Friday, September 9, 2016

Ethiopia's Tsadkan Gebre Tensae Initiates Important Discussion on Future of Country

Tsadkan Gebre Tensae, Chief of the General Staff of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces from 1991 to 2001, one of the founders of the TPLF and confidant of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi until their falling out early in this century, submitted in July a comprehensive paper to HornAffairs Amharic whose title translated as "The Political Conditions of Our Country and Recommendations." This is one of the most important critiques of governance in Ethiopia since 1991 because of the person who wrote it, the fact that he remains in Ethiopia, and the general thoughtfulness of the paper. It launched a discussion among Ethiopians that continues to the present day. The paper and comments about it should also be read by non-Ethiopians who are interested in Ethiopia and want to see it succeed as a country. HornAffairs English published an abridged version of General Tsadkan's paper on 4 August 2016.

General Tsadkan argues that the fuzzy boundary between the EPRDF and the government is one of the major problems facing the political system. He is concerned about the lack of a check and balance system and calls for a more level political playing field. He urges that Ethiopia hold free, fair, regular, democratic elections with independent international observers. He is critical of some elements of the economic system but ambivalent about the theory that should guide Ethiopia except that he does not believe the neo-liberal political economy is a viable option. He concludes that Ethiopia is at a crossroads.

Professor Messay Kebede, who has been at the University of Dayton since 1998, provided one of the first and most articulate responses to General Tsadkan's paper in a review submitted to Ethiomedia on 28 July 2016.

General Tsadkan then responded to Messay Kebede on 31 July 2016 in an English-language submission to HornAffairs English.

To its credit, the EPRDF has allowed this discussion to continue. It will be even more important if it takes the discussion seriously.

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