demanding an end to the over a century of political and economic marginalization, and restoration of freedom, justice and self-rule in their vast Oromia land. The Oromo uprising has been continuing since 2015.

Instead of answering the legitimate question of the Oromo nation by granting them their inalienable democratic rights to self-determination, the TPLF regime embarked on desperate measures to cling onto illegitimate political power. It has also monopolised the economic aspects of the entire country. The political aspects in Oromia alone included, brutal massacre of over 1,500 peaceful Oromo protesters since 2015; mass imprisonment of over 60,000 Oromo civilians; imprisonments of the entire leadership of the Oromo Federalist Congress including the renowned Professor of Political Science, Marara Gudina and prominent politician, Bekele Gerba, as well as a dozen Sidama political activists including a prominent business person, Solomon Naayu, and Dawassa Daaka, most of whom are languishing in Qilinxo prison today.

When the regime realized its genocidal measures were insufficient to quell the mass uprising engulfing the entire country, it resorted to yet other barbaric measures of divide and rule among the sisterly oppressed nations. First, the TPLF trained, armed, aided and abetted the Somali militia to attack the innocent Oromo civilians causing death of hundreds of our Oromo brothers and sisters and destruction of properties since 2016. Using a mercenary puppet Ogadeni Somali regional renegade leader, the TPLF regime continues to relentlessly instigate conflicts between the two sisterly Ogadeni Somali and the Oromo nations as we speak. The TPLF regime is also perpetrating similar crime by mobilising a similarly downtrodden Gambella civilians to fight the Oromo nation.

Moreover, having failed to stir conflict between the Sidama and Oromo nations, the TPLF recently attempted to ignite instability in the border between the Sidama and Wolayita nations. The regime attempted to sow discord between the two nations over the 6 disputed villages (Kebeles) where the Sidama people lived for hundreds of years in peace with their Wolayita neighbours. The people on both sides understood and rejected the relentless attempt by the TPLF rogue empire to sow seeds of hatred and conflict among the two nations that lived side by side in peace for millennia.

The desperate and crumbling Tigre Ethiopian Empire seems to neither give in to the popular demands nor give up its genocidal acts of stirring conflicts among the various oppressed nations of the south. We also understand that the TPLF regime is instigating such conflicts in northern part of Ethiopia. In the past two months, the TPLF went deep into the eastern Sidama land where the people have lived together with their Oromo neighbours in peace and harmony for generations and attempted to ignite conflicts between the two peoples. TPLF’s attempts to ignite such conflicts between the Sidama and Oromo cousins have been foiled time and again, with wise and sensitive management of these attempts by the elders of both nations. Both nations have time and again rejected the plots of the TPLF regime as they wholly denounce its interference in their affairs.

However, in the past two months, the TPLF managed to cause unnecessary deaths and damage to the properties of the Sidama residents in eastern Sidama by aiding and abetting its local surrogates in Oromia as well as Sidama region to commit crimes against the will of the two sisterly peoples. Dozens of the Sidama citizens have been displaced from their homes.

The primary objective of the TPLF’s primitive divide and rule measures are sustaining the crumbling Tigre Empire by undermining the unity among the oppressed nations of the south. Therefore, the Sidama National Liberation Front (SNLF) understands that these measures are, further aimed specifically at weakening the Peoples’ Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (PAFD), the political movement that encompasses the Oromo, Sidama, Ogadeni Somali, Gambella and Banishangul and Gumuz nations that accounts for over 60% of the population and 70% of land mass of the empire.  However, we assure the TPLF regime that the unity among the oppressed nations of the south is rock solid, thus will never be dented by its primitive tactics of divide and rule.

Finally, the SNLF unconditionally condemns in the strongest possible terms the barbaric and relentless attempts by the Ethiopian TPLF regime to aid and abet genocide among the oppressed nations of the south. The sisterly Sidama and the Oromo nations will conquer once again any attempt to divide them. Our wise elders will ensure peace, stability and harmony not only between the sisterly Sidama and Oromo nations but among all Cushitic and other oppressed nations of the south and work hand in hand to hasten the demise of the predatory TPLF regime that has been plundering their resources and massacring their peoples for far too long.

Sidama National Liberation Front (SNLF),

September 12, 2017

Related:-

ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE: THE CURRENT STAGE OF THE TPLF-FASCISTS OF FAKE ETHIOPIA

Ethiopia: The Never Ending Horror Against the Oromo Nation September 11, 2017

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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

 

Ethiopia: The Never Ending Horror Against the Oromo Nation

Human rights League of the Horn of Africa

Ethiopia is Descending into Civil War

 HRLHA  Urgent Action


Sept  9, 2017

The peaceful street protests in Oromia that shook Ethopia for over one year (November 2015-October 2016) turned violent after the reckless action by the government when its military attacked civilians and murdered over 700 at the Oromo Irrecha Festival  on October 2, 2016.

The  fascistic action of the Ethiopian government turned a peaceful protest into a violent one  in which many people were killed and government property was destroyed by the angry protesters.

The TPLF/EPRDF government declared a six- month state of emergency- later extended to ten months- on October 8, 2016 with the pretext of calming the violence in Oromia. During the  State of Emergency, the government killing squad members were deployed in all villages of the Oromia Regional state where they committed killings, kidnappings, and arrests during the ten months of the State of Emergency.

Under the State of Emergency, the TPLF/ EPRDF government- trained  Liyu Police led by the killing  Squad Agazi  were deployed  along  the long border  between Somali and Oromia regional states and occupied 32 districts of Oromo land from the  south Borana zone to the northeast  Hararge zone; many people were killed from both sides. During the six- month war between the federal government force backed Liyu Police and Oromo farmers  over 500 people have been killed, and many other Oromos have been forcefully kidnapped  and taken to Somali Region.

The border crisis between Somali and Oromia regional states was settled as a result of negotiations between the Oromia and Somali state authorities by annexing  15 Oromia villages into the Somali regional state.

However, two months after the signing of the agreement between the two sides, the pre-planned and  unprecedented war against the Oromo nation was re-aggravated  along the borders of all sides of Oromia by the Ethiopian Federal government- sponsored regional militias. As a result, intense fighting has occurred from mid- August 2017  until this report was compiled   in the Eastern Oromia, Gursum, East Hararge,  Rayitu and Saweena, Bale zone, Chamug Borana zone, Wachile and Moyale Gujji zones- over 56 people have already been killed from both sides.

The HRLHA  informant has also reported similar war is happening on the border of Benshangul in the west, Gambela  in the southwest, Afar in the North. As a result, the Oromo people are currently essentially at war with the Federal government-backed regional militias in all directions.

Horror

The current Oromia Regional State Authorities could not protect their people from the aggression of neighbor states backed by the Federal Killing squads.

The Ethiopian Federal government, which in theory has a state duty and a responsibility to bring peace and harmony among the nations and nationalities in the country, actually instigated the conflict  between Oromia and all its neighboring states. The TPLF/EPRDF government’s  killing squad Agazi force collaborated with the invaders and continued its ruthless repression which will probably drive the country into a full-fledged civil war.The Oromo  farmers, who were disarmed by the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) during the State of emergency,  have no option other than to confront  the attacks perpetrated against them from all directions.

To reverse the shadow of the looming civil war which could result in human tragedy, and atrocity in Ethiopia, the donor governments such as the USA, the UK, Canada, Swedin, Norway and government agencies like the UN, AU and EU  and subsidiary  organizations (African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, EU Human Rights Commission and UN human rights council) have to express their concerns  to the  government of Ethiopia to stop backing small groups from fighting against the largest ethnic group- the Oromos- and instead act responsibly to stabilize the country.

