Ethiopia: Truly democratic transition, not reform needed to move the country forward, says opposition group

By Engidu Woldie
ESAT News (May 21, 2018)

Prof. Berhanu Nega

A leader of an opposition political party says what Ethiopia needs is a truly democratic transition, but not superficial reform if the intention is to move the country forward.

Speaking to a gathering of his supporters in Washington, DC, Chairman of Patriotic Ginbot 7, an opposition group based in the Diaspora, Professor Berhanu Nega, said while he supports the political move by some individuals within the ruling party to change the status quo, only a fundamental change towards a democratic order is the solution to the political impasse in the country.

“The country is getting ready for a third revolution and signs have already been seen in movements such as the uprising in the Oromo and Amhara regions and the Ethiopian Muslims movement for religious freedom. The question is whether this third revolution would be a bedrock for change or it would take the country backwards,” Dr.Nega told the gathering of Ethiopians.

The chairman of patriotic Ginbot 7 said the recent new political stance spearheaded by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his team that seemed shifted away from the position of hardliners within the ruling party was a welcome development. But he questioned whether this group of people wanted to bring about a truly democratic and deep political change or they would just be trying to make superficial reforms to extend the life of the authoritarian regime of EPRDF. He said even in a situation where the Prime Minister is determined for real political changes, the TPLF that controls the military and intelligence as well as the “roving bandit capitalism” that it has espoused would be serious challenge and stumbling block against the desired change. He said the military and intelligence should be free from control by one ethnic group, the TPLF.

The Professor said it was encouraging that the group led by Lemma Megersa, president of the Oromo region and the Prime Minister himself had publicly articulated “Ethiopianism” instead of emphasis on ethnic identity; and that they had shown signs that they believe the rights of the individual citizens was of paramount importance.

Professor Nega however said no tangible policy measures have so far been taken by the Prime Minister. He said the regime still holds political prisoners and the state of emergency was still in place. He added that the call by the Prime Minister to engage the opposition did not have details on how and in what conditions the regime wanted to negotiate with the opposition. Dr. Nega also said the new cabinet did not seem a cabinet that was put together for change.

Dr. Nega reiterated that there would be no solution to the political crisis in the country other putting in place a truly democratic process. (EW)