Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What a difference a year makes!

By Fikru Helebo

In a piece titled "Is Kinijit the Way?" a year ago today I had expressed cautious optimism that Kinijit had the better chance of all the political groups out there to lead Ethiopians towards democratic pluralism. In that same piece I had also expressed my doubts on whether or not Kinijit was up to
the task. I was optimistic because a few days earlier I had gone to a meeting in Alexandria, Virginia which was called by leaders of Kinijit who, having been released from two years of incarceration by the Woyane regime, did not show bitterness at their fate and their jailers but rather preached hope and reconciliation among Ethiopian political groups. On the other hand, I had reason to be guarded in my optimism because there were signs of division within Kinijit and I was concerned about the negative implications of that division for Kinijit supporters and the Ethiopian opposition groups at large.

In less than a month's time after I wrote that piece, the acrimonious division within Kinijit had gotten out of control and its partitioning had become a foregone conclusion. And in the months following the split within Kinijit, the Woyane regime added insult to injury by handing over the rights to the name and logo of Kinijit to groups that had betrayed Kinijit. In less than a year, Kinijit had gone from being called a "spirit" among its hardcore supporters to being seen as just another one of the long list of Ethiopian political parties that proved to not have what it takes to survive its first major test.

may have become history, but the causes that it symbolized and championed (democracy, human rights, etc) still remain the cries of the Ethiopian people and are in desperate need of a party that is capable of offering a vanguard leadership. Unfortunately, by going their separate ways, the former Kinijit leaders have made the struggle for freedom, democracy and the rule of law in Ethiopia a more difficult task than it already was. Hailu Shawel's faction of Kinijit was the first to drop off the Kinijit bandwagon. Then the group which was aligned with Berhanu Nega came unhinged. That left the group led by Birtukan Mideksa as the only group that remained true to the original "spirit" of Kinijit that had won over the support of the Ethiopian people.
Hailu's group reverted to its old name of the All Ethiopia Unity Party, whereas Berhanu's group has reinvented itself as Ginbot 7 movement. Birtukan's group was forced to reorganize itself under a new name called Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (Andenet). My sympathies are with Birtukan's party and I wish her and her Andenet colleagues good luck.

What surprised me the most about the partitioning of Kinijit in the last year was its abandonment by the Berhanu Nega group. I have tremendous respect for Berhanu and his Ginbot 7 colleagues for the sacrifices they have made to help the cause of freedom and democracy in Ethiopia, and I still do think that Berhanu is the most effective advocate the Ethiopian opposition has got on its side. However, I do believe that Berhanu and his colleagues have made a serious political error in judgment in abandoning their former Kinijit colleagues and forming a group which neither complements the efforts of Andenet and others, who are determined to use what narrow political space that is left, nor fills a vacuum that is not already addressed by an existing Ethiopian political group.

What a difference a year makes! Unfortunately for Ethiopians, this was not the difference they were looking for from their political parties at the begining of the Ethiopian millenium.


Anonymous said...

I have a question for You . You may have explained it elsewhere but I am sorry I will raise it now i didnt get it yet. At The top page of your blog it says ' Southern perespective' It has been a while since I started reading your blog. I donot see from the contents of the articles you write from time to time a somewahat geographically inclined position or world view of an event . To me you are expressing your opinion generally on a number of issues afecting the country as awhole or the world . I can illustrate my contentions with a number of positions you have expressed taken from your blog articles. Here is the bottom line Do we really need A southern' ' northern' 'western' eastern ' perspective to understand what is going on at home in Ethiopia or events happening across the globe? please explain we will sort out this matter so that myself and people who are puzzeled like me understand you better.

Anonymous said...

The question is directed to ato ephrem madebo Enset blog not to the author of this article sorry for the error

Unknown said...

I think, it is Ato Ephrem way of saying I am not from the northern part of Ethiopia, lol.

Unknown said...

Thier is a good amharic proverb that explains the rise and fall of Kinijit.

Yemayizelike Mahiber Be Teji Yijemeral.

Ephrem Madebo said...

