Decades of setbacks for democracy in Ethiopia and beyond

By Robele Ababya / May 28, 2010

Old habits die hard – daylight robbery of votes again

Ethiopia's tyrant Meles Zenawi has crossed the finish line of election 2010 by setting a new world record - sweeping over 99.6% of the votes. Right. Indeed, he set a new world record that eclipsed the drama of other despots, including his own predecessor, former dictator Mengistu Haile-Mariam, who was an old hand at producing 'landslide' victories over elections where there were no political rivals.

The audacity of Mr. Meles Zenawi is incredible. It is like telling the international community to close their eyes and ask them instantly to see at the votes the 'happy people' piled over their 'beloved leader.'

The pain for Meles set in when the Human Rights Watch and European Union (EU) came with their own versions of the reality on the ground in Ethiopia. Their short and precise verdict was the election fell short of international standards.

Unperturbed by the accusations of the international community, Meles rather said it was the economic miracle his government produced over the years that convinced the people to vote for him. However this claim will be a nightmare for his regime because the 5 million party members may scramble for their share in terms of favors which the economy cannot support.

The peasantry living in serfdom will not tolerate the parasites on its shoulders; the huge army of the unemployed youth is running out of patience; those promised three wholesome meals a day are tired of waiting. In a nutshell, the regime will be engulfed by a tsunami of demands from every corner including the opportunist gangs in his party. The honeymoon of the orchestrated election ‘victory’ of TPLF will be over much sooner than later, if it is not already.

The silent majority of the Ethiopian people and the global community are neither fooled nor surprised by the staggering numbers in the result of the rigged election that was well known in advance. The brutal regime shall be ripped apart by its own inner contradictions. It made a colossal mistake thereby digging its own grave on which a strong, united, democratic and prosperous Ethiopia shall be built.

Ramifications of 11/09/2001 for Ethiopia and beyond

September 11, 2001(commonly called “9/11”) greeted the global community with a shocking and barbarous act of terrorism setting in motion what some pundits characterize as clash of civilization between values of Western democracy and the Muslim world. For the first time in the history of civil aviation four passenger jet airplanes were high-jacked and turned into flying bombs and crushed into what the master minds of the evil act considered the citadel of world capitalism and set their targets ablaze including the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon killing more than three thousand in cold blood.

The global community was shocked and swiftly expressed solidarity with the people of the USA. The TPLF regime which was on the verge of falling before this fateful day saw the golden opportunity to jump on the bandwagon of nations of the willing on the war against terror. Tyrant Meles became a trusted ally of the Bush Administration in the fight of terrorists exploiting the volatile situation in the Horn of Africa. Imagine a tyrant terrorizing his own people at home being trusted as an ally of a superpower claiming to be the leader of the free world!

Bush and Blair misled the world and invaded Iraq ignoring the mammoth popular protest manifested by an awesome sea of humanity in the metropolis and capitals of the democratic world. It was a setback for democracy in that the two leaders failed to heed the voice of the people. They should have focused their resources in Afghanistan for the big catch. They did not and Al Qaeda is making its presence felt in the region of the Horn of Africa and in its proximity.

So for us Ethiopians, our fate is tied to the clash of civilization unleashed by the gruesome act of 11 September 2001. It is more so given that the USA is determined to fight Al Qaeda on foreign soil such as in the neighboring Somalia where Al Shabab and other extremist groups are operating to topple its shaky government. Our strategy to fight the traitors at home should take cognizance of the interests of Western powers. These powers should be assured that they have nothing to fear by taking side with the Ethiopian people with insatiable thirst for democracy.

Outcomes of election 2010 and reactions so far

Election 2010 is over. The discipline of voters at the polling stations was admirable once again reminding us of the magnificent display of civility and patience of the Ethiopian people.

The election was rigged as anticipated. The people voted and the counting was done by the TPLF Party at overwhelming numbers of polling stations. In some cases where the people may have cast their votes for the ruling Party, that was so in anger against lack of unity of the opposition – not because of approval of the dismal performance of the traitor Meles. The people clearly showed once again that ethnicity is secondary to unity in diversity. Peaceful struggle has scored moral victory once again for the second time, the first one being in the election of 2005 where Kinijit dealt a crushing defeat to the ruling regime forcing it to declare a state of emergency and sending swiftly the victors, including icon Birtukan Mideksa, to jail.

The international community including the USA did not send the message that traitor Meles so eagerly wanted about his ‘landslide’ victory. The following excerpt from the statement made by f The White House tells it all:

“An environment conducive to free and fair elections was not in place even before Election Day. In recent years, the Ethiopian government has taken steps to restrict political space for the opposition through intimidation and harassment, tighten its control over civil society, and curtail the activities of independent media. We are concerned that these actions have restricted freedom of expression and association and are inconsistent with the Ethiopian government’s human rights obligations”.

The USA and EU are not fools to permit a one-party state in Ethiopia against the wishes of the Ethiopian people craving in earnest for democracy. So Meles will have to give up his ways of deception and heed the subtle warning from Western powers that give generous fund to keep his repressive regime afloat. Otherwise the fate of Mengistu Hailemariam shall visit him too.

Peace-loving and cultured Ethiopians craving for democracy shall keep repeating the mantra enshrined in the immortal words of Thomas Jefferson:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Emphasis added.

The human rights records of the Meles regime are among the worst in the world for all the past two years he has been in power as a dictator. He did not derive power from the consent of the governed. He built up his military and his communist party mainly by stealing aid money meant for victims of famine in Tigrai in 1984. He grabbed power by the barrel of the gun which he still uses effectively to intimidate the Ethiopian people.

It would be a shameful contradiction of the fundamental values of Western democracy if the generous fund flows from taxpayers culminate in building a one-party state in Ethiopia for the benefit of hard-line communists. So President Obama and leaders of the EU should resolutely stand for universal values enshrined in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The best strategy to win Al Qaeda and extremists in the Horn of Africa region is to be on the side of the Ethiopian people starved of democracy. The industrialized democratic world should move fast to stem the rapidly deteriorating situation in the region. Tyrant Meles and his likes are addicts adept at fishing in troubled waters. They should be stopped.

In closing, I wish to extend to Medrek leaders and their supporters at home and in the Diaspora for the job well done in exposing the evil and traitorous nature of tyrant Meles to the global community.

Release Birtukan Mideksa and all political prisoners in Ethiopia!


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