Houston Forum for Democracy in Ethiopia (HFDE)
An Open Letter to His Excellency Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed
Let us begin by saying congratulations on your election as prime minister of our great nation, Ethiopia. It was with true excitement and great Ethiopian pride that we at Houston forum for Democracy in Ethiopia (HFDE) watched your captivating inauguration speech on April 2, 2018. That mesmerizing speech of yours that focused on the sacrifices and positive achievements of our noble ancestors and your challenge of the current generation to do better was quite refreshing and a break from decades of government propaganda pitting one group of people against another. And your meticulous follow up actions and other public speeches during the last two months to change the political culture at the top obliged us to write this unusual appreciation letter to the head of a regime that we have been denouncing for decades for inflicting so much havoc against its own people.
Thanks to the thousands of brave Ethiopians who have sacrificed their precious lives for change, the country appears to be changing before our eyes. Your dramatic appearance as head of the Ethiopian state has brought more integrity, transparency, credibility and magnanimity to the highest office in the land.
Moreover, your commendable decision to release most of the political prisoners, negotiate the release of thousands of Ethiopians jailed in neighboring countries, replace key military and civilian leaders, lift the state of emergency and call for national dialogue may have successfully averted what could have easily become one of the most gloomy and tumultuous periods in Ethiopian history. That said, however, we realize nothing is out of the woods. There are still thousands of political prisoners languishing in hundreds of unknown prisons across the country and thousands of our citizens are being displaced from their farm lands by ethnic demagogues in apparent ethnic cleansing that continued unabated to this day.
We commend you and the progressive wing of the ruling party for beginning the process of sanitizing the Ethiopian political culture and implore on you to call on all political and civic organizations and stakeholders in the country and Diaspora and have a dialogue with them to set the course for a democratic transition in Ethiopia.
The importance of lifting the repressive press law, respect for human rights, independent judiciary, building a more multi-ethnic leadership in the military and armed forces, re-examining faulty elements in the country’s constitution by forming a constitutional convention, re-evaluating the 1992 top-down imposed carving up of ethno-linguistic regions without citizens’ full participation and consent, and the establishment of strong civic societies cannot be overstated as overarching and crosscutting parameters to implement the rule of law
and to build an all-inclusive, cohesive, democratic and multi-ethnic Ethiopia.
In closing, we pray for your wisdom and courage to carefully surf through the delicate political terrain to shape the country’s future for posterity. Too many opportunities to set Ethiopia on the right course of democratic governance have been squandered during the last 50+ years and may God help us not to blow-up this one again.
Dr. Mesfin Genanaw, Chairman
Houston Forum for Democracy in Ethiopia
CC: The FDRE Government
Communication Affairs Office
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia