In light of recent — and some times legitimate — criticisms that have been directed at Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, let’s review his accomplishments over the past 10 months:
1. He has removed TPLF from power without a full-scale civil war by forging a strategic alliance with Demeke Mekonnen and Gedu Andargachew of Amhara Democratic Party (ADP), formerly ANDM. The ODP-ADP alliance, which has saved Ethiopia from a civil war, is getting stronger, not weaker.
2. He has reunited the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC), one of the strongest pillars of Ethiopian unity. Reuniting and strengthening the EOTC means fortifying Ethiopian unity. EOTC has been a major target of attack for Ethiopia’s enemies for centuries. When Fascist Italy invaded Ethiopia, one of its first targets was the EOTC, as did the TPLF. Today in Ethiopia under PM Abiy leadership, EOTC is thriving once again.
3. He has emptied Ethiopian prisons from political prisoners. Currently in Ethiopia, there is no political prisoner, which is a big deal for a third world country.
4. He has removed restrictions on the independent press. Ethiopia today is one of the few countries where there is no journalist in prison. The status of the free press in Ethiopia is better than China, Singapore, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and many other countries. Last week, Mereja TV journalists were attacked in Legetafo town, but the federal government had nothing to do with the attack. The perpetrators were local rogue police officers and a youth mob that calls itself Qeerro, which is transforming from political activism to terrorism.
5. He has opened up the political space in Ethiopia, allowing Ethiopians to freely organize themselves or join any political or civic organization they choose. This has never happened in Ethiopian history.
6. He has made peace with all of Ethiopia’s neighbors.
7. He is bringing to justice human rights abusers who tormented and brutalized the people of Ethiopia over the past 27 years. Getachew Assefa is on the run.
8. He is bringing to justice corrupt government officials who pillaged and plundered Ethiopia over the past 27 years.
9. He has started liberalizing the Ethiopian economy, even though his economic reform is lagging behind the political reform.
Last year this time who would have thought all these changes would have come to Ethiopia in just 10 months. What Team Lema (Abiy, Lema, Demeke Mekonnen and Gedu Andargachew) have accomplished is nothing short of a miracle for our country.
While we criticize them for their shortcomings, let’s also not forget what they have achieved. Our criticism of Team Lema should be measured and thoughtful. From time to time, they may say or do things that we do not agree with, but we need to understand that they are leading a country with a diverse constituency. They are leading a political party, the Oromo Democratic Party (OPD), that is infested with members who are fanatic tribalists and some of them are anti-Ethiopian unity. Some times Team Lema needs to say or do things we don’t like in order to placate the narrow tribalists in ODP for the sake of peace. It takes a long time to heal Ethiopia. Let’s be patient.