Abadir M. Ibrahim
Something was awry at a hearing of the High Court of Ethiopia on July 6, 2015. As the much anticipated conviction of Muslim civil society leaders (Abubaker Ahmed and 17 others) was underway, it was clear that this was no ordinary trial. Security was beefed up, the public gallery was crowded and the atmosphere was tense. A significant amount of time was spent with the court presenting a detailed defense of the government’s policies on counterterrorism and Muslim-state relations. The court also defended the state’s imposition of the Ahbash sect and, in an odd twist, compared the Ahbash sect to Zoroastrianism in Iran. Given how much time was spent on defending the government’s positions, the morning session made it feel as if the Ethiopian state was on trial and not the other way around.
Much to the expectation of curious spectators of Ethiopia’s current political affairs, the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) claimed a 100% win in the last general election held on May 24th 2015. When seen against the party’s own record since the first national election in 1995; the thinning global trend of an electoral tale of a 100% wins; and for lack of a better word, the current victory to the ruling EPRDF can safely be termed as nothing but “historic”.
During the military Derg regime of the ‘70s and ‘80s, when the motto of the day was “Everything to the Warfront,” Abitew Kebede, a prominent Afaan Oromo singer and song writer of the era was serving in the army. Abitew’s song Yannikoo, Afaan Oromo for ‘my thoughts’, which he wrote for his mother, first came out in the ‘80s and became an instant hit.