…Creating an alternative Ethiopian government in exile will help us maintain and expand our long-established positive cultural elements and use these to fashion a new democratic political culture, extending our cultural patterns to include habits of working and living together with accountability and responsibility. … By Firdu Yitayew
For more than a decade, much of Africa has been moving forward. Economic growth is rising, poverty is falling and democratic governance is spreading. But the global financial crisis threatens to undo this progress by reducing investment, exports and aid just as they should be expanding to build on these successes.
While international attention has been understandably focused on events in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Darfur, Somalia and Zimbabwe, countries across Sub-Saharan Africa including Ghana, Tanzania, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, and Liberia have been quietly turning around. According to the World Bank, since 2000, poverty rates in these African nations are falling fast, from 58% down to 51% in just six years time.
The key to this progress is stronger African leadership and more accountable governance. Today, more than 15 African countries are democracies, up from just three in the 1980s when the military junta was on power everywhere through coup de estates; they have competitive elections and improved human rights, and their news media are much freer. And, most critical, these countries are relatively at peace.
FORCE VERSUS POWER POLITICS
Force is the opposite of power and relies upon threats of violence, or actual violence to control the behavior of other people. Force puts a figurative or actual gun to your head and makes you do something against your will. Typical enough, TPLF captured and persists to hold power by force; it is not ready to compromise or bargain the power it mainlined and maintained by means of bullets and bloods for electoral votes put into ballot boxes. For TPLF the latter is simply symbolic or nominal put in place as face saving value or window dressing to mystify the onlooker. Needless to say, force is abuse of people. It leads to resentment, and ever-escalating breeding and use of stronger force. That is how and why the TPLF-designated “Supreme Court”, with its minority-view-justices, keeps on creating an end-run around people’s vote. In fact, this incidence is inevitable during the forthcoming 2010 election in Ethiopia.
For those of us who stand on the opposite isle of TPLF’s authoritarian policy the political responsibility we need to shoulder must be based on and strive for a democratic power or real authority; power that is gained as a result of respecting the will of the Ethiopian people; and taking action that derives from the Ethiopian peoples wishes. In the actual political arena, power must be manifested in a manner when a leader responds to the will of those he/she represents. And the process of coming to power must solely be governed by popular votes put into ballots boxes and counted free of fraud. Those Ethiopians who aspire for united Ethiopia must opt for such electoral power that will keep the country in a secured peace and prosperity. We need a popular government that strives for poverty reduction and advocates for the resources, reform, and regulation that Ethiopia need to weather the financial crisis it is persistently facing to this very day.
ETHIOPIA AT CRY AND EMBEDDED CALAMITY
Tragically and paradoxical enough, poor Ethiopia is at a critical stake more than ever. She is at the brinks of disintegrative doom. There is no strong opposition political group that is well structured to take over power and lead Ethiopia in case of any incidental power vacuum left by TPLF. It is a cruel irony if Ethiopia’s future prospects are cut short by a series of ongoing crisis beyond its control. The TPLF government is filled with hypocrites; and does things the way it befits for its own narrow desires and wishes. As a people of a nation we are split and become more and more ethnic focused; family and group oriented; regionalist and undemocratic; with little or no feeling or love for Ethiopia as a nation; and paradoxical enough, we choose to remain in conflict with each other rather than forging semblance and bonds; we seem no longer worrying and looking at the danger zones Ethiopia has already entered into. Leave alone fighting and forcing it out of power; we are no more prepared to rescue and save Ethiopia if and when the TPLF regime decays and falls apart by its own internal upheavals. We are no more prepared to protect Ethiopia in an organized and unified manner from possible disastrous socio-economic situations apparent to get worse at this time of global recession. There is no organizational structure ready to replace TPLF-regime in case one day TPLF dissolves itself from the political arena by its own making. Rather individually we remain contaminated, crying disgustingly; shading crocodile tears; trapped by ethnic mongering as: “running and barking dogs that are unable to bite”; and putting aside our own weak faults for letting TPLF continue its polarization politics unlimited.
