Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Birtukan's Sista Soljah Moment

What she said should have been said by the Kinijit leaders long time ago. But it takes courage to take on some Kinijit people who have no idea what the U in the CUD stands for. Kinijit will strengthen not weaken if it is inclusive and if it is not beholden to some of its extremist elements. 

Saturday, October 20, 2007

What does the EPRDF's Beyonce mania tell you about the state of the party?  This is a party which governs a poor country with countless problems and at the brink of yet another war. And yet all the state media and party's outlets are talking  is about the sensational singer. Shameless!  

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Questions on Professor Mesfin’s Interview


      (By Ethio-Zagol and Meqdela)
  1. On the professor's claim that there is a power struggle between Hailu and Brehanu.

        -Competition for power and influence is the classic job description of politicians. What is unhealthy in a democratic system is

when politicians flout democratic principles to get to power. What democratic principles and procedures were broken by  Hailu and Brehanu?

- What evidence can the professor give us to substantiate the allegation of political power struggle between Hailu and Brehanu?

-Which power are they struggling for? Hailu Shawel is the president of the party. Is the professor claiming that Hailu got to that power after a power struggle? Or is he claiming Brehanu is trying to unseat a legitimate leader and Hailu is fighting to preserve his power?

-Brehanu isn't the member of the executive committee of the CUD. Is he trying to usurp Hailu's power without even being in the executive committee or is the professor implying that Brehanu is trying to gain power and influence outside of the party's structure?

-The professor said there was a power struggle between Lidetu and Brehanu. Was it the only reason for Lidetu's expulsion from the party? In his book Lidetu claimed that professor Mesfin and Brehanu had promised to support his bid for the presidency. It seemed from that Lidetu was eyeing Hailu Shawel's place. So was the power struggle between Lidetu and
Brehanu, or between Hailu and Lidetu?
2. On supporting Birtukan Mideksa

-Professor Mesfin asks us to work with Birtukan Mideksa as she is an able leader. What does that mean? Is the professor suggesting that Birtukan should be the chairwoman of the party?   Is that compatible with democratic ideals? Or is he saying that we should in democratic manner remove  Hailu Shawel and replace him  Birtukan Mideksa?

-Can Birtukan lead the party when the giants who, with professor Mesfin himself, formed Kinijit are sidelined?

(More questions to come)

Ogaden Cries

When a terrorist LF fights a ruthless government, this is what happens.
Here is Professor Mesfin's interview on the VOA. I was unsure about some of his comments, and his way out of the mess we are in (More on  that to come from myself and Meqdela). The truth is the great professor has put some big challenges for Kinijit supporters and all of us who belong to the pro-democracy camp. Are we ready for those challenges? 

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

When Professor Mesfin Speaks, I listen

He is the most important intellectual of our time. He has consistently advocated for a non-violent struggle against oppression and dictatorship. He founded the only credible institution for human rights advocacy. As Political power has never been his interest, he spoke truth to power all his life. My readers, Professor Mesfin, the founder of Kinijit, will today speak on the current crisis on Kinijit on the VOA. When he speaks, I listen.

Enset on the Future of Kinijit

Fikru of has an article about the future of Kinijit. I can't link it because of the incredibly slow internet connection today here in Addis. You can find it on

I agree with Fikru that the South will be the battle ground state in a lot of future elections. This is a region where integrationists have more support than unitarists and disintegrationists. This means that many people have unwavering commitment to both Ethiopian unity and self-administration.

