By Bereket Kidane,
In an interview with local journalists in late January, President Isaias Afwerki compared Ethiopia’s ruling party to a patient in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of a hospital and said that the country’s declaration of a State of Emergency was yet another futile attempt to put down an organic insurgency.
In remarks broadcast live on Eri-TV, President Isaias characterized the TPLF’s re-branding as the EPRDF a blatant attempt to divide Ethiopia along ethic lines and subjugate the population. Such efforts, he stated, amounted to little more than temporary pain-relief medication because they did not address the root cause of the country’s disease.
In his conversation with the media, President Isaias highlighted how nervous Western governments have long been playing the role of enabler to the TPLF regime. As a result, diplomatic circles in 2016 were reduced to biting their nails and watching helplessly as a “tsunami” of ethnic uprisings swept Ethiopia like wildfire, shaking the TPLF to the core and horrifying a panic-stricken West.
President Isaias recalled how in 1994 he was one of the first people to see the newly crafted Ethiopian constitution, designed to divide-and-conquer the Ethiopian State along ethnic lines, and how the very first thing that came to his mind was that the document read like a blueprint to disintegrate the Ethiopian State along ethnic and tribal lines.
President Isaias at the time registered his strong objection to the division of the Ethiopian polity along ethnic lines because he was convinced it would only balkanize the Ethiopian State over time but was told by the TPLF leadership, “You have your own world to deal with, let us deal with our own reality.”
President Isaias recalled how he was told by the TPLF leadership point blank that the only way the TPLF can control Ethiopia was if it divides it along ethnic lines.
Speaking of the Horn of Africa policies pursued by Western nations over the last 25 years, President Isaias said that even though Eritrea has suffered a lot due to its refusal to play along with the Western design on the region, the biggest casualties were borne by the Ethiopian people because the long-term damage done to the harmony and peaceful co-existence of the Ethiopian people as a result of the divide-and-conquer policies TPLF pursued (fully supported by the West) over the last two-and-half decades is incalculable.
As an example, he cited the open hostility and extreme hatred directed at ethnic Tigrayans in regions such as Amhara, Oromo, Afar and Somali. Tigrayans, for all intents and purposes, have become persona non grata in several kilils.
Regarding Eritrea’s participation in the Saudi-led anti-terrorism coalition, President Isaias said that it has been Eritrea’s wish for a long time now to see the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries assume a greater role in addressing terrorism and instability in our immediate region. Eritrea had been asking Saudi Arabia to play an expanded role in the region but her pleas were not met with action until the ascent of King Salman to the throne. King Salman’s strategic outlook on the region is very much aligned with Eritrea’s. A common understanding has been reached between Saudi Arabia and Eritrea on issues related to economics, security and diplomacy.
President Isaias compared the ethnic minority apartheid regime in Ethiopia to a patient in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) wing of the hospital. A better analogy perhaps may have been to a terminal cancer patient in a hospice and palliative care. It may take a few more months, but a priest will be called in to administer TPLF’s last rites.