Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Miss Not another Opportunity and the Urgency of Moving Forward

It goes without saying that our political history is not only a history of war both from within and outside but also a
Addis Ababa rally 2005
In 2005 Millions of Ethiopians turned out in Addis Ababa’s main square (Meskel Square) to show their support to the opposition.
history of lost opportunities.  It is worthwhile  to mention here one of the most regrettable lost opportunities  in our very recent Ethiopian political history. Sadly enough,  those lost opportunities   continued  by the  current ruling circle which came to power a quarter of a century ago in a very hypocritical and disingenuous manner.
The very terrible failure of Emperor Haile Sellassie to transfer his power at least to a younger generation of his royal family and pave the way for a relatively modern and more legitimate monarchical system in the early 1970s was the first lost opportunity which had contributed a lot to the political power grab by an extremely devastating military junta. The Emperor had significant signals of political discontent among various segments of the society including the 1952 attempted but failed coup d’état. Unfortunately enough, he chose a very harsh and wrong way of response instead of recognizing the challenge he was facing and doing something desirable about it. As there was no any chance of forming any political party and challenge the very archaic monarchical political system and doing something good for public interest, the only organized and fully armed force of the time (the military) took the political power and carried out very brutal extra judicial killings which started with the execution of higher officials of monarchy.
The military junta had committed a very bloody political crime not only by eliminating any political grouping which tried to challenge its political agendas and practices but also citizens who had critical way of thinking about the very fate of the country and her people in the name of a “national democratic revolution” which was copied and imported from the socialist camp of the time. Because of the serious mistakes made by the feudal system, there was no doubt that the politically oppressed and socio-economically impoverished people, and particularly young people (including the writer of this commentary) who were hungry of change were inspired by the very swift and violent wave of change. They did not take any chance to digest the reality they had to face, its unintended consequences, and the question of how to handle them and move forward. That kind of extremely emotional and uncontrollable political environment had helped the military junta to move forward with its political madness which manifested itself in the killing campaign (red terror) in the second half of the 1970s.  Once again, Ethiopia and her innocent people lost another opportunity and found themselves in a very terrible nightmare. The military had failed the Ethiopian people by mixing its main duty (national security and territorial integrity) with a political power which resulted in another very horrible political chapter.
What was and is so disturbing was and still is the repetition of  horrible political chapters by the current ruling circle which  to power in 1991   and  later declared  another bloody “revolutionary democracy ”  as it’s political agenda . In addition to the non-existence of a strong opposition political parties with a workable strategy and unity of purpose    because of the very harsh measures taken by the derge , the new rebellion group ( TPLF and its subordinates /speaking tools)  attacked if not  destroyed any opposition group such as EPRP and subsequently  OLF  so that it could have the monopoly of both   political and economic  power . As the derge tried to buy people’s short- term support for its long- term dictatorial rule by taking seemingly popular steps such as the demand for “lad to the tiller, the recognition for the right of nationalities and the like”, the current ruling party used similar tactics at the beginning of its political power grab. Putting aside the political crimes it committed since the taking of the political power, the ruling party (TPLF/EPRDF) proved to be the root cause of another lost opportunity when it mercilessly cracked down the real interests of the people using all kinds of destructive methods such as intimidation, mass arrest, torture and the killings of innocent citizens in the 2005 election, and declaring a land- slide victory for itself.
What was outrageously disturbing was the continuation of the making of politically motivated laws, declarations, rules and regulations which have become very strong evidences about the total absence of the rule of law, democratic freedom and fundamental human rights as well as socio-economic justice. And things became so dire and scary when the ruling circle declared in 2007 that it registered a 99.6 percent vote because the people “fell in love with its performance in every aspect of life.” This extremely nonsensical and disingenuous claim was   taken to its highest stage when the late Ato Mels Zenawi made the political power which was already concentrated around himself and his close cronies much more ugly by becoming the only powerful source of authority. I do not think it is necessary to enumerate the very dirty political dramas played by the ruling party not only before the disappearance and later the passing away of Ato Mels but also after date of his actual death and the official announcement. There is no doubt that history will register and give this kind of political drama its appropriate treatment. Yes, one of our terribly lost opportunities is the culture of writing our history in a dysfunctional manner, not in an objective and realistic fashion. I am not saying certain good things done during the time of Ato Meles should not be recorded as part of the story. But we have genuinely be worried about the tendency of this ruling party to inculcate the personal cult of Ato Meles into people’s mind especially the young generation. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to speculate that our kids in schools may have text books with “glorious stories” about the ruling party and especially about “the great leader’ since the last hundred years.  I strongly believe that the consequences of not seizing the existing opportunities and not taking seriously the need to move forward in sense urgency will be incalculable.
Folks, let us take this idea of concern to the next and most important step: WHAT IS TO BE DONE?  I will try to reflect mine.
by T. Goshu

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