I think if Kinijit works hard in the region, it can come out top. I have observed the last election very closely. Kinijit did get a fair number of seats in the South without a lot of hard work and organization. Kinijit should aspire to be a 50+1 party. In the last election using a charitable estimation (with the rigged constituencies shared between UEDF and Kinijit based on claim and prima facie evidence), Kinijit would have gotten 259 seats. That is 16 seats short of the majority needed to form a government. It could, of course, have formed a coalition government with UEDF. Kinijit can become a 50+1 party if it has an appeal to all Ethiopians beyond the cities, the Amhara region and some parts of the South. To make inroads to those constituencies, Kinijit should show that it is inclusive of the many in its appearance and policies.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Bedru Adem Goes to Washington

Bedru Adem, the former MP who, in court of law, claimed to have relinquished his Kinijit membership long before the November 2005 protest which led to the killing and imprisonment of thousands of pro-democracy activists, flew to Washington yesterday to participate in tomorrow's meeting where Kinijit chaiman Eng. Hailu Shawel will have his first public appearance. Bedru who since his release from prison in July has been attacking the integrity and good name of many Kinijit leaders including Brehanu Nega and Birtukan Mideksa on EPRDF leaning newspapers here in Addis Ababa is expected to continue doing more of the same in tomorrow's meeting. 

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Let Hailu Shawel Speak Freely!

An unnamed group has urged Ethiopians not to attend the Sunday meeting in Washington DC where Kinijit Chairman Engineer Hailu Shawel will have his first public appearance. Calling for boycott or having a protest match are rights. But In this case, it is (a) unacceptable bullying, and (b) counter-productive.
The five Kinijit delegates have had meetings all over the United States peacefully. There were no marches, and the calls to boycotts were only made by fringe groups on Ethiopian media with very small readership. The chairman should be allowed to have meetings of his choice, and voice his opinions about the party and Ethiopia freely. Those with legitimate questions can attend the meetings and challenge his views. In the past few weeks, the differences in the Kinijit leadership, the issues that led to those differences, and the style and substance of the leaders have been laid bare partially. The more Hailu or the others speak, the more we know about them. It is then up to us to make the choice. 

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

War with Eritrea Round the Corner

Foreign diplomats and government officials in Addis Ababa are speculating the timeline of the war as tension between Ethiopia and its northern neighbour heats up. EZ Post's diplomatic sources claim that the war is "only months away". Only a few hundred kilometers separate soldiers of the two countries. "There is a sense in the embassies and diplomatic missions in Addis Ababa that the war will start at the end of November or in December, " a source at the American embassy told EZ Post. The government accuses Eritrea of undermining Ethiopia's
sovereignty by helping groups it calls "terrorists".
Government sources say that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi wants to make this war quicker and more effective than the last one which ended in a decisive victory for Ethiopia after thousands of  army members and civilians were killed on both sides. The Algiers agreement which was signed by the two countries after the war didn't reflect the victory gained by Ethiopia in the war front.
On Monday, President Girma Woldegiyorgis urged members of parliament to approve money for the military build up at the Ethio-Eritrean border.

Dagmawi's defense of HR 2003

Here is Dagmawi's defense of the HR 2003. Well-written in a blogger's way.

Breaking News: The Trial of Daniel and Netsanet Adjourned Again

The Federal High Court which was expected to give its final decision on the case of the two prominent civil society members, Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demissie, was today adjourned for November 22. Daniel and Netsanet, both trained in law,  were anti-poverty and social justice advocates. They were arrested in November 2005 and charged of outrage against the constitutional order. They have been in prison for the past two years.

David Blair on the Ogaden

The Telegraph's respected journalist David Blair reported this about the Ogaden crisis. As usual, it is a must read.
A government official admitted that soldiers had supplied ammunition to militiamen recruited from non-Ogaden clans.
Many aspects of the conflict in the Ogaden are resembling Darfur by the day.



