Thursday, October 18, 2007

One against all?

By Ephrem Madebo

Our country Ethiopia might be as old as the earth it self, and the Ethiopian state might be one of the oldest on earth, but despite this inspiring historical and political background, dualism and Party politics are new phenomena that have eluded generation of Ethiopian intellectuals who dreamed multi-party democracy for Ethiopia. One month ago, I vowed to not dip my hands in to the internal conflict of Kinjit, however, after a month of speculation and shuddering political roller costar, I decided to end the silence because without debate, or without criticism, no party, no government, and no country can succeed -- and no democracy can survive. In the last 40 years, the Ethiopian political spectrum has entertained a plethora of political parties and political alliances, but none of the parties has stood firm to celebrate its 10th birthday without dividing and sub-dividing like an amoeba. Sadly, this has been a shocking truth of the Ethiopian political parties from the infamous EPRP of the 1970s to the flamboyant CUDP of the new millennium.

Evidently, no political party has captivated the imagination of young Ethiopians like EPRP did in the 1970s. The Ethiopian youth of the late 1960s and early1970s (the golden generation), was more loyal and obedient to EPRP than to its parents. I remember, I had a distant cousin who used to carry a potassium cyanide capsule whenever he was out on the streets on a party mission. We had such a determined youth that preferred its death than compromising party secrets. Today, party confidential is compromised on VOA and other media outlets by those who are at the top of protecting it. In the middle of the 1970s, EPRP crumbled and so did the morale and fighting sprit of the Ethiopian youth. When EPRP ceased to exit as a viable political force, the Ethiopian youth saw no reason for everything it did in the past, and lost the courage to stand for the future. Therefore, the youth resorted to substance abuse, alcoholism, and jolly-jackism.

It took 30 years to see another party that fascinated the Ethiopian youth and heaved it out of three decades of political retirement. This party is Kinjit. Though Kinjit has its own problem from its inception, many Ethiopians gave it the benefit of the doubt to be the party that gathers the momentum lost decades ago. As a result, many young people gave their life, savagely beaten, went to jail, and persecuted believing that the “sprit” of Kinjit shall muster them to realize their life long dream of freedom and justice. Any political miscalculation, sabotage, or mistake that creates any life threatening damage on Kinjit tears apart not only Kinjit as a party, it also obliterates the sprit of Kinjit from the minds of millions of Ethiopians. There is no doubt that our country Ethiopia is a very old country, but its population is comprised of a higher proportion of young people. We can not afford any EPRP like mistake of the 1970s that discourages our youth and alienates it from the political affairs of its nation.

Unfortunately, today, a paternal figure of the opposition camp is playing the most dangerous game of his political life. Engineer Hailu Shawel, the very person entrusted for his patriotic leadership of Kinjit, is on the verge of reducing Kinjit in to useless factions that will easily melt in the blistering heat of the TPLF political furnace. Engineer Hailu’s awkwardly designed moves and acts seem to constantly oppose his public words. The Engineer has repeatedly been heard saying “Kinjit shall never be divided”, but his acts and strange behaviors ever since he arrived to North America have jeopardized the life of Kinjit as a political entity. Should we beg Engineer Hailu to keep himself away from the riff-raffs of history that surrounded him and put his money where his mouth is? If that helps, I will definitely beg!

Ethiopians have unequivocally said no to dictatorial rule and supremacy of any kind. The following is what I heard from an extreme right wing radio station here in Washington, DC: “Kinjit as a party must implement the decisions of its chairman” (Dr. XX). If this is what the doctor is dreaming to Ethiopia, and if this is the kind of leadership Engineer Hailu insists to impose on Kinjit; I guess, both Ato Hailu and the doctor have few countries left in the world (China, Cuba). This is nothing, but the Nicolae Ceausescu type of party leadership. Engineer Hailu, or any leader of Kinjit has the responsibility of executing the majority decision of Kinjit regardless of which side of the decision the leader stands. In a recent Washington DC meeting, Engineer Hailu suggested that he would replace the “renegades” by others willing to work under his leadership. What is a party to Engineer Hailu? Isn’t a party a place where people of dissenting ideas work together? I’m sure it’s not a place where one exchanges an orange for another orange and end-up with the same orange. In a party one exchanges ideas and end-up with more ideas. I wonder if the Engineer thinks that his mere existence makes his side a majority regardless of the number of people in the other side.

