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failed state

Ethiopia and Syria revisited

By Yilma Bekele

The Syrian regime is killing its own people to save the country from terrorists (ashebariwoch). The world is watching and keeping score. Thanks to social media such as Twitter and Facebook we are all witnessing this display of total madness safely from our home. The missile attack on neighborhoods is televised in living color. The old Soviet tanks lined up outside towns are not defending the country from outsiders but rearing to rain death on their own people. It was only a few years back that such atrocity by dictators was not considered newsworthy. It is not because no one cared but rather because it was done behind closed borders. Things are different now. There is no place to hide.

The last year has been a very {www:tumultuous} year in our neighborhood. We have all witnessed the happenings in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria. All these countries have imploded from inside. There was no outside interference so to speak of. There was no scapegoat. If you look closely there is one theme that is common to all. The existence of what is called a ‘strong leader’; ‘dictator’ or ‘mad person in charge’ is what is true in every instance. Change was overdue but dictatorship and change are not compatible. Dictatorship cannot be overcome by evolutionary means. Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria are living examples of the validity of that statement.

I am sure the citizens of all those countries would have preferred a peaceful route to bring needed change. I am also sure they for many years, have tried to convince their respective Leaders to accommodate their demands. The upheaval is the result of the inability of the system to fulfill the aspiration of the people. When the needs of the citizen and the wishes of the dictator clash the country enters a very volatile state that can only be resolved by some sort of explosion.

There are controlled explosions and spontaneous explosion. The transition from the Derg to TPLF was a good example of controlled explosion. The transition from the Emperor to the Derg was a very haphazard, creeping and tiring kind of wimpy explosion. The last one standing won. The one with balls but no brains was victorious. Result speaks louder than words.

Syria is entering or has entered that stage. This is the last show and the curtains are coming down. There will be no repeat performance. We all know how it is going to end. By ‘we’ I mean the rest of the world except of course the Syrian ruling lass. All Dictators have a tendency for getting caught by surprise. For some the denial is so strong they don’t even have an escape plan. That is what Gaddafi’s aide said in an interview. The Leader never thought his ‘people’ would be able to gather their nerves and rise up against him. Didn’t he crush their will and personhood? The Idiot was surprised!

Our current object Syria is nothing but a continuation of Arab awakening or “Arab Spring” that originated in Tunisia. But it has its own unique features. In the scheme of Dictatorships in history, it gets a grade of D- at best. It looks like it will only last a single generation. It is nothing to write home about. I do not mean no disrespect or sneer at ours that is gasping to last even a half-life but that is the nature of the business. Africa is littered with wannabe dictators that have lasted less.

The Assad’s have managed to exist by all sorts of trickery and Ponzi scheme. This includes Clannish behavior, benefactor role, blackmail, extortion, assassination and every kind of criminal activity that buys them another day. Today the fabric that has been painstakingly woven is breaking apart. It has run its course and there is no new trick left to prop up the dying system. The Assad’s know it, their Alawit Clan is aware of it and the Syrian people are doing all that they could to hurry matters along.

What exactly is arrayed against the Assad clan is a good question. The main characters all are easy to spot. We are witnessing their cajoling for the best spot after the dust settles. And there are many actors in this farce. The Israelis want a weak Syria with Assad in charge. Their motto is decapitate but not kill. The Jordanians are not thrilled by another crazy regime on the other side of their border. Iraq has already caused a lot of dislocations. The Lebanese are as usual caught between a rock and a hard place. They are keeping a low profile. Turkey is delirious by the opportunity to be seen as an emerging neighborhood bully. Turkey is flexing its muscles.

Iran is depressed. This could not have come at a most unfortunate time. Iran is under siege and it its important ally is jumping from a plane without knowing if the parachute would work. The Mullahs in Quom are not happy and the Islamic Republic will do all that is necessary to prop up the dