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Twenty years and counting

By Berhane Kahsay
May 29 2011

Over a million people turned out to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Derg in Addis, Mesekel Square, in the presence of PM Meles Zenawi. Similar numbers took to the streets of Makalle, Gondar, Adama and Awasa to name but a few. The noxious Diaspora must have been boiling with rage to witness such a colourful and marvellous spectacle in the metropolis and the four corners of the country.

The very few extremist Diaspora worked tirelessly for an uprising of the sort we saw in North Africa and the Middle East on May 28, but it failed miserably. Why? You donít have to be an Astro-physicist to work this one out. The Ethiopian people are very happy with the government they have just elected twelve months ago. According to the constitution, general elections take place every five years, and if the electorate arenít happy with the party in power, they vote it out of office. In todayís Ethiopia, it is the only way you can remove or install a party into power and nothing else. Attempting to acquire it by any other means is simply unconstitutional and punishable by law. It is this simple and unavoidable fact that the vociferous minority in the Diaspora is failing to grasp.

If they reckon they are better than the current party in power, why canít they present their political programmes to the electorates and see how far it will get them? Various political parties are functioning in Ethiopia without any fear or restrictions. There are numerous private newspapers and are able to criticise the EPRDF without any trepidations. No need for the Diaspora to bark in the wilderness.

One has only to scheme through the websites of the extremists to see why they have insignificant following in Ethiopia and abroad. They are completely out of tune, and no inclination to make constructive contributions that would extricate millions of Ethiopia from the quagmire of poverty. All they do is cheat to their teeth and spread malicious lies. Power is the only thing they are interested in, and are prepared to take any measures to make this happen.

Ginbot 7 (G-7) an off-shoot of the now defunct Kinijit is leading the pack of hounds. Dr Berhanu Nega, leader of G-7 is a frequent visitor to Asmara to see the arch enemy of Ethiopia Isayas Afewerki. The President of Eritrea is doing his utmost to create chaos and bloodshed in Ethiopia that is explicitly intended to dismember the country. Why would the leader of a party that is positioning itself to take power in Ethiopia work with the enemy of his country? Clearly Dr Brerhanuís desperate lust for power is driving him into the wrong hands.

Day by day, he is losing the scant support he has back home and in the Diaspora, and this is making him extremely erratic and vulnerable. Lately, G-7 convened a meeting in Atlanta with Eritreaís surrogate organisations OLF and ONLF. We know that the vast majority of ONLF members have renounced violence and are happily engaged in the development of Somalia. What we are not sure about is which strand of the OLF was present in the meeting? Was it the one led by Doud Ibsa or General Kemal Geletu? Incidentally the latter betrayed his country and handed himself in to Isayas.

In any case, why is G-7 who claims to be a non-ethnic national organisation courting OLF and the remnants of the ONLF that are hell bent on fracturing the country? What is it that these disparate groups have in common? Politically they are utterly dissimilar, but their hate for the EPRDF and loyalty to Isayas is the common denominator. The crux of the matter is that, G-7 is so desperate for power it would consider any means possible to make this a reality. The ONLF is almost extinct so it is no use for Dr Berhanu. Thanks to Doud Ibsa, the OLF has discredited itself and lost support for being a messenger of Shabyia. Furthermore, Oromia elects its own administrators and has become the hub of foreign and local investors. As a consequence, millions of jobs have been created, and the regionís economy is going from strength to strength. The fact that Oromia is peaceful and stable will keep on attracting potential investors to the region. If the Oromo people are not happy with the current federal system, they have the right to break away under Article 39 of the constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. No need for the Oromoís to raise arms. It is patently clear that the OLF has become surplus to requirement. No wonder the once formidable organisation has been unceremoniously discarded by its own the people. What is left of the OLF, if any, is at the mercy of the tyrant Eritrean leader.

So the OLF isnít any use for Dr Berhanu either. The good Doctor is running out of options fast. Not much support left in Ethiopia and the Diaspora ; Ethiopiaís economy is registering double digit growth year in year out, and the Growth and transformation Plan(GTP) will ensure that this continues unabated. Democracy and the rule of law are firmly rooted and moving to higher grounds. The current government is enjoying support from a cross section of the population as witnessed on the 20th anniversary celebration of the EPRDFís accession to power. The sum total has made G-7 a ghost of its former self. No longer a force to be reckoned with, and has no legs to stand on as it has successfully managed to amputate them. Dr Berhanu is in a tight corner and isolated. His television station is near collapse for lack of funds and he is running around frantically to save it. It is just a matter of time before it is shut for good. Anyway, what is the need ESAT when there is ETV?

Things are not looking promising for Dr Berhanu. He ought to alter his archaic political ethos and renounce violence. Have confidence in his political programmes and compete as a legal party in Ethiopia. If further advice on basic politics is required, he should speak to his former colleague Ato Lidetu Ayalew. He will have a lot to say on the matter. Makes you wonder which one of them is the Doctor.

Of course there is another option for Dr Berhanu. To retire to a corner to leak his wounds, and then place himself down somewhere peaceful to decompose. Before you do those, Please donít forget to claim your pension for the services you loyally rendered to Eritrea.

In the mean while, we call upon the followers of Dr Berhanu in the Diaspora, however small they may be, to join the rest of Ethiopians in the fight against poverty. Also you have to do your utmost to play a part in the successful completion of the GTP, and The Grand Renaissance Dam. History is in the making and be one of the makers.

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