Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed warned radical opposition parties not to confuse “patience” with “weakness” pointing out that the government has been patient despite the security challenges in areas like Wollega. We canvassed the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) to return to the country after thirty plus years, not to make Wollega a warzone, he added.
He said it yesterday, and this is one of his highly rated speech, during a meeting with nearly 3,700 elementary school, high school and preparatory school teachers drawn from across Ethiopia.
Teachers posed questions ranging from progress of work on the quality of education to benefits and security of teachers, especially in what have now become conflict zones in different parts of Ethiopia.
Conflict in different parts of the country is taking away the lives of teachers and destruction of their properties, teachers told the prime minister.
Regarding security matters Abiy Ahmed extended a call to radical opposition groups again to lay down their arms and ” to arm themselves with ideas only” while standing his ground firm that there will be consequence for those who want to act as government and those who intend “to become government in three to five months.”
Addressing to the critic laden question of “how many governments are there in Ethiopia,” and people are saying it, seemingly, in view of the activities and actions of OLF. “There is only one government in Ethiopia; the government that I lead,” Abiy Ahmed told participants of the meeting in a firm and assertive tone.
In what seem to be rather a show of confidence and control, he laughed at the allegation that his government is unable to govern the country. “Those of you who claim that the government is weak and unable to govern the country, what we can’t is detaining and torturing…otherwise, the whole world attested that we brought about change and have the capacity to lead,” said.
He specifically mentioned the situation in Wollega where a militant Oromo ethno-nationalist organization, Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) caused security challenges leading to closure of schools and other government services. It was only this week that the government announced that schools have re-opened in the region following measures by the Ethiopian defense forces – a situation that caused an outcry from supporters of OLF on grounds of alleged human rights violations.
As well, Abiy highlighted that his government went to a great length to enable OLF, which was based in Eritrea, to return the country on condition of commitment for “struggle between ideas” but the organization is, said Abiy, “fighting us from the back” forgetting all that.
Furthermore, the prime minister talked about the incident in Tigray this week which involved the blockage of members of Ethiopian defense forces who were commanded to withdraw from Zalambessa front and move to another parts of Ethiopia for a mission. The prime minister boldly told participants of the meeting that what has happened in Tigray is wrong. Citizens have all the right to know what the government is doing but they can not stop an army for “government has absolute power when it comes to moving troops from region to region without consultation based on defense need.” Yet, he assured Ethiopians in Tigray that the Ethiopian government and the people of Ethiopia will always stand in guard of Tigray if there happens to be a threat.
People from Zalambessa region of Tigray stopped government forces from leaving the area on alleged grounds of possible vulnerability of Tigray, which the prime minister dismissed as baseless.
Abiy also talked about skepticism towards relation between Ethiopia and Eritrea. For him, the relation is not between two leaders (him and Isayas Afeworki); it is between the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia, and that there is no secret agreement. As such, he said agreement is yet to be signed when dialogue is finalized, and there is joint-committee from both countries working on it.