Merara Gudina’s mug game may lead Medrek to an early grave

By Dilwenberu Nega
Nov. 11 2009

Dr Merara Gudina is no stranger to Ethiopian politics; nor is he a verdant politician unaware of the dos and don’ts of politics.  Yet Merara had over the years allowed himself to be caught by the gaffe-trap time and time again.  Whether he does it deliberately or inadvertently is not known, but what is certain is that it has led people to be cynical of his leadership quality – he does not have any oomph to lead an ‘ailing’ coalition to election victory.  It may be argued that stealing the limelight is the preoccupation of opposition politicians, but the danger comes when, like Merara’s case, it becomes a goal rather than a by-product.

Merara Gudina’s current fundraising tour of America has given him that golden opportunity to be in the limelight, but, like always, he had been booby-trapped by gaffes of all kinds.  But it is his most recent interview with VOA that will eventually lead him to the dock.  In it he plainly stated that Medrek was keenly toying with the idea of a Kenyan or Zimbabwean style of settlement at the next election with foreign diplomats.  While this was categorically being denied by most leaders who were paraded before domestic and international media at last Monday’s Medrek’s press briefing, Professor Beyene Petros was at pains to ease off Merara’s mother of all gaffes by suggesting that he might be thinking in terms of “peaceful and tolerant co existence.”  No matter how much one tries to ‘massage’ what Merara has pronounced, it is too little too late for the genie is already out of the bottle.

It is essential, therefore, that EPDRF, the three signatories to the Code of Conduct and all those opposition parties which had endorsed the Code of Conduct for National Elections are not made to fall prey to Medrek’s machinations.  What Merara has said on VOA must be viewed as a stalking horse for a possible takeover binge by Medrek during the coming national elections.  There could not be any circumstance – save a categorical public withdrawal by Medrek of its Chairman’s statement – in which Medrek would be allowed to join future multi-party talks armed with a hand grenade.

Engaging in discussions on various scenarios, like the number of seats contending parties hope to win or who to align with in the event of a hung parliament are very much a given on the eve of election campaigns.  However, ventilating the idea of Kenya/Zimbabwe style unity government within the diplomatic corps in Addis long before the people’s verdict had been made known constitutes the  4ps: puerile, pernicious, pathetic and punishable.  The fact that this coalition of antipodal opposition parties could still believe that super-powers would frogmarch tried-and-tested EPDRF into accepting an accommodation which is in stark contrast to voters’ verdict, simply beggars belief.  We all know, do we not, that the case of Ethiopia and Kenya or Zimbabwe is as different as chalk and cheese.  First, by the grace of our Constitution we have become a nation that celebrates and not suffocates ethnic differences – a nation at peace with itself.  Secondly, the 2010 National Elections is going to take place in a peaceful and stable environment.  Thirdly, by endorsing the Code of Conduct for National Elections, all contending parties have taken it upon themselves to toe the constitutional line and the constitutional line only.

Moreover, all those who had witnessed that sanguinary episode in the streets of Addis in 2005, only know too well that Ethiopians cannot afford to stage a repeat performance of the 2005 takeover binge in 2010 come hell or high water.  It would serve no purpose to anyone least of all to power-mongers at Medrek where the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing.  The taking recourse to any form of violence at the 2010 National Elections would also have a crippling impact on our democracy and economy which has been growing in leaps and bounds much to the chagrin of anti-peace forces in our midst and our wayward Northern neighbour.  Medrek is cognizant of the fact that with neither the wherewithal at its disposal nor a vote winner manifesto at its command, it is in for a mortifying defeat.  It has, therefore, decided to fish in trouble waters before, during and after national elections.  This kind of waywardness must be promptly tamed by applying the full weight of the law.

Should Medrek, on the other hand, decide to make amends it has to realise that it is only left with two life-lines.  The first is for it to undergo a process of – for want of a better word – de-Merarafication.   The second is to publically renounce all forms of ambushing the democratic process.  The alternative, on the other hand, would be for Medrek to commit a political kamikaze.  Should it decide to opt for the alternative, it can then relax on its back secure in the knowledge that its final journey will be graced by the presence of thousands of Ethiopian moriologists (alkashoch) from the four-corners of Ethiopia.