23 rough years of TPLF/EPRDF: The Reporter editorial acknowledges regime’s sins & inadequacies

31 May

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory
The Reporter: Suiting word to deed

Inasmuch as the EPRDF’s successes during its 23-year incumbency deserve recognition, the shortcomings which characterized its administration also need to be addressed lest it is not lulled into a sense of complacency. We are motivated by nothing else but a fervent desire to see a stable and peaceful Ethiopia when we bring up the EPRDF’s shortcomings. After all, citizens who genuinely wish our country to be democratic and prosperous have to be able to engage in a frank dialogue on all subjects if we are to move forward as a nation.

The application of freedom of expression, human rights and democracy in present-day Ethiopia still leaves much to be desired. The promise the EPRDF made 23 years ago that the country’s transition to democracy would be anchored in these pillars of democracy has not come to be realized as yet. This is why we reiterate on every chance we get that the people of Ethiopia must be allowed to enjoy freely their inalienable rights that are enshrined in the constitution. Freedom of expression, human rights and democracy are not luxuries; they are inalienable necessities.

In Africa, the governments of South Africa (after apartheid) and Rwanda (after the genocide), which came to power not much later than the EPRDF, have a better track record in this regard than the EPRDF. And the number of African countries which are mentioned in a positive light in various human rights and democracy report on Africa is on the rise as is the rank of countries which conduct democratic elections. The EPRDF, however, always faces criticisms in these areas. Sadly, its response to such criticisms is not always convincing.

Regardless of whether it subscribes to the Revolutionary Democracy or Developmental State political ideology, the EPRDF ought not to have put these three fundamental matters in the backburner. It is when due attention is accorded to facilitating the conditions which allow a democratic society to thrive that stability, peace as well as inclusive and sustainable growth can be ensured. Growth, which is not underpinned by democracy, cannot bring about a holistic change.

Although the EPRDF has acknowledged several times that bad governance and corruption are the biggest challenges facing Ethiopia and that it is committed to taking the necessary remedial steps, the problems still persist. The reason behind this sad state of affairs is the absence of accountability and transparency at all levels of government structures.

Citizens can participate more in the affairs of their country when they are able to express their views freely and when their human and democratic rights are respected. The contribution that such citizens make to their country’s cause is immeasurable. On the contrary, the suppression and infringement of rights is bound to lead to instability and a reversal of the gains made thus far. Hence, the EPRDF owes citizens a constitutionally imposed obligation to give the same level of attention to defending their rights as it has to economic growth. This is the only way that a democratic society can be built in Ethiopia.

The mixed record of Ethiopia over the past 23 years needs to change. While the efforts under way to eradicate the poverty that has shamed the nation before the world have to be stepped up, ensuring respect for fundamental rights, which are the building blocks in the process of crafting a democratic order, requires the utmost attention. Therefore, it is incumbent on the EPRDF to suit to action the promise 23 years ago. It is only then – and then only – that the aspirations of the Ethiopian people can achieve some substance.

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