Anonymous (7:10pm),
I very much love the words that express the background of the Enset blog. The historical political reality of Ethiopia is visualized differently by different Ethiopians because what happened in Ethiopia is not just economic and political oppression, it is ethnic oppression too. The southern part of Ethiopia is the most ethnically oppressed place. North, South in Ethiopia is not just geographic as you expressed it, it is political too. I am an Ethiopian from the southern part of the country; I see the Ethiopian political reality from the southern perspective. What’s wrong with that? Fikru gave us a good comparative analysis of the opposition camp. Why don't you discuss on the issues instead of running to the side issues? By the way, I am a constant contributor to enest blog, it is Fikru who started and owns the blog (this is to give him credit).

Anonymous said...

Does fikru agree with your explanation or does he have a different response?

enset said...

Yes, I agree with Ephrem. I have addressed this issue before. Click here to read.

Anonymous said...

I guess I should have expected it there is nothing new .I may not have sufficent time for now to give you full response right now.but if you will permit me I will be back to adress certain aspects that I have ommited for now I will be back sometime later.
But real quick: I want to say a few points.There is nothing wrong to observe Ethiopian politcs purely from the interest of southern peoples if that is your wish.I am not going to open a debate on that issue that is your chioice. Nether am I going to go back and defend the historical wrongs that were commited against the southern people in particular or for that matter against any other community in Ethiopia. The story was told time and again so every body knows about it.18 years after Kassu Illala and his group assumed power in ethiopia we are yet talking again about " Ethnic oppression" Let us focus on the present reality . If you are comparing the southern peoples with some other ethnic groups in today's Ethiopia and feel you are still 'oppressed'and economically underpriviledged educate us , but we need concrete proof statstics figures, in terms of how many people say, for instance, from the southern peoples have gone to school? how many clincs are set up compared to other communities? How many professors from sothern peoples teach in schools and higher educaion in ethiopia? or how many southerners have achieved leadership in the national army? etc etc for me if some one can offer facts and figures imperical studies then we understand the existence or non- existance of oppression or discrimination.when we speak of priveledged vs underprivledged the problem is the same across the country It is not unique to the people of the south. What you find in one community also invariably exists in other communities . all I am saying it is time to talk more about our common problems and the future.most of the problems that exists in the south definitley exists in all parts of the country.

Anonymous said...

I can illustrate my contentions with a number of positions you have expressed taken from your blog articles. Here is the bottom line Do we really need A southern' '??

Anonymous said...

Wodi Samual
I hate to burst your wishful bobble about the rise and fall of Kinijit.
Dream on buddy! But let me assure you that before you wake up from your slumber Gimbot7, the begotten son of Kinijit will be in the Addis to make things better for the people of Ethiopia much more sooner than we think. And I add your Meles & co. nowhere to be found near.

Viva Ginbot7
God bless Ethiopia

Anonymous said...

Oh! Yeah! And I also have a good Amharic proverb for Wodi Samual & co.


I hate the male chauvinistic aspect of this particular proverb but will do for now

Anonymous said...

To Fikru Helebo

I strongly agree on the majority of the points that you addressed on your article. However I think you failed to understand the role and objective of kinijit and thought that kinijit means only the leaders. Of course, the leaders of kinijit were vital for the party’s major accomplishments. I also agree that it was also the leaders of the kinijit attracted the majority of the support along with the core principles of kinijit that was mainly surrounded by the human rights issues, democracy and rule of law along with the other thousands of clear tang bible fundamental policies of kinijit that is clearly indicated on their manifesto. But, it was mainly the issues of the human rights and democracy has pushed the vast majority of the Ethiopian people to support kinijit, yet that question has not been fixed?

Ato Fikru you have concluded your analysis by saying “I do believe that Berhanu and his colleagues have made a serious political error in judgment in abandoning their former Kinijit colleagues and forming a group which neither complements the efforts of Andinet and others who are determined to use what narrow political space that is left nor fills a vacuum that is not already addressed by an existing Ethiopian political group.”

Let me start from your own naive conclusion that didn’t understand why kinijt was formed and why millions of people have supported kinijit and other minor issues.

