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Assesing The Potential Ethnic Based Strife In Ethiopia

Ethiopian protesters running from tear gas fired by regime forces


By Haben Tekle

This paper implies for the anticipating incidence of popular uproar against the Ethiopian government in the coming weeks as it has been cited in the is all about a safety and security alert on the major citiesof Oromo and Amhara regions of the country issued by the Canadian government.Following to that alert US embassy in Addis Abebaimpose an alert for its own citizens claiming that a long standing grievances might erupted in the Amhara and Oromo cities.In addition to this embassies of several states including, UK and Germany further cautioned that protests could break out ‘with littlewarning and could turn violent. Since last year the potential case of the emergence of ethnically based violence all over Ethiopia becomes likelihood regardless security force’s effort in shielding it. The use of excessive force by police and security officials had been involved in the uprisings, but it failed on tackling the popular protest. That country is somehow predetermined to slide into ethnic tensions or strife in the coming weeks/ monthes. The Amharas and Oromos potential grievances against the Tigray-dominated federalist government reached in its highest stage.

The main cause of the ongoing public distrust towards the Ethiopian governmentis rooted on miscalculated approach of Max Weber definition of power.According toGerman sociologist Max Weber,power can take a variety of forms. Thus, class, status and party are each aspects of the distribution of power within a community. Thesetactics imposed on hijacking a power statuesque in Ethiopia by the Tigryans resulted on creating popular uproar all over Ethiopia.

TPLF cadres thanks toWeberian theory they have stayed in power for 26 years.Vis-à-visthepublicdistrust,TPLF’sfailure in holding powercan be shown;

A) In the social order through their status;

The strong Tigrayan role in the Ethiopian government aims at the drainage of power sharing with other ethnic groups specifically Amhara and Oromo people.There is critical disjuncture between Amhara social and economic power and their current political weakness.Resentful of their fall from power, suspicious of the current regime, distrustful of any attempts at inclusion, and possessing a mythologyof a “right to rule Ethiopia,” the Amhara are in a position to be mobilizedfor political action along ethnic lines.[1] Ethiopian’s particularly residing in United States and the Scandinavian countries are probably the most important source revenues and supportsfor the radical Amhara uprising.

Tigrayns suffered a lot by the “false consciousness” attitude created that totally does not accurately reflect their objective position. They may feel that they are treated fairly by TPLF leaders. But the reality is the worst, rural poverty is highlyfound in the famine-prone northern highlands (especially in parts of Tigray and Wollo)[2].

With a least cohesive leadership Oromoseemedremained silent towards regime change and in aiming to bringsignificant change in Ethiopian political system. But the late 2016 protest is an alert to the brutal regime that new generation of Oromo’s won’t ever obey.

B) In the political order through their party

Intra state conflict occurs as a result of the simplest form of ethnic competition.The country's politicalstability is fragile and it faces numerous domestic disputes.Since 1991, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary DemocraticFront (EPRDF), the currently ruling party has made an effort to open cabinet-level leadership and the composition of the army to other ethnic groups, but such measures are widely perceived as less than genuine. The government took on establishing “friendly” coalition parties to broaden its ethnic representation; however the ethnic parties do not represent their respective ethnic groups.The introduction of ethnic politics isbased on the adoption of the principle of self-determination up to secession.

OPDO (Oromo People’s Democratic Organization) viewed as suspicion by many Oromo because of its TPLF’s tilted policies. Nevertheless government’s repressive actions, the Oromo people win over in formulating a well-established resistance army that represent their own interests; that is Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). OLFfacilitateforthe overthrow of the Derg regimealongside the EPRDF.Ethiopia has up to 10 domestic armed rebellions, mainly in the regions of Oromia, Tigray, Amhara and Gambella. There is also long-standing rebel activity in the south-eastern state of Somali, also known as Ogaden.[3]

C) in theeconomic order through their class

Mismanagementon allocations of natural resource is the root cause of the weakened government and people relation. Thoughthe 1994 Ethiopian Constitutions prohibits politicalorganizations from engaging in profitmakingactivities, the public is keenly aware of the prominence engagement of TPLF with severalcorporations.According weber Economic power, then, is the ability to control material resources: to direct production, to monopolize accumulation andto dictate consumption.Most of the TPLF business concerns are reportedly under the supervisory umbrella of the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitationof Tigray (EFFORT) whose major divisions are headed by senior party members (Aynekulu, 1996a; 1996b; Anonymous, 1999). So that purposefully disproportionateamount of aid and loan has been directed to the Tigray region despite its failed remarkable result on the ground. The plan aimed at creating a Big Tigray appeared to be viewed by Non-Tigrayan populationwith a measure of distrust.

Some of the largest EPRDF/TPLFcompanies or their affiliates include: Agriculture (HiwotAgricultural Mechanization, Zeleke Agricultural Mechanization, Tesfa Livestock, Rahwa Goatand Sheep Export), Finance and Trade (Wegagen Bank, Africa Insurance, Guna Trading House, Ambassel Trading House, Dinsho Plc, Wondo Trading, Dedebit Credit and Savings Institution), Industry and Mining (Meskerem Investment, Ezana Mining,Sheba Tannery, Almeda Textiles and Garment, Addis Pharmaceuticals, Mesfin Industrial Engineering, Beruh Chemical, Dashen Brewery), Construction (Addis Construction, Sur Construction, Mesebo Building Materials),Transport (Trans-Ethiopia, Blue Nile Transport, ExpressTransit), and Service (Mega-NetCorporation, Experience Ethiopia Travel)[4].

Government’s central objective on creating revenue was galvanized by imposing imbalancedtax on small scale business. A substantial rise of taxes in personal and business resulted ontightenprotestall overEthiopia. Asa resultOromo and Amhara regions saw well organizedattack and destroy foreign-owned or TPLF affiliatedfarms and factories. Thismakes Ethiopiato remaindistinctly unattractive to private investment from abroad.

Finally itwon’tbe an easy task for the government to bargain on dealing the domestic demands. The right time for providing concrete solution for the publicquestis now.The late 2016 popular uprising should radically jarred TPLF’s thinking and triggered a fundamental reevaluation oftheirfederal system in order promote fair representation of political parties. The essence of radical reform clashes with government’s unwillingness in fulfilling it. Therefore, the outbreak of popular uprising will spark all over Ethiopia.


2 Berhanu Abegaz, Aid and Reform in Ethiopia, Department of Economics The College of William and Mary Williamsburg, VA 23187 (USA), August 1999, pg5
4 Other TPLF-affiliated NGOs that are active investors in the front companies include the Tigray Development Association (TDA) and the Relief Society of Tigray (REST). The rest are owned or co-owned by the other allied parties of the EPRDF coalition: Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), Oromo People Democratic Organization (OPDO), and South Ethiopia Peoples Democratic Movement (SEPDM).
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