This is a cosmopolitan ideal of protecting people inside states against mass atrocities as a matter of common obligation. The Responsibility to Protect (R2P), coined in 2001 under the leadership of the Canadian government and adopted by 150 heads of states and governments in 2005, obliges the international community to intervene to stop atrocities.

As a matter of principle, a state shoulders the primary responsibility to prevent and protect its own citizens against horrific acts, but if it is unable or unwilling to prevent and protect its population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, the responsibility is thus shifted to the international community. The R2P states, “ when a state is unable or unwilling to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, the international community has the responsibility to intervene”.

The UN Charter’s first and most essential aim is to “maintain international peace and security”. However, when the UN was first created, it was an enormous undertaking based on hope.

Today, one critical question on everyone’s lips is whether the United Nations is living up to its mandate, more particularly, of maintaining international peace and security. Amid ongoing human rights crises in Ethiopia it is hard to figure out what exactly the UN & AU have done to uphold their responsibilities. Nevertheless, it is not too late to act today.  

Recommendation:

The international communities and agencies can play a decisive role to stop the looming civil war in Oromia/Ethiopia  by::

  • Major donor governments, including the USA, the UK & Canada, Sweden, Norway and Australia should stop funding the authoritarian TPLF/EPRDF government
  • Putting pressure on the government of Ethiopia to respect the principle of  R2P,  and shoulder its primary responsibility to prevent and protect its own citizens against horrific acts
  • Putting pressure on the TPLF/EPRDF government to allow neutral investigators to probe into the political crisis in the country as the precursor to international community intervention

The HRLHA therefore calls, yet again, upon the international community to act collectively in a timely and decisive manner – through the UN Security Council and in accordance with the UN charter on a case-by – case basis to stop the looming Civil War in Oromia/Ethiopia

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Ethiopia: Bank Records of Detained Corruption Suspects Shows ‘Dirty Money’ Hidden September 1, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Corruption, Uncategorized.
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 Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

The TPLF Corruption network

Ethiopia: Bank Records of Detained Corruption Suspects Shows ‘Dirty Money’ Hidden

Bank accounts of the 56 corruption suspects in Ethiopia shows a balance of only few dollars
Capital Flight? Bank account records of the 56 corruption suspects who run multi-million dollar projects in Ethiopia shows only a balance of few hundreds of dollars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BY ESAT NEWS


Bank accounts of corruption suspects who run multi-million dollar projects in Ethiopia shows only few thousands of dollars in balances, according to a source, who said the money might have been sent offshore.

The Ethiopian Satellite Television ESAT learnt that the largest money available in the balances of the over 50 suspects was about 15,000 dollars.

The assets and bank accounts of the suspects have been frozen by the authorities when the crackdown against them began last month.

Fifty six businessmen and government officials have so far been put behind bars accused of squandering and pocketing millions of dollars.
Balances on the bank accounts of Aser Construction shows only about 4,500 dollars. Aser is a share company established by a group of engineers, with the main shareholder being Arkebe Oqubay, a member of the inner circle of the TPLF, who, as a board member of the Ethiopian Airlines, has allegedly awarded Aser millions of dollars contracts for the construction of condominiums and other airport constructions.

The accounts of DMC Construction and Yemane Girmay Construction show about 6,500 dollars. DMC Construction, owned by Daniel Mamo, is allegedly a business partner of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who ESAT’s source said has helped Daniel Mamao get the awards of several construction contracts.

The largest balance was on the accounts of Gemshu Beyene Construction, which also owns the Elilly International Hotel in Kazanchis, a company associated with Abadula Gemeda, the Speaker of the House and Sufian Ahmed, the former minister of finance.
Last week a travel ban was imposed on high level TPLF officials, family members and accomplices suspected of embezzlement, according to ESAT’s sources.

The campaign against corruption did not lay a finger on higher officials of the TPLF who are widely accused of pocketing millions of dollars, casting doubt if the regime is really serious about wiping out corruption. Some believe it was just a show while others say it was an indication of the internal crisis within the TPLF.

Transparency International in its recent report says illicit financial flows continues in 2016 and money from corruption could make it even higher. According to Global financial Integrity, Ethiopia lost US$11.7 Billion in Illegal Capital Flight from 2000 through 2009.

Recent studies by Transparency International also show that Ethiopia is among the top ten African countries by cumulative illicit financial flows related to trade mispricing.


Related:

Oromian Economist: TPLF Ethiopia’s Regime Money Laundering Activities & Its Networks

Taxing times for small traders in Ethiopia hit by 300% rate hike August 30, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Uncategorized.
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Strikes and protests in volatile Oromia state reflect widespread anger over business tax rises as the government tries to reduce its reliance on aid

A vegetable seller at Dessie market in northern Ethiopia.
 A vegetable seller at Dessie market in northern Ethiopia. About 80% of the country’s workforce is employed in smallholder agriculture. Photograph: Ivoha/Alamy

In the dense cobblestone streets of Burayu town, outside Addis Ababa, Melaku Abdella* and his family had been making a living selling basic items such as vegetables, cooking oil and soft drinks at competitive prices from their kiosk. But after the Ethiopian government stung him with a more than 300% tax increase last month, Abdella says he was left with no option but to close the business.

Like many low-income traders in the country’s Oromia region, the family didn’t keep accounts, meaning the authorities based their annual tax demand of 7,000 Ethiopian birr (£231) on an estimate of income. “It’s beyond my capacity to pay. I will have to hand in my business licence,” Abdella says.

The hikes on grocers, barbers and cafes were met with widespread anger and protests in parts of the volatile state, which has endured unrest and fatal clashes during the last two years.

The situation creates a dilemma for a government that is desperate to increase income tax and reduce its reliance on aid, but is also wary of further instability. Ethiopia’s parliament only lifted a 10-month state of emergency earlier this month following protests over land disputes and alleged political marginalisation. The unrest since November 2015 involved security forces killing at least 600 demonstrators and tens of thousands being jailed, according to the government.

Although still one of world’s least developed countries, Ethiopia’s economy has grown rapidly in the last decade, as the government used loans, aid and tax revenue to build clinics, universities, roads, railways and hydropower dams. Its budget has increased roughly in line with gross domestic product. Ethiopia’s tax revenue is around 14% of output, according to the International Monetary Fund, which is lower than the sub-Saharan African average. This financial year, almost a third of the federal budget of 321bn birr (£10.6bn) is projected to come from aid and loans.

Ethiopia’s ruling coalition has been credited for overseeing growth and improving infant mortality and life expectancy, but it is also blamed for suppressing democratic rights, maladministration, increasing corruption and, now, the draconian tax swoop.

The root of the dispute is a sizeable semi-formal economic sector – around 80% of the workforce is still employed in smallholder agriculture – entrenched mistrust between the state and traders, and an estimation system for small businesses.

Girls on their way to school, Goba, Bale region, Oromia Region
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 Girls on their way to school, in Goba, Oromia. Photograph: Fis/imagebroker/Rex/Shutterstock

Enterprises with an annual turnover of less than 500,000 birr are not required to produce audited accounts. Instead, officials visit each premise to make an income assessment. That has set up a game of cat-and-mouse with many vendors running down stock in anticipation of the visits. The result has been a large discrepancy between what traders say they earn and what their assessments are based on, even if they made an accurate verbal declaration. “What most people tell the government is too low, so the officials don’t believe anybody. Honesty does not work,” says one Burayu business owner, who also requested anonymity.

