Friday, April 18, 2008

The “Sleeping Giant” is half awakened

By Ephrem Madebo

"We are getting out of the whole process. The whole process is an illegal process," Honorable Beyene Petros "

We did not want to be the cause of any crisis. But when the government shows no willingness to cooperate, and wants to be the only party which governs Ethiopia, then we have no hope. We cannot work with this kind of party. We have to quit and show the world we are not able to work with them." Honorable Bulcha Demeksa

"Election results will be quicker than in Zimbabwe" Bereket Semon, Chief of the Political Bureau of the EPRDF

I guess Mr. Bereket is right, and in deed election results are much quicker in Ethiopia than in Zimbabwe because Bereket’s party new super-computer has the capability to accurately forecast election results weeks ahead of the election. This past Sunday Ethiopia held a National Intra-TPLF party election to once more bless the ruling minority party with an end-less and limit-less power. Unlike the May 2005 election, the elections of April 13 and April 20, 2008 were carefully designed and allowed to take place after avoiding the non-TPLF cloned opposition parties, and after making sure that each and every vote goes to the TPLF ballot box. Sunday’s National election was a mock election where the Ethiopian people were denied to make a choice. Form start-to-finish, the organizers, the candidates, the monitors, the ballot inspectors, and of course the winners of the politically homogeneous election were the TPLF agents.

If there is any opposition political leader that knows the "anatomy" of Meles, it must be none other than "Microbiologist" professor Beyene Petros. So why did a person who knows the in-and-out of PM Zenawi for the last 16 years decide to boycott the election at the 11th hour? To boycott an election one should first agree in the existence of a legitimate election where all parties play by agreed common rules. In Ethiopia, there are no rules or policies that favor an all inclusive participatory election. So why did Beyene Petros and Bulcha Demeksa enter the election in the first place? Professor Beyene has alternately lead the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF) since its inception in 2003, is he still the leader of UEDF, specially after he dismissed UEDF’s majority decision in 2005 and joined the Parliament?

On April 10, 2008 just three days before Sunday’s election, Professor Beyene’s party boycotted the election citing the illegality of the election process. The boycotting drama continued after Sunday’s election and OFDM boycotted the election alluding to the unwillingness of the ruling party to honestly include other parties in the election process. Thanks to God, finally, after three years of dancing with the wrong partner, the willfully sleeping giants have awakened. However, only time will tell if this is a change of heart, or a habitual change of gesture!

A political election is a mechanism by which modern democracies fill offices in the executive, legislature, and sometimes in the judiciary. It is a decision making process where citizens are provided with a choice of individuals to choose from for a public office. The election process may differ from country to country, but the fundamental rules and pre-conditions are the same. The electorates must be given a clear choice and must be left free to vote for a candidate of their choice. There must be an independent election institution that examines and arbitrates election disagreements. These three pre-conditions are non-existent in Ethiopia. TPLF is the lone player in the campaign trail and the Ethiopian Election Board officials are hand picked by PM Meles Zenawi.

In 2005, when TPLF followed a relatively liberal election policy, it was Professor Beyene who repeatedly vowed to boycott the election. Surprisingly, it was the Professor himself that gave legitimacy to the 2005 sham election by blaming the pro-democracy demonstrators as rock throwing thugs. During the fruit less negotiations of 2005, it was again Professor Beyene who gave Meles the moral justification to imprison high level CUDP leaders by calling off the "Stay home" strikes and by joining the parliament against the decision of his own party. Between November 2005 and August 2007 when millions of Ethiopians and the international community cried for the release of CUDP leaders, Professor Beyene was quietly making non-reciprocal concessions with Meles. As a leader of one of the oldest opposition coalition [SEPDC], Professor Beyene did not publicly denounce the imprisonment of his fellow opposition leaders, nor did he congratulate them when they were released. In the absence of the CUDP leaders, the honorable Beyene Petros, a man whom the Associated Press called "leader of the largest opposition" in Ethiopia, was working hard to inherit Lieutenant Girma’s worthless chair to serve a party and a man he opposed throughout his entire public life.

