High time for donors to support an all-Ethiopian Conference – NES

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Network of Ethiopian Scholars (NES)

Scandinavian Chapter

Press Release No. 28

April 26, 2006

Title: It is High Time that Donors Support an Agenda for an All-Ethiopian and All- Inclusive National Conference and Dialogue

“We have no enemies in this struggle; …… our struggle is to create a
level playing field where everyone’s voice is heard and the collective
vision that comes out of that is one shared by all. That is what the
Ethiopian people hoped for in May 2005. That is what our leaders are in
jail for. That is what our compatriots have paid the ultimate sacrifice
for. That is what we will continue to struggle towards, for as long as it
takes.” Kinijit Open Letter, to the US Ambassador in Ethiopia, April 19,

“… Only when we have wiped the tears from the faces of all, have we truly arrived as a nation”. M. Ghandi

1. Introduction

Those elected leaders of political parties that have been so wrongly thrown
into jail accused with a crime that can send them, if the regime gets its
way, to the gallows solemnly declared: “we have no enemies.” They do
not reciprocate hate with hate, enmity with enmity. They want an enemy-free
conception of politics, a politics that builds and not destructs. They want
to end the curse and era of cynical and myopic politics that has undermined
the collective strength of the Ethiopian people for generations exposing
them to untold humiliation in history. They want a productive politics that
can facilitate the realisation of a new path, a new dawn, a new world and a
new national democratic civilisation for Ethiopia.

Have we not truly entered as a nation, people, country a new moral universe
thanks to their launching of a new politics with principle and humanity,
resistance through putting the suffering of self before calling on others?
These are indeed true persons with character and dignity. Though they
suffer in jail, they refuse to surrender their spirit and intellect to
revenge or hatred. The jailed leaders and CUD as a party do not consider
aggression as defence; they do not consider vengeance as justice, hatred or
enmity as virtue and right. Therein reside the unique distinction of the
women and men in jail, having scored a magnificent moral achievement that
is second to none. This is indeed a rare attainment that only a few
politicians in history have made.

It is these jailed leaders along with the numerous independent journalists,
civil society activists, the young, and those always not readily coming
easily to notice from the urban poor to the rural poor that the regime
continues to abuse.

2. Forked Tongued Donors and Justice

The elected leaders of CUD have been judged as ?guilty’ by the regime
even before they were put in jail. They have recognised this fact and
shunned the remote- controlled judicial system after being arrested so
illegally and unjustly. The donors know the leaders are elected by the
people. The jailed leaders only wished to protest the many irregularities
and injustices during and after the election. Unfortunately the donors
have not spoken with consistency with regard to the elected jailed leaders.
To be sure the donor community has added its welcome voice for their
release. NES applauds this stance from the donor community both inside and
outside Ethiopia in calling for the immediate release of these morally
distinguished and principled Ethiopians. NES is, however, worried why some
of the bigger donors like the ambassadors from USA, Britain, Germany in
Ethiopia and others continue to contradict their own self-expressed just
stand calling for their immediate release by adding often in their
statements the wish to see a ’speedy trial’! What does it mean to call
for their release and call for a trial that is false and based on
preposterous charges? Donors fully know the compelling fact that the court
is rigged and justice can only be ill-served.

Consistency from the Donors in Ethiopia will help hugely to avert the
impending danger gathering as a storm over Ethiopia. The donors are fully
aware that armed resistance is brewing in various parts of the country. The
donors warn their citizens to be safe when they travel to Ethiopia. What
makes them refuse to see the obvious that the regime that relies on
violence is blocking all peaceful avenues of resistance, and encouraging
opposition to manifest in armed form? Who is to blame for this? Those in
jail who have no enemies or the regime who fabricates willy-nilly
numberless enemies from a peaceful population? Why do the donors look away
from warning the regime now its path is wrong and is bound to lead to
strife, conflict, disaster and war? What is the point of victimising the
innocent jailed leaders when those who blocked the nation’s democratic
transition are encouraged to lead the nation to war? Donors have grave
responsibility not to abet and unwittingly encourage the regime to be
belligerent and fight by trying to splitting
the peaceful opposition represented by CUD.

