By Mike Nega
Tigrai Online - July 01, 2013
In 1991, when the Derg regime was overthrown, I was freed from prison of 9 plus years in the main prison, Kerchele. I was one of the very few lucky innocent that we managed to make it and still alive to witness the ordeal of those days. From day one on I supported the government which contributed for my freedom. However, my support was not entirely across the board. I believe it is much helpful to mention some issues of those days to see their implication on the topic I am trying to discuss on this article.
1, Self determination
During the reign of Haile Selassie the centralization of power under the central government was much emphasized and that was understood by that time as a reaction to centrifugal forces that threatened Ethiopia’s unity. However, that completely ignored the right of nation and nationalities to exercise self-determination under the umbrella of Ethiopian unity. In 1974 Hailesillase was overthrown and the Derg regime entered the stage which built an Ethiopian Marxist state. This regime, as its predecessors, also pursues Ethiopian unity as the expense of human right and self-determination of nation and nationalities. Derge regime engaged in cruel and bloody civil war in different fronts against citizen who raise arms to demand their right. As an Ethiopians we must and have to learn a lesson from these experiences that there is no power under the sun which can suppress a popular demand for self-determination. It was during this time EPRDF came to power and nobody expected them to follow the mistake their predecessors did on Ethiopian unity. They followed their own solution, if not unique, to the real and real problem Ethiopia has been faced for centuries.
2, Economic policy
Generally, Ethiopia has adopted a free market economic policy since 1992, and in line with this has promoted private investment. With the introduction of market economy, Ethiopia has implemented a number of reforms including the privatization of state owned enterprises, liberalization of foreign trade, deregulation of domestic prices, and devaluation of the exchange rate. Gradual privation of government enterprise while the government remains dominant force in some infrastructural investment seems paying off as pure market economy in today’s world struggles to stand by itself. Basically, EPRDF’s economic policy seems working on the ground and got appreciation form the world’s leading financial institutions. There are a lot of legitimate concerns of some genuine Ethiopian about EPRDF’s affiliated economic parastatals. I share their concerns in this issue.
3, Foreign policy
We can talk about EPRDFS foreign policy in general and Eritrea in particular. I never blamed EPRDF for Eritrea’s secession as all of you know Eritrea was a free country before EPRDF seized power in Ethiopia. I knew EPRDF supported Eritrea’s secession long before they came to power. However, this was not a new thing as any progressive Ethiopian during the time, student movement and latter EPRP, supported the idea long before EPRDF establishment. If we have to blame somebody for Eritrea’s secession; it is the Derge and other previous Ethiopian government which failed to give appropriate solution for the problem.
Nevertheless, EPRDF shoulders a blame for failing to secure Ethiopian interest during the referendum which led to Eritrea secession. We know Ethiopia is less than 60 killometers away from international water or sea. There is no country in the world today as close as Ethiopia to the sea and landlocked. Ethiopia resisted colonial expansion and colonial powers paid Ethiopia by drawing artificial boundaries to isolate it from the rest of the world and denying access to sea. These treats which deny our country access to sea was unfair and even decreed void by then Ethiopia governments. Today Ethiopian government decreed the unfairness of the 1920s and 1950s treats which gave all the Nile water resource to Egypt and Sudan. These treats are unequivocally unfair but there is also analog with the other treats which deny Ethiopia access to sea. Hence, the current Ethiopian government must decree those threats unfair, too.
EPRDF was criticized by may Ethiopian for failing to secure Ethiopian unity and even some EPRDF top leaders was named as Eritrea accomplice working to destroy country. Among many parties and individuals, Kinijit and Dr. Birhanu Nega can be mention as prominent critics of Ethiopian government. There is nothing wrong with blaming a government or a party for something you believe is wrong. However, no body will convince me that Ethiopian unity will come from Esays’ good will and Dr. Birhanu knows this more than anybody else.
This shows me, the preacher of Ethiopian unity Dr. Birhanu joined Ethiopian enemy, Shaibia and working to destroy my country. I can assure you Dr. Birhanu the temporary relathioship between you and Shaibia will not last long. Shaibia is well known to eat its own creature.
If you are much eager to grip a power at any cost that way, Shaibia’s high way, is the way to hell. The right way is to go join the group you are pushing to fight in harsh environment. Lead the army you told us you have already formed and face the hardship to fight Ethiopian in the highlands of Gonder.
In a nutshell, my fellow Ethiopians, I still believe we have to keep our struggle to secure Ethiopian interest in ever front. Ethiopian is a very big country and cannot afford it to be landlocked. There is a national consensus in this regard. However, Shaibia was determined to destroy Ethiopia because they believe Eritrea can only survive if Ethiopia is weak. Hence, we have to tell our brothers like Dr. Birhanu Nega that there is nothing good can come from Eritrea.