‘Ethiopia is in transition defined by no clear direction’: Tsadkan Gebretensae
Former Chief of Staff of the Ethiopian Army, Lieutenant General Tsadkan Gebretensae, said despite some positive developments and reforms being instituted by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the country is still in transition defined by no clear direction at all. “Ethiopia is passing through a time of political transition, one that cannot and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Serious works are required to ensure a smooth and inclusive transition, sustain the process of reform and ensure its proper implementation,” he said in an interview with Walta Information.
Ten months after the inauguration of Abiy Ahmed, a viable and new sense of direction about the future of the country has yet to emerge, he said. “The party in power and opposition parties should come up with a clear road map that shows where we are heading and what steps to take to arrive to the destination. If there is already one, they should let us know about it. Otherwise, people would be at a loss about the country’s direction and destiny.
“If there is not yet, it should be drafted, not as a way to satisfy one group or another but in an inclusive manner, by participating opposition groups and the public,” Tsadkan said speaking in Amharic.
In wide range interview with Walta TV, the Tigrayan commander of the Ethiopian Army during the late 1990’s and who later established and headed the Centre for Policy Research and Dialogue lauded Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s political and economic reforms. “I wouldn’t in any way underestimate the significance of the peaceful change of order the country has experienced,” he said referring to the coming to power of Abiy on April 2018, after the departure of his predecessor following widespread protests.
“I have been warning about the danger of the regime’s authoritarianism and state brutality and ways to come out of that conundrum,” he said referring to the article he penned three years ago . “Consequent events showed things were much worse than my diagnosis, the regime reached the brink of collapse, paving the way for current administration.
“I should say now the way that change occurred was really extraordinary. I could not think of any other better path for the transition. The scale of the problem, the risk for chaos, disorder was too big. The signs were ominous. Did the country has the capacity to resist the shock of forced and violent overthrow of the regime? Probably no. But the risk was there, for the country to fall in a state of disintegration,”
Tsadkan Gebretensae also said there are still some thorny issues to be addressed, in areas such as in the central government’s rapport with the Tigray region. “There are some alarming things happening. Hate politics has become legitimacy cause. Considering the damage done against the people in other regions by the old guards, some of the reaction and feeling of resentment is expected. However, when a road leading to Tigray region was blocked by demands in relation to Raya identity issue, it was baffling to see that the central government keping quiet about it.”
Tsdakan also said, whether justifiably or not, there is a strong feeling in the region that Tigray people were excluded by Abiy Ahmed in peace with Eritrea. “This is sensitive issue in Tigray because of the unprecedented scale of destruction the previous war wrought. The muddled nature of peace with Eritrea and the shuttle diplomacy has left people in the region concerned. The Prime Minister should not ignore this fact,” he said.