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The Contest for The New Prime Minister And the Way Forward in Ethiopia part one

By Orion Demame
Tigrai Online, March 20, 2018

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Prime Minister (PM) Hailemariam Desalegn's decision to resign from his government and party responsibilities is a good thing, after all, he couldn't quell the turmoil that rocked the country in the past three or so years. He didn't either bring down the wide spread corruption, injustice, bad governance and the enormous dissatisfaction with the provision of public services. People kept asking the government peacefully to do correction with the growing and widely spreading malaises only to be received with deaf ears. The PM loved the media and came out frequently promising to the nation to do this and that without any attempt to fulfil his promises. The public anger on him was even greater in Tigrai Regional State that he side-lined with impunity. The Tigrians, however, did not express their anger in a wild, inhuman, and savage manner as those seen in the Amhara and Oromia Regional States. They did not, perhaps, want to be a problem for the PM.

In my opinion, the problem was like this. When he ascended to the position of a PM, he appointed a Deputy Prime Minister (DPM), made ministerial changes as well as advisors. Effectively, he replaced experienced, committed and strong cabinet with inexperienced, often less committed weak individuals. Even at corporate level for instance, he removed the head of the newly incorporated Sugar Corporation, who is known for his outstanding leadership and commitment, and put an ineffective individual in his place. The sugar corporation was given a heavy weight to go to production quickly and make the country self-sufficient and save foreign exchange that would otherwise have been spent to import sugar. The sugar projects were designed to export huge amount and generate foreign currency as well. All the projects (ten in number) were expected to be finalised and be operational during the first Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP). Unfortunately, almost all of them (one has been finalised and started test production) are under 50% of their total construction. Huge amount of money was squandered. Similarly, huge projects such as the fertilizer, cement and rail road projects are significantly delayed, to say the least. Even the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is significantly delayed which will certainly delight Egypt. According to Wikileaks, the first two generators were expected to become operational after 44 months of construction only. It will be 84 months (7 full years) at the end of this month and not started yet. God knows how long it will take for all the generators to be operational.

Despite the above and based on the information we have at hand now, I don't think it was all his fault though. PM Hailemariam can be blamed for staying at his current post for too long and nothing else. I don't think it was all his fault. Rather, he was a victim of dirty party politics How could he make the right decisions when his hands were totally tied up by the internal strife between the enemies within and the rest both in the ruling party. In my opinion, the enemies within are none other than the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) and the Oromo Peoples Democratic Organisation (OPDO). We know now that ANDM and OPDO were blocking the PM from taking swift decisions to satisfy public grievances in connection to bad governance, corruption and injustice because they themselves were in the thick of it. If at all he PM Hailemariam should be blamed, it can only be for not stepping down as soon as he knew the enemies within were sabotaging him and nothing else. Now that he has decided to step down, his resignation should include the whole cabinet and not just himself. No doubt, I admire the integrity and stature of the Prime Minister. To give perspective on the enemies within, I will give my analysis in the context of The Chinese Gang of Four, the relation to the colour revolution, the way forward and my recommendations in the following.

China entertained radical political elites known as The Gang of Four (1966 - 1976), Little Gang of Four (1980) and New Gang of Four (2012 - 2014). While the first was a measure event that seeks parallel to the current EPRDF, the latter two were somewhat minor and not worth mentioning here. When Chairman Mao Zedong felt his power and support in the party was dwindling, he launched the Chinese Cultural Revolution in 1966 (1966 - 1976). He brought his wife, that did not have any public political role before, to head cultural matters in the country. Soon, she formed and lead the Gang of Four (she is being one of them) that advanced to prominence and high positions. In the ten years period of the Cultural Revolution, China saw a chaotic and turbulent turmoil in its history like that we witness in Ethiopia. I will limit the gangs in Ethiopia to three that are visible at the top, hence, Gang of Three. Unlike the Chinese Gang of Four, the Ethiopian Gangs of Three do not stem from the ruling party. Also, while the Chines gangs were set up with the full knowledge of the Premium and worked to strengthen the ruling party, the Ethiopian gangs, to which the PM has no knowledge of, are top leadership of Amhara and Oromo Regional States who work to bring down the government. Similar to the Chinese, the Amhara and Oromo Gangs of Three maintained their power through control of the media andpropagandaoutlets and by their seemingadherenceto EPRDF’s policies and vision.