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Oromia revenue officers take the estimation and multiply it either by 300 days for goods retailers or 360 days for services to produce a turnover estimate. Profits are calculated by applying a standard margin for each type of business, which is then taxed at marginal rates from 0% for profits of less than 7,200 birr to 35% for those earning more than 130,800 birr.

“The assessment has basic technical problems. From the selection of people to assess, to the criteria used for assessment, it does not fit into any objective presumptive tax assessment methodology. It’s just an ad hoc categorisation of taxpayers,” says business consultant Getachew Teklemariam.

At Burayu town revenue department, deputy head Samuel Tadesse explains that business owners were shocked at the new evaluations because the government hadn’t carried out an assessment for seven years.

Annual inflation shot up to 40% in 2011, but has been hovering near 10% recently. Also, last year, the tax thresholds increased. For example, the tax-exempt portion rose from 1,800 birr to 7,000, while the upper margin was previously 60,000. “They are confused because for six years they paid a similar amount,” Tadesse says.

By Lake Hora in Bishoftu town, about 50km south-east of Addis Ababa, a man in a bright yellow T-shirt and matching sunglasses repairs a door with a soldering iron and angle grinder amid a shower of sparks. He’s given up on his business after a 13,000-birr tax bill that he believes was four times what it should have been, and is using a friend’s workshop. “It’s better to be mobile, going here and there. That is better than being licensed,” he says.

Ethiopian craftsmen shut their shops to protest against tax regulations in Holeta, Oromia, in July 2017
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 Ethiopian craftsmen shut their shops to protest against tax regulations in Holeta, Oromia, in July 2017. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Others in the area say the levies on small businesses are another example that the system only works for the rich, who receive favours and tax breaks. Another small business owner believes access to jobs, land and controlled commodities such as sugar requires loyalty to the ruling party. The welder thinks the government wants the extra revenue to buy weapons – one of a number of conspiracy theories about the tax policy, testament to the extent of Oromo discontent, and the difficulty the authorities will have implementing unpopular policies. Protests over the tax, which closed businesses in July, have merged with other grievances and led to widespread strikes in Oromia last week.

Back in Burayu, rather than risk an unaffordable tax demand next year, Abdella says he will try to support his family by working in the construction industry. He has no faith that the ruling coalition will change its ways to make life easier for small businesses. “I don’t think there will be a solution if this government stays,” he says.

*Name changed to protect identity


 Related articles:

Ethiopia: The bankrupted fascist Ethiopia’s regime has imposed huge sums of arbitrary payments and demands on small businesses July 15, 2017

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“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.” 
― Frédéric Bastiat


TPLF, the unelected and unrepresentative fascist/ terrorist group from Tigray which occupied state power  in Ethiopia has  imposed heavy arbitrary payments called ‘gibri‘ on small business in the country. The group conducts such fraud activities in the name of taxation and federal state.  The bankrupted TPLF is to compensate its income losses from international aid and economic boycotts people imposed on the regime through series of protests (#OromoProtests, #AmharaResistance, #KonsoProtests, #SidamaProtests and resistance in Ogadenia and other parts of the country). Critics claims that  in the last 26 years and so  the TPLF has engaged in war booty, systematically looting resources and transfers to its group members and its rocky homeland, Tigray, Ethiopia’s north.  Click here to read ETHIOPIA: IS TPLF GOVERNING OR EXPANDING IT’S CORRUPTIONS EMPIRE?

And also,  protests against this  new systematic escalation of TPLF’s thievery in the name of taxation is viral on Ethiopia’s related social and independent media.

BreakingNews: Several districts in Oromia & SNNPR fall from dusk to dawn curfew; night public transport stopped

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWYwnfozCMk

Slammed by unexpected tax hikes small business owners in Addis Ababa threatening to close their business. 

 

 

AS: ETHIOPIA’S GRADUAL JOURNEY TO THE VERGE OF CRISIS September 28, 2016

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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.”

ETHIOPIA’S GRADUAL JOURNEY TO THE VERGE OF CRISIS


gebru-asrat

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?

gebru-asrat

 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

AS: THE ASCENDANCE OF “DEVELOPMENT FETISHISM” July 10, 2016

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Odaa OromooAddis Standard

 

THE ASCENDANCE OF “DEVELOPMENT FETISHISM”


In its literal definition, the term development is generally understood to mean an intentionally conceived course of action that aims to realize the full potential of a given population. Though previously the notion of planned development was largely confined to communist countries, it now seems to have drawn some attention across the board.

Probably, the reason why the word has attracted attentions outside the communist block was partly due to the phenomenal success registered with US Marshal Plan and “Reverse Course” program to rehabilitate the war-torn Europe and Japan respectively in the aftermath of World War II.

Later on, several attempts have been made to replicate the success of the aforementioned planned development interventions in most developing countries after they won their political independence. Nevertheless, unlike the European and Japanese case, an all-out success with planned development in many of the developing countries, with the exception of a handful of Asian and Latin American countries, had remained until very recently quite a distant dream.

To the contrary, the net outcome of long years of planned development interventions in many of these countries for the most part ended in creating unbridgeable income gap between the rich and the poor, pervasive poverty, environmental degradation, chronic political dictatorship, civil wars, insecurity and instability.

The ever changing economic models and strategies which these countries have opted to on various occasions such as economic growth approach, centrally planned socialist economy, growth and transformation plan, structural-adjustment program, poverty alleviation program, participatory development and all that could well be symptomatic of the crisis of planned development in the past decades.

Of course, in speaking the adoption of a development model, it is worth noticing that there may be several internal and external factors that directly or indirectly impact the choice made by a given country. The competing major international ideological orientations, the fashionable development discourses, the leverage and influence of hegemonic powers, the influence of global financial and economic institutions, bilateral and multilateral diplomatic relationships between and among countries and the political and ideological orientations of the powers that be are to mention but a few.

Be that as it may, in this article I would like to argue about Ethiopia’s adoption of the ‘developmental state’ ideology that can largely be attributed to the incumbent’s political interest to mend legitimacy crisis and carry on with its repressive rule. And for this to happen it has apparently resorted to different political strategies as briefly discussed below.

Mystifying development

One of the biggest lessons learned from the failure of the first ever attempted ‘economic growth’ model that sought only to enhance the national economic wealth of the nation – GDP – was that a true and sustainable development must give due attention to all-round development which includes, among others, the economic, social, moral, intellectual and spiritual needs and demands of the larger population.

Subsequently, this has led to the new concept of an inclusive, participatory and human-centered development that has found wide currency since the 1980s. Such concepts of development also compel the need to make citizens active and conscious actors in a development process that ultimately determines their destiny.

Contrary to this, what is now transpiring in Ethiopia largely looks a full-blown psychological campaign to instill false-consciousness among the people by elevating the notion of development to a mystique and idol stature. The intention behind this clearly lies in making people unconscious and unquestioning actors who would readily submit to everything that comes in the name of development.

Consider the unrelenting media propaganda which scarcely misses mentioning development in the course of the day. Now, each and every government initiation comes wrapped with the tag of development. While a view or an action that aligns with the government would soon receive the honorific title of ‘developmental’, in contrast, any dissenting view or action would quickly be admonished as ‘anti-development’. In short, observing how the term development is used today in Ethiopia, probably one gets the impression that it might have acquired a new meaning which approximates something ‘sacred’.

Just imagine for a moment what a message of a sticker commonly put on the door of a soon-to-be-demolished shop that reads, “Sealed for Development Purpose” implicitly implies. In this connection, it is also worth to recall the occasion some years back when the top religious leaders had appeared on the public media to ‘consecrate’ the “Great Renaissance Dam” whereby they pronounced any non-consenting gesture towards the construction of the dam to be viewed as a kind of blasphemy that deserves some sort of admonition.

