Regime Change in Ethiopia via Mass Uprisings and Street Demonstrations: A Recipe for National Disaster
"There is a new and unique development in human history that is taking place around the world; it is unprecedented in reach and volume, and it is also the greatest threat to all global power structures: 'THE GLOBAL POLITICAL AWAKENING'[Andrew Gavin Marshall]
No doubt, the aforementioned 'new and unique historical development' has unfolded in North Africa and the Middle East since last January, 2011. This development which has engulfed almost all the Arab Region on both sides of the Red Sea from Morocco to Tunisia to Egypt, and from Yemen to Saudi Arabia to Bahrain has been sarcastically dubbed "THE ISLAMIC AWAKENING", and this new awakening has enabled the Arab masses to rise up against their long-reigning despotic rulers and tyrants, and to oust these deeply entrenched patriarchs from power in a matter of a few weeks and months. Unfortunately however, these mass uprisings and street demonstrations have not yet produced any stable and democratic government in any one of the affected countries; the flames of what are conveniently called 'pro-democracy movements' and 'revolutions' are still burning the socio-economic and political structures of these countries in turmoil. In fact, in Tunisia and Egypt the heretofore much dreaded fundamentalist Islamic groups such as theSalafist ENANDA Party and the MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD have emerged as decisive forces to shape the future of their respective countries along the path of Islamic theocracy or fundamentalist Islam; Libya has been hurled into internecine tribal conflicts raging all across the country with no end in sight; Yemen and Syria today resemble the ‘killing fields’ of the Pol Pot Regime of Cambodia in the 1970s. So, what is there to emulate from the experiences of these states, even if such copying were a feasible option, for us in Ethiopia in particular or in Sub-Saharan Africa in general? Nothing at all, except regime change for the sake of it or even a worse situation!.
Furthermore, there seems no end in sight to these civil wars, destructions and chaos in North African countries, and I am afraid, the 'revolutions' will continue like prairie fires wreaking immense havoc and hardship upon the target societies for a long time to come as numerous foreign powers have chosen to intervene and mess up the already chaotic situations by fretting to manipulate and gear the outcome to their own selfish economic and strategic interests under the guise of 'promoting democracy' in the Arab/Islamic world.
Strangely enough, some Ethiopian dissident groups also, unaware of the differences in the social structure, economic development, culture and political history between the Arabs and Ethiopians, are sounding the alarm signals of 'regime change in Ethiopia through mass uprisings and street demonstrations', as if any sub-Sahara African country could copy the North African experience in toto. This simplistic approach to complicated social malaise is absolutely hard to swallow. It is indeed absurd that the so-called EthiopianYouth National Movement (EYNM) has formulated and planned for mass uprisings and street demonstrations in Ethiopia to precipitate a peaceful regime change, not through periodic elections as stipulated in the FDRE Constitution but via mass uprisings and unconstitutional means, in a country that has never before seen any peaceful transitions or alternations of power over a period of a century of its existence as a centralized state. As we all know, Ethiopia's history of the past has always been that of political power changing hands through the barrel of the gun, and whichever group had military superiority held the scepter of state power; there has never been an institutionalized modus operandi of peaceful and democratic regime change. That is, and has been, Ethiopia's history from Emperors Tewodros to Yohannes, Menelik II to Haile Sellassie I and then from Haile Sellassie's monarchical rule to the Military Junta to the emergence of the EPRDF forces in 1991.
Whatever the merits or demerits of the aforementioned movements, certain salient points should be clearly and unambiguously raised and discussed for the good of the country. Yes, "the era of tyranny and despotism is coming to an end in nations across the globe and so to[o] must it end in Ethiopia", as well put by the EYNM. Yes, we Ethiopians should be able through our hard-won struggles to enjoy the fruits of democracy and freedom, and to partake of qualitative and quantitative access to the nation's economic and political resources .There is no question about that, and no controversy in this regard. What is questionable and controversial is why some Ethiopian circles agitate for regime change via unconstitutional means when they damn well know that multi-party electoral democracy is constitutionally guaranteed and four successive national elections have so far taken place in Ethiopia since 1995, however much they have been controversial and unpalatable to some circles. Above all, what pricks our minds deeply and saddens our hearts intensely is when Ethiopians appeal for alien assistance of intervention to realize democracy and freedom in their own country. If Ethiopians are not prepared to pay the ultimate price in their limbs and their property, and to put their lives on the line for the cause of democracy and freedom, political and civil liberties, and social and economic rights who is going to do that on their behalf? What is this plea for Western tutelage and clientele prostration? Where in the world has such regime change through the interventionist missions of the so-called ‘democracy promoters’ succeeded in implanting democracy worthy of the name? In Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya? Nowhere at all! What sort of generation has come to the forefront in the nation's political arena today? What has happened to our age-long national pride, passion and patriotism for independence and respect for our sovereignty? Do we sell our soul for Western tutelage and to obtain some crumbs from foreign powers, and hurl our nation into endless strife and turmoil? What a calamity in our nation's glorious history and proud heritage! All past generations of Ethiopians have always stood up for their rights and freedoms; they died in millions for the cause of the masses, and never invited foreigners to fight for their God-given and inalienable human rights. Here, it must be firmly asserted again and again that real democratic change will only come from within and not without; it is an organic growth in the process of social development. It cannot be imposed from outside; no street demonstrations and mass uprisings can bring about functioning democracy in a short period of time; democracy evolves over time and it exacts huge costs.
