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The “Concerned Amharas” are Undermining the Fano Movement

November 21, 2023

Yonas Biru, PhD

On November 20, Professor Berhanu Girma shared a six-page Amharic draft titled “የዐማራው ኅብረት: የኅልውና ትግሉ ድል መሰረት ነው.” Loosely translated it means “Amhara’s Unity is Key for its Survival struggle.” The document discussed the Concerned Amharas’ failed attempt to unite the diaspora Amhara. Conspicuously, the document notes the Concerned Amharas group constitutes seven members but fails to identify them.

The document is signed by eight individuals who took part in drafting it. They include in the order they appeared in the signature line: Professor Demissie Alemayehu, Ato Brehane Meskel Reda, Professor Alem Ante Gebreselassie, Major Ayalsew dessie, ሙአዘ ጥበባን Habtamu Ayalew, artist Abebe Belew, Dr. Gebeyehu Ejigu, and Artist Shimelis Abera (ጆሮ). Hereafter, I will refer to the group as Professor Demissie’s Team.

Though I believe it is likely, it is not clear from the document if the seven Concerned Amharas are part of Professor Demissie’s Team. It is also not clear why Professor Demissie’s Team chose not to disclose the people behind the Concerned Amharas facade.

To say the least, the underhandedness of the operation does not inspire confidence. Why so? Some members of the Professor’s Team are under the spell of ታላቁ እስክንድር (Eskinder the Great) and hence biased toward his Amhara Popular Front (APF). This makes it difficult for their document to play a neutral role in the Amhara unity formation process.

The ታላቁ እስክንድር’s spell is artfully sprinkled in the document with such accoladic references as “በታዋቂው ታጋይ እስክንድር ነጋ አመራር” and “APF ብዙዎች በሚያከብሩት እና በሚያምኑበት አቶ እስክንድር ነጋ አመራር መመስረቱ: በተለይም በዳያስፖራው በኩል ተስፋ አሳድሯል.” The Truth is APF was established by Shaleka Dawit and the Ethio-360 drumbeating enterprise who inducted Eskinder as a nominal leader. APF is a diaspora establishment that pretends to be a Fano enterprise.

The document casts other Amhara forces in a negative light with such disdainful jabs as “በሌላ በኩል ደግሞ፣ ቀደም ሲል ተቋቁመው የዐማራውን ትግል ሲመሩ የነበሩ እና አሁን ለደረሰበት ደረጃ በጎ አስተዋፅዖ ያበረከቱ ድርጅቶች እና መሪዎች፣ የትግሉን የዕድገት ደረጃ እና ፈታኝ ሁኔታ ከግምት ባለማስገባት፣ እንደቀድሞው እነርሱ ብቻ ሊመሩት የሚገባ እንደሆነ በማሰብ፣ ሌሎች አዳዲስ አደረጃጀቶችንም ሆነ አስተሳሰቦችን ለማስተናገድ ወይም በውስጣቸው አስፈላጊውን የአሠራር ለውጥ ለማካሄድ ያላቸው የአቅም እና የፍላጎት ውሱንነት ጎልቶ ይታያል።”

To put it generously, any statement that insinuates the APF (led by Eskinder, Shaleka Dawit and Lij Tedla Melaku) reflects “አዳዲስ አደረጃጀቶች [and] አስተሳሰቦች” is a dark comedy of Kafkaesque genre.

Which part of APF reflects አዳዲስ አስተሳሰቦች? Shaleka’s statement that “ኢትዮጵያ የሚያስፈልጋት አማራ አማራ የሚሸት መንግስት ነው” or Lij tedla’s agenda of restoring “the Ethiopian Monarchy and the Solomonic Crown in a Constitutional Monarchy Framework.”

 

The ታላቁ Eskinder Team is Against Establishing a Manifesto?

Sadly, APF has aggressively pushed against developing a manifesto for Obvious reasons. Its agenda is establishing “አማራ አማራ የሚሸት መንግስት.” Since putting this in a manifesto is seen problematic, they choose to work without one.