When people attempt to make the things that they themselves have created an object of worship, in the Marxist economic discourse, it is often said to be a form of fetishism. Thus, the unrelenting effort that the Ethiopian government has been waging supposedly to mystify and idolize the notion of development could be none other than “development fetishism”.

Development as a pretext

One major reason for instilling the attitude of “development fetishism” among the people seems to lie in the government’s ambition of attaching itself with a rather eye-catching infrastructural and building construction activities now underway in the country irrespective of its effect on the living realities of the ordinary mass and thereby portray itself as an indispensable actor without which Ethiopia’s development would be impossible to think of.

In this regard, it’s worth looking back at the circumstances that led the government to proclaim the status of ‘developmental state’ some few years back. Apparently, the government switched to the idea of ‘developmental state’ following the infamous 2005 election when it lost its credibility with the larger public. Furthermore, it was followed by the time when it kept itself busy with issuing some draconian laws. From this it follows that the declaration of ‘developmental state’ was but a tacit act of openly installing an authoritarian system.

After all, the notion of ‘developmental state’ is often associated either with those Asian countries with a communist political system or naked authoritarian regimes that have clung to power for so long, except Japan.

Evidently, all the messages and actions that now emanate from the ruling party in connection with the upcoming election also well signify how the ruling part is determined to use development as an excuse to cling to power indefinitely without any serious contender. Ironically, all this is not only against the unrelenting rhetoric of democracy and freedom but also in flagrant contradiction to the spirit of the constitution that itself has given birth to.

Fought for the sake of development or justice?

While proclaiming the status of developmental state which is in many ways repressive, the present day rulers seem to have forgotten why in the first place they had fought a bitter war against the former repressive regime, the Dergue. Surely, it was not so much for the sake of primarily economic development as it was for social justice.

As a matter of fact, development – especially that of material and physical – is just one among many other important duties and functions that a just government is required to carry out. This is not to say, however, for poor countries like ours the issue of development is not an imperative one. Yet, to promote development at the expense of justice, the rule of law, freedom and democratic rights, which in fact are crucial for sustainable development, presumably by virtue of being a ‘developmental state’ is very much unbecoming of such a sort of government.
Above all, the essence of a truly democratic government lies in its commitment to advance the freedom and democratic right as well as the welfare and security of its citizens. Indeed, the prime difference between authoritarian and democratic government rests on the fact that in the latter such great questions as development that evidently bears great stake in the life of people are to be decided not by whims and illusions of an individual or a group of tyrannical rulers but by well-informed, rational needs and demands of the larger citizens. Certainly, no thoughtful and rational government would attempt to reduce citizens to be blind worshipers of an idol that is created for political purpose. As the eminent classical sociologist Emile Durkheim had put it, “A healthy political system requires good faith and the avoidance of force and fraud. It requires, in a word, justice.”


The ascendance of “Development Fetishism”

Oromia: Ethiopia: The People Want Their Country Back May 21, 2016

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Odaa Oromoo#OromoProtests @sululta, Rd Blocked at 50 locations, 17 Dec. 2015The TPLF Corruption network

 

The People Want Their Country Back

OPINION  By Seid Hassan,   All Africa


Ethiopia is in the grip of a terrible crisis. The recent widespread popular protests must be understood in the context of an atrociously repressive regime and near total capture of the state by ethnic elites, who are now the sole beneficiaries of national resources. The people are bitter. If this mass frustration is channeled into properly organized popular resistance, Ethiopia could see a revolution.

INTRODUCTION

In addition to the senseless killings of protesters by the ruling party targeting the Oromos, the latest video clips and news reports also indicate that the same protests in Oromia region have led to the burning/destruction of properties, foundations, etc. There is an ongoing and raging debate among Ethiopians, residing both in and outside of the country, about this debacle. Some members of the diaspora link (and rightly so in this regard) the burnings/destructions to the innumerable atrocities and endemic corruption committed by the ruling party. Their condoning seems to emanate from the fact that a good portion of the destroyed properties are owned by corrupt elites and foreign companies/individuals with close links to the ruling clique. The owners of these properties and structures are reaping what they have sown, they argue. Folks who echo these sentiments seem to consider riots as antidotes to unending pillaging and a necessary evil to avenge evil doers.

There are others, particularly those who consider themselves as soldiers of the peaceful struggle, which includes those who participated in organizing of the protests, who argue against the burning and destruction of properties. The destructions and burnings, they say, were perpetrated by saboteurs of peaceful struggle and repercussions of the ruling party’s uncalled for brutalities on peaceful protestors. Folks in this camp at times point out mechanisms of regaining ill-gotten assets. The burnings and destructions also seem to have put a large portion of Ethiopians in a quandary and deep dilemma. They really seem to be between a rock and hard place (that is, unable to either condemn or condone the destructions).

As a soldier of non-violent resistance, I also do not condone the burnings/destructions. But contrary to our wishes, I acknowledge and fret the fact that burnings and destructions of greater magnitude may be inevitable. In fact, I saw this debacle coming, long ago. And I have raised this possibility, on several occasions, with friends, such as renowned professors of Ethiopian origin, namely, Minga Negash, Messay Kebede and Berhanu Mengistu, every time we discussed the cunning nature of Ethiopian corruption. As we discussed, it seemed as though our heads have become dizzy and our voices trebled, for the destructions could reach epic proportions. Why do Ethiopians consider the government supported investment structures and properties as not belonging to them but instead as “foreign” assets and even vehicles of large scale displacements, exploitation and oppression?

Now, if you want to understand why the protesters failed to understand that foreign direct investment (FDI) creates wealth (which it does), but instead consider even the “domestically” (political-party and elite-owned) “investments” as alien/foreign owned, why foreign direct investment is considered as a “fancy word for stealing” and as highly exploitative and accessory to evil, etc., and why they even venture for their destructions, I urge you to read on. If you want to understand the nature of Ethiopian corruption, its ramifications – how it has been and continues to irreparably damage the social and institutional fabrics of the country – and most importantly, if you really want to begin thinking of designing strategies for combating corrutpion and forestall potentially devastating destructions, please allow me to elaborate.

This commentary is designed, therefore, to implore you (the reader) to understand the intractable nature of Ethiopian corruption and then think about potential “solutions.” This is because designing strategies and finding “solutions” require a good grasp of the type of corruption found in a specific country, in this case Ethiopia.

STATE CAPTURE: A FORM OF GRAND CORRUPTION AS THE ROOT CAUSE OF THE PROBLEM

As I have shown on several occasions before, what we have been witnessing in Ethiopia is the most [url=file:///G:/Documents/my articles/v]pernicious and intractable[/url] form of corruption known as State Capture. This form of corruption needs to be distinguished from what is known in the corruption literature as Administrative (Bureaucratic) Corruption. The latter is the type of corruption defined and observed in the traditional manner, in almost all countries, save for post-communist (transition) countries. In particular, administrative (bureaucratic) corruption deals with the extent to which the bribe payer uses the existing laws, rules, and regulations to tip the balance in his favor. In general, administrative (bureaucratic) corruption is known to take place at the implementation level of the bureaucracy while the political (grand) corruption takes place at the highest level of political authority. Examples of variants of administrative corruption may include: impeding the implementation of justice; getting involved in the forgery and/or destruction of documents; delaying and/or procrastinating on executing high level official (assigned) duties; using official hours for personal gains; misrepresenting one’s authority; getting involved in partisan favors (nepotism); misusing public property; engaging in absenteeism; getting involved in kickbacks from developmental programs; pay-offs for legislative support, diversion of public resources for private use; overlooking illegal activities; common theft/embezzlement; overpricing, establishing non-existing projects and tax collection and tax assessment frauds, etc.

