Friday, June 30, 2006

A Justice system in shambles

Asefa Kesito, the Justice Minster, was a graduate of the Ethiopian Civil Service College. He got the post because he used to be a good friend of Azeb Mesfin, the wife of Meles Zenawi. Last week Asefa Kesito received a serious dressing down from his boss in a Cabinet meeting. The next day he called a meeting of employees at the ministry and vented his fury. "I know only 10% of the 180 prosecutors the Ministry has are progressives and support the government," he was quoted as saying," Ten percent are ardent Kinijit supporters and the remaining are uncommitted and harbor a tendency to the opposition. I am dissatisfied with the performance of the prosecutors and will, if things continue as they are, replace them with prosecutors from regions."
Some of the prosecutors he called progressives were having one of their now frequent embarrassing moments at the court hearing of the Kinijit leaders, civil society members and journalists. After bragging to the international community and Ethiopians that he had audio evidences which, beyond reasonable doubt, prove the guilt of the prisoners, Shimeles Kemal only presented a ten minute audio evidence which was purported to be Hailu Sawel's interview with Tensae radio at the beginning of October. On the audio, Eng. Hailu was heard saying that since the election had problems according to international observers, the newly constituted parliament was illegal. According to the prosecutor, the audio proved that Hailu Shawel had undermined legal institutions in Ethiopia and incited the public to revolt against a lawful government. Except one audio evidence which would be presented in court on Monday, The prosecutor said that other evidences were repetitive and, therefore, wouldn't be heard in court. The one exception will have the statements uttered by
-Elias Kifle, ER
-Solomon Bekele, Kinjit NA
-Tamagne Beyene
-Yared Tibebu
-Abayneh Birhanu
in different times, says the prosecutor.
Meanwhile, TPLF is creating surrogate bar associations all over the country's regions. The Addis Ababa bar is chaired by Million Assefa, an ex-opposition-turned-EPRDF. According to sources, the government has promised the associations that it would facilitate a World Bank donation to them. The existing independent Ethiopian bar association is dubbed as kinijitian by TPLF.

In a more serious note, Ana Gomes is so popular here that some people will be supporting the Portuguese in tomorrow's world cup clash with England.....cheers

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A little triumph in congress

It has been a while since the Ethiopian movement for democracy heard a great news. Today's decision by the House International Committee to unanimously endorse the Ethiopia Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights Advancement Act of 2006 (HR 5680) is, however, a truly great news. Ethiopians in USA should now work hard, lobbying your representatives to vote for it when it goes to the full house. This is a defeat to a once respected philosophy instructor at Addis Ababa University(now a discredited TPLF servant), one Samuel Assefa. Hail to the diaspora.
I am confident that there will be more good news from home. Watch this space.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Birhanu Nega returns to prison

After 20 days of treatment, Birhanu Nega today left the Police Hospital. Doctors, though, still think that his breathing problems may recurr if he is confined to the same prison cell. They have recommended for a change to another cell. "It was quite a relief that he has no cardiac problem. The breathing problem will diminish if he is kept in a place where he finds fresh air, " a medical source said.
Meanwhile, Serkalem Fasil is recovering from the high blood pressure she has suffered before and she gave birth to a baby boy last week.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Hi-tech suppression

Spam, internet blockage, viruses, wire-tapping, tracking money transfers...
The TPLF regime is preparing for a coordinated hi-tech war against its detractors in Diaspora and at home, sources revealed to me. An office is being opened at the old airport area in Addis Ababa to conduct this warfare. Blocking and hacking opposition internet websites, sending spam and viruses, wire-tapping and telephone tapping, tracking money transfers are some of the activities of the office. The staff of the office includes some defense engineers who were sent and trained in Israel in Israel by the regime. The office is controlled by top TPLF officials, according to the sources.
All pro-democracy Ethiopian websites are already inaccessible in Ethiopia.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Prosecutor through with video evidences against Kinijit leaders

The Kangaroo trial to end before December
The public prosecutor today finished presenting its video evidence against the Kinijit leaders, journalist and civil society members who are accused of bogus charges of treason and genocide. The evidences so far have been an embarrassment to the the prosecutor and the government. According to diplomatic sources here, the trial observers from Western embassies have been baffled with the prosecutor's presentation of the evidences. Most of the video documentaries showed the Kinijit leaders arguing for peaceful and lawful struggle. The one evidence which the prosecutor claimed to prove conspiracy to commit genocide displayed elected MP Ato Bedru Adem calling the TPLF government a "minority regime" and criticizing the limited representation of Oromos in the government.
The prosecutor will now present witnesses. Sources said that Meles Zenawi has promised Western diplomats that the trial will be wrapped up before December.
The government has started an intensive campaign of fining motorists in Addis Ababa to raise revenue. Traffic police men were instructed to fine drivers who commit minor violations of traffic regulations. With the hike in petroleum prices, motorists have already been suffering the brunt of the country's economic problem.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

