Resignation of Ministers in Ethiopia

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Resignation of Ministers in Ethiopia This has led to the demand by the Sidama for separate statehood, a demand that has repeatedly been met with violence, political appeasement, and a range of other silencing manoeuvres. The move to remove the Sidama Zone Government from Hawassa and the bloody ‘altercation’ over the status of the city as a Sidama’s capital city has likewise been met with a range of measures including force until finally the federal government agreed that the city remains the capital of the Sidama Zone as well as of the SNNPRS. While the fiasco over the WOGAGODA project has led to the breakup of what used to be North Omo Zone into separate Zones (e.g. Wolayta, Dawro, and Gamo), there still remains the unanswered demand of the Gofa to have its own Zone (separate from the Gamo). To date, the Gamo’s quest for separate State—which some consider was more a cynical reaction to the Gofa demand for separate status as a Zone–is also unresponded to by the House of Federation. The failure to handle conflicts in the micro-federation of Derashe has led to bloodshed the wounds of which are still itching. The Menja (Yem) peoples’ demand for recognition and protection as a minority people, the Donga’s demand for the same in Kamabata-Tambaro, the Denta Budem kinchichila request, the Omo Valley (Omo Sheleqo) Woreda request for recognition as such, the Dale Woreda people’s quest to be reunited with their Sidamakins in the Sidama zone, the silent competition between the Gurage and the Mareqo over Walqite, the near total neglect of the entire peoples of South Omo (the Mursi, the Bodi, the Male, etc)—all these tensions remain unresolved. The demand for ethno-cultural justice (reacting to the legacy of imperial past), quest for autonomy and the right to difference (as in the case of the Silte from the Gurage, the Alaba from the Kamabata-Tambaro Zone, the Mareqo in Gurage, the Gofa from Gamo, the small groups in the Derashe Micro-Federation, the Shakka from Kafa, the Donga from the Kamabata, etc);the tensions in the Bench-Maji Zone (especially in relation to the rancorous relations between the ‘settlers’ and the ‘natives’)—all these issues reflect upon how the EPRDF—or its southern wing, SPDM—has governed the region and all the resentments people have with regard to these issues will inform the mentality of the voters. The extent to which these tensions are likely to explode will weigh on the balance between fear and anticipation in the region. The peoples of Markakis’s second frontier, i.e., the peoples of the eastern (Afar and Somali) and Western (Gambella and Benishangul-Gumuz) peripheries, are traditionally not ruled directly by EPRDF. But they have been governed by parties that closely work with the EPRDF and are called ‘affiliates’ as a result. These regions are not without their problems. The issue of land-grab and the military and economic violence (displacement, lack of consultation, compensation, etc, and forced labour in the place of resettlement) and the pain thereof still reverberates in the two states of the Western periphery. The ‘commune-building’ exercise of the state (also funded by a consortium of UN agencies as the ‘Developing Regional States[DRS] project) was merely a means of facilitating land grab by foreign and domestic investors). The unnecessary suffering that emerged out of that exercise is documented by international human rights agencies [21]. The invisibility in Ethiopia (in part because of the implicitly racialized definition of who is an Ethiopian and who is not);lack of autonomy in their own regions (chiefly because of the extreme interference by the so-called ‘Advisors’ of EPRDF); deficit in ethno-cultural justice, deficits in social justice in general as these peripheral regions generally suffer from chronic shortage of basic infrastructure (roads, hospitals, schools, clinics, etc) and lack of skilled man power; the tensions among the regions’ dominant groups (such as the Anyua and the Nuer in Gambella, or the Berta, the Gumuz, and the Shinasha in Benishangul-Gumuz) owing to competition over resources, power, and opportunities; the tensions between the local peoples and the peoples who having resettled from other places live in their territories (often referred to as ‘Highlanders,’ alias degegnoch in Amharic), the mismanagement of border disputes between them and the highland regions, especially Oromia, and Amhara, but also the SNNPRS; the spill over effect of developments in the Sudan and/or Southern Sudan (the dynamics of refugeeism across the borders), these problems and the (mis)handling of them will inform the electorate’s votes. However, given the fact that there was historically no politics in these regions thus far—the fact that there was only governance—might not lend itself to be assessed for how much hope or despair it will furnish this election. The Somali National Regional State, inhabiting the South Eastern periphery is one of the regions of the Frontier peoples, the Somali. Constituting the third most populous state in the country, and having been the locus of one of the oldest liberation movements in the region—ONLF; its peoples having suffered triple oppression under the Ethiopian empire; its sharing of borders with the dysfunctional state of Somalia, the unrecognized state of Somaliland, the weak and small state of Djibouti in the North, and the Somali-speaking peoples of the N Northern Frontier Province (NFP) of Kenya and therefore suffering the spill over effect of troubles that have their roots elsewhere; having never had a