Even though it may be difficult to completely eradicate it, fortunately, nations could minimize the damage done by administrative (bureaucratic) corruption by ensuring transparency, accountability and openness in governmental activities. This is done, for example, by (a) Establishing independent power centers outside the bureaucracy; (b) Establishing independent electoral boards and developing and allowing competitive party politics; (c) Using the independent media, which in turn enables interest groups, members of civic society, NGOs, etc.; (d) Using the investigative powers of parliament; (e) Setting up of independent anti-corruption boards and commissions; and (f) Using the independent judiciary.

However, what we have been witnessing in Ethiopia is a different kind of corruption known as State Capture, which is known to have manifested itself in transition (formerly socialist) countries. It is a phenomenon in which powerful groups exert their corrupt and undue influence in order to shape the institutions and policies, laws and regulations of the state for their own benefit rather than for the public good.

State capture could arise and be practiced in several ways: it could result from powerful individuals, groups or firms using both non-transparent provisions as well as legitimate and transparent channels to deny competing groups access to state officials and resources. It could also arise from the exploitation of the “unclear boundaries between the political and business interests of state officials” by specific groups and state officials for their mutual benefits at the expense of the society in question (Hellman: 1998:3).

According to Broadman and Recanatini (2001), state capture is harmful corruption that subverts the entire political process designed to ensure that policies and regulations favorable to specific groups and business interests are implemented.

State capture may differ from country to country. In some countries, state capture could clearly be seen as a variant of a corruptive practice known as crony capitalism in which powerful groups, individuals and oligarchs shape and manipulate the formation of new policies – that is, the “rules of the game”- to their own advantage. The phenomenon could be observed whenever state officials pass decrees and/or legislative votes favoring organized business groups, oligarchs or powerful individuals. It could also be observed in huge “concentration of economic and political power” and economic inequality arising from self-interested actors gaining and controlling the state and its resources. The state capture phenomenon could also be observed in the collusive activities of powerful leaders (regional or national), ministers, and legislative and judiciary executives, corporate executives of state institutions/agencies and party-owned companies. In some cases, state capture is a result of weakened legal and political institutions. In other instances, captors purposely weaken the country’s legal and political institutions so that they would be susceptible to capture and exploitation.

It is also manifested in the failure of economic reforms and the stripping of public assets by some powerful individuals or organized groups using the “privatization” process. In some instances, state capture could be observed when organized groups clandestinely create a state within a state (“parallel state”) in order to influence the state structures, including the judiciary, the security apparatus, the military, and even the media. In some countries where state capture has occurred, the line between what is private and what is public, what is official and non-official, what is state and what is market are totally blurred.

As you can observe from the above descriptions, under state capture, a country’s laws, regulations, legalities and ultimately its institutions are part of corrupt transactions. Such corruption features are quite different from the administrative/bureaucratic corruption described above.

In some countries such as Ethiopia (Hassan, 2013) (and to a limited extent, countries such as Uganda and Rwanda), the entire political, economic, legal and military structures are under the control of powerful cliques or ethnically organized groups. Corruption of this type is pernicious because these same organized groups, in collaboration with owners of powerful firms and/or oligarchs, happen to dominate the vital sectors of all institutions (economic, social, legal and military). In some cases, as manifested in countries such as Russia in the 1990s and in some countries in Africa, Ethiopia included, the practice of capture is highly organized and predatory. The captors are known to use, among other things, violence and intimidation. They are known to have created their own monopolies (oligarchies) and cartels in order to monopolize the vital sectors of the economic system while at the same time disabling the ongoing market reforms. In short, this kind of corruption resembles a modern version of organized crime.

COUNTRY SPECIFIC CHARACTERISTICS OF CAPTORS

The corruptive activities of the captors are largely similar but they may differ by country or origin and type of captors. In post-communist countries, Hellman et al (2000:3) make distinctions between private “captor firms (i.e. firms that make private payments to public officials to affect the rules of the game) and influential firms (i.e. firms that have influence on those rules without recourse to private payments to public officials).” The captors in general are the nomenklatura – a group of former managers and bureaucrats of state-owned enterprises under the old Soviet system and other Eastern Bloc nations (estimated to be about 1.5 percent of the population) who were “engaged in ceaseless political maneuvering among themselves while maintaining total power, as a privileged class, over all the others.”

They could also be public officials who “may use their positions to capture enterprises,” or a group of actors such as the members of parliament, the executive, ministers and judiciary acting in unison (the ruling party leaders acting prosecutor, judge, and jury).

While largely similar, state capture in developing countries such as Ethiopia differs from that in post-communist countries in some important ways: For one, unlike their Russian and East European counterparts, the Ethiopian captors do not exclusively belong to the nomenklatura (former higher officials of the communist parties), since a large portion of them were rag tag guerrilla fighters who had marched all the way out from the bushes to seize power and enrich themselves. Secondly, in countries such as Ethiopia, the state capture phenomenon is highly parochial (quasi-feudal and ethnic-based) in nature.

Unfortunately, patronage infested Ethiopian corruption has a strong tendency for both envy and tolerance. It involves envy because corruption assisted riches of elites in one ethnic group irritate other ethnic groups. On the other hand, it is quite possible for tolerance for the vice to emanate from those who have ethnic affiliation with the ruling clique. This tendency is known to have permeated the Kenyan society (Michela Wrong, 2009: “It is Our Turn to Eat.”) The end result is a vicious cycle of corruption, each (largely powerful) ethnic group’s elites taking their turns to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else.

One also observes a very strong patron-clientelistic and neo-patrimonialistic nature of corruption in these countries (Ethiopia, in particular).

Thirdly, unlike in some post-communist countries such as Eastern Europe, in which some oligarchs were forced out of political power, the Ethiopian captors continue to hold both political and economic power. The Russian oligarchs made their fortunes through wheeling and dealing and by committing all kinds of economic crimes including buying Russian assets at throw away prices (so did their Ethiopian counter-parts). But, Mr. Putin, who did not like the political meddling of some of them, used his scorched earth tactics to put some of them behind bars and sent others into exile while at the same time stripping off their assets (leaving alone those who did not venture to politically challenge him). Putin’s scorched earth tactics might have averted a rise of a potentially more devastating plutocracy than we observe in Russia today. The captors in Eastern and Central Europe gradually lost their political clout partly due to the desires and efforts of those countries to join the European Union and fulfill the EU’s conditions and the latter’s assistance in fighting and eradicating state capture.

Fourth, state capture in countries such as Ethiopia is unparalleled in that it is a stronger form than one finds elsewhere in that it encompasses the seizure of the political apparatus and the commanding heights of the national economy – the seizure extending to the military, security, foreign policy and judicial system and even the complete control of the media. In Ethiopia, the predatory oligarchs’ appetite for controlling the commanding heights of the country’s economy, misappropriating its resources and accumulating wealth using a network of political power continues unabated, thereby exacerbating the gaps between the haves and the have-nots. Elite predation has led to a virtual criminalization of the state to the extent that mafia-type criminal activities pop up occasionally.

Another peculiar characteristic of state capture in Ethiopia is its high level ethnic nature. Moreover, the lines between what is official and what is private are totally blurred, and the party and the state have become almost indistinguishable. It is for this reason that many are tempted to label the Ethiopian corruptive system as highly kleptocratic. As a result, the captured economy is trapped in a vicious cycle in which any policy reforms designed to improve governance are doomed to fail. There is constant collusion between the powerful groups operating from outside and within the government.

