Seizing the moment to end TPLF misrule

By Robele Ababya / June 25, 2009
“The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.” - Albert Einstein

The above quotation from one of the foremost physicists that ever lived on our planet is seen in text books on change management. In a way we are managing political change in our beleaguered motherland and so I thought it would convey my message in this writing.

The acronym TPLF is a trade mark that Meles uses to plunder and destroy Ethiopia. The valiant people of Tigrai will not fall prey to his deception; they realize the urgency to act in earnest to defeat his evil deeds hidden under the canopy of “Revolutionary Democracy”.

All genuine democrats seek urgent change to political oppression at home and to stem regional instability in the Horn of Africa region. Our persistent political problems were created in good faith by ideologues in the run up and aftermath of the sudden outbreak of the Ethiopian Revolution of 1974. The last 33 tragic years should serve as invaluable lesson and experience to make a new beginning. Time has changed and so should the strategy to bring about a lasting transformation based on participative democracy, genuine respect for human rights and strict adherence to the rule of law.

A glance at some political events and the damage done by short-sighted rivals in the aftermath of the Revolution would be relevant to this piece especially to young readers seeking practical suggestions in overcoming our current political problems.

The Derg without a blueprint for change

It would be a serious mistake to dismiss political parties born on home soil and opting to wage peaceful struggle as dysfunctional as some people do in their genuine eagerness to see victory come quick. One would recall that it was the absence of strong civic societies and organized political parties, underground or otherwise, that caused the anarchy in the aftermath of the outbreak of the Ethiopian Revolution of 1974. The military filled the power vacuum with a promise of provisional vanguard to restore order and handover the responsibility to a civilian government. Unfortunately the military junta, on the advice of some underground leftist civilian groups who had infiltrated the army, broke its promises which gave rise to violence and bitter rivalry. This writer witnessed the hive of political activities at Debre Zeit sometimes playing a mediating role in hard situations.

There was a high concentration of military and paramilitary forces within 50 kilometers radius of the main base and headquarters of the then famous Imperial Ethiopia Air Force (IEAF). The unfortunate demand for the resignation of the Cabinet of Aklilu Haptewold emerged from Debre Zeit and got acceptance by the Emperor. The concentration of forces included the Airborne Division (which was only separated by a fence from the IEAF main base); the Tank Brigade at the outskirts of Nazret; the National Army Headquarters between Debre Zeit and Dukam; the Ammunitions Depot between Dukam and Akaki; and, in Addis Ababa, the elite Imperial Body Guard ; the Rapid Intervention Mechanized Police Force in ; 4th Army Division ; the Headquarters of the Ground Forces ; the Army Engineering Corps; and the Army Air Corps made Debre Zeit attractive to underground political activists from universities and workers’ union among others.

There was a very dangerous time in Addis Ababa when the elite Imperial Body Guard was making preparations to remove the Derg by force prompting the latter to retaliate by mobilizing forces from the famous 3rd Division in the Ogaden and threatening to bring support from the 2nd Army in the North thus leaving vulnerable fronts open to the pleasure of the enemies of Ethiopia. In a nutshell, the territorial integrity of Ethiopia was secondary to the protagonists!

Immediate return to civilian rule and establishing of council of elders and scholars to draft a constitution (and facilitate return to civilian rule) were put as demands to the military junta. The famous revolutionary song, Tenesa Teramed (Stand up and stride), filled the air throughout Ethiopia. The council was established and quickly disbanded by Mengistu Hailemariam; he also stopped the song on grounds that it was nationalistic and as such it did not reflect the aspirations of the proletariat worldwide; the coward gave orders for summary execution of many whom he thought were behind the demands and threw others to high security prisons. He muzzled freedom of the press. On the whole he did incalculable damage and eventually fled the country leaving the chain of command of the heroic Ethiopian Army in tatters.

Two Marxist-Leninist political groups that failed to agree between themselves, one siding with the Derg and the other fighting it openly, contributed to the staying in power of the military junta.

No need to go to further details for now except to say that the prevailing mindset that created the political problems and chaos of the time is still persistent to this day in some quarters among opposition groups.

The above true story may help the charismatic leader Judge Birtukan who was born 27 April 1974 into the political upheaval and her peers in shaping a democratic future in their beloved country, Ethiopia.

The TPLF with destructive Plan

The TPLF developed and refined its destructive plan for 30 years in hiding in the caves at Dedebit. Time has clearly shown that “TPLF” was all along the secret ill-design of Meles; it is his trade mark and his alone; a tool which only he knows how best to use. His hodam (greedy) elite supporters would be at a loss to do anything without him. Some will defect; others will remain with him; still others will turn the gun against him. We must seize in this confusion in his camp to say ENOUGH of his divisive plan.

Meles determined to stealing votes again. Otherwise, a government confident of its performance would not close the political space ahead of the election in 2010. He has publicly and succinctly stated that he has learnt a lot from the last election of 2005 to pre-empt any recurrence of demonstrations like the ones of 2005. Ethiopians are now adept at deciphering the code of his rhetoric. He meant that the election is a foregone conclusion in favour of TPLF and that his security forces are better trained for a swift action to pull the trigger. This amounts to advance warning to the public to choose between getting shot dead by the ruthless agazi security forces or vote TPLF and live in slavery.

Grand preparation is in the offing to get organized supporters on the street to celebrate his victory. The TPLF is all set to run the full gamut of its design to stay in power until its secret agenda is realized. Sebhat Nega, during his recent interview with VOA, told us in effect that Revolutionary Democracy is meant to fast track the development of capitalism and then disappear eventually. This means that the thugs are in their dream world of staying in power indefinitely.

