Ethiopia’s ruling coalition, EPRDF, has convened its 11th congress today in the southern Ethiopian city of Awasa. It will be the coalition’s first congress without the complete domination by its founding member, Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF). Until April this year, 3 of the four EPRDF member parties were puppets of TPLF. In April 2018, they have liberated themselves and the country from the TPLF minority ethnic apartheid tyranny and launched a breath-taking reform agenda that has placed Ethiopia on the path of reconciliation.
At the 11th congress in Awasa (aka Hawassa), EPRDF is expected to make personnel and policy changes. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen are expected to remain in the same position. Nothing much is known about what changes the EPRDF congress will make, but what the people of Ethiopia want is well known:
1. The name EPRDF is associated with gross injustice against the people of Ethiopia over the past 3 decades. It is, therefore, should be changed to reflect a different course that the party is trying to take.
2. Start the process of eradicating ethnic- and religion-based politics in Ethiopia, which is a cancer on our society. Ethiopia cannot be at peace as long as ethnic-based politics is allowed in the country.
3. Dismantle the current internal political map and replace it with an administrative map that is not based on ethnicity or language. The current map (kilil system) is a recipe for disaster. The kililis (regions) will be at each other’s throats, leading to a full-scale civil war eventually. Change the system before it is too late. There will be peace in Ethiopia when there is an understanding that every town, village, and city of Ethiopia belongs to all Ethiopians. OLF and others who call Ethiopians “settlers” in their own country are hate groups, not legitimate political parties.
4. Modify the constitution to change the governance from parliamentary to presidential system in order to unite Ethiopia under one leader who represents all Ethiopia, not just his district. Under the current system, for example, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed cannot be elected in every woreda (district) of Ethiopia. He just needs to win in his own woreda. Under a presidential system, he must seek the vote of all Ethiopians and win at least 51 percent of all the votes that are cast throughout the country. A parliamentary system such as the one we have in Ethiopia invites ethnic rivalry and causes endless inter-communal violence. A presidential system unites Ethiopia. Let’s learn from Nigeria’s experience. After Nigeria changed to a presidential system in 1999, the country has finally become politically stable.
5. To expedite the growth of the economy for the benefit of all Ethiopians, reduce income and business tax rates to 15 percent and sales tax to 5 percent. Eliminate sales tax (VAT) on food, medicine, school supplies, and industrial equipment and machinery.
6. Streamline the process of starting a business by allowing entrepreneurs to obtain a license in less than half a day from a single location. Currently, it takes at least 1 month to obtain a business license in Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s bureaucracy is so idiotic that it seems it was designed by someone who wants to keep the country poor in the world.
6. Remove visa requirements and tariffs between Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, and Sudan with the goal of creating a commonwealth of the Horn of Africa in mind.