Abiy Ahmed, Ph.D., a front runner to replace Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia who resigned from premiership recently, appears to recommend meditation in an old video.
We tried to get an original transcript but we couldn't get a hold of it. So we tried transcribe from the video. We apologize for the abundance of "unintelligible". If you can make out the words, let us know. We are open to make amendments. The video is at the bottom.
Questioner: What's your underlying worldview of the widening income disparities?
Abiy Ahmed: Well ...currently, the world is chaos. There are lots of ripples here and there. Fundamental upheavals are occurring in many parts of the world, governed by contrasting principles with regards to power, which conventionally known as political, economical and military power, in which it seems to currently converged into one. Greed, social and economic inequality, climate changes, and misuse of natural resources. As well miscommunication which tries to make you responsible for what others perceived, not for what you have said. So this is [unintelligible] feel. There are few issues we could discuss pertaining to income inequality despite our increasing GDP. Regional conflicts in Oromia and Ethio-Somali regions and implications in the horn of Africa and how my party is working in tandem with all stakeholders. I will emphasize the need to resort to soft power and dynamic dialogue to achieve peace and security, and overcome political disorder in the region. Sadly, horn of Africa is also plagued by [unintelligible] climate issue. And this has to be dealt with at most attention, as well deal with political turmoil and economic development.
I'll emphasize the need to employ knowledge based economic development, especially innovation as a means to tackle recurrent climate issue.
Ethiopia seems to be doing fairly well continuing remarkable decade long double digit economic growth. As of this year, our country is the largest economy in East Africa. In fact, International Monetary Fund, IMF estimates the real growth domestic product to be around 9 percent. Despite this promising trend, circumstantial evidences show that income and wealth inequality has increased. Globally, almost half of the world's wealth is now owned by just the 1 percent of the world population. Hence income disparity is global crisis and shakes up the wellbeing of communities world wide. Bringing this story home, we have also become the second largest population in Africa and estimated to become the tenth most populous place on the planet earth by 2050.
Income disparity is one of our pressing issue. Individuals sprouted with wealth much higher than the annual budget of some the regional states. There is a massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of few people presenting significant threats. This disparity in access to economic power undermines social peace, hinders a fair and inclusive economic progress, and instigates political turmoil. What's more, sea lines in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean are considered among the most strategic. Almost more than 80 percent of the world's seaborne trade in oil transits through Indian Ocean checkpoints.
Questioner: How would you define the impact of the current inter regional conflict between Ethiopian Somali and Oromia if continued for long?
Abiy Ahmed: To have peace in East Africa, and the horn, we need to understand it as very political dynamic region in the world. Almost nowhere else of geopolitical forces and regional ambitions combine to exhibit volatile time and geopolitical [contestation]. Chaos in the region have a dire effect in the global affairs. Therefore, solving the conflict which encompasses national, regional and global dimensions requires courage, hope and unshakable conviction. Above and beyond the decisive involvement of our government, stakeholders should come together to secure peace and security. Because delayed solution to this regional conflict could take the Horn of Africa back into unforeseen chaos. Horn of Africa is not only vulnerable to resource and ethnic conflicts, but has been vulnerable to disruptions related to changing climate. Our nation’s long history of alternating drought and flood cycle and erratic climate change resulted in a decline in soil fertility, a loss of biodiversity and deforestation. I believe that the Paris Agreement on climate change forms the basis for an international cooperation in long term climate change action plan.
Questioner: Has there been a permanent shift in the way your party sees conflict?
Abiy Ahmed: I would like to emphasize that the way our party sees conflict is based on our values embedded in the constitutionalism and dedication to human rights. We believed it would bring solution to the conflict through democratic path by the persistent exercise of goodwill. General speaking, every society that has ever existed in human history at some point faced its decline. We cannot be arrogant enough to believe that it cannot happen to us. However, we need to exercise humility to recognize the limitations of human foresight. That said, we have faith in our society and constitution. We have faith in continued transformation. We need to go above and beyond the narrow prescriptive parameters of the current debates outside the fortress of our current system. A system predicated on natural aspects of greed, selfishness and fear is dangerous. These are old and dead ideas. An appropriate [adoption] in the principal task of our party. I impulsively believe that. The Ethiopian public would be convinced, but our people need a different rhetoric. My instinct is, and I hope I’m right that the revitalization [unintelligible] the presents the framework combining fortitude and purpose will gain the support of the people.
Questioner: Are technology and globalization destined to drive up inequality?
Abiy Ahmed: There is widespread view of modern science and technology with excessive technological optimism. However, science and technology have both positive and negative [unintelligible]. For instance, increased communication gadget does not mean increased communication and understanding. Research [unintelligible] often disregarded the hardships faced by billions of impoverished people around the globe. I suggest we should embrace innovation research and development in our areas of expertise. We should apply our creative, adaptive and capacities to all that we do.
Questioner: I think you’re a hardcore believer in the importance of love and compassion for national stability. Can you share your worldview?
Abiy Ahmed: I believe in evolutionary stability and natural [adoption]. I did not believe even anyone can maintain status quo eternity. Every single day, we need to devise a system in which change can be accommodated with empowerment. Fear and desire are the twin engines of the human survival. These urges will imprison us if we let them. We should dwell on thriving, not merely surviving. The effectiveness of any power sources depends primarily on the contexts and we know that our current context requires soft power, and not the hard power that exerts carrots and sticks. Soft power empowers people regardless of whether or not one agrees that such criticisms are justified. It’s increasingly clear that more public engagement is needed in order to address these barriers of distrust. [unintelligible] build more robust partnerships. If progress is to occur, any issue must, at a minimum, be openly and respectfully debated. If our objectives are legitimate, we are more likely to persuade other people to follow our lead without using threats and bribes. Militaries could be well suited to defeating states but they are often poor instrument to fight conflicting ideas floating around intangibly. Today, in many instances we bear witness to power becoming less tangible and the use of force less effective.
To sum up, it is easier to attract people to democracy rather than to coerce them to be democratic. Time may only be a human concept, and therefore ultimately unreal. But what is irrefutably real is that this is the time for us to wake up. We need to be resilient. We need to collect our thoughts to marshal our hopes and to plant in our hearts firm believes in our ideas. To generally make a difference, we must become different. Make the tiny longitudinal shift. Meditate, direct our love indiscriminately and our condemnation exclusively at [those] with responsibility. In this context, nothing but only peaceful and participatory approaches are the way forward.