Weyane’s EPRDF dismantling Ethiopia

From: Brhane Woldu <wbwoldu_at_gmail.com_at_dehai.org>
Date: Fri, 11 Mar 2016 19:01:49 +0300

By: Berhane Woldu

To build a Nation State in Africa has done little advancement. The
continuum has been endless conflict, bloodshed and the misery that it has
brought on the innocent population. This is true in today’s Ethiopia.
Abyssinians with expansion subjugated the indigenous population making them
subject of the empire. Empire building in Ethiopia started with Emperor
Tewodros of Gonder who ended the Ages of princes and ruled from 1855 to
1868 succeeded by Emperor Yohannes IV of Tigraye; followed by Menelik of
Shoa who started the invasion to the south specifically the Oromo.

According to Bahru Zewde Economic origins of the state of Ethiopia; King of
Shoa Menelik in 1886 conquered the western section from Blue Nile River to
Illubabor crossed over the Awash River and invaded the southern plateau of
Arsi Oromo and the city of Harar. Abyssinian expansion was interrupted by
the Italian invasion in 1895. Menelik supported by peasant army and three
Oromo contingents defeated the Italians in 1896. The expansion resumed
furiously and the subjugation of Oromo was completed with Kaffa falling in
1897. Abyssinians moved to the lowlands and advanced to the west Beni
Shangul Gumuz Southwest to Gambella and northern shore of Lake Turkana
South Boranaland and then annexed the Ogaden in the southeast securing the
boundary Ethiopia has today. The Ethiopian colonial expansion resulted in
mass killings, destruction, looting, enslavement and genocide. Menelik died
in 1913 leaving one daughter who later became Queen Zewditu. Her son Lij
–Yasue who was heir to the throne son of King Mikael of the Wollo Oromo
never succeeded to the throne due to his Oromo ancestry. Ras Tafari
Makonnen who had hatched a conspiracy to deprive Lij Yasue became King of
Kings Imperial ruler of Ethiopia in 1930 taking the throne name Haile
Selassie. King Haile Selassie with European advisors was able to some
extent to modernize Ethiopia. After the Italians were ousted in 1943 the
Amhara regime was challenged by their Abyssinian brothers. Tigray nobles’
waged fierce battles lasting several months with heavy casualties adding
Tigray resentment against the Amhara regime. Ethiopia was rearranged
geographically into thirteen provinces Arsi, Bale, Begemdior, Gojjam, Gemu
Gofa, Hararge, Illubabor, Kaffa, Shoa, Sidamo, Tigray, Wallega and Wollo.

Spencer: Ethiopia at bay states; In 1943 Emperor Haile Selassie
centralizing his power formed Councils of Ministers who were people from
Shoa as advisors to the Throne. Laws and practice were influenced by the
Orthodox Christian Churches of Abyssinia hence the Muslim Community which
constitutes 50 % of the population were never mentioned, Penal Code, Courts
Proclamation of 1962 and Procedural Code of 1965 actually nullified Muslim
customary laws. In 1955 the Constitution was revised giving Emperor Haile
Selassie the “Sovereignty of the Empire’. Emperor Haile Selassie feared
ethnic and cultural diversity of the periphery subject of the Empire. The
Emperor imposed homogenization cultural and linguistic unification. To
ascertain National Integration Amharigna the dominant language was used and
the indigenous to become Amhara. Amharigna “a written language, Amhara a
superior religion and superior customs” rejected the other languages and
culture as undignified. The peripheries were governed by the
“neftegna-gabbar” system; supervised by “balabbat” and resources were
extracted from the periphery to the Abyssinians. Abyssinian
Center-periphery dynamics remained stable. Haile Selassie modernized the
state structure making it an apparatus for peripheries control and resource
extraction promoting socio-economic changes bringing highland periphery
into integration. The center domination and forced cultural assimilation
was resented and become a reason for forceful opposition leading to
reminiscent revolution.

