Ethiopia has been going through, major accomplishments and grand measures since 2022. From the recent inauguration of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) partial power generation to the successful deliberation of the African Union summit to the release of political prisoners and the preparation of the national dialogue, things are taking turns for the better in the country.
These grand happenings lifted the lead on the real situation of the country while marking a new era of economic and political optimism. Ethiopia’s participation in the European Union, African Union summit through its Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has also helped the country to restore its diplomatic presence on the world stage and clear the mud thrown into the country due to propaganda and disinformation. It was on the heels of the hallmark events that the Prime Minister faced lawmakers on Tuesday.
The MPs asked the Premier tough questions ranging from economy to politics and diplomacy. The House began its session by appreciating and recognizing Prime Minister Abiy’s role in halting TPLF’s advance. The parliamentarians lauded Abiy’s leadership right from battlegrounds which gave Ethiopian forces a crucial triumph over the ragtag TPLF group.
The campaign led by the Commander-In-Chief liberated string of towns in less than two weeks. The Prime Minister reciprocated by hailing the House for its solidarity and encouragement.
Addressing questions related to economic matters, the premier said, the Ethiopian economy has proven to be resilient even in times of war. He urged economists to further study the potential of the Ethiopian economy. But for him, the homegrown economic reform has played a significant role in sustaining economic growth amidst challenges. “Homegrown economic reform has drawn miraculous results.
The first is introducing new currency notes that made thieves and forgers out of the system. Capital market inception and structural changes in the finance sector contributed to the acceleration of the financial and business sector. Oil supply has also been changed in a way that subsidized the poor but the rich should be served by the international market. The other factor is the unique way we led agriculture. We took the agriculture seriously equally to the war.” The premier mentioned some of the
challenges that the government faced because of the war. “Whenever there is war, donors refuse to release the money they pledge for various projects. War also distracts the leadership not to give total focus on the economy.
So, executing planned projects on time and within a given budget was tough. Developmental projects will be delayed due to these reasons. In addition, displacement, looting, killings, rape, and psychological sufferings of war made the wartime economy very difficult. Other challenges such as drought and COVID-19 also challenged the economy. Accordingly, we had to lead the export sector with a special team.
We have also worked extensive work on agriculture, tourism and showed good performance on projects works.” The premier stressed the need for significant macroeconomic measures as budget imbalance is still apparent. Encouragement of local production, saving culture and reduction of imports, developing are among things the government and the people should work on to have control on export and import balance and the economy in general.
Despite, Ethiopia’s succeeded in maintaining its economic growth; the premier admitted inflation has made the livelihoods of people very difficult. Inflation is created due to various reasons. “Our country’s major challenge is inflation, which manifests itself in rising food costs. It has a number of factors, including COVID’s impacts, increases in fertilizer costs, and consumer and market discrepancies. Population growth has induced the rise of demand. So, we should somehow control population growth.
If not, it would be difficult to fulfill the demands of everyone. The other is an imbalance of supply and demand. Agriculture and the economy, in general, are growing but not as demanded. We need to take steps to prevent businesses from stockpiling key commodities, and boost consumer confidence while seeking to keep costs down.” Ethiopia however has a long way to go in terms of preventing corruption.
According to the premier, corruption and grudgebearing are the very reasons that contributed to Ethiopia’s downhill journey. Hence, the government will strengthen corruption prevention mechanisms including supporting investigative journalism to be done by media. “Extra bureaucratic hurdles create a loophole for bribe givers. Bribe giver creates bribe-takers and bribe-takers create extra bureaucracy and delay work.
This is how the vicious circle continues. We still have a long way to go in terms of preventing corruption. Investigative journalism is encouraged, and those who steal should be held accountable. We are also performing evaluations that will continue strengthened.” Relatively speaking, the Prime Minister faced difficult questions in political matters.