stable regional government with a turnout of 11 Presidents in the last 24 years; its people repeatedly expressing their aspiration for a separate statehood through the exercise of self-determination; it is a region that can be cited as a text book example of an underdeveloped and heavily beleaguered state. The fact that its leaders are co-opted into becoming a client under the patronage of federal authorities; the repression of the mass by the security forces [22], especially since Ethiopia’s intervention in Somalia in 2006 and the heavy military presence, especially in what are called ‘war zones’ (contrasted with the ‘peace zones’); and the massive under development of the region; aggravate the state of affairs in the region. Generally dry and ‘endowed’ with a hostile climate, it is also increasingly exposed to environmental degradation. It is also a region awash with small weapons and light arms. Lamentation of historic oppression in Ethiopia, poor economic infrastructure (roads, markets, water systems, schools , hospitals, transportation, internal network, institutions of government—never mind the rhetoric of excellent pro-pastoralist policies and the use of ‘mobile’ schools, etc), present securitization of identity and life in the region, the ever changing client-patron relationship between the federal and regional officials, the grievances over arbitrary arrest, detentions, disappearance, and gross injustice suffered under the army and the ‘Special Force’—these will definitely be on the mind of the electorate. The Afar shares most of the plight of the Somali National Regional State except the instability of government. In contrast to the Somali region where there is a high turnout of presidents, in the Afar region, we had only one president for the last 20 years. Ruled by a party that is ‘affiliated’ to the EPRDF, its regional government has a special client-patron relationship with the federal authorities. Common to these four peripheral regions and the Harari region (a city state carved as an enclave surrounded by Oromia) is their elite’s mistrust of the Ethiopian political class of the past, especially those who hail from the Amharic-speaking constituency. While they have a sufficient degree of disaffection with the way EPRDF ‘controls and disciplines’ them, they intuitively resist collaborating with centrist parties or leaders of the urban political class. EPRDF manipulates this fear of ‘the return of the past’ in order to keep these regions under its wings. While they continue to seek more (genuine) autonomy and more substantive power-sharing at the center under EPRDF, they are unwilling to collaborate with groups they perceive to take away the little semblance of (cultural and symbolic) autonomy they have under EPRDF. The centrist parties assumption of being one solid united polity collapses when it gets into these peripheral regions. The center-periphery cleavage, the north-south divide, becomes so clear when one observes the state-society relation in these regions and their imagination of the Ethiopian polity and their relationship with their ‘highlander’ compatriots. This indicates to us clearly that perhaps, we have yet to emerge into one electoral demos, or acknowledge the reality of plural demos, the demoi, in Ethiopia. In the meantime, considering the fact that these regions are regions of governance (i.e. spaces of crude rule) rather than politics, it is hardly possible to speak of the ‘mood’ as optimal or sub-optimal. But if politics is going to have its sway, like everywhere else, these, too could be spaces of resistance, spaces of voting to negate the regime in power, so that the populations can bring in their own story of suffering, to write a different story, to provide Ethiopia an alternative narrative that will form part of the exercise in constituting the Ethiopia yet to come. But for now, the snippets show that all is not well in the ‘polity’. There is more work to do than to win (or lose) election, be it this one or other. Having thus far considered these snippets about the ‘mood’ (first, through the political-legal context, next through the historical context, now through the social-civilizational context)—and having underscored that there is a lot more work to do in Ethiopia than go through the motion of election–we now turn to consideration of what the election means for the political parties taking part in the election.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has warned that new drought across parts of southern Ethiopia may put recovery efforts at risk, unless urgent efforts are made to shore up vulnerable households in rural areas. In a statement released on Tuesday, pastoral communities in these regions could suffer consequences of last year’s El Niño climate phenomenon, already witnessing forage shortfalls and water scarcity. Safeguarding recent gains requires responding to the livelihood-sustaining needs of fragile households that lost or sold livestock and other assets, to cope with the worst El Niño in modern history. displayAdvert("mpu_3") The organization is now calling for an immediate response to support the food security and nutrition of households relying on animals, along with the provision of supplementary animal feed, especially along migratory routes. Targeted de-stocking interventions will be implemented to make protein-rich meat available for vulnerable pastoral communities. 80 percent of the Ethiopian population depend on agriculture and livestock for their livelihoods and an even higher share of the country’s arable land relies on seasonal rainfall.
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