Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lucky Woyane!

By Fikru Helebo

I had a conversation recently with a friend which made me say: "oh my goodness, how much more lucky can Woyane get!" Here is how my conversation with the friend went:

Me: It looks like Beyene is trying hard to rehabilitate his political fortune through his involvement in the newly founded group, Medrek.

My Friend: Yeah, he is trying, but the Ethiopian people will never forget what he did in 2005 and will not be fooled.

Me: Yes, I agree. But, it is good that he is trying.

My Friend: Most of them in that Medrek group are enemies of Ethiopia. They should not be allowed to fool Ethiopians again.

Me: Well, I think that some of the folks in Medrek have some accounting to do with the Ethiopian people, but I do not think this is the time for it.

My Friend: I think the time for accounting is now. If they don't confess the crimes they committed against the Ethiopian people now, they can't be trusted with leadership positions. And Medrek is infested with Woyane agents.

Me: You have a point to some degree, but I do not agree with labeling them as Woyane agents and as enemies of Ethiopia. Doing so won't accomplish anything. If anything, this kind of politics will only help the Woyane. I do not have high expectation for the Medrek grouping, but I am all for anyone trying do what they can to challenge the Woyane and, in particular, I find challenging the Woyane in its own home turf as Medrek seems to be doing to be a positive development.

My Friend: I totally disagree with you. Medrek is a collection of Woyane agents and they must be exposed.

Me: Do you think the UDJ (Andenet) would join Medrek if they think Medrek is a tool of Woyane?

My Friend: Andenet itself is also infested with Woyane agents. Birtukan herself is a Woyane agent.

Me: Hold on a minute. Are you telling me that Birtukan is going through the hell she is going through to help the Woyane?

My Friend: Yes, I think so. Here are the reasons why I thnk she is a Woyane agent:

  1. She deliberately said that there are only 100 political prisoners in Ethiopia in her testimony before the US Congress in 2007.
  2. She apologized to the Tigrean people on behalf of Kinijit on her visit to Minnesota in 2007 without being authorized to do so by her party.
  3. Her statement in Sweden that led to her re-imprisonment was timed to help Woyane.
Me: You have got to be kidding me! It is fair to criticize Birtukan, but to quote her out of context and malign her character is not fair, and I find the suggestion that she is, somehow, a Woyane agent to be a ridiculous suggestion. This is the epitome of cynicism and a very good indicator of the futility of our culture that does not tolerate differences of opinion.

Our conversation got a bit heated at this point, but I am happy to say that we ended it in an amicable way.

My point of relating to you this story is to show how self-destructive the Ethiopian political culture has become. The story above is a conversation that took place between two individuals. Multiply that thousands of times and that is how we end up with this self-destructive political culture that does not tolerate criticism and where moderation is an undesired political currency. This, my friends, is one of the main reasons why Woyane has survived for this long and has a good chance to continue on ruling with iron fist for the foreseeable future.

As of today, the Woyane have ruled Ethiopia for 6501 days, and this is 1 year and 1 month longer than the time the Derg ruled Ethiopia. Lucky Woyane!

Woyane has, indeed, been one lucky political machine. The main reason for the longevity of its rule has, of course, been its implementation of the strategy of divide-and-rule along ethnic lines, which has worked to almost perfection, up until now at least. The self-destructive nature of the opposition, however, is without question another big reason for why Woyane's rule has lasted this long. Here are a few of the main episodes from the self-destruction of the opposition:

The COEDF Debacle

The COEDF was the first Ethiopian real coalition of Ethiopian political parties. It brought together most of the major political forces that were excluded from the London talks of May 1991 that was brokered by the Americans and the subsequent conference in Addis Ababa. Although COEDF set a useful precedent for coalition building in Ethiopian politics, unfortunately it was riddled with factionalism based on party affiliation and personalities and could not achieve cohesiveness as an organization.

The Alternative Forces Fiasco

The Alternative Forces was born out of the Paris Conference of 1993 that attempted to bring all the political actors together in the spirit of reconciliation. It had good will but no clear strategy on how to mobilize and lead the people. As a result, it died a long and miserable death orphaned by its own creators.

The UEDF Debacle

The UEDF was a valiant effort made by Ethiopians for Ethiopians to bring most of the opposition around a minimum political program in the hope of challenging the Woyane peacefully and constitutionally. It had laudable goals, but it was also dicapitated as soon as it was created because it was unable to bridge the trust gap among the different factions and its organizational structure had no binding effect on its members as were the structures of the coalitions before it. Some of the dissatisfied groups left UEDF within a short time and formed their own coalition (Kinijit), but only to devour each other a few years later.

The Kinijit Fiasco

The seeds for the demise of Kinijit were sown during the process when some of its member organizations left the UEDF. Kinijit's downfall was a classic case of self-destruction. Some of its leaders saw one another with more suspicion than they did vis-a-vis Woyane. They preached tolerance, transparency and reconciliation just like all the other opposition groups do, but they failed terribly when it came to practicing these tenets of democracy amongst themselves. As a result, they have made it more difficult than it was before for the public to have trust in their political leaders.

And so it goes.

