Differentiating fact from fiction-response to Jawar Mohammed

                                                   Tibebe Samuel Ferenji June 12, 2020

This is a response for the Africannews news report published on June 11, 2020.

In your News section of June 11, 2020, you published a “news” titled “Ethiopia govt exploiting pandemic to stay on ‘indefinitely’ – Jawar”. As a news organization, you have failed to fact check the allegation by Mr. Jawar and misled your readers who expect and balanced reporting. If you have checked your facts, you could have easily learned that the current Ethiopian government has no plan to stay in power, without the will of the people, indefinitely. You could have easily found out, that the Ethiopian House of Federation made a decision for the current federal government and all regional governments in Ethiopia to continue to govern until the next election takes place and a duly elected party takes over the government. In addition, if you made a little effort, you could have learned the House of Federation has put a time table when the election will be held. As a news organization, if you checked your facts, you could have challenged Mr. Jawar when he alleged the “Ethiopia govt. exploiting pandemic to stay on ‘indefinitely”.

It is necessary for your readers to know how and when the Ethiopian election was postponed. First, it is worth to note it is the National Ethiopian Election Board (NEEB), an independent institution, made the recommendation to postpone the election as a result of COVID-19. As the NEEB Chairperson, the Honorable Judge Birtukan Mideksssa, clearly indicated it would be difficult for NEEB to train thousands of election observers and prepare polling stations because COVID-19 has made it impossible for any form of public gatherings. As it is required by the constitution and mandated by related statute, NEEB submitted its recommendation in March 2020, and the Ethiopian House of Representatives, an institution that is vested with the power to make the decision, accepted NEEB’s recommendation and declared to postpone the election. This is the background of why the Ethiopia election is postponed.

At the time where every country is challenged to even provide the most basic public service, it is hard to believe, Jawar and the political organization he belongs to are making unnecessary noise and go as far as calling on their supporters to reject the current government after October 10, 2020. It is clear that these individuals don’t have an iota of care for the wellbeing of the people and the nation at large. Following this postponement, these noisemakers assumed they found a loophole to take over the government by falsely claiming that Ethiopia is in ‘constitutional crises’ and declaring the military, and the police should not accept any order from the government after October 10. Do these people sound like politicians who care about the people? Such a bizarre declaration comes out from politicians who do not have the best interest of the people at heart and only from those who care only about their power. These politicians care about hopping to the helm of the power by any means necessary except by the will of the people. Although they claim the current government’s action is illegal, they don’t tell us what legal authority gives them the right to demand to be part of a “transitional government”. It is with their evil intent Jawar and company demanded the current government to form “a transitional government”. These individuals have neither facts nor the law on their side. Because they lack any form of imagination, they began using the only political arsenal they have in their sleeves; which is to confuse, incite, lie, and scream false allegation in every media outlet they get.

A close reading of the Ethiopian constitution clearly has an answer to the question raised by many. It was never a crisis. To its credit, Abiy’s government solicited advice from a variety of scholars and held a hearing for about three days. It is after the conclusion of this hearing that the House of Federation made its decision. To be clear, Article 60(1) and Article 93 of the Ethiopian constitution gives sweeping and broad power to the governing party to lead the country at a time of a great crisis. It gives the government the ultimate power to declare State of Emergency pursuant to 93(1a) which states: The Council of Ministers of the Federal Government shall have the power to decree a state of emergency, should an external invasion, a break down of law and order which endangers the Constitutional order and which cannot be controlled by the regular law enforcement agencies and personnel, a natural disaster or an epidemic occur (emphasis added)”.

Jawar’s claim “So they exploited this divine intervention to do what they always wanted, stay in power as long as possible. Because they know, if the election is held, even if they try to rig it, they will be done”. This is laughable. With the exception of one political party in the opposition camp, there is no political organization in Ethiopia that has any policy and road map that can make it a contender in the coming election. When OLF leaders were asked what their policies are for the country, one high official indicated, OLF will form its policy after the election. How does a political organization compete in any election without having any public policy? The Oromo Federal Congress (OFC) an organization that Mr. Jawar recently joined, has no road map never formulated a public policy in its entire existence. Jawar thinks he is entitled to “rule” the country because he thinks he has “the power” to incite violence by calling on his supporters. Unfortunately, most of his supporters are children of poor peasants who engaged in violence and died so Mr. Jawar can use them to raise funds in Europe and the USA to support his luxurious lifestyle.  

Such morally depraved demagogue politicians are known to Ethiopians. They come out from under the rock hoping for the political wave to shift to their advantage, not through the election, but violence. They think they know everything but they know nothing. They feel they are entitled to rule, and they think the people’s voice is irrelevant. What they want is power and to abuse the power to their sole advantage, not to serve the public. Their deeds speak louder than their words. Mr. Jawar did not do anything for Oromos who were uprooted by ethnic conflicts. In October 2019, after Mr. Jawar called on his supporters to “defend” him falsely claiming that he was surrounded by the government, many of his supporters engaged in violence and caused the death of about 86 innocent citizens and untold property destruction. In the process of causing such mayhem, some of his supporters were also injured and killed. However, Mr. Jawar failed to show any concern for any of them and did not visit any of the injured in their hospital bed and did not visit the family of the dead. Instead, he traveled to Europe and the United States to raise funds in a campaign “dubbed Jawar 2020”. What is sad in this episode is Mr. Jawar is a citizen of the United States and he is not cleared by NEEB to run for election in Ethiopia. I find it incredible that this media gave a platform to a conman who is hell-bent to disrupt Ethiopia’s election and incite violence in Ethiopia.

It is preposterous for Dawud Ibsa, chairman of the Oromo Liberation Front, to tell AFP that the House of Federation vote “does not have any constitutional basis”. Such baseless assertion makes me wonder if politicians like Mr. Dawud and Jawar have ever read the Ethiopian constitution. If they have, it is clear they lack a clear understanding of the Ethiopian constitution    

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