The deliberative conception of democracy reconciles three seemingly irreconcilable principles of democracy; deliberation, political equality and non-tyranny. Reconciling these three principles has always been the central problem in democratic theory and practice. Political philosophers call that "The Democratic conundrum." There is no political party in Ethiopian history which has tried to define and address this problem as Kinijit had done before and after the election. Other political parties freely chose one of the principles over the others; or haven't even cared to choose any of the principles.
As an opposition group in a country where political parties and their leaders have little credit and confidence, Kinijit has got popular support less for its claims of deliberative democracy than its practices. During the election period, I had witnessed a growing procedure in Kinijit where members regard each other with equal respect and concern (as equals). In debates and discussions, they put forward views that others have reason to accept (not merely the views which one considers are compelling). And in the end, once the decision was taken, it was accepted as authoritative and the ultimate basis for cooperation. This procedure captured ideals of deliberative democracy. There was no time during that period – except in the case of the Lidetu saga - where any sense of self-importance and tyranny was existent even for the sake of sloganeering.
Now an equation - X = Kinijit; X representing a single person or group of persons who are far less than half of the party's council - is creeping into the party's discourse and procedure of decision making. Political literatures are awash here and outside of Ethiopia tabulating and debating the value of personalities, and how without them, the party, and even the movement, is doomed. Decisions are becoming less and less the basis of cooperation than division. Tell me… what then has Kinijit to offer if deliberative democracy is turned on its head? I care enormously to the party that has given me hope and aspiration, and to the movement, I have sacrificed my security, property and freedom. I will be the first one to stand up and be counted in the fight to protect the Kinijit ideal of democracy from the recent assault.
(My respect for all of the leaders who suffered in the EPRDF dungeon is boundless. I have worked day and night for their release. But my bonds are principles, not individuals.)