Medrek the Derek: the killjoy of election 2010?

By Dilwenberu Nega
Sept. 29 2009

It never rains in Medrek, but it pours. Some while ago Medrek – an amalgam of disparate Ethiopian opposition parities cobbled together to hopefully unseat the ruling EPDRF at the upcoming National Elections in 2010 – told U.S. diplomats in Addis Ababa that it would not meet a visiting high-level US delegation if Lidetu Ayalew from the Ethiopian Democratic Party was going to be present. Again, most recently we saw Medrek walk out from the all party forum which discussed Code of Conduct for the forth-coming election. Yet again, no sooner had Medrek took what seemed like a u-turn and joined the all party talk on Code of Conduct than it walked out again. The outcome proved disastrous as Medrek’s stand-alone position in a pluralistic democratic milieu – where inclusiveness and tolerance are very much the default position – made Medrek the laughing stock of political analysts from all political hues.

In its latest Press Release, Medrek made a futile attempt at correcting its wrongs by placing blame on EPDRF. Among the charges levelled by Medrek against the EPDRF are that it (EPDRF) had turned a blind eye and deaf ear to Medrek’s request for a tète a tète with EPDRF to discuss matters pertaining to “the narrow political space, the making of National Elections 2010 free, fair and credible.” This posture by Medrek is nothing but a sinister ploy at pre-electoral sabotage, and EPDRF’s best bet under the circumstances would be to allow Medrek to be the fatal victim of its machinations.

Medrek’s top brass – with the exception of perhaps its ‘recycled-but-still-phoney-democrats’ – know very well that the issues which they have raised fall outside the purview of EPDRF. EPDRF, like Medrek and the myriad of parties which have mushroomed in Ethiopia in recent years, is a political party with an agenda of its own which will constitute its manifesto for the next election. The only difference between EPDRF and the rest is, of course, the fact that EPDRF was voted in at the last National Elections. And while in power, EPDRF ensured that multi-party consultations on core electoral issues were conducted during the last Parliament’s life span. In fact, some of Medrek’s luminaries were the very ones who had participated most proactively. For Medrek to raise such issues on the eve of an election campaign could, therefore, be a reflection of either its internal sclerosis or a display of an unsavoury brinkmanship.

EPDRF must not be seen wasting time by trying to lullaby yo-yoing Medrek.

Fortunately Ethiopia has in place a regularly SWOT analysed institution through which concerns such as those raised by Medrek are properly addressed. It is not called EPDRF, but NEBE – National Electoral Board of Ethiopia. If Medrek believes it has a leg to stand on in the court of NEBE – and not in the court of public opinion - its best bet would then be to leg it to NEBE. As it stands, however, the vox populi (voice of the people) to Medrek is loud and clear: “Put up or shut up!”