Until the day he unilaterally joined the parliament, Professor Beyene was the leader of UEDF, but he was stripped off his leadership role when he broke the very decision that he was entrusted to execute. Professor Beyene can not be the leader of an organization that he does not belong to unless UEDF is a house hold item of the Professor, or the name UEDF is synonymous with SEPDC. I hope the true UEDF will give us a better clarification and defend the indivisibility of its leadership.

In the 1990s Professor Beyene was the emblem of non-violent political struggle in Ethiopia. He was also a man who organized one of the strongest coalitions in the political history of Southern Ethiopia. He and his fellow parliamentarian, the honorable Bulcha Demeksa have had some symbolic moments in the parliament. However, in politics, all the good stuff that politicians did in the past is an archived history. What really matters is their position of today and their vision for tomorrow. Even the charismatic and the well articulated Tony Blair who scored many political & economic victories could not survive Political mistakes. In the past 16 years, professor Beyene has made numerous strategic mistakes. Yes, he has stood with the Ethiopian masses, but his grave mistake is that he displayed loyalty to Meles in those critical moments that counted the most. I usually tolerate those who make mistakes while serving the public. Every body including those whom I trusted the most have made a heart breaking mistake, but kneeling down for a pat from Meles and making repeated mistakes on the interest of the people is unacceptable, inexplicable, and intolerable.

I applaud the non-violent struggle of the honorable Beyene Petros & Bulcha Demeksa, but I also want to let them know that there is a significant difference between "loyal opposition" and loyalty to Meles. All parties and individuals (including SEPDC and OFDM) that follow the non-violent path of struggle are parts and parcels of the loyal opposition. But, make no mistake, your loyalty is not to Meles, or to any specific policies of the government. Your loyalty is to the fundamental legitimacy of the state and to the democratic process. When your loyalty is to the state, irregularities will be administered by the law of the land; but when your loyalty is to Meles who bends the law, you will always end up being betrayed as he constantly twists the law to suit his agenda. In the past three years, both Honorable Bulcha and Beyene Petros have aided the ruling party by jointly drafting rules and procedures that undermined the entire opposition camp [does not include parliamentary bills]. They have entertained the international media by sponsoring a joint communiqué with the ruling party, providing a badly needed legitimacy to a naked regime. In spite of the bullying, the harassment, targeted imprisonment, and cancellation of their candidates, these two veteran politicians entered the 2008 election clearly knowing their zero chance of winning a consequential amount of seats.

The validity of a democratic process in any society depends on the existence of a legitimate government. I believe, even the TPLF thugs agree, at least nominally, that political elections are the corner stones of any democratic process. Jumping in to an election in the total absence of common rules and a legitimate government is tantamount to selling the trust of the electorate to a bunch of traitors that deserve no trust. More than boycotting the election, the two veteran leaders including other puppets of the regime must understand that the TPLF model of the "false diversity" type of pompous election is a sham process that appears to be a genuine electoral contest, in order to present the façade of popular consent and support. Yes, EPRDF has several registered parties [TPLF, OPDO, ANDM etc) and several candidates (close to 4 million), but all of them have the same face and support the status quo.

Though they have publicly stated obvious reasons, I don’t really know why the two parliamentarians boycotted the election. The Ethiopian electorate, including the very people that the honorable Beyene Petros and Bulcha Demeksa represent in the National Parliament knew the true nature of TPLF and its election methodology in the early morning hours of May 16, 2005. I don’t understand why these two giant leaders of the opposition waited for so long, specially, the OFDM leaders who have to wait three more days [After Prof. Beyene] to taste an election so sour to swallow. Unless it is a sign of an honest strategic shift, the recent election boycott of Professor Beyene and Ato Bulcha Demeksa is meaningless because it came too late after the political damage has already been done.

If the boycott is accompanied by a strong verbal and written public condemnation of the TPLF regime, and joining the alliance of the progressive forces of Ethiopia; the far-sighted people of Ethiopia will forgive Professor Beyene for there is no future without forgiveness! Otherwise Ethiopians are sick and tired of politicians whose skin color changes to satisfy the indefinite taste of Meles Zenawi.


Anonymous said...

I don't know enough to endorse or condemn everything Ato Beyene and Ato Bulcha have done, but it seems to me best to assume that whatever they did, they did because they thought it would get them more constituents and it would forward the democratic process. They turned out to be wrong for the most part, but let's call it an honest mistake.

