UDJ: strong in altercation, weak in inspiration

Dilwenberu Nega
April 30 2010

The gathering storm within UDJ is set to go from bad to worse threatening its very participation at national elections in 23 days time. Nothing short of immediate divine intervention would then be able to salvage UDJ’s relegation into the league of Ethiopia’s comatose political parties. Months long stand-off between UDJ’s Deputy-Chairman-before -Monday 26th April, Eng Gizatchew Shifferaw, and UDJ’s Deputy-Chairman-after-Monday 26th April, Prof Mesfin W.Mariam, came to a head when an Extra-Ordinary Meeting of the Founding Members of UDJ replaced the Engineer’s Group by the Professor’s Group. A splinter group which became known as “We shall not be gagged” (Zimanelem) managed to pull the carpet from the Engineer’s Group while UPJ’s troika (Gizatchew, Negasso, Siye) was basking in the limelight at Medrek’s barnstorming in American cities.

The “We shall not be gagged” had remained at loggerheads with the Engineer’s Group on a range of issues for months before this week’s altercation within the precinct of UDJ’s HQ. The burning issue for the parting of the waves was, of course, the demand by “We shall not be gagged” for UDJ’s Executive Committee to observe a moratorium on contesting at elections while UDJ’s Chairwoman, Birtukan Midekssa, was still held in prison. The decision by the Engineer’s Group to bring in controversial figures like Negasso Gidada and Siye Abreha, too, had also aroused great emotions and anger both within and beyond the splinter group.

The Extra-ordinary Meeting of UDJ’s Founding Members held some two-weeks ago at the Assembly Hall of one of the nation’s oldest secondary schools, Kokebe Tsebeha; armed Prof Mesfin W. Mariam to the tooth with tailor-made legal arsenal to mount a frontal attack on Eng Gizatchew’s Group. Not seldom, but never, in the interminable political career of Mesfin W.Mariam has a plan been executed as effectively as this one. The implementation of the decisions of UDJ’s Extra-ordinary Meeting is bound to set perspiration – not inspiration – in Gizatchew’s Group before a cardiac arrest paralyses UDJ from head-to-toe. For such incredible episode to unravel itself on the morrow of Siye’s damning gaffe (“If I am not elected, then it means that the elections have been rigged”) and on the cusp of polling day, not only beggars belief, but goes a long way to prove that UDJ does not have what it takes to look after itself let alone lead a complex nation like Ethiopia.

Today Gizatchew Shifferaw is checkmated by his political nemesis that had put barricades on his desire to catapult his trophies – Negasso and Siye – to the helm of governance. His largely turbulent political career, too, might come to an abrupt end. All this is, of course, music to the ears of EPDRF as it continues to be vindicated:” the hastily-cobbled together coalition is a potpourri of opposition groups unable to sing from the same hymn-sheet let alone form a government to lead Ethiopia to greener pastures.” The campaign-trail has unmasked the true identity of UDJ – Ethiopia’s brawling party. Who, then, wants to place the safety of Ethiopians and the defence of the realm in the hands of brawlers?