HR 2003, an uncalled for and a misplaced threat
By T.D. Tessema
In a Sea of opportunities
for Further Democratization in Ethiopia.
Oct. 08 2007
Ethiopia has been registering impressive and sustainable socio-economic growth since the on set of the last decade. It is set to prevail over poverty and other social ills, which have been its trademark for eons. The millennium development goals marked by the World Bank are sure to be met.
The watermark historic election of may, 2005 has vividly displayed to the world at large, the political maturity attained and the multi-party performance excellently exhibited in the election process. This was amply demonstrated by the millions of voters in what was a brisk out pouring and massive turn out in the history of our ancient civilization. A succinct and candid testimony and corroboration of the fair and free election by international election monitors and observers none other than the Carter Center, spearheaded by the renowned and Nobel Prize winner Jimmy Carter, former U.S Democratic President, the African Union and the Arab league.
The European Union, observation mission too, praised the whole process as fair and free, but cited some irregularities during the post-election ballot counting. In the aftermath of the election a totally new phenomenon, which has been brewing clandestinely transpired by showing its fully fledged conspiratorial, illegal and un constitutional stance. The Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) which was pledging to uphold the rule of law, subscribe to the constitution both in words and spirit, play by the rules of the game, respecting the laws and procedures of the electoral board and accept the Judicial system, openly reneged on their loyalty to the laws of the land and started to fuel and inflame ethnic hatred, animosity, violence in their futile attempt to hold on to the grips of power by galloping on an imaginary and none-existent path to sit on the saddle of the political pinnacle.
The CUD shoved aside their vow and promise they had made to respect the will of the people as expressed by the ballot box, to accept the verdict and join the parliament, and constructively engage in the democratization endeavor.
Instead, they called for an extra Judicial, illegal and unconstitutional means to unseat the government through street violence, diplomatic maneuvering and media barrages, with the sinister and ulterior objective of blemishing and tarnishing the country’s image and blackmailing the government with the sole and wicked aim of seizing the acme of power by hoodwinking the people and misleading the international community.
This diabolical short-cut alley to power by CUD, was frustrated by the indomitable struggle of the people, nations and nationalities and the constitutional forces of the nation, resulting in the incarceration of the champions of emotion and mayhem.
Although the continued noise of the vociferous and boisterous few and extreme vocal elements created some impediments, the consummation was the prevalence of law and order and an added engagement of the international community in bolstering the on-going democratization process.
Fast forward, the CUD leaders were found guilty of treason and act of conspiring to unseat the incumbent government by reverting to unlawful and unconstitutional means and were convicted and sentenced to long and short tern imprisonment.
True to the spirit of reconciliation, tolerance, inclusiveness and consensus building the government pardoned over 70 convicted leaders and members of CUD on the eve of the New Ethiopian Millennium. The Ethiopian people, the international community and the silent majority of the Diaspora Ethiopians exuded and expressed their jubilation and felicitation at the magnanimity and the wise move of the government, they hoped would lead to further optimism and positive engagement by all parties, including the now freed CUD leadership. However, no sooner did they receive, the amnesty, which showed the farsightedness and open heartedness of the people and government, which heeded to the traditional arbitration by the “Shimageles”, wise men and women of Ethiopia, who initiated and piloted the process of reconciliation, with out the need for external actors to mediate thereby shelving off their bossy attitude at intervention; than the CUD leaders entered into a new chapter of funneling hostility, divisiveness, clamoring for punitive measures by outside forces, and cashing in fast and soft money from their cash cows in the ranks of the extreme Diaspora paraphernalia.
In this unholy and unceremonious efforts the CUD leaders have aligned themselves in practice, with the forces of anti-Ethiopia agenda, i.e. the rogue and terrorist regime in Asmara, Al-Queda elements in Somalia and their surrogates within Ethiopia, who have opted for violence as a means of their ill-designed struggle to create havoc and chaos, up to and including the ultimate dismemberment of the country. In this crusade, the CUD leaders have embarked upon a frenzy calculus by unleashing a two-pronged struggle of hoodwinking U.S lawmakers, by painting grim pictures of the incumbent regime, as an authoritarian, and undemocratic in the eyes of the blindfolded few Diaspora elements and few lawmakers. To this end cunningly pretending oblivious to the fact on the ground, the CUD leaders are preaching their smear campaign and pocketing lavish amount of alms money, and lecturing members of the House of Representatives. There is no disputing the stark and glaring fact that they were granted clemency by the people and government upon their voluntary request and pleadings to see the light of the day and to straddle far and near the world over in the spirit of consensus building and reconciliation. what is saddening and stunning is that the CUD leaders in concert with the blind and hate-saddled extreme Diaspora elements, have won over to their side, to fan up their diatribe, some irresponsible members of the House of Representatives who paradoxically, it appears are out to undermine the hard-won democratic gains in Ethiopia, through the passage of the so-called HR 2003, which was ratified by the House on October 2,2007.
It is no secret that the democratic majority house, has only one agenda to drive through. It is to embarrass the Republican administration in the White House and disarm President Bush, in his uncompromising and steadfast stand to fight global terrorism tooth and nail. A case in point is their incredulous attempt to eject the US out from its anti-terrorist fight, with the hope of building an electoral base in the American constituency for the up-coming 2008 election and bear fruit for the eventual control of the White House.
Ethiopia, as a staunch ally of the US on the fight against international terrorism, has naturally stood as a convenient target to serve as a conduit for the evil design of disarming the White House to be bereft of a strong partner as a result of the, although in consequential, the punitive measure through the implementation of the instruments of the infamous and notorious HR 2003 Bill.
