Meles’ recycled old tactics being rendered obsolete by a new and shrewd adversary

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By Jawar Mohammed |

Someone who knows Meles Zenawi since childhood once told me that “Meles never concedes defeat. Neither does he compromise because he considers it a personal humiliation. And he never keeps promise even to the most important people in his life.”

In his relentless fight to capture state power and then prolong his rein, Meles has played numerous tricks, repeatedly, on almost all segments of the society that by now his subjects can see which card he has in his pocket before he pulls them out. Faced with a determined opposition from the Muslim community, Meles has apparently removed the dreaded Mejlis leaders and promised to hold election in June. Here is the trick. He wants the new Mejlis leaders to be elected by delegates chosen by kebeles. Note that kebele is the lowest level of the state’s administrative structure. The ruling party’s organization further divides the kebele into ‘got’ and gare’ substructures composed of few households that have been established to help the authoritarian system closely and directly monitor and control each citizen. For instance during the 2010 election, these gare and got structures were utilized for the so called 1 for 5 strategy whereby one ruling party member was assigned for every five voters. The one member was required to pursued and empowered to coerce his assigned electorate and personally ensure that they vote, for the ruling party, on the election day. It was in this way that Meles won a whopping 99.6%.

For the Muslim community the mosque is the lowest structural unit that should be electing delegates that choose Mejlis leaders at national level. Meles prefer the kebele over the mosques because in that way the party structure at kebele level select loyalists who will ensure that the Mejlis is filled by a new set of puppets. That could not happen if the election takes place through the mosques not only because sheiks are less inclined to cheat in Allah’s house, but also because, as I noted before, mosques and their imams are organized in such way that makes it hard to control and manipulate their functions.

“Every mosque and religious leader functions as an autonomous entity and agency. Mosques are usually constructed by each community; imams are members of the local population – who volunteer their service and rarely draw salary. Muslim clerics are rarely centrally ordained or appointed. The religious teachers (who might not necessarily be the same person as the imams) attract students based on their intellectual fame, and their centers are sustained through local support. Therefore, there is minimal networking among mosques, little outside and top-down control over the content of what religious scholars teach, what imams preach or how a specific mosque functions.”

Therefore, Meles who is allergic to free and fair elections, knows that neither cooptation nor intimidation can get him the kind of results he would like to see if the elections take place at the mosques. By trying to organize the election by kebeles he is trying to get away with such obviously slanderous moves. He has used similar tricks on national elections (delaying results, appointing party members as election chiefs, appointing the same person to lead the electoral board and also the Supreme Court—where decision of board should be appealed to etc). Aside from the fact that he is attempting to deceive the protesters with such overused maneuvers, his current tricks are already detailed in the government’s initial strategy papers 1 & 2 that were leaked to the activists.For the regime’s strategy at lower level see the detailed implementation plan for East Hararghe zone. The protesters knew the regime’s strategic motives even before the concessions were floated, hence unanimously rejected them.

–Full Document Dhummuugaa

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