If EPDRF is bulldozed into a tète a tète with Medrek, it would have a domino effect.

By Dilwenberu Nega
Nov. 20 2009

Everyone is completely flummoxed by the turn of events in Addis. Hardly two weeks had elapsed than we are made to learn of the flurry of shuttle diplomacy by a phalanx of Ethiopian Wise Men (Shemagelaywotch) to broker a deal between the main signatory of the Code of Conduct, EPDRF, and the opposition party which had reneged from taking part in the multi-party deliberations on the Code of Conduct. Probing the virtue inherent in appeasing a coalition that is bent on mugging the democratic process ahead of elections must, therefore, not be viewed as being anti-rapprochement or anti-peace.

We all must support the relaxation of tensions among contending parties, but not if it involves the chipping away at our Constitution. We all must also support the role of our traditional peace-brokers, but not if it is going to steamroller everything that has so far been achieved through the multi-party talks. Besides, we must not allow ourselves to lose sight of the fact that in this day and age no good can flow to us if we continue to bank on “Yesebestay-Gezay” conflict resolution. “Yikir-tebabalu” may have worked in the Jurassic era of Ethiopian politics; today’s conflict resolution demands untried and untested methods. In today’s Ethiopia there exists no bad-blood among political parties. The confrontation between EPDRF and Medrek is between on the one hand, those who have signed to toe the constitutional line at the next elections, and on the other hand, those who are bent on subverting the constitutional line. That is why it is imperative for not only EPDRF but all the signatories and all those 60 plus political parties to close ranks and foil Medrek’s sinister ploy.

The multi-party talks and the subsequent signing of the Code of Conduct on National Elections has been seen by many Ethiopians and foreigners alike as yet another means by which to subserve the democratic process in Ethiopia. On the other hand, hastily cobbled together Medrek had chosen not only to walk out of the multi-party talks twice on extremely flimsy argument, but had unleashed an anti-Code of Conduct campaign on the Media. It even had reduced itself so low to tossing the time-worn epithet of “Banda” at the signatories and, indeed, at anyone who had anything good to say about the Code of Conduct. Why would a ‘decent party’, a party that is so confident of winning the next election go so low as opposing a Code of Conduct which is a standard applied internationally?

The real reasons for Medrek’s walkout and subsequent denunciation of the Code of Conduct are two-fold. The first is to do with the grandees of Medrek: Dr Merara Gudina, Professor Beyene Petros and Ato Bulcha Demekssa. These political heavyweights had worked with EPDRF long enough to realise what a disciplined and well-heeled party it is. Moreover, they have also become eye-witnesses to the gradual EPDRF-nization of agrarian Ethiopia. In a country where 85% of its population lives in the country-side, the vote of the Ethiopian farmer has become all the more crucial come national elections. No one better realises this hard fact than the troika. They are also cock-sure that an ill-perceived, ill-formed, ill-managed and ill-financed Medrek has precious little chance of making a dent at EPDRF’s majority in parliament, let alone win an outright majority. Some sort of accommodation, preferably along the line of the Kenyan or Zimbabwean Unity Government would be the right blend of juice to quench the thirst of Medrekotch.

The second reason is to do with the 2 high-profile political ‘foundlings’ who still do not seem to have found a niche in Medrek commensurate with their vanity. Former Defence Minister, Siye Abreha, and Former Chief Administrator of Tigrai Regional State, Gebru Asrat, have a special axe to grind in insisting that they have a one-to-one with EPDRF. In recent months both men had undergone a ‘metamorphosis’ the likes of which have never been seen anywhere in the world. These two once-upon-a-time principled and valiant fighters – unlike their Medrek peers – joined the Ethiopian liberation struggle and fought for 17 long and hard years because they believed in sacred principles – principles which, come hell or high-water, would not be traded in or betrayed. Yet, that is precisely what they did with the principles for which they had sacrificed the cream of their youth when forming a potpourri of political -isms. Their aim and goal in insisting to talk to only EPDRF, it must be understood, has from day one been one and one only – to unleash a ruthless vendetta against the Party that had surgically removed them from the ‘Body of EPDRF.’ They simply relish the thought of sitting round a conference table with their erstwhile colleagues who had voted them out of the Party and Government. This to Siye and Gebru would be their ultimate vendetta trumpeting their triumphal return to active politics.

The official reason given for Medrek’s adamantine insistence on a tète a tète with EPDRF and EPDRF only is, of course, couched in routine words of complaint: the narrowing of the political space, access to more slots on ETV, etc. This is a smoke-screen. The real reason, as it has become plainly evident from the different interviews the troikas and the political foundlings had been giving to local and foreign journalists, is to arm-lock EPDRF into accepting their wholly untenable proposition of forming a Kenyan or Zimbabwean style government of national unity whatever the results of the 2010 National Elections. Accepting this would be a sure-fire formula of committing a political suicide with untold damage both to the nation and its people.

Ethiopians demand that EPDRF sticks to its guns.