This interview with Professor John Mukum Mbaku discusses the consequences of Ethiopia’s conflict in Tigray on the citizens and the state of the nation. The issues of the domestic and foreign policy integrity of the Ethiopia’s institutions, as well as political mismanagement on the part of the federal government led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, was also a point of discussion. The important impasse of a resolution to solve the crisis from the perspective of allowing aid and media access was a heavily stressed point. From the perspective of Dr. Mbaku, the need for immediate conflict resolution and reconciliation is perhaps the single most important aspect towards resolving the current conflict in Tigray.
The topic of Eritrea’s involvement in the conflict and the orders of brutalization coming from Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki was a point mentioned in the context of why African leaders fail to provide the citizens with a legitimate reason to engage in war.
Another main topic was the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is scheduled to start filling within the next year. This has also been a point of contention for African nations, particularly for Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia. Topics discussed include the history of the Nile River in antiquity and colonial times, 1929 Anglo-Egyptian Treaty, the 1959 Nile Waters Pact between Egypt and Sudan, Ethiopia’s contribution to the Nile River, and a possible point of dialogue that can be taken with the African Union to mediate this developing issue. Economic and social opportunities for mass development along the banks of the river provided this discussion the opportunity to display a possible way for an African-led agreement to be had at the federal levels of government for every country which depends on the Nile River water flow for survival.
Other topics include the need for African countries to rely less on identity politics and more on ideological perspectives to lead nations. The need to learn from historical precedent in order to establish a pluralistic and inclusive nation building effort was one of the main ideas emphasized throughout the discussion. In addition, the discussion about Eritrea’s longstanding dictatorship and the way to remedy the divisions caused by previous conflicts was also mentioned at great length, with inspiring words for future Eritrean (and African) generations to build the civil societies, governing checks/balances, and institutions needed to set up a culture of democracy which is needed to establish a rule of law based system of governance. In addition, Ethiopia’s need to contend with its empirical and domineering past and the challenge to construct a society around ethnic identity was also talked about in great detail.
About the guest:
Professor John Mukum Mbaku is a Brady Presidential Distinguished professor of economics and John S. Hinckley Fellow at Weber State University. He is also a non-resident senior research fellow at The Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C., an attorney, and counselor at law, licensed to practice in the Supreme Court of the State of Utah and the United States District Court for the District of Utah. Dr. Mbaku is a resource person for the Kenya-based African Economic Research Consortium. His research interests are in public choice, constitutional political economy, sustainable development, law and development, international human rights, intellectual property, rights of indigenous groups, trade integration and institutional reforms in Africa. His most recent books include: The Transition to Democratic Governance in Africa: The Continuing Struggle; Multiparty Democracy and Political Change: Constraints to Democratization in Africa; and Governing the Nile River Basin.
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