Yinegal Belachew, 22 March 2010 – The state of the opposition forces in the popular Ethiopian political struggle can be summed up with unfulfilled dreams, unresolved issues, unused forums, wasted time, missed opportunities, and trapped in a vicious circle of forming organizations and dividing the next day. Such has been our fate for the last forty years and we are still counting. To further ruin our effort to make any meaningful progress, there is a crisis in the Ethiopian Diaspora about the struggle at home. This has to be addressed and be addressed now. A split has occurred. Two schools of thought have developed recently amidst us. The line is clear and the two schools of thought are as separate as they can be. If these schools of thought are left alone, the phenomena of MESON and EPRP in the cities and towns in the late seventies; and that of the countrywide political organizations and regional liberation movements in the battle fields throughout the seventies and eighties will be repeated. Only boldly putting the differences between these two schools of thought, clearly understanding the possible outcome each of these two schools of thought pursues – if they gather momentum and followers, and thoroughly investigating the path each will go through, will make it easier for one to see the danger of choosing one over the other. Present technology has enabled those of us who live outside of Ethiopia to reach each other across the world in a matter of seconds. The liberty we enjoy wherever we live has given us the luxury of investigating whichever means and ways of struggle the people need to propound and pursue. Here is what the struggle is, what its objectives are, what transpired in the Diaspora Ethiopians that are opposed to the current regime at home, the division that took place here, and what needs to be done from my perspective.
The political struggle in Ethiopia is a struggle of the people to get rid of tyrannical and out of time rulers who are leading the country to a very dangerous and distractive end. The people at home are waging their struggle using all kinds and means of struggle available to them at all times since this tyrannical and out of time rulers group came to power. The tyrannical and out of time rulers group has divided the country in distinctive zones where each has its own separate development plan, which is a recipe for a Yugoslavia of tomorrow. It is purely for empowering it to dictate its will on the people and lengthen its stay in power that this tyrannical and out of time rulers group has a constitution. The federal administration described in the constitution is nothing but an ink that warms the papers it is on. Much has been said about the false notion of EPRDF/TPLF/Woyane federalism and there is no need here to dwell on it. All the opposition forces inside and outside the country agree on this.
The objective of the struggle is to get rid of these tyrannical and out of time rulers and replace them with an all inclusive transitional government. This transitional government will in the process, bring the rule of law to the country, lay down the foundations of a democratic process of forming and running a government, and conduct an election where each Ethiopian chooses however one wants to be represented and whoever one wants to be represented by. This is the struggle and the goal of the struggle. However simple this sounds like, the path that leads to it is as complex as it can be. The struggle is not to replace one tyrannical ruler or ruler group by another. This we have had it. This is what we are fighting against.
Here is what transpired in the Diaspora Ethiopians that are opposed to the current regime at home. Recently two schools of thought have developed. The development of these two thoughts into two separate camps has an immense repercussion to the struggle at home. No one forgets what happened in the late seventies and early eighties when MESON members armed with DERG weapons killed EPRP members, and EPRP members assassinated MESON members in the cities and towns. Likewise TPLF ambushed and eliminated TLF, and TPLF fought EPRP and EDU in Tigray and Northern Gondar battlefields. EPLF fought and eliminated ELF using the young sons and daughters of Tigray through the service of TPLF. Like those in the past, the outcome of the present two schools of thought is going to show the same phenomena. It is going to continue. Why and how?
Let me first highlight what is common on both these two schools of thought. Both agree that the people through their political organizations have peacefully tried to challenge the tyrannical and out of time rulers since their coming to power in 1991. From the start these tyrannical and out of time rulers have been slowly chocking the political field through rules and regulations that contradict their own constitution. Furthermore they have dedicated the country’s resources to deter and encounter any and all oppositions they have encountered. Since the May 15, 2001 election, when they understood that the people are not with them, they embarked on making the political space so narrow that only those that adhere to and abide by their rules and orders are able to use the legal peaceful political struggle at home. This is understood by both schools of thought to be the political reality in Ethiopia. I would like to note here that all opposition forces agree that the tyrannical and out of time rulers must go. How can and how must this be done? Where do we go from here? How do we continue from here? These are the bases for the differences.