MELES ZENAWI – THE POLARAZING PRIME MINISTER
Meles Zenawi’s single-handed polarizing approach challenges and changes the core of his TPLF political identity. His staunch and stubborn manner and divisive ethnic-led messages sicken Ethiopia – a country weary of division, regionalism and family click politics – a nation that keeps on enduring several rounds of both TPLF and its divisive politics; due to lack of organized and firm opposition that stands united to salvage Ethiopia from the yoke of TPLF-tyranny. But Meles Zenawi’s domestic agenda is also resoundingly typical – as though he were some conventionally liberal backbench Prime Minister suddenly thrust into immense influence; which, of course, he is. Following his demagogic dictator Issayas Afeworki’s divisive inculcation, disciple Meles Zenawi found it relatively easy for him and for TPLF to divide and decuple the already latently ethnically gathered and poorly organized opposition coalitions created in all forms both inside and outside the country. For Meles Zenawi it has become smart and easy task, peeling off less-partisan coalition among his loyal opposition groups with seemingly genuine outreaches codified in his hand-made constitution that must be obeyed and okayed by all means and at all times while he or TPLF are in power. Initially several opposition political groups seemed foolishly prepared to accept such short-term challenges to join hands with shrewdly coercive TPLF policy in exchange for long-term ethnically federated responsibility. If Meles was a genuine Ethiopian he could have focused more broadly on resolving Ethiopia’s outlet and access to the sea but in vain; rather Meles opted for creating his dubious Assab Port crisis – the key to all economic recovery – and delayed his ambitions on Eritrean issues to a more realistic time yet to take place. In the process, he championed by getting some loyal opposition stooges to share part of his political risks instead of nursing critical national grievances on the sidelines.
Meles Zenawi’s polarization policy in Ethiopian politics has its own disturbing momentum, aided by some strident loyal opposition voices. But that does not require a prime minister to make it worse. Instead of getting organized to bring TPLF to its knee and take over power as a united force ready to save Ethiopia we seem to fall prey for those preaching divisive politics. Indeed, it is naïve, sad and unnecessary shame that KINIJIT, supposedly the candidate of national unity, has so quickly become another source of ethnic division – where some so called opposition political leaders in Diaspora including the G-7 group led by Berhanu Nega remain wagging their tails at Tyrant Issayas Afeworki’s divisive headquarter in Asmara. As it stands, the working partnership among the recently imprisoned, then released, KINIJIT opposition leaders and the sudden split between those factional groups within them who volunteered to become stooges of Issayas Afeworki’s disintegrative EPLF-mission in Ethiopia and those who aspired for a struggle to contain a united Ethiopia with appalling and persisting war of words; the willingness of majority of Ethiopians to remain divided and keep ourselves concerned with our personal livelihoods, will only propagate the existing unwanted TPLF political regime to spearhead; or else, we will see poor Ethiopia continuing with its disintegration in line with EPLF-TPLF agenda set three decades ago; while we watch ethnic regions falling apart one after the other. It was Eritrea in yester-year; it will be Ogden tomorrow. What next? Divided, we will be heading to fall apart and remain weak. Divided we will remain under TPLF rule for indefinitely; enduring a regime we all seem to hate but not ready to topple off from its centralized power.
THE WAY FORWARD – SETTING-UP ETHIOPIAN GOVERNMENT IN EXILE
As Ethiopians, we are escalating our vibrant nation down to much greater risk of civil war, chaos, and increased tensions and instability. Divided we are falling apart by the day. A case in point is what is happening with our dear sister Birtukan Midekssa and other opposition leader who aspire to see a united Ethiopia. By virtue of their position under a dictatorial TPLF regime, few of the opposition parties try their best struggling to revive democracy in Ethiopia. But their operations are totally dictated by TPLF and forced to condition themselves in TPLF tailored political framework. Ironically, on February 15 2009, Meles Zenawi accused Birtukan Midekssa of banking on support from “powerful friends in powerful positions” – presumably Western nations – when she made the comments during a recent trip to Sweden and Germany. Meles Zenawi mockingly said: “That message I think is a very dangerous political message to convey in an emerging democracy. The rule of law and equality involves everyone.”(1) As we all know Birtukan is languishing in prison under TPLF’s “life-imprisonment” sentence due to our weakness. We are disorganized and help further disorganization by preaching on or contributing to divisive politics. This introversive, narrow, short-sighted political outlook and wrong path must be halted and closed.
