Friday, December 29, 2006

"Ethiopia" by Dereje Kebede (Video)

Please enjoy Dereje Kebede's "Ethiopia" put to a video. I posted the lyrics for the song last week which you can find here.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Grave Concern and Shamefullness of Our Conditions

By Erango Kelbisow

A poem that captures the gloomy predicament that hangs over
Ethiopia and Ethiopians. [PDF Version]

Echoes of War and the Imperative to Mobilize Our Good Senses

By Mitiku Adisu

These are difficult days. Once again we are hearing echoes of war. Words are being bandied about in support of or against a clash between Ethiopia and the Council of Somali Islamic Courts (CSICs). The issue need not have been presented as either/or, however. I believe the timing, not the act itself of defending one’s nation, should be the point of contention.

Some foresee “clear and present danger” and call for increased military intervention in the defense of the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Ethiopian “territorial integrity.” Others suggest prudence, transparency, and altogether a different set of priorities. Wittingly or not, both sides seem to convey deep concern for the welfare of the nation.

Read the rest of this 10 page superb analysis here in PDF format.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Reckless War Borne of Bad Choices

By Fikru Helebo

Here we go again. Ethiopia is engaged in a war for the second time in less than a decade. The last time Ethiopia went to war in 1998 it was on a false premise: Ethiopians were told that their territory has been invaded by Eritrea, a former province of Ethiopia, and they were called to defend the motherland from an aggressor. Surely, the Eritreans were the aggressors, but the real reason for the war was the fall out between the Tigrean ruling elites who rule on both sides of the border, not the ill-defined border between the two countries.

If the Ethio-Eritrean war of 1998-2000 was a senseless war, then this war between the radical Somali Islamist and the illegitimate Meles-led regime of Ethiopia is a reckless one for all involved. This time around Ethiopians are told by Meles Zenawi that the nation's "defense forces were forced to enter into war to protect the sovereignty of the nation and to blunt repeated attacks by Islamic courts terrorists and anti-Ethiopian elements they are supporting." This is hogwash!

The truth of the matter is that Ethiopia was not forced to enter this war; rather, it is the bad policy choices that the Meles regime has made with regard to Somalia and domestically combined with the reckless decision of the lunatic Eritrean regime to engage in a proxy war with Ethiopia that has made this war inevitable. The United States Government should also bear the responsibility for this war since it is the CIA's botched attempt to support a group of Somali warlords early this year that led to the rise of the radical Islamists and this Ethiopian adventure into Somalia could not have taken place without a tacit approval from the US.

It was also reckless of the radical Islamists to refuse to talk to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia at the Khartoum talks where they had the most to gain through negotiations. But they blew it believing that the TFG based in the town of Baidoa would crumble under their military might. Is continued war making the way to bring peace and security to clan-crazy Somalia? I seriously doubt it. Somalis who support the Islamists should also not delude themselves into thinking that it is Ethiopia that is preventing them from having peace and security. The facts on the ground point otherwise -- the Somali regions of Somaliland and Puntland, which are allied with the Ethiopian regime, have been the ones that are relatively more stable over the last decade.

As I have attempted to argue in a previous posting, the ascendant Islamist forces clearly pose a tangible threat to the coexistence of the people of the Horn of Africa region and they should be held in check. However, from the evidence that is available to us, the threat they pose is not an imminent one as far as Ethiopian sovereignty is concerned at this particular time, and going to war with the Islamists under these conditions will only play into the hands of the Islamists and their Eritrean sponsors. Some have argued that waiting any longer to fight the Islamists will make it more difficult to contain them later. There is some logic to this argument, but I believe it is a short-sighted argument that fails to appreciate the supremacy of clan-based politics in Somalia.

In the months following the rise of the Islamist forces, the Meles regime could have invested some of the resources it committed to preparing for war to reaching out to the Somali community both in Somalia and abroad. But there is no evidence that it has done this other than propping up the weak TFG. The Meles regime could also have gone on a diplomatic offensive to isolate the Islamists and their Eritrean allies, but there is very little evidence to suggest that this is the case. Sadly, the reverse is true -- the Islamists were the ones who carried out a diplomatic offensive and succeeded for the most part in isolating the Meles regime. Meles now has fewer allies in the region than when the Islamists took over in June of 2006.