Instead of jumping to the two camps and point out what their differences are, let us have a reality check on the struggle itself. This struggle has its time and place of its own. This struggle is not a struggle for yesterday but of today and for tomorrow. Therefore the dynamics of the struggle that govern its development and progress are found and formed in the present day reality of our people and our country. Be it as it may, the collective reality of the past that has formed what is today is there to make it today and we see today as it is. What are on the ground today are the bases of the struggle. Not what had happened yesterday! Today, Meles and his Woyane group are the tyrannical and out of time rulers of Ethiopia. This group calls itself Woyane and TPLF and EPRDF …etc all names stand for the same cluster of tyrannical and out of time rulers. The people are struggling against these rulers. The struggle is real. This struggle is not what is in your mind or mine, but what is on the ground; i.e. the reality in Ethiopia. The land is taken from the farmers who live on and by it and controlled, partitioned, and owned as a private property of the tyrannical and out of time group. The meaningful private sector is owned by this same group. The democratic rights of each Ethiopian are relegated to serving the revolutionary democracy of Woyane. Unequal rights are institutionalized to those who are members of the ruling party and those who are not. In fact those who pledge membership to the ruling party are considered good citizens and those who are not are considered as enemies. This is the reality of life in Ethiopia today. The contradictions that govern the struggle and the bases for the struggle are not cooked inside someone’s mind under the vascillating temperature of one’s temperament but are found in the living conditions of present day Ethiopians. If one wants to know what the contradictions are, one can only find them in the real conditions of life the Ethiopians live at home. So what does the present day Ethiopian living in Ethiopia think about these tyrannical and out of time rulers? How does this Ethiopian want to throw out these tyrannical and out of time rulers? This is the form and essence of the struggle. So let us look at what is in the reality of the people who are living under this dictatorial group. Let us learn, for those of us who do not know, from the people who are living under Woyane. Moreover this struggle is the struggle of the people and not of its representatives or agents, or those who claim to be so. It is them who are struggling and who are the leaders and followers of the struggle. Those who want to help the people will bring themselves to the level of the people and then come up with them championing the causes of the people. Whoever is sitting here and trying to choose the means and ways of the struggle the people must follow must be examined by a doctor.
Now let us see what the differences between these two schools of thoughts are:
The first one is determined that peaceful struggle in anyway or form is over. Hence armed struggle is the only choice it has to overthrow this dictatorial group. There is absolutely no wrong in thinking this.
The second one also accepts the fact that the political space for peaceful struggle is very narrow and is very difficult to be peaceful and participate in the political process holding a different outlook from these tyrannical and out of time rulers. The difference is it still believes that the people have the ability to struggle and participate in the political process not under the laws of the tyrannical and out of time rulers but under the laws it establishes in the process of its struggle. The people, the second one believes, can take its struggle to an unprecedented level. Tested through the harsh and brutal hands of Woyane, the people have the ability to determine the course of the struggle, shape the form of the struggle, and march to victory. There is nothing wrong to think that way.
The problem is in how these two schools of thoughts diverge and are growing further apart. Let us see. To start with, they do not communicate. Of course the tyrannical and out of time rulers do not want them to communicate and do their best to make sure these opposition forces do not communicate. This is not a reason for them not to communicate. The tyrannical and out of time rulers do not want anyone to challenge them at all. Period. What one should understand is that these tyrants are not going to dictate how the struggle against them should proceed. Those that are trying to throw away these tyrannical and out of time rulers should use every thing at their disposal to come together and fight one battle and strive for one result. This is not being done and this, dear reader, is the crises we have at hand.
Then in addition to not communicating or most correctly because of the luck of communication, the self fulfilling “only my solution is right” philosophy has pushed these two schools of thought to drift further apart. Thus the evolution of these two thoughts into independent solutions is going to lead us to fighting against each other. We have that in our history and the history of our kings and emperors is full of this. As for what has happened in the last forty years, I have stated earlier in this article. This division has developed out of the thought process and is materializing in the organizations, putting each into one camp or the other camp. And this is happening at a time when the tyrannical and out of time ruling group is taking desperate measures to derail the popular uprising that is using the 2002 election to punish it decisively. Witness the killing of Aregawi Gebreyohannes in Tigray. Will the people come on top and if they do, will this tyrannical and out of time ruling group accept the verdict? Time will tell. In part two, I will clearly put the organizations that have lined into the two camps. I will describe the path each has defined for itself and is following; that will ultimately lead to a fight between the two paths. I will also put what I think needs to be done to avoid this escalating disaster from where it is now into catapulting to the ever revolving vicious circle.