As far back as June 2018, I gave an interview to the BBC Somali Section and critically appraised Abiy and his change. While most people and commentators were enamored by Dr. Abiy’s oratory, sermon-like speeches, and pan-Ethiopian patriotism, I saw then a dark side of Dr. Abiy.
How did you see that, you may ask? Just a quick context: throughout the 1990s, while writing essays and columns for the now defunct Ethiopian Review based then at Los Angeles, l used to spend quarreling time with a lot of Ethiopians. We used to have heated debates.
Most of the time, I will be the only Somali and lowlander. It was then that I picked and learned code words for greater Ethiopia and the politics of pan-Ethiopian nationalism, or even chauvinism.
Words like the soul of Ethiopia (ya Itiyobiya li olawinet), the absolute unity of Ethiopia (ya Itiyobiya andenet fisuminat) are some of the code phrases you could hear uttered by the likes of the late Dr. Asarat (former leader of the All Amhara Party), Goshu Wolde (Leader of Madhin Party), and one Dr. Taye who in the 1980s headed Ethiopia’s teacher’s trade union.
The first time I heard Dr. Abiy speak, I was able to easily pick these highly charged phrases from his otherwise well-orchestrated speeches in Amharic. Also, my long-time residence in the US sensitized me to all the cleverly ways evangelists and priests use religious sermons for sending political messages, especially by right wing evangelists.
I saw both attributes in Dr. Abiy’s speeches. He was invoking nationalist sentiments by often delivering them in a sermon style. This combination mesmerized and disarmed people in need for a heavenly deliverance.
More than any group, Somalis fell for him. Somalis both inside the Ethiopian empire as well as those in the Federal Somali Republic gave in to the charms of Dr. Abiy. Often people like me were small minorities.
Today, the reality on the ground is different. I feel exonerated but not happy for all the hardship we have to again face.
The world is almost about to abandon Dr. Abiy. Traces of facts are emerging from key EU members who are thinking of cutting him lose. Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, and several other EU countries are already letting managed leaks go out regarding their disappointment with their earlier infatuation with Dr. Abiy. Also, some key US congressional members are speaking out publicly (see attachment bellow).
Not only did he lose the Oromo, but he is killing, torturing, and evicting them from their lands. Almost 2/3 of the OLF leadership is in jail. Other key Oromo leaders such as Jawer Mohamed Dr. Bakale Garba, and many more are in jail. The most vocal Amhara critic (Lidatu) is not only in jail but tortured severely.
According to one account, schools, community centers and even centers that used to deliver social services in Oromia region are converted into jails. The level of mayhem taking place in Oromo region within a short period of time is unprecedented in Ethiopia.
Is this something that should worry other groups, particularly Somalis? Where does the current reality place the pact between ONLF and OLF? These are not normal times in Ethiopia and as
such, no one should put their eggs in one basket.
The Somali region is still singing praise songs for the Prime Minister and his phantom “Prosperity Party.” They need to stop that.
What prosperity can one talk about when the soil of the countryside that used to give seeds and sustenance to the multitude is burning?
There is a need for the Somalis to do several small but decisive things that would help them sail through this tough time:
(1) Do not let Somali Liyo police be used in the current ongoing mayhem against Oromo.
(2) Distance yourself from Arat Killo (Palace) as much as possible and reclaim your federal status. You are primarily responsible for the welfare of your constituency.
(3) Strengthen internal cohesion and institutionalize your collaboration with all groups in the region while showing sympathy to those in the fire. Don’t make the theory of “history repeats itself” play out here where lack of unity pits one against another.
Faisal Roble: https://m.facebook.com/faisal.roble/posts/pcb.3298636330251941/