Having said all that, I wish the Ethiopian defense forces that have been sent into harms way good luck in accomplishing their mission, and I hope they will be withdrawn from Somalia as soon as possible. The Islamists must be pressured by the International community to return to the Khartoum talks without any preconditions, and the Ethiopians and the Eritreans should be pressured to withdraw their troops from Somalia as well. In the end, it is not the Ethiopian military that can bring peace and security to Somalia, it is the Somali people themselves!

PS: Some readers have asked me why I have the comments feature on this blog turned off. My reasoning for turning it off is that some people tend to abuse this feature by engaging in out right insults and character assassinations and I am also not a fan of writing anonymously which totally removes accountability from the author of the comment. I have turned on the comments feature on an experimental basis a couple of days ago to see if it serves a useful purpose.

Friday, December 22, 2006

"Ethiopia" by Dereje Kebede

By Fikru Helebo

In the spirit of the holiday season, I would like to share with you a song by one of my all time favorite singers/song writers -- Dereje Kebede. I grew up listening to Dereje. I do believe that he is one of the best singers/song writers that Ethiopia has ever produced. This song of Dereje's that I am sharing with you, titled "Ethiopia", comes to you courtesy of
Ethiocross and it is from Dereje's last known recording (Dereje Kebede #8) from the mid 90s. In this song Dereje sings prayerfully, in that mesmerizing voice of his, for peace and harmony in Ethiopia and for God to have mercy on her.

Dereje has touched the lives of many Ethiopian Christian believers and some non-believers through his songs, especially in the late 70s and early 80s when persecution of protestant Christians was a common practice of the Ethiopian government. Dereje was a member of the Meserete Kristos Church (affiliated with the
Mennonites) Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY), and he was forced to flee from Ethiopia in the early 80s to escape certain imprisonment. His crime was his religious beliefs and the prominent role he had in the larger Ethiopian protestant community. A contemporary of Dereje's and another terrific Christian singer/song writer by the name of Tesfaye Gabisso was not as lucky as him to escape imprisonment. Tesfaye was incarcerated for about a decade by the Dergue regime simply because of his faith.

I am told that Dereje now lives in the State of Minnesota in the United States and he has not published any new material after his #8 recording. I hope he is doing well and I would love to see him sing his old songs and write new songs again. Click on the link below to listen to the song (all you need is a computer with a speaker or a headphone) and read the lyrics while you listen. Enjoy and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

"Ethiopia" by Dereje Kebede

"Ethiopia" by Dereje Kebede (Video)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Millennium Resolution

By Ephrem Madebo

New Year's Eve has always been a time for looking back to the past, and more importantly, forward to the coming year. Every year, as the days of December dwindle, most of us state, say, or enumerate our new year resolution. A scientific trend analysis shows that many of us don’t live up to our new year resolution. This might look like less of a deal because most of us have many more new years to redeem ourselves. Well, a millennium resolution is different because it comes once in a thousand years. The scope of a millennium resolution is more than the individual, or even more than the sum of single generations. Millennium resolutions are longer in sight, wider in reach, and have depth in content, they embrace a nation and its vision for a thousand years. Therefore, we need to think twice before we sate our millennium resolution, and once we commit, we should honor our words because this time there is no second chance.

As I always do, I recently visited and a link took me to another site where I read the following sarcastic statement: "The main difference between me- Meles now- and Meles 35 years ago is that Meles 35 years ago, as a young person, had the courage and ambition to storm the heavens. Meles now does not have the same type of ambition and courage". What an astonishing self assessment ! Meles says many good things, but he doesn’t mean them, he promises much, but never delivers, therefore, what ever he says should not be taken at face value. The main difference between Meles now- and Meles 35 years ago is that Meles 35 years ago, as a young person, had the dream and the ambition to disintegrate Ethiopia. Today’s Meles has already realized his dream; he doesn’t dream anymore because there isn’t much evil left to dream for. The jailing, the killing, and his recent hard to come back journey to Somalia are not new dreams, they are all the spillover effects of his original dream.

