By Ture Hirbe (Ph.D.) – 28 May 2010 — After controversial election of 2005 a veteran opposition leader explained his decision of joining the parliament proverbially like this: “Lij yesetutin yizo yaleksal”. Roughly translated, it means: “a baby holds it tight what it already got and further cries for more”. The point was that he intended to hold on what his party achieved at the time and build on it for the future gain. But this time a “baby” gained nothing; rather it lost everything it had. The situation has deteriorated since then, and the political space is further shrinking. Expecting a change of heart from authoritarian regime was simple political naivety. Meles doesn’t play a win-win game; he plays a game always to win. As the preliminary result shows, TPLF/EPRDF has won 99.6%. All heavy weight opposition leaders are kicked out. This time Meles was determined to humiliate the opposition. For opposition leaders, this is not a mere defeat, it is a total humiliation.
However, I am of the opinion that this is a blessing in disguise for two reasons: 1. Meles will no more pretend about democracy or multiparty system in Ethiopia. A single party domination in Ethiopia in a Chinese model is consolidated. The multiparty music is over. In Multiparty systems, several parties achieve significant representation in parliament. The underlying philosophy is that political parties represent specific social or ethnic groups and different opinions in historically divided societies like in Ethiopia. But in a new parliament other parties will not have representation and it will be fully dominated by a single ruling party. 2. The opposition will not have enough seats to provide him legitimacy and a cover he needed. This time there won’t be any pretention and for coming five years Ethiopia will be ruled by a single party dictatorship.
Meles will form his government soon and will rule the country with iron fist for another five years to make it a quarter of a century. He will continue to implement his failed policy, the revolutionary democracy. The TPLF/EPRDF officials, cadres and their puppets will continue to enrich themselves at the expense of the suffering and impoverishment of Ethiopian people. More hungry cadres and puppets will be recruited, and in next five years the party members will be doubled, or tripled from current 5 million. Meles also knows and certain about it that the hypocrite donors will continue their financial and moral support for his government, even they might double it. Few donors may formally criticize the election process, but they will continue to pour their aid and fill his coffer. The criticism and condemnations will be a simple window dressing and temporary.
Now the interesting question is: what will the opposition do next? They don’t have the leverage or numbers to boycott or to threaten to boycott the parliament like last time. Of course, few opposition leaders are timidly calling for rerun of the election? This is a smart move and the only option they have to remain relevant. It is true that the re-election will never happen. However, such defined approach will destabilize the regime and disturb the euphoria and the celebrative mood of the ruling party. In order to achieve at least a minimum objective and to impress international community all opposition forces should stand together, show determination and forcefully demand the rerun of the election.
They have to form an opposition bloc, and select among them a single Opposition Leader. They should try to put aside their egos and come together under one leader with clear and defined purpose. Whatever the consequence will be they have to insist and stand firm on this legitimate demand. “Rerun of the election” must be their rallying motto for now. They shouldn’t be intimidated and fooled by certain puppet “Shimagles”. If they are united and if they stand firm the Ethiopian people will support them. They should not be scared to call peaceful protest. As it was the right for TPLF/EPRDF supporters to express their joy through peaceful rally, it is the right of the opposition supporters to contest the election result by a peaceful rally.
The opposition should not be discouraged and should not give up yet. This is the critical time that they should show their resilience and leadership quality. What about if government crisis occur sooner than later? The opposition should be able to present itself as alternative force and should be ready to take over the government if such crisis might occur. Given current condition of the country, the government crisis before next election seems very possible, if not inevitable. They can accomplish what is expected from them if and only if they are united and have a Single Leader. But I doubt that the opposition parties will cooperate. Ethiopian opposition is much divided group. Their division might have even contributed for such a crashing and humiliating defeat.
The writer can be reached by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.