Questions related to the release of prisoners, TPLF’s attacks in Afar, OLF Shene’s case, national dialogue, the possibility of negotiation, and Ethiopia’s diplomacy status made Premier Abiy to take time and give illustrations. As for him, Ethiopia should pursue cautious, wise, and more advantageous ways of protecting the nation’s existence and its interests. At the juncture of addressing the reasons for the recent release of prisoners, the premier called on people to embrace forgiveness and practice civilized politics. “We must be cautious not to fall prey to the enemy’s scheme.
Forgiveness should be practiced at a national level. All we have to do now is look beyond the past. We released the prisoners for three reasons: to bring lasting peace, taking into consideration the overall situation of the prisoners, and to consolidate our victory. In a war, there is no such thing as a total triumph. When one party wins combat while the other party is momentarily defeated, this is known as a temporary victory.
In turn, the defeated party would resurrect and assault. As a result, true triumph necessitates victory in the realm of peace. This decision has greatly helped Ethiopia. We must not compromise on decisions for the lasting good of the country.” Speaking of negotiation, the prime minister asserted that there hasn’t been negotiation up to this time but underscored Ethiopia’s readiness to explore every peaceful means possible. “There has been no negotiation yet. This does not rule out the possibility of discussions.
Negotiation is a method of identifying problem-solving options. We have been betrayed in the process of winning the war and making efforts to rebuild acknowledging that the region is also part of our country. We did everything we could to make peace a possibility.” He also talked about preparation for national dialogue and its significance.
“Negotiation is the upcoming all-inclusive national consultation. The Commissioners of the newly constituted National Dialogue Commission have simply been given the task of coming up with proposals; the Ethiopian people will make the final decisions. However, we should not be a country that remains at odds with the concept of consultation and dialogue.” The premier said Ethiopia would collectively respond to TPLF as an attack on Amhara and Afar is an attack against all Ethiopians. “When one part is injured, the entire country suffers. At this time, the international community has no grounds to accuse Ethiopia. It’s worth noting, though, that the attack is an attempt to hinder humanitarian aid.
To alleviate the situation, the federal government is working closely with the regional government of Afar.” Addressing the question raised concerning Shene, the Prime minister said the insurgent group OLF Shene is looting, killing innocent people, and causing destruction of properties and displacement of masses.
The premier expressed his confusion over the goal and need of OLF Shene. Therefore, as the government responded by force to the group, it also realized the need to have candid discussions with communities that are giving hide to the group. “Shene is a group that does not have a political end game and does not respect the sacred human life.
Although security forces are deployed throughout the area, Shene avoids engaging in direct combat but rather slaughters innocent people. They appear strengthened since they had found a lot of trainers and hide amongst communities. We need to approach the communities, hold discussions and work out solutions.” Commenting on Ethiopia’s diplomatic status, the Prime minister said, Ethiopia would cooperate with countries in the region or any country in the world on the basis of mutual benefit. “America is a friendly nation.
They have interests and we have interests as well. So, we will talk, discuss and work together for mutual benefit. That is the solution. We will work together. This is the solution and should be noted this way.” Ethiopia’s interest in the Abay River and its relation with Egypt and Sudan will be treated the same way. “Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt have the right to utilize the Nile River without causing harm to one another. The dam has begun generating power without obstructing the flow of the River Abay to the downstream countries.
Ethiopia is committed to a winwin approach in harnessing the shared resource.” Speaking of the Ethio-Eritrea relation, Abiy said, “Eritreans are brotherly people. We share the same values and lifestyles.
We will work to strengthen our ties as we will do with other neighboring countries.” Lastly, the Premier vowed to discuss and work together with the parliamentarians and political parties.
Overall, Prime Minister Abiy asserted as Ethiopia emerged victorious despite the war, international pressure and natural disasters weighed on its shoulders. Ethiopia’s immense potential can be tapped if its people choose togetherness and dared to solve problems through discussion and dialogue, Abiy added.
BY KFLEEYESUS ABEBE
The Ethiopian 24 February 2022