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Humanity before Ethnicity


Golto Aila

Many of you are, by now, familiar with my views regarding the players in the Ethiopian politics. I have also, on several occasions clearly stated that I have no political ambition either in my adoptive home country or in Ethiopia . My only reason for expressing views publicly is because of my concern about the ordinary people who have now become pawns in the cruel games played by the current regime and those who oppose them!  My views are simple - views of an average person who is aware of and interested in what goes on around him! I have leveled my criticisms against the Ethiopian regime and have not spared those in the opposition either. My criticism must be taken objectively and on trust by all, because I am not a member of any political party and I support none of them! Having said that, my criticism of the opposition groups may, fairly, be judged as harsh and indiscriminate, by the many honest, dedicated, and hardworking people in the opposition camps. I hope the following paragraphs will shade some light on how I view opposition and what makes me write what I write. In the process, I hope the good people in the opposition camps will conclude that my criticism is not directed at them! What follows is not the result of scientific work but rather, organization of a concept in my mind so that I may respond to events in a manner that is consistent and rational. I hope you will find it useful and probably build on it or modify it in the manner that will be useful to you!

Opposition, as a human phenomenon, is synonymous with many other words - adversary, antagonist, enemy, foe, other side, rebel, rival, etc. depending on the context. Opposition has many attributes:

  1. The context of opposition may vary - personal, political, societal, moral, etc.
  2. It may have a positive or a negative connotation, depending on one’s vantage point!
  3. Opposition may have a good cause, bad cause, or may be purposeless, again depending on different people's perspectives
  4. Opposition may be of no consequence, of marginal consequence or be of severe consequence depending on its context
  5. The opposition’s action must be judged against its justification and the methods used:
    1. Justified and appropriate method used
    2. justified and inappropriate method
    3. unjustified and appropriate method
    4. unjustified and inappropriate methods
  6. The possible outcomes of opposition’s actions are multiple depending on the context, whether it involves individuals or groups:
    1. Personal (or group) success and opponent wins
    2. Personal success (or group), and opponent not affected
    3. Personal success (or group), and opponent fails
    4. Personal failure  (or group), and opponent succeeds
    5. Personal failure (or group), and opponents not affected
    6. Personal failure (or group), and opponents failure

Ideally, the best attributes for an Ethiopian opposition movement would be that it is seen as a positive political influence by the majority of Ethiopians; that it is seen as fighting for a good cause; that it will have a significant impact on the future development in the country; that its actions are seen as justified and appropriate; and that the outcome of its actions are beneficial to the society/ the nation irrespective of whether some section of the society/nation supported or opposed it!
Whatever the agenda of an opposition party is, it must be seen as a force for peace, security and prosperity for everyone in and around Ethiopia! This means that even those who are fighting for the liberation of their regions/states/nations must have the same goals of peace, security and prosperity for all! For example, what kind of life do the citizens of independent Oromia have under the rule of the OLF when they are disenfranchised in their country and are at war with all its neighbors including what is left of Ethiopia! How about Ogaden under the rule of ONLF or the Republic of Greater Tigrai under the TPLF? How about the ethnocentric organizations which for the purpose of expediency masquerade as a national opposition movement!
An Ethiopian opposition movement must be effective to be relevant! Its action must have a significant impact on the direction the country will take! To be effective, it must be seen as carrying out the agenda that addresses the concern of all Ethiopians. It must be seen as an entity that puts people first, and is committed to fighting for and bringing justice for all Ethiopians! It will be ineffective and even damaging when its purpose is perceived as a vehicle for the advancement of a group or an individual’s agenda at the expense of the powerless masses. Conversely, an opposition movement which builds bridges among ordinary people, fights for them irrespective of where they come from, or their station in life, and one which is prepared to subjugate its own ideas to join hands with other opposition parties for the good of ALL ETHIOPIANS, will be effective by virtue of gaining the trust of the masses and the respect of their opposing compatriots.
Any action taken by an opposition party must be seen as justifiable by the majority of Ethiopians and that the method used to achieve its goal must also be seen as appropriate. Unjustifiable action will alienate most ordinary people and crude methods will drive away even ardent supporters. An examples of unjustifiable action is the breakup of Kinijit! That action deprived the population of the one meaningful tool they had to fight injustice in Ethiopia. By going abroad and publicly disrobing each other, the leaders of Kinijit drove away most of their ardent supporters, many of who have not yet found the appetite to go back to join the fight for their Motherland. An example of a justifiable action, applying the right method would be, for the various opposition parties laying aside their own narrow agendas and forming a non-partisan movement that would be a counterforce against Meles regime both at home and abroad. If OLF, ONLF, and the national parties really care about their “constituents”, they would set aside their phony differences and fight Meles to free Ethiopia and it peoples. If they truly believe in democracy, they should first lay down the democratic structure in Ethiopia that can be used in the future for the citizens of Ethiopia to decide which way they want their country to go. Any other approach will mean imposition of yet another dictatorship all over Ethiopia.
The best outcome for an Ethiopian opposition party is one where, as mentioned above, it approaches its counterparts against Meles and make compromises that will take the interests of all parties into account without compromising democratic principles, and while focusing on the objectives – freedom, peace, security, and prosperity for all Ethiopians! Nobody will lose and everybody will be a winner! The worst outcome is what threatens to occur at this time – complete rejection of rapprochement by the opposition parties towards each other, thereby letting the current state of affairs to persist, thus leading to accelerated degeneration and disintegration of Ethiopia and the demise of our society as we have always known.