WHAT HAS TRANSPIRED IN ETHIOPIA?

What is being witnessed in Ethiopia is the establishment of shell companies in contravention of the country’s commercial codes, such as establishing sare companies with only 2-5 “shareholders”, most of these “shareholders” being party leaders. As Gennet Mersha explains, the parallel existence of political party-owned businesses has led to (a) “leakage of resources in the form of capital flight, (b) the granting and manipulation of licenses, (c) use of inside information pertaining to privatization, competition for state contracts and bids and awards of project contracts such as road and building and other construction works, (d) lack of competition, and (e) systematic discrimination of businesses and professionals.”
What we have observed is “favouritism and clique building [which] flourished around the privatization boards ([url=file:///C:/Users/shassan/Documents/tdrive as of june 23 2015/corruption/Aid, Development and corruption/follow up and Commentary of Professor Ejigu Demissie of the University of Maryland]Minga Negash[/url]). What the Ethiopian people witnessed were improper handling of the restructuring and privatization process (Mersha: 2010), Young (1998), Vestal (2009), and Negash (2010). What Ethiopians have witnessed is large-scale systemic state capture through the rise of suffocating political-party owned companies (“endowments”), such as EFFORT and the numerous companies subsumed under it.

What we know is the refusal of the members of the ruling clique (TPLF) to return the country’s assets that they looted when they were guerrilla fighters while at the same time occupying the highest branches of government.

What we know is party hacks presiding “over top-level corporate boards of party-owned businesses and major government enterprises including banks” and their funneling of easy bank loans to regional party-owned companies.

What has transpired is the disfranchisement of “other” Ethiopians and the stifling of competition through the awarding of contracts to those connected with the ruling party, such high level nepotism being very high particularly in the construction sector (see, World Bank’s Diagnosing Corruption in Ethiopia, Chapter 6, for example.)

What we have witnessed on a daily basis, twenty five years and counting, is the currying of favour of these same conglomerates and cadre-owned and favored companies resulting in the distortions of competition and lack of competitive marketplace.

What we have witnessed, much like in countries which were under the influence of the Soviet Union, is the seizure and control of the financial sector by a specific group.

What we are witnessing is suffocation through the use of the so-called new press and anti-terrorism laws.

What we observe in Ethiopia is the passage and adoption of new repressive laws such as the one prohibiting opposition parties from receiving funds from abroad, while at the same time the ruling party benefits immensely from that.

What has developed is a zero-sum mentality and practice, a powerful leadership with deaf ears that is “too rigid, arrogant and disconnected” with high level of patronage.

What Ethiopians have witnessed is the constant attack and dismantling of opposition political parties, the weakening of the country’s institutions – be they independent civil society organizations, unions, or professional organizations – the watering down of the quality of education, constant violation of the rule of law, etc.

What is being observed is the creation of a toothless anti-corruption commission (itself implicated in mushrooming of corruption) to hoodwink donors and the hijacking of anti-corruption efforts – to the extent of using it to attack and imprison political opponents.

Just like in communist Russia and elsewhere, the ruling party of Ethiopia has captured the legislature, the executive, the judiciary and practically all regulatory agencies – all distinguishing caricatures of state capture, the highest form of corruption that is directed toward extracting rents.

THE REPERCUSSIONS

State Capture and (mafia type) criminal oligarchy, accompanied by an unbelievable arrogance and repression has resulted in deep disillusionment, cynicism and polarization in the country. It has resulted in once upon a time rag-tag guerrilla fighters and poor taxi drivers, not known for their ingenuity or something else that is good, becoming extremely wealthy, almost overnight. It has led to the setting ablaze of property, in which local businesses happen to bear the brunt of the destructions. Riots do not take place in a vacuum. The causes are the nauseating greed on the part of the ruling party, the eviction of tens of thousands of people from their ancestral lands and the transfer of these same lands, with little or no compensations, to the ruling party-owned companies, elites and foreigners. The causes of the riots are, no doubt, outright nepotism and organized crime committed by the ruling elites. Corruption riddled land transfers have resulted in the transfer of resources from the people into the hands of a very few. Those whose lands have forcefully been taken away and displaced and those who have been oppressed seem not to be taking the abuse any more.

As an economist, I see the ruling clique’s overreach (of forced displacements, arrogance, insatiable greed and suffocating corruption) having lasting damage. Thanks to the overreaches of the government and criminal activities of party elites, foreign direct investment is now considered a fancy word for deceit and exploitation. Indeed, people-centered and properly compensated urban development projects would have been a win-win for all those involved. Thanks to the rampant land-related corruption, the ruling clique’s dirty tricks have undermined future legitimate development projects. No doubt these overreaches will be big time setbacks to future development.

RESISTANCE TO PREDATORY LAND GRABS

Allow me to elaborate the fraud infested and predatory land grabs which sparked several unrests, a little more. Just like North Korea and China, land belongs to the Ethiopian government, which in turn created a space for a frenzy of uncompensated land grabbing, rent-seeking and nepotism. Using several endless land proclamations as their tools, Ethiopian officials and land grabbers might have copied Chinese practices of forcefully expropriating land. It appears that land grabbers in Ethiopia have failed to understand the problems associated with such a practice. For one, forced evictions have resulted not only in human rights abuses and the violations of the international covenants that China has ratified, but the scheme has contributed to growing income inequality. Ethiopian authoritarian rulers should have known that growing inequalities have consequences.

Secondly, a large portion of the evictions in China was largely done by local officials and against the wishes of the central government. In Ethiopia, both the re-zoning and demolition plans and executions are exclusively done under the directives of central government authorities, contributing to the rising resentments.

Thirdly, both the central and local governments of China were able to create factory jobs which absorbed a significant portion of the evicted peasants, resulting in indirect compensations to the lost properties for those who were displaced. In Ethiopia, local communities hardly get any benefits from the “investments” despite promises of creating jobs and other goodies such as access to electricity and clean water.

Fourthly, contrary to what is largely observed in Ethiopia, it appears that Chinese local authorities and developers compensated evictees even though the compensations were nowhere equal to the market value of the properties.

Fifth, in the Ethiopian case, those who benefit from land-related corruption (which includes forced evictions and demolitions) happen to be at the top echelons of the ruling party.

Sixth, unlike the Chinese, the Ethiopian population is highly divided along ethnic lines, such divisions exacerbated by the policies of the regime itself. And last but not least, unlike the Ethiopian land grabbers, the Chinese authorities never used live ammunitions against protesters whose lands ha been seized. That must be why other ethnic groups, the Oromos, in particular, consider the so-called federal police (repeatedly observed brutally beating students and protesters) and the military as only belonging to and used as a killing paramilitary squad of the TPLF. The Ethiopian people have repeatedly witnessed that the ruling party have never been accountable for the atrocities it committed. Witness the tortures, disappearances, mass arrests and massacres the regime committed in 1995, 2005/6, 2014, and now 2015/16, the genocide committed against the Anuak people in 2003, the killing of university students in 2001, just to name a few.

The Ethiopian people have been traumatized by the endless atrocities. It is these and numerous other atrocities that have forced the people to think that this is not their government. It is the looting of public resources by a few and the extreme corrupt activities which have led the Ethiopian people to think the properties and investment do not belong to them but to a parasitic group. Consequently, it is not hard to imagine corruption that is committed by “others” (conserved by many as if they are invaders) – and in a lot of cases, orchestrated by those who claim to be representing one ethnic group – to be viewed with great envy and anger thereby escalating the polarization. No wonder it results in extreme discontent and riots.

