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Encore Mr Prime Minister!

By Dilwenberu Nega
March 16, 2012

When does push comes to shove for EPRDF? Well, according to its “Great Communicator,” it’s when “circumstances prevent us from breathing through our nostrils.” Today’s early morning raid on terrorist camps inside Eritrea is EPRDF government’s calibrated response to terrorist attacks by forces under the supreme command of Eritrean authorities – an unadulterated truth confirmed even by the United Nations.

Last month’s Press Statement by FDRE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the Eritrean nudged deadly attack on innocent foreign tourists had made it clear that Ethiopia’s patience with Eritrea was wearing thin. EPRDF government’s seeming ill disposition to a punitive action on Eritrea every time it dispatched forces of destruction into Ethiopia had earned it both commendation and condemnation in equal measure. While pundits of Ethiopian diplomacy had argued that patience achieves more than strength and fury, public opinion had tended to regard the government’s somewhat shilly-shallying mode as an attempt to mollycoddle untamed President Isaias Afewerki.

The time when EPRDF felt that it had reached the end of its tether – the time when it could not inhale or exhale through its nostrils – had finally arrived on the 15th February 2012. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was, therefore, right and within his constitutional remit as Commander-in-Chief of Ethiopian Defence Forces, to order the February 15th dawn raid on terrorists camps inside Eritrean territory. To many people this calibrated response by Ethiopian Defence Forces is long overdue.

Yes, we are all in this with the Government, but it is far too early for Ethiopians to breathe a sigh of relief, for we know in our heart of hearts that there is no way that Eritrea’s whimsical president will – to use a transliterated Amharic idiom – sleep for Ethiopia.

In my humble opinion what ought to be done to really ward-off repetitive attacks from Asmara are two. First, we Ethiopians in the homeland and abroad should close ranks and be extra-vigilant to and wary of Shabia’s notorious machinations against the Motherland. It’s time to stand shoulder to shoulder with the EPRDF government whatever our political differences because what is at stake is the national security of Ethiopia. Secondly, the Government knows all too well that the impediment to peaceful and cooperative bilateral relations with the fraternal people of Eritrea is Isaias Afewerki and nobody else. He and he alone, harbour contempt for Ethiopians and ill will cum Ethio-phobia for our nation. He is not expected to mellow his hatred until he bears witness to the total destruction of Ethiopia. That is why there appears to be a consensual agreement among Ethiopians on the imperative to surgically remove “The cancer of the Horn of Africa.” That is why too, this round of raid inside Eritrean territory was met by an Ethiopia chorus of “Geffa Belew!” approval.

Regime change in Eritrea should, therefore, not be viewed as the purview of Eritreans who unbelievably so have become dormant and doormat to Isaias Afewerki’s bestialities. The continued presence of Isaias Afewerki has now posed a grave threat to our legitimate right to choose the course of our destiny.

Ethiopians are neither pacifists nor jingoists, but they have no second thoughts in protecting their peace and Motherland. They have no antagonistic contradiction with the people of Eritrea, whose decision to go it alone they had respected even though they were certain at the time that Eritreans would come to rue the day they opted to separate from the goose that laid the golden eggs for them for generations. That day is unravelling before our eyes today.

At the same time, however, it would be puerile to expect Ethiopians to kow-tow to President Isaias, to expect Ethiopia to catch pneumonia when Eritrea catches cold. Ethiopians must be allowed to exercise their inalienable right to live in peace and plough ahead with their economic development without the fear of Eritrea – an Eritrea that has morphed into an albatross on Ethiopia’s neck. Many are those who wish Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s legacy to include the cutting of this albatross from Ethiopia’s neck.

Mr Commander-in-Chief, the nation now expects you to deliver an encore performance – one that cuts the tyrant to size – so that we can truly breathe a sigh of relief.

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