What could be the opposition's next gift to Woyane? Cannibalism within UDJ (Andenet)? Character assassinations on folks like Yacob Hailemariam, folks who are doing their level best under very difficult circumstances and whose motive in getting involved in politics in their golden years is to give back to the country that has given them so much? We shall find out in the not too distant future. But I hope the opposition will learn from its mistakes and avoid giving Woyane more life lines. And, I hope I don't ever have to say "Lucky Woyane!" again.


Fayyis said...

Hi Fikru,
thanks for the article!
To know more how lucky Weyane is, read the following: "how could we resolve the diverse outlooks of people and their leaders in developing a middle ground for establishing the political forum on surer ground? When Isayas Afeworki (the author who inculcated TPLF's fear of the Amhara and suspicion of others) said that Ethiopians are given a 100 years assignment to solve their ethnic problems, was he right looking at the disarray of the politicians who are unable to forge a middle ground amongst the people? When Meles Zenawi called the historical face-off between the Oromo and the Amhara as a "unique historical advantage for the TPLF" to perpetuate its rule, or when he said named the dialogue within the AFD as a marriage between "fire and straw" [Esatina Chiid], was he right? Could we all cave into our holes and comfort zones, singing the same old songs and regurgitating on racial slurs and "jokes" while the political rulers are doing their homework? Remember, rulers thrive in controversies and tensions to engage the attention of their subjects whilst they are embedding their wicked systems."

If the mantra of MEDREK just preaching to live "according to public verdict" is genuine, what about the public verdict for e.g. on the possibility of Oromia to have a separated Gadaa Republic of Oromia? I think, as far as living together in the empire is concerned, we do have only two options for future poletical arrangement:

- either to find a compromising consense with a win-win possibility such as to agee on National Liberty with Regional Unity (e.g Oromian Liberty with Ethiopian Unity) or

- to allow people to decide on: first Union vs Indepndence of nations and then on Region based Federation vs Nation based Federation.

If we choose the first, then all stake holder should sit together and agree on the compromise END. If we choose the second, then we need to make two referendums:

1) on Ethiopian Unity vs national Independence (e.g Independent Gadaa Republic of Oromia)

2) if Unity wins in the first referendum, then we decide on the type of administrative organization we want to have in a united Ethiopia aka Nation-based-Federation vs Region-based-Federation.

Then we do live according to the verdict as suggested by MEDREK and it is also possible to forge a genuine all inclusive opposition against Weyane.

Dessalegn Asfaw said...

Beautiful post, Fikru!

What a caricature your friend turns out to be! An excellent illustration that our capacity for distrust and conspiracy theory seems infinite!

Our mentality is so outrageous and naive that it still shocks us sometimes. I can never quite get fully used to it.

One angle to the problem I never fully thought of until I read your post is the naivety of it all. Let's correctly label excessive cynicism and distrust. It is not bilTinet, it's naivety.

And that's what we are. We say the Ethiopian is shrewd. Not at all - he is naive. So naive as to expect that he can advance his interests with such a childish and narrow approach to problems! While the rest of the world around him, including the 'Woyane', passes him by.

I don't know the kind of amicability your conversation with your friend ended with. But I hope you explained to him, nicely, or in whatever terms were likely to make an impact, that his dictatorship-friendly, anti-democratic mentality - illustrative of the Ethiopian dysfunctional behaviours - is precisely what extends dictatorship in Ethiopia.

enset said...

Hi Desalegn,

I agree with you, this is naivete and we should call it as such. A good dose of skepticism is appropriate but, as you said, this is excessive cynicism. You had correctly diagnosed this self-destructive behavior of Ethiopians as "chronic suspicion and mistrust" in your wonderful article on dysfunctional behaviours a couple of years ago. What a coincidence that you commented now! I was actually thinking about mentioning this article of your, but I forgot. Thanks for the comment.


enset said...


I overlooked a portion of your comment where you referred to my friend's view as "childish". This characterization of my friend is not fair and I hope you will take it back. Actually, my friend is one of the very few people whom I can vouch for as a person of very high moral character and decency. Unfortunately, Woyane's increasing brutality has turned him into a cynic and he is certainly contributing, at least in thought, to the self-destructive political culture that is observed among many Ethiopians nowadays.


Dessalegn Asfaw said...


I have no business calling your friend 'childish'! It's his 'approach to this problem' or his thought process that I call childish and naive. Just separating the person and his thoughts/actions, which perhaps I didn't do so well in my comment.

And yes, many of my nearest and dearest, good people who mean well, are also mired in this mindset.

Anonymous said...

Dessalegne & Fikru

Have you ever heard of the saying "yalteretere temenetere"!!! how can you be sure that Birtukan is honest! Once Lidetu was incarcerated in shewarobit prison and considered as Ethiopian Mandela. I think your friend’s mistrust of Birtukan is reasonable!! If you treat his ideas as childish, what about those who affirm that God exists!!

enset said...

Hi there,

What I am talking about is not a healthy level of skepticism, which is actually the most responsible thing to have when it comes to all politicians, including Birtukan. What I tried to illustrate with my friend's view of Birtukan is that my friend's skepticism has gone way too far than warranted, and the reasons he gave me are not convincing in the least.

