I read an article on Daily Nation, Wednesday Feb.16, 2011 titled "Ethiopia's bold ethnic-based policies ended decades of bitter conflicts". For those who closely follow Ethiopia, ethnic conflicts in Eastern and Southern Ethiopia of Ogaden and Oromia region in fact have increased since TPLF/EPRDF consolidated its power in mid 1990s.
In the honeymoon years of early 1990s OLF the Oromo Liberation Front and ONLF the Ogaden National Liberation Front were part of the transition process in writing the constitution without popular participation that legalized ethnic federalism including cessation the first of its kind in Africa. The ruling TPLF which claims to represent the Tigray region knows very well that power only comes by controlling the rich natural resources of South Ethiopia. It has exclusively exploited these resources by organizing the TPLF ethnic wings like OPDO, ANDM, etc. These clients of TPLF have no popular support as it was proven on the stolen election of 2005 and 2010.
When OLF and ONLF challenged the TPLF regime in mid 1990s what they got was not ethnic empowerment the piece on this article claimed but ethnic total war on them and the people they claim represent. The Oromos and Somalis who do not subscribe to the TPLF ethnic domination were killed and imprisoned. The testimony for this ethnic barbarism can be found by visiting the largest Oromo and Somali's refugees all over the world.
TPLF/EPRDF ethnic based federalism is a way of ruling diverse countries like Ethiopia by building suspicion walls among people while the new rulers who are above any region/Kilil can exploit the rich natural resources of our country to enrich themselves. Fascist Italy tried it on its five year occupation of Ethiopia in the 1930s.Moreover, the two decades of such ethnic federalism brought us the few connected TPLFites who claim to represent the people of Tigray from Zero to tons of Wealth.
Foreign aid which is pumped to Ethiopia around two billion a year did not make any miracle for our people. More than ten million people are still on food aid. Hunger is the only thing which has no ethnic component in present day Ethiopia. It is an equalizer in all ethnic regions. The multi ethnic capital of Ethiopia Addis Ababa's population is now tripling because of hunger,rural poverty and displacement of farmers whose land is sold to foreign landlords as a source of fast cash for TPLF, The Lord of Ethnic Federalism. Addis which is a show case for our rich and famous ethnic rulers and those who come for false hope are living side by side. The homeless and beggars who are in hundreds of thousands hardly to miss for any visitor including the writer. They are multi ethnic casualties of ethnic federalism partly.
Make no mistake on the early years of ethnic federalism many poor Amharas were killed by TPLF ethnic wings and forced to leave the land their ancestors lived for centuries. TPLF/EPRDF had ignited its Hutu VS Tutsis war way before the Rwanda genocide. However, the Ethiopian people were not part of this war and ethnic cleansing on the level of Yugoslavia had failed to materialize.
This article rosy picture of ethnic federalism under TPLF/EPRDF has wisely avoided who the real power holder on the present day so called Federal Ethiopia. Power is on the hands of few people, TPLF who claim to represent the people of Tigray. The rest is pure ethnic cosmetics. The May 2005 election had given its verdict on this failed policy of ethnic federalism because it is neither ethnic nor federalism. It is power and resources for the very few and the people they claim representing are not even a beneficiary of this accumulation of power and wealth.
Ethiopia is a home of nations and nationalities and their aspiration to empower themselves in united Ethiopia has been hijacked since 1991. The million people march in May 2005 in Addis Ababa had made it clear for all that fifteen years of ethnic federalism experiment was rejected. Since then however Ethiopia is a prison for all those who want to rule themselves and empower their people in a free and transparent election. It is only in a country where people are free to assemble, speak and write can empower themselves by voting for accountable regime. Ethnic based federalism will be put for referendum in a democracy and what we have to do first,however, is remove the ethnic warlords from Ethiopia by multi ethnic mass uprising. Yes we can and we will !!!!