Above all, as Marxists and others familiar with popular movements have long recognized, revolutions are the result of the consummation or fulfillment of certain objective conditions or requisites. Indeed, no amount of agitation for mass uprisings and street demonstrations will provoke the masses to rise up against the status quo unless the latter can clearly make the cost-benefit judgments on their own and undoubtedly see massive benefits as the outcome of their bitter struggles. Yes, no amount of money promised to the people could force hundreds of thousands of people to leave their jobs, homes, schools, and families to confront heavily armed military or police and tanks and put their lives on the line unless they have a deeply felt and genuine motivation to take the risks, whatever the consequences. Nobody in his/her right mind can think that such a situation has unfolded in Ethiopia today. Besides, what strong political organizations or business conglomerates and civil society groups are there in Ethiopia today to articulate the topical mass-based issues of the day and to mobilize, sponsor and guide the masses to the ultimate victory, whatever that victory may be. Moreover, how can the EYNM or any other groups insure that the indomitable army and police forces are on the side of the dissident groups and the sponsors and leaders of these change seekers? After all, the military and police are the linchpin in making or breaking the outcome of such revolts and uprisings. Without considering all these factors or variables in the power equation, agitating for mass uprisings and street demonstrations in Ethiopia today is nothing less and nothing more than foolishly repeating the catastrophic CUD blunder during the 2005 national elections and thereafter. 'Those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them', as the saying goes. Such agitation for forceful regime change under the guise of peaceful mass protests and demonstrations is undoubtedly a recipe for national disaster that should be avoided at all costs.
Finally, Ethiopia today means many things to many groups and individuals. For some, it is a fast developing and democratizing developmental state. For some still, it is a democratizing and federalizing polity in the making. For others, it is an old Abyssinian empire-state that should be dismantled into its component parts, as the ONLF and OLF used to propagate. For others still, it is a fractured and fragmented polity held together by the iron hand rule of theTPLF-dominated EPRDF coalition, fractionalized along ethnic, tribal and clan/sub-clan lines wherein one ethnic group or tribal community or clan is pitted against each other for the sake of 'divide and rule' of the incumbent regime. Under these divergent and divisive political stances, it is quite dangerous to come up with crude prescriptions of regime change or any other political formulae. It would be wise to learn from the follies of Gorbachev before the demise of the USSR. He never imagined that his ideas of transforming the Soviet Union through his novel slogans of GLASNOST (Openness or transparency) and PERESTROIKA (restructuring) would trigger the disintegration of the USSR and the creation of 15 independent republics in its place. In spite of his relentless efforts to salvage the Union, it was too late to avert the catastrophe, to his deeply-felt regrets and lamentations later. It was like spilt milk, and gone for ever in the dustbin of tragic history. Let us think twice or thrice before we throw out silly and simplistic prescriptions such as 'regime change' under the prevailing circumstances in Ethiopia. It took the utmost wisdom and sacrifice of many far-sighted Ethiopians in 1991 to avert the crumbling of the Empire State into its component parts by agreeing on the reconfiguration of the Ethiopian State as a multi-ethnic federal state where all nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia can co-exist together in peace and harmony based on equality and the equitable sharing of the nation’s political and economic resources. It was this historic and note-worthy national consensus reached amongst the contending social forces in the wake of the demise of the military junta in 1991 that saved Ethiopia from the most dreaded fate of disintegration and destruction that befell the former Yugoslavia and the USSR, tearing them apart into numerous nations after untold bloodshed and misery suffered by these yet unstable peoples. Unless we somehow want that worst-case scenario to happen to Ethiopia nowand we all wish to go our own separate ways, agitation for regime change via unconstitutional methods is a recipe for national disaster. Let us not ‘scratch where it does not itch’ or try to ‘fix when we damn well know that it is not broke.’ Regime change through unconstitutional means is not an Ethiopian agenda but the agenda of Western Powers bent on manufacturing client regimes in the Third World that are pliable to the economic and strategic interests of their transnational corporations, MNCs and TNCs who make or break regimes in the Western World. All far-sighted, proud and patriotic Ethiopians at home and abroad will for sure fight in unison and strength to avoid such politically amateurish attempts at regime change in Ethiopia at all costs. Let us all stand united and do away with all parochial and destructive divisions amongst ourselves. For God and Our Country!