By Berhane Kahsay
Tigrai Online Nov. 17, 2012
Lidetu Ayalew is a very shrewd, articulate and pragmatic politician with a tinge of arrogance. His mastery of politics appears to lack depth if one has to judge him by his performance at the last parliament and the party political debates that were held during the last general election. But he has got a great potential, and with the passage of time, he could mature and turn out to be a contender for a high office. EPDRF is performing a tremendous job at this juncture, and the likelihood of obtaining further mandates from the electorates due to its exceptional track record over the last 13 years is very high indeed. Age is on Lidetu’s side and will have his moment in the future but for now second place would suffice.
The orator Lideatu came to the public’s attention for audaciously taking on the mighty TPLF during its early days. He was not interested in policy based tussles; sound bites which resonated well with the public were his forte. Lidetu amassed a huge political support by openly accusing the TPLF of plundering the wealth of the country and shifting them to Tigray; ‘Tigre wed Mekelle, eqa wed kebele’ was repeatedly heard in rallies, public meetings, schools, hospitals etc, during the 2005 election, and nearly brought Lidetu and the likes of him within a striking distance of Menelik Palace. The well orchestrated campaigns to isolate and attack the Tigrian people, using the machetes that were shipped from China prior to the election were averted at the 11th hour; this was made possible by the resolute and decisive action taken by the Ethiopian security authorities. A lot has changed since then and now it’s time to forgive, forget and move on; but we must remain vigilant as there are still remnants of the old system that lost their hold on power and its trimmings, lurking in the dark.
Just before the 2005 election, Lidetu’s EDP, Hailu Shawel’s, All Ethiopian Unity Party, and Professor Mesfin Weldemariam &Dr Berhanu Nega’s, Keste Demena, formed with a great deal of fanfare the now defunct Kinijit. Hailu Shawel was made the leader although Lidetu was much more popular among the populace than the two senior citizens put together. The professors and doctors within Knijit could not match him in the intricacies of politics despite that fact that he was a distant second in terms of his educational background. Currently Lidetu is doing his post graduate studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies which is part of the London University.
Before and after the 2005 election, intense negotiations were taking place between the three parties concerning the conversion of Kinijit into a single party ; this was still in full swing while a serious dispute was raging with the Election Commission concerning the outcome of the election, and whether Kinijit would enter parliament or not. But the negotiations failed to materialise as Lidetu was smart enough to realise that the grand plan was for him to be used as a pawn for the old man Hailu Shawel and his associates to assume power. At the last minute, the ingenious Lidetu decided to ditch them and made his way to parliament while the rest of the leadership chose the path of destruction and ended up in kaliti prison. The dead wood wanted power at any cost but imprisonment for criminal activities was what they got instead. Hailu Shawel and compony were released from two years of incarceration as a consequence of the clemency granted to them by the FDRE President.
The linchpin within Kinjit was Lidetu and without him it led to schism and recriminations resulting in the collapse of the front. An open warfare commenced between the various groups that were at liberty claiming to be the real’Kinijit’ of what was left of it. The court, which they used to deride and ridicule, had to resolve the dispute that was engulfing them. How is it possible that these people would tackle the complex and intractable problems of the country if they were not in a position to resolve a simple issue in a civilised manner? Knijit was riddled with feudal tyrants of the worst sort with no respect for the rule of law, and highly intolerant of freedom of expressions and pluralism.
Lidetu has played a pivotal and decisive role in the fragmentation of Kinijit that was the fiefdom of Hailu Shawel and the doyen of Amhara chauvinism Professor Mesfin Woldemariam. If these people had succeeded with what they set out to achieve, the economic boom we are witnessing in Ethiopia today and the cohesion of the country would not have been possible. We have not yet seen the last of the ultra chauvinists that desperately want to take us back to the bad old days which placed our country at the bottom of the world heap.
Even now Hailu Shawel is having great difficulties leading the minuscule All Ethiopian Unity Party and some of his members are in prison for stealing party documents and seals. He has very limited following and his credibility is in tatters, and yet, the old man is foolishly and painfully exerting himself to punch above his weight. The shameful and despised Professor Mesfin has been unceremonisly booted out of Andinet party and is no longer active in divisive and destructive politics. Occasionally he gathers some thugs from the streets of Addis and instructs them to go and disrupt Andinet meetings with finacial inducements.