I would not call it 'loyalty to Meles' for two reasons. I don't think they have any reason to be loyal to him, and more importantly, I think such language is both divisive and unnecessary. It promotes rather than resolving conflict, and I think that today, we're all realizing that our propensity for unnecessary conflict amongst each other is what's killing our struggle, not the EPRDF.

Like you, I'm happy about the boycott, because it is a necessary end to the charade. For PR purposes, it will be useful to state that the EPRDF has 95% or some such number of seats in parliament.

But that's all it is, a small PR gain. It's not a huge factor in the big picture.

By the way, perhaps the biggest reason that Beyene et al were unsuccessful - that the opposition in parliament is useless - is that they don't have any power in the ground. The anti-EPRDF public, though vastly outnumbering EPRDF supporters, are as yet incapable of democratic activism. The EPRDF has nothing to fear, so no incentive to treat the opposition seriously. Compare with Kenya, where the ruling party has something to fear...

Ephrem Madebo said...

No, it is not an honest mistake, not at least for Professor Beyene. He put himself in to this chaotic situation disregarding the counseling of many people including people of his own constituency. This is not about him joining the parliament. If you remember, few months after the round up of the CUDP leaders, Professor Beyene, Lidetu, Bulcha and some others were busy writing and ratifying (with TPLF) the rules of the game for the opposition. He even came to Washington DC as a good will ambassador to Meles. If this is not loyalty then what is? It is that same rule they wrote that haunts them all now. All opposition parties except the LFs are loyal oppositions, the problem with Beyene and Ledetu is that they are more loyal to the government than to the legitimacy of the state. Yes, as you said the boycott is good, but not good enough. They should do more exposing the diabolic nature of the TPLF regime.

Anonymous said...

Mr Mandibo:

How about the visionary leader who spent nearly 40 days in the mountains of Pensilvania? I am sure that you know who i am refering to (Dr. Berehanu).

Did he go to repent for his ill incentive on destroying the CUD? or did he go to talk to the devil face to face on how to destroy Ethiopian hope just to get a position where people can call him "Honourable"?

The answer, you know it and while the saga of Lidetu and Beyene has gone long time ago, you should concentrate on giving constructive advice to your visionary leader and his cohorts.

Don't forget, having a better Education is not the mandate to lead that nation and to be in the leadership position of political parties. His venomous preaching that indirectly says "CUD without me is nothing" created what you see now. another slavery may be for 15 more years.

Now, since you are in his league, those dumb arses who sit in the U.S with some sort of Degrees and Doctrates feel privilaged to lead by barraging us with articles and speeches while the simple and genuine way of showing love to the people you advocate is to go and fight with them. I hope your visionary leader show us the way to arms struggle by being on the for-front of the fire like successful insurgency leaders did.

don't kiss berehanu's ass !!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Madebo,

I don't understand why you have to put up with the likes of the last commenter. These individuals should be barred from public space until they learn to discuss issues.

Anonymous said...

Mr, Annomious, It seems that you are angry atleast unhappy about Mr Maddebo's analysis regarding Dr Beyen and Ato Bulchas boycott. If you have tangable argument that support their decssion let's hear or if you have things that relat their boyctting and Dr Berhanu's issue bring it on; otherwise just do not bring any subject from the blues that does not have any relevance to the topic on discussion. This is old way destructive Ethiopian poltic discussion style

Anonymous said...

For the two anonimous:

Why do you waste your time discussing on those useless people like Beyene and Lidetu. Those people have gone like a wind long time ago from the hearts and minds of Ethiopians. They are comfortable in the TPLF parliament seats and they are happy to listen Meles Zenawi's doctrine of "Revolutionary Democracy with the blend of Tigrayan supremacy". Their effect on the Ethiopian political movement is from little to negligable. So why waste your energy on dead fishes like them. I would alteast have discussed about them if i think they can bring change. They are puppets and are there for a show. They are much useful to TPLF as symbol objects than being a genuine opposition. and for sure they know this fact.
For God's sake, how many times we have listened people like Beyene, Bulcha, Merarra and Lidetu saying The Meles Region would not change itself through genuine political processs. Yet they sit over there and enjoy the left-over while people suffer by this extrem rule.