The Ethiopian crisis, to which TPLF has done much to cause since 1991, demands a strong response. As a people belonging to a nation we Ethiopians must do our part by continuing to address the current irreconcilable political frameworks and reduce obstacles to Ethiopia’s mere existence as a nation. Strong action by Ethiopians in Diaspora and robust support from the Ethiopian opposition groups inside Ethiopia – that accepts an alternative Ethiopian government in exile – can keep Ethiopia’s fast recovery and guarantee a secured option for demanding change. Indeed, this is an alternative and viable hope for forging a ground for cooperation of different political parties in Ethiopian taking us all to the next stage of stabilizing the country maintain peace. As a united opposition groups we must try to set up an Ethiopian government in exile, bring down TPLF to its knee, and reinstate the country’s economic advantages in place both systematically and strategically without creating havoc or power vacuum. To this end, both should continue to do their part.
A CALL TO ETHIOPIANS IN DIASPORA
In what follows I make my humble and personal appeal, which I hope will be supported by all Ethiopians from whatever political or civic persuasion. It is a straight forward matter of Saving Ethiopia and saving those imprisoned while struggling for human rights violation in Ethiopia. As well known, Birtukan Medekssa did not commit any crime or transgression of any law in the Ethiopian legal nomenclature, but to stand for her rights as a citizen. She persistently fought for the silent majority Ethiopians at home and abroad.
To cut the long story short, my humble appeal in particular goes to Ethiopians in Diaspora, who believe in rescuing our beloved and only nation and its people from the dangers looming over our heads for a likely power vacuum taking place incidentally. My plea is to those Ethiopians in Diaspora to come together at this high time and create a platform that ensures creation of an alternative Ethiopian government in exile urgently by networking across the different continents, gathering of potential persons at nodal points designated as the hubs for meetings and struggle for Ethiopia’s mere survival as a nation.
The Ethiopian Diaspora community needs to revive as a collective, united and harmonious force with a single face, a community that is respected of its activities, and playing a meaningful role that contributes to mending bridges among Ethiopians and alleviating Ethiopia’s multiple, prolonged sufferings inflicted by the EPLF-TPLF exertion and efforts. Better late than never, the Ethiopian Diaspora political apparatus must function in organized and strategic fashion and pull itself out of its reputation of being nothing more than –“running and barking dogs that are unable to bite.”
United we can win international recognition and prepare ourselves strongly either to take over power or fill any eventual power vacuum at any time of emergency crisis. We should not lament till the 11th hour as we did in yester years; and start bragging left and right when the time is ripe enough for eventual change; or the time is too late to cure the damages yet to be inflicted upon Ethiopia. Obviously, by virtue of our position in Diaspora, we do have all the time and all the freedom to organize and lead a strong and alternative opposition government in exile that advocates for Ethiopia’s fraternal rights to exist as a nation with its legitimate access to the sea. If we don’t stand for our nation, we will fall for everything! We must learn from past errors and stand vigilant not to be taken by surprise when the unwanted funnies happen in front of our naked eyes. We should keep ourselves away from any divisive teachings or divisive elements preaching to realize atomized tens and hundreds of mini-states.
Creating an alternative Ethiopian government in exile will help us maintain and expand our long-established positive cultural elements and use these to fashion a new democratic political culture, extending our cultural patterns to include habits of working and living together with accountability and responsibility. It will permit us not only to win over the forces and processes of future socio-economic and political changes in Ethiopia, both directly and indirectly, but also to play an indispensable part, with a meaningful, positive, substantial role in helping and defending each member of the Ethiopian population in times of personal or collective difficulty, no matter how severe it may be.
Note: (1) http://ethiopolitics.com/news_1/20090215824.html