A shortcut to power is a wrong cut to power

16 Jul 2019

Much to the chagrin of most Ethiopians, as well as Ethiopia’s development partners, an attempted coup took place on the 22ndJune 2019 in Bahir Dar, the capital of the Regional State of Amhara.

In a sudden and fearsome attack on the Headquarters of the Regional State, President Dr Ambachew Mekonnen and Head of the Regional State’s Organisational Affairs, Mr Ezez Wassaie, were mowed down by renegade members of the Region’s Special Forces while the Regional State’s Attorney General, Mr Migbaru Kebede was wounded, and died two days later in hospital. Almost three hours later, the Chief of Staff of Ethiopia’s Defence Forces, General Seare Mekonnen, and his friend, retired Major General Gezae Aberra, were killed at the home of the Chief of Staff, in Addis Ababa, by the Chief of Staff’s own bodyguard.

Memorial service of Chief of Staff of Ethiopia’s Defence Forces, General Seare Mekonnen, and retired Major General Gezae Aberra in Addis Ababa, 25th June

The ringleader of the foiled coup, Brigadier General Asamenew Tsiege, was Head of the Peace and Security Bureau of the Regional State of Amhara. In 2018, he was released from prison under a Government amnesty after serving nine years of a life imprisonment sentence, and was promoted to one of the Regional State’s top positions.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was quick to remind Ethiopians that futile and bloody attempts to ambush the constitutional order are at odds with the wishes and aspirations of all Ethiopians.  Ethiopia’s obtaining condition – robust implementation of reform in all branches of the executive, unprecedented respect for the Rule of Law and for human rights, the broadening of the political space and an unwavering commitment by the Government to speed up the democratisation process – offers no grounds for any form of violent resistance, never mind uprising.

While it is true that this senseless attack has robbed the country of tried-and-tested leaders, it must, however, be remembered that Ethiopia does not suffer from a dearth of vibrant and committed leaders who will follow in the steps of its fallen martyrs.

It is always the case, is it not, at confusing moments such as the one Ethiopia has recently experienced, that those intent on fishing in troubled waters rise to the occasion, with ludicrous publicity stunts. And egotistical and narcissistic dramas were very much in evidence during and after the 22nd June incident. In a desperate attempt to sow the seeds of hate among Ethiopians, arm-chair cyber-warriors spewed out a mishmash of fake news and post-truth style statements, pontificating on a range of conspiracy theories. Social media’s wayward activities became such a concern to peaceful co-existence in Ethiopia, that it encouraged Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to express his disapproval of it to Parliament.

Funeral service of Amhara President Ambachew Mekonnen (centre), Mr Ezez Wassaie, and the Regional State’s Attorney General, Mr Migbaru Kebede, in the town of Bahir Dar on 26th June.

Today, the Regional State of Amhara and Ethiopia as a whole are stable and secure. Following the incident, a thorough investigation is underway by a high-level Joint Security and Justice Task Force, which will offer full enlightenment to both the Federal and Regional governments.

With respect for human rights at an all-time high, with the political playing field broader than at any time in the annals of Ethiopia and with the Government’s cast-iron guarantee to make the 2020 General Election free, fair and transparent, Ethiopians should rest secure in the knowledge that the Government and people of Ethiopia have bounced back from the unfortunate incident stronger and even more united.

Make no mistake: the people and Government of Ethiopia are back in harness!

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