Ireechaa unmasks government’s double standard (Kibour Sealam)

Ireechaa unmasks government’s double standard

Kibour Sealam 

Well ahead of the celebration of Damera, eve of the commemoration of the finding of the true cross, police warned the public not to use any flag other than the national one, or it pressed celebrants to use the flag which the FDRE Constitution has recognized. The intention of this decree looks like banning the public from flying the green, yellow and red flag that has no emblem at its middle (former flag).

Critical folks may have taken the decree as if the government was attempting to avoid the deepening of divisions, particularly among ultra-extremist individuals and groups, and it may have appeared to them the government devised mechanism to downscale tension by avoiding flag competition. The celebrations of Irrechaa and Meskel come in the same month of September that Damera occurs only a week in advance.

Security forces frowned against individuals who attempted to go contrary to the government’s decree of ‘banning the green, yellow and red flag, which lacks the emblem’ during the celebration of Damera, and some even said the forces detained several celebrants on account of using the former flag.
But the government has proved what could be termed as a double standard when its security forces tolerated the use of OLF flag during the celebration of Ireechaa, on Saturday. More than this, the government’s hypocrisy was clearly manifested when it allowed the display of what they said is Gada flag.

Saturday’s celebration of Irreechaa and the processions, by and large, at its eve including the rhetoric of Oromia State Vice President Shimeles, that ‘sounds an announcement of a break up of Oromo-Amhara coalition’, all proven the regimes sentiment of consolidating power, not a reform. Despite the theme of the celebration ‘Ireechaa, symbol of peace, love and unity’, what was fanned at Meskel square, in my view, had been political expression of their interests or simply a demonstration claiming an ownership of Addis Ababa, and show of force to warn the public. I could say nothing more, nothing less; the indigenous celebration was hijacked by Oromo political activists and those in the public leadership and used to their advantage. The broadcast of the state’s TV, OBN, and its news and programs’ angles were wrongly tailored to widen the gap particularly among residents of Addis and the People of Oromo.

The procession had also left us with confusion about the so called reform or change. The constitutionally guaranteed flag was entirely missing along the streets of Addis. Let’s say it is a popular celebration, not of the government, but the Deputy Mayor Takel’s administration could have put the national flag at least at major squares.

It is tough to justify why those wrongs have been allowed. This is an utter breach of laws. And it at least blurs what has been said as a reform. The people never accept another regime that undermines equality. And the double standards of the government must be condemned. The government and the City Administration of Addis Ababa have to explain why they did these and must ask apologies openly. Otherwise, the so called reform and change will be just a fiasco.

Working tirelessly to deepen the rifts among the people and to further push the people to rally along ethnic lines has incalculable costs. Indeed Ethiopians are paying in life now. The government admitted the death of at least 1200 people during the past year. But if unchecked its ramifications will soon visit the Horn. I don’t think the supports of few that go to ultra-ethno-nationalists will bring blessings in the end; it will degenerate into another headache to the international community.


Kibour Sealam, email: kibourselam@gmail.com

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