Engineer Hailu’s inability to respect those who disagree with him is a sign of a quick descend from cynicism in to dogmatism. Don’t call me rude, for I am a true believer of reason. If Ato Hailu’s stand was honest, but erroneous, I would have stood with him and used reason to correct his error. This is not peculiar to me; most of us would tolerate error of opinion if reason is left free to combat it. But, the Engineer who himself was a hostage of tyranny a few months ago is holding ‘reason’ hostage, and making a nonsensical argument that would make Plato puke from the heavens.

Leaders unite people of different ideas, not create a rift. Leaders motivate people, not discourage them. Leaders rally followers around a common objective, not diminish the hope of people. Ato Hailu Shawel, the long time paternal figure of Kinjit has denied fatherhood to his political sons and daughters by reducing himself from a graceful leader of Kinjit to a discourteous leader of “petty politics”. The Renaissance Hotel meeting where Ato Hailu unveiled his degenerative vision was chaired by Dr. Taye Woldesemayat. My pen has written much about Dr. Taye when he was important to our struggle; I will not spoil that same pen by writing about this person whose public misdeed increases in direct proportion to his age.

The existence of Kinjit as a political entity benefits all Ethiopians regardless of party affiliation. I am not a kinjit member, I haven’t been, but I fight for its existence for I do believe that Kinjit and the political organization that I associate myself exist in the context of each other. The failed political parties of yesterday are campaigning day-in and day-out to justify their failure and attract others to their side. I’m afraid Ato Hailu seems to be the latest victim of these political rattle snakes. The unprecedented Public gratitude to Kinjit leaders in Washington DC, Dallas, Los Angles, Seattle, Boston, New York, and Atlanta must have sent an ambiguous message to Engineer Hailu and the handful of cacophonous singers around him.

If the beauty of democracy that Ato Hailu fought for years means anything at all, it means the undisputed right of party members to disagree with him, and his moral duty to execute the decision that he disagreed with. Just two months ago, Engineer Hailu was a person we all depended on to change the political landscape of Ethiopia. I want to say it loud and clear to the Engineer that no progress is possible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. No matter how patriotic and how anti-TPLF one is, acting against the fundamental principle of democracy is not a virtue, it’s a vice! Viva to the majority of Kinjit leaders who are fighting to keep the party in-tact. I salute your unwavering stand for the truth, and I applaud your initiative to include the many forgotten voices in Kinjit. I want to remind you that the truth you stand for might be ridiculed, or even violently opposed; but at the end of the day, it shall be accepted as self-evident. Trust me, one against all shall never win! Do not be anxious for the loafers, stand above all conditions, rise to every occasion, and most importantly stand for what is right. If you do, you will transcend the current party shortcomings, and lead us in to the promise land like Moses, not to the other side of the Red Sea, not far from it either, but within and to itself. May God bless our Ethiopia!


Anonymous said...

Enough is enough ! Let’s save Kinijit!!

Now the cause of the crisis is known, i.e. “ power struggle”. Dictatorship vs collective leadership bla bla was a total fabrication to isolate Ato Hailu!! However, since there is no difference in Ideology (unity, non ethnic politics and liberal democracy) and principles , I think Eng. Hailu should resign and be example to the young generation that the struggle comes before personal ego!

I here by propose the following individuals to take the lead in the struggle

- Birtukan Midekesa
- Dr. Yakob Hailemariam
- Dr. Hailu Areya
- Eng. Gizachew

Dr. Birhanu should be executive member and political advisor!

All individuals who engaged actively in the group struggle namely

- Shaleqa Yosef
- Dr. Moges
- Dr. Seyoum
- Andargachew Tsige
- Birhane Mewa
- Dawit Kebede
- Dr. Taye
- Chairpersons of all support groups in the world

Should be demoted to a simple member!

Anonymous said...

There is something to be said for 'demoting' everyone who's participated in the shrill Kinijit support war over the past year and a half. After all, everyone who has hurled even a single insult at another who disagrees has helped the EPRDF autocracy.

I wonder how many of us would be left!

Anonymous said...