Comparing Birtukan with Lidetu is like comparing apples and oranges (pun intended). Lidetu is proven Woyane agent. Birtukan is not beyond criticism and should fairly be criticized. For example, the fact that she failed to add a sufficient caviat in her reply to the question of the Rep. Chris Smith who wanted a specific number for political prisoners is something that can be fairly criticized. But to extrapolate from her reply and say the reason she failed to add the caviat is because she is a Woyane agent is not only unfair it is irresponsible.

Regarding those who want to compare her to Mandela, I think that is not fair to her, but let do it if it makes them feel good. We should not begrudge that.


Ephrem Madebo said...

Every time we see some promising leadership sign in someone, we tend to call him/her Mandela which to me is absolutely wrong. It took almost 40 years to make Mandela “Mandela”; but we call our unproven heroes Mandela in just six months. To be honest, one can say anything he/she wants as long as saying is concerned. However, when we join public dialogs such as here in Enset, we must support our words with facts. When we say Birtukuan is Woyane agent (very serious claim), we need to support our words with fact, or present unequivocal proof. When we compare and contrast human deeds and behaviors we just can’t use linear models or mathematical transitive properties. Remember, all blacks in the Northern Hemisphere originated from Africa, but all Africans are not blacks. There are many opposition politicians who once visited “Kaliti” and now are free; can we call them Woyane agents? Or we just single out the ones that we don’t agree with and give them the nick name “Woyane agent”? To me, Birtukuan is the ultimate Ethiopian hero who penetrated the only men circle of Ethiopian politics! She went to jail so that Woyane and we all know that there is nothing above the truth!

Dessalegn Asfaw said...

I think Fikru has made a clear dileneation between healthy, normal scepticism, and a paranoid mentality. As Ethiopians, we tend to be paranoid. We have proven ourselves quite capable of weaving elaborate stories to show that Isayas is a 'Woyane agent', or Mengistu was CIA agent, or Haile Sellassie was MI6! We don't have healthy scepticism, we have paranoia, a paranoia that ties us up in knots and prevents us from moving forward in any direction. After all, under every rock is a conspiracy against us!

I don't know how to change this mentality, but I'm sure those of you (in the diaspora) with young children can see that they're not quite as mad! And they do very well - ayemeneTerum!

One way to avoid such a mindset, I think, is by refraining from speculating without the full facts. For example, about Lidetu. All I know is that he played a significant role in the Kinijit infighting (as did many others), he could not accept democratic decisions made by the Kinijit Council (like many others), he insulted fellow Kinijit leaders, went on to denigrate those Kinijit leaders who were arrested (few others did this), and went on to sit in Parliament (which others did). These are the facts I know. This raises major questions of character, judgement, and ability, but is by no means conclusive proof that he was and is an EPRDF spy.

So why not leave it at that? Why assert that he is an EPRDF spy? What's the point? Is one of the reasons perhaps to reassure ourselves that a real pro-democracy advocate is not capable of such destructive behaviour? Surely we're beyond that now. After thirty years of a weak pro-democracy struggle, we have enough evidence to show that we're self-destructive. That we're our own worst enemy. Lidetu is just the latest to press the self-destruct button.

It's also high time we begin to think about the culture that produces Lidetu after Lidetu. Lidetu didn't mess up on this own. He had plenty of help others - supporters and antagonists - who inflamed the conflict and helped drive him into the little corner in which he finds himself now.

Hmmm... now that I've declared that I don't think Lidetu is a Woyane agent, perhaps I'm a Woyane agent!

enset said...


How else can one explain Lidetu's behaviour from his days in the AAPO, from which he was expelled, up until now? I can't compare what Lidetu did with what the other inept politicians did. His actions in the downfall of Kinijit in the Fall and Winter of 2005 tells me that he was in the take from the Woyane. He has become a pariah for a reason. Why point out that he is a Woyane agent? Because that is the prudent thing to do. There is also a need to remind the opposition that there could be some Lidetu's among them and they need to keep their guards up, without being paranoid about it. Unfortunately, this is the ugly side of politics.


Fayyis said...

The question to be discused is not about who is who, which is only the area of speculation! The main point is: what is the future solution?! Most of us are experts in fault finding, some of us in problem propagating! Few are solution seekers! What is the solution for the "Imyiye" you all cry for? Can you find any solution disragarding Oromo question? I know you all try to "ignore" this aspect of the problem. But MERDO for all of you is that Oromo question is the Alpha and Omega of all your rantings! Can you solve the problems you just narrate with out accepting and respecting the God-Given right of Oromo nation to Liberty? Just as a mental food for your infested brain: with out Oromian Liberty, there will be no Ethiopian Unity!! But to your ye misiraach, Oromos always believed in Oromian Liberty with in or with out Ethiopian Unity!!

Anonymous said...

Fayyis, can you tell me who is Oromo or not Oromo. Who will be the one to vote about Oromo's liberty or unity when the day comes?

Habtu said...

Whenever I see Dessalegn's name is discussion forums, I perk up. Along with Messay Kebede, he is one of is my absolute favorite Ethiopian commenters. (Fikru, Ephrem, et al, I like you too, but let's give fair praise to those who deserve it).