When the regime in Ethiopia victimises those who believe in the democratic
process and peaceful change, and resistance through civil and not armed
struggle, donors must know that the regime is betting and spoiling sadly
for an armed contest by expecting to relying on continued donor support.
This dangerous strategy by the regime must be rejected by donors. All those
who entered with good faith the democratic process must be supported ’by

3. The April 19, 2006 CUD Statement from Addis Ababa

NES is alarmed by the gravity of the situation and developments explained
in the April 19, 2006 statement issued by Kinjit regarding the role of the
US embassy and other embassies in helping the diabolical regime of Meles
Zenawi to split once again a popular opposition party that has been dearly
inscribed in the hearts and minds of the Ethiopian people. The Meles regime
has picked up the art of manipulation to perfection in splitting
organisations and movements in order to frustrate and make it impossible
for a viable nation-wide peaceful and democratic opposition to emerge in
the country. Its very nature as a minority regime wishing to survive for as
long as possible is inextricably linked with a strategy to manipulate
democracy and not institutionalise principles of sustained governance with
a one person and one vote decision of the people.

4. Minority Hegemonic Control vs. democratic Transition

Arguably, if a minority TPLF core controlled superficial coalition like
EPDRF is to survive; democratic transition has to be sacrificed. The
imperative of extending the tenure of minority hegemonic control destroys
the prospect of democratic transition. The ruling core group wishes to
break, make, subvert, destroy, combine, disperse, fracture, fragment, (and
any combination of these there of at will), by using its hideous apparatus
of oppression upon any political force that has an agenda different from it
and is not allied to it under its total control. Allowing a free democratic
transition process to take place in the country and keeping the dominance
of the TPLF is indeed a contradiction in terms.

Remember TPLF since its inception in Tigray has not acted to submit to a
fair and free election to legitimise its authority there. It is and remains
a self-appointed arrogant power, claiming to be the sole authority based on
its own mis-understanding and definition of the interest of the people in
Tigray relying on blackmail, the gun and threat of violence and sweeteners
such as skewed allocation of resources to the elite of the region compared
to others. If it fails to practise democracy in Tigray, how can one expect
that the TPLF would practice democracy in the rest of Ethiopia? The very
logic and principle of authority in society that TPLF frames Ethiopia’s
democracy with is a divisive politics that destruct incapable of ever
constructing a democratic environment and composing the collective strength
of the Ethiopian people. Unless the struggle is intensified to prioritise
democratic transition, any expectation that the TPLF would allow such a
transition whilst still pursuing a minority-based hegemonic agenda would be
a pipedream. It staggers disbelief why diplomats who know this dilemma that
Ethiopian democracy is confronted with allow themselves to be used by the
TPLF to join in breaking, fracturing and fragmenting opposition parties
that the TPLF has been a past master at wrecking. Have they forgotten that,
TPLF not only dispersed the idea of the Ethiopian nation by a mechanistic
sublimation and subordination to the hegemonic ambition of a self-serving
and virulent elite from Tigray, but also each ethnic- based organisation
that has not voluntarily abdicated to be dictated by TPLF’s peculiar
politics of domination and hegemony has to face the punishment of being
fractured and fragmented as well? Thus for the OLF, there is the OPDO, for
the ONC, there is another run by a person loyal to the TPLF. OFDM has been
sabotaged to split into fractions. This fate has befallen all other ethnic
groups and organisations. Now the same foul treatment falls on CUD. And
even foreign diplomats are not spared, having been lured to support this
TPLF divisive history and mode of politicking.

5. The Meles Bluff Exposed

The Meles regime brags often that it wished very much to see a strong
opposition. God delivered its wish and brought the CUD that has within
record time become not only a powerful force backed by the people, but also
has occupied an exemplary moral and political position by vowing to link
the idea of Ethiopian nationhood with the wiping out of the endless tears
from every mother, child, son and daughters of Ethiopia for ever.
CUD wants to eradicate the twin sores of dictatorship and poverty from the
Ethiopian soil. Now Meles took fright and seems to play up his putative
role as a ?partner in the war on terror’ to win the support of donors
to try to employ divisive politics to defeat democracy and the Ethiopian

Democratic nations did not simply drop from the sky. They are built by the
imaginings and hard work of purposeful generations. Each generation
transfers the fruits of its hard work to the next generation; and like in a
relay system the sweat of the last generation eggs on the next until the
dreams and aspirations that connect the idea of the Ethiopian nation with
wiping out the tears from the faces of all Ethiopians is fulfilled.

