Society in Panic, Country in Uncertainty

Nov 7 , 2020
By Eden Sahle ( 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 )

It is ironic that many Ethiopians identify themselves as hospitable. The notion has hit a wall lately. Violence has become a periodic occurrence, leading to the loss of property, people and social capital that make up the foundation of the state.

It is under these circumstances that people woke up last Wednesday to the alarming news that the federal and Tigray regional governments will fight. Defense forces of the federal government were ordered to engage militarily with forces in the Tigray region following what Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) said was the move by the latter to take control of military assets of the Northern Command.

It seems that we are living in a nightmare, in persistent shock while some are losing their lives. Citizens have become heartbroken and anxious, becoming a danger to themselves and others.

The country, which has been starved of harmony, security and the rule of law at least since 2015 is fast losing whatever it has left. We are all finding it hard to settle into our usual routine, while citizens all across the country continue to lose their precious lives time and again.

The countless security failures continue to overlook the right to life –a constitutionally guaranteed right.

Where is the respect and dignity for human life? Where is the rule of law and peace we were promised? How come violence is allowed to thrive year after year? And why are the government and regional leaders continually failing at their most basic task of protecting people?

No one seems to know the solutions to the heinous crimes that are being committed against civilians. Confusion has erupted due to the unfulfilled promises for safety and peace.

Several non-nationals of Ethiopian origin I personally know have long started keeping their own and their families’ passports at hand so that they can immediately depart the country, leaving everything they have behind. No one feels safe or able to hope, for everything seems to be consumed with uncertainties and fear.

Our political leaders have been insistent that there is light at the end of the tunnel, that a better day is coming. Words cannot conceal realities, bring the diseased back or even meaningfully alleviate the pain felt by grieving families.

It may seem late at this point, but it is high time that leaders bring about a peaceful resolution to keep the public safe. The public is desperately seeking accountability and security as these are the foundations for democratic nation building.

Building a country requires people who have the freedom of life. It is only then that we can aspire to create a civilised and developed country.

The public must be provided support and protection when they need it from their government. This is the number one priority, beyond democracy or freedom. The political parties should know that they do not exist if the public does not as well.

Here dialogue and compromise is of the utmost importance as well. Those with state power should lead by example, showing a culture of discussion and constructive and respectful debates that value human life and disavow violence essential for the respect of human dignity.

Political leaders too need to take responsibility in encouraging the public to take in political developments with nuance. It is time for the government and all political parties to stop being led by their emotions but instead by the rule of law. The political leaders themselves should be able to work with one another if they want to earn the public's trust.

Political norms are highly influential in shaping public behaviour and social engagement. We need to understand that justice in any one place is dependent on justice in another place. With peace and security, justice should be the prerogative of a responsible government; otherwise, we will all lose..

PUBLISHED ON Nov 07,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1071]

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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