Friday, May 28, 2010

Best wishes to US MNT

Cheering for the US men's national team at the World Cup in South Africa is one of the few things I agree with Obama. Just two weeks to go before the World Cup. Go USA!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

We know who we voted for!

Don't mess with our Dear Leader! He is the one who will get us [not Ethiopia] out of poverty.

The US Spate Department is clearly acquiescing to Woyane's "overwhelming victory" as its tepid statement on the "elections" indicates. They've also said, with a straight face, that they are not surprised by the results. Message to opposition supporters: Get over it! Strange as it may seem, I agree because the opposition camp, from A to Z, was complicit in giving legitimacy to the election.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

US criticizes Ethiopian Election

U.S. says Ethiopa vote not up to international standards
"While the elections were calm and peaceful and largely without any kind of violence, we note with some degree of remorse that the elections there were not up to international standards," Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson told a House of Representatives panel.
Some degree of remorse...really?
"It is important that Ethiopia move forward in strengthening its democratic institutions and when elections are held that it level the playing field to give everyone a free opportunity to participate without fear or favor," Carson said.
Blah, blah, blah...

Mr. Carson: I do not think even yourself expect Ethiopians to take your comments seriously. Do you? After reading your writings in Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World, I had predicted that this kind of low key reaction is what Ethiopians should be expecting from the US after an election that the US knows to be not free and fair. Be honest and tell Ethiopians to stop looking to Washington for any kind of help in their quest for freedom.

Ethiopians: Let's be honest to ourselves: this election should have been boycotted. But this is now a mute point. Let's put this election debacle behind us as quickly as possible. Let's invest in a younger generation of leaders, like Birtukan, while taking advantage of the wisdom and experience of some of the older generation leaders. Let's be realists and not given to simple emotions.

It's a landslide, make that super landslide!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Prayer for Birtukan

As we were preparing to say grace before eating breakfast this morning, I asked our five year old son if there is anything that he wants me to pray about. Without the slightest of hesitation, he said: "let's pray for Birtukan". And, so, I prayed to God to protect Birtukan from harm while she is in jail. May He sustain her spirit and also give her the strength to endure her separation from her daughter, Hale Mideksa. Amen.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

ESAT interview with Beyene Petros

The brand new Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) had a phone interview with Beyene Petros, the current chairman of Medrek, on today's "election". The crux of the interview is found at the 5:49 minute mark. That is where Beyene states that the election needs to be rerun based on a set of rules that all parties can agree to. He referred to Medrek's rejection of the Election Code of Conduct back in October to make this point. Duh, why bother to repeat that point now? Didn't Medrek participate in the "election" while fully knowing that it was going to be a total sham? Boycotting the election would have been the correct course of action for Medrek to take. Wasn't it? I am sure Beyene won't admit to this.

There is a funny bit at the end of this interview when the reporter attempts to reach Bereket Simon, the Woyane honcho. Bereket informs the reporter that he is hard at work.

Election quote #2

I thought I had already heard the best quote of the 2010 "election" courtesy of an old Oromo man last week. I was wrong. I think this gem from Hailu $hawel beats that one by a mile. He was quoted by VOA, just after participating in an election he absolutely knew would turn out to be a sham election, as saying:
"I am not participating in a ridiculous election. Never again."
Isn't it a bit too late to say this, Mr. $hawel? A job well done, Mr $hawel! You and Meles have really come to an understanding! You are a disgrace! I hope you will remain true to your word and quit politics.

Update (June 8): $hawel claims he was fooled (wink wink) by Woyane.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I'm Woyane, we all should be Woyane

I know what you are thinking. Now that I've got your attention, please allow me to explain what I meant by "I'm Woyane".

As you may be aware, the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), a dialogue forum among the nine Nile riparian states (Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Sudan and Uganda) for a fair and mutually beneficial use of the Nile river has been going on since 1999. Other similar initiatives have preceded the NBI, but the NBI is the most sustained of these dialogues. It is mainly funded by the World Bank and other external donors.

After 11 years of hard negotiations, five of the nine states have agreed to a draft agreement called the Cooperative Framework Agreement. This agreement is the first major step before the establishment of a permanent Nile River Basin agreement. Two more countries, the DR Congo and Brundi, are expected to sign on to the agreement soon. The remaining two, Egypt and Sudan, are not happy with the draft agreement and have voiced their opposition.

Egypt, however, does not only object to the agreement, she is working very hard to derail the agreement in a last ditch attempt to maintain its obscene monopoly over the use of Nile's water. Here is Egypt's reaction to the signing of the draft agreement:
Responsibility for the Nile issue had been taken from the Irrigation and Foreign ministries and handed over to the National Security Authority headed by Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman when Egyptian diplomatic efforts against the new Nile basin treaty failed, news portal Masrawy reported Wednesday.

The reason for the handover is the inauguration of the Tana Beles hydropower station and dam in Ethiopia last Friday, the day a new treaty was signed by four Nile basin countries. Egypt insists that projects such as Tana Beles station need to be approved by it first....

