By Dr. Ebissa Ragassa
There is great fear reverberating among Ethiopianist/Unionist that the sudden fall of TPLF will lead to Ethiopia’s disintegration. What Ethiopia may become after the fall of TPLF is a worrying scenario for many Ethiopianist however, in delaying to join Oromo’s peaceful uprising will not help the impending situation on the ground. Ethiopianist must see Oromo’s protest as people’s revolt against a regime that is bent on destroying the very foundation of our existence. Capitulation, hesitation on the part of Ethiopianist will only delay the removal of TPLF from power, in addition jeopardizing the hope of reviving Ethiopian unity post-TPLF.
Ethiopianist must stand in solidarity with their Oromo brothers and sisters who are waging a peaceful resistance in a face of a merciless enemy. Unless done so quickly when TPLF is scrambling to get a handle on the situation on the ground, Ethiopia’s fate will depend on what we do from this point on. Failure to take part in the uprising will undoubtedly raise a fundamental question whether Ethiopia is an idea worth preserving or is a facade. If Ethiopia’s unity is so fragile that the removal of TPLF will endanger our unity, then Ethiopia unity is in greater jeopardy than we imagine and we must quickly rethink the long-term strategies.
Already, the Oromo peaceful resistance has exposed TPLF’s vulnerabilities awaiting a joint effort to fully remove it from power. The uprising has damaged TPLF beyond repair, they can no longer continue to rule as they did before nor can they continue to rule by inciting ethnic fear, as such the primarily objective is to removal TPLF from power and make Ethiopia a common project. TPLF as an organization has de-evolved to the point of exclusively becoming an agent for foreign corporations by neglecting fundamental Ethiopia’s interest as evident by the lack of progress for past 25 years. The hope of transforming Ethiopia through TPLF is structurally and ideologically impossible. Given what is happening on the ground now, three possible outcomes could unfold post-TPLF.
The first scenario is that TPLF will fall and Ethiopia remains an intact country, this is not a remote possibility as will be discussed further. The second scenario would be Ethiopia will go through a referendum and each nation and nationalities will determine their own fate. The third scenario is that we do nothing, TPLF will continue to sell our lands to stay in power in the name of development and soon than later Ethiopia will become a failed state this a more likely, given the inherent ideology of TPLF.
Ethiopia has lost more than its gained under TPLF dictatorship. Eritrea had seceded fundamentally altering Ethiopia’s territorial integrity with TPLF spearheading the effort. Ethiopia had lost its port, a vital access to the sea that was purposely designed to cripple Ethiopian economically for years to come. TPLF had fundamentally lost internal legitimacy, thereby its continued existence is predicated on foreign military support and financial aid. Finally, Ethiopia is on the verge of becoming a failed state joining her neighbor Somalia where TPLF is acting as mercenary for western interest increasing regional instabilities. in any scenarios, TPLF is no longer a viable option.
There is no doubt that TPLF will fall, it is a matter of time, the eventuality of this should not be taken lightly, as such we must begin to think what kind of Ethiopia we wish to live in. There is more evidence and consensus among people as well as political leaders that Ethiopia will emerge stronger post-TPLF, provided Ethiopianist see Oromo’s peaceful protest as an opportunity rather than a threat. Failing to join the peaceful uprising by the unionist would undoubtedly lead to a catastrophic, a strategic mistake that will both derail the possibility of forming unified country and exacerbate the fragile nature of Ethiopia.
Skeptics may question this possibility of unified Ethiopia post-TPLF given our history and different political ideologies. It is indeed true history has not been kind to us, in fact, it has hindered the development of progressive state and allowed an opportunistic organization to emerge and dictated the term of Ethiopia without taking into account the history of all our people. Ethiopia’s definition changes based on who is in power, what it means to be Ethiopian under Haile Selassie is totally different than under TPLF, as well as Ethiopia’s history interpretations changes based on who is power. What it means to be Ethiopian post-TPLF will change as well, however, unlike the past where a narrow definition of Ethiopia is imposed on others, post-TPLF, the totality of our people’s experience, history, and contribution will be recognized.
Ethiopianist fear what Ethiopia may become, even fear whether it will even exist post-TPLF, knowing each regime that has taken power has manipulated Ethiopian history by championing narrow Ethiopia narrative to appease their power base to extend their rule. This has not only created conflict among peace loving people even after the demise of each regime but also created fertile ground for a dictatorship to reign thereafter. That is why many Ethiopian movements even with best of intentions had failed to transform themselves into ruling democratically once in power. The current Oromo revolt is not only about removing TPLF from power, but to end the rule of dictatorship, which would be a turning point in Ethiopian history.
As such the current Oromo revolt must be seen as a transformative process, that will lay a fertile ground for democracy. The participation of Ethiopianist in the current revolt is not only required to remove TPLF but also is a necessary step in post-TPLF democratic processes. If the unionists join in the struggle without delay, unity has already begun on a victorious ground in which all people had contributed to removing TPLF from power, alleviating the fear of returning to dictatorship post-TPLF. As such, a new beginning would in ensue, in which the people themselves take credit for removing TPLF from power laying seeds for representative democracy. Hence, a unified action will change Ethiopia’s trajectory, from which armed group had always claimed victory, in turn, subjected our people. Removal of TPLF through popular uprising will not only end tyrannical rule over our people but will change our people’s psyche, perception, that will undoubtedly deter undemocratic rule for generations to come, at the same time deploying a well-equipped citizens that develops itself through its own means and decide its own fate. A unionist joining peaceful struggle would only lead to a win-win situation despite the uncertainty of post-TPLF.
Many Ethiopianist indecisiveness to join the Oromo uprising claiming ethnic connotation and is in direct opposition to Ethiopianism would yield undesired results. While the current Oromo uprising was initiated in Oromia, at its core, it is a question of citizenship that all Ethiopian people have been yearning for. If the unionists make a joint effort in removing TPLF, the question of citizenship will be an integral part of our future. The new Ethiopia should be based on a constitution, sets of bills of rights that guarantees our citizens peace and prosperity. Basing Ethiopian unity solely on history and common bond will have disastrous consequences not only for current struggle but for the future. As such, unionist must accept and be ready to participate in the formation of new Ethiopia that is based on higher ideas that will continue to evolve with the needs of our citizens.
Another reason the unionist are hesitant to join the struggle is the demographic power of Oromo people threatens Ethiopian unity if TPLF is suddenly removed without placing some kind of political safeguard to protect against Ethiopian disintegration. The political safeguard Ethiopianist seek would have to be a bold, courageous act in themselves that will convey to other nation and nationality that Ethiopia unity extends far beyond one language, one flag, one history, as such Oromos being a the majority will make separation a difficult case to make. As a majority, even if it’s politically feasible, practically a very difficult task to ascertain secession. Therefore, it would be easier for Oromo people to rearrange Ethiopia in the way that brings peace and prosperity to all groups in the country than seek secession. However, if TPLF remains in power, the possibility of civil war are evident as internal colonization are already taking place. The expropriation of Ethiopian people’s resource, the rearrangement of internal boundaries without consent and the of selling fertile land to foreign companies will exacerbate people’s patients, as a matter of survival secession would be become the only option.
The Oromo peaceful movement has cracked and exposed TPLF’s vulnerabilities. To deal a final blow to this military dictatorship, we all need to stand in defiance against the regime. Our failure to do so will embolden TPLF further jeopardizing our people very existence. Is the fear of post-TPLF worse than living under TPLF rule? A new Ethiopia, without TPLF, is a risk worth taking.