Monday, October 08, 2007

It is people-powered politics

The Kinijit delegations in North America and Europe are doing an impeccable job. They have had no breaks, running from one city to another, meeting Ethiopians, answering questions, raising funds, testifying and attending at the US congress hearings, and trying to solve their internal problems. They are doing that against all the odds and meddlings from different interest groups. 
I want them to do the same here when they come back. I want them to go to Tepi, Gimbi, Arba Minch, Butajira, Ankober, Adi all regions in Ethiopia South, North, West, East and talk to Ethiopians, listen to our problems, eat and pray with us. I know public gatherings are prohibited in Ethiopia  de facto. I know there are pending issues of legalization. I know EPRDF officials who are angry with the perceived role of Kinijit leaders in the passing of HR 2003 may make things even harder for them. But we have chosen a value-based political strategy with which needs creativity, patience, resolve and perseverance. If gatherings continue to be prohibited, Kinijit leaders can go door to door, facing harassment from local officials and cadres. They can go to social gatherings, churches, mosques and be with the people. This isn't an election time.  They don't need to give massive speeches. They just need to be with Ethiopians and listen to what they say. kinijit is a political organization that has promised to bring about democracy from the bottom-up. Its strength is its grass roots support. As we have seen in the cities in Europe and America, those who are ready to give away their hard-earned dollars, to live the promises of democracy, freedom and humanism and to deeply care about the party are people who aren't even party members. The same is true here.  We are longing to see you here again Hailu Shawel et al! 

Sunday, October 07, 2007

H.R.2003: Make your Voices Heard in the Media!

Ethiopian American Civil Advocacy(EACA) is calling people to write letters-to-the-editor to media outlets which reported on HR 2003. The following is EACA's statement.
H.R.2003: Make your Voices Heard in the Media!

The magnificient and unanimous passage of H.R. 2003 in the House of Representatives received a HUGE media splash! The BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times, and others reported on the great success of Ethiopians, Ethiopian-Americans, and all American friends of Ethiopia (See an excerpt of the many articles here: ).  

We heard from the media, now it's time that the media (and through them, the world) heard from us! The international media did a great job bringing attention to the big Yes vote on H.R.2003. As is the norm, they quoted both proponents of the bill (Payne, Smith, and others) as well as opponents of the bill (Ambassador Samuel Assefa). The ambassador's main talking point, which he regurgitates at every opportunity, is that the bill hurts Ethiopian-American relations, and that it fosters instability. Unfortunately, ill-informed Americans could easily buy it. So it is important to write to the papers to refute that! Let them know that:  

  1. The relationship between the United States and America is more than the relationship between Bush and Meles. Rulers come and go; the Ethiopian people are here to stay! Remaining silent when Meles brutalises Ethiopians is not the way to win Ethiopian hearts and minds – Condemning his brutality, as HR2003 does, will increase prospects of long-term and sustained strong relations between the two countries.
  1. What breeds instability is to coddle an authoritarian government. Moderate critics of the regime will see US failure to stand by the side of the people as a signal that the only way to remove a tyrant is through violent means, which can't be what the US wants! What breeds instability is when EPRDF, with the tacit consent of the US and the international community, starves Ethiopians in the Ogaden in order to root out a rebel group. Armed groups will then get sympathy, support, and recruitment. H.R.2003 seeks to encourage a democratic space in which Ethiopians can hold their government accountable through means other than the barrel of the gun.

Choose any one newspaper that published an article on the bill (and that published the ambassador's reactions), and Write the Newspaper a letter Now. Each newspaper outlet has 

  • Many, Many should Write: If the papers get flooded by letters-to-the-editor, they will be sure to publish one or two of them!
  • Keep it Short: 200 words or less. That will increase the chance of publication
  • Write ASAP: News becomes old fast in the media world. The sooner you write, the greater the chance you'll see your letter in the paper.
  • Stay polite: Our problem is not with the paper, but with the ambassador's illogic. Refute his talking points in a factual, straightforward manner.
  • It doesn't have to be a piece of art! Don't be too worried whether each word is perfect. The most important thing is that the newspapers hear from as many as possible, then they will know that this topic is a big deal, and will feel more compelled to publish one of the letters flooding their inbox.

For more ideas how to write a highly effective letter and increase your chances of getting published, see the Media Toolkit at . 