Coming to the discussion at hand, I think it's very hard hard to come up with ideas better articulated than the article linked by Fikru. Dessalegn's insights are more true now than when I first read the piece a couple of years ago. That piece was an indictment of our national culture to the extent that we have one. Each of us has seen some of the maladies Dessalegn pointed out in ourselves and our compatriots: Parochialism, Chronic suspicion, Lack of openness,Stubbornness,Envy, Holding Grudges, etc. If being born to a certain society is a choice a person can make, it's hard to think any sane person would choose such a collective, but that's not the case and we've no choice but to try to improve it from within.

To cite few examples of stubbornness and lack of compromise, witness the platforms of the some political entities in Ethiopia:
1) "[We] accept ethnic-based federalism as the only form of government in Ethiopia" --(OFDM);
2) "After an in-depth party discussion, we decided that Engineer' Hailu's AEUP is the only party that can liberate Ethiopia from its enemies." --(AEUP)
3) "Only Revolutionary Democracy is appropriate for present day Ethiopia" (TPLF, in the person of Meles)

Oh, so much jeg'ninet! I'm sure you can list several other examples of uncompromising "leadership".

But here is a question that may be of interest: Does the Ethiopian society lack cultural openness because there never was a political openness (i.e., democracy) in our country or is it the other way around? That is, Ethiopians have never seen a democracy and so we shouldn't expect the culture of conversation towards understanding others! (The classic chicken-and-egg problem!)

As things stand now, we don't even have the platform or the medium for a national conversation; also, it's in the interest of the TPLF to keep the present state of things as much as is possible. But who knows? One of these days we could be lucky and find a persuasive and slightly domineering figure (for reasons of believability) to lead us in the direction of goodness.

As a side note: we can't ignore the fact that it's not impossible, indeed likely, that the TPLF would implant divisive and counterproductive personalities among the the pro-democracy movement. That's just the way things are.

Ephrem Madebo said...


The Ethiopian problem will never be solved without fully addressing the Oromo problem. By the way, is there any Oromo problem that is not Ethiopian problem, or is there any Ethiopian problem that excludes the Oromo problem? The problem is systemic; hence the approach to solve it must be systemic. Any individual attempt to solve the Ethiopian problem excluding the Oromos and any kind of isolated attempt to solve Oromo problems independent of the other Ethiopian problems will solve neither of the problems.

Dessalegn Asfaw said...


Thanks for the undeserved compliments, and yes, surely there are EPRDF spies, or folks who pass information to the EPRDF, in the various pro-democracy political parties. It simply would not make sense for the EPRDF not to infiltrate these organizations.

I make a distinction between an EPRDF spy or infiltrator, that is, one who joins Andenet (I'll use Andenet as the example), on assignment from the EPRDF as a spy, and others who were already Andenet members when the EPRDF bribed/forced/encouraged them to pass along information. Why do I make the distinction? The former is in service to the EPRDF to benefit the EPRDF. The latter is in it to harm rivals within Andenet - he is using the EPRDF as a weapon in an internal fight.

We have a history in Ethiopia of this - of folks engaging in treasonous acts not out of loyalty to their benefactors, but to weaken their internal opponents. The famous historical example - Emperors Yohannes and Menelik with the British and Italians respectively. They had little compunction about cooperating with colonial powers for the purpose of weakening each other and Emperor Tewodros. They had absolutely no loyalty to the foreigners, but were willing to use them, at great risk to the country, to further their personal goals.

I would not be at all surprised if, aside from EPRDF spies, there are lots of folks like this in all the political parties in Ethiopia. In our eagerness to win our petty provincial squabbles, we forget the big picture and end up damaging our own interests in the long run.

Back to Lidetu... Fikru, I could say the same thing about Hailu Shawel that you say about Lidetu. After all, Hailu acrimoniously split with the venerated Dr. Asrat Woldeyes in a very sensitive time. Then of course he helped put an end to Kinijit in 2007. Is Hailu Shawel an EPRDF spy?

Certainly not. In my opinion, he's to some extent just another victim of his culture. My way or the highway, with no clue of conflict resolution or management. In his zeal to enforce his own point of view, he damaged both the movement and his own personal interests.

I see Lidetu in the same way.

Fayyis said...

to know who is Oromo, visit the hitherto statistics figures. At least 34.5% of the people in your IMIYE said they are Oromo. We actually estimate about 40-50%! To your question who will vote, just use your common sense. Do you expect your neighbours decide on your family affair? Same is true when it comes to nations!!

well said. But that Abyssinians forget or "ignore" to take Oromo question in to their poletical calculus is fact on the ground. Other wise how can a sane people talk about region based federation as a future arrangemnet, where Oromia is targeted to be dismantled. Such people didn't get the fact that almost all Oromos in the walk of life never willingly allow Oromia to be erased! I think Somalis, Tigreans, Afars, Sidamas and Hareris believe the same way regarding their respective national areas. It is only Amharas and few elites of the south like you, Iyu'el, Berihanu and Ephrem, who do still entertain such idea. Are you people not denying Oromo question and interest?

Fayyis said...

Pardon! My post is directed to Ephrem, not to Fikru! So just exchange the names Fikru/Ephrem, when you read it!!

Anonymous said...