In this awkward position the House of Representatives has de-dignified itself by standing and upholding the stance akin with the CUD, who have partnered themselves with the extreme elements of the defunct Islamic Courts Union, the ONLF through its alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD) grab and the failed state of Eritrea.
The other covert design of some members of the Congress is their ill-conceived plan to portray the ONLF, as a group that has been unfairly treated by the Ethiopian government. In fact, Congressman Payne, presented the ONLF as a group which seeks dialogue and peace by conveniently forgetting, the atrocities and terrorist measures it undertook by its cold-blooded massacre of 77 unarmed and civilian Chinese and Ethiopian workers in an oil prospecting job in the Ogaden, in the not too distant past.
Make no mistake that the ONLF issue is deliberately being ballooned by the axis of evil of CUD, Mr. Donald Payne and the Eritrean regime, because of the China factor, which has been unnerving the US, by challenging its hegemony and monolithic global power, through its principled and critical support to pivotal states like, Ethiopia, Nigeria and the Sudan in their quest for strategic fuel products as one of their modus operandi, in the fore ward march at extricating themselves from the grinding poverty that currently pervades them .
The few US congressmen, and their CUD surrogates along with the hate-fueled few extreme Diaspora elements’ only agenda is to discredit the Ethiopian government, implant a Trojan horse aspiring for power, sabotage the process of democratization, which is in full gear; and institute unsavory condition to derail the now too vouched and hailed economic and social success story that Ethiopia is enjoying, by artificially forcing an enabling environment for their cronies to ascend to power in the wake of the political vacuum and void that they in vain envision and hope to see.
Against the backdrop of this saddening groping by the power thirsty CUD leaders, the unsuspecting few congressmen and the power-mongering extreme Diaspora elements under the tutelage of CUD and its Orchestra, the only choice for the Ethiopian people and government is to unhesitatingly, persistently and indelibly move fore ward with deepening the democratization process through a multi-faceted fashion, by denying the opposition even an iota of loophole where they could inflame public sentiment by creating false hopes and presenting hypocritical promises, by appealing to the emotions, and sensitivities of the voters.
It is noteworthy to punctuate at this juncture, that the last election has taught a bitter lesson to the ruling party, the EPRDF, the opposition and indeed the whole people that nothing can remain, business as usual.
In today’s Ethiopia, there is no turning back, as democratization and good governance are there to stay not as an option but a sine-qua-none; a necessity. Multi-party democracy is the order of the day, and is no one’s good will. The strengthening of an independent Judiciary, a free and responsible press both Audio-visual and print, are not gifts to offer or deny, but necessary bulwarks for an accountability, responsibility, transparency and responsiveness in the building of a democratic system.
The prevalence of due process, the rule of law, respect for individual and group freedom and human rights true to the core principles enshrined in the sacred document, the Ethiopian Constitution, and other relevant international covenants, is not something to withhold or deliver, on the whims and wishes of any body, but is the bounden and inalienable right of the Citizenry.
The fight against disease, mal-nutrition, illiteracy, poverty and wont, is not something to be done on a free-lance basis, but a fundamental pre-requisite to attain the goal of freedom, liberty, equality, harmony, peace and development of the society, and hence is a huge task to undertake none-stop 24/7, day in day out on a sustainable and continuous manner.
The right of the electorate is not a commodity to trade, barter off or negotiate with, but an epicenter and quintessential right to elect its leaders and hold them accountable and answerable to the ultimate power of the people.
Suffice its to state that, no power on earth can stand on the arduous path and task of the determined commitment of the Ethiopian people, to build a prosperous and democratic Nation. Ethiopia should continue to play its central role as a regional power, and as a pioneer in African Affairs and as a respected nation on the international arena.
As to the few and vocal Diaspora elements of Ethiopian origin, it is appropriate to note that we can not decide the fate of the over 80 million Ethiopians, no matter how gross self-illusion has hovered on us, or how ever much we have assigned self- importance, self-indulgence and self aggrandizement to our selves.
Shine or rain, it is the Ethiopian people who determine their future and destiny. If we fathom our march with the historic transformation that is underway in Ethiopia, we shall all benefit, but if we chose to act as a barrier on this long and chequered journey, we shall certainly not even put a drop of mark in this fast paced and decisively resilient move fore ward.
Back to the HR 2003 piece of legislation. I sincerely believe that sanity will prevail in the Senate, with an inquisitive quest for the truth that would listen to the voice of the Ethiopian people who are on the march for democracy, and socio-economic development, not only to once and for all change the bleak facade of an impoverished nation with a famished people, but also to enlist our nation of an ancient and proud history and put it in the ranks of respected middle income-countries in the not-too-distant future.
To sum up, I am hoping that if the Bill visits the president’s table, the Republican President, Mr. Bush, shall use his Executive Prerogative and Veto it, allowing the present environment of Jovial Ethio-American partnership to further blossom and count on our nation as an unflinching ally on the war against global terrorism. The bottom line is, Ethiopia is a sovereign nation whose suzerainty cannot be tempered with. It has stood the test of time for millennia on end, proudly defying and strongly defending and jealously protecting its cherished independence and freedom from outside interference, intervention or encroachment. Hence it shall never allow and succumb to the dictates of any foreign power of any hue and color. History has attested to this unwavering stand of Ethiopia loud and clear. Ethiopia’s sovereign existence come hail from the skies or storm from the high seas, has been amply corroborated by practice.