Major points discussed in the document include: federal system facing imminent threat; security measures contributing to rising public anxiety; high human and material cost in the recent ethnic conflicts; absence of rule of law prevalent; security crisis impacting the economy; diminishing foreign aid; crisis in the tourism industry and the country’s image; etc…
A document assessing the current security and political situation in Ethiopia and was presented at the National Security Council meeting, held on Friday Oct. 10/2017, revealed in detail that Ethiopia was currently confronted with alarming level of multi-front crisis.
The meeting was held at the office of PM Hailemariam Desalegn and was attended by Siraj Fegessa, Minister of defense and head of the National Security Council, General Samora Yenus, Chief of staff of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces and other high level federal intelligence and defense officials, Presidents of regional states and their security officials, as well as federal and regional state senior members of the police and the militia.
The document, which was jointly prepared by the country’s intelligence and defense officials, and was viewed exclusively by Addis Standard, reveals that the current security crisis, which was exacerbated by the prevalent of “absence of rule law”, was the most serious of all threats the country was facing as of late. It blames that ”lawlessness” and “dissent” were alarmingly taking national forms by expanding throughout the country, threatening the federal system. Such incidents, according to the document, were fueling public anxiety and loss of confidence in the government.
But the most disturbing detail in the document was the part in which it discussed the recent violence in several towns and villages within the Ethio-Somali and Oromia regional states, which resulted in the death of unknown numbers of civilians and displacement of hundreds of thousands of Oromos from the Ethio-Somali regional state as well as hundreds of Ethio-Somalis from towns in Oromia regional state.
The document described the situation as having “resulted in genocide and mass displacement of people; witnessed inhuman and atrocious killings of civilians; and created a moral and psychological scar among the victims.”
It further said that this incident revealed the presence and prevalence of an “unnamed terrorist organization” which “has not taken responsibility” for the crimes committed. “The people have lost trust in their constitutional right to move freely and live peacefully.”
The document also mentioned the proliferation of arms within the country and its nature in changing hands among various ‘agent provocateurs’. The combined effect of this was crippling the country’s security apparatus to discharge its constitutional duty because it was engaged in “putting conflicts sprouting in several places under control”.
Economy and Tourism
The economy is severely hurting, according the document, and the flow of foreign currency was drying. Foreign aid, too, was diminishing due to conditions attached to human rights abuses, and the country’s tourism was significantly affected and its image tainted.
But most alarmingly, the document admitted that domestic investment was facing heavy challenges and unprecedented level of capital flight by those who have already invested in the country was seen recently.
The economy was also affected by stockpiling of commodities as well as the proliferation of money laundering by increasing numbers of individuals; and it admitted that the country’s taxation system was unable to collect due taxes to help the economy, which was also hit by “illegal export of prohibited commodities” through organized illegal traders.
Blame on leadership
The document mentions Eritrea and Egypt as well as the presence of a coordinated cyber propaganda as fueling tensions within the country; but at the same time it puts the blame on the vulnerability of the political leadership and its inability to address public grievances in the last two and half years.
It also points fingers at the direct involvement of the leadership in recent conflicts. Instead of guiding the public and the youth to productive ways of live, it says, the leadership was involved in guiding them to dissent and destruction, immersing itself in a zero sum game. “The problem is political”, it says, and “it can only be solved politically.”
Joint command post/joint committee
But its recommendation is an establishment of a joint command post (sometimes referred in the document as mere “joint committee”) between the federal and regional security establishments.
The immediate aim of this joint command post/joint committee was highlighted in eight different points. This include the work that needed to be done to secure the free movement of people from places to places; securing major roads throughout the country on 24 hour bases of patrolling; bringing to justice those who were involved in recent conflicts; prohibiting of illegal rallies; rehabilitation of displaced Ethiopians back to their homes; strict control of anti-public armed forces; control of the movement of illegal arms, human trafficking as well as contraband trades; as well as strengthening of the security apparatus at every level.
This joint command post/joint committee, would be organizing a monthly joint meeting between federal and regional security establishment after/on the second week of every month; and it would be submitting its reports directly to the Prime Minister’s office.
Speaking at a press conference after the meeting, which last for several hours, Siraj Fegessa said that a consensus between federal and regional states was reached to coordinate the security establishment of both to tackle the growing security crisis.
“We have evaluated the security risk in the country which has been recurring since last year and we have prepared a detailed plan to control the situation,” Siraj was quoted by a local newspaper as saying . “We met with the stakeholders since we have to work together.”
Addis Standard received further information that there would be additional similar meetings to hammer out more details on the document, which was distributed as a working paper to everyone who participated in the meeting held at the PM’s office on Friday.