“Addis Ababa belongs to all of us”
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD)
Holding his second press conference since he came to power a year ago, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) gathered correspondents at the Office of the Prime Minister, which is located off Lorenzo Taezaz Street, for a lengthy two hours and 10 minutes briefing on current issues and his stay in Office for the past one year.
A rather calm and assertive Abiy spoke on various subjects ranging from the issue of Addis Ababa to security, and party issues including forging the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) into a single party and the Front’s member parties’ relations. And throughout his explanations, Abiy stayed consistently liberal in propagating freedom of speech.
While kicking off his explanation with the extension of the Housing and Population Census, Abiy said that the Census Commission which is led by Deputy PM Demeke Mekonnen decided with a majority vote to extend the census based on their issue analysis.
“The majority of the members of the council voted to extend the census. But, if there is any individual or a regional government, we have to allow them to say so. It is not right to bar them not to say a thing since it was decided,” Abiy said adding that, “We do not want all to clap their hands for decisions made here; that is what we were fade-up off in the past. What we want now is for individuals to express their personal views without any fear. Then implementing a common decision is a discipline.”
In addition, speaking of criticisms raised on his administration, he said that, “we have to feel happy if organizations or individuals expressed their thoughts via opposition. This is what I hungered for in the past years. I don’t want to repeat the time I buried my thoughts despite my eagerness to speak out. Anyone uncomfortable has to get out and say it out loud.”
Abiy also addressed the issue of Addis Ababa which grew to be contentious these days especially concerning belongingness. Abiy asserted that “Addis Ababa belongs to all of us.”
“What is the thought behind the question that Addis belongs to who? For instance, if I am implying that Addis is not yours while I say Addis Ababa is mine, it is a mistake. Saying Addis Ababa is mine is not a mistake by itself. But it is wrong if it is meant to say that it does not belong to others is wrong. Addis Ababa belongs to all of us,” he asserted.
Going further, Abiy said that, whenever discussing Addis Ababa, it is important to look into the historical background especially the formation of the Federation during which there were debates that Addis Ababa should be incorporated in the regional government of Oromia. But the constitution provides that as Addis Ababa is surrounded by Oromia regional towns and the city has a wide range of relations with these towns, the region shall enjoy special interest privilege.
“People entertaining this agenda are those who want to disrupt the current Ethiopian political direction by making us spend our time on irrelevant subjects,” adding that this could not be an agenda for the people of Addis Ababans.”