At the beginning of the first millennium, when Ethiopia’s merchant ships roamed the oceans and when its crafts men built beautiful churches and tall obelisks, Tigray was the cradle of the great Ethiopian civilization that attracted Greek and Roman historians. Today, two millenniums latter, as Ethiopians count down towards the third millennium; Ethiopia does not enjoy the same level of civilization it had two thousand years ago. Thanks to a man from Ethiopia’s cradle of civilization, today, Ethiopia does not have access to the sea and its 77 million people depend on the port of another country. Today, as the new millennium draws closer, most Ethiopians do not have time to reflect back on the last thousand years and plan for the next because they are preoccupied with the dread of war looming in the skies of Ethiopia. As a person who grew up in Colonel Mengistu’s regime, I really appreciate the patience with which my fellow Ethiopians submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by the Meles Zenawi government, but for how long?

In the last 16 years, Ethiopians have taken a fighting stance with the dictatorial regime of Meles locally, nationally, and internationally. Today, as we stand at the turning point of the second millennium, we should ask our selves - what is the alternative that we offer to the Ethiopian people? Ethiopians already know what Meles has to offer, do they really know what we have to offer? PM Meles, who started the last decade of the millennium with war is determined to conclude it with war. This indiscriminate killer who killed many Ethiopians, has at last vowed to kill the hope of people at a time many Ethiopians look for a new hope and a new beginning. How do we stop this mad killer and change the course of history in our country? This is not about CUDP, UEDF, OLF, AFD, OFDM, ONC,SEPDC or EPRDF. This is about Ethiopians now and about generation of Ethiopians to come. In the last forty years, we have manufactured a large number of political organizations, but none of them were able to lead us to the promise land. The Ethiopian people have successfully uprooted two oppressive regimes, but only to see them replaced by another brand of ruthless dictators. What should we do to correct this ugly trend?

In 1991, when the TPLF gangs controlled Addis Ababa, they promised to fully democratize Ethiopia. Before they had their first anniversary, they used their "dedebit" or "dedeboch" model of democracy to wipe out Assab from the map of Ethiopia. During the honeymoon of Mels and Esayas, Ethiopia was forced to finance what was prematurely called as the Eritrean take-off. In 1999 and 2000, fifty thousand Ethiopians paid the ultimate price for the ugly honeymoon that ended up in a quick divorce. Months before the May 2005 election, the same gangs allowed a multi-party election and claimed to be the fathers of democracy in Ethiopia. In May 2005, they lost the election, but they decided to stay in power anyway. Democracy in the Meles context is two hyenas and a donkey voting on what to have for dinner. For the last 16 years, Meles has been promising freedom and liberty, I wonder if this enemy of freedom knows that liberty is the highest political end, not a means to a higher political end. Recently, the Ethiopian PM was asked by the Washington Post reporter- Why do you think there is such a fear among people here? The pathological liar replied: "I don’t think there is such a fear". The only people that have no fear in Ethiopia are Meles himself and his commandants. The TPLF government is the most feared government on earth because it has no constitutional brakes on it, in other words, it is a legalized criminal government. Mr. Prime minester, if you have a heart like him, let me quote you Thomas Jefferson: "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty".

Article 50, sub-article 2 of the Ethiopian constitution states: "The Federal Government and the States shall have legislative, executive, and judicial powers" At its face value, the article says: The state is divided into three branches, and each branch has separate and independent power and areas of responsibility; however, each branch is also able to place limited restraints on the power exerted by the other branches. In Ethiopia, Meles not only exerts power on the other two branches, he also writes his own law and sends it to the rubber stamp parliament for approval. He jails his opponents and orders the judicial body to convict them. PM Meles is a man who has a gun and everything that a gun protects. As the old saying goes, when the same man holds the gun and the treasury, there comes an end to liberty. Yes, I am a vocal opponent of PM Meles, however, I have no problem with Meles as a person, or even as a commander-in-chief, but, I sure don’t like the sharpness of his command nor the swiftness of his army, if I don’t love what his army defends. The TPLF regime is a single-party state that imposes its will on the Ethiopian people by means of propaganda disseminated through the state -controlled mass media, regulation and restriction of free discussion and criticism, the use of mass surveillance, and widespread use of terror tactics.

