State Building and Democratization in Africa: Faith, Hope, and Realities

By Kidane Mengisteab; Cyril Daddieh | Go to book overview

Chapter 10
Ethiopia: Missed Opportunities for Peaceful Democratic Process

MOHAMMED HASSEN

First and foremost, I believe only a successful democratization process will save Ethiopia from a vicious cycle of misery and destruction. I do not believe for a moment that the Tigrai People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and the organization it has created, the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Forces (EPRDF), which monopolizes the transitional government of Ethiopia, are so wise that they alone can plan and shape the democratization process and decide the destiny of 56 million people. Together with other opposition organizations, the EPRDF leaders can play a very decisive role in addressing the crucial issue of our time -- the democratization of Ethiopia -- thus securing their place in history. Second, following the collapse 1 of the Ethiopian state in 1991, democratization has become all the more indispensable for state building and institutional sources of its legitimacy. Democratization means "a highly complex process involving successive stages of transition, endurance and consolidation. This process ultimately leads to both institutionalization and consolidation of structures and conditions conducive to structural transformation" 2 and could change the Ethiopian state from being dominated by one ethnic group into the state of all its citizens. Only such a profound transformation will reconstitute the Ethiopian state into a legitimate sovereign authority, "[t]he accepted source of identity and the arena of politics, . . . the decision-making center of government," 3 and the institution that maintains law and order and enhances societal cohesion.

Third and most important, I sincerely believe in the freedom, liberty, fraternity, and unity of the peoples of Ethiopia. As an optimist who believes in the unity of free people in a free country, I have an undying dream that one day the Oromo, the Amhara, and Tigrai, and other peoples of Ethiopia will be able to establish a democratic federal system. To me only a genuine federal arrangement offers better prospect for the future of Ethiopia.

-233-

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