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By Yohannes Gebresellasie (Ph.d)
The issue, expression and state of democracy is relative. Winston Churchill, the late former British prime Minister from (1940-1945) was famous for his inspiring speech regarding democracy. On 11th November 1947 his remark regarding democracy goes like this “Many forms of government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe.
No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all worst. If I have to sum up the immediate future of democratic politics in a single word, I should say “insurance”. That is the future insurance against dangers from scarcely less grave and much more near and constant which threatens us here at home in our own inland”.
Different governments exercise acceptable democratic state and thus, they are considered as civilized democratic republic. That means there is no such perfect democracy anywhere. On the other hand however, this does not mean that governments and alike do not have to strive to achieve what is considered basic, fundamental, acceptable, reliable and that encompasses and fulfills standard and civilized democratic norms and citizenship rights to their people as much as possible. Churchill interpreted the idea of democracy giving reference to the common person that casts his/her vote during the election day having no pressure from anybody what so ever as follows: “At the bottom of all the tribute paid to democracy is the little man walking into the little booth with a little pencil, making a little cross on a little bit of paper – no amount of rhetoric in voluminous discussion can possibly diminish the overwhelming importance of that point.
How is that word of democracy to be interpreted? Churchill’s idea was that the plain, humble common man, just the ordinary man who keeps a wife and family who goes off to fight for his country when it is in trouble, goes to the poll at the appropriate time and puts his cross on the ballot paper showing the candidate he wishes to be elected to parliament that he is the foundation of democracy. And it is also essential to this foundation that this man or woman should do this without fear and without any form of intimidation or victimization. He marks his ballot paper in strict secrecy and then elects representatives and together decides what government or even in times of stress, what form of government they wish to have in their country. According to Churchill, if that is democracy, he salutes it, responses it and works for it.
Since the downfall of the former dictatorial military regime and despite internal as well as external provocations and conspiracies, Ethiopia continues to maintain agreeable and relative peace, stability and embark on civilized norms and values of democratization, good governance and sustainable development. Although those norms and values can take long time to be fully implemented, from the very outset, the Ethiopian government formulated a constitution that guarantees equality for all nations, nationalities and peoples of the nation.
The constitution guarantees freedom of speech, expression in all aspects, ways and means. There are different independent newspapers with variety of views within the country expressing different social, economic and political views and addressing different issues. Also, there are different political parties operating with different political agendas within the parliament of Ethiopia. Generally, the Ethiopian people have by and large been enjoying relative peace, stability and the fruits of democratic values and norms since this current government came to power over twenty-five years ago. It is to be recalled that these fundamental rights of citizens were absent during the former regimes.
Recent election where over millions of Ethiopians cast their votes to the parties they wished is but one demonstration where the Ethiopian people exercised their democratic rights and responsibilities. During the last elections, many international observers including the renowned Carter Center and over thirty-five thousand local observers declared that the elections were free, fair and democratic.
Democratic nations follow rather strictly, only democratic and legal ways and means to resolve problems that may arise during social or political disagreements and this was the trend that should be followed by some opposition party members to resolve problem arising from the recent unfavorable demonstrations and disturbances in some areas of our nation. However, some extremist individuals and groups located in foreign countries are using tax-payers money to destroy every peaceful democratic of the Ethiopian people thus far gained by choosing violent ways and means instead of peaceful dialogue for achieving their objective i.e. to grasp power by every means including through violence and anarchy.
Further, some extremist leadership have made their number one priority to try to convince the international community that there is no democracy in Ethiopia or that the government is reversing the democratic process in Ethiopia and therefore the international community should penalize the country by denying economic assistance etc.
All these allegations by some internal and external extremist leadership against the government of Ethiopia is simply nonsense. It is non-sense because democracy is a matter of survival and not a matter of choice to the Ethiopian people.
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