In 1775, Patrick Henry said "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death. In Ethiopia there is a saying that says: "A day with freedom is better than eternal slavery". It really doesn’t matter where, when, or who; people always prefer to die in liberty than live in constant servitude. For the most part, the history of mankind is dominated by People who die for freedom and by those who kill. The following is an excerpt from the Magna Carta: "No freeman shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him, nor send upon him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land" King John, the 13th century monarch, did not have a matching democratic institution or favorable international conditions when he issued such a ground breaking declaration. Today, as the result of the Magna Carta; the Western world enjoys freedom of speech, justice, and advanced economic life. On the flip side, today, seven hundred ninety years after the declaration of the Magna Carta, a dictator in Ethiopia jails elected public officials, ruthlessly massacres demonstrators, and forces hundreds of thousands of freedom lovers to seek asylum in neighboring countries. In the presence of a plethora of governments and independent organizations that advocate democracy, especially, under the watch of the EU and the US government; it is unfashionable and troubling to see Ethiopians suffer under the yoke of a western anointed dictator who has no appetite for western democratic values.

I may be wrong, but I still think that between June and October 2005, the Ethiopian opposition had a shaky political upper hand over TPLF. I called it shaky because the on-and-off alliance of UEDF and CUD was unstable. As we all remember, in June, July, and August 2005, the group effort of CUD and UEDF earned the opposition some respect, and as a result obdurate Meles was forced to bow to the opposition’s demand of negotiation. However, as time passed, the opposition disintegrated when the UEDF chairman and CUD took a south and north stand on the issue of joining the parliament. Had CUD and the UEDF chairman used the principles of "Nash Equilibrium" while deciding the parliament issue, Meles wouldn’t have been able to fabricate any justification to jail the CUD leaders. Has our opposition learned form its indecisiveness?

For the last one thousand years Ethiopians lived in the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty, backwardness, and war. Today, in many parts of Ethiopia people live in the same way their great grand fathers lived. As time, leaders, and regimes changed, the social and economic life of Ethiopians became progressively worse. Every successive regime or leader promised a better future, but Ethiopians who started the first millennium at the peak of civilization are closing the second millennium as one of the poorest people on earth. Ethiopians are sick and tired of leaders who promise prosperity, but deliver misery and hardship. Yes, we do believe we have better ideas and better alternatives than the TPLF regime. The caveat is, as the king of Reggae [Bob Marley] said, " you can full some people some time, but you can’t full all the people all the time". How do we convince the people of Ethiopia that we are not one of those opportunist thugs ?

As a nation, new beginnings present opportunities to renew and improve ourselves. If the tick of a new year can motivate us individually, the thunderous clap of a new millennium should definitely arouse us collectively. At the dawn of a new millennium, we should preach peace and hope, not war. Our resolution for the millennium should look at the bigger picture and the long term. That means all of us together as one indivisible nation should vow to wage war on poverty, disease, and backwardness. We should fight our enemies together with a more inclusive sense of belonging by widening the group to which we feel connected. The unifying effect of such a pledge is a strong sense of national cohesiveness that drives us to believe that all people next to us are important and worthy to be with. No matter how important we feel we are, we live in the context of each other. There is no me with out you, and there is no we with out them.

The last two hundred fifty years are exemplified by rapid economic, social, and environmental changes. The engines of change include new technology, global economic integration, and changing consumer preferences. Unfortunately, our country Ethiopia does not have access to the same economic and technological advancement that the western world enjoys, but 'she' is equally affected by global warming and deteriorating environmental conditions. Domestically, many Ethiopians do not have access to health care and to other social and economic services, but they pay taxes. Politically, Ethiopians participate in the democratic process and elect their leaders, but only to see them in jail. All in all, Ethiopians have little or no control of their own destiny. As the enlightened segment of society we have the primary responsibility of guiding our people to self empowerment. As the turn of the Millennium approaches, we should embolden people and enable them to be masters of their destiny, not create a national committee that plans for a single night of extravaganza for the few halves. People who know nothing, but war need peace. Socially disenfranchised people need an optimistic sense of belonging. People who live in a constant shadow of fear need hope. Can we bring peace, hope, and optimism to our land?