News from kaliti

The number of political prisoners suffering from health problems due to the vile prison condition is increasing. At today's court hearing, Debebe Eshetu, kassahun, Professor Mesfin, Muluneh Eyouel, Sileshi Andarge, Major Getachew and Birhanu Nega were all absent. Prison police stated that they were all sick. Major Getachew was admitted to hospital. Birhanu Nega has been in hospital for two weeks now.
Prison sources said that Kaliti prison is at its worst during the Ethiopian rainy season. Wild mice invade cells to avoid the harsh weather and bring with them several contagious diseases. Some of the cells are made of corrguated iron and they become terribly cold when it rains.
The imprisoned journalist and publisher of Asqual, Satenaw and Menelik newspapers, Serkalem Fasil, has given birth to a baby boy. Serkalem was detained with her journalist husband, Eskinder Nega and her brother, Dawit Fasil, late November.
Two days ago, I wrote that Ethiomedia was being accessed in Ethiopia without anonymous proxy servers. It seemed those who block and unblock websites here were testing something. Ethiomedia is re-blocked today.

Monday, June 19, 2006

For now we have Ethiomedia

As I was writing this update, the country's favorite website, Ethiomedia, has started to be accessed in Ethiopia without anonymous proxy. Could it be the campaign the helped? Let's wait and see.
Birhanu Nega's condition and others
The mayor of Addis is still in hospital, awaiting the result of the medical tests that were carried out. One of the tests was cardiac related. Doctors wanted to make sure that whether his heart was okay. He was moved with love and affection hospital staff and patients have been showing him ever since he was hospitalized.
-Muluneh Eyuel had been in solitary confinement for more than three month's now placed with other prisoners in Kerchelle. Some weeks back, Aiga forum had claimed that Kerchelle did exist no more. That was a lie. Famous Kinijit leaders like Kifle Tigneh and the lawyer Birhane Mogesse are placed at the kerchelle. Muluneh is a recent addition.
-Power and Interest News Report has an interesting take on the new reality in Somalia vis-a-vis Ethiopia. see
Coming up....Murders and Disapperances at Wolliso....A Seminawork contributor has done an investigative reporting

Sunday, June 18, 2006

TPLF man kills a tyre repair owner and walks free

As he set off to work Wednesday morning, Mezemer Belay, 31, felt a twitch of excitement. He had planned to move his Tyre Repair business, located at Megenagna, to a bigger place at Hayahult and this was the day he would do it. Little did he know that he would be no more after 5'oclock in the afternoon.
Mezemer's Tyre Repair was not far from Gidey W. Sillasie's G+2 which was rented to the Chinese. Around ten, while Mezemer and his friends were loading machines on ISUZU pick up, the driver of Gidey, a TPLF member, according to neighbors, who worked at the Customs Authority, started shouting at them. "He was very upset that the pick up had blocked the road to Gidey's house and called his boss immediately," a boy working at the tyre repair said. Gidey was furious when he arrived some 15 minutes latter. He had some angry exchange with Mezemer and then drew his pistol and shot him twice; one on the chest and the other on his left eye. He then checked whether the fallen Mezemer was dead. "He wasn't shocked that he shot a man. After checking his pulse, he utter something like 'motesh ende'(you are dead?), picked his mobile phone and started calling someone. It was beyond belief," another worker at the repair shop claimed. When Young people threw stones at Gidey, two city police men arrived. Gidey was unwilling to hand himself to them. Instead, he threatened them with his gun. He also pointed a gun at Mezemer's brother, Simeon, and warned him that he would meet his brother's fate if he moved closer. Latter, Federal police men came and took the killer away.
Over his brother's place near Kotebe St. Gabriele's, Mezemer's family and friends were still mourning the death of a beloved, hard-working man when I visited them today. Their anger was vivid. "The man who killed Mezemer was made to walk free some hours after he was taken to police station," one mourner told me. I was also told that the killer was under security protection as it was feared that he would be a victim of revenge attack.
The boys who were throwing stones at the killer were also apprehended by the police on Wednesday evening.

Friday, June 16, 2006

To Birhanu Nega with love

"And Moses chose from among the people able men, such as feared God, men of truth, hating unjust gains..."

