From Kinijit 97 to Guenbot-7: The same old wine in a new bottle
By Ambassador Tesfaye Habisso
Ethiopian News, Tigrai Online, December 28, 2015
Ginbot-7 is willing to work with anyone including ISIS to forcefully remove the Ethiopian government.
"Those who do not learn lessons from history are doomed to repeat them." (Winston Churchill)
When Muluneh Eyoel, Secretary of Guenbot 7, in a show of bravado publicly declares recently to the group's supporters meeting in Washington DC, I suppose, which was broadcast via the ESAT, an unequivocal position of Guenbot 7 to ally with any power on earth, state or non-state actors (perhaps even with Al-Shabab, ISIL, Daesh, Al-Qeda,Taliban, etc. if possible) to forcefully remove the incumbent party and government, it is natural for all patriotic Ethiopians and all voices of reason to raise their eyebrows and ask themselves "Wait a minute, what the hell is this demagogue blurting out to the audience, Ethiopians and the international community"? Especially at a time when the nation is facing the scourge of famine induced by the El-Nino climatic phenomenon and most likely to affect 10-15 million citizens now and over the coming few years!. Do the Guenbot 7 group already labeled "terrorists” by the Ethiopian national legislature seek to ignite a civil war in Ethiopia under the guise of removing the incumbent party and government and introducing a democratic regime in the country? Do these individuals think the Ethiopian people and government would allow them to destabilize our country and undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state, and our safety and security? Further, do they seriously believe they can ever copy and paste democracy from the USA or Europe in our country? Could they possibly import democratic values from the West now or in the future? Not at all. Yes, democracy constitutes universal human values that can be learned and put to practice over a long period of time by any non-democratic society. Thus, if democracy ever takes root in Ethiopia, it will only grow from within and grow in a climate of stable peace and prosperity; it cannot be imported from abroad.
At this juncture it must be made clear to everyone, friends and foes alike, that whatever grievances many of us may have against the incumbent party and regime, we Ethiopians won't allow any force to tamper with our peaceful situation prevailing throughout the country since the last two decades. We fully understand that the main prerequisite and condition for the fulfillment of Ethiopia's many different potentials is indeed peace and stability. As democracy supports peaceful relations between our multiethnic, multicultural, multilingual and multireligious society, economic prosperity and fuller development of people, peace and stability make possible the development of stable political institutions, more productive economic activity and a more civilized and enlightened social life. Without establishing a stable climate of peace, human rights cannot be safeguarded, democratic institutions cannot function effectively, prosperity cannot flourish, and human beings cannot discover their higher capacities for external achievement and fulfillment. Peace is imperative for a thriving development and democracy and for our very survival. We will safeguard our peace at all costs.
Do not misunderstand me, I do not condone the trampling of human rights, basic freedoms and democratic rights by the incumbent regime and its agents over the past several years. I do not condone the prevalence of massive corruption, rent-seeking, nepotism and numerous other malpractices wreaking the state system in Ethiopia. I do not condone the absence of the rule of law and democratic/good governance as well as the unabated extra-judicial killings of unarmed citizens by the security and the police forces since the transition period (1991-1995) until now. All these vices have to be condemned with the harshest words possible and exposed by all citizens of the country. Undoubtedly, when our constitution is betrayed and the prerogatives of the people are deprived or curtailed, we have every right to resist oppression and injustice utilizing all methods of peaceful struggle such as civil disobedience, strikes, boycotts, sabotages, etc. As far as I understand, the current Ethiopian regime does not resemble the Nazi regime in Germany during WWII or the Apartheid regime in South Africa prior to the 1994 multiracial elections which offered no other options except armed struggle and any other means possible to oust them; hence, no need to resort to the present Guenbot7 position in Ethiopia at all.
Be this as it may, it is the aforementioned and shocking public call of the Guenbot 7 Secretary and their subsequent warmongering and provocative calls for violent uprisings in our country that provoked me to put pen to paper and take a stand against these hostile developments around our borders with Eritrea. At the outset, let me reminisce the trails of these self- declared politicians from the days of Kinijit 97 in 2005 to Guenbot 7 today and re-examine whether or not this self-declared political party has any future in the politics of our country. Let us examine its hitherto political record since its genesis as Kinijit 97 in the year 2005 here below.
Just prior to the holding of the 3rd national and regional elections in May, 2005, a hodgepodge groups of hastily formed political entities, namely Rainbow Coalition, Ethiopian Democratic League, Ethiopian Democratic Party and All Amhara Organization (later dubbed All Ethiopians' Unity Party or AEUP), joined together in a loosely minted coalition called the Coalition for Unity and Democracy(CUD) with the aim of challenging the all dominant ruling party, the EPRDF. Thanks to the surprisingly (when compared to the earlier relatively closed political space and media outlets), open state media (radio, television, print, etc.), the CUD was able to propagate its political manifesto.. idealogy, strategies and programs of the coalition.. to the general population and in particular to its members as well as supporters without any impediments at all as the ruling party had promised to the people, the opposition bloc and its development partners to conduct a "flawless election" for the first time, which it supervised very closely till the end without any hitch or obstacle at all.
The outcome of the CUD's relentless campaign efforts was unambiguously revealed on the polling day on May 15,2005 when it was able to snatch 170 parliamentary seats and all of the Addis Abeba City Council's seats save for just one seat won by the ruling party's candidate. Such marvelous result, however, was pitiably trampled upon by the CUD leadership itself as they foolishly chose not only to challenge the election results and their hardly won political gains for the first time since the promulgation of the FDRE Constitution in 1995. The situation was exacerbated by the government's unexpected banning of all public meetings for one month and declaring a state of emergency in Addis Abeba and its environs. The opposition bloc especially the CUD was caught offguard and turned clueless as to the way forward under those dire situations. Their leaders soon began to bicker amongst themselves whether they should join or boycott the government, short of a landslide election victory that they rightfully or wrongfully claimed to have won. They failed to provide farsighted and wise political leadership at the most crucial time of their existence and decided not to join the government against the advice of many supporters especially the international community. They soon became strange bedfellows and self-destructed their newly founded coalition as well as their own independent political parties that made up the CUD. Worst of all, they suddenly decided to instigate widespread public protests, demonstrations, strikes and sabotages in order to oust the ruling party and government via a colour-coded revolution and people power protests akin to those that occurred in the former USSR republics, Georgia(2003) and Ukraine(2004). These violent and futile attempts of removing the ruling party and government resulted in massive damages of movable and immovable property and in the death of 200 people that included 7 law enforcement officers as well as in the detention of over 40,000 innocent individuals across the country. This is not all.
Worse still, the leaders of the CUD were rounded up and charged with treasonous offences and eventually sentenced to life in prison by the court of law. Fortunately, the sentences of the CUD leaders were cut short thanks to the visionary intervention of Ethiopian traditional elders and religious leaders who were successful enough to solicit the culprits' release after just two years in prison through the process of apologies of the convicts and presidential pardons compassionately granted by the country's president in accordance with the FDRE's 1994 constitution. The written apologies of the convicts contained promises of the latter never to stand against the constitution and the laws of the country again, promises that were recklessly broken by some of them soon after their release from prison and fleeing to US America with their tails between their legs. These events led the ruling party and government to narrow the political space for all the opposition parties circulating in the nation's political marketplace, thus hampering the smooth and peaceful functioning of a multiparty political system as enshrined in the 1994 FDRE Constitution.
As gratitude fades faster than beauty, as the saying goes, the beautifully concluded apology-pardon relationship was cruelly broken and enmity sown by some of the very ungrateful CUD leaders who after fleeing to the United States of America in the wake of their release from prison created the Guenbot 7 under the leadership of Professor Birhanu Nega to remove by any means possible the very party and government which extended them mercy and a new lease of life on earth in 2006. They were not satisfied with their freedom from being caged in prison cells for life as they were obsessed with their unbridled lust for political power, sharing a typical characteristic of all past and present Abyssinian rulers. Political power by any means was their alpha and omega; an end by itself and not a means to an end, i.e. the better future of the country and its people.
Strangely, the Guenbot 7 leaders, the former Kinijit 97 "commanders", have been given a safe haven and operations base in the deserts of Eritrea by Issaias Afewerki, the ruthless and unchallengeable life-president of the State of Eritrea who along with the Sheikhs of Qatar and the GCC are the patrons of Al-Shabab and the other Islamic extremists of the Muslim world bent on destabilizing the Horn of Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular. This group, Guenbot 7, has struck political alliances not only with the most dictatorial and tyrannical Eritrean EPLF leadership and its patrons in the Arab world but also with other anti-EPRDF armed guerrilla elements based in Eritrea such as EPPF, TPDM, OLF, ARDUF, etc. This time around they have been spreading their venomous propaganda mainly through ESAT and other hostile media outlets bent on destabilizing Ethiopia and sowing hatred and divisions amongst the various ethnic and religious groups of the country. The main target for them is the TPLF, the vital link between members of the EPRDF Coalition, a coalition of four ethnic-based member parties and five other allied regional ethnic-based parties in the peripheral regions of the country.
As any critical reader in the study of politics can easily understand, once the supposedly strongest partner or vital link and umpire of a political coalition, in our case the TPLF, is systematically attacked and weakened the rest of the partners will simply fizzle out one by one, turn by turn and die their natural death, the vacuum, it is reasoned, to be automatically filled by the most powerful amongst the opposition bloc, in this case Guenbot 7. This is a sinister but naive tactic/strategy of Birhanu Nega crafted for his followers and innocent fellow travellers. That is why the Guenbot 7 and their collaborators at home and abroad whip up demonic hatred against the TPLF day in, day out utilizing the services of the ESAT media and its malicious agent provocateurs and vicious propagandists.
"Bere hoy sarrun ayeh enji, gedelun alayeh", goes the old Amharic adage (literally meaning, "Oh bull, you have seen only the grass but not the dangerous deep pit or groundwell closeby hidden by the tall grass"). For those of us who are well aware of the political waves and uprisings, doom and destruction, anarchy and state collapse, inter-ethnic strife and civil war that had engulfed Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and the wider Middle East and the aftermath of these political tsunamis in those countries since 2011, it would be very foolish and stupid of us Ethiopians to ally with or sponsor and support Guenbot 7, EPPF, TPDM and all those who are, wittingly or unwittingly, bent on destroying our country and society under the guise of bringing democracy and prosperity for Ethiopa through armed struggle, war and violent regime change. No one group can ever bring such gifts for Ethiopia through violence and war." The TPLF/EPRDF has not succeeded in implanting liberal democracy over the last 25 years of its reign in Ethiopia and not likely to do that in the near future. What magic wand do the Guenbot 7 leaders claim to possess in order to bring about better quality democracy, freedom and prosperity than the incumbent party and government? Their empty promises cannot impress any critical minds at all. As empirical evidence over the past several years amply proves, all those who snatch state power through violence and war, will rule by violence and can only be removed through violence", a scary vicious circle to contemplate or imagine. Yes, unless those power holding elites, including the current rulers of Ethiopia, are farsighted enough to sincerely start a democratization process and gradually implant democracy worthy of the name for their own sake and for the sake of future generations, the future is quite worrisome and frightening, to say the least . If these political elites fail us in adopting and implementing democratic values and ways of life, the best option would be removing them through civil resistance and other effective and peaceful means of struggle, not via violence and war. It may be easy to remove by violent means all bloody dictators and tyrants or single party dictatorships but not as easy to rebuild an effective multiethnic, multi religious and multicultural state such as Ethiopia and achieve unity and democracy again out of chaos created due to violence and war by the protagonists to remove those dictatorships. World history is the judge in this regard.
Even though the legitimacy, credibility, responsiveness, accountability, transparency, constitutionalism, effectiveness, and integrity of the incumbent party and government leaves a lot to be desired, it is my considered opinion, though not research based, that any violent regime change could only produce a situation that would tantamount to throwing us from a burning fire to a frying pan, victims of "the law of unintended consequences", and thus to be avoided at all costs. The recent peasant protests that erupted in some areas of the Oromiya region of Ethiopia on the pretext of the Addis Abeba city master plan and the massive damages in life and property that resulted in the aftermath are a cruel reminder for all of us what nationwide violent protests and insurrections would bring about in the form of death, lawlessness, social anarchy and damages in life and property across the country, a rude awakening for all law enforcement agencies and peace loving people in the country.
Lastly, saying it without fear or favor, those who failed us, to be specific CUD in 2005, cannot bring for us democracy and prosperity this time around, under whatever name they might come and fret to fool us, Guenbot 7 or any other. Just to amuse Birhanu Nega and his comrades in the deserts of Eritrea, may I use the two words, though quite offensive (sorry for saying them) but very dear to "Commander-in-Chief" Birhanu Nega in his daily life while in Ethiopia in the past: FUCK YOU! Sir, for heavens sake, get back to your safe haven in the USA before the unexpected happens and save your skin for the sake of your family, relatives and friends at home and abroad. All your present efforts are futile and destined to utter failure.
By way of concluding my brief remarks, in spite of my long held love-hate relationship with the ruling party and government based on its virtues as well as vices, I do not subscribe to the crude and dangerous idea of regime change through violence and war.
Being a pacifist and aware of the inevitable dangers in violent regime changes which we have witnessed over the past few years throughout the modern world, I always stand for peaceful and evolutionary regime change through constitutional procedures and periodic elections if possible and if these are not practical and practicable, then, through civil resistance and other modes of peaceful struggle. If democracy is to come at all, let it come preferably through such peaceful route. Calling for violent and warlike methods of ousting the current rulers is offering a chalice of poison; be careful what you wish for in Ethiopia today. For God and Our Country!
Check our the next article Dismal failure of exponents of ‘violent revolution’