Ethiopia is slipping peacefully through several weeks without an official leader. EPRDF politicians are in battle for the position while the public is patiently waiting to learn a nomination of a figure. Although the ruling party tries its utmost to keep power skirmishes secret, information leaks day by day and reaches the virtual world. We have by now learnt the presence of competing EPRDF and TPLF groups that entertain alternative strategies for winning the position. Who will emerge victorious is unclear but history indicates the relative supremacy of groups who position themselves in fine tone with the military and security apparatuses. This is the rough truth in Africa, where the most 'muscular' take all and stay in power until their last breath.
This translates to the fact that TPLF might win the battle as they control the guns and the guys needed for very trying times. There is a possibility that they either take the position themselves or assign one but control all from behind the scene. Given the hitherto unknown and surprising assertive behavior of ANDM and OPDO being exercised now and the already clearly expressed wishes of the West particularly the US, TPLF may painfully take the second option- taking the vice PM position. And the so far obvious figure for the top position is Hailemariam Desalegn of Southern Ethiopia. If they go for option one, it indicates the clear strength of the TPLF even after the death of its architect and the lasting handicaps the other parties are suffering from. But the meeting of the EPRDF council (ምክር ቤት), which supposedly begins by tomorrow, is expected to give a final conclusion to the long-standing issue.
Whoever is allowed to take the seat, Ethiopians expect a serious shift in governance style and substance. The longevity and success of the new leadership is measured by and dependent upon its commitment to the formation and strengthening of democratic culture in all institutions. What we lack is institutions that have their own values and cultures that transcend the tastes of governing parties. We need an electorate board that shoulders well its mandate, to ensure absolutely free and fair election regardless of time and party composition. We need a university where faculty are entirely free to think and execute their duties. We need a justice system that squarely serves the poor, the rich, the urban, the rural, the politician, the farmer, and the prisoner. Simply the justice office must live its name. We need to see all political prisoners released without preconditions and in no time. We must see a flourishing and strong media world that is entirely free from censorship. We need to see local Ethiopians and the Diaspora work jointly and in a sustained way. Our military, the police and the security systems must stand in defense of the public and the constitution and not in defense of governing parties. Ethiopians must know and decide what is happening near and at our borders. Ethiopians must be hired based solely on merits and not affiliations. And there must be a governance system that ensures freedom, equality, and unity.
In sum, what we need to bother about is not individuals and even political parties; we have to fight for the establishment and strengthening of democratic institutions that work for and respect the rule of law. We are a nation having an age of over 3, 000 years but fail to establish these kind of institutions. Democratic institutions must define Ethiopia in the new millennium though, as they would bring us up to the level of being human. If we are able to create and sustain such institutions, it does not matter whether EPRDF/TPLF rules Ethiopia. Of course, demanding the establishment of genuine democratic governance may be a tall order for the ruling party, particularly for the TPLF. But they must understand that these are times when they have to choose between just two options: either to surrender or to offer.