Focus, Focus, Focus!
The main task for all of us now is refusing to be distracted!
We should all recall that the resistance to Abiy’s murderous dictatorial rule has been driven by key popular demands.These demands of the people are crystal clear.
Fundamentally, and almost invariably, they are questions of social justice (i.e., questions of representation and voice, questions of recognition of identity and collective agency, questions of equitable distribution of resources, opportunities, and benefits).
The demands for achieving abbaa biyyummaa, the demands for more autonomy (self-rule, predicated upon the larger principle of constitutional self-determination), the demands of sovereignty over one’s natural resources (or communal ownership of key economic facilities such as land), the demands for linguistic justice in the Ethiopian polity (also predicated on the more fundamental principle of cultural self-determination), the demands for complete freedom from fear of the State (freedom from extrajudicial execution, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearance, torture, unjust and politically weaponized judicial proceedings, and all other acts of state terror including burning down of villages, harvests, and hamlets), etc–these demands are the ones that drove the popular resistance that led to the change and these demands are the ones that Abiy ignored and, eventually, sought to crush through protracted state violence.
In addition to these abiding demands, there are questions that Abiy’s violent misrule has brought to the fore: questions pertaining, for instance, to:
- the politically motivated assassination of Artist Haacaaluu Hundeessaa;
- the arrest of key political figures (including Jawar Mohammed, Bekele Gerba, Dejene Tafa, Dr Shigut Geleta, Kennasaa Ayyaanaa, and a host of other political party leaders);
- the closure of the OMN and the illegal assault and vandalizing of its premises;
- the arbitrary arrest of Oromo journalists;
- the weaponizing of the law and the judicial process by orchestrating a political trial against the political leaders (such as Jawar Mohammed);
- the unconstitutional postponement of the election and the derailing of the democratization process;
- the onslaught on the popular demands for self-rule (aka for Statehood) among the numerous nations of what was hitherto known as the SNNPRS (eg. Wolaita);
- the complete breakdown of law and order and the reign of anarchy in the ANRS;
- the constant threat of war invoked against TNRS (and the propaganda warfare to inflict fear and isolation on the people of Tigray);
- the threat to dismember Oromia by dividing it into 8 clusters to ve put under military rule;
- the increasing practice of undermining the multinational federal order as enshrined in the constitution; and
- the conspiracy among officials in top government circles to deregister selected political parties (especially OLF, OFC, TPLF, and all other political parties whom they consider identity-based) with a view to eliminating them from the Electoral Board’s roster of political parties;
- the sinister schemes by Abiy and co to secretly amend the constitution so that they can delegitimize the election being held in TNRS;
- the secret preparation to break the existing constituent units of the Federation (formally known so far as National Regional States) and to rearrange the federal set up, and to repeal the constitutional clauses pertaining to collective rights of nations (sovereignty, self-determination, collective agency, and ethno-cultural justice–precisely the decolonizing structure that helps dismantle the infrastructure of empire);
These demands are about rights. These demands are about justice. In the final analysis, these demands are also about peace. A just peace at that.
The resistance to Abiy’s misrule is driven and guided by the demands for these rights. These rights are legal and constitutional. Addressing them is not beyond the government’s reach. They are not too difficult to address, nor are they more onerous than the unnecessary (and irrational, even insane!) acts of Abiy & co.
The people’s focus should remain on the just causes of the popular resistance.
The focus should be on how to remove the war-mongering, monstrously blood-thirsty, and dictatorial regime Abiy Ahmed is presiding over.
The focus should now be on how to empower people to regain and assert their collective agency, to restore peace, and to re-establish first principles of politics, and to reinvigorate the democratic impulse towards transition and towards a more thorough state transformation.
To spend time on non-essentials (such as Shimelis’s old rant leaked now by Abiy for tactical political reasons; or a gibberish that passes for a poem by an insane Prime Monster faking omnipotence) is simply missing the whole point.
Yes, focus. And focus. And more focus.