Election 2010 - A question to ask and actions to take

By Robele Ababya / April 28, 2010

There is much talk that election 2010 is stolen by tyrant Meles. TPLF Party might dismiss complaints with the simple rebuff: Oh yah? So what are you gona do about it? So what are we in the opposition going to do about it? This piece attempts to answer the question beginning with the following true story for a start.

The late Minister of Foreign Affairs and later Minister of Trade and Commerce to whom I am going to refer as X told me and my colleagues in exile told us the following true story. The Minister and I had ties through marriage of our respective relatives. He was short and physically small.

As the Minister told it, once when he was still a student he was queuing for dinner in his university’s cafeteria. All of a sudden a husky Yankee broke the queue and stood in front of everyone in the queue.  Student X walked to the big man and protested. The Yankee scornfully looked down on him and said:  Oh yah? So what are you gona do about it? X’s gut and his Ethiopian pride are admirable but he has to swallow both and abort his mission. So ended the short mission of little X to restore order in the queue.

As the old Ethiopian proverb ከወፈሩ ሰው አይፈሩ!  (to one grown fat, no one else is relevant) would have it, the big man won for no one in the queue protested – according to Minister X who narrated the story.

The balance of power was clear; student X had to swallow his Ethiopian pride and give up his mission meant to maintain civility. Now suppose, for the sake of argument, others in the queue came to support X or called in law enforcement officials. There would have been a change in the balance of power and the outcome would have been different in that the big man could have been subdued...

Incidentally, here is a true story as an aside for use to make a point later in this piece. In early 1990s a petite Tagay of the TPLF shot at close range and instantly murdered my tall and well-built Oromo friend in Addis Ababa in his compound instead of arresting him. She had to do it feverishly perhaps for she stood no chance to subdue the tall and strong man. She had the preponderance of power much in her favor and was lucky to not have missed her target for he would have pounced on her and shredded the bastard to pieces.

Coming back to Minister X, it was after his retirement that the accomplished former top diplomat told the above true story of his encounter to his friends. He drew analogy between his story and the dilemma of smaller nations to run their affairs in the complex environment of international relations at the height of the cold war dominated by the two superpowers of the time. He played important role in the first UN-sponsored referendum that culminated in the federation of Eritrea with Ethiopia. He recalled his role of mobilizing the Afar people living along the Red Sea Coast in large number to take part in the referendum.

The story laced with keen sense of humor made all of us gathered around him admire his enviable diplomatic acumen of which Seyoum Mesfin of TPLF is seriously deficient.  Seyoum and his tyrant boss led us into war with Somalia; lied about the ruling by the International Court of Justice that gave Badme to Eritrea; held secret negotiations culminating in the ceding of fertile farmland to the Sudan and so on.

Intent of this piece

The intent of this piece is to appeal to separatist liberation movement advocates to make paradigm shift for the sake of changing the balance of power. For they have so far failed to achieve their goal of self-determination in accordance with article 39 of the Woyanne constitution.  

There are 83 ethnic groups in Ethiopia. If anyone is big and powerful enough and decides to separate from the rest, Article 39 is really irrelevant. The powerful will just go ahead and form its nation-state and serve notice to that effect on the rest. If any complaint would arise, the reply would be: Oh yah? So what are you gona do about it?

 OLF and others have been getting the same response from the militarily powerful Meles. Each time they demanded self-determination his curt response was: Oh yah? So what are you gona do about it if I say no? On the other hand, for the sake of argument, if Meles decides to separate Tigrai from Ethiopia, the remaining weaklings would stay put for lack of coordination for immediate retaliation. His only incentive to maintain the status quo is fear of revolt in Tigrai primarily and, secondly, stealing of natural resources for as long as possible and get lost.

The repressive ruling regime has rebuffed the Virginia Declaration which has come out of the Ethiopia and Horn of Africa Conference repeating its habitual grand lies to undermine the well-attended Conference despite best effort of the regime to subvert it. The inept Ministry is telling the oppositions to go to hell with their call for peace and reconciliation. Bloated with a military might built up with generous fund provided by taxpayers of Western democracies, the arrogant, but shortsighted Meles is saying I refuse your call; so what are you gona do about it?

So, my fellow Ethiopians, what are we going to do to change the balance of power between the TPLF and opposition forces calling for peace, truth and reconciliation as the only means to stabilize Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa? The answer as always is to unite and force the regime to a negotiating table or evict it from power.

Another story: The late President Lyndon Johnson once said in a press conference that the United States of America is like a big ship sailing through the ocean. The latter makes big waves and anything caught in its wake is bound to be disturbed. He said so at the time when his administration was embroiled in the Vietnam War which caused bitter division at home due to loss of precious lives, injuries, heavy expenditure, rampant dodging by young Americans in protest of the War – which in their opinion was not justified in terms of core values of the USA.

The metaphor in my opinion meant that the USA has global interests and anyone in its way is bound to be disappointed.  It is like saying: Oh yah? So what are you gona do about it?

The USA is today the only superpower in situ. Luckily we can hold it to its universally upheld values so powerfully crafted by its Founding Fathers:

“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.” 

And invoke the above quotation to request the Obama Administration not to support the repressive tyrant Meles so that the Ethiopia people can put in place a government “deriving it’s just powers from the consent of the governed”.

The top urgent call of the Ethiopian people now is the immediate and unconditional release of Birtukan Mideksa and all prisoners of conscience languishing in filthy jails throughout Ethiopia.

Changing the balance of power

We are at a critical stage in view of our vanishing dignity and God-given strategic natural resources, inter alia wit:

  • Arable Land: Ethiopia is blessed with the huge proportion of arable land, which the visionary Emperor Theodros II jealously guarded; Meles is now either selling or ceding  the land;

  • Water: Ethiopia is a water tower for the neighboring countries, especially to Egypt, Sudan and Somalia; rivers have been flowing for centuries without successive rulers doing much to harness them for use such as irrigation farming;

  • Human Capital:  The exodus of professionals and highly skilled technicians has been appalling since the Derg took power in 1994; the migration is even worse under the TPLF regime.

Ethiopians have come to the point of surrendering our being and our natural resources to neo-colonialism and unscrupulous investors all facilitated by the mercenary ruling regime, which has declared war on the on the opposition its enemies without exception. Birtukan Mideksa, the champion of peaceful struggle and bright hope of the young generation, is still in prison; thousands of political prisoner are still locked up in filthy jails in Ethiopia. All signs are that the tyrant is not going to release them.

So, what are we going to do about it? The answer is obviously to change the balance of power by united action of the opposition forces to avert the grave danger ahead of us. Tyrant Meles must not be allowed to steal or rig election 2010. If he does, his victory must be short-lived by a coordinated all-inclusive action against this tyrant. 

Self- determination is a confusing concept and in any case not applicable to the present realities of Ethiopia. So drop it; get of house arrest in Asmara and join the forces of unity and join the struggle and change the balance of power and punish Meles if he refuses reconciliation..

In closing, I wish to express my profound gratitude and highest esteem to my inspiring fellow Ethiopians at home and in the Diaspora for their relentless struggle in the pursuit of unity, democracy and justice absent for almost two decades of TPLF misrule.

Release Birtukan Mideksa and all political prisoners in Ethiopia!


The writer can be reached at robele_ababya@yahoo.com