The ANDM Gang of Three

The ANDM of Three that are at the forefront of the ethnic based carnage constitutes Ato Demeke Mekonnen (Deputy PM and Chairman (DPM) of ANDM), Ato Gedu Andargachew (President of the Amhara Regional State and Deputy Chairman of ANDM) and Ato Negussu Tilahun, (Head of Communications and Media in the Amhara Regional State and is led by the former. I had some doubts whether Demeke should be included in the group as nothing controversial has come out of his mouth as Gedu and Negussu did but should not be discounted as he is a silent operator. His recent performance has now cleared my doubts. It’s to be recalled that ANDM had a meeting to elect on the next regional leadership among others. It was expected that the party would purge the current leadership. To the dismay of millions including the Amharas, however, they came out clean, not a single reshuffle. A reporter then asked Ato Demeke arrogantly why they could continue. Demeke did not have an answer except to arrogantly say that ANDM needs continuity. May be continuity of mayhem, riot and civil strife in the region.

Looking into the chronology of events, Demeke Mekonnen was elected to the position of DPM following the passing away of former PM Ato Meles Zenawi. The position of DPM must have given him hope that he would be the next PM. After a while, PM Desalegn created two additional DPM positions and that the three of them would lead different clusters. As I see it, the purpose of this new setup was meant to bring efficiency and never had other intentions what so ever. It seems to me, however, that Demeke may have thought it was intended to limit his authority and eventually open the contest for the position of PM to include other contenders as well. That must have shattered his hope and sparked his angry. Not long after, the Gondar Region in the Amhara State was on fire which I believe may have been initiated by him. First were the killings on the Kimant Communities that left over 100 Kimants dead. It was then followed by the flimsy Wolkait border issue where life of Tigrians was lost by the Amhara hooligans.

It did not stop there. There was what I call the Big Bang of ethnocentric politics unleashed by few hot headed Amharas this time targeting people of Tigrai origin living in the Amhara Regional State. They killed, injured, burned their business entities, properties and crops and finally rounded and expelled them to Sudan. This was an exact repeat of the genocide that took place in Rwanda sometimes in the 1990s only this time in a smaller proportion because the peace loving Amharas did not allow it. Gedu and Negussu, as the president and head of communications of the state, respectively, should have known all about it from its cradle. Demeke couldn't get this done through his cohort in the regional state. If they say they did not know, then they are not fit for purpose, should be security risk and removed from their services. So how come Gedu did not stop the carnage from happening? Negussu was instrumental in hiding full information with respect to the atrocities perpetuated by few lawless Amhara hooligans against the people of Tigrai living in Gondar from the Amhara people and from the Ethiopians in general. Why did Negussu suppress the media and most importantly hide the incitement and genocide against the Tigrians?

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During the Woldiya riot, the Commander of the Local Police reported that the incident was instigated by some hooligan youth. The police tried to calm them so that the Timket Celebration would proceed undisturbed. But the hooligans, instead of calming down, escalated it to a conflict leaving few people dead. A policeman was also killed while doing his job - keeping law and order. Gedu Andargachew went to Woldiya to show his true face. Instead of praising the Police Commander who had the facts on the ground, Gedu chose to bash him and telling reporters that the commander was wrong with respect to the events that took place. Instead of strongly condemning the hooligans, he told the media that what the commander said was not true. He undeniably sided with the lawbreakers. He further said that their grievances were not given timely answer. If their grievances were not answered, Gedu as President of the Amara State cannot point his finger on anybody else except on himself. He should have taken full responsibility, but he didn't. Can you imagine a President of the state humiliating his own commander for telling the truth? Why do we need the police then if it is not to keep law and order and keep the citizens safe? Soon after his appearance in Woldiya, other incidents took place in Kobo and Mersa. I am not sure whether these hooligans are local or global (a group that move from Gondar to Bahrdar to Woldiya to Kobo to Mersa, etc. and joined by local unsuspecting minors). Could Gedu be behind all these?