Use the following links or information to send a letter to the editor to one of the following outlets:

Washington Post:

Financial Times:  Email  


New York Times:

International Herald Tribune:  

Voice of America:



Friday, October 05, 2007

Hope Common to the Pro-democracy and Anti-democracy Movements in Ethiopia

Muzzling young democracy enthusiasts is not easy. Ask the Junta's leaders in Burma. Or Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia. Having failed to stop people using text messaging to organize during the election, the Meles administration had switched off the SMS service. It is back now; and so are the political exchanges. On Tuesday, just hours after the American House of Representatives passed HR2003, people started to text each other, expressing their delight. "Demachin Feso Aykerim. Enkuan Des Yalen Ethiopiayawiyan," one texter's message reads. 
Since the Bill's passage by the International Affairs Committee of the house, a lot of young Ethiopians have turned into amateur commentators on the American law making process. Professor Al Mariam's statements about the Bill's progress on the VOA are qouted in the middle of conversations. Some are worried about President Bush's veto. But then they mention Al Mariam's analysis that Bush isn't a kind of leader who uses his veto power frequently and their faces flicker with hope.  Some are concerned about what would happen to the Kinijit delegate members who supported the bill openly when they come back to Ethiopia. Some praise US congress members and marvel the democracy in America. They wonder how representatives from George Bush's party voted for the bill in the face of opposition from him. They know that in Ethiopia the law is what Meles says.
EPRDF supporters are furious. In their spin room at the Sheraton - the Office Bar - Costantinos Berhe and co. lampoon American politics. Rep. Donald Payne is a favourite target. His intellect is questioned.  Ted Dagne's role in manipulating the congressman is mentioned. Self appointed investigators explain how Payne's sympathy for the Eritrean cause is what is behind his drive to see the Ethiopian government destroyed. But like the young democracy enthusiasts, the EPRDFites at the office bar aren't without hope. They claim that senators understand America's strategic interests in the Horn of Africa better than members of the house of representatives. They bask in the expectation that enough senators will say "Nay" to a bill which makes the Meles regime accountable to fundamental human rights laws and principles. 
The Aigaites have come up with an ingenious strategy to fight the coalition of unitarist chauvinists and demogogues; otherwise known as the CUD. How does establishing the union of intellectual supporters of  the EPRDF sound
The union's major objective, I guess, is to defend the killings of Ogaden and Merkato. What could these intellectuals add that EPRDF apologists from Samuel Gebru to Samuel Assefa haven't raised so far?
The perils of the four Geneva conventions? How it is wrong to accept fundamental human rights principles as Jus Cogens? How democracy and fighting the war on terror are incompatible? 

Thursday, October 04, 2007

KInijit's delegation to meet the chairman

An effort is underway to solve Kinijit's recent problems, sources in the US informed EZ Post.Some members of  Kinijit's delegation who are undertaking a tour in the US are right now heading to Minnesota to meet the party's chairman, Eng. Hailu Shawel.   

Merkel slams Meles

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany pulls no punches when it comes to telling dictators what they don't want to hear. Today she became the first western leader to call for a democratic opening in Ethiopia. And she did that in front of journalists with Meles sitting next to her. This week is ending up as a disastrous week for the Meles administration on the diplomatic front. Now Aigaites have to tell us whether  the vocal diaspora in George Town has anything to do with Merkel's position, and whose citizenship they may revoke! 
Here is the Reuters article on Merkel's plea. And here is AFP's.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Can it go this low?

In Dergue style letter, a writer on Aigaforum demands the government to revoke the citizenship of the five Kinijit leaders currently on tour in the US. Should we laugh or cry? Some EPRDF supporters are so emboldened these days by the government's unflinching willingness to suspend the law to stifle dissent that they are now demanding the revocation of citizenship of opponents. 

Russ Feingold -the Name We Want to Know

The next battleground for Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act is the US Senate. The Senate's Subcommittee on African Affairs is chaired by Russ Feingold(D) of Wisconsin. The Netroots call Senator Fiengold the conscience of the senate.  These are some facts about the great senator.
-He was the only senator to vote against the USA Patriot Act in 2001.
- He voted against the Iraq war
-He co-sponsored the Campaign Reform Act of 2002.
- Feingold is one of the US senators least liked K street lobbyists.  
- More importantly, he was one of the ten US senators who in July this year wrote a letter urging Secretary Rice to "intensify pressure on Ethiopian government to respect fundamental human rights norms." Read the letter here
With ten percent of the senate already very concerned about human rights abuses in Ethiopia, can the pro-democracy train be stopped? The campaign should begin now. Step in the coalition for HR 2003!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

HR 2003

Great first victory....Way to go!