What an agony Ephrem!! You were boasting about your dicipleship of the good professor Mesfin and I did not see mention of what he said for everyone to hear (some say to listen). He did not absolve any side, he called a spade a spade. I am surprised by your effort to by pass Prof. Mesfin's comments with a sarcasm: "Party confidential is compromised on by those who were meant to protect it on VOA". But note that you have been telling us that you are an American and a democrat and at the same time you make it your business to appoint and demote leaders of a party that you do not belong. Funny! It is understandable that you guys (you and your likes) are in desperation and agony, but that is the reality you have to live with it by your choice. No doubt that Berhanu has been a power monger and will continue to be. Remember his transitional government and power sharing document that he presented to the EPRDF after the election which was his sole making. That is the definition of liberal democracy for him...road to getting some power at any cost. That is why the professor said, the book by your southerner bro is "a book by birhanu about birhanu". Take it easy buddy!! Shalom

enset said...

Anonymous of 10/18/2007 9:15 PM:

I think Mesfin Woldemariam's belittling of Berhanu Nega's book in the VOA interview showed why he does not belong in politics. Some of us, including myself, aren't meant to be politicians. Everyone has an area of strength where he/she can use to support the cause of human rights and democracy in Ethiopia. Mesfin's strength is in the area of human rights and advocacy for nonviolence.

Mesfin may have thought he was trying to help Kinijit by giving the interview at the time he did. I am afraid it has had the opposite effect of what he may have intended. A person of his stature should have been very careful in the words that he chooses to address questions about the current crisis within Kinijit. Unfortunately, Mesfin was not careful about his choice of words, thus proving once again that his temperament is not well suited for politics.


Anonymous said...


Your comment has a lot of merit. I think the professor is better suited to fighting for the respect of human rights, and not politics, which we saw made him awkward.


Ephrem Madebo said...


In spite of his lifelong controversy, I will still admit I followed Professor Mesfin in 6-Kilo campus from café to café. I still admire him for some of the things that he stood for. This is politics; you like them when you think they stand for the truth, and dislike them when they fall apart. There is no eternity in politics. My comment: "Party confidential is compromised on by those who were meant to protect it on VOA" is not directed at the professor, not at all! I used it as a prelude to take the reader to the essence of my article which was entirely aimed at the Engineer. It is the Engineer that is killing Kinjit. In my article, my focus is not Dr. Brhanu, it is Kiniit, but make no mistake, Dr. Berhanu is the brain that made Kinjit …Kinjjit. My article “One against all” deals only with Hailu. I don’t have enough information to write about professor Mesfin. I am not a third party induced writer; I am a self motivated writer. I write when I am encouraged or dissatisfied. This time I was dissatisfied by Ato Hailu. I did not demote or promote any person in Kinjit in my writing. If you are referring to the comment made on Enset, it wasn’t me. Why do you think I am in desperation of agony? I am a person of hope and hope has nothing to do with agony. My choice is the people’s choice; I have no fear of living with it. Ethiopia will be for Ethiopians, gone are those days, where the few, the crafty, and the chauvinists manipulate the fate of the nation!

Anonymous said...

the book by your southerner bro is "a book by birhanu about birhanu".

Anon, 9:15pm the above statement tells a person all about you. We are not only fighting the tribal gangs in arat kilo but the tribalists acting as Kinijit supporters.

Ephrem, who is a gifted and eloquent ethiopian has answered you handsomely. Read it and re-read it as you will learn something from it, that is if you open your mind.
God save Ethiopia from your likes!!!
BTW, the Ethiopianess of people of the south are

Anonymous said...

Correction to the last entry
BTW, the ethiopianness of the people of the south is second to none.

Anonymous said...

Few weeks ago Indian Ocean reported that the US
> government hosted selected opposition leaders in
> State Department. Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma
> conformed the reported news on his press conference
> on HR2003.
> Senator Jim said, "The State Department recently
> hosted a group of opposition political leaders and
> members of Parliament in DC, providing an
> opportunity for dialog and reconciliation."
> A surprise event, at any rate, the oppositions
> must be open and transparent to the Ethiopian
> people. Any deal that compromise the practical
> Democratic rights of our people will be a disaster
> like election 2005.
> Our opposition leaders need to understand that
> democracy and elections are not the same thing.

enset said...

