The Cult of Personality & The Shifting of Agendas
By Belay Zeleke
February 25, 2018
I started writing this article around 5 AM eastern the day Hailemariam Desalegn handed in his resignation. Around 8 AM eastern I heard the news and decided to wait and finish the article at some point in the future.
There have been numerous fast-moving events that have occurred, from the freeing of a small number of prisoners to some shifting of personnel within the ruling parties in Ethiopia. This is nothing more than window dressing. I want to lay down some obvious and foundational points. 1) None of these things is what the Ethiopian people have been asking for. 2) There is one and only one thing that the thousands of youth in Ethiopia have been asking for, and that is for EPRDF TO HAND POWER TO THE PEOPLE. 3) TPLF is still in charge.
The TPLF is still in power and they control the country. They will not give up their power easily and will fight to the death. A TPLF official named Getachew Reda has said it clearly when he stated that the TPLF has failed when they allowed the two biggest groups in Ethiopia to form an alliance. He went on to ignorantly postulate points about the two groups, which was based in falsities and not supported by facts. As a matter of fact in my opinion, he should be asked to step down from any position in the government since his statements are clearly prejudiced and inflammatory. The only way that the TPLF (which runs the EPRDF and hence the country) can stay in power is to divide and rule. So they must do all they can to sow discord as quickly as possible before the tsunami of the Ethiopian people drowns them. I will lay out how they may be able to accomplish this. And why we should prepare for this potential.
1) TPLF/EPRDF will delay, delay, delay and try to recover by developing new strategies and tactics. In my mind TPLF/EPRDF includes OPDO, ADNM, SPDM and all other entities within the current regime. Until and when these organizations decide to split from TPLF/EPRDF, they are still part of the problem.
2) They are likely going to take advantage of certain so-called change agents within EPRDF/TPLF. There appears to be a certain cult of personality around individuals such as Lemma, or Dr. Abiy, or Gedu, etc… I believe this cult is not necessarily in Ethiopia but rather by a few opposition media and activists abroad, because we saw the tremendous amounts of people who came out to greet Dr. Merara, Obo Bekele, Eskinder, Colonel Demeke and others. By focusing on the personalities and not on the structural and transformational questions TPLF are setting the stage for conflict between the two main groups of people they see as a huge threat. It’s a classic bait and switch tactic.
3) The discussions in some (not all) media has slightly now shifted away from changing the regime and forming a transitional structure to who should be the next prime minister. If these discussions start taking over the primary agenda then the TPLF setting the stage for conflict.
4) Elevating these people and then choosing one over the other will ultimately allow the TPLF to do as they please. Let’s say for example TPLF now chooses Demeke Mekonnen from ANDM to be the prime minister. This will be perceived as a slight against OPDO and potentially instigate conflict which the TPLF will gladly fan the flames. This will allow the TPLF to stay in the shadows use their Agazi, secret police and military forces and continue killing Ethiopians.
Nothing has changed therefore the struggle must continue. The media and activists outside of the country should continue laser focusing on transformational/regime change. The media should not allow the discussions to be about which person is in power. I know that certain opposition media have a responsibility to discuss these minor issues, however in my opinion although they can acknowledge these minor events they should continue to talk more about what Ethiopians have been asking for 27 years.
Before the TPLF implements this potential scenario I urge and plead all opposition media activists to continue to strongly ask for regime change. Make it known that the TPLF may try to pull a fast one on us and prepare the public. Make it clear that Ethiopians are asking for regime change and free and fair democratic processes now. Everyone should push for structural and transformational change now before it is too late, too much blood has been shed and too many of our youth have been killed, imprisoned and tortured to let this opportunity pass us by.
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