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Friday, August 29, 2008

Chronic Authenticity and Integrity Deficits in "Ethiopian" Political Oroganizations

In this article, I will accomplish one simple task of showing how political organizations which prefix the words "Ethiopia´´ and "Unity" to their names engage in conspiracy and counter- conspiracy campaigns against others who do not have those prefixes. This is the anti-thesis of their ostensible goals of bringing about unity, democracy and justice in Ethiopia. It is worthwhile to do so because these political organizations are spreading confusion and misinformation to the international community as well as to the nations and nationalities they claim to represent. These confusions and the divisions within Ethiopian political organizations have made it difficult to create a viable and genuine alliance between organizations representing different groups. It has also made it difficult for donors, the international community and continental supporters to rally behind these organizations.

Who are the organizations and how do they suffer from authenticity deficits? Political organizations suffering from chronic authenticity and integrity deficits include the ruling Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Front (EPRDF), the defunct Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), the newly formed Andnet Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJP). These organizations deliberately bear the prefixes "Ethiopia" and "Unity", with the intention of creating a misleading impression of how widely they embrace all the nations and nationalities in Ethiopia. Practically, they do not do that. They are divisive and they stand for partisan interests of Tigrayan and Amhara nationalists. For any insider, including the founders and members, it is obvious that these political organizations stand not for all the people in Ethiopia, but for the Abyssinian tribes.

EPRDF conspiracies against oppositionsAt the nucleus of the EPRDF is the TPLF, which controls all branches of government in favor of Tigrayan nationals through its rubber-stamp parliament. The ruling party has conspired against major oppositions and has been able to infiltrate and destroy them. The CUD was destroyed in this way, for example. CUD was a strong Amhara political organization. It portrayed itself as ´the party of all Ethiopian peoples´ in the eyes of the international community before it was infiltrated and damaged. The ruling party forced major oppositions from Afar, Oromia, Somalia, Southern Nations and Nationalities Gambella, Benishangul Gumuz, demanding for freedom and autonomy into exile or into armed liberation fronts. Examples of those forced into armed rebellion include the OLF, ONLF and many others.It is a wide- spread phenomenon that the regime calls peaceful and non-peaceful dissident organizations "anti-people forces, anti –development forces, anti –peace forces and even sometimes ´terrorists´ and narrow nationalists". These defamatory names for organizations genuinely naming themselves after the national groups they represent became justifications for arbitrary violence against the majority of the country´s population (80%), inhabiting seven regional states.

The awareness on the part of the international community seems to be increasing in identifying the EPRDF as political party that represents one group, instead of the whole Ethiopia. However, EPRDF imposts that it standing for Ethiopia´s national interest. Opposition conspiracies against other oppositions When coming to the Amhara-controlled opposition parties such as CUD, UDJP, Ginbot 7 (Gurage-controlled) and so on I cannot deny that they are opposition parties. And there is nothing wrong for Amharas or Guraghes or any nationals to establish and own political parties in their national´s name, but the problem with these parties is they have "unity" and "Ethiopia" prefixes before their names to create an a dangerously misleading impression that they stand for everybody else in Ethiopia. Their compositions do not reflect nationality representations of peoples from the 8 other regional states in Ethiopia. They are really Amhara or Gurage groups and their leaders must learn to face this reality and act accordingly.

The idea of having article 39 in the Federal Ethiopian constitution is totally unacceptable to these parties, who operate under the camouflages of "unity" and "Ethiopia". If they have chances, they will burn down the constitution and redraw the maps of the federal states in Ethiopia. These parties have dangerous ideas of homogenizing the diverse nations and nationals in Ethiopia. Ethnic Amhara´s controlled real political power until 1991, but from 1991 they have been relegated to a position of influential hegemonic power. They still wield influential hegemonic powers in public and private institutions in Ethiopia under the Tigrayan government. But they want to restore themselves to the position of influence they once held for too long if possible by conspiracies, mischiefs and pretention that they represent the whole Ethiopia. This is, of course, a big fantasy given the current high level of political enlightenment in the repressed regional states in Ethiopia. Even the EPRDF knows this and will not let them move a step to real power. We have seen that in the March 2005 General Elections in which Amharas through CUD very strongly challenged Tigre literally. They need to wake up from the dishonesty and illusion they live in and join other forces by genuinely speaking what and who they stand for- the Amhara or Guraghe interest.

