I Sure Endorse You, But I Don’t Envy You. (By Afuraburtukana) — It is with great sense of high opinion, esteem and hope that I received the news of the success of inducting and instating the ‘New Party’ Andinet. It, of course, is not a new party. The Program and the By Law, its objectives, goal and vision are all the same from its forebear Kinijit. All, except for some few, leaders of Kinijit are now in the leadership of Andinet.
The non-violence, peaceful, method of struggle; which was the signature of Kinijit, is adopted in Andinet. This method of struggle, by its own nature and virtue, requires a leadership of high caliber who are insightful, meticulous, robust, and systematic. Not to mention, unwavering, persistent, determined and patient. Kinijit had these leaders, and now it is passed to those who still have it. This was exhibited when the ruling regime, I believe out of frustration, was trying to thwart the formation of Andinet, by hacking the constitution, laws and rules set and endorsed by itself, and making (not surprisingly) force the order above the law.
The formation of Andinet, is not an end by itself. In fact, it is only the beginning. The road ahead is bumpy, dark, difficult and seemingly bleak but by no means impossible. In a time where our country is stretched by wars in the East, North and West of our borders, government stirred ethnic conflicts at all corners of the country, a failed Economy due to, and solely due to, failed policies, corruption/corrupted officials in every sector, the governments decision to go on war with its own people and pass one law after another to curtail democracy; a law against free press, a law against NGO’s, a law against opposition parties, etc. ; I can only say the work is cut out for Andinet.
After a party looses election, and it still stays in power by ‘whatever’ means, you would expect the party would take measures to reconcile and make peace with the people who denied it their vote. Yet, after loosing the historic 2005 election, the first ever measure taken by the regime in power (now for more than 17 years), is to declare a state of emergency (I would argue it to be a declaration of war on democracy, justice, human rights, generally a war on the people). Every other action taken there after shows no sign of reconciliation and peace. The only logical conclusion one can reach is that the regime has decided that it has no chance of winning the hearts and minds of the people, across all walks of life, and that its sole means of staying in power is through force. Staying in power is an end by itself and they will use any means to do just that. If they are in power one day longer, it is ‘Mission Accomplished’.
The ‘strong’ elements that the regime has on its side is the whole finance of the country (including the party’s huge para-statal conglomerates) at its disposal, the entire Armed Forces (Military, Police and Civil Security) to set out at any place any time for any mission, and world super powers like USA and Britain to watch its back no matter what.
The Prime Minister did not find it necessary to consult with the people, or even with his own rubber stamp Parliament, in the decision to invade the neighboring country Somalia. Somalia was invaded illegally, for no apparent reason of benefit for anyone except Meles himself and the people around him, and of course the Bush Administration. It is a sign and a plea to the Bush Administration that Meles will go to any length as long as the former is willing to watch its back. Meles is not accountable to the people; hence the people were not and are not informed as to why Somalia is invaded, how many soldiers are deployed, how many died, how many are wounded, how long are the soldiers going to be their, what is the material cost, the opportunity cost, etc. etc. etc. Instead, the regime Carpet-Bombed the people of Ogaden, under the pretext of harboring ONLF. It went on committing all kind of crimes against humanity on the Ethiopian Somalia’s, the degree of which was only made public after a satellite photo showed the disturbing pictures. The crime against the people of Oromo, Anuak, Tigray, Afar, Amhara, Guraghe, Sidamo etc, remains to be made public.
The War in the Northern front is the same story. Again the government did not find it necessary to explain it to the people about the War, except in the case where it became apparent to the regime that it needed the support of the people. Even in that case, Meles took it to his own hand, to unilaterally decide (not even his top Generals were notified) to declare the War ‘Over as far as Ethiopia was concerned’ and ordered the troops to retract. The decision changed the status quo, and led Ethiopia, the apparent winner in the battle field at the War front, to ‘loose’ in the court room. And this was after, reportedly (by the media, and is not an official statement by the government – there is none so far) about 100,000 or so foot soldiers lost their lives from both ends. Civilian causalities are countless, and it is so sad that those people became just statistics. After all these, Meles and Issayas have their guns loaded and pointed at each other, only a football field size apart. Like the previous war, the UN and others are warning that, a second round can erupt at any moment, the reason for which is anybody’s guess.
Another story where the regime took drastic measure that includes the sovereignty of the country and the lives/livelihood of many people, and did not find it necessary to consult/or even mention/, the very people that would be affected, is surrendering land to Sudan. It was the people of the region, who cried foul loud and made it known to every one. The regime, rather, was trying to not inform, and/or misinform the public. They told all kind of stories from ‘there is no Land given to anyone’, to ‘well there is Land given to Sudan that rightly belongs to them, but no one was displaced’. It turns out none of them are true.
The people are one strong force that scarce the regime, their Unity more so. They wanted a divided people, and there is no better way of doing that than to inject a ‘divide through ethnic line’ policy within a nation of more than 80 languages. Ethiopia is a Mosaic of Ethnicities, a colorful rainbow that shines from one end to the other. Unity through diversity is the strength and the beauty of the country. I salute these people for resisting all kind of act to divide them across ethnic lines and still stay united. Ethiopian ‘Chewaness’, can probably take the credit.