State capture, together with oppression, arrogance and brutality, is leading the country to experience an accelerating socio-politico-economic breakdown and to potentially ethnic/sectarian conflicts – all contributing to the unravelling and possible disintegration of the rotting system. Unfortunately, the collapsing system will have collateral and innocent victims.

“SOLUTIONS”: WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

As I indicated above, state capture is anathema to reform. In the Ethiopia today, there is no independent judiciary that can uphold the rule of law since the rule of law gets subverted by top-level officials on a constant basis. There are no checks and balances. All we have is a rubber-stamp “parliament. All we have is a toothless anti-corruption agency, which is saddled with the lack of resources and incompetence. Nearly all independent and privately owned newspapers have been forcefully shuttered and many of journalists sent to jail or exile. These brutal measures have deprived the country of the means to fight rampant corruption.

Civil society organizations have been either decimated or captured. What we have is an executive body which fires auditors when the auditors expose corruption and the disappearance of billions of birr. In today’s Ethiopia, every regulatory agency is captured, to the extent of Mr. Sibant Nega, the founder, architect and now revered figurehead of the TPLF, boldly and unashamedly admitting the obvious: that corruption in Ethiopia is so bad that it has permeated even the religious institutions.

The Ethiopian oligarchy lacks a Vladimir Putin (that is, Meles Zenawi) who could have served as an anti-corruption czar and used his unparalleled power and Machiavellian tactics to trap and quell his distractors and possibly extend the political life of the oligarchy. The paranoid and heavy-handed measures taken against the Oromos by the ruling clique clearly indicate that not only the ruling party has become headless but it also indicates a lack of command and control.

What we are left with is three relatively powerful groups, who could potentially allay the pains inflicted upon the Ethiopian people by rampant corruption – their measures having the potential to extend the political life of the kleptocratic regime. Even though these groups may be able to extend the political life of the regime, they would not, however, save it from eventual collapse since corruption of this magnitude cannot be saved from within. What I am thinking about are (a) Multinational institutions, such as the IMF, World Bank and others; (b) donor nations, particularly the United State and the EU; and (c) pressure from stakeholders who are a part of and have closer ties with the regime, that is, ‘custodians of the status quo’ (Berhanu Mnegistu, 2016-“Mediating Political Space… “).

The first two are holders of strong arms – capable of putting immense pressure on the clique. For one, these institutions and donors know how aid dependent the regime is – so aid dependent just “[like] a patient addicted to pain killers.” The United States and members of the EU, the U.K. in particular, along with the aid institutions, know the “aid” they provide was and still is the source of corruption, be it via illicit financial outflows, used to recruit and pay millions of cadres, used to fund forced villagization or other means. As I have shown elsewhere, donor nations know that part of the seeds of capital for party-owned conglomerates are the “aid” they provided. Should they wish to do so, donor nations can bring the TPLF leaders to their knees by suing them for their misuse of foreign aid and money laundering.

As for the third group, according to Professor Berhanu Mengistu (2016), the effectiveness of the ‘custodians of the status quo’ depends not only on their ability to “convince the narrow stakeholders” that change is in their best interests but also on their ability to direct those changes. One may legitimately ask: Would the custodians of the status quo be able to control their own greed and selfishness when in fact the entire ruling party, top-to-bottom, is so repugnantly corrupt? Well, if they failed to do so, then they will lose all that they have amassed!

So, why did Oromo protesters burn down properties and investment structures located within their own neighborhoods? Well, it is because of the resentment which running deep against overbearing party elites who scoop up lands that don’t belong to them – the grabbed lands making very wealthy almost overnight. All that the people see is wealth following senseless corruption, party affiliation, bloodlines, but not hard work or original access to one’s ancestral land. The protesters are not only pushed out of their ancestral lands but they also do not have jobs, money or even prospects. As the rioters’ selective attack targets indicate, the burnings/destructions and boycotting seem to be directed at those owned by the TPLF and its supporters. Unfortunately, resentment of this kind is also harbored by other ethnic groups. Such practices may indeed be repeated in other regions, even though Ethiopia does not really have lots of resources to burn and destroy.

Unfortunately, the Ethiopian people continue to be traumatized by TPLF’s economic gangsterism and government-led violence. Trauma leads to hopelessness, extreme anger and frustration, to the extent of being self-destructive. The burning of properties, therefore, is a by-product of the traumas that the Oromos have suffered for too long. I have my deep fears that someday such destructiveness may repeat itself in the other regions of the country and possibly in a large scale. Let’s pray and hope that appropriate measures, capable of forestalling the looming dangers will be taken.

Seid Hassan teaches at Murray State University.

THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

http://allafrica.com/stories/201602231258.html

Ethiopia listed among the most corrupt Countries in the world according to Transparency International 2016 Report February 7, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Corruption, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Illicit financial outflows from Ethiopia, Uncategorized.
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Odaa OromooThe TPLF Corruption network

The 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index clearly shows that corruption remains a blight around the world. But 2015 was also a year when people again took to the streets to protest corruption. People across the globe sent a strong signal to those in power: it is time to tackle grand corruption.

 José Ugaz,  Chair, Transparency International


 

Ethiopia is listed among the countries in the world where corruption highly prevails. According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, Ethiopia ranks 103 out of 168 countries and territories included in this year’s index.This doesn’t come as a surprise to many as Ethiopia has been for two decades under the control of a bunch of corrupt officials who are deafening us with the ‘11% economic growth’ mantra while millions of Ethiopians are starving to death.These corrupt officials are killing, torturing and imprisoning citizens in hundreds and thousands because they challenged their corrupt attitudes and their endless greed for wealth and power.


 

Source: Ethiopia listed among the most corrupt Countries in the world according to Transparency International 2016 Report


 

Related:-

TPLF/EPRDF Ethiopian Regime is a Contra to a Developmental State

https://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2016/01/12/tplfeprdf-ethiopian-regime-is-a-contra-to-a-developmental-state/

The Conflict between the Ethiopian State and the Oromo People, by Dr. Alemayehu Kumsa

https://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/the-conflict-between-the-ethiopian-state-and-the-oromo-people-by-dr-alemayehu-kumsa/


 

Oromo Protests sustained due to lack of democratic virtues; protests natural reactions to authoritarianism of Ethiopian regime January 24, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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Odaa Oromoo#OromoProtests. International Community Alarmed as Ethiopia Crisis Worsens

 

#OromoProtests against the Ethiopian regime fascist tyranny. Join the peaceful movement for justice, democracy, development and freedom of Oromo and other oppressed people in EthiopiaOromoProtests against genocidal TPLF Ethiopia2. 19 June 2015

Oromo Protests sustained due to lack of democratic virtues; protests natural reactions to authoritarianism


 

By Abdurezack Hussein,  Finfinne Tribune,   24 January 2016


 

Outrage has engulfed Ethiopia for a couple of months now. Peaceful protests – against a plan, popularly called the Integrated Master Plan, to expand the capital city borders into the surrounding Oromia National Regional State – are being suppressed by lethal force. Beyond affecting the livelihoods and the cultural makeup of the Oromo residents in the affected region, protesters argue, the Plan to snatch an area from one Federal State by another could amount to a blatant annexation. Thanks to the phony federal structure, the Oromia National Regional State, that was supposed to guard its borders and defend the protesters, is regrettably failing on both accounts. According to the Human Rights Watch, at least 140 innocent lives have since been gunned down. Activists on the ground, however, raise the death toll even higher.

