In an opinion piece published on December 6, 2019, on Aljazeera titled ‘Why Abiy Ahmed’s Prosperity Party could be bad news for Ethiopia’ Awol Allo seems to fear the formation of the new party will bring the country ‘to the edge of an abyss’.
Going through the article, one hardly finds substantive reasoning for making such an alarming prediction solely based on the formation of a new political party,( curious why Awol labels it as Abiy’s party) by the ruling EPRDF party in Ethiopia.
By Awol’s own account the party being replaced i.e. the EPRDF ‘has always been a hodgepodge of ethnic groups that served the interests of its most dominant member, the TPLF, and ruled Ethiopia with an iron fist for nearly three decades’.
If indeed this was the case, Awol should be congratulating the new party, for breaking out of the shackle, bringing along marginalized ‘partner parties’ as full-fledged members and forming an inclusive party on the ashes of EPRDF, rather than making the dark prediction because of its formation.
Again, if in Awol’s view the new party is being mainly supported by a ‘diminishing block’ of Ethiopian nationalists with a very slim likelihood of winning a free and democratic election, why worry so much?
But as it becomes clear in the article, Awol’s fear lays somewhere else. Awol seems to believe that the only viable form of political mobilization and or organization ought to be based on ethnic identity, and is a bit upset because the new party is being supported by Ethiopian nationalists. Despite his claim that Ethiopian nationalists are a ‘diminishing block’, Awol fully knows that is not the case, and therein lies his fear.
I must acknowledge that there are some fringe elements with no serious political standing on the ground that might harbor, what Awol calls ‘fixation on a homogenizing conception of unity’, but to attempt to conflate these elements with Ethiopian nationalists is being dishonest. Political calculus can not be based by using fringe elements as core variables, but by considering all and especially main prevailing currents.
Awol might be too young to remember, but the prevailing form of political mobilization and organization in Ethiopia prior to, during and after the 1974 revolution was on a multinational basis until these forces were decimated by mistakes made, and but also, mainly by the diabolical actions taken by the Derg regime against them.
Granted, the atrocities of the Derg coupled with TPLF’s relentless campaign of destroying multinational organizations in the past 27 years ( as the late Meles used to say, ‘we will wait until they sprout and get on their feet and then cut them down!) make it seems, for uncritical observers, that the Ethiopian political field is only the playground of ethno nationalists. That I had not expected from a seasoned observer as Awol.
Ethiopian nationalism is a nationalism forged by millions who sacrificed for the preservation of the nation in the fight against foreign invaders, but also by hundreds of thousands who sacrificed their lives in the fight for equality, justice and the rule of law and it will prevail.