Anonymous of 10/19/2007 4:08 PM,

Your cut and paste job is repulsive; we try to solicit authentic ideas here. But the point about transparency is important and I will comment on it.

It is interesting to note that the words you quoted of the Oklahoma Senator came right out of Jendayi Fraser's October 2nd testimony which was prepared for Donald Payne's House Subcommittee.

The Indian Ocean Newsletter (ION) reported that meeting sponsored by the US State Department included Berhanu Nega, Birtukan Mideksa and Hailu Araya and it was an attempt to exclude "extremists" such as the EPRP and Hailu Shawel's faction of Kinijit.

I believe Hailu Araya was specifically asked about this meeting in one of his interviews and he denied taking part in the said meeting and added that Kinijit strives to take part in all meetings that attempt to address the problems of Ethiopia. Berhanu Nega, in his testimony before Donald Payne's Subcommittee, also mentioned that he had no clue what Jendayi Fraser was talking about.

I do not know what the fact are in this case, but I do know one thing. I know that the politics that Berhanu Nega, Bertukan Mideksa and Hailu Araya are practicing is more transparent than politics practiced by any other Ethiopian political group and I have no reason to think that they entertain exclusionary politics of the kind that ION alleges.

Anonymous said...

Deep thought is what we need

The fact that the Kinijit leader ship is divided at this critical time of political activity in Ethiopia is a sad phenomenon. This division has all the ingredients of bad and good politics in this country.

The good ingredients are the hope, courage, determination, passion and the vaguer of the younger generation is still at its great more than ever to see democracy and rule of law in Ethiopia. And one goal is still remain as important as ever in this good camp is the sheer determination to make victory complete.

The bad ingredients are corruption, theft, political ego, Machiavellian style of political manipulation and deceive of others for personal gain, luck of rational thinking and reasoned political philosophy, absence of political honesty, patchy and fragmented political knowledge, advocating the politics of heroism which is the symptom to the cult syndromes. They are in abundance where political uncertainty, democracy and rule of law are alien concepts.

Although I am apolitical person, it is natural to react to such political mess. In the first instant keeping Kinijit united is as a unique political entity is difficult task. At the beginning Kinijit was a collection of different minded political and national groups which got together (hard to say united) to challenge the ruling party in ballot box. The out come 2005 election was great success for CUDP and took by surprise the EPRDF and the political world.

The sad thing was that CUDP couldn’t handle this momentous political achievement. It is not a surprise for me the crack started just right after this success. There wasn’t common clear strategy among the member organizations of Kinigit. The build-up to this final episode has the root way back to the beginning of CUDP’s establishment. I will leave this to the historians.

The Engineer Shawls camp tone is really looks very cheep in its political value. They look desperate to hide or run over some thing riddle to the wider community. The “Chairman’s” speech DC is solely on individuals and lucks political substance. The corruption allegation, political mismanagement, and the organizational unity haven’t been addressed as one expects from the leader. I think he took the Ethiopian people for granted. Politics is a dirty business. If he doesn’t perform honestly and responds to the questions the Ethiopian people are asking, then he should be aware that rejection is on the card. His political advisers are currently out of their mined. They must come clean in particular on the financial irregularity allegations. This is a serious matter.

The other group lead by Birtukan rather caught my attention. She is a force for good. This group just need deep thought how to convert this popularity among Ethiopian Diasporas to a credible political force to the wider Ethiopian mass. Complacency and over confidence are killing factors in political life. I am not sure how they can keep the name Kinigit and unit the grass root supporters and activists. The sole existence of this political organization will be determined how they can handle back home in Ethiopia. They need to differentiate the old type of Kinijit, Haylu’s one, and the resurgent new Kinigit that represent the real hope to the Ethiopian people.

It is time to think and think deeply about the following main points
- How they can transform the this disintegrated party to a credible political force
- They need to identify what the first critical task they have to perform when they go back home
- How can they keep the momentum of support from diasporas
- They need to draft clear and simple guiding principle for Kinigit
- They need to come up with clearly defined political, economic, and social programs.
- They must advocate the culture of transparency and accountability
- They must avoid throwing random talk and briefing with out thinking about what they say
- Political fluency should be exercised by all