My personal take is that Gedu and Negussu would never have gone that far without the knowledge and blessing of DPM Demeke. What is worse is that Demeke did not come out quickly to condemn the series of events. The same with Gedu and Negussu. In fact, Negussu was defending the heinous events by giving conciliatory statements such as "everything is fine, things are normal" while people continued being killed. Ethiopian got first-hand information from foreign media outlets while Negussu suppressed and engaged on a propaganda campaign. As I mentioned above, it is expected that Gedu and Negussu are supposed to have a detailed information (whether intelligence or otherwise) of what goes in their administrative state. As such, they could have taken measures. But they didn't. If we agree on this, then why did not Gedu deploy the securities before all that happened? Both gentlemen never condemned the mayhem against innocent citizens some of whom lived over 30 years. Both only kept giving lame reasons that never convinced even peaceful Amhara citizens in Gondar and elsewhere in the regional state. The situation was further exacerbated by the angry Ethnocentric Diaspora Amhara (EDA) nationals that are the architects of incitement and racial hatred against the Tigrians. I am more than convinced that Gedu and Negussu are the local agents and operatives of the mean and hateful EDA. For these reasons, I would say that he is the wrong candidate for the PM's Office.

But what reasons do the untiring EDA have to hate and spew venomous fake stories against the people of Tigrai 24/7 for the last 27 years? Well I can think of few reasons.

1. EDA have convinced themselves that the Amharas are the only people among the over 80 nations and nationalities in Ethiopia that are the custodians of the country and, therefore, see others with suspicion.Their hate could also emanate from their removal from power they dearly loved and misappropriated most. It must be clear though that their removal from power was expedited by the Military Government that TPLF which was a victim itself helped to topple. As such, TPLF and the people of Tigrai should neither take the responsibility nor the blame for the evils done by others.

2. During the military government (1974-1991), there were many freedom fighters who waged a series of battles to wipe out Tigrai Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF). The Ethiopian Democratic Union (EDU), the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Party (EPRP) and others tried hard but were wiped out themselves instead and TPLF came out strong both in the battle field and ideologically. Those that were spared and escaped to Sudan, the majority of which happen to be from the Gondar and Gojam zones of the Amhara State, were granted refugee status and relocated to the United states. Some made their way to some European capitals including London, Paris, Berlin, and Stockholm. These decisively defeated and humiliated former combatants by a much smaller and poorly armed but gallant and formidable TPLF fighters cannot be expected to love other than hate. They have since been determined to wage psychological warfare against the TPLF and the people of Tigrai through the dissemination of fake, imagined and made up lies as well as hateful propaganda stories.

3. Again, when the military government was defeated and eventually dissolved in 1991, many of its cadres and military officers found themselves in the United States and other countries all over the world. Some of these knew that they wouldn't be able to go back to Ethiopia if the ruling party, EPRDF, is in place due to their involvement in the infamous Red Terror that saw the death of tens of thousands of youth in Addis Ababa and some other cities. They mistakenly believe that if EPRDF is gone everything will be fine and that they could freely walk in the streets of Addis. Well, they are wrong because it is the law of the country that wants them to answer for the atrocities, killings and tortures they committed irrespective of who is in government. While TPLF and the people of Tigrai have nothing to do with the Red Terror rather than being victims themselves, I for one strongly believe that EDA's hate can be the prospect of not being able to go home for the reasons mentioned here.

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4. I also think that they couldn't stand the success stories taking place in Ethiopia that the world talks about. They hate TPLF for no reason except out of envy that it is in the EPRDF government. They envy that the EPRDF's achievements in such a short period of time should have been done by them only without credit going to other nation and nationalities in the country and, therefore has made them psychologically unstable. They vehemently deny the good things achieved so far although more needs be done. But the fact of the matter is that it is the work of all Ethiopians under the leadership of EPRDF thathas borne fruit and not a single party alone. What TPLF did was to create the necessary platform.

5. Most of the EDA have taken opposition politics for the sake of opposing and not out of political conviction. If they really were politicians, it would have been expected of them that they base theiropposition on facts on the grounds and not on lies and made up stories. However, most of them talkabout imagined scenarios that don't exist and never existed for that matter. It is also a means of survivalor the many that are lazy to work. Some of them may even be subsidised by the many Non-Governmental Organisations that are overtly preoccupied in colour revolutions and regime changes. So, faced with the deficiency of facts and relevant information on what to base their political discourse against theEPRDF, they found it easier to play ethnic politics (or they may have been advised by their sponsors to take this path) and target on the weakest link, i.e. TPLF and the people of Tigrai.

Continue to part two

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