Anti-Government Protest In Ethiopia

Ademola Olayiwola

The anti-government protest on 26 October in central Ethiopia has left about ten people dead. This latest protest, which took place in Ambo town, also left 20 people seriously injured and destroyed some private properties, after the Ethiopian regime forces (Agazi) arrived in the city.

The United States embassy in Ethiopia has described the latest round of violent clashes in Oromia’s Ambo as “deeply disturbing”. The European Union (EU), together with the US, has called on the government to respect the right of protesters and to open up the political space. Although the country is regarded as an economic giant in the East Africa region, it has been accused by international rights groups of being unnecessarily high-handed in dealing with protesters and political opponents.

Protests or demonstrations have been instrumental to the emergence of freedoms that now exist in liberal democracies. But we cannot ignore the fact that even in a complete democratic state or society, it is common that protest is allowed so long as it doesn’t have much impact due to rising corruption and inefficiency of ruling government. Once protests on a massive scale develop in way that threatens powerful and dominant interest groups, police or military forces are brought to bear against it. Hence, the government of Ethiopia should make the country more liberal.

Prior to the recent anti-government protest, a special police unit fired live rounds to scatter protesters who had blocked roads. The latest round of protest was due to shortages of sugar in the country. During the protest, the demonstrators blocked the town-main road and the trucks belonging to the national sugar company, sparking clashes with the police. The Ambo located in the Oromia region was the heartbeat of spreading anti-government protests in late 2015 and part of last year.

The incessant clash between the Ethiopia forces and the protesters is a manifestation of the country’s dire need to undertake political reforms and respect the rights of political opponents. We should follow non-violent ways of protest and demand for rights in a peaceful way, then Africa and the entire world will be termed as a realistic democratic state.

In conclusion, in the world we live in today, fanatics resort to guns and bombs to express their opinion but if protests are non-violent—as rare as that is—we should appreciate and embrace them for the betterment of our future. No matter what part of the world we live in, we should live by the ideas of democracy, peace and justice.