Can we honestly deliver what we promise? If yes, our millennium resolution should be: In the new millennium: We will be determined to establish a just and lasting peace in our country. We re-dedicate ourselves to support social and economic development, and uphold the principles of democracy and equality among all people. We pledge to seek peaceful means to resolve all disputes in conformity with the principles of justice. We will be determined to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms. We will respect the equal rights of all without distinction as to religion, language, race, sex, or political affiliation. We will spare no effort to promote democracy and strengthen the rule of law. We are determined to create a system where both government and the governed should be subject to the law. Our’s will be a system where power changes hands as the voted-in shake hands with the voted-out. We will be determined to make our country a better place to live, a better place to invest, and an attractive place to visit. Have we vowed to make this millennium to be the era of peace and development ? Perhaps are we considering a total attitude change, or are we having a change of heart to work together and value the idea of others? Are we determined to free our jailed leaders, and ultimately free our people? If our answer is yes, so help us God.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Mengistu Haile Mariam Convicted of Genocide

At long last, an Ethiopian court has finally convicted the former Ethiopian dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam, of genocide in absentia. Unfortunately, the families of Mengistu's Red Terror victims may never see the day when Mengistu will receive the punishment he deserves as Mengistu lives a cozy life protected by another African dictator in Zimbabwe. Meanwhile, the terrorization of the Ethiopian people continues unabated by another dictator, Meles Zenawi. When will this cycle end?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Four big mouths, four big lies

By Ephrem Madebo

In Ethiopia where the parliament is dominated by the executive branch, the entire legislative program of the Parliament is determined by the government, and government bills virtually always pass the House of Representatives due to the rubber stamp nature of the parliament. Constitutionally, in Ethiopia, sovereignty resides in parliament i.e., parliament is the ultimate legislative body in the country, and may remove power from or abolish local or regional government, and in theory pass any law it wishes. However, the Ethiopian check and balance system is unique in history where the executive branch makes law and the parliament convenes to express its eternal support to the executive branch.

The recent drama in PM Meles’s nominal Parliament is yet another visible evidence that epitomizes the emptiness of the rubber stamp parliament. Last week Meles Zenawi came to the parliament with a pre-determined bill and went back home with a ratified, but the same unaltered bill. When the absolute majority of the Parliament agrees with every bill that comes from the executive body, I wonder why Ethiopia needs a Parliament of 534 representatives who non-productively consume the rare resources of the country. To be honest, when the parliament and the executive branch agree 100% of the time, we need one of them, not both. Recently, when PM Meles addressed his mostly sleeping audience, he used his trade mark of senseless humor and absolute lie to sell his warmonger bill to a parliament that buys any bill regardless of its price . To me, the most surprising drama of the recent parliamentary session was that every member of the parliament, including the dummy speaker of the house, were dressed with a slogan stamped sweater that directly guided the MPs to vote in a certain pre-determined way. For the most part, PM Meles Zenawi’s mumbo-jumbo speech during the recent parliamentary session was loaded with multiple lies of which the following two stand above all.

-The Jihadists declared Holy war on Ethiopia for no apparent reason.
-Ethiopian Somalis have the right to be with Ethiopia or with any other nation, it all depends upon them.

The shameless PM did not even wink his eyes when he told the parliament that Ethiopia was invaded by the Jihadists. Yes, we all have heard that the Somalia Jihadists have declared Jihad on Ethiopia, but why? PM meles did not give any explanation for the declared Jihad, nor any member of the parliament asked the question "why". If the Somali Jihadists declare war on Ethiopia to materialize their long time dream of "Greater Somalia", make no mistake, all Ethiopians will fight such an invasion. The whole world knows that it’s PM Meles’s unprovoked military maneuver in and around Somalia that prompted the Jihadists to declare war on Ethiopia. Just like the French and the Brits opposed the war on Iraq, we Ethiopians should oppose the unprovoked war on a country that doesn’t even have a working government system.

