By Oromo Movement for Federalism and Ethiopian Unity –United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF), in its statement issued on April 10, 2008, has made it clear that it is no longer taking part in the forthcoming local elections in Ethiopia on the ground that “The whole process is an illegal process”. None of the enumerated reasons or the ultimate measure taken by the party came as a surprise to us as we were aware of what was being done by Woyane , had been and still is an illegal activity pushing opposition forces to their limits.
Under the condition where an outstanding issue of the mercilessly butchered 193 innocent civilians in conjunction with the last election is not yet fully addressed, where citizens are robbed of their properties and deliberately subjected to go through an abject misery as a result of paper money poured into the economy is not yet investigated by an independent body and where Woyane shows no restraint from harassing, incarcerating, torturing and systematically silencing political opponents, it would rather be a wishful thinking to expect a competitive election to happen in the country now under such a setting.
So, we believe that UEDF, when viewed in light of its long history of tolerance, patience and optimism, is rather forced by such glaring circumstances to arrive at the decision it just took and we fully support this measure of UEDF as it is in full harmony with the prevailing situation in the country. As we have long indicated, it is no wonder that Woyanne is now targeting UEDF and other similar forces as it is actively engaged in its futile attempt of redesigning the political landscape of the country all together, a political landscape that has an inherent difficulty in accommodating forces gathered around political entities like UEDF.
What makes this measure of UEDF even more significant and an extremely troubling development is the pioneer role played by UEDF itself in the process of the daunting task of democratizing the country. This party is a party that showed its commitment to the democratic process in the country by starting its participation with as few as four members in the parliament and gradually grew to its current strength of about fifty five parliamentarians. At each stage of their election participation they have made it clear to the people that their main gain is to be measured not only by the number of seats they may win but also by the contribution they were able to make towards strengthening the democratic process in the country. In this regard, OMFEU would be glad to make it known that it has drawn a lot of valuable lessons from their exemplary performances and that their political investment is not without a result.
When such a party is compelled to boycott an election, it wouldn’t only be an issue of boycotting an election but it definitely has the strength to warn us all that our country is not moving in a healthy direction and surely deserves to draw a serious and closer attention from all of us. That is why we say this measure of UEDF actually heralds the advent of a new chapter in the long and tortuous road of democratizing our country. A chapter in which we focus on organizing our people and continue to express our total resentment towards Woyane while at the same time seriously deliberating on the future of our country.
With respect to Woyanne’s current activity, election and June are approaching; they have already resorted to their usual war rhetoric as a means of diverting public attention from mountains of domestic problems to that of “war on the horizon”. In exactly the same manner as recent gambits like that of staged arson around famous monasteries failed to divert people from the acute problem of hyperinflation, so will be the current war rhetoric to divert people from the heinous crimes of Woyanne. For citizens, more than and above the current sham election and war rhetoric, the vexing issue of hyperinflation and the criminal manner in which it was brought about matters most.
Finally, we would like to urge those who took a measure that is the exact opposite of what they have been telling the people all along, to first reconcile themselves with their own conscience before they set their feet on the challenging domain of politicking. They should have known better by now that Woyane’s style of burying a political entity starts with tempting that same entity into nonchalantly self-discrediting itself in front its own constituency. As for us, we have no clue as to how such an entity could possibly regain the full trust of its constituency once again. That being said, from now onwards, however, we, at least, expect from such entities to tell people more on their newly found political space and less of how they are being persecuted.