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Hold your horses UDJ*

By Dilwenberu Nega
Sept. 23 2011

In truth last week’s UDJ press conference only goes to highlight the extent to which the ‘coalition of the bickering’ has fallen prey to political paralysis of its own making. In an unjustified and unjustifiable act, UDJ moved swiftly not to distance itself from the alleged charges of attempted terrorism levied against its agile-tongued spin-doctor, Andualem Arage - which would have been the right thing to do under the circumstances – but to fire its salvo of nonsense and absurdity at EPDRF accusing it of trying to surgically remove one of UDJ’s promising leaders.

Andualem Arage is not a member of parliament and, therefore, the Anti-Terrorist Task Force (ATTF) does not need Parliament to sanction the waiving off his immunity as an elected Member of Parliament. ATTF, therefore, is within the law when it arrested Andualem only after it secured an arrest warrant from the court. UDJ’s best bet would have, therefore, been to hold their horses at least until Andale had his day in court. Ventilating anger in public while the case has not even started to be heard in a court of law is tantamount to subtly mug the due process of law. This sort of wayward behaviour is bad for democracy and justice - the very crowing points of hastily cobbled together UDJ.

Sustenance of a viable democracy does not only depend on bolstering democratic institutions, but by far of immense importance is the willingness of contending parties to subscribe to peaceful struggle in their quest to seize state power. Peaceful can only be peaceful. UDJ cannot remain in Ethiopian politics carrying an olive branch with one hand a Kalashnikov with the other hand. A cursory look at UDJ’s short history, however, shows that either the very notion of a peaceful struggle is treated as a taboo, or it has intentionally been morphed into a euphemism for a binge of street uprising.

UDJ and EPDRF have been at loggerheads over this need to toe the line of peaceful struggle and respect to the rule of law without ifs or buts. Indeed, many are those who attribute UDJ’s inability to come to terms with the mortifying defeat it suffered at the 2010 National Elections for UDJ’s ambivalence towards peaceful struggle. When will this cat and mouse game end? The answer at the moment is how long a string is. The ruling EPDRF argues that it has to demonstrate to the public that it is living up to its obligation of not only respecting the Constitution of FDRE but of safeguarding the Constitution from those bent on circumventing democracy. UDJ’s stand on the issue is one of non-committal. While it publically subscribes to the notion of peaceful struggle, in practice, its big-wigs are seen rubbing shoulders with the likes of Geem-boat 7’s Dr. Birr-hanu Nega who made no secret of his intent to scupper the Constitution of FDRE and to overthrow the democratically elected EPDRF government by fair and foul means. I can’t help but be reminded here by the age old saying: “Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are.”

*don’t rush hastily into a decision or action.

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