In a recent gathering in London, one of the participants asked the Shaleka if the Amhara Popular Front (APF) to which he serves as a spokesperson is a military or political group? The person continued: It seems to me you are acting like a political organization. If so, why don’t you have a manifesto or a document laying out your political aspirations, organizing principles and a roadmap toward your goal? The host thanked the person as one of “the Amhara activists who is working hard to bring all Amhara forces together” and passed the microphone to the Shaleka to respond.

The Shaleka’s response was unduly cynical and defensive, questioning the motive of the person. He said “this is not a question. It is a gotcha investigation to trap me.” He said APF does not need a manifesto. This made it clear that it is by commission (not omission) that APF does not have a manifesto that lays out its guiding principles and reveals the tenets that undergird them.

 

What are Amhara’s Priorities?

All efforts need to focus on providing undivided support to Fano. As I have noted in my yesterday’s article titled “Critical Steps to Jumpstart Fano’s Stalling Momentum”, the most important task is developing a unifying Fano Manifesto, defining its strategic political and military end goals.

This cannot be done before a unified Fano architecture is established. This requires dealing with four critical issues.

First, the major Fano leaders on the battle ground among others include: Gojam’s Fano Command led by ሻለቃ ዝናቡ; Gonder Fano Brigade led by ሻለቃ ዉብ አንተ; Wello Fano Brigade led by ሻለቃ ምሬ ወዳጆ and Shewa Fano Brigade led by ሻለቃ መከታው:: These are others who are equally prominent on the battle field.

Second, the Fano that Eskider’s APF represents is active politically and internationally but does not have firepower on the battle ground. I challenge supporters of APF to disclose in which war front they fought and which areas they currently control. Compare this with the battlefield accomplishments of the four Fanos I mentioned above. APF does not have meaningful presence on the battle ground. It is also a new establishment in the diaspora. On what ground is it entitled to lead the Amhara movement.

Third, Fano is in a dire need of a unified political front, particularly between those who have a strong powerbase on the battle ground. The Fano enterprise will limp around until these groups come to the fore with strong political presence. This cannot happen if APF and its diaspora support ecosystem insist on pushing APF to the leadership position.

Fourth, Fano needs to engage the international community (IC). Global powers cannot deal with multiple Fano leaders. They wait until a robust Fano coalition with a credible leadership emerges. The IC knows the Shaleka clan is all about political hustle without military muscle.

 

How Can Fano Achieve Unity?

The first critical step is establishing a neutral committee (Amhara ሺማግሌዎች) who are not beholden to one group or another. The ሺማግሌዎች can establish contact with all Fanos on the ground and seek their consent and support. Once they win the confidence of all Fanos large and small they can begin a two-step process.

The first step will be establishing a diaspora Fano support group. They need to bring as wide a constituency as possible in the interest of inclusiveness and establish a broad-based committee. The Committee can be instrumental in advancing the second step.

The second step is a two-pronged challenge. On the one front, they need to develop a process to establish a Fano command structure, providing guidance on a leadership selection process. On the second front, they need to commission a selected group of experts to prepare a Fano manifesto.

Both processes need to win the confidence of Fano leaders and secure their consent for the effort. Only then can the ሺማግሌዎች’s recommendations stand a chance to be discussed, amended and finally adopted by the Fanos. The diaspora can only play a support role. When it tries to play the role of a kingmaker it undermines the Fano movement. The only way Eskinder can be the leader of Fano is if Fano leaders select him to lead them. Any diaspora effort to throne him with a remote control is not only doomed to fail, but it undermines the Fano movement.

Facilitating such a difficult task of creating unity cannot be led by seven unnamed Concerned Amharas. Nor can it be facilitated by Professor Demissie’s Team that include Eskinder’s ደቀመዝሙራን cum አፈ ቀላጤ such as Habtamu Ayalew and others.

ያለውን የሰጠ ንፉግ አይባልም በሚለው የባህላችን መርህ ተነስቼ ስለሆነ የጻፍኩት ሳላውቅ ተሳስቼ ወይም በንዝህላል ቸልተኝነት ካጠፋሁ ይቅርታ.

