The Empire Strikes Back

By Yilma Bekele| April 19, 2008 — After two years of meticulous preparations the TPLF Empire struck back what it believes is the final phase of building Democracy in Ethiopia. It was an onslaught worthy of a new kind of African leader. Read also A Mockery of Democracy? [pdf] by Kinijit KNAASO.

In a military campaign they refer to it as scorched-earth policy. This was indeed a ‘take no prisoner’ situation with TPLF’s ire directed at both friends and enemies alike. It was like the concept of ‘shock and awe’ the US used to open hostilities with Iraq. Ato Meles came up with his own strategy to coronate himself but disguised it as a democratic election. It was such a diabolical plan you can’t help but admire the warped mind that came up with it. Even if a fraction of this energy was devoted to do good, imagine where our country will be.

After the disputed election of 2005 this is what it looked like in the so-called Ethiopian Parliament or TPLF play ground. Ato Meles wanted more. Please note that all seven ethnically based parties’ are the brainchild of TPLF. The Prime Minister himself appoints all party leaders and functionaries.

Party Affiliation No. Seats
Tigrai People Liberation Front 38
Oromo People Democratic Front 110
Amhara National Democratic Movement 87
Southern Peoples Democratic Front 89
TPLF Total: 327
Gambella Peoplees Democratic Movement 3
Benshangul Gumuz D.M. 7
Somali People Democratic Front 24
Afar National Democratic Front 8
TPLF Affiliated Total: 42
Total Number of Seats 526
Vacant seats 20
TPLF and Affiliates (369+) 73%

So what seems to be the problem? If it was left up to him, Ato Meles will not bother with elections. He believes the TPLF tribe with himself, as the Supreme leader is the only group capable of running the country. But unfortunately the ferenji donors require it. That is one reason. The second reason being in the aftermath of the botched elections of 2005 due to the ‘killing’ of protesters, improper counting procedures and the pesky Diaspora the World Bank and the IMF have decided to disperse loans and grants thru Wereda level institutions.

It took the machine exactly two years to plan and implement its plan of total annihilation of any and all that stood in front of it. I will highlight a few of its un-worthy accomplishments:

  • Change Parliamentary rules and practices. This was accomplished by using the outgoing Parliament to pass new rules binding on the incoming. (Insurance in case the opposition forces a recount)
  • Strip revenues from Addis Abeba City. (It was won by Kinijit)
  • Use the new Parliamentary majority to postpone scheduled elections for Weredas and City government.
  • Openly use brute force to make people submit. Please read Judge Wolde-michael Meshesa testimonial. (http://www.ethiopianreview.com)
  • Imprison Opposition Party leaders, Journalists, Human Right Advocates, activists and over 40 thousand citizens. (Who will forget Dedesa, Zuai, Shoa Robit,
    Bir Sheleko and Kaliti how many died? One day the truth will come out.)
  • Using individuals within the opposition create confusion, mistrust, and cause disarray.
  • Using the Election Board, and the Judiciary dismember the opposition party.
  • Intimidate, harass, and eliminate opposition Party elected members. Exile them and declare the seat vacant.
  • Carry out an intense public relations campaign using TV, radio and closed meetings. Use blackmail, bribe, and fear.
  • Strengthen and also Create new Party organizations camouflaged as Civic Groups, Women’s, and Youth etc.
  • Intimidate, harass,jail and close all independent newspapers and periodicals. Demand self-censorship from the few left.
  • Leverage the country’s location and the US obsession with ‘war on terror’ to get the West to turn a blind to the regimes repression and also benefit by receiving
    advanced military training and surplus weapon to use back on its own population.

When they were ready they got the parliament to call for elections. Elections for city councils, Kebele councils, and vacated parliamentary seats were held on Sunday, April 13, 2008. Elections for the Wereda councils will follow on April 20. Yes, every village, town, city in Ethiopia went to the pools. It was a nation wide exercise in Democracy. Unfortunately it is not true. It is one big fraud perpetuated by the ever-vigilant TPLF Mafia.

This time there was no need of even pretending to have an open and democratic election. No foreign election observer was allowed to witness. ”We have been requesting to participate for the last four or five months, but so far we haven’t been given the permission to do so,” said Yoseph Mulugeta, head of the independent Ethiopian Human Rights Council. The few so-called ‘observers’ were all handpicked by TPLF.

A staggering 4.5 million positions were vacant. TPLF and its affiliates fielded over 3.6 million candidates. All other party’s were allowed less than half a million. The Human Right Watch report, which came out a few days before the elections, is capable of electing both sadness and anger at the same time. (http://www.hrw.org/) Here are a few excerpts from the
report:

