By Dilwenberu Nega
Tigrai Online, Oct. 13, 2014
It is a well known fact that politics makes strange bedfellows, and none more so is it true than Derg-WPE becoming a political bedfellow of Ginbot 7. I joined the chorus of condemnation when ESAT paraded the alleged half-brother of trigger-happy Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam - who by the way resembles Mengistu in looks, sounds and actions — as its “Guest of the Week” in 2012. In point of fact, I even went as far as derogating the new-found dalliance between Derg-WPE and Ginbot 7 by posting a commentary on the blogosphere, under the title “Kassa Kebede: put up or shut up.”
In my opening paragraph, I made the following observation:
“Derg’s preeminent champagne socialist, Comrade Kassa Kebede, is on a publicity stunt, after a six year hiatus from active politicking. He is, perhaps, testing the waters before he becomes the comeback kid of cash-strapped and demoralised former WPE kakitocrats (kaki-uniformed members of WPE)”
By making Kassa Kebede one of the guests of honour at a televised New Year party last September, ESAT has, once again shown its utter contempt and insensitivity to the memory of the thousands who perished under the brutal rule of Derg-WPE by yet again supplying former confidante of Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam oxygen of publicity. Kassa was no ordinary member of Derg-WPE. As a leading member of Colonel Mengistu’s kitchen cabinet, he enjoyed, 24/7/365 access to Colonel Mengistu. In an ideal world where merit counts more than blood consanguinity, Kassa Kebede’s notorious fiery temperament would have made him least qualified to join Ethiopia’s diplomatic service, but his alleged blood consanguinity, his attested loyalty and unerring fidelity to Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam had secured him an ambassadorship in Geneva. Worse of all, however, is the fact that no sooner had Kassa presented his letter of credence to the President of Switzerland at the height of the 1984 famine, than he deemed it proper punctilio to purchase a prestigious residence for him.
Kassa Kebede may not be as bestial as his alleged half-brother, but that doesn’t make him an angel in the confraternity of devils. There still are people today, both in Ethiopia and abroad, who can stand witness to Kassa Kebede’s wayward behaviour. On one occasion, an Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom during the time of the Derg gave a dinner in honour of visiting mandarins from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs headed by the Head of the European Division. As Kassa Kebede happened to be in London at the time he, too, was invited for the dinner. Just before dinner, however, something terrible happened which in turn spurred the vulgarian in Kassa to come out. When a junior diplomat jokingly told Kassa to show due respect to the Head of the European Division, who happened to be his line manager, Kassa got so angry at the grinning Head of the European Division that he punched him on the face. When repeated attempts by MoFA officials to broker peace between the two antagonists failed, the seasoned Head of European Division sought self-exile in the United States rather than serve Ethiopia as “a factotum of the Kebe Brothers” — the two alleged sons of Dejazmatch Kebede Tesema.
Twenty-three years after Derg-WPE was overthrown by the gallant sons and daughters of Ethiopia, during which time Kassa had got involved in a variety of clandestine activities, including working in cahoots with international terrorism to “dismember Ethiopia into mini-Islamist states” (the words of author Yossef Bodansky) now has the brazen audacity to lecture Ethiopians on the virtues of celebrating national holidays.
Please click here to watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmPGRClMflY
In the video we see Kassa Kebede using sophistry to make us believe Derg and the Workers Party of Ethiopia (WPE) are as different as chalk and cheese. The truth, however, is that they are one and the same. Or as a friend of mine tried to explain in layman’s term: “WPE is to Derg what Kassa Kebede is to Mengistu Haile Mariam.” How else can one justify that the Chairman of the Derg is also the Chairman of WPE. Kassa Kebede may not be a military uniformed member of the Derg, but he was nonetheless a blue-kaki uniformed member with a licence to kill.
During the interview, Kassa is seen being economical with the truth. During the time of the Emperor, Kassa Kebede, was not an Assistant Minister, as he claimed, but a Director General. However, given that he answered a question with absolute honesty , his response must receive accolades from all of us. When asked which of the Ethiopian festivals he enjoyed most, Kassa answered truthfully: “Because I am a gourmand, Fasika is my favourite festival. No wonder that he had managed to remain circumferentially challenged, i.e., corpulent, all these years.
On a more serious note, Dr. Birhanu needs Kassa Kebede desperately to rekindle Ginbot 7’s relations with Isaias Afewerki, following the surgical removal of Andy from Ginbot 7 by Ethiopia’s Intelligence Service. Kassa knows Isaias Afewerki through his good Sudanese friend, the Islamist political leader Hassan al-Turabi as well as from Al-Shabab leaders based in Asmara. He and Andy have travelled to Asmara on a number of occasions to solicit support from President Isaias Afewerki.
We all are aware that history repeats itself, but no one thought it would repeat itself
in as short a period of time as 10 years. A decade ago, one reason for the eventual failure of Kinijit was the fatal decision to allow Derg-WPE to join Kinijit. Today, a left-over Kinijit, Ginbot 7, is seen committing the same mistake it committed in the 2005 Election.
Andy’s removal has left Ginbot 7 rudderless, dispirited and discouraged. The fusion with Derg-WPE will be another nail in the coffin of the party of absentee liberation fighters.