8 Comments

  1. Dr. Yonas, I think you have made a big mistake here too. Yes, Habtamu supports Eskinder and some of the named may have also do the same. But, from what was communicated in the DC meeting couple of weeks ago this Committee was established from the APF support group and the other group which is being led by the older Fano groups you mentioned. So the attempt is supposed to be encouraged and needs to be continued until consensus reached.

    On the other hand I agree with you that APF formation was a rushed one. I assumed Eskinder had created a consensus with the different Fano groups in all the four Amhara provinces by the time he came out to announce the formation of APF. I was the early supporter of it as well. Now, the solution is not to go back to the drawing board rather dialogue and negotiate to come up with one unified Manifesto which is possible as long as the purpose is to secure Amhara’s dignity and establish genuine democratic system in Ethiopia.

  2. never ending story, ato Birum antem weledu …. Shameless guy.
    Abiy has chewed you like a gum and throw, and now you are crying.
    If you can just do something o the ground, you are a failed high paid scholar, in diaspora, with no value to his origin of country.

  3. “Developing a unifying Fano Manifesto, defining its strategic political and military end goals” is no big deal! This squabble is between guys who’re trying to burden Fano with an insurmountable task of liberating Ethiopia. Fano has unwritten manifesto limited to liberating the Amhara homeland reserving the task of liberating the rest of the country to people in the respective regions. Fano can cooperate, even help the other regions, but it’s not t o make sacrifice to liberate others. The urge should come from themselves and they should follow Amhara’s path of resistance to achieve what Amhara achieves. The call for manifesto is to bog down Amhara liberation with big objectives such as democracy and human rights in the entire country. We say free Amhara region first. The rest will follow on its own.

    The fact of the matter is anybody can write a manifesto. Though unwritten, Fano already has a manifesto known by all Amharas in and out of the country. What’s the manifesto? In one word, “Free Amhara land”. Free from the federal army and local militia that work against the ” lives and liberty and property” of the Amhara people. Ends. The oldest manifesto of the human race is raised by Fano. These are the “strategic political and military end goals”. And Fano is fighting to make it a reality. What manifesto, strateegy and end goal do you need other than this? Honestly speaking,

    I’m intrigued by E. Nega’s rejection of a WRITTEN manifesto Dr. Borru and company demand. Election of leaders will come when “Free Amhara land” is secured. In the free land, meeting of the parties that played a significant role in freeing the Amhara land will answer the leadersip and manifesto issue in a a couple of hours. For now, the diaspora should limit its activities to support role in finance, materials and diplomacy. The way things go, the Amhara struggle led by Fano is not like others that took years or decades. With clear but unwritten manifesto, liberating the region can happen in a short while. Stop the squabble and simply provide support.

    Bye!

  4. On the news of failure on this negotiations, I succumbed down into my couch. I needed some therapy and counseling to soothe my anger and frustration. That is my old suddenly showed and serenaded me with this. The old friend is none other than Edwin. Edwin and I go way back, way back to 1969
    Edwin! Hit it!!!

    War I despise
    ‘Cause it means destruction
    Destruction of innocent lives
    War means tears to the thousands of mothers eyes
    When their sons go out to fight and lose their lives.
    War, What’s good for? Nothing!!
    Say it again!
    War! Good God! y’all
    What’s good for? Absolutely nothing!!!
    War! It ain’t but a heartbreaker
    War, it has only one friend, the undertaker!
    War has shattered many young men’s dreams
    Made them disabled, bitter and mean
    Life is much too short and precious to be fighting wars these days(in Ethiopia)
    War can’t give life, it can only take it away
    Peace, love and understanding
    Tell me, is there a place for them these days?
    They say you must fight to keep your freedom(to bring you freedom in Oromia & Amhara)
    Ohh, Good God y’all!
    There must be a better way!!!

    You said it all 54 years ago, Edwin!!! May you rest in eternal peace, brother!!!

  5. Make that:
    On the news of failure on this negotiation, I succumbed down into my couch. I needed some therapy and counseling to soothe my anger and frustration. That is when my old friend suddenly showed up and serenaded me with this. The old friend is none other than Edwin. Edwin and I go way back, way back to 1969
    Edwin! Hit it!!!

  6. Dr. Yonas, your recent focus on highlighting weaknesses rather than playing a positive role in supporting Fano is noticeable. Instead of inspiring people, it seems you’ve become more inclined towards complaining.
    Keep in mind the analogy that bees avoid landing on trash cans, and flies shouldn’t try to imitate bees by landing on flowers.
    Lately, your involvement seems lacking in positive contributions. Consider taking a step back to observe and reassess your role in the current situation.
    Upon first impression, I considered the possibility of you serving as a public relations representative for Fano, rather than undermining and fostering division.
    Despite your scholarly background, the absence of wisdom in promoting unity has resulted in creating divisions rather than fostering a sense of togetherness.
    You once held a critical stance towards Abiy, but now you’ve completely reversed your position. It’s time to bid farewell to politics and welcome retirement, allowing yourself to enjoy life in the way you concluded your service at the World Bank.

  7. Only the likes of Yonas Biru can save Amhara and Ethiopia from the unfolding disaster. Those who open your mouth wide to swallow him, will soon understand Yonas’s authenticity. You can’t understand him now because you are too moron to understand the political philosophy of a highly educated man in the person of Yonas’s caliber – I mean the sophosticated theories that his mind generates and his theories will serve as road map to solutions for Ethiopia’s entagled problems that Fano is complicating now.

  8. Bravo KUKUSH SEBLU for your inciteful comment above. As you said, Fano has a manifesto, strategic political and military end goals. In fact, it has a written manifesto that details its political goals. The presnece of its military goal is being witnessed everyday in the acts of resistance itself which makes proof unnecessary. What Dr. Borru and company want to see is a paper written in fancy English or French full of iintellectual jargons printed in a presntable manner. That’s how NGOs Dr. Borru worked for function and anything out of this practice is a flaw that should be correted. In the ideal world that’s what is supposed to happen. But, ithe Amhara face unparalled challenge which imposed collective resistance against genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing and displacement. They rose up in arms to end these crimes. Writing the kind of manifesto Dr. Borru wants to see from this kind of resistance is stupidity.

    Somewhere I read the following which highlights the issue of manifesto, strategic political stand military goals. I’m copying and pasting it here believing that it will help the discussion.

    ” . . . , Fanno is a grssroots movement of every Amara with highly decentralized leadersship but working single- mindedly with absolute unity of objectives and goal. This kind of movement is new and requires fresh thinking out of the box. Old school politicians like Dr. Yonas can’t get it because they aged in politics where organizations with political programs led by central entities like (political bureau, cental committee, etc) were the order of the day. Political movements of the 1970 all had political programs, organizations and leaders. Despite all these, they have failed to achieve what they aspired. Even political parties that exist now have political programs, organizations and leaders. What do they get in return? Not much. May be prison or harassment.”

    Right on. Dr. Borru’ accuses Shaleka Dawit and Eskinder Nega trying to hijack the Fano struggle. He says they have no presnce on the fiield (i.e. they’ve no army under their command) and hence should be excluded from leadership. The fact of the matter is, at least Eskinder Nega’s presence in the war front is not contested which means he is workingt with the commanders of the different birgades. If need be, they can meet and develop a manifesto in few hours. And thanks to technology, Shaleka Dawit can make it known by the diaspora in minutes. That they already have one and might release it to end the controversy is a possibility.

    This being the case, why i Dr. Borru and company are taking the trouble to get in touch with some commanders on the field and come up with another manifesto? Isn’t this by itself hijacking Fano? This is definetly not a support role which Dr. Borru projects should be for the diaspora. This a broad day hijacking of a movement of millions of Amharas. Among others, there is fund raising, which makes hijacking attractive. No wonder so much is fight is going on.

    Who should lead Fano? Dr. Borru says election decides even in war time.

    Thanks but no thanks.

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