The escalation of the crises and protesters’ defiance have unusually forced the government, which had vowed to implement the Plan at any cost, to retract the Plan. For the protesters, though, the government’s latest action is too little to rejoice and too late to embrace. Protesters’ discontent seems to have gone beyond the Master Plan into the working of the Federal State of Oromia itself. The sustained political disenfranchisement and the lack of real representation in the decision-making hierarchy have produced a magma of uneasiness with the system that has waited so long to explode. As the protesters are vowing to continue the protests, and more political actors and the international community are slowly joining and acknowledging their cause, the coming days and weeks will increasingly put the autocratic Ethiopian government in a difficult position.

Had it not been for the lack of democracy in Ethiopia, such opposition to the government’s policies could have been easily defeated either in the court or at the ballot box. The tragic failure of the system to hold the government accountable for its polices in either way has ultimately compelled the public that the responsibility – to safeguard its own rights and claim these hijacked democratic virtues at any cost – rests on the people’s protests.

Doing Development in an Autocratic Way

The incursion into a vast swath of land around the congested capital city will produce more development and modernization, the Ethiopian government contends. It, accordingly, accuses protesters of being traitors and obstacles in the so-called “miraculous double-digit growth.” Under the New Master Plan, the predominantly agrarian adjacent lands are expected to be replaced by alternatives usages that are presumably more valuable in terms of their economic values. It envisages creating new infrastructures, new real estates, new industries and new dwellers. It does not matter whether the Plan causes serious law abridgments, or is hugely unpopular, as far as it is adding to the GDP [Growth and Transformation Plan] and keeps alive the double-digit narrative. Public opinions and laws are, at best, second to development, and at worst, they are completely neglected. This is what is called doing development in an autocratic way.

At the heart of an autocratic way of building an economy, there exists a blatant disregard of accountability. In a working democracy, governments and policymakers are accountable to the law and the public. Any development plan, however economically sound it might be, is prone to cancellation, if it negates any law of the country and its Constitution. Autocrats, on the other hand, keep themselves above the law and dare abridge any verse of the Constitution. Besides, such a regime lacks an independent judiciary to keep the working of the government in check. Dictators, therefore, are in a perfect position to plan and execute any development plan without fearing any intervention by the judiciary.

The Integrated Master Plan is an epitome of an autocratic way of doing development. Despite the fact that it plans to stretch the borders of the capital city into the neighboring Oromia National Regional State’s land, which is potentially tantamount to annexation in a federal arrangement, neither the judiciary nor the House of Federation has toddled to intervene in the matter. It is the land of autocrats where accountability before the law is at its lowest.

Another route to bring accountability within the policymakers’ circles and to governments is via elections. Elections provide mechanisms to reward, or to punish, politicians and their policies. Parties with popular policies are elected into office; economic policies and projects are no exceptions. While in office, incumbent governments plan and execute development plans that are feasible in economic terms, sound in terms of country’s laws and popular in the eyes of their electorates. Free, fair and transparent elections constrain politicians from pursuing risky and unpopular policies. The recurrent massive turnovers among governments that follow austerity measures can be a good example in this respect.

In no-man lands of electoral autocrats, however, elections are, at best, mere periodic anniversaries, or at worst, eves of mass imprisonments of vocal dissidents. The very role of accountability-before-the-public that elections guarantee is impossible in dictatorships. However unpopular the policies they plan and execute might be, they can go away without facing any punishment by the public during elections. When elections cease to serve their natural purpose of voting politicians and their policies, plans – as unpopular as the Integrated Master Plan, can irresponsibly be planed and implemented without any accountability at the ballot box.

Protests as Working Constraints

Political institutions, such as legislature, political parties and elections ,are eminent constraints on governments. The judiciary, with its mighty power, keeps government’s actions in check. These are the virtues of democracy that nations under the auspices of autocracy are devoid of. Ethiopia has never been short of such regimes for very long. The current government has led the country for a quarter of a century with an iron fist. Any opposition to its rule and policies have been met with decisive force and merciless crackdowns.

The absence of democratic virtues like independent judiciary and elections as a mechanism to voice citizens’ approval or rejection of the government and its polices in Ethiopia has expectedly created enormous frustrations. Sustained public protests for the past few years by Ethiopian Muslims and the current Oromo protests are results of such hopelessness in the system and the institutions it has built.

The huge protests all across the Oromia National Regional State against the Master Plan for the past few months has claimed hundreds lives. Injuries and incarcerations are in thousands. Reports of torture and extra-judiciary killings are everyday news. Had the judiciary been to its honor and sound elections were in place, projects as unlawful and unpopular as the Master Plan would have been defeated in the court or at the ballot box. When both institutions fail, sadly, the people have to either chose between eviction and disenfranchisement, or bravely confront the implementation of the Plan with protests. Oromos have preferred the later and have audaciously faced one of the most brutal autocratic states in the world.

The sustained protests have lately compelled the government, which has got away with many actions without any public approval for past twenty five years, to rescind the Master Plan. It has, for now, dissipated the ambitions of the leeching pro-government business elites. What would have been easily defeated in a democratic polity has sucked the blood of many in the autocratic Ethiopia. The fallen and the injured have paid with their blood to reclaim deserved democratic virtues. They have won back what an independent judiciary or a fair election would otherwise have secured at ease. Protests have served as constraints on the government – which has abusively compromised the foremost constraints to its power: the judiciary and periodic elections.

Unfortunate enough, when protesters reclaim their rights after months of defiant protests and force their autocratic rulers to back down on their nightmare, another feature of an autocratic regime could dangerously spoil their jubilation: the question of credibility. In the absence of any institutional mechanism to assure accountability of the government, there is no way one can guarantee the government would not renege on its promises. As Mancur Olson (1991, p. 153) argued “If he (the autocrat) runs the society, there is no one who can force him to keep his commitments.” Repeated experiences in the past, and the very nature of the regime type, further strengthens the prospect of a possible change of mind sometime in the near future. More importantly, the amount of rents the political and business elites would have collected from such massive land grabs will inevitably test their commitment to the rhetorical promise they have lately made.

Both at the Crossroads

It appears that both the protesters and the government are at the crossroads. For the protesters, they have managed to force the government to scrap the Master Plan that has been the immediate cause of the protests. It is now the right time to decide whether to believe the government, which has been the sole architect of the Master Plan, and the subsequent brutality against protesters, on its word, or escalate their struggle to address the lingering deep-rooted sense of Oromo disenfranchisement and confront the beleaguered Ethiopian government to the end. Putting it differently, the struggle to reclaim democratic virtues has to make a shift to reclaiming democracy itself. While it is difficult to sleep safe believing the word of an autocrat, it also requires massive amounts of energy, coordination, solidarity and determination to make the second choice.

For the Ethiopian government, the current protests seem to indicate that the sun is slowly setting in their autocratic empire. History and the nature of the political regime the government is politicking are not on their side in terms of citizens’ confidence on their word. Incumbent politicians have to either go by their promise and give a strong signal to their credibility, or face the consequences of the ensuing protests and the public outrage. The coming days, weeks and months will tell which ways both the protesters and the government will take. Either way, the current protests, and actors involved from both sides, have already made it to the history of a country that has never witnessed a government of the people, for the people and by the people.



 

 

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

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Odaa OromooThe TPLF Corruption network

 

TPLF/EPRDF Regime a Contra to a Developmental State

By Dr Barii Ayano, Economic Thinker

 

Introduction

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.

 Conclusion

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

 

Related article:

https://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/the-conflict-between-the-ethiopian-state-and-the-oromo-people-by-dr-alemayehu-kumsa/