The wash of time fades recollections of the uninspired. My here and there moments with you before the election; however, were never routine. My memory of the events would remain unclouded. Your feverish passion for freedom, your incisive words which stroke chord in my heart, were awe inspiring. These were the times when I had been practicing the art of self-deceit and hypocrisy assiduously, unplugged to the reality of my country and the state of freedom of my own mind; and unwilling to make choices. Non-committal and phoniness were the way of life for me. Perhaps you may not know it; but those moments with you changed my life. They were times for the wrenching of consciousness. Like the many Ethiopians you inspired out of the doldrums of uncommitted life and into the struggle for freedom, the many who received hope from you, the many whose narrative of life twisted from its uneventful course, Birhanu, I owe you.
This great land of destitution and death; tyranny and misery produced the somber vision of the existence of an Ethiopian in you. Yet you failed to be receptive of the tragic side of life. You didn't consider Ethiopia a hopeless and useless passion. Instead, you believed in the decency of Ethiopians and stood up to create a just political and economic system, you thought, you and all Ethiopians deserved. You longed for human institutions which have a soil congenial enough to nourish freedom and democracy.
For the unlettered and the dispossessed who considered you as a messiah, you had the modesty to claim that you weren't a liberator, but a man fighting for his own freedom. A free man defends his own freedom and urges other men to defend theirs.
“I am not here to liberate you from your inhuman condition; you know better how to do that for yourself. I do not claim to lead a liberation movement, but I am a compatriot in the fight for freedom. I am not fighting for your freedom, but for my own sake. I came back to my country with a determination to live in peace, harmony, and freedom. I want to pass over to my kids a country that makes them proud, a country that allows them to live to the limits of their dreams and beyond. I am in this fight not to liberate others but to fulfill my own desire to live in freedom. Those of you who want to stand and be counted as free individuals can join me and my compatriots in this honorable endeavor, but you have to decide in person and in full consent with your God. And when each one of us reaches that level of yearning for freedom there is no limit to the sky we can reach, to the stars we can approach”
Remember those beautiful lines. They were a free man's message. They were yours.
Of course, you did rise up for freedom with the same readiness and commitment of a soldier who was ready to sacrifice his life in a battlefield. You left your materially comfortable life to land in jail where people are treated in the most inhumane and degrading fashion. Yet even there you continue to believe in human spirit. You give love for those who couldn't transcend hate. "It is enough," claims J.P. Sartre, "for a man to love all other men with undivided love." Birhanu, you are showing us how a man can give undivided love to fellow men.
For you, politics isn't an end. Power is just a means of achieving justice and freedom. That was why you espoused the virtue of honesty in politics. That was why, in a land where gallons of human blood was spilt as if it was expired ink, for political end, you tried to make politics civil. Imagine the brave young people you inspired to politics. Birtukan Midekesa. Muluneh Eyuel. Sileshi Tena. Yeneneh Mulat. Daniel Assefa. Imagine the number of Ethiopians like me who have vowed never to give away their freedom lying down. Imagine the number of people who are intoxicated with the spirit of Kinijit; the spirit you and fellow Kinijit leaders entrenched in the fabrics of their minds. In prison or in hospital (where you are now), such thoughts should spur you on.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The facts about Kinijit International Committee; and how the imprisoned leaders are being sidelined

Many readers have e-mailed me asking for a factual explanation to the comment I made regarding the issue of Kinijit International Leadership. I have done a bit of a research on the issue; talking with people here who have been following the story; trying to get the letters of correspondence from my sources. The following is a good account of the correspondence between Kinjit kaliti and Kinijit NA. I have all the documents supporting this account and if the stalemate continues, I am willing to share it with the readers of this blog and other media.

14 May:

The imprisoned leaders in Kaliti sent a letter giving a power of attorney (enderasenet) to form and lead an international committee to six individuals.
I quote the exact wording of the first two paragraphs of the letter.
Inspite of imprisonment of most of the top leadership of the CUDP in early November 2005 and subsequent massive repression throughout the country by the EPRDF, the Ethiopian peoples struggle for freedom and self government has continued. But this struggle will lose its life if the present state of leadership vacuum is not addressed.

After consultation with each other, we, the jailed leaders of the party have recognized that the formation of an International Committee to fill the leadership gap is imperative.

We have decided that this designated Committee will be an overarching body whose responsibility is to direct and lead CUDP organs, Continental Chapters and Support Groups.

I couldn't quote the exact wordings of the other paragraphs for known reasons. In the letter, the six individual to lead the organ were named.
They were:
1. Shaleka Yoseph Yazew
2.Ato Andargachew Tsige
3.Dr. Moges Gebremariam
4.Ato Berhane Mewa
5.Ato Daniel Assefa
6.Dr. Gebriye Wolderufael
One of the sentences in the last paragraph reads:
We ask this information to be communicated to all Chapters of CUDP organs and Support Groups.
The letter was communicated to the six persons through a usual and trusted line. The e-mail addresses of the six were clearly stated on the letter. There was also evidence that all the six read it the same day it was sent. Yet a very surprising article was posted on The article entitled "Call for Assertive Action" begins with:
Assertive action ought to be taken to effectively and decisively dismiss the May 14, 2006 e-mail that purportedly assigned leadership of Kinijit via postings on websites even before the Chairman of Kinijit of the North American Branch (KNAB) knew of it.
This was entirely false. The chairman had received the letter the same day.
After this letter was sent to the six persons and then announced to the public, some people started asking questions. Here are some of them:
-The authenticity of the letter
-Whether the designation means the kaliti leadership is going to be substituted
-The wordings of the letter doesn't reflect Kinijitian spirit
-Some people who were working hard in the support groups weren't included
This concerns and questions were sent to the leadership in kaliti; and a second letter was sent by the leaders.

26 May:

This letter addresses the concerns. Part of the letter states:
This political leadership committee is by no means a replacement of the Ethiopian leadership. It is a delegation of authority to fill the leadership void which has been created locally and internationally. It is no more than a power of attorney which can, at any time, be revoked.
There has been a serious misinformation and disinformation regarding this matter. Therefore, we plead the above individuals rectify the divisive and damaging campaign immediately. Any dispute in the designated committee should be resolved internally and based on democratic ideals of Kinijit.