The timid and buffoon Dr Berhanu Nega, leader of G-7, quickly made his way to the US after his release from prsion, and has now established a comfortable life by conning his handful gullible and blind followers. His organisation is disintegrating in front of his eyes due to an open rebellion against his stewardship of G- 7. The man, who promised a regime change in Ethiopia within six months over four years ago, is experiencing tough and exceedingly painful episodes. His boss, the Eritrean dictator, is not exactly ecstatic about it as his huge investments are not paying dividends. The good doctor has insignificant support at home, and he is in dire financial predicaments owing to the dwindling flow of funds from Esayass and his ever decreasing toxic Diaspora members. It will not be too long before we see the back of this good for nothing doctor and his creation G-7. It must be excruciatingly painful for Anna Gomez to witness her man, Dr Berhanu, taken to task by the splinter group for utter incompetence and failure to deliver ‘Woyane’s head’ on a platter.
Lidetu has now been vindicated beyond a shadow of a doubt; his party is going from strength to strength, where as his previous collaborators have petered out; and it is just a matter of time before EDP becomes a strong and real challenger for power. Lidetu was smart enough to see through Hailu Shawel and the rest; he played his part in preventing Ethiopia from falling into the wrong hands that could have caused irrepairable damages to the country. All the sacrifices that were paid for justice, democracy, the rule of law, equality of nations and nationalites would have been in vain.
A third way is the driving motto within EDP at this moment in time; Lidetu and his colleagues are confident enough to stand their ground and present their case to the electorates. This sort of mind set is new to Ethiopia; changing your political philosophy or way of thinking or altering your policy should not be considered as a crime. Governments and politicians the world over do it time and time again, and see no reason why Lidetu should be vilified for it. There should be no place for uncivilised politics in our country in this day and age.
In any case Liedtu should make no apologies for opting to engage in a civilised and matured politics which any sane person would view this as an immense benefit for the country which suffered for a considerable period from endless drought, famine, war and bloodshed. Lidetu has been the recipient of organised, systematic and sustained virulent attacks from his wild opponents. This is owing to the fact that his support is growing at their expense, and want to finish him off by labelling him as a traitor for being brave enough to expose their true characteristics. Lidetu’s diehard adversaries would like to give the impression that they are champions of democracy and human rights, and yet, every time Lidetu organises a meeting in Europe, he is verbally and physically abused, and his meetings are invariably disrupted by overzealous mobs.
Hailu Shawel, who owns a massive mansion in the US, stood on a platform with the late cerebral Prime Minister and publically announced to abide by the constitution which he relentlessly tried to discard. And yet he was not accused of betrayal as much as Lidetu was for doing the same thing. The Secretary of G-7 was once a member of the EPRDF and Seyie Abraha has metamorphosed over night from an ultra nationalist to multi-nationalist without blinking an eye. And the ex-President of Ethiopia and now leader of Andinet, Dr Negasso, was once a member of Meison, may be OLF and then EPRDF but these people have the audacity to crucify and humiliate others for changing their stance.
Lidetu has become a symbol of positive attitude change and many previous diehard Diaspora opponents of his and the government are now flocking to their country and witnessing the spectacular changes that are taking place. Professors, businessmen, engineers, physicians and artists such as Neway Debebe and Solomon Tekaligen regularly visit their country or live there permanently. Like Lidetu, they appreciate positive developments and openly criticize when the need arises. This is what politics is all about and the Lidetu’s of this world must be applauded for their contribution in lifting the politics of a poor third world country near to the developed nation’s level. Medrek ought to be brave and take a leaf out of Lidetu’s book; positive engagement is what is needed in order to defeat poverty. Involvement in destructive discourse should be avoided at all costs for the benefit of the country and its people. It is wrong to view your opponents as enemies and treat them with utter contempt and disdain; Medrek’s leaders are routinely engaged in vengeance and hateful politics and run to the US embassy in Addis weeping ever time they are rejected by the electorates. Some even clandestinely feed the embassy staff erroneous information in order to besmirch the good name of the government. Medrek is devoid of positive thinking and is led by old men who had their day. It is in the interest of Medrek to bringing in young and innovative thinkers to the leadership as EDP and EPRDF did, if they want to avoid the fate of Kinijt.