What's really going on here? Fikru and other comenntators, you have grossly misunderstood Fikru's friend. I infact like his devotion for successful and wiser Ethiopian opposition. I don't see him as a cynic, stubborn, naive or childish. Quite the opposit. He is very consistent and scientific in his analysis of events that formed his low opinions of the opposition. At this time now when he has made up his mind to eat away the volunteer membership and support he was freely giving to the opposition because his hate of the ethnofascist government , obviously angry, he labelled them as no better than EPRDFs. Exaggerated feeling of rejection of what was part of his being, nonetheless a simple rejection of the opposition hereafter. He says they have fouled up too much.
Unless you guys are imposing external characteristics of your own other than that can be concluded from the conversation, I don't see where your subject of maltreatment is childish, naive, cynic or stubborn. Therefore, your exaggerated righteous indigantion is not supportable by available facts.

deksis said...


I don’t see the ethnic based federation’s advantages other than accommodating nationalist political groups and to cleaning up some past and presently held grudges against each other. It may also create greedy competition and widen ethnic rifts. But region based federation is more advantages when it comes to economic and administration efficiency,trade and use of natural and human resources. I can see the Koffele Oromo more connected to the Sidama than Dembidollo. Or harar to Ogaden than Kemise.

Fayyis said...

well I do respect your arguement. But that doesn't mean it is the will of Oromo nation and others' except Amhara's who advocate for region based federation for they know the advantage they get based on the fact that Amharic being the working language of the federation.

Just stop and think other wise: let's say Afaan Oromo is the working language of the federation instead of Amharinya. Do you know who will favour region based federation? It will be Oromos, not Amharas! What I wanted to tell you is that every nation favours what is to its advantage. Now region based federation (RBF) is more advantegious for Amharas and probably for the south nations (all being very small nations, they need a protection of the BIGs). I being Oromo now favour nation based federation (NBF).

But if you people agree to accept Afaan Oromo instead of Amharinya as a federal language, I will be the best advocator of your region based federation. Mind you I am not talking about making both Afaan Oromo and Amharinya a working language of the federation as G-7 and co try to make us believe. With this maneuver Amharas want that Amharinya be the working language of also Oromia and other regions, which they do not have now! I am telling you that, let's limit Amharinya in only Amhara region and make Afaan Oromo the only NATIONAL language of Ethiopia. I am sure you will be the supporter of nation based federalism, while I will be the best advocator for RBF!!

Deksis said...


So Your suggestion is to keep the present federal arrangement. Am I correct?

enset said...


This topic is not about ethnic politics or Oromia. There is plenty of opportunity for those topics. I am asking to not contribute to this specific posting anymore, unless you have something to contribute the topic at hand: the self-destructive political culture.


Deksis said...

I do respect your words and hold all what I have in mind.
Fayyis,is there any way to continue exchanging ideas about NBF RBF and LBF (language based federation)?

Anonymous said...



You said that you know much about Lidetu. I have question for you , do know what disaster Lidatu Ayalew made when he joined alternative forces ( Amarach hayloch) after betraying and making division on the youth wing of AAPO?
Would you please answer what role Lidetu and Kifle Tigneh played to illegaly destroy Alternative forces when Dr.Beyene was in America for sabbatican leave in 1999?

Anonymous said...

Freedom expression at this blog is laughable. You deleted my post because you did not like it. You did not like it because it opposed your view that your friend was naive and childish critique of the opposition but he was a frustrated supporter of the opposition.
I was not abusive like you three werre calling your friend all kinds of names. I can see why your country shall contine to suffer from intolerance under such reckless disrgard to differences of opnions.

Anonymous said...

I have question for you did you ask your friend's permission to base your artcle on the arguments you and your friend had to post on enset blog?

enset said...

I know Anon. of March 18, 2009 9:39:00 PM and Anon. of March 18, 2009 9:57:00 PM are one and the same. Nevertheless, the answer to the question is no, I did not. My friend's identity was not divulged here or to anyone and none of the ideas my friend and I discussed involved confidential information. If you have a case to make as to how my friend's comment about Birtukan does not contribute to our self-destructive political culture, then I invite you to make your case.

Anon. of March 18, 2009 9:41:00 PM: You are also the same person as Anon of March 18, 2009 4:43:00 PM. You write from Ontario and, obviously, your comment was not deleted. I have deleted two other very short comments that were not on topic and (one of them inflammatory and thus my earlier message to Fayyis) in an effort to make the comments section readable. Sorry that I have to do this, but I think this is better than moderating all comments.


Anonymous said...

My apology, Fikru. You're right I write from Ontario and my post is still standing; my mistake couldn't find it earlier. Due to fast scrolling? May be.
I gonna have a nickname from now on for easier id. I'm Cactus.

enset said...

Thank you and I appreciate your honesty. I will help you out with your nickname. I have disabled anonymous commenting. Everyone will need to be a registered user of one of the entities in the profile selection dropdown or have a Google (gmail) account to be able to comment on this blog. If anyone needs a gmail account, email me at ensetblog at gmail dot com and I will send you an invitation or you can just go to and create an account by yourself.


enset said...


