Barely two months into his new job as a Prime Minister, Dr Abiy Ahmed has managed to simultaneously excite and alarm pretty much everybody. In Ethiopian political leadership, this is no small feat, where offending the public has been the norm than the exception. During his judiciously sequenced marathon cross-country check-up, he delivered a cautious message in the west while hitting a conciliatory tone in the east. In the capital, Addis Abeba, he forcefully challenged the youth and business owners to “do their fair share.” Yes, his bid to steer away from the political landmines got him some troubles, generating an instant fury on the front lines of social media, but many seem to get over it quickly.
Perhaps the most drastic of all changes so far is the announcement on Tuesday of the two major policy shifts: Eritrea and the economy, which need separate reflections. All of these happened in just two months. Of course, it is not yet the same as Lenin’s “there are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen.” However, given the fact that a few months ago the country seemed on the verge of catastrophe, incremental as one might think of these changes, the steps the new prime minister endeavors are laudable and praiseworthy.
The intricate challenges facing the new prime minister are overwhelming. Among the challenges that hold the PM’s immediate attention are the tasks of deconstructing the political, economic and social narratives, structures and institutions. The primary approaches employed by the TPLF dominated ruling party EPRDF over the last three decades have been divisive and polarizing. By inflating identity and manipulating real and imaginary historical events, the ruling cliques have created walls between the country’s diverse ethnic groups as a strategy to consolidate and monopolize power, both political and economic. Deconstructing institutions and replacing them with an inclusive structure could take some time. However, at least in his speeches Prime Minister Abiy has already given priority to deconstructing these divisive narratives. […] CONTINUE READING