In months time Ethiopia, the second most populous country in Africa is going to have its fifth election. As one of the biggest democracies in the continent, Ethiopia has a lot to show to the world. Ethiopia has acquired significant experience from its past four elections. The 2005 election was one of the most free elections for the country to witness, although its aftermath was marred by bloodshed due to the insatiable nature of few opposition leaders, which led finally to their incarceration. The death of those innocent citizens is still regrettable and we will never forget them. Taking lessons from its predecessor the last election in 2010 was by far peaceful and exemplary. Election 2015 is also going to be one of the challenging events for the incumbent government. Compared to its predecessors this election is going to be fought mainly in the web than in the TV. More than any time supporters of the contending parties are drawing lines in the social medias. We are going to embrace a facebook revolution. For a significant period of time web related medias were monopolised by the opposition or their supporters. The tide seems to be reversing now with more and more government supporters voicing in the social media lately. Even the public demonstration by the diaspora which was exclusively perpetrated by the opposition is now shared by both sides. The silent majority seems to voice for the first time in years.
The Ethiopian government should allow a free and uninterrupted internet service throughout the election season. It shouldn’t be involved in acts of jamming and interrupting the web. What the government should do is to know how to use and exploit the untapped riches of the social network. It is true that some parties might use the opportunity for a seditious purpose. But EPRDF has no option other than dissuading these parties from their unconstitutional activities. But in doing so the vigilance towards terrorists and hacktivists should never be ebbing. Allowing free net by no means should be interpreted as a tacit agreement for thugs to ruin public safety. Ethiopia’s historic enemies will continue to try to disturb and harm the peace and stability of the nation. We might witness some unhealthy propaganda specially associated with inciting ethnic hatred by some countries in an attempt to black smear the election process. Fake accounts and nationalities will surface soon and they will try to add as many facebook friends as they can. Those who can speak our language will be engaged in attacking different ethnicities at one time, posing as belonging to one. Those who can’t understand our language will be active in creating rift in the laity. They will shout as if the religion they belong to is in attack and persecution.
It is going to be a challenging experience but as everything in life is, the road to success is not bed of flowers. It is to be or not to be. Either we have a free and fair election or none at all. The incumbent government has to be reformed in its ways of dealing with the opposition. No one can win tomorrow by the weapons of yesterday. It is time to lay balanced ground for the contending parties. As a party holding government’s office, EPRDF’s role in this election is significant. It has to demonstrate for the world once again how democratic it is. If officials in the higher offices are afraid of those few and ill prepared opposition leaders, then I suggest it should evaluate itself before it is too late.