The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) government has finally elected Dr. Abiy Ahmed as its new party Chairman to replace the outgoing Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. While Dr. Abiy’s election answers the question of who will replace Hailemariam, it also raises two other important questions: whether the replacement represents the usual trickery from the TPLF playbook, or is it a genuine effort by reformists within the regime to address the demands of the Ethiopian people? We will soon learn the answers to these questions.
In the last three years, there has been an internal struggle within the EPRDF between those who are bent on maintaining the status quo and those who want to upend the political system in response to the people’s demand for fundamental change. If Dr. Abiy’s ascendancy to the premiership represents a triumph for the reformist wing within EPRDF to bring about fundamental changes to peacefully transition Ethiopia from dictatorship to democracy, Patriotic Ginbot 7 (PG 7) will view it as a step in the right direction.
It’s no secret that Dr. Abiy’s election comes at a critical time in Ethiopian history. Currently, the country is engulfed by massive protests with people demanding freedom, justice, and respect for fundamental human rights, civil liberties and inclusive governance. In this process, enormous sacrifice has been paid by the Ethiopian people through thousands innocent lives lost and too much bloodshed, agony, and anguish. After all these sacrifices, it must be understood by all that the quest for real change towards a genuine democratic political order shall remain a non-negotiable factor. Any agent of change that does not address this fundamental truth will invite the people’s wrath upon himself.
As the elected chairman of EPRDF, it’s a foregone conclusion that Dr. Abiy will be sworn in as the next Prime Minister. If his premiership is to mean the triumph of reform within EPRDF, it’s imperative to set the right agenda for change and take the following concrete measures starting on day one:
- Release our comrade Andargachew Tsege and all political prisoners throughout the country without any pre-conditions;
- Revoke immediately the illegal and draconian State of Emergency and lift all restrictions on fundamental human rights and civil liberties;
- Stop the killing of civilians and restructure the security forces that have been committing the killings with impunity;
- Communicate a clear roadmap to convene a national conference of all stakeholders to discuss about the future all-inclusive transitional arrangement.
While applauding the initial success of the reformist group, we are also cognizant of the fact that there are still powerful elements within EPRDF that are not happy with the result of the election and we expect them to use the deep state within their control to stall and frustrate change. It’s necessary to keep an eye and stand guard against any such potential sabotage.
Since its inception, Patriotic Ginbot 7 has been operating under a firm principle of working collaboratively with change agents from any quarter as long as genuine democracy is their end game. At the same time, until the transition from dictatorship to democracy becomes a reality, we urge the Ethiopian people who have paid immense sacrifice to continue their determined and just struggle for freedom, justice, and democracy until victory.
Justice, liberty, and Unity for the people of Ethiopia!