Medrek must mind its Ps and Qs

By Dilwenberu Nega
Oct. 17 2010

Medrek party leadersIn a desperate attempt to resuscitate from its near-comatose existence following the voters’ rejections of its antediluvian plans at the last elections, Medrek gathered enough strength last Friday to fire its fusillade of criticisms on Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s GT Government (Growth and Transformation). At a carefully choreographed press conference in Addis Ababa, it accused the EPDRF government of paying only lip-service to pluralism, and of conducting and harassing opposition parties.

Are these allegations real? Or is Medrek treating the public to a second helping of its infamous omelette of exaggerations, half-truths, fabrications and naked lies? Or is it, as even Medrek’s own amen-corner both in and out of Ethiopia readily admit, it is a knee-jerk reaction to the EPDRF government’s refusal to send out an invite for Medrek to join the Government’s current round of consultation with opposition parties on the National Growth and Transformation Plan (NGTP).

For an opposition, then, to continue playing the role of a consummate liar after voters had given it the thumbs-down is a clear sign yet that it is on track to the grave yard sooner than widely expected.

Those who had expected to witness, at the very least, a change of heart from Medrek’s four months of intensive introspection, are in for a rude awakening. Make no mistake for there is nothing new in Medrek-ville. This time round, however, Medrek had pinned its hope on the public buying its new ‘cosmetics’ as its way forward to power in 2015. It’s sad to note, however, Medrek has no clue that the public today is no mood for, nor does it have the time to do the eskista to it’s cacophony of unmitigated nonsense. Indeed, as one “Findata” journalist remarked soon after the Press Conference: “it’s the same corn that has now turned into a popcorn.”

It’s not rocket science, then, to discover that at the last elections voters had given their thumbs-down to Medrek’s election manifesto primarily because they were cocksure that far from ring fencing the unity of Ethiopia like EPDRF’s current federal structure, Medrek’s plan was in pole position of turning the country into a bonfire waiting to happen. This view of the public now remains unchanged, and it is unlikely to change at 2015.

It is against such an unsavoury backdrop, then, that Medrek had the temerity of challenging EPDRF government’s current consultation of the National Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) with only those opposition parties which had signed the Code of Agreement. As Medrek had withdrawn from the All Party Talks on its own volition at its early stages, and, therefore, is not a signatory, it has forfeited its right to be included at the ongoing consultation. It would, therefore, be an exercise in futility to try to place blame for Medrek’s own fault on the ruling party. In point of fact EPDRF must, instead, be given credit for engaging opposition parties, who no longer enjoy the confidence of the majority of voters, in a consultation process. Where in the world do you witness consultations taking between a ruling party and an opposition party with no seat in parliament? If this is not inclusivity, and if this is not a form of participatory democracy I, then, want to know what is.

Even if it is common knowledge that the public has no appetite for the prevalence of confrontational politics at a time when all eyes and ears are on GTP, it nonetheless is imperative for EPDRF to ensure that Medrek does not gatecrash its way to the ongoing consultative talks. What we are made to witness today is nothing more than Medrek reaping what it had sowed some six months ago. We all acknowledge that Ethiopia is a fledgling democracy, but that’s no excuse for the likes of Medrek to take the Mickey out of a responsible government. Arat Kilo has to send out its response to Medrek’s request laud and clear: “When Medrek catches flu, EPDRF does not get pneumonia.”

Today the vogue in Ethiopian politics is for forging national consensus without chipping away at the constitutional process. Look at ‘the wind of change’ already blowing: rapprochements amongst law-abiding parties, release of Bartizan Medikssa and the Peace Accord with the OLF. EPDRF would, therefore, be remiss of its leadership custodian duties if it were to allow Medrek – a party overwhelmingly rejected at the last election – to dictate the course of political events in Ethiopia. Surely the essence of a viable opposition ought not to be to oppose for the sake of opposition, nor must it be to throw down the gauntlet whimsically at a ruling party. That’s why it behoves it right for Medrek to quickly get its acts together, for failure to mind its Ps and Qs (its behaviour and language) is bound to have an adverse impact on public opinion which still regards Medrek as least qualified to address the demands of a patch-work country called Ethiopia.