Dear brothers and sisters, this report should inform you about the current government and the political situation in Ethiopia, our mission country. It is also appropriate to tell you briefly about the three governments that preceded the present one.
I am experiencing a fourth government reform in my short life. I was born in the time of Emperor Haile Selase, who oriented Ethiopia towards the West. Education was at the top of his government program. Accordingly, he sent a select elite to Europe for further educational purposes. The first group that had completed their studies returned and occupied the political and economic post in the capital Addis Ababa. Everything went according to the imperial plan. The next group of young people who studied in Europe was almost four times as many. These were not all chosen by the emperor himself, as was the case with the first group. There were young people who, even after their school and university achievements, found scholarships abroad. In these years there was a worldwide political upheaval in Europe. The so-called 68’s are known to many of us. The teachings of Mao, Marx and Lenin had a strong influence on the young people of that time in their thinking and acting. The communist ideas did not leave the Ethiopian students untouched. They founded the student movements in Europe and North America and headed for Ethiopia with their Marxist and Leninist ideas. They infiltrated and instrumentalized the youth, overthrew the emperor and paved the way for a Marxist military regime. The emperor abdicated after forty years of monarchical rule and died shortly thereafter. When the communist military government took over provisionally, the country was brutally controlled by the then Soviet Union. During its 17 years of rule, more than 2 million innocent, mostly young people died. Many students, like myself at the time, fled in the early stages and survived this murderous regime. When the Iron Curtain fell, they lost their power apparatus and the then general fled, leaving the country to the rebels from the Tigre and Eritrea tribes. Shortly after coming to power, Eritrea proclaimed its political independence and separated from Ethiopia. But it did not take long before Eritrea and the Tigres, who ruled Ethiopia, waged a bitter war over a piece of land that lay between the borders and became a battlefield for many Ethiopians. “When two elephants fight, the grass suffers.” That’s what they say in Ethiopia. It was a terrible slaughter for the Ethiopian people. The Eritreans have littered a 1 km long border area with countless mines. The inhabitants of this area got caught between the fronts. The Eritrean soldiers from the front and the Tigre soldiers drove them into the war field from behind. After the war was over, the ruling tribe began to oppress the other tribes and foment enmity between the ethnic groups. With corruption and outrageous greed, they plunged the country into an immeasurable, political and economic chaos. The prisons were full. The cost of living increased fourfold. After more than 23 years in power, the sole dictator and the head of this ruling elite died. This power apparatus could no longer govern. After 27 years of self-enrichment and thoughtless brutality, Ethiopia was destroyed in all areas of life. After the death of their leader, they fought among themselves to such an extent that within this party men seized the opportunity and founded new governments within the party. That is when Dr. Abey was elected president, which was a great answer to prayer for the country. He dismissed the members of the government who for years had abused and ruined the country for their own good.
Here the Bible verse I mentioned above comes into its own. “… Cush (i.e. Ethiopia) will stretch out its hands to God.” (Psalm 68:32b) In all these years of humiliation and brutal oppression, the people have not ceased to worship their God. Everyone, as he understood God, held out his hands to God and prayed. Today they experience a God-given, born-again Christian in power. His political speeches are like a sermon. He makes great decisions in fasting and prayer. His wife sings Christian songs in the church and at Christian events. Through his well-deserved Nobel Prize he receives worldwide recognition. He managed to make peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea with a biblical forgiveness. The Eritrean leader came to Ethiopia 25 years after Dr. Abey visited him in Eritrea and asked for forgiveness. Within Ethiopia, he systematically managed to calm the ethnic conflicts caused by the previous government. After two years of government, three assassinations were carried out against him. He survived all three. To arrange for the disempowerment of the previous government and to take over power was a miracle. Only through trust in God and prayer did he prevent further bloodshed among the people. In a parliamentary session he exposed the members of this government in such a way that they had no time to give an answer. His God knew when the right time and place was right. He asked the most powerful general to resign voluntarily. Which he did. There are other powerful men who were disempowered and left the capital Addis Ababa to flee to the country and go into hiding. They were sitting on a sure, unshakable cause, they thought. But God alone surprised them in his time. Desperate and perplexed at how they had lost their power, they stirred up unrest in the provinces. They showed solidarity with rebels from outside and tried to plunge the country into chaos in order to oust Dr. Abay. The three attacks were also financed by these groups. He has survived a lot. The Christians persevered for him with days of fasting and prayer without ceasing. Yes, Ethiopians have stretched out their hands to God, the Almighty has seen this and answered the prayers. As Moses stretched out his hands until the sun went down and defeated Joshua Amalek (Exodus 17:8-14).
At the moment there is a long fought peace in the land. Dr. Abey and his helpers took time to bring some ethnic groups back to their senses. He tried to appease tribal elders and conduct a reasonable dialogue. These are influenced by other power apparatuses with whom one could not have a dialogue. In the end, the parliamentarians made him use his military power to keep the country quiet. The military was loyal to him because he gave them his full attention in a guiding but also serving manner. He systematically ordered it to fight and arrest destroyers and bought terrorists everywhere. Mostly they were only bought and influenced with hate propaganda to create unrest. Basically they were not well organized rebels. They had no unit that could be controlled by a leading power. With the use of the military, Dr. Abey took all opponents by surprise. The surprise effect had helped him to take over the government even then. The rebels felt safe because they believed he only wanted to conduct dialogues with the tribal elders. Then he attacked and surprised everyone. They felt so sure of themselves that they even planned to take over the government and expropriate many people from the population and drive them from their homeland. Today large and small rebels are in prison. The country recovered very well with God’s help. Covid-19 also helped to leave the rest of the population behind, including the rebel sympathizers. This is a difficult beginning, but God will provide the means and ways to bring peace to the country. He will finish what he has started. That is my firm conviction.
Your missionary Shimeles Retta