I agree that it would be foolish of Woyane not to infiltrate the opposition. By the same token, the opposition should do the same: infiltrate Woyane to the extent it is possible. But, I am afraid the opposition has never been stable enough to do this job to a point where the Woyane are loosing sleep.

Regarding Lidetu, I never had a positive opinion about him at any point in time. First time I heard about him was when he was expelled by the AAPO. From there he went to Beyene's Alternative Forces seeking asylum, but it not granted. Mind you, Alternative Forces at this point (1999) was neither a force nor an alternative, but such is the sad reality of the Ethiopian opposition.

But, while awaiting for his asylum result at Alternative Forces, Lidetu hooked up with Kifle Tigeneh, Beyene's leutenant at Alternative Forces and his stand-in while Beyene was in the US on sabatical, and other conspirants, which included Mankelkilot Haileselassie, and attempted to install Kifle, in a coup de'tat of sorts, as Alternative Forces chairperson.

On his return to Ethiopia, Beyene outmanuevered them all by making an effective use of Woyane's election board. Lidetu went on to found the EDP after that. He was the toast of the town in 2002 (see this glowing article about him from that year). He joined the UEDF like the rest of them, but only to leave it in a matter of months. He then joined Kinijit in 2004, but only to betray them in 2005.

The example you gave us from years past were instructive, but I do not see a clear analogy to what Lidetu did in 2005. I do not see him as just another victim of our rotten political culture. Hailu Shawel's intransigence definitelly helped Woyane, but I am pretty sure Shawel was not in take from Woyane. Everything I know about Lidetu leads me to believe that he was a person with ulterior motives from the beginning of his AAPO days.


Dessalegn said...


In your last comments, I think you end up casting a lot of doubt on the accusation that Lidetu is an EPRDF spy! I think it's enough evidence to overturn the accusation.

First, you show that he was popular. That's true, Lidetu was indeed very popular in Ethiopia until his 2005 tantrums. People loved him in the debates. The EDP was, by all estimations, a popular party. Perhaps it didn't have the grassroots and rural tentacles like the AEUP, but it had significant support, to some degree as a result of Lidetu's charisma. By the way, I for one would find it a blow to my honour to credit the EPRDF with having planted a spy as a major opposition leader!

Second, had he been an EPRDF spy, why did he not succeed in unseating Beyene in a struggle in which the EPRDF played referee? Why was he arrested and why did he undergo the same physical torture as others in 2001? And so on.

Third, let's not forget that in those days, diaspora 'politics' was deeply divided between the AEUP types and UEDF/EPRP types. We know Lidetu wasn't the only one incapable of working with others!

In the face of all of this counter-evidence, how can we make a strong claim such as Lidetu was an EPRDF spy? You need really strong evidence to make such a claim, and we don't have such. The evidence we have is that he was misguided, power-hungry, and unable to work with others, and would have no issues with using the EPRDF to fight his little battles. So why not leave it at that?

Like I said, I think it is in our nature as Ethiopians to blame others for our problems and absolve ourselves, and to believe in the wildest conspiracy theories. As Bernard Lewis said:

'When people realize things are going wrong, there are two questions they can ask. One is, "What did we do wrong?" and the other is, "Who did this to us?" The latter leads to conspiracy theories and paranoia. The first question leads to another line of thinking: "How do we put it right?"'

So when it comes to such cases or 50-50 cases, I think that we should consciously make it a practice to break this habit - to check our instincts and go the other way. It's more important to break the habit than to pronounce Lidetu a spy.

enset said...

Dear Dessalegn,

I think we will have to agree to disagree on this one. I think the case for Lidetu being a Woyane implant is very strong if not overwhelming, and definitely not a 50-50 proposition as you suggest. Since what we are dealing with is the court of public opinion to which politicians are subjected to and not a court of law, I think all we need are just the circumstantial evidences that point to Lidetu being a Woyane agent.

The main circumstantial evidence in this case is the role he played in the downfall of Kinijit, a role vastly different from the role others such as Shawel and Berhanu played. Another circumstantial evidence for me is how the other opposition groups have treated him since 2005. I very much doubt he will be accepted in opposition circles as a bona fide leader of an opposition group.


assefa said...

Please forgive me for interjecting a rather simple hypothesis in an otherwise very robust discussion about Lidetu.

My hypothesis goes as such.

When Kinijit's public acceptance was at its highest, the two characters who gained the most were Lidetu and Hailu. Berhanu saw the success of Lidetu as a portent of the loss of power he had envisioned for himself and his associates; Birtukan and Andargatchew.

Actions within Kinijit that were conducted by Birhanu would lead us to believe that he had undertaken a divide and conquer policy regarding Hailu and Lidetu. The assignation of positions of power were purposefully undertaken to politically castrate Lidetu. Was there an agenda behind these actions or did they(Birhanu)really believe that a politically berefit Birtukan deserves to be crowned as a V.P of Kinijit. Say what you will, this action is the height of political miscalculation at its worst.

An ego driven Lidetu does not help himself by making compromises.

Therefore, now we see him as the main reason for the down fall of Kinijit. I say that if we are to rate the characters responsible for the destruction of Kinijit, it would have Berhanu leading the parade, followed by Lidetu, Shawel, Andargatchew, the ego-manaical Elias Kifle.....should I go on?