It is unacceptable, by any standard, when the people of a nation go hungry/starve year after year. When people starve, it has got nothing/or very little/ to do with drought or natural calamities. It is all about governance at large and particularly policies. Ironically, the regime in power in Ethiopia claims to have an Agricultural Development Led Industrialization (ADLI) economic policy. In a nut shell, it claims to be a champion of the small growers, 85% of the entire population, and pretends to have a development policy involving them and revolving around them (putting them at the centre). The only thing wrong about ADLI is, ADLI itself. It tries to have a forced marriage between a Market Led and a Centralized Economic System. It is a desperate measure to hold on to its old Albanian Style Communist Ideology, and to wear a mask of Capitalism for the consumption of foreign donors. Small holder farmers, the very subject of the policy, do not have any right to own the land they are working on. Even their right to use the fruit of their land is constrained by factors like, political inclination. The policy was destined to fail from the outset. After 17 years, we now know what the impact of the policy is. Notwithstanding the governments Propaganda of ‘we are developing 10% annually for the last so many years, and we are only second to China’, the fact remains, millions are starving, millions barely make it for the day, the whole country is (shamefully) under foreign aid, prices have reached record high and are steel rising at an alarming rate, unemployment is unbelievably high, yes the economy is in stagnation.
As if we are not suffering enough, the government is specializing on decreeing one law after the other (sometimes overnight) all of which are meant to curb our natural, God given rights. Our right to express ourselves in any form we wish (write, speak etc.), the right to form groups or be a member of one which we believe advocates our belief, the right to demonstrate (individually and/or in groups; in anyway of our preference) for or against an idea, policy etc., and many other rights, are not gifts from the government neither do we need its blessings. However; this is not a music that harmonizes to the ears of the regime in power and hence, is limiting our rights by having laws against free press, against forming an opposition political party, against forming and running NGO’s, against free gathering, both indoor and outdoor.
Most of the atrocities, malpractices, wrong policies; generally tyrannical acts took place after the regime in power lost the, now famous, 2005 election. Nevertheless, the regime didn’t show a cent of a shame to tell us that the people voted for it 100% in the election two years later. As I stated earlier, it is telling the people in no uncertain terms that they will grab and remain in power by any /other than the will of the people/ means necessary.
On the other hand Andenet has the people on its side, or the other way around, the people have Andenet on their side; it is traffic in both directions. So the ‘game’ is the people and Andenet on the one side and the regime, all its machinery and the super powers on the other side.
Historically, especially in our country’s recent history, it always happened that people rebel when it comes to the point when they can not take it any further. The 1966 E.C. followed a drastic famine of the previous years that took the life of many Ethiopians while the Emperor was trying to hide it instead of finding a solution, signifying its own reputation as the most important factor. Exactly the same mistake was committed by the military junta – Derg – which many agrees led to its demise. Surprise, surprise here we are again, another tyrannical government making exactly the same mistakes to that of its predecessors, and hence guaranteeing the same path.
It is also a historic fact that one dictator was replaced by another, only worse. The Military Junta snatched power from the people, and the Ethnic centered EPRDF sneaked its way up. In both cases, the replacing regime came through the barrel of the gun. Some, would like to conclude, at least in Ethiopia’s case, there is no guarantee that a force that made its way through the barrel of the gun, will turn out to be democratic.
Kinijit/Andenet is a different case. It is a party of the people, by the people for the people. This is not just a figurative expression. Its members are from all walks of life, ranging from the average member up to the leadership positions. There are Oromo, Amhara, Guraghe, Tigray, etc.; there are Women and Men, there are Youth and Elderly, Educated not Educated, Muslim, and Christian – catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Evangelical etc. The beauty of it is, it is not by design that there are all these people from different backgrounds as members and leaders of the party. The only design here to be a member and then a leader is to believe in the values of human rights, justice and democracy; to dedicate and committee oneself to those values and to get involved and be part of the peaceful, non-violent struggle. The fact that there are members and leaders from all walks of life is just a reflection that it is a party of the people, by the people for the people.
Kinijit/Andenet is a party where accountability and transparency are prominent. In most of the very vital decisions, whenever and wherever it is possible, it always discusses with and consults the people. Even at times when it was daring to do so, they still went to the people. The leaders were among the first to pay the price for it by going to jail, followed by tens of thousands of their supporters. They walked their talked.
Like I stated earlier, that is only the beginning. They still have a long way to go. The path ahead, at best, is uncertain. It can probably be worst than what we have seen so far. Granted, there are many more sacrifices to be paid. Some of the sacrifices could come from, even, within the party and its leadership. (We have seen the likes of that already, more than the party’s fair share). Members and leaders of Kinijit/Andinet, your work is cut out for you. You have a complicated, intricate, demanding, tiring and yet incredible, breathtaking task ahead of you. I sure endorse you, but I don’t envy you.