Apart from the very strong apparent effects of the leaders of kinijit, the vast majority of the Ethiopian people main reason to support kinijit had been the questions of human rights and democracy. Therefore these major issues has not been fixed yet, hence regardless of the lack of responsibility of a few leaders of kinijit including the failure leader Hailu Shawel and other minor members of the party, that had left the party to unfortunate situation, the spirit of kinijit remains flying until the major huamn rights and democracy issues respected.

At this point neither the leaders of UDJ led by Birtukan nor the leaders of Ginbot 7 led by many strong party members of the group had failed to carry the spirit. Tough there are significant cases has had happened to continue the virtue of peaceful struggle. Both groups have decided to continue their struggle against TPLF tyranny but it was the TPLF has changed the venue of the peaceful struggle by blocking all means from taking away the name and logo of kinijit to completely starting to block to carry out peaceful struggle.

So I strongly believe that you have the understanding of peaceful struggle doesn’t means a religion or any other type thing can not changed in terms of views. When i say this I also agree with those who have changed their own religion for various reasons. So nither Dr. Birhanu nor most former members of kinijit and current members of Ginbot 7 didnt stop the struggle. The leaders of Ginbot 7 didn’t even say anything bad to the former kinijt leaders; they all said that it is impossible to continue the peaceful struggle in Ethiopia where weyane has been blocked all the ways of peaceful struggle. Is this what you call betrayal? Get a life. As a matter of fact don’t forget that the leaders of former kinijit have also the right to say we are done and let others continue the struggle. Still I would give them a big appraisal for their ultimate scarifies.

In any case, I guarantee you that we will be grateful one day with the help of Ginbot 7 and other strong oppositions that works for the spirit of the people like your favorite UDJ. Ethiopians of all walks of life shall rise over the grave of all odds and honor their martyrs against your inclination. Besides, unlike narrowly based and ideologically intoxicated ethnic chiefs, I believe Ginbot 7 stands for unity based on equality, democracy and social justice for all regardless. Isn’t that a very simple thing for you to understand that Ginbot 7 is striving for a collective socio political resolution in which all Ethiopians are equally treated and enjoyed the freedom and privilege of being Ethiopian? Is that what you call Ginbot 7 leaders including Dr. Birhanu have abandoning their former kinijt colleagues? Excuse You!!!!!

It was the decision of each member and leaders of former kinijit to choose the paths to continue their struggle against weyane. Still you may get surprise there will be more members and leaders from UDJ that eventually will either join the movement of Ginbot 7 nor will withdraw from the struggle from being a weyane game and may be find other alternatives to resist the weyane tyranny.

Regardless, of your poor conclusion it was not the disagreement of the leaders of the former kinijit splinted the struggle to UDJ and Ginbot 7 and others, it was the bad policy and repeated repression of the weyane regime led the individuals to find another alternative to fight the weyane....

United we win:::: The struggle continues.......

Death to all members and supporters of weyane.....

enset said...

Hagos Araya,

I am not sure if you were responding to what I wrote in some of your comments. If you were, for example, you would have realized that I had essentially said the same thing you said in the fourth paragraph of your reply in the first sentence of the third paragraph in my posting.

Regarding the point about Berhanu and his Ginbot 7 colleagues abandoning their former Kinijit colleagues, I do not think there is any other way to interpret the timing of Ginbot 7's creation other than as an abandonment. It is very obvious to me that Berhanu did not arrive at the conclusion that led him to create Ginbot 7 at the time he did (May 2008) only in the first half of 2008. I can say this with confidence because there have not been game changing developments coming from the Woyane government during that time period. Therefore, logic dictates that Berhanu must has been thinking about taking the route he took with Ginbot 7 while he was touring the US with the five person Kinijit delegation in the Fall of 2007 or, possibly, even before that. Berhanu gave up on his colleagues when they were counting on him the most. This is a classic case of abandonment.


Anonymous said...

Dear Fikru,

Thanks so much for your response.

I am again to let you know that it is unnecessary to extend the level of our dissimilar views in to endless debate. However, I have to clarify a couple of things on my side that I believe have noticed a misunderstanding on your analysis.