The letter has gone further and asks the six persons to broaden the group and add other six persons in the spirit of equity and inclusiveness. The way of adding the other six persons was also suggested.
A day after this letter was sent; Kinijit NA deliberated upon it and sent another clarification request. The request focuses on:
-specific responsibilities of the committee
-and the committee's institutional relationship with Kinijit NA
Two days letter an immediate hand-written message was sent by the leaders to NA.

29 may:

This was one of the two letters which address the second clarification request. To avoid the issue of authenticity, the leaders sent a hand-written letter. I can't go to the details of the letter for the reasons known to my readers. But the issues it carried were:
-The method of selecting the chairman of the committee
-quorum rules
-number of members of the committee (again)

6 June:

A second clarification letter (hand written and in Amharic) which literally begged the NA people to look at the bigger picture and work together was sent. The first paragraph clearly shows the frustration of the prisoners.
The letter also states the very clearly the powers and duties of the committee. It says the rules, objectives and tasks relating to the Kinijit executive committee apply to the international leadership. It states two limitations to this mandate which I can't state here. It also suggests the international committee to establish an office which liaisons it with the chapters and support groups it leads.

It has been more than a week since this last and final letter was sent. On almost all of the letters they stated that the international committee should start working immediately. Yet we don't see anything moving.
Knowing this information, is there any reason for me to lay low when people fail to execute a clearly defined will?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Prison condition may worsen Birhanu's health, Doctors warn

Doctors fear that living with 400 people in a cell might exacerbate Birhanu Nega's condition. The mayor of Addis Ababa who was admitted to hospital on Thursday has suffered a shortage of Oxygen in his body. A police hospital medical staff who spoke to this blogger on the condition of anonymity said that he and other doctors suspect that Birhanu's condition had been made worse by the terrible living environment he was in and, if it didn't improve it might seriously affect him. "His health has vastly improved since he was hospitalized. Part of the reason for that was the treatment. But getting fresh air and proper living environment has helped. Staying with 400 people under one roof is dangerous for Birhanu's medical condition," the staff said.
Four months ago, Birhanu and a few other Kinijit leaders who were labeled by prison security as dangerous were taken to a rat and flea infested cell where 400 people, most of them hard-core criminals, are confined. Prison sources told me that since Birhanu and co. moved to the cell, the other prisoners had tried to keep the place clean and make it as comfortable for the Kinijit leaders as possible. They mayor is the most popular man in the prison.
Birhanu was feeling well today. He told people who visited him that the only thing he missed was being with the other leaders of Kinijit on the trial yesterday. Doctors carried some tests to see whether he had fully recovered from his medical problem this morning.
Ethio-Zagol has seen the letter of clarification sent to Kinijit NA chairman by the imprisoned leaders of the party last Monday on the issue of the international leadership committee. It is hard to believe that nothing (no press release) has come out from the international committee on when it would start functioning as the leaders wished. What really is going on? Kinijit international has to wake up and start doing business immediately. It has to design proper strategies and tactics to lead the struggle here and release the leaders. That should be the priority.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Mulunesh Released; Tensae Radio; World Cup Fever

I reported that Mulunesh Abebayehu, a Kinijit councillor, was detained without charge for seven months and published her letter. She had started a hunger strike two weeks ago. Last Friday, she was released on bail. Hail the power of bloggers!
Tensae Radio; what's happening?
There is no single independent press in Ethiopia at the moment. The broadcast media is a government propaganda machine. Tensae Radio started broadcasting to Ethiopia to fill the media gap. As radio is a powerful medium in Ethiopia, Tensae can play a huge role to counter-act TPLF's propaganda, keep people informed about the struggle, transmit the opposition's vision etc... Tensae radio is having problems doing that.
-The time of its transmission is not suitable to Ethiopian audience
-The accuracy of its information is very questionable.
-It news and programme format is unattractive (no interactive programmes, poor interviews, lack of popular voices)
- It is getting rather jaded theses days; not reporting the most significant happenings that have been reported on the web
I recommend that Kinijit's international leadership take communication strategy seriously and come up with ways to improve Tensae radio (making it more credible and attractive). We shouldn't underestimate Radio's incredible power.
World Cup Fever?
The world cup temperature here in Addis has gone more than the real heat at the real playing fields; which of course is always good news for TPLF. ETV as usual is on the business of transmitting every game live. In most cities of the country the game is shown on large screens in squares and other public places. The focal point of conversations has turned from politics to football. Most taxis aren't working after 8 in the evening. It seems this month is going to be a break for many Ethiopians from the saddest chapters of their latest history.
(Updates on Birhanu's story to come latter)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Update on Birhanu's condition

Physicians confirm that the great Birhanu Nega was hospitalized for having a reduced oxygen in his body. That causes shortness of breath, acoording to the doctors. He was well and jovial today. Visitors, including his family, were able to see and talk with him.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Breaking news:Birhanu Nega hospitalized; but in good condition