Dessalegn said...


To paraphrase Reagan, There we go again.

What's with this habit of idle negative speculation? When people are always spreading rumours and impugning motives based on idle speculation, how can they trust each other enough to cooperate? They can't, which is why we're in the state we are in today. This habit of negative speculation is a direct reason why we can't cooperate and form functional and healthy democratic institutions, and yet we persist in it!

For the record, what I have written about Lidetu is not based on guessing at what his motives may be, but based solely on his actions, which are all on the record. He could not accept Kinijit's democratic decisions and went on to disparage his colleagues when they were imprisoned. These actions speak for themselves.

Birhanu's actions on the record were, so far as we know, within the bounds of democratic rules. Anything else is speculation, which can only be destructive.

I think it's time that we be blunt with each other and say that those engaging in negative speculation and such dysfunctional behaviours implicitly want Ethiopia to remain a dictatorship. They keep making the same mistake over and over again despite being told repeatedly that it's harmful. Time to take responsibility!

enset said...


Thanks for the input. There are many good candidates for the position of a poster child for what is wrong with the Ethiopian political culture today. Save Woyane officials, Lidetu qualifies for this position better than anyone in the opposition.

It is very true that Berhanu, Shawel and others have all contributed to the downfall of Kinijit in their own ways and at different points. But, as I have said earlier, what makes Lidetu's case different is that he was the only opposition leader who became a willing accomplice in Woyane's decapitating actions on Kinijit in the Fall of 2005.

There is not much I want to say about Shawel other than to say that he deserves the biggest blame for the downfall of Kinijit. But, I am of the opinion that Berhanu did mostly the right things to help Kinijit until he went to jail. I thought that he was doing the right things after he was released from jail, but I was wrong about that. See the comments section in this article by Ephrem and this article I wrote about the dissolution of Kinijit for my thoughts on Berhanu.


assefa said...


What you consider idle speculation could quite easily be interpreted by some one else as a logical analysis and conclusion of actions that we hear and perceive.

I think I understand your frustration about the loss of trust and the ever dwindling cooperation that is running rampant in our society. The solution, I believe, is not to blindly accuse those who see things in a different light as collaborators. Part of the solution would be to entertain these "speculations" as points to ponder and watch those who aspire to lead with healthy suspicion.

I say enough to blind allegiance.

To paraphrase The Art of War; which leader has Tao? which implements methods and orders? whose multitudes are strong.


I never absolved Lidetu of his sins. He has plenty and I would never want him as my leader. I just see Berhanu's sins more egregious.

Dessalegn said...


Yes, your analysis may be logical, but the initial premise remains speculation. You can't dress it up any other way. You say Berhanu "saw the success of Lidetu as a portent of the loss of power he had envisioned for himself and his associates," so he engaged divide and conquer strategy against Lidetu and Hailu. I'm sorry, this is speculation.

You could just as easily speculate that it was becoming clear that Hailu and Lidetu were coming to loggerheads, and that it was going to be one or the other. Berhanu et al chose to back the stronger horse, Hailu, knowing that if they backed Lidetu, Hailu had the power to bring the whole house crashing down. Something Lidetu couldn't quite do.

You see, we could speculate forever. But what's the use? First, there is no benefit, only costs. In your speculation, you end up impugning Berhanu's character. In mine, I assume Hailu and Lidetu would not have co-existed, impugning their characters. We can't just run around insulting people without evidence. Besides, there's more than enough real evidence without engaging in speculation.

Second, we end up reaching conclusions that we think are definitive but in reality are speculative. You conclude that Lidetu should have been made VP. Perhaps - there's an argument for it for sure. But we must be careful not to assume this would have righted everything, either. We must remember that this remains a hypothesis. Things may have turned out worse - we don't know.

What I say has nothing to do with blind allegiance (to Berhanu, I assume). Like I say, there is plenty of reality, plenty of real evidence, on which to question Berhanu's actions and judgement. Yes, perhaps he should have backed Lidetu for VP. Perhaps you have problems with the content of his book. You may think he should not have backed their trip to North America knowing Hailu's opposition. Or you may criticize his decision to leave Kinijit for Ginbot 7. I mean, there's a lot to work with here! Why go on guessing games. Give me one good reason for these "points to ponder", other than letting off steam.

assefa said...


Sorry for such a belated response but I hope you realize that the economic condition being what it is here in the Mid-West, some of us are forced to augment our existence with tertiary jobs.

If you want to characterize my basic tenets of my " points to ponder" as mere speculations so be it. Different strokes for different folks?

At any rate, the cost-benefit ratio analysis you propose to subject my "speculations" to, would more than likely support my school of thought.Most social/political scientists try to make their fields of endeavor use the methodology that has been used in the hard sciences, i.e The Scientific Method.

As such I have tried to use a very crude facsimile of this method to analyze the situation and reach my conclusion. What makes this harder than the hard sciences analysis is the assumptions and the suppositions we have to employ in many instances.