PM Meles, a man that fought hard to exclude Assab from Ethiopia, is again working hard to break the resourceful area of Ogden from Ethiopia. According to Meles, every nationality of Ethiopia will be part of Ethiopia if it likes, or if it dislikes Ethiopia, it can be part of Somalia, Sudan, Kenya, or Eritrea. To this black ‘Giuseppe Sapeto’, Ethiopia is an alliance of nationalities, not an entity that is a whole. To PM Meles, the unity and stability of Ethiopia is immaterial, any hopeless lunatic [like himself] can mobilize people and convince them to break away from Ethiopia. This is the kind of leader our country has to put up with.

The speech of the Honorable Beyene Petros, Ethiopia’s oldest and most confused politician was conciliatory as usual and senseless as expected. The Honorable Beyene had the audacity to say the following: If the government, or the ruling party believes that this resolution saves our country- our party will have no political opposition though we oppose the war effort in our conscious mind" Oh! My dear professor do you know that you are in the parliament to save Ethiopia. Is it your conscious mind that guides your political path, or is it your ambition to power that drives your principle? How can your conscious mind oppose a war and your political mind support the same war? Is your will to serve your country that divided between wholly supporting and totally opposing a single resolution? WHAT A WISHY-WASHY STAND! Remember, a divided will can’t stand for its own good. Some times the Honorable Beyene reminds me Ethiopia’s run away man in Harare. Like Colonel Mengistu of the 70s and 80s, the Honorable Beyene is infatuated with titles (SEPDC chairman, UEDF chairman, Alternatives forces chairman etc). Today, more than 90% of the UEDF member organizations have alienated themselves form your leadership, which UEDF do you lead?

As PM Meles said, I value the love the Honorable Bulcha has to his country; he was the only MP that gave Ethiopia’s fate to the Almighty God. This is what he said: "We will not oppose the resolution, we will pray for the outcome". Ato Bulcha,I guess you can oppose what your conscious mind tells you to oppose, and still say your prayers, the two are not mutually exclusives.

The Honorable Temesgen, the leader of "MCUDP" (Meles’s Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party) was the only opposition party leader to openly and clearly oppose the resolution(no wander, Ato Temegaen used to be a political disciple of the Kaliti group). However, some where in his speech, the Honorable Temesgen said: "This parliament is not a rubber stamp parliament" . My friend Temegen, its good that, at last, you are awaking, but you are not fully awake yet. When you are fully awake, your eyes will be opened to see that you are one of the links that makes up the rubber stamp parliament.

The Honorable Lidetu, who flashed back his signature smile when he was ridiculed by PM Meles, was the only opposition party leader to openly support the war resolution. The Honorable Lidetu, who often wants to articulate more than he can and pretends to be smart more than he can ever be, dashed along some sensitive historical and cultural values of Ethiopians and gave his support to the war. The Honorable Lidetu called the war a defensive war and urged Ethiopians to rally behind the TPLF regime. He also tried to compare the current war to the 1977 war. The Jihadsist Holy war and the 1977 war are different in nature. In 1977, Somalia invaded Ethiopia and the Ethiopian government responded to the invasion. Today, the game is different. The two warmongers, Esayas and Meles, are taking the horn of Africa to a bloody conflict. Ato Lidetu, open your heart and identify your enemies. The only power that invaded the freedom of Ethiopians is TPLF, defend Ethiopian from TPLF.

We Ethiopians have always defended our country, we will continue to defend regardless of our political differences. Meles is the wrong person to tell us to fight for the unity of Ethiopia. We should be vigilant and keep our eyes on the current political crisis of the horn of Africa, and we should not ignore Eritrea’s involvement in the internal affair of Somalia. Most importantly, we should acknowledge that Eastern Ethiopia is the basis of the future development potential of Ethiopia. Anything that destabilizes the Ogaden region destabilizes the entire country. We in the opposition are not blinds who disregard the territorial integrity of our country, we always fight unjust wars and fight for just wars. We need our country to do what is good and what is right.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Tolerating Dissent and Admitting to Mistakes are Signs of Good Leadership

Admitting to mistakes and tolerating dissent are two important qualities that distinguish good political leaders from those who aren't. These two traits are positively not trademarks of Dr. Beyene Petros' leadership styles. We shared with our readers a few weeks ago about Dr. Beyene's feeble attempt to rehabilitate his political image after his gambit to remain in Meles Zenawi’s good graces took an unfavorable turn.

