Talking about ‘national dialogue’ while campaigning to eliminate opposition political parties–by arresting key political leaders, killing hundreds of Oromos on a daily b asis, throwing thousands into jails, cracking down on independent media outlets, and weaponizing the law to contain and exclude dissidents from the political space–is a joke.
For over two years niw, we have been calling for an inclusive consultative platform in which ALL political actors shall participate in the democratization efforts under a minimalist roadmap with clear plan of action and timeline.
For over two years now, our call has been ignored, dismissed, and even mocked.
In repeated statements, Abiy virtually had said he is the transition. He is it. As if to say, he is the democracy to come.
And when the opposition political parties disagreed, he pursued the twin tactics of cooptation and coercion alternating one for the other. When cooptation could not silence even the apparently aligned, he resorted to interpretive (legal) evisceration of the prospect of election that is constitutionally enjoined. In so doing, he employed a politically motivated, utterly unconstitutional, tactic of ‘constitutional interpretation’ to postpone the election. When that is universally rejected by the people and almost all the parties, he resorted to taking overtly coercive measures such as political assassinations, full blown military campaigns (especially in areas seen as the stronghold of his adversaries, terror tactics of indiscriminate mass killings, arson, torture, political rape, etc, in order to decimate and silence the support base of the Oromo opposition parties.
Along side that, he employed a massive campaign of instigating religious and ethnic violence. He encouraged the government media outlets and his urban based private media services to openly disseminate Oromophobic and islamophobic propaganda, thereby fomenting violence (including through open calls for killing and eliminating Oromo political leaders such as Bekele Gerba, Jawar Mohammed, and a host of others) and circulating ethnic slurs on Oromos. He even used his own (Prosperity) party’s branches to call for eliminating particular groups and political parties as “historic enemies” that are targeted only for attack. When all these tactics could not help quash the opposition or quell the people as intended, finally, after jailing all but two Oromo political leaders–namely Professor Merera Gudina and Jaal Daud Ibsa–Abiy felt impelled to call for a ‘national dialogue’.
This call is a complete joke. Even if it is one made with any seriousness, it is too little too late.
There is now no opposition party left to sit for such a dialogue.
In particular, there is no ‘national dialogue’ Oromo political parties are going to take part in while Abiy is engaged in a protracted campaign of targeted killings, political assassinations, arbitrary executions, mass detentions, and other acts of state terror in Oromia.
There is no Oromo party to participate in such fake ‘dialogues’ while its leaders are languishing in jail and their people are under direct military onslaught. And considering the fact that Oromia is Ethiopia’s perennial political battlefield now as in the past, given the fact that Oromia is the theatrical scene where the entire Ethiopian political drama is staged, there can be no such dialogue to take place while so much fire (of military attack and public indignation and protest) is raging underneath this stage.
The transition is derailed long ago. The time for dialogue is long past.
Abiy has long dismissed that option. He has chosen to pursue criminal and terrorist tactics he now has to account for.
He has now no moral authority to be part of (let alone call and preside over) any dialogue.
Abiy is a criminal.
Politically, Abiy is already the past.
It is time to remove him.