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.