We say this generation must achieve democratic transition and a democratic
system. It must not leave this task for the next generation. Let the next
generation solve the building of Ethiopia as a prosperous nation. The key
obstacle that wishes to transfer dictatorship for the next generation is
the hegemonic ambition of the Meles dictatorship. If the Meles regime can
steal the election in 2005, there is no reason why its behaviour would
change in the years 2010 or subsequent five years, should it continue to
call elections. The jailed leaders that are in prison have fought them for
the last decade and half for democracy. They did not start the struggle in
2005. The Ethiopian people resent the divisive politics of the regime. They
have been doing so since this regime forced itself over the society and the
individual. They know this regime is anti-democratic and would not allow
free election to remove it from power. The regime knows that it cannot
command the trust and respect of the people. It knows it has done nothing
but upset the people and impose cynical and divisive politics over them.

The democratic movement for a democratic transition to change authoritarian
government into democratic governance, to root the principle of political
authority in the people must be strengthened and continue. The Ethiopian
people can only give up mobilising for democratic transition at the risk of
their own and their children’s future. It is the time for democratic
transition now, not in the year 2010 or thereafter into an unknown time.
Ethiopians must reject the gun, intrigues and other methods to abuse their
democratic achievement.

6. Donors Must Support National Reconciliation in Ethiopia

Donors and diplomats must support Ethiopian democratic transition now and
should not mix the issue of Ethiopian democratic transition with any other
Diplomats should call for reconciliation, national dialogue and show their
willingness to facilitate the opposition and the regime to come to a
conference table and not go behind the back of the victimised opposition
and add insult to injury by openly endorsing regime divisive action to
split and weaken the main opposition party. They should not engage in
practices that can entangle and complicate issues of the democratic
transition in the country. Closed door manoeuvring hiding from the
Ethiopian people will not serve the purpose of democracy in Ethiopia.

The donors must put pressure on all forces that pursue contradictory
political goals to solve all their problems peacefully. This call should be
extended to all those who employ peaceful struggle and those who employ
armed struggle. Commitment to Ethiopia’s democratic transition means
applying pressure primarily on the regime and the peaceful and armed
opposition groups to come to a roundtable conference to find a minimum
programme to prevent the country from going even more into a destructive
path. This may be getting too late, but if there is a will and the donors
without any other consideration try to facilitate, all the political forces
may come to a roundtable to find feasible pathways to put Ethiopia on an
irreversible trajectory of democratic transition and autocratic to
democratic governance. Instead of joining the diabolical objectives of the
regime to split the peaceful opposition and embolden the armed opposition
to engage in more armed struggle, the donors should facilitate a peaceful
roundtable conference by excluding no political force for as long as it
takes. The regime would try to block this, but the donors can put the
demand for the larger good of stopping the suffering of the people. Unless
the principle of authority in society is firmly rooted in the people and
people of Ethiopia alone, peace and stability would remain elusive.

7. Concluding Remarks:

1. TPLF has been known to be buying, bribing, and splitting political
organisations, social movements, and professional associations. This
behaviour emanates from the fact it is a minority regime which wants to
survive through force aided by the worn out strategy of divide and rule.

2. It is important that the Ethiopian people should be given a chance to
decide on their fate by liberating themselves from their rulers who have
been a source of misery and brutality for many generations. The only way
that the Ethiopian people liberate themselves from poverty and
hunger is through their own control of their destiny. The main obstacle has
been authoritarian rule and rulers to date. Democracy has never been tried.
Peaceful changes took place only when a ruler decided to be a monk, and
when a saint got involved to mediate between two dynasties. Otherwise
changes have taken place through force, intrigue, poison and other
unsavoury methods.

3. Donors must side with the aspiration of the Ethiopian people for
democracy. Their own interests are best served by siding with the Ethiopian
people and not with the autocratic rulers of Ethiopia.

4. The most useful role donors in general and the US ambassador in
particular can play right now in Ethiopia is to avert the danger brewing in
the country for armed struggle. They should be at the forefront calling for
a nation wide and all inclusive national conference and dialogue of all
the political forces struggling with peaceful and armed methods in the
country to chart a new and sustainable path called by those who are in
jail, and thankfully hold the moral high ground by proclaiming solemnly:’
We have no enemies.”

Professor Mammo Muchie, Chair of NES-Scandinavian Chapter
Berhanu G. Balcha, Vice- Chair of NES-Scandinavian Chapter
Tekola Worku, Secretary of NES-Scandinavian Chapter

Contact address:
- Fibigerstraede 2
- 9220- Aalborg East- Denmark
- Tel. + 45 96 359 813 or +45 96 358 331
- Fax + 45 98 153 298
- Cell: +45 3112 5507
- Email: mammo@ihis.aau.dk or berhanu@ihis.aau.dk or

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