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Dr. Abiy Ahmed is a Great Blessing but not the Last Miracle for Ethiopia

Over the last three years Ethiopia has been in constant political turmoil, ranging from Gondar and Oromia incidents to the Oromo-Somali confrontations in South-East Ethiopia, all the way to the Woldia-Kobo-Mersa violent demonstrations shook the country to its core. The unrest led to hundreds of deaths, mass displacements and destruction of property worth millions of dollars. Available data from the IOM (2018) indicate that the latest Ethiopian crisis generated 70 percent of internal displacement countrywide, while climate-related events (such as the El nino triggered drought) had generated approximately 29 percent; with the remaining 1 percent being as a result of other factors such as lack of economic opportunities.

As Ethiopia witnessed escalation of violence, there were legitimate fears of worsening political and ethnic fragmentation in the country. The country witnessed fast and worryingly high level of institutional degeneration. No doubt the state stared at a possible collapse under the weight of the uprising and ‘unmeasured’ state (security) responses

I took time to interact with many people from within and without Ethiopia over the crisis in which process I got to listen to many people speak about many things. Both pundits and pedestrians had something to say and/or complain about. That was content that filled my world. It was a little curious though to notice that most of the people I spoke to in this period seemed to have no clue about the best way Ethiopia could pull out of the mud hole. Not until the 'miracle' happened. 

The 'miracle' is the new (current) Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed. He is a good guy; intelligent, smart and handsome too. However, there are many other qualities hidden in him that seem to inspire hope in many sectors of society on prospects of recovery and a possible emergence of Ethiopia. I have reason to believe those who think that Ethiopia has a window of opportunity. This is a great blessing. Yes, Dr. Abiy is a great blessing for Ethiopia to have come at this time but certainly he is not the magic - the last miracle. 

In the sub-field of transitional justice, I would declare that Ethiopia is undergoing a transitional period. No wonder Ethiopian “prisoners” abroad are being released and Ethiopian diaspora is enthusiastic and optimistic, including the rise in opinion over the prospects to return. Few months ago, I would meet Ethiopians and talk to them about their country and many of them would express desperation, others would feel abused and mocked since their country was fast becoming an embarrassment. So, when I met some guys in northern Kenya, they whispered about how they wished to run away from the Kenyan camps into 'somewhere better.' They did not want to say this loudly but they wished to go abroad in search of better opportunities. That was sad. I hear those stories and quite frankly they pain me. No single soul should be made to desire to escape their homes in search of better life anywhere; we must learn to create opportunities for our people here and now. Ethiopia was failing and her sons and daughters, in their numbers were growing in despair. That was sad. 

But, you see, things have - drastically and quite swiftly so - changed. There is a wave of hope. The optimism of an average Ethiopian is palpable. I can feel it. So so, these days Ethiopians in those beautiful Ethiopian restaurants in Nairobi serve me coffee with their heads lifted high. By the way, I have an addiction to Ethiopian food - their ladies too! Both are beautiful but that is a story for some other time. 

Back to the crisis and political condition. This is what I have thought and said to myself and want to say it to Ethiopians and the world. Make no mistake, I have no problem at all with Dr. Abiy neither do I with the jubilation. After all, I have already said how smart and intelligent the new PM is. And he is experienced too. I am only optimistically cautious because I have seen people, including our neighbours in South Sudan spend more time celebrating until a window of transition passes by. 

The fact that the Ethiopian PM hails from the Oromia region that was the epicentre of the recent social and political unrest is strategic enough. In his inaugural speech Dr. Abiy set the tone for a new era of optimism in Ethiopia. His subsequent visits to hotpot areas, meetings with different sections of the population, and delivering energising and unifying speeches, has significantly reduced the tensions in the country and inspired new hope for social cohesion. 

Whichever way one may want to look at it, Dr. Abiy’s coming into power has created an atmosphere for possible structured and constructive dialogue on state formation and nation-building to take place. His openness to dialogue and overall peaceful and unifying messages are opportunities that various actors interested in the stability of Ethiopia must seize to promote greater social cohesion in the country. Although we are still waiting to see what tangible change he will bring, especially, in government appointments, fight against corruption and bureaucratic inefficiencies and opening democratic space for Ethiopians (which has been a dream).  It won’t be a walk in the park and this is the reason I am screaming this to the ears of my beloved people of Ethiopia: hear you peoples of Ethiopia, time for celebrating Abiy is over, get down to work. 
Dr. Abiy Ahmed is a Great Blessing but not the Last Miracle for Ethiopia  Dr. Abiy Ahmed is a Great Blessing but not the Last Miracle for Ethiopia Reviewed by Ibrahim Magara on May 28, 2018 Rating: 5

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