(01 November 2009) Hailu Shawel’s agreement with Meles Zenawi on the controversial rules for June 2010 elections provoke public outrage among Ethiopian all over the world. “I apologize for the support I had given to Hailu Shawul. Actually my support was for the AEUP of which I attended the inauguration and because Hailu was the elected leader, “Says Amb. Imru Zelleke, an outspoken Ethiopian residing in the USA.
“In signing the code of conduct with the woyane, he actually betrayed the members of AEUP and the people of Ethiopia. I am disgusted and dejected by his cowardly and selfish act. The agreement which I have read carefully, is a mere confirmation of the TPLF rule and a surrender of its basic rights by any party or individuals who believes in Democracy and freedom.” he added.
Neamin Zeleke, a columnist and human rights advocate also considers Hailu’s hand shake with Meles as a shameful sell out. “We can see now clearly that who and why of Kinjit’s tragic debacle. It is the so called leader, the man with the biggest ego, who had made his mind to work hard and complete a double deal with the Woayne mafia. At the same time, he was spreading all sorts of rumor accusing Berahnu and Birtukan for ‘secretly dealing with the Woyane’ behind his back. Now we know who the real and shameful sell is out.” Neamin said.
Another prominent activist, Wondimu Mekonnen was also outraged by the vindication of Lidetu Ayalew, Ayele Chamisso and Meles Zenawi by Eng. Hailu, who was the deadly critic of all the three.
Wondimu poses questions to Hailu’s supporters, “Now, I am going to ask all those who have been calling name other opposition party leaders – Be it the brave Birtukan … or even others, like Merera and Beyene! What would you have called them if any of the other leaders have signed this deal? Where are the 8-point demands! Where is the demand to release the political prisoners! I am an ordinary citizen – interested in nothing but the freedom of my country from Woyane. Tell me more about his deal?”
A long time critic to Hailu Shawel, Sultan Raya claims to have evidence of Hailu dealing with TPLF behind the scene. “In fact I had evidence of Hailu Shawel cutting a deal with the Woyane. …. Behind the scenes the Hailu and these individuals were paving the way to give the Woyane the perfect cover for appearing democratic in front of the international community. “
While 99% of the Ethiopian Diaspora dismisses Hailu’s move, less than 1% dare to continue supporting him. A certain Abate Kassa, the only supporter of Hailu at EEDN forum argues, “If Mandela could collaborate with the apartheid regime to build South Africa together, why is it not possible for an Ethiopian Mandela to build Ethiopia together even with the ethnic apartheid regime of TPLF?”
Tedla Asfaw is cynical to Abate’s argument. “The hand shakes between Meles Zenawi and Eng. Hailu Shawel whether it is a hand shake between Mandela and Clerk to dismantle Apartheid or an excuse to share power cannot be known without freedom of expression in our country.”
According to Tedla, the Ethiopian Diaspora should go back in time to assess what we did after the Kinijt leaders released few years ago. The hand shake is a culmination of the divisive and regional (kilil) mentality that started then.
Many critics say that Hailu Shawel has always been working for his own self pride and he has never been there for democracy and rule of law to flourish in Ethiopia. While he shakes hand with the Butchers, thousands of his supporters are languishing in prison, people are denied to assemble, press freedom has been curtailed etc. He neither addressed these issues at his Sheraton speech, nor do the document he signed. He seems to have forgotten the innocent Ethiopians who were massacred by the regime in June and November 2005 for CUD’s cause.
Some Ethiopian Diaspora even go further saying “The old man is back to spoil the democratic struggle of our beloved country. He was the one responsible and the main architect for the demise of KINIJIT as we all knows very well.”
In Ethiopia, public reactions to the agreement are somehow different from the Ethiopian Diaspora. “Hailu is building his business empire. No one considers him as a political leader anymore. Whether he signed the so called agreement or not, it doesn’t give any sense to the Ethiopian people.” the people say.
Prof. Merera Gudina, chairperson of the newly formed Medrek, in an interview with the Andinet North America Association of Support Organization (ANAASO) on Friday, said the signing performance is a usual “political theater.”
“Even the ruling party knows it well that it can not win an election without intimidating voters and rigging votes.” According to Merera.
The major opposition coalition, Medrek has boycotted the talks after the regime refused the main agenda, of the negotiation, on the independence of the Election Board, the release of thousands of political prisoners and the respect of the law.