I would like to start this piece by paying tribute to the opposition parties such as Medrek on home soil for their stellar performance in the debate in which they have succeeded in driving the brutal TPLF Party to the corner, defenseless on every issue raised. They have articulated burning issues with courage against draconian odds.
It is fair to conjecture that those who have followed the debates diligently and objectively have learnt a lot. I did. The ruling party was a loser in all respects. The one issue regarding construction industry - buildings and roads – to which the ruling party sought refuge in the heat of the debate was shredded to pieces. It was told the roads are already badly in need of repair; that the only railway from Djibouti to Addis Ababa is in tatters; that lack of own harbor is costing the country US$ one billion per annum. Gross violation of human rights; utter failure of Gibe II electric dam project; denial of private land ownership to the peasants; virtually no attempt for irrigation farming despite our blessing with plenty of water; poor quality of training and education; rampant unemployment et al are the shameful hallmarks of the brutal regime speaking volumes of its dismal performance as disclosed by the opposition.
The top leaders who represented Medrek – Engineer Gizachew Shiferaw, Ato Seye Abraha, Dr. Negaso Gidada, Ato Gebru Asrat, Dr. Hailu Araya and the young and vibrant Secretary General of UDJP, Ato Andualem Aragé - held their ground so well proving their worth in Medrek.
I have some more to say here about Ato Seye to respond to some of my virulent critiques in respect of my article entitled “A question to ask – actions to take”. One of my critiques asked “Is Seye worth defending?” and another one demanded I should give up my name. But I will never give up my name given to me by my Oromo parents and I am proud to keep my Gobenite psyche of which OLF supporters accuse me.
Anyway, my rationale for supporting Ato Seye without seeking favors or reciprocity is captured in the following paragraph. I hope my critiques, assuming they are Oromos caring for their ethnic group, will understand my rationale.
It was at the time that he coined the magnetic phrase "እስር ቤቱ ኦሮምኛ ይናገራል"(the prison speaks Oromiffa) that I was convinced that Ato Seye Abraha was really a changed man as an eye-witness to the plight of the Oromo people during his ordeal of six years in the infamous Kaliti prison. “ብርቱካን የኛም ናት እኮ!”(Birtukan is ours too!) is another public utterance which gained him the rising support of the Ethiopian people to whom Birtukan is an apple of their eyes forever. Therefore, I would be remiss in my duty as a human rights activist if I withhold deserved compliments to leaders of the caliber of Dr. Negasso Gidada and Ato Seye Abraha.
Medrek is a credible political organization representing a very wide spectrum of ethnic groups struggling peacefully and lawfully for a bright future under the umbrella of Ethiopian unity in a democratic and compassionate society. It is a beacon of hope of the present and future generation of young citizens desirous of bloodless transfer of power to replace the long culture of grabbing power by the barrel of the gun as the bitter and shameful events which saw the brinkmanship of the Derg and TPLF regimes.
The military junta dethroned the Emperor in a bloodless coup with a promise to hand over power to civilian rule. However, the provisional military government held a tight grip on power and transformed itself into a civilian government in form but in content dominated by members of the Dergue wielding real power. The tragedy that began with the slaughter of over 60 top officials of the Imperial regime in cold-blood culminated in the annihilation of a generation of young educated Ethiopians. The coward leader finally fled to Zimbabwe for his life leaving the door wide open to the TPLF regime to enter Addis Ababa with the blessing and support of the US government.
The TPLF regime came to power in 1991 with outside help coupled with the indifference of the Ethiopian people disgusted by the atrocities of the Dergue regime. Some of us wondered why two pro-communist entities were fighting in the name of class struggle, deploying children of peasants for battle and feeding them to the raging flames ignited by bullets coming out of the guns of the combatants on both sides. There is no need to elaborate the well-documented list of betrayal to national interests, unprecedented heinous crimes, invasion of a neighborly country, and political blunder inciting unrest by exploiting ethnic origin and religious differences – a time-bomb waiting to explode if unchecked speedily.
It is known that there are genuine Ethiopians who argue that the Meles regime can only be evicted from power or forced to the negotiating table through an all-inclusive struggle including weapons of war. This is their right as it is also of others to suggest one more time to give this coming election a chance and catch the habitual robber of votes in the act and go for an all-inclusive highly coordinated struggle.
I have been at almost all trouble spots of our country, including in Tigray during the 1984 famine and Eritrea when our army was locked in battle with Shaebia. A non-combatant, I have seen bullets falling in the battle field. The result of all these is an impoverished Ethiopia, which we see today. Another civil war to which Meles is inviting us by calling us enemies could therefore be even more ruinous unless it is forced on us by the brutal regime stealing votes once again.
The illegitimate TPLF regime emerged badly bruised from the crushing defeat that it suffered in election 2005. It is in power because of the active support of Bush and Blair governments. There is no reason to expect the Obama Administration would do otherwise if the Meles regime steals the election once again. President Obama in his speech from Accra, Ghana has clearly told the African people that it is up to us to reign in our dictators and foster democracy. That is as it should be.
The President, due to overriding national interests, appears to follow the policy of his predecessor of alliance with the Meles regime. Only the emergence of united and strong political forces will change the status quo policy of the US government towards Ethiopia. Medrek is one of the foremost exemplary political enjoying entities.
As to tyrant Meles he will eventually end up in prison for his heinous crimes including genocide. The time will come soon when his financiers and backers no longer need his services. This will depend on the strength of opposition parties at home and relentless support of all Ethiopians or citizens of Ethiopian origin in the Diaspora.
I contend that Medrek should take part in the coming election. That would be in the best interest of Ethiopia including ensuring the continuity and bolstering the momentum for the release of Birtukan Mideksa and all political prisoners.
So, what Medrek needs is cheer leaders at this crucial time it has decided to stay in the contest and fight the ruthless regime at the polls.
The cardinal issue is that the cycle of violence in the contest for political power must end some day. When and how is it going to be?
The answer is that the time is now. The strategy is by supporting Medrek all the way embracing the vision of Birtukan Mideksa. Her dream and that of her generation and beyond is bloodless change. Let us make that happen by ourselves.