As you clearly have said, I strongly agree with the majority of your points except the fact that you assumed why Dr. Birhanu had to leave Kinijit on your case “abandon”. Even tough, we don’t have to spend a lot of time on the words rather than the essential ways to avert the common ways to remove the weyane tyranny, but we have to believe that sometimes words matter. It was the misinterpretation of the words created so many wars around the world. To me the word abandon is not only leaving behind. The case of Dr. Birhanu is entirely different form “abandon”.
Because, leaving behind means that you had some kind of responsibilities that needed to be done, but when you left the responsibilities with irresponsible steps. That is where it makes a difference, to me Dr. Birhanu was forcefully pushed to leave the Kinijit party not by the members and leaders of kinijit but it was by the weyane repeated repression that him and others had to give up and was forced to find another alternative, now believes with a struggle by all means available.

You have also said that “Birhanu gave up on his colleagues when they were counting on him the most.” As we all see that it could’ve been the reason, but it was apparent that Dr. Birhanu was also the mastermind the defeat of weyane in 2005 election, he had played the most significant part for the victory of kinijit that could considered him the most bedrock person unlike your false accusation. So I don’t think your argument would score any touch down to this extent, since dr. Birhanu has showed that he is capable of taking the burdens of the Ethiopian people at that moment. In addition to that as you know that Dr. Birhanu was the most influential person who had made the biggest contribution in the formation of Keste Demena, one of the wings of kinijit by convincing many strong former Keste Demena later kinijt members to join the party including Prof. Mesfin, Dr. Yakob, Dr. Befikadu, Mrs. Birtukan and other strong members and leaders of the party. And even recently it was Dr. Birhanu’s and other few leaders of Ginbot 7 strong decision ready to carry the biggest task and long journey struggle that formed Ginbot 7. In any case, it is just a simple non-tangible accusation to say Dr. Birhanu had left kinijt because he didn’t want people counting on him. In simple words, Dr. Birhanu has been one of the most counting people and will continue to be in his virtue. Hence, I can say that you utterly failed to address your concerns appropriately.

I think the last part of your argument and confusion or may be dissatisfaction is why Dr. Birhanu had been involved in tour along with the other leaders of kinijit back in fall 2007 and consequently declared his new party in spring 2008. Well, this was exactly mine and many other strong sympathizers of kinijit reaction when we heard the formation of the newly Ginbot 7. Most of us have said that what happened to Dr. Birhanu? However, instead of rushing to accuse the former peaceful struggle singer (Dr. Birhanu), most people including myself decided to explore the answers for questions why? How? When? And other concerns that made Dr. Birhanu to change his gear to a different path.

As we all know that Dr. Birhanu admitted that the fact he was one of those people who was strongly believe in peaceful struggle, and had been a singer of peaceful struggle. He has also said that he would’ve taken any kind of accusation if anyone wanted to blame him it took him a while to understand the ground nature of Weyane that considered doesn’t give up power using peaceful struggle by the majority of oppositions, i.e. Particularly EPRP, a party that has been in exile for over 30 years with the leaders and members that are not fighters but just war mongers. Actually, the current EPRP is much known with the members that restlessly targets to insult strong opposition leaders like Dr. Birhanu and others. In many places EPRP is considered to be a dead party, but known by a few individuals as existed party with the remote control leader of Eyasu, though recently splinted with the wing EPRP (D), which seems believe with basic principles of human right and democracy. Anyway, I apologize that I took you beyond our common point. If needed, I will get back with this issue in the future.
To get back to my point, Dr. Birhanu had clearly kept why he had to find another way of struggle and decided to form Ginbot 7, and as of my best understanding he still would love to struggle using peaceful path if things would allow him to continue from the Weyane side. I think the question that Dr. Birhanu and other members of Ginbot raised should be also major issues of most opposition leaders, members and supporters if we believe a peaceful struggle should continue. How come a peaceful struggle can be engaged in Ethiopia where freedom of assembly, campaign, media access, justice, and other major thing are still oppressed by the weyane govt.? Most opposition parties including UDJ and other loyal oppositions are still suffering by the weyane aggressive retribution post 2005 election. Moreover, there are still a continuous mass detention in the entire country in suspect of kinijit, OLF and other opposition party sympathizers. So how can we can continue the peaceful struggle practically? So far I have only heard in words that peaceful struggle is possible form the weyane cadres and some opposition parties, but have not seen anything practically how a peaceful struggle can be acquired? I personally don’t want somebody to tell me in words that are impossible in practice. I would agree if someone says we can obtain our peaceful struggle through such and such strategies, which I would agree or not. But by keep echoing only peaceful struggle is possible doesn’t make the struggle true. I mean just give me basic scenarios such as we can reach the people through such and know...but I have only seen the weyane continuous effort to block the drains of all peaceful struggle, while weyane in words keep singing a peaceful struggle is legal, in illegal conditions created by Weayne. ....

Aside from the fact that the irresponsible Hailu Shwel was made a horrible mistake that dragged the role of kinijit’s struggle, and suffered the entire struggle, which is still unfortunate. As we all know that it was the same time that right after the CUD delegation group of North America started their tour, the shameless weyane illegitimate govt. Had taken the name of kinijit and its logo and given to his puppets. Furthermore, weyane consequently had declared anther legislative to kill the function of Kinijit that states that opposition parties are not allowed to get a financial support from their Diaspora supporters. Weyane didn’t still stop, instead weyane continued to intimidate the local members and supporters of kinijit by accusing with endless false accusations to kill the entire Kinijit struggle by any means possible. At the same time weyane was highly threatened the leaders of kinijit that were had a tour in North America, Europe and South Africa, as if they break the rules of Weyane of the so called signed pardon fake paper work.

So as a result of all these back to back set back consequences led some of the kinijt leaders like Dr. Birhanu forcefully decided to switch their gear, even though Dr. Birhanu has clearly said that he had a long term plan started when they were illegally languished at weyane’s notorious jail at kaliti. It doesn’t matter that Dr. Birhanu was preaching about a peaceful struggle back in fall and how come he switched his gear in spring. It could be yesterday that he was forcing people to join a peaceful struggle, but today is different so he has to acquire his ambitions based on today. I would love to leave Germany’s proverb here for you “A wise man changes his mind; a fool never.” Unless, you try to deliberately attack Dr. Birhnau using false accusation or unless you are a naive person who doesn’t understand the ways of struggle that we oppositions should attain, you would not argue on this issue anymore.

In any case, I strongly believe that Dr. Birhanu might going to change his vision back to what he was along many other strong ex-kinijit leaders and members if thing allow them to entertain their view in Ethiopia that can be opened by the weyane illegitimate criminal group. Now it is all about Weyane to open the forum for a democratic dialog rather than continuous repression to stay in power. I also believe that not only Dr. Birhanu but also, we all will might keep changing our strategy accordingly until democracy and human rights respect in Ethiopia.

I hope you would get the fruit part of my concern from my long tedious comment, as I did from yours.

Thanks for reading and united we win!!!

Death to all members and supporters of Weyane.

Hagos Araya

I can also be reached @

Anonymous said...

Forgive me for butting in but my common sense told me that Dr Brehanu did not abandon Kinijit. I believe He simply followed his heart (a reliable little machine) and did what he believed was correct at the moment. And again it’s all about perception! For what one may hear as positive, another may hear as negative.
Without intending offense, isn't it ironic that Mr Fikru bent on accusing Dr Brehanu of abandoning Kinijit while he repeatedly preached about abandoning the Ethiopian National calendar and language?
IMHO Dr Brehanu not only charismatic gifted and smart leader but also sent from God. Only history will reveal that.
So Mr Fikru, please back off you aint helping the Cause. The Cause is not Kinijit it’s Ethiopia and the people. The way I see it here Kinjit is simply a means to an end (getting rid off the Woyane regime) not the end by itself. I hope you see the big picture here. (Smile)

Anonymous said...

now kinijit changed it's name and it is the right thing to do.for those of you who think kinijit is finished i have a news for you kinijit is still well alive under it.s new name and that is only way to bring the real democracy in ethiopia,the name of the leader of this party is ENG.HAILU SHAWEL through his leadership ethiopia will stand tall once again.