  • Local ruling party officials have systematically targeted opposition candidates for violence, intimidation, and other human rights abuses since the registration period began three months ago. Particularly in areas with established opposition
    support, local officials have arbitrarily detained opposition candidates, searched their property without warrant, and in some cases physically
    assaulted them.
  • One 31-year-old school teacher in western Oromia was detained by police and then interrogated
    by wereda and zonal security officials when he sought to register as an opposition candidate. “I was afraid,” he told Human Rights Watch.
    “They accused me of being on OLF member and said I would be shot… They put a gun in my mouth, and then made me swear that I wouldn’t
    go back to the opposition.” He was released nine days later, after the deadline for candidate registration had passed. Human Rights Watch
    interviewed other OPC candidates who had also been detained after trying to register in other constituencies.
  • Local authorities have also prevented the registration of opposition candidates in many constituencies where the opposition’s success in 2005 parliamentary polls appeared to give them a chance at winning. In Fincha in western
    Oromia, for example, the opposition Oromo People’s Congress (OPC) made three attempts to register a candidate for an open parliamentary
    seat. The seat had been vacated by an OPC candidate who won 81 percent of the vote in 2005 but was later forced into exile after local authorities
    accused him of being an OLF supporter. The OPC tried to replace him on the ballot with three different candidates but each was prevented
    from registering. All three candidates were physically threatened by members of the wereda administration and police and one was detained
    for more than a week when he tried to register.
  • The kebele system in particular is also a central part of the ruling party’s elaborate system of surveillance, intimidation, and coercion of ordinary people
    who are perceived as being unsympathetic to the government. The kebele were originally created by the dictatorship of Mengistu Haile Mariam
    for precisely this purpose and have been put to the same use by the current government since Mengistu’s ouster in 1991. Because of the
    kebele system’s importance in this regard, the EPRDF is particularly loathe to contemplate losing control over them.

Our country suffered seventeen years under a ruthless and illiterate military dictatorship. We were all happy to see the Derg go. Even the behind the scene deal between Mengistu and TPLF for his safe exit was not of great concern to the people. The departure of the man-eating monster (sew belaw) was good enough. The TPLF has turned into another Mengistu. The Derg had ‘Workers Party of Ethiopia’ TPLF got EPDRF, Derg had an election and won 100 percent, TPLF had an election is wining 100 percent. Derg invented ‘Kebeles’ to control and terrorize. The Meles regime inherited Kebles intact and refined their use. In Oromya TPLF went further than mere neighborhoods. They invented the ‘Gare’ system where control is possible within households. It is a nightmarish system we got in our country. TPLF has managed to terrorize a whole nation to the extent that people whisper even when they are alone. There is no trust anymore. We have come a long way to end up where we started. Using force to silence people is nothing new. What Ato Meles is doing is closing all options to a civilized and cool-headed dialogue. When the law is used to circumvent the law itself, that is when society succumbs to the law of the jungle.

The law of the jungle is not in anybodies interest. Ato Meles surrounded with a few un-elected individuals has drawn the line in the sand. What he is telling the Ethiopian people is that he alone with his TPLF tribe will decide the fate of 75million people. Ato Meles is always loud and clear in his actions and statements. We are the ones who are twisting out of shape trying to give him the benefit of the doubt. On several occasions he has made it clear that he is not interested in negotiation or compromise. He is quick to unleash his goons to murder citizens without provocation. Elected members of Parliament are not immune, University students are fair game, and ordinary people do not stand a chance.

The Ethiopian people are doing all they could under difficult circumstances to find out ways to defend them selves from this home grown enemy. Like all people they will find a solution sooner or later. With the help of those of us who are free from Melese’s mafia we can make it happen sooner. The time has passed to sit around and intellectualize about how worthless Abesha is, how Kinijit let us down to cover our own impotence and inability to get involved. Meles knows what he wants, do you?

The last time the TPLF mafia infringed against the democratic rights of elected leaders and fellow Ethiopians, the Diaspora and friends were loud and clear in their response. It is time you the reader drop all pretense of false love for ‘Ethiopia’ and go out and act on your love for your country. The regime was forced to back down. There is no reason to think the response will be any different this time. The Ethiopian empire TPLF is trying to build is a welfare state. All we got to do is stop the welfare check. The Diaspora could that is you and I could:

  • Lobby the World Bank and the IMF to reassess their policy based on the new reality in Ethiopia.
  • Appeal to EU to open hearing on Democracy and Human Right.
  • Request International Court of Justice in The Hague to intervene regarding the June massacre and war crimes in Ogaden and Somalia.
  • Continue the hard work to pass HR2003 in the US Senate.
  • Set up a panel of Ethiopians and friends in the field of banking, economic and commerce to trace the transfer of money out of Ethiopia.
  • Start a database for crimes committed by security forces inside the country.
  • Stop going to Ethiopia unless it is a family emergency.
  • If you do, do not fly ‘Ethiopian (TPLF) airlines.
  • Do not invest in Ethiopia. Divest from Ethiopia.
  • Be responsible for your own actions, instead of pointing fingers at others!!

The Woyane regime in the next few days will create plenty of diversions from the so-called elections and mass terror. They are good at this sort of stuff. Remember when Sebhat Nega gave interview on how TPLF liberated Eritrea. That was the time when we were vocal about the Kaliti Political prisoners. Remember when Meles invaded Somalia that was the time when his goons were planting bombs in Addis. This time he has imprisoned our beloved Teddy Afro and he is busy planting bombs again. Diversion is what it is all about. Believe me Ato Meles, if the opposition is into planting bombs it will not be in a taxi stand, market place or gas station. I will worry about Arat Kilo. Keep your firecrackers for yourself, because if you force people into planting bombs you can hear it all the way from Adwa or where ever you came from.

The writer can be reached at: yilma@pacbell.net

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