Egypt has decided to freeze all forms of bilateral cooperation with the Nile basin countries that signed the agreement regarding river rights, Al-Shorouk newspaper reported Wednesday.
But all talk from the Egyptian side is not jingoistic. There are some realist Egyptians who recognize that clinging to an unjust 1959 colonial treaty which gives Egypt 87% of the Nile water is plain foolish:
Yet Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies researcher Nabil Abdel-Fatah had criticized the official approach, saying that the Egyptian response to Nile issue has been "slow and lacking in dynamism."

He added: "The Egyptian political and diplomatic structure still perceives Africa from a position of superiority; they still see it as the old Africa just after colonialism."

"Egypt must stop perceiving Africa in such a regressive way," he said, "And our dealings with Africa should be revised on a more equitable and developmental level."
When it comes to the equitable use of the waters of the Nile river basin, I believe all Ethiopians should support whatever regime is in charge of Ethiopia so long as that regime jealously guards Ethiopia's national interest. On this particular score, I am of the opinion that the Woyane regime is pursuing Ethiopia's national interest and I, as an avowed opponent of the regime, declare myself to be a Woyane.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Election quote

A question from a Reuters reporter prompted an old Oromo man to give the best quote of the 2010 Ethiopian "election":

They [Woyane] can build roads to the moon but I won't vote for them until we're equal.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Samantar v. Yousuf

Continuing on the theme of prisons from the last post, I read about a very interesting legal case, referred to as Samantar v. Yousuf, that is pending at the US Supreme Court that has to do with human rights abuses. The case was argued in early March and a decision is expected within the next few weeks.

The case was brought to court by Somali victims (the "respondents") of torture during the Barre regime from the 1980s. The respondents are attempting to bring to justice a former defence and prime minister of Somalia by the name of Mohamed Ali Samantar (the "petitioner") who now lives in the US. What the US Supreme Court is deciding now is whether or not the petitioner has immunity from suit under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). If the Supreme Court decides in favor of the respondents, then Mr. Samantar can be taken to court to face justice.

From what I've read about the case, it was not convincingly argued by either side. But, to its credit, the Obama Administration has sided with the respondents, and that may help sway the court's opinion towards a loose interpretation of the FSIA. If this comes to fruition, then that will send a strong message to all human right abusers, like officials of the Woyane regime, that they may be held accountable to what they are doing to political prisoners as officials of the Ethiopian state. I am sure there are also some officials of the Derg regime who are nervously watching the Supreme Court's decision on this case.

Update (June 1st): US Supreme Court unanimously ruled that "the respondents" can sue the ex-Somali prime minister. Here is the decision.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Those Secret Prisons

This story from the BBC today about a US secret jail in Afghanistan reminded me of a similar story from April of 2007, which was reported by the late Anthony Mitchel, about secret jails in Ethiopia visited by CIA agents.

I was wondering if any of those jails are still operational and, if so, whether or not the CIA is still engaged in a similar scheme with the Ethiopian government. To be clear, I am strongly in favor of the CIA or any other US intelligence agency using all legal means at its disposal in the hunt for terrorists while, at the same time, I am also strongly against any branch of the US government coddling up with dictators anywhere in the world who terrorize their population, just like what the Ethiopian government does everyday.

In the context of the upcoming "election" in Ethiopia, it will be interesting to watch how the US government will react to an "election" that it knows is taking place in an atmosphere of intimidation and a severely restricted political space for the opposition.

Will the US turn a blind eye, once again, to the aspirations of Ethiopians to freely elect their leaders in exchange for the opportunity to interview a few third-rate terrorist wannabes? If it does, then Ethiopians' view of the role of the US government in their country's affairs will fundamentally change for the worse. This, in my humble opinion, will neither serve the interests of the US nor that of Ethiopia.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Hunger Strike for Birtukan Mideksa

Thank you guys for what you are doing to publicize Birtukan's case. But will anyone in the Obama Administration listen?

Saturday, May 01, 2010

A Defiant Beyene Petros?

A few days ago the Woyane regime accused Prof. Beyene Petros, the current leader of the Medrek political grouping, of planning to change the government "through street fighting" referring to a campaign speech recently given by him. I have not heard the speech where Beyene was purported to have said this, but it is obvious that this cheap swipe at Beyene is a part of Woyane's overall intimidation strategy it has adopted since the 2005 stolen election.

Beyene, to his credit, has come out swinging and challenged the Woyane to substantiate its charge (please listen to this VOA interview with Beyene from yesterday). The last time I heard Beyene this combative and animated was during the 2000 election when he led the Southern Coalition to victory over Woyane in Hadiya, Kembata and Tembaro regions. Is this the new Beyene? I doubt it. But it is good to see him on the side of the people again.

Ethiopian Academy of Sciences

There is not much good news coming out of Ethiopia these days, but the news about the establishment of the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences early last month is a rare exception. The science magazine Nature has an in-depth and balanced article on this story and it is well worth your time to read it. The academy has elected a veteran medical professor by the name of Demissie Habte (pictured above), who has a lot of research papers to his credit, as its president. I hope the government will grant the academy the independence it needs to grow and inspire young scientists to flourish in Ethiopia, just like the Haileselassie and subsequent Ethiopian governemnts did for Ethiopian Airlines.