There is a huge rivalry and mistrust between opposition parties in Ethiopia. Even if they succeed to destroy the ruling party, afterwards they will be forced to fight each other in the streets before some powerful group takes power by force. This is a totally undemocratic scenario we are used to in many Ethiopian revolutions. This is because of the deep mistrust among political parties, arising from the lack of genuine purposes for democracy and freedom that take into account the diversity and the need to come together by maintaining their differences and particularity. Often, opposition parties are happier about the other party´s destruction, infiltration by government or split in the ranks of oppositions. For instance, many political parties rejoiced when the CUD was infiltrated and destroyed after the 2005 elections, and this year there has been a split in the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and the other side is happy about it. And this cycles of hatred between oppositions seem to always repeat themselves. More often than not, Ethiopian oppositions are observed to challenge one another instead of challenging the government. Well, the OLF has also a number of problems that it needs to hammer out in its leadership to continue leading the Oromo people. Introspectively, many authors have written about the problems within the OLF and I will not repeat it here. The political cultures within and between political parties need to improve greatly if genuine freedom and democracy have to happen. Ethiopian political organizations hate each other bitterly and they do not even want to come to a table to discuss in order to reach national consensus at this point when the whole country is at multiple cross-roads. They do not invite one another to a common conference.

They write about one another on websites negatively, and they use other media to campaign against each other. Especially, those hiding under the old "Ethiopianist´ ideology of socially, religiously, linguistically and geographically homogenizing the country campaign against the struggles of Ogadenia, Oromia, Afar, SNNP, Benishangul Gumuz etc just because they identified themselves truly after the their states and nationals/tribes.Amhara political organizations with the prefixes "Ethiopia and Unity" hate to see article 39 of the Ethiopian constitution. Article 39 provides for self-determination of nations and nationalities up to secession. Their motives are to dissolve the regional states and to see Ethiopia in a form of an empire that forces people into homogenization. Tigrayan political parties like the EPRDF and the TPLF are not opposed to article 39 but they do not want its implementation but they use it to amplify divisions and to control the country by force. ERDF/TPLF does not also like the motives of Amhara political organizations because Tigrayans were also oppressed by previous regimes dominated by the Amhara elites. After coming to power in 1991, the Tigrayans forgot that they suffered injustices and oppression and started to oppress other people. The cycle goes on until there is an arrangement to ensure everyone is represented. Consequences of conspiracy and dishonesty. We have already seen the consequences of the politics of dishonesty and conspiracy, leading to a deep mistrust between forces genuinely naming themselves after the peoples they represent and forces abusing the prefixes such as "unity and Ethiopia" only to benefit the groups they come from (<20%). The rest still suffers centrally-imposed injustices.

The second consequence is that these dishonesty and conspiracy makes it impossible for opposition parties to form viable alliances towards freedom and democracy. If there are not strong and genuine alliances, it will be hard to force the EPRDF into political negotiations.

Third, if such dishonesty and conspiracies continue to exist, the international community and donor countries will be confused and misinformed. The confusions and misinformation will definitely lead to donors´ withdrawal of their support for oppositions.

Fourth, the other possible and most severe consequence of such chronic dishonesty, mistrust and conspiracies between political parties and groups is a speedy disintegration of the country itself. With all the serious ideological differences, once that happens, it will be too late reverse.

Qerranssoo Biyyaa
August 29, 2008

Map of oromia

Map of oromia