I would like Mr. Mandibo to create an open discussion about the man who went to pensilvania mountain for 40 days and night like Moses and our lord Jesus Christ did. There need to be a constructive criticizm for this guy who is yet again trying to fool Ethiopians by presenting them an armed insurgency in which he will sit in the U.S cities and command it.

There need to be a discussion on the leadership crisis, the character and itegrity of the presumed political leaders who collect thousands of dollars from poor Ethiopians.

There need to be a discussion on people who give lip service but found it difficult to do what they say.

There need to be a discussion and background check of the writers, bloggers, and media owners about their stand, motives and adherances to political systems. Correct me if i am wrong, Mr. Mandibo is an amhara hater and he will resist and go on the offensive if he see any prominent person rises from that ethnic group. The reason he advocated and wrote more than 10,000 words about the fake visionary leader is a testmony for his inner ills and would even like TPLF to be there for some time instead of a Unifying Ethiopian force.

Anonymous said...

Did Dr. Berhanu declare armed struggle? I didn't read that anywhere else but if he did, that is a big blow to TPLF. If they r not stupid TPLF should know that Dr. Berhanu is big name in Ethiopia and can raise hell if he gives up on peaceful struggle let alone start armed struggle; many more will give up on peaceful change of gov't and raise arms. Those who already did will get international attention more. "Elected Mayor for first time in Addis history" choosing armed struggle is big blow to the tyranical TPLF.

Anonymous said...

for the lazy anonimous just before this message,

How can it be a blow to TPLF if Dr. Berehanu calls for armed struggle. When will Ethios learn sologans and proclamations wouldn't get anywhere? Even the educated elite miss the basic fact that the answer to TPLFs oppression is creating a sophosticated organization that withstands all the tricks Meles plays.

How can Ethiopians can make without an organization to rally with? how can organizations become fruitfull why the nature of Ethiopians is full of infighting?

I am not in the league of people who beleive on anarchy for change. There need to be a dedicated unit of people who work tightly with the main objective of dismantling meles day and night in every opportunity.

Ethios need to learn the essense of creating organization and work together for a common goal than rally behind one man or few men.

Anonymous said...

"Revolutionary Democracy with the blend of Tigrayan supremacy"? Most Ethiopians are not Tigrayans. Typical African tribal loyalty forced many in the tribe to say 'we r ruling whether u like it or not' when losing peacefull arguements or 'why didn't u say samething when Amhara was ruling'? to non-Amhara Ethiopians.

Sidama tribe is at least half a million numrous that Tigre tribe after Tigre tribe is now split in two countries and even after many tribes are now 'confiscated' in Tigraya tribe from Wollo and Gonder but no Sidama language on Ethiopian TV and lots of Tigigna daily.

I remember reading on TOBIYA magazine back home where Mr. Chamo who was one of the leading lawyer/political party but imprisoned for 11 yrs by Derg saying that TPLF would've genuine support from all over Ethiopia if it was about equality and not supremacy.

Actually that Tigrayan guy who later went to Harvard Law school who is now all over the internet since he broke up with Meles in support of Mr Abraha's group said to Mr Chamo "why are you southern ppl not as obedient to Tigre rule like you were to Amhara rule".? That was right after Mr Zenawi's doctor said to Professor Yilma that not paying unheard of illegal tax at Assab on transit goods would bankrupt Eritrea and not good for TPLF back, back then.

I remember in 1993 southern Ethiopian engineers from USA shot at in their landrovers in some southern region by cloned thugs who wanted to prove their loyalty to TPLF.

There are thousands upon thousands of testimonies and great majority of learned ppl of Ethiopia don't like TPLF no matter which part of Ethiopia they came from. The non-college educated Ethiopians too don't like TPLF. Nobody does.

Anonymous said...


where I said Mr Chamo read Assefa Chabo please.

Anonymous said...

For Mr. Ephrem:

It is time again to kiss Mr. Berehanu Nega's ass. He is forming a new party and everyone is expecting your indorsment.

Dr. Nega is going to the gungle like Meles and Issayas did.

Anonymous said...

Madebo et al,

I have been waiting to read commentary from Ephrem Madebo and his cliques about Birhanu Nega's decision to stay in the US (at least it was not expected by people like Ephrem and there was a promise in one of his posts). Instead, Ephrem is barking on the wrong tree, his "sleeping giant". Since when did Beyene Petros become a "giant ?" to Ephrem?

I thought Prof Beyene knew much better than Ephrem and his cliques and that is why had made better decisions. His decision to stay the course and not to join hands with the cowards and short sighted people like Birhanu was testament to that.

I think, time has come for Ephrem and cliques to become foot soldiers of the coward Birhanu Nega's Ginbot 7 party. Do not forget to pack diapers though!!

Ethio Emblem: said...

Ethio Emblem:

Mr. Ephrem Madebo here is my say on your column.
First of all, the effort you put to further the Ethiopian political discussion is commendable, although some bull heads still barge in and shout out their baseless insult rather than employing the voice of reason and arguing with your political ideology, the talking points are irrefutable. Why? Trust me it isn’t because you are untouchable, it is because you know how to approach your subject. Your articulation and focus on the subject matter awards you the highest point yet, because you are able to provide readers with well rounded, in depth, and unbiased analysis. I applaud your effort, not all of your points of views!

Now, here is my second point directed to you: about your choice of topics. It is my opinion that a writer like you shouldn’t look desperate to attract readers. Your work speaks for itself. Don’t establish or embellish your writing identity based on things that don’t necessarily agree with what you are saying. May I state my opinion why I think you are inclined to do this? From writers point of view it is simply to bold the article. But it could also be a shredding point, specifically if it doesn’t have any truth in it. As it is exhibited in this particular article. I am sure beside the artificial or the confirmed reason, the one I stated above, you do have explanation why you chose this title, but in your article there isn’t a single trade of thought that support your topic, to all I know it is actually to the contrary. So why not align your topics and your body of article? Just my thought.

I particularly liked your conclusion, with the touch of a beautiful practice called “forgiveness”. Now, this is indeed a strange word and moreover abstract concept that is long forgotten from our political battle ground. Yes, humans are bound to make mistakes, and humans are bound to ask and receive forgiveness, all the way. Unfortunately, more often than others, in our political field the leaders tend to make fundamental, strategic, and irremediable mistakes at the cost of the majorities hope and hunger for social change. Irreparable, because they don’t acknowledge they made mistakes, and they don’t want to be accountable to their action and thus every time they stumble across this phenomenal passage they leave us, the citizens, with inevitable dilemma and shaky political ground. And to our dismay they do this at a very critical and historical turning point. It makes me wonder, why, why and why? For crying out loud, being a veteran of so many years of indigenous (Ethiopian) politics can’t afford differentiating right from wrong? Shifting political ideology abandoning the entire constituents? What is public service without the support of the grassroots? Why does it have to be always the law of basic instinct and further the law of democratic ruling has to be bent to serve the minority? So when the bold truth is these facts do they ask forgiveness? No.

My other point is on your statement: “I don’t understand why these two giant leaders of the opposition waited for so long, specially, the OFDM leaders who have to wait three more days [After Prof. Beyene] to taste an election so sour to swallow.” Do we need to be both a social critique and a hypocrite? The choice is yours, but to me the reason they stayed this long is too obvious and hard to miss. It is to see if their political agenda can pass by flying colors under the PM Meles regime. When this isn’t happening shift the gear so it doesn’t grind further. I would love to be wrong on this and admit my mistake if I am proven wrong. Because for all I wish for my Beloved Motherland Ethiopia is a Progressive Political platform that allows anyone who is up for and with the voice of the majority to move us forward. The shift in political paradigm that we need so bad, when you think about it, who shifted to what and to where is irrelevant; as long as they have the ability to look into the eyes of millions of poor Ethiopian citizens and tell them that “I did this for you” “I will do it again, for you!”

Thanks and I look forward reading your next article.

I dream of an Africa [Ethiopia] which is in peace with itself: Nelson Mandela.

Anonymous said...

good Job! :)

Anonymous said...

Why do we need to give constructive advice? what we need is a true,strong,decisive leaders who does not make grave mistakes that cost us big time. and ready to accept criticism when they are wrong. they are in the position to lead not to be complemented. I think let not afraid to give blunt comments or condemn and offer advice.