In this communication, we share two press releases in Amharic, one from the group led by Dr. Beyene and another, a response by the Democratic Organization of Hadiya National Unity (DOHNU), an organization that was created a few months ago after Dr. Beyene illegally claimed the Hadiya Nation Democratic Organization (HNDO) to himself through undemocratic means. Unfortunately, the tone and content of this press release of his evokes memories of the horrendous days of the Dergue regime!

Unwittingly or not, it is clear that Dr. Beyene is trying to pit the people of Hadiya against each other. We are truly saddened by his continued abuse of the good name of the Hadiya people for his selfish political ends. This press release of Dr. Beyene unmasks to the public the true nature of the leader of the group that has misappropriated the good name of the HNDO. His tirade has gone beyond insulting his old colleagues within HNDO. It calls the Ethiopian Diaspora "traitors", despite his continued effort to coax the Diaspora community for financial support.

It is only about 6 years ago that the agents of the ruling TPLF/EPRDF and its army atrociously and vengefully terrorized the law-abiding Ethiopians in the Hadiya zone for no reason other than voting for an opposition HNDO in an election organized by the TPLF/EPRDF itself. As we have reported previously, HNDO, an organization that epitomized peaceful and legal struggle against an undemocratic and unlawful regime in Ethiopia, has been weakened and divided by the vengeful actions of Dr. Beyene Petros since 2001.

By this action, Dr. Beyene has perpetrated yet another horrid enormity on the struggle of the peoples of Ethiopia for representation, democracy and the rule of law. The once vibrant and flagship organization in the South, the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Organization (SEPDC) has been reduced to a name he swears by when he is challenged by his old SEPDC colleagues, and it serves only as Dr. Beyene’s ticket into the gates of Western Embassies.

After Dr. Beyene found himself in a precarious political situation with the Ethiopian people after the 2005 elections, instead of looking inward and examining his short comings as a leader, Dr. Beyene has raised the level of his vindictiveness against any group that disagrees with him. In a political career that spans a decade and a half, Dr. Beyene has sadly come to symbolize mediocrity and obsession for holding the chairmanship of multiple organizations, even obsolete ones.

Many Ethiopians, including those who faithfully stood by Dr. Beyene and supported him for more than a decade are raising questions about his credibility and legitimacy as an opposition politician, and the public has lost confidence on him. It is all too clear to us that his intolerrance of dissent and his unwillingness to admit to mistakes have become hallmarks of his leadership tenure. In spite of this reality, Dr. Beyene continues his vengeful actions against his opponents and critics using all the resources and means at his disposal.

We, former colleagues of Dr. Beyene, have given him the best chance any political ally of his can give him to correct his mistakes and to submit himself to democratic principles, which he purportedly stands for, and to align himself with the Ethiopian people in their struggle against tyranny. But his responses have so far been dismissive and outright hostile. If he cares to listen, our advice to him once again is: learn to tolerate dissent in the organizations you lead and have the humility to admit to mistakes when you make them.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Festival of 1000 Stars

The 4th Festival of Music & Dance of the peoples of Southern Ethiopia will be held from 16th to 18th of December 2006 daily at the Football Pitch in Arba Minch. The festival is a free event sponsored by the Christensen Fund in association with Global Music Exchange. You can watch videos and listen to sounds from the Festival of 1000 Stars of December 2005 on YouTube here or on MySpace here.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Hebret on Somalia

This statement from the UEDF (Hebret) is the most incisive statement on the current situation in Somalia that I have seen from an Ethiopian political group. I believe the statement skillfully and responsibly expresses the views of the vast majority of Ethiopians on this issue. It is six pages long and it is worth your time to read it if you are fluent in Amharic. I wish they had an English version of it.