The 1974 Revolution dismayed the country and swept away the material and
social foundation of the Emperor’s regime replacing it with a socialist
ideology. Ethiopian nationalism equality among all nationalities and land
to the teller was the revolution’s driving force with mottoes of “Unity and
Ethiopia First”. The Military leaders “Derge” restoring control over the
periphery was a priority in re-building the Nation State. Ethiopia Tikdem
meant to modernize the imperial provinces by replacing imperial officialdom
by new blood educated Veterans of the Student Movement later to be replaced
by political cadres who reached deeper into the rural society creating the
Kebele as State administration. The new classes of state administrators
were heterogeneous; Abyssinian’s remained dominant, supplemented by
recruitment from the highland and lowland periphery and with the beginnings
of Muslim participation. Regional autonomy for nationalities “sprit of
Socialism” was promises made by the Derge; the Amharistaion of the
peripheries was not opposed. Military service, the state education system
urban growth and economic activity strengthened “Amharigna as a lingua
franca” supported by internal migration demographic change and
villagisation scheme brought some integration. Nevertheless no concessions
were made to the “Nationality question” instead the Derge saw centralized
state as the guarantor of sovereignty. Which gave way to insurgent
movements Tigraye (TPLF), Oromo, (OLF,SALF), Sidama (SLM), Afar (ALF)
Somalia (ONLF,WSLF, SALF) as a Nationalist movements which brought about
rupture and the end of the Marxist Military rule.

The TPLF after converting its military prisoners of different nationalities
into Nationalist movement formed the EPRDF which gave it legitimacy as the
redeemer of Ethiopia. The EPRDF marched deep into Oromo territory denying
the OLF any territorial gain and marched into Addis Ababa invited all
nationalities to a conference it was then agreed that Ethiopia will be
governed as a Federal State where by nationalities will administer their
own affair within their defined border. Political mobilization and
reconstruction was underway to replace the Derge remnants and secure
control. Prisoners of war who were recruited and trained as EPRDF cadre
returned to their ancestral home set up ethnic political affiliates and
become the administrators. Redesigning the Nation administration based on
nationality Regional Self-Government divided into ethnic units The EPRDF
encouraged ethnic fission. Basing language, identity and a common
psychological make –up EPRDF divided Ethiopia into fourteen regions.
Putting Amharigna speaking into one region, Oromo, Afar, and Somali each
have their own region. None Oromo in the south were divided into five
different regions. The Gambella and Beni-Shangul district upgraded as
regions with no official regional map issued. A large number of Amhara,
Oromo and Gurage people displaced now live out of their region. Even though
the regions were supposedly granted full measure of self-government region
balance did not change. The center was dominant. The Central government
took in 84% of all domestic revenue and 91% aggregate revenue and foreign
aid. The regions are deficit-redden and with no hope of self-sufficiency or
development. To make things worse the EPRDF government stared to lease
low-land peripheries for cheap at $200.00/per hectare, free ground water,
cheap labour, duty free export and other incentives displacing population
and land being managed by the Center. EPRDF controlled conglomerates became
biggest investors in the country, amassing manufacturing assets, urban
construction sector, financial and service enterprises dominate the
economy. The EPRDF army became the national defense force and key TPLF
figures became the power holders of the upper echelon of the military and
security posts. TPLF was the undisputed first among equals holder of key
posts in the party and the state under Federalism. The Abyssinian Tigray
elite continue to rule giving the administrative job to the elite in the
periphery with no political integration. Ethiopian Nationalist opposed to
Federalism became force of opposition creating split in the Abyssinians and
the political process negated the promise of equitable center/periphery
power sharing exposing the true colure of EPRDF. EPRDF is not ready to
accept equitable power sharing with the periphery and to equitably
distribute national resources. The process of integration in the Lowland
peripheries lags many years behind and exploration of indigenous resources
is a destabilizing factor especially in Somali.

Federalism was the savior to the widespread prolonged and violent political
conflict that had brought Ethiopia to disintegrate and crumple. To the
contrary EPRDF’s federalism; its land policy has preserved the supremacy of
the center with the same arrangement “corps of center and peripheral
elite.” Denial of political integration has become the cause of mushrooming
Nationalist movements. The EPRDF’s policy of land confiscation of “highland
periphery” awarding to the land starved Abyssinian is the major cause of
the present upheavals in the Oromo region. EPRDF Abyssinians have not
departed from the past like their fathers they are the Imperial rulers
subjugating the Highland and lowland peripheries the end result being the
third rapture that will disintegrate Ethiopia.
Received on Fri Mar 11 2016 - 11:01:48 EST

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