No Need to Pamper the Eritrean Dictator

Here is a bewildering report by a respected journalist about Isayas Afeworki and Eritrea. By all accounts, the phrase "petty and cruel dictator" used by Columbia University President to attack Ahmadinjead should have been reserved for Mr. Afeworki. Mr. Gettleman would have done justice to his story had he had tried to uncover the most ruthless human rights abuses in Eritrea, the rapid economic decline and the onslaught on the country's traditional institutions like the Orthodox Church.
The Ethiopian pro-democracy movement should be very careful about the man north of our border. As we crave for the respect of rights and democracy in our country, we should also remember that Eritreans are equally entitled to the same values. That doesn't mean that the business of fighting for freedom in Eritrea is ours. But we shouldn't align ourselves with a dictator who threats his people like trash for narrow strategic reasons. Aligning ourselves with Isayas is taking the concept of " Yetelate Telat Wodaje New" too far. A political struggle which is based on values uses strategies which don't tamper those values. Plus, a democratic Ethiopia - an ideal we are fighting for -can only remain democratic and stable if its cousin is also democratic and stable. With a pampered Isayas at the helm, there is no possibility of that happening.    

Monday, October 01, 2007

EPRDF's new PR strategy

Kinijit's recent problems have  highlighted EPRDF's new public relations strategy. The state media which usually pounces on problems within opposition groups has stayed silent this time; leaving that task to the pro-EPRDF private newspapers such as Amare Aregawi's  The ReporterThe Reporter had several stories and articles about Kinijit's alleged division. The newspaper which had vociferously criticized Kinijit's chairman Hailu Shawel after the election has now tacitly supported him with the chairman's supporters in Kinijit  like Bedru Adem, Nigist Gebrehiwot and Mesobewerk Kitaw all getting front page treatment. 
Sources at the paper say that the owner and editor-in-chief of The Reporter, Ato Amare Aregawi, has told two of his journalists to dig stories that show the true extent of the split within Kinijit. The stories were presented with a bit of spin in Hailu Shawel's favour by the paper's deputy editor-in-chief, Eshete Assefa, who has long-standing friendship with Mesobewek Kitaw. Amare hasn't so far objected to the way the stories are put out as his sole focus is to play out the division in public and destroy the party. "He doesn't care an iota as to the individual leaders and their positions. His objective is the destruction of Kinijit," a journalist working at the paper tells EZ Post.
Another pro-EPRDF newspaper, Ethio-Channel, owned by the advertiser Samson Mamo, has also given a lot of attention to the recent problems. Ethio-Channel had last saturday a two-pages inteview with Bedru Adem, the man who since Kaliti days has played a huge role in aggravating the personal differences between Hailu Shawel and Brehanu Nega. In his court defense, Bedru had claimed that he couldn't bear collective responsibility with the other Kinijit leaders for the criminal charges that the public prosecutor instituted against him as he had resigned from Kinijit before the November protest. But that hasn't stopped him from attacking Brehanu Nega and Birtukan Mideksa stating that he is still a member of the Kinijit council.  His pictures and quotes now admonish the pages of pro-EPRDF newspapers in Addis Ababa.
EPRDF, meanwhile, has tried to appear as if it were above the fray. The state media's new slogan is "War on Poverty", with most attention given to Ethiopia's economic development. Kinijit's problem hasn't received a single minute so far except on Mimi Sinhatu's talkshow. Mimi's core audience are EPRDF members and supporters.
Sources who are close to government officials say that the government has understood that its public hostility towards Kinijit has backfired, and any  playing out of Kinijit's problems on the state media would be interpreted by a lot of Ethiopians as EPRDF's attempt to destroy the party. "They want the public to know about the problems, but not through the government media. Instead, they are using Ethio-Channel and The Reporter," says one of the sources.

HR2003....The Real Final Push

Please write to your representatives to say "Yes" to HR2003. Here is the link.