Nightmarish problems facing tyrant Meles

By Robele Ababya / June 28, 2010
Thirty-six years after the 1974 Ethiopian Revolution, the political chaos then generated hit rock bottom on May 23rd when the ruling TPLF/EPRDF party claimed to have won 99.6% of the votes - effectively becoming a one-party rule with Stalinist features.

 As a brutal dictator, Mengistu lived violating the sovereignty of the people (1974-1991). As a ruthless mercenary, Meles Zenawi lives on violating the sovereignty of both the people and the country”Ethiomedia 
<a class= "As a brutal dictator, Mengistu lived violating the sovereignty of the people (1974-1991). As a ruthless mercenary, Meles Zenawi lives on violating the sovereignty of both the people and the country”Ethiomedia

A one-person rule had afflicted Ethiopia for centuries. The adoption of communist ideology as a guiding principle for the revolution has made things worse. That was a classic example of starting on a wrong foot to lead the revolution, which resulted in the political upheaval in Ethiopia that has persisted as a chronic problem defying solution to this date. The future is bleak unless principal players under the influence of the ideology show remorse and seek atonement for their mistakes at an open peace, truth and reconciliation forum.

The 1974 revolution was necessary and timely if it were not high-jacked by Marxist-Leninists who converged on Addis Ababa ironically mainly from western metropolis and cities. The ideology came to where it did not fit the standards of its original authors who developed it as prescription to cure the horrible greed and exploitation of workers in highly industrialized capitalist societies. The truly intellectual gentlemen, Marx and Engels, expected the revolution to happen in the industrialized countries in Europe or the USA.

But, ours was a backward economy in a mainly feudal economy where: the landlord exploited the tenant peasant; mothers eked out a living by selling local brews, collecting animal dung and windfall woods from the forest for sale in the market, fetching water on their backs from long distances; fathers did manual labor in quarries, cleaning streets; clearing sewers and rubbish, night guard duties. Peasants were engaged in a backward method of farming using ploughs and shares drawn by animals. Communist ideology was far beyond their comprehension; parents were at the mercy of their children shouting alien slogans of the promise of better days to come; they were silent spectators when their hard earned property was being confiscated.

Surely parents who knew nothing about Marxism-Leninism were betrayed by their elite children enchanted by the advent of a classless society with no roadmap or strategy on how to achieve it. It was a sad saga of various leftist groups annihilating one another for supremacy.

And to be fair the Monarch gave up his throne refusing to order his elite bodyguard to subdue mutinous soldiers by force. It was a peaceful change until coward Mengistu gave in to the persuasion of communist elites favoring class struggle that led to loss of lives and bloodshed. The ensuing White Terror and Red Terror, both masterminded by leftist elites, unfortunately took a heavy toll on lives and subverted the enormous support of the Ethiopian people for peaceful change without bloodshed.

Tyrant Meles at the apex of power at last

The clever Meles: built up his politico-military power base with the resources meant for the victims of famine in Tigray in 1984/85; masterminded the aerial bombardment of Hawzeen to secure the trust and support of the people of Tigray; marched to Addis Ababa through the pool of blood and jumping over corpses of children of peasants strewn on the road; bolstered his economy by ownership of all land; placed all lucrative businesses under the monopoly of his party; in a bid to entice prospective voters, permitted a monument in Addis Ababa to be erected for victims of Red Terror while ignoring victims of White Terror that in reaction instigated the former – perhaps because ranking members of the EPRDF coalition were former members of the EPRP; jammed credible sources of information with the technical assistance of Chinese experts who were not supposed to interfere in the Ethiopia’s internal affairs; used food aid as political weapon to enlist the support of the needy. All the foregoing culminated in placing him at the apex of absolute power above the law.

Speaking of Chinese, one is reminded of the late Jomo Kenyatta who said that the European colonizers came with the Holy Bible in their hands and while Africans were praying looking towards heaven, the colonizers were busy surveying African land to own it eventually. Long after the death of Kenyatta, the China came to Africa with its version of the gospel of “non-interference in the internal affairs of host governments” but is seen doing the opposite – such as helping in the jamming independent media. Ethiopians and Africans at large should wake up to the hidden political agenda of Beijing.

China is not without its internal political problems. Its ideology stifles freedom of speech and violates other human rights. Its export-driven strong economy fuels its voracious appetite for the abundant resources of the African continent. As it were, the ‘devil’ we know is better than the ‘angel’ we don’t – which should be the hard choice in case China continues to interfere in the internal political affairs of Ethiopia reneging on its stated policy of neutrality.

Problems of Meles in brief

The first nightmare is to keep his mammoth government machinery working and his TPLF/EPRDF intact to exercise its all pervasive power by satisfying multiple demands for favor coming to his office in droves. Old guards in his EPRDF will be replaced by young ones and this in itself is going to be a mind-boggling exercise that will have a huge toll on his failing health. In what proportion power is going to be apportioned to each member of the coalition is bound to be a headache. Who is going to replace him? Is the monopoly of TPLF going to remain intact? Is the suspicion in the mind of Meles over OPDO’s eventual alliance with other Oromo opposition movements including the OLF going to shatter the coalition? The Amhara ethnic group component in the coalition will no doubt pose a formidable problem before the inevitable dissolution of the convenient marriage with TPLF – the hide and seek game cannot go on indefinitely.

