The growing lawlessness of Addis Ababa Mayor Takele Uma

When the acting Mayor of Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa assumed office in July 2018, he came under a cloud of controversy. Some of the concerns that were loudly expressed include his narrow-minded views that are contrary to Ethiopianism, as well as his non-residence in Addis Ababa. Such concerns are trivial. A person needs to be judged by his actions, not where he was born or resides. Some of his critics are as parochial and as ethnocentric as they claim he is. When he came to the office, the speeches Takele was giving were inspiring and his decision to rescind the TPLF policy requiring residents to point out their ethnic background on identity cards has been praiseworthy. But he has done nothing else that is remarkably positive over the past 3 months. What he has been doing, instead, is not only mismanaging the city, but also violating the civil rights of its residents.

Under Takele’s administration, Addis Ababa is growing more dirty, more corrupt, and more lawless than ever, so much so that he is becoming a liability to the Abiy Administration and the reform movement that is currently underway in Ethiopia.

Some of Takele Uma’s blunders and misconducts
A couple of weeks ago, Takele and his police department have violated the civil and human rights of over 1,000 Addis Ababa youth by arbitrarily detaining and sending them to a concentration camp. They have not been charged with any crime. After an international outcry, they were released yesterday.

Officials of the City Administration under Takele Uma’s leadership attack street vendors and confiscate their merchandise. The officials who are committing such inhuman act take home the merchandise they rob from the poor, young street vendors. When the vendors ask for receipts, they are beaten up by police.

Transportation shortage in the City has gotten worse. Sometimes it takes 1 hour or more for residents to find taxi or bus to go to work.

Just two days ago, Takele has ordered his police department to arrest two distinguished human rights lawyers, Henok Aklilu and Mikael Melaku, and charged them with organizing Addis Ababa youth against his administration and questioning his eligibility to lead Addis Ababa as a non-resident. There is no law against such activities. The arrest of Henok and Mikael has shocked and outraged Ethiopian human rights activists in Ethiopia and around the world.

These days Takele Uma is acting more like a thug, not the mayor of a metropolis. Unless he reverses course, the Addis Ababa City Council needs to remove him before he does more damage.