From the US to Ethiopia, the Need for Accountability

Jan 16 , 2021
By Eden Sahle

We witnessed hitherto unthinkable violence erupting in Washington, DC at Capitol Hill on January 06, 2021. The violence was staged by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump who were attempting to somehow change the results of last year's election. Without proof, they claim that the election has been fraudulent. The sitting President not only gives ear to such baseless accusations but fanned the flames. In fact, he encouraged his supporters to march on that day since it was the fomalisation of President-elect Joe Biden’s election by the joint session of the US legislative houses.

The lawlessness that unfolded shocked the world. True, much of Donald Trump’s presidency over the past four years has been a showcase in how easily democracy can be eroded through time. But the storming of Capitol Hill presented an image of what Trump’s recklessness in office looks like: one of violence, fury and devastation.

Ethiopians know all about how toxic politics inspires violence. Many of our politicians have impressive educational backgrounds, lead a relatively privileged life and even have a good understanding of Ethiopia, even if selectively. And yet, they are reckless beyond belief and inspire our worst excesses.

Recently, my brother showed me a meme of a surprised dog holding a text that reads, “While we live with humans; humans could not live with their own kind.”

The perfect depiction of the painful reality in the world, no less in Ethiopia. The worst of it has come with the armed conflict in the northern part of the country, between the forces of the federal and Tigray regional states. The stories coming out of the region are heartbreaking, unthinkable to many just a few years ago.

But even these stories have not gotten the attention they deserve. Victimhood is acknowledged only if it supports the purposes of a certain political view. Take the example of the report that rape is being reported currently within the region. There were many that condemned it. But there were also too many whose response was that this is expected during conflict and that reports of rape were prevalent even before.

Society, through the consequences of politics or vice versa, endorses who is valued and who to generally disregard and hurt. Individuals are essentially told whom it is acceptable to dehumanise, hate and discriminate against. They are handed out licenses, which allow them to believe that they are more deserving and entitled of ownership to the country than the rest.

For any of us asking why violence in Ethiopia continues to be a jarring reality, America has just given us a clear answer. There is little out there to temper the toxicity.

Americans have more hope. It is a nation that prides itself with a democracy that has lasted over two centuries. They have independent democratic institutions that are a great deal more resilient to the barrages of attacks from an aspiring authoritarian.

We do not have an independent legal system. The one we have has not yet proven that no one is above the law. We do not have a vibrant free media that informs the truth and exposes wrongdoings with no fear of consequences.

This will not change until the government and politicians step up and do the hard work of learning how to trust one another. This should involve taking accountability for the state of the country. Too many leaders have come to blame their predecessors for all of the ills that surround their time in office.

Last week's incident in the United States is an excellent lesson in showing that sitting leaders should take full responsibility for everything that goes wrong. They are there to prevent it from happening in the first place. Just as much as they love to take credit for all of the good things going on, they should acknowledge that they have failed in some way when something goes awry.

PUBLISHED ON Jan 16,2021 [ VOL 21 , NO 1081]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at

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