The question is how we are going to confront this challenge. The short answer is we need a strategy developed with a new mindset.

Remember the wise words of that noble Member of the EU Parliament, Honourable Anna Gomes, who warned that no democratic election can take place as long as Meles is in power. This is very true coming as it did from a Leader of the Observer Mission representing the EU during the historic election of 15 May 2005. The tyrant has left us with no choice. The only course of action left to genuine opposition with vital national interests at heart is to launch a massive civil disobedience throughout Ethiopia; refuse to pay taxes to deny fodder to his killing machine; intensify diplomatic struggle worldwide.

Strategic aim

The time tested maxims of successful generals read: know your enemy; never underestimated the enemy; never give him a chance to regroup when he is on the run; never run into his deceptive traps; be certain that an olive branch from the enemy is not a stratagem to deflect you from your goal; make sure the public is on your side by constantly exposing crimes of the enemy and so on. Your winning strategy must be to finish the enemy whether your method of engagement is diplomatic combined with civil disobedience or all-inclusive struggle. To the well known traitor like Meles nothing should be acceptable to his opponents than finishing him off politically for good.

Develop your strategic plan that is realistic, comprehensive, precise and easy to understand. Remember that once your plan goes into operation it is bound to change due to response of the enemy; you will therefore need to take tactical measures to modify it, based on reliable intelligence, as you go towards your objective of bringing the enemy to its knees.


The following principles are the result of a brain-storming session this writer held with held with his trusted friends. The session noted that at this point in time, the AEUP claims 5 million members inside Ethiopia; the UDJP is popular and G7 is getting stronger by the day planting fear in the camp of TPLF; and Dr. Bulcha Demeksa and Dr. Merera Gudina have joined forces to fight repression at home, the former emphatically stating that the majority does not seek secession. Our session came to the conclusion that the situation in the aftermath of the demise of the Meles regime will therefore be radically different from that of 1974.

Irrespective of their methods, opposition forces within and outside Ethiopia should seriously consider subscribing to certain principles such as the following for example in order to bring the Meles regime down to its knees and save Ethiopia:

  • The unity of Ethiopia in diversity is non-negotiable in settlement of disputes
  • Birtukan & all political prisoners shall be released immediately without preconditions
  • Truth and reconciliation commission shall be established without delay
  • Justice shall be served for fallen martyrs in an independent court of law
  • Families of martyrs shall compensated
  • The rights of individuals or groups of individuals are sacred
  • The pursuit of liberty, happiness and prosperity shall be upheld
  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights shall be upheld
  • Ethiopia shall accede to the Treaty of Rome creating the ICC
  • Freedom of the press & independence of civil societies shall be respected
  • Enlist the support of all democratically-minded peoples of the world
  • Independence of judiciary and army shall be respected

The above principles may be considered and refined by genuine opposition groups and can serve in situations before and after victory over the brutal regime of Meles.

Genuine opposition forces cannot wait until they get all information to complete their plan for engaging known suppressors. So, start with massive civil disobedience and infiltration of its security forces in order to throw the top leadership into confusion, disarray, chaos and mutual mistrust thus paving the way to their downfall.

If they subscribe to the above principles and respect them as covenant for putting Ethiopia first, the opposition forces will surely throw the TPLF regime in disarray.

Chances are very good for ushering in a democracy. This is the moment to seize for ending the TPLF misrule.

It would make a lot of sense to think and believe that we are part of the global community doing our share of fighting against gross violators such as the one we have in our homeland, Ethiopia. Fighting for respect of human rights is certainly a winning strategy at this time and beyond. So, soliciting and enlisting the support of human right activities and democratically-minded citizens of the world should be actively pursued in various creative ways that the Diaspora has set in motion admirably...

The spectacular demonstration by patriotic Ethiopians converging from all over Europe in huge numbers during the G-20 Summit in London has no doubt sent humiliating shrill of fear down the spine of Meles judging from his photograph at the table showing him ostracized by dignitaries at the dinning table. Those were signs of heavier price that he is bound to pay for his heinous crimes. The patriotic demonstrators and the organizers of that mammoth event deserve the gratitude of those of us who watched it from afar – thanks to pro-democracy media that brought it to us. That kind of patriotic rally should continue.

As the saying goes beat the iron while it is hot. Let us keep beating Meles and savour the demise of his surrogate subservience to the ultra-right racists of some foreign donors. Time has changed. His mentors Bush and Blair who kept a blind eye to his robbery of votes are probably regretting being on the wrong side of history.

Seizing the moment to end the TPLF misrule at this propitious time of mounting support for the respect of basic human rights and freedom of expression is paramount duty for all democrats. A massive display of civil disobedience can bring Meles down to his knees.

To fellow democratically-minded citizens of he world this writer makes this solemn plea: that we live in the one planet Earth in which we share inalienable common values as one humanity; the struggle is between gross violators of human rights and its valiant defenders like Judge Birtukan Mideksa of Ethiopia now languishing in jail being psychologically and physically tortured by the ruling regime only because she publicly told the truth and confirmed that truth in writing. So, join us in our struggle to secure her immediate release and all other thousands of political prisoners in Ethiopia.

The twilight of the stolen victory of 15 May 2005 is our driving force!
Donor support directly to the illegitimate Meles regime is immoral!
Shame on the AU for declaring vote robbers as winners!

Robele Ababya