What B did regarding the VP position was sure to alienate L to the detriment of kinijit. Elementary deductive logic to those who have a minimal knowledge of L and his inflated ego.
What B did regarding the timeliness of the printing followed by the methods used to deliver and distribute the product here in the US. There were a lot of people who were supposed to be Kinijit Support Committee members in many cities who were left out in the cold when the book came out for sale.When these members could have used the sale of the book to galvanize the population around them, they were forced to call a number here a number there, making Kinijit Supporters look like an uncoordinated group of people.
These actions lead me to conclude that B and his group had already decided to separate itself from the larger Kinijit body to the detriment of this body.

We could go on and on but it would be an exercise in futility.
I guess you could call this an exercise in letting off steam.


assefa said...


I read the article by Ephrem and your comment too. Thanks for the info.
Bravo for this site..even though nobody seems to agree with my observations.LOL


enset said...

Hi assefa,

I think the point Dessalegn was making about avoiding unnecessary speculation is a constructive suggestion as a matter of general principle. I think we all should resist the temptation to use speculative assumptions as facts when making our arguments. Having said that, I am not in a position to claim the point you made about Berhanu is mere speculation. There may be truth to it or maybe not. But if you carefully analyze the actions that Berhanu took regarding Kinijit after he got out of jail, there is a case to be made that some of the things he did within Kinijit before he went to jail may not have been in the best interest of creating a cohesive party.

Desalegn said that you were "impugning Berhanu's character" with your comment. Unfortunately, I believe Berhanu has already impugned his own character by the steps he had taken after he was released from jail. I had stated in the said article that Berhanu was not being honest with his followers as to what his real intentions were while he was touring with the Kinijit delegation. What he really did while he was touring was creating a false expectation that he never intended to keep. After all, he was the one being looked at the real leader of the delegation. Wasn't it? And I do not think this is speculation either.

Berhanu has the right to choose not to return to Ethiopia and change his views about what he thinks is the best method to confront the Woyane regime. But that comes at a price. The price to be paid is the trust factor. Can Ethiopians trust him again to lead them? For me, the answer to that question is no. I gave him the benefit of the doubt from 2005 to 2008 on the condition that he had to prove that he has got the temperament and character to be the leader Ethiopians were expecting from him. There is no doubt about his ability to inspire and articulate ideas, but he has damaged his credibility with his own actions and I do not think he can recover the level of esteem that he was regarded with just a little over a year ago.


assefa said...


I concur with you about making idle speculations. The problem here is when is inductively or deductively induced sets of information to be considered simple speculations? If one agrees with the suppositions and the logical conclusions can we just simply reduce them as mere conjectures and speculations? I think not.

Berhanu was not the only loser in the past couple of years. Ethiopia was the biggest loser. Besides the obvious, I wonder who came out a winner.


unknown said...

O! My God! I thought we have gotten over who did what to whom on the rise and fall of Kinijit. I guess I am wrong. The moment some one mentioned the name of Dr Brehanu and here we go again jumping on the Dr. Brehanu-bashing band wagon.

It seemed that you guys have a flied day of bashing the Dotor just for no aparent reason. It’s a shame to see good people not willing to let go grudges insteade injoy drinking from the well of unforgiveness.

Wro. Akalu

enset said...

Dear Wro. Akalu,

I am sorry you feel my comment on Berhanu is just Brehanu-bashing. I respectfully differ. If criticizing Berhanu for his the role he played in the downfall of Kinijit according to the facts as I laid before you (which, BTW, you are not contesting), is considered bashing him, then I do believe that we really have a big problem differentiating between a political dialogue, albeit a heated one, and a self-serving discourse.

I do not hold a grudge against Berhanu. I just think that the way he left Kinijit was not helpful to the overall struggle of bringing about democracy and justice to Ethiopia. I also contend that his strategy was not well thought out. I may be proven right or Berhanu's strategy may turn out to be a better one. We can and should have a civilized debate about that.


Deksiso said...

Wro. Akalu,

We have not gotten over. There are issues and discussions in some political groups (at least in one that I know, EPPF) in relation with associating with Dr. Berhanu and his group G7. Like Fikru said can we trust him to form a new alliance? What do we learn from Kinijit? I personally admire him how articulately presents his thought on any topic. I guess he is good on organizing tasks and is diplomatic and try to get along with all political circles – OLF, ONLF, Seye-Gebru, Gashe Hailu, to mention few. From G7s weekly, looks like they are still looking back to election and peaceful struggle and if the board is free if Medrek should start this or that etc. These makes me question - Are they really determined to wedge an armed struggle? Should EPPF work with G7?


Wro. Akalu said...

Hello Fikru!
O! Yes, I can differentiate between a political dialogue and I injoyed yours. But I do believe that some times when it comes to Dr Brehanu I noticed unrestrianed bashing impules and this time they are peppered generously through out the above dialogue. And unfortunatly you got much help form your the glass is half empty, political dialogue buddies. O! Boy! Are they big on name calling? or what? Dr. Brehanu is not a loser.
You are off course entitled to your opinion about the Dotor, but I believe it to be a bit bashful. You could lighten up on the bashing, just my two cents.
I think some times we tend to forget that Political leaders have clay feet like the rest of us.

Hello Deksiso!
Please note that I am not in any way affiliate with G7 or the Dotor for that matter. For all your questions, I do not have a clue.
I am just a fan and one of the many, many, many people who believe that the Dotor can do no wrong. Just a Joke!