Addis Ababa's popular mayor, Birhanu Nega, was admitted to hospital for minor breathing problem. Police hospital sources confirmed that the physicians who checked up Birhanu thought the problem was minor but decided to hospitalize him as a caution. "It wasn't serious but we should take caution," one source told this blogger. He is still in hospital; but in a good condition.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The rise and rise of political books; and Donald Levin's fictions

Political books are having a great time in Ethiopia's book market. In January, D/n Begashaw wrote "Yemeskalu sir kumartegnotch" which is a critique of Abune Paulo's leadership of the Orthodox Church. A very poor book by all standards "Yemeskalu sir kumartegnotch", nonethless, broke all records in the market; selling more than 15,000 copies in a month. Begshaw was one of the students of the Trinity theology college who were dismissed because they wrote a letter calling for peace and reconciliation. His predicament coupled with Abune Paulos' incredibly low popularity made the sale of the book to soar. Begashaw was detained by security forces last month and released after 10 days in prison.
"Yeledetu Bandawi Silet" was another book which has got massive reputation. Written by Markos Reta, the book is a response to"Yarem Ersha", the book written by villainous politician Lidetu Ayalew in December. After it came out February, the book has sold more than 8000 copies. The author was harassed; but escaped detention.
Gene Sharp's From Dictatorship to Democracy was translated in February. More than 5000 copies of this book, which lays down methods of civil disobedience, have been sold. There is also renewed interest to older books. Andargachew Tsgie's "Netsanetin Yamaywik Netsa Awchi" was published again in April and is heading to become the all time best selling political book.
This rise of political books is quite astonishing when one considers that they are distributed in the most precarious of circumstances. There are very few ads and no official distributors. People learn about the books mostly through word of mouth. The number of copies seems paltry by international standards; but in a country where reading serious books isn't habitual, it is significant. There is also a culture of sharing books.
This summer at least three more political books will be published. One of the books is Ethio-Zagol's own on technology and TPLF's dictatorship. The book will be exclusively sold on the internet for security reasons.
What to make of Don Levin's "Ge-ts sebat" article? In Zagol contra Levin I argued that Dr. Levin's analysis was based on misinformation. In his latest article Tigrayawinet, such misinformation gets even clearer. In one of the paragraphs he writes:
In June, the sale of machetes surged in Addis and elsewhere; Tigrayan students in campuses in Addis, Alemaya, and Awassa were armed and reportedly trained to "defend themselves."
The rumors of the surge of machetes were just that - rumors. No one has yet adduced any serious proof. It is sad that the professor peddles rumors; and bases his analysis on them. His information about the Tigrayan students in universities being armed is another fiction. TPLF tried to arm students and other Tigrains to "defend themselves." against the "impending genocide." Most of them didn't accept the front's offer. In the campuses, it was TPLF cadres who were armed; not average Tigrayan students. The fact that a few cadres acted in the name of Tigrayan students couldn't make the act itself an act of Tigryan students. It is this kind of baseless information and argument that is leading to the ethnic tensions and clashes throughout college and university campuses in the country. The professor should desist from spreading false information which have clear and present dangers.
Kinetibeb has politically incorrect jokes. Read and enjoy them.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

In Defense Of The Alliance(Part two)

Vanguardism and CUD's principle of democracy
One of the most impressive features of CUD's electoral pledge was its outright rejection of the politics which puts a political party at the center of a mass movement. Kinijit's diets were flavored with anti-Bolshevik vanguardism. For kinijit, democracy is created when people are empowered to action and participation through independent civic organizations and public reasoning; to exercise their rights. Further, a successful democracy, for kinijit, needs a strong political community with common and shared values as well as institutions. "Vanguardism," Birhanu Nega argued in one of the famous debates," silences dissent and debate. It substitutes one oppressive state with another. Democracy can't be dictated by political groupings." Building democracy with the participation of the society and not with party dictat was Kinijit's central theme during the elections. The principle of democracy was upheld from the Poldar model social democratic wing of kinijit to its libertarians.
This unflinching commitment was part of the reason for the party's rejection of a transitional government and it was one of the focal points of difference between Kinijit and the other opponents of TPLF. The OLF in contrast advances vanguardism. It calls itself the leader of the Oromo people. Vanguardism is an anti-thesis to democracy. Its theoretical underpinning (and OLF's core ideology) is the dictatorship of a group which controls power and lead the masses. The internal contradiction of vanguardism is very visible. It justifies in the name of freedom.
The democratic ideals of CUD and OLF are incompatible. There have been suggestions that the AFD's goal of establishing an all inclusive conference which will lead to a transitional government leans towards the OLF's ideal than to the CUD's. The AFD endorses the notion that a "negotiated settlement" among political parties brings about democracy and, therefore, contradicts Kinijit's principle of democracy. CUD is agreeing to form an obsequious transitional government which has little difference from the one OLF formed with TPLF fifteen years ago. Or so the arguments go.
These issues aren't unfamiliar. When the CUD proposed national unity government late August, there were people who smelt a betrayal of its core principles. The party then made it clear that its proposed national unity government was "a government for the creation of democratic institutions." Its tasks were lucid and limited. In the absence of the goal of the all inclusive conference, I believe, there is a room where Kinijit may maneuver to make the goal the establishment of a government for the creation of democratic institutions. Thus its core principles and objectives will remain unchanged.
In relation to the democratic ideals of Kinijit, the other argument against AFD is the contradiction of rejecting vanguardism and allying with vanguard groups. Whether Kinijit has abandoned its principles in doing so depends on the nature and substance of the alliance. From my reading of the statutes and the memorandum of understanding, there is not a single discernable indication that the alliance is of that nature; and outside the context of the alliance, CUD cannot determine the core democratic principles of OLF.
The Alliance and Eritrea
The alliance's relationship with Eritrea evokes emotions and concern among the supporters of Kinijit. In its national security policy, Kinijit has made clear that all issues with Eritrea are to be resolved through dialogue where Ethiopia will not shy away from using the balance of power in the horn to advance its national interest and guard its sovereignty. The policy would be turned on its head if the alliance was supported and bankrolled by the Eritrean dictator as Dagmawi claimed.
But I have yet to see evidences which support this claim; and as it stands it is wild and unsubstantiated. Presenting the fact that the "LF" groups operate from Eritrea as an evidence of Eritrea's involvement in AFD is quite circumstantial. There is nothing in the documents which manifest an Eritrean agenda and it is up to CUD to guard against if one is to be smuggled in the future.
I believe AFD as a project is long overdue. It has a symbolic and practical significance. Yet caution is advised.
-It should be guarded against Eritrean agenda.
shouldn't be furthered at the expense of Kinjit as an organization. Alliances are sometimes advanced at the cost of individual parts.
- Its stated strategy of non-violent resistance shouldn't be compromised.
-It operation should be more transparent than the way it was established. There is a need for more involvement from the public and interest groups

Ps: I found Shaleka Yosef yazew's interview with ethiopianpolitics very disappointing. The alliance needs a better defense than... "Some people, who claim to represent the views of Kinijit and OLF, should desist from helping TPLF's sinister endeavors to break up AFD."

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

In Defense Of The Alliance: Perspective From Home

A lot of mental energy has been expended dissecting the concept and provisions of the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD). Some of the inches in web journals and blogs are filled with anti-alliance jeers. Others champion it with pious zeal. Thinkers have groped about, stumbled and sometimes fallen in the dark to grab the tail of the issues; understand the nature, full meaning and limits of the alliance. The temper and tone of the fervent debates is inviting and reassuring. It is with this spirit of tolerance and respect that I join the inspired forum and expound my views. As the title of the article suggests, I intervene on the side of the alliance.
The context and meaning of the alliance
A careful reading of the statutes of the alliance reveals its loose nature. Its aims and functions are stipulated in very general terms. It has no specific programme. Its name is a derivate of this nature of the alliance. The Italians have a more appropriate term for loose political alliances. They call them Ammucchiata. Parties in Italy use ammucchiata when their power is threatened. As it is a mechanism of not loosing power, it may sometimes have a disparaging tone in Italian politics.
Terminologies like coalition and integration which are used by some critics interchangeably with alliance are, therefore, way out of the mark. The threshold of the alliance is clear. Since the ideology and political strategy of the parties under the umbrella is dauntingly unbridgeable, they chose a loose approach to definition. They seem to agree that it is unnecessary and, indeed, impossible to state a more precise definition of the alliance than its rough working ideas provide. To criticize the alliance of lacking a detailed programme and ask probing questions as Andinet Semere did on Ethiomedia reminds me of a tale of a student in my philosophy 101 class. Our instructor asked us to come up a well-reasoned refutation of one of Nietzsche's works. One of the students bragged with a claim that he had found the German philosopher to be irrational. The teacher rebuked him saying that his was not a refutation as Nietzsche never pretended to be rational. The alliance never claimed to have "a common political and governance framework" and, thus, criticizing it for not having one is making it what it didn't pretend to be.
The purpose of the Ammucchiata
The most obvious question flowing from my argument above will be "if the alliance is so loose, what is its purpose?" I contend that it has both symbolic and practical purposes.
-It says a lot when in a country where blood-curdling wars have been waged due to political differences, such political groupings of contradictory objectives and strategies sit down and agree to design ways of resolving disputes in a manner that respects democracy and freedom. Just a year ago, it would have been quite scandalous for the CUD and OLF to do that. They are now trying to make the scandal the new orthodoxy in Ethiopian politics.
-Practically, the alliance helps reduce the suspicion between the supporters of these organizations and undermines the divide and rule strategy TPLF uses to maintain its power. As an Oromo and passionate CUD supporter, I have a close experience of this suspicion and mistrust. During the election and after, I have traveled to many parts of Oromia region and learned the force of OLF in the minds of many Oromos. The fact that it didn't participate in the election may not quantifiably confirm the extent of its support. Yet the same could have been said about the CUD before the election. EPRDF thought its win was done and dusted before May 15. We shouldn't underrate OLF's support in the region. The suspicion many OLF supporters harbor towards CUD had seriously hampered grass root mobilization, opposition infiltration of the army and security etc. The AFD isn't an immediate answer to such suspicion. It is a start nonetheless.
AFD and all inclusive conference
Daniel Assefa has written a wonderful article on the all inclusive conference. On one of the paragraphs of that article he wrote:
A transitional (caretaker) government or a power broker is the usual proposal that comes out of such large all inclusive conference an issue that is more than the eight point proposal of CUD. That is eventually what all the “stakeholders” end up demanding. Such approach becomes a practical alternative in a country that is highly unstable and where the oppositions are evenly matched. In such situation, the overriding factor that brings them together is the realization by the involved parties that, a compromise is better than a mutually assured annihilation. Demonstrative examples include our neighbor the Sudan and Mozambique. The situation in Ethiopia is very different. Ethiopia is relatively stable country and has a constitution that is functional though unpopular. It was after conceding this fact that CUD and friends nearly wrestled power away from the government. In addition, many opposition groups are not in a position to demand a “rightful” place since there is a marked disparity between groups in terms of support, membership or military capability. In situation like this, a transitional government is seen as destabilizing move and is not always popular as it is a way of giving “ye mariam menged” to groups that do not have a mass base and could not have a any significant political impact otherwise
I agree with Daniel's assertion that there is a great likelihood that a transitional government will be the end product of the all inclusive conference the alliance craves for. My disagreement lies with his overall assessment of the situation of Ethiopia. Yes, Ethiopia was relatively stable and the constitution was functional. Yes, CUD conceded this fact and competed in the election and won. Yet this assessment doesn't reflect Ethiopia's situation post May; particularly post November. There is no political space to operate in at the moment. Opposition groups who are working through the parliamentary process have no role other than lending legitimacy to the TPLF government. The constitution is suspended. I can't see a genuine election politics as long as TPLF stays in power. It is, therefore, incumbent upon CUD to find alternatives to its pre-election position. One such alterative is to accept the possibility of forming a transitional government with other groups - the possibility that it rejected before.
The all inclusive conference may create transitional government. That doesn't mean all political groupings will have the same say and same power in such a government. Daniel's examples, Mozambique and Sudan, are cases in point; and this is where the alliance (particularly CUD and OLF) have to ponder over and come up with a fair power-sharing framework.
AFD and CUD's eight proposal
AFD kills and at the same time rekindles CUD's eight point proposal. The memorandum of understanding of the alliance states:
While maintaining their political programs, organizational independence and autonomy, the parties will refrain from entering into any unilateral negotiation or agreement with another party that could jeopardize the alliance.
Since CUD's eight point proposal is a call for the TPLF government, it will be structurally dead as long as the AFD exists as CUD can't make unilateral negotiation with the government.
Structural death doesn't mean total death. CUD can still make the eight point proposal an agenda for the all inclusive conference and to the transitional government latter. Most of the eight points demand institutional reform and as long as the transitional government is "a government for the establishment of democratic institutions", they will be answered. Again this is something CUD should press in the AFD.
AFD and the Ethiopian Constitution
Some of the critics of the alliance are puzzled as to how the CUD accepts to work within the framework of the present Ethiopian constitution. One should not have raised this argument if one followed CUD's politics closely. The party accepted to work under the constitution way before the AFD. It competed in the election with the constitution's framework. It wants to amend and change some of the provisions of the constitution but the change is to be made according to the rules of the same constitution. The AFD just about restates that commitment.
Coming up ...The politics of "vanguard" parties, CUD's democratic principles and AFD

Monday, June 05, 2006

AFD, and other matters

Dagmawi did what he does best. In Chimpanzee Politics and the Alliance for Dismemberment he came up with a typically powerful argument against AFD. His previous two were unlike him. Ethiopundit also has his own reality check on the issue. My two greatest bloggers in Ethiopia's blogosphere are, however, still unable to convince me that the AFD was a mistake. May be I am an incorrigible alliance lover. Yet to answer these powerful critics, I know I should do better than cutting and pasting the alliance's draft objective. See you soon.
Now to other matters. A reader from here wrote to me about Kinijit's weak media campaign at the moment. is getting so feeble that the government hasn't even bothered to block access to the site in Ethiopia. Tensae radio is out of steam. And where is Yekinijit Dimits these days? People aren't getting enough information as to what is going on. The one media campaign that always works well for kinjit is TPLF's most ridiculous propaganda which always back fires. News and truth are blacked out in Ethiopia. A year from now, the fate of Myanmar beckons us unless the media battle is getting the attention it deserves.
Ersasu's lucid arguments and facts on the government's action against bloggers and web journalists remind me of the unpredictable life I have chosen to be in. when I call contacts and receive calls from them and wonder around to collect news and information, I always feel the hot breath of TPLF in my neck. It is dangerous to be a blogger in Ethiopia; especially if you push boundaries to get news. And unlike Ego portal's speculation, there is no way the government will put us in jail with Berhanu Nega and Begekadu Degfe. Haven't you heard of the torture cells at Maekelawi? It is, however, impossible to be unmoved by what is happening in the country just as it is impossible, the ancient Chinese philosopher Menicus pointed out, for us to be unmoved in the presence of a drowning child, even with the threat of Maekelawi. I for one will not take the destruction of my country, my hope and my freedom lying down.
Prison sources informed me that the jailed leaders of kinijit will remember the Sene 1 atrocities. I was also told that they had asked Ethiopians to remember them at thir workplaces, schools, churches(wherever they are on Thursday)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Kinijit kaliti and Kinijit NA

When the spirit of Kinijit started to take the country by storm during the May elections, the party was only months old. I began having a good rapport with some of the leaders of the organization late march and was visiting the office quite often. It was shabbily equipped. The party itself was on the process of organization. Yet what it lacked in organization and money, it compensated with the incredible hard work of the people at the top and their inclusiveness. Professionals, young and old, joined the party as they felt they had a place in it. If you had visited the head quarter, you would surely have seen several young people working there for free; some went as far as risking their livelihoods. A lot others worked hard outside the apparatus.
I remember how Birhanu Nega was never tired to answer questions to every visitor. I used to see Shimeles T.tsadik, explaining things with patience and perseverance. When I visited Kinijit's office, I used to feel that there was something different from the politics we knew; something that made me feel for the first time that I wanted to support a political party.
After the November problems and the incarceration of Hailu Sawel et al, we missed that leadership. The alternative leadership which was appointed by the top leaders before they were arrested was dismantled by TPLF as their names were fed to the security by one Lidetu Ayalew. Asrat Tase and Abayneh were arrested. Daniel Assefa (who is now in the US) stayed outside the country after the EPRDF started hunting for him. A great leadership vacuum was thus created.
That was what led the leaders in prison to come up with a stop gap political leadership committee. According to my sources in prison and out, the need for this leadership and the names of the designated leaders were communicated in no uncertain terms to all chapters of Kinijit NA. The NA committee had publicly asked for a clarification on some issues. I found that quite absurd and dangerous to the safety of the prisoners. It amounts to tipping EPRDF to be watchful of them in prison all the time. It is also putting unnecessary burden on the prisoners.
What the NA support committee has to do now is to get back behind all the designated people, support and work with them... Revamp the media, engage with and support the people who are struggling every day against the TPLF, move the Diaspora's struggle from political commentary and fund-raising to being the back bone of the struggle at home. Time is of the essence here. The new leadership has to act before people here lose hope and patience. For that, the NA committee should be cooperative and supportive. Kinijit NA should emulate Kinijit kaliti!
On Friday, the court saw video tapes of the protests of students from June 6-June 8. The prosecutor argued that these protests were organized by Kinijit. As usual there were some comedy stuff.
The prosecutor stated that one of the proofs for its allegation that the protests were organized by Kinijit was that the students at Addis Ababa University were flashing the V-sign when they were singing and shouting slogans. The fact that Hailu Araya, former professor at AAU, was present at the campus during the protests was, according to the prosecutor, another proof that Kinijit was involved in organizing and mobilizing the students.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Breaking News:
What were Bereket Simon and Vicki Huddleston up to?

The Prime Minster's special advisor, Bereket Simon, and the American Charge d'affaires Mrs. Huddleston had an usually secrete and lengthy meeting yesterday, sources informed this blogger. The meeting was held at the USAID branch office near Richie. According to the sources, the two and other TPLF officials met late in the afternoon. The meeting ended more than three hours later around 8:30 Pm. The sources said the manner of the meeting indicated that it was secrete. (more info in the subsquent days)
Remembering Addis massacre day
profiles of some of the dead from Addis Admas newspaper
The best account of the Ziway prison ordeal(Unmissable)
Coming up tomorrow... Today's court room drama
See also:
Birtukan Midekisa: The love of a nation and...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Shimeles kemal and John Stewart
The Daily Court
Today's court room comedy had no match in its humor. The prosecutor showed video tapes of the Woreda 3 town hall meeting in August. It had already shown the Woreda 23 and 9 meetings. The public meeting was chaired by Major Admasse.
The prosecutor explained the charges this video is supposed to prove. This is where Shimeles kemal's performance surpasses John Stewart's in its funny side
The prosecutor stated that the organizers of the meeting decorated the town hall with the" former" Ethiopian flag (plain Green, yellow and red); not the one with the star in the middle as the constitution proclaims. This flag, the prosecutor argued, depicts Ethiopia as "Ahadawi"(unitary) while the constitution stipulates that Ethiopia is Federal. Thus, according to the prosecutor, the decoration of town halls with the Green, yellow and Red flag(without the star) constitutes the crime of "Outrage against the constitution and constitutional order" pursuant to Article 238 of the Ethiopian Criminal Code.

Surely,The prosecutor's next targets are going to be football fans who camp Addis Ababa stadium whenever the national team plays, waiving the "old flag".
I suppose the shops which sell the "old bandira" at "Military Tera" in Merkato should be warned that they are trying to subvert the constitution.
Birtukan Midekisa: The love of a nation and...