The contradiction between double-digit growths in the economy in the face of prevailing hunger, sharply rising of cost of living, population growth, poor quality of education, underutilized facilities in disrepair will be difficult for the ruling party to explain. The irksome issue of land to the tiller is still unresolved and the tyrant has to deal with it.

Then there is the problem of maintaining the double image of appearing a democrat to the suspicious donors while covertly applying the Stalinist method of control over every aspect of social, economical and political lives of the Ethiopian people on the verge to revolt. How about jobs for millions of unemployed youth? How about the promised the meals a day for the masses?

Then the cardinal question will arise of just how TPLF/EPRDF ‘won’ 99.6% of the votes while the icon leader of the UDJP, Birtukan Mideksa, is illegally held in prison and thousands of political prisoners are languishing in filthy jails in Ethiopia. The question will be asked why Meles is still holding Birtukan and other prisoners of conscience now that he is the ‘landslide victor’ in the 2010 election. The world is waiting for an answer to this burning question!

Most of all the prospect of being brought to the International Criminal Court for his crimes against humanity including genocide and war crimes will haunt Meles daily. So, the sight of his shadow will scare Meles; his heinous crimes will haunt him; political mistakes of his creation will drown him.

Holding President Obama to his word

President Obama wrote on page 316 of his book, The AUDACITY of HOPE:

“No person, in any culture, likes to be bullied. No person likes living in fear because his or her ideas are different. Nobody likes being poor or hungry, and nobody to live under and economic system in which the fruits of his or her labor go perpetually unrewarded. The system of free markets and liberal democracy that now characterizes most of the developed world may be flawed; it may all too often reflect the interests of the powerful over the powerless. But that system is constantly subject to change and improvement – and it is precisely in this openness to change that market-based liberal democracies offer people around the world their best chance at a better life.” Emphasis added.

Amen to what the President wrote! It goes without saying that Ethiopians with rich diverse cultures did not cast 99.6% of their votes for something no person or nobody likes in any culture. Meles insulted the intelligence of the people by massively pre-rigged election 2010.

And on page 317 of his book, President Obama draws the attention of readers to the four essential freedoms enunciated by the late President F.D. Roosevelt: freedom of speech; freedom of worship; freedom from want; and freedom from fear. He says that the last of these four freedoms, “freedom from want and freedom from fear are prerequisites for all others”.

Ethiopians of diverse culture and creed - taking advantage of the short-lived level-playing field where freedom of speech was allowed - clearly showed their insatiable thirst for these freedoms by overwhelmingly casting their votes in election 2005 in which the ruling party suffered a humiliating defeat.

Sadly however the ruling party declared a state of emergency and went on a vote robbing spree and then announced itself the winner by a large margin. Even more sadly George Bush and Tony Blair shunned the hues and cries of the Ethiopian people and continued to support the illegitimate regime, which kept working so hard to massively rig the outcome of election 2002.

Ethiopians hold President Obama to his word for the sake of common values. One would ardently hope and fervently pray that he will not repeat the same mistake as his predecessor. One would earnestly hope the President will heed the call of Senator Feingold that there is nothing to fear on being on the side of the Ethiopian people; to address the concerns of Congressman Donald Payne and Congressman Smith about the gross violations of human rights in Ethiopia and increasingly authoritarian stance of Meles. These three and others in the August Congress of the USA have already won the hearts and minds of the Ethiopian people.

President Obama, please come openly to the side of the Ethiopian people and rip the benefit of their enduring friendship.

Way forward/ Conclusion

Meles is engulfed with myriad problems that he will be unable to solve. His recent ‘victory’ with 99.6% has isolated and humiliated him nationally and in the international community. He is a helpless sitting duck kept afloat due to the disarray in the ranks of the opposition. It is most probable that Western donors will not excuse him for jamming independent sources of information with technical assistance of Chinese experts interfering in Ethiopia’s internal affairs.

Meles has turned tertiary institutions to centers of ideology. He has denied access to independent sources of credible information. This insult to our intelligence is unacceptable.

Unity of the opposition political parties has been elusive so far. The seemingly unending debate to reconcile differences is continuing thus delaying the time for appropriate rebuttal to the arrogance of Meles who calls the opposition forces his enemies.

The debate between peaceful struggle and all-inclusive struggle is prominent. The two camps should not engage in polemics. Each side has its right to confront the brutal ruling regime as and when conditions are deemed favorable. After all an opposition that feels strong enough would not necessarily seek the consent or permission of others to fight for its right with all means at its disposal. On the other hand, nationwide civil disobedience has yet to start and peaceful struggle too will have its casualties.

This writer always strongly supports peaceful struggle applied to its fullest extent within the constitution - with Medrek as one of the vanguards to that end.

It is top urgent to respond in unison to calls for national mobilization to force the now vulnerable Meles to the negotiating table. We owe it to our dearest martyrs in the struggle for freedom, justice and equality. Our martyrs must never be forgotten!

Lastly, this writer expresses his profound admiration and respect for fellow Ethiopians in the USA, Canada, UK, Germany, and the rest of Europe, Australia and South Africa for their public demonstrations in protest of Meles’ well-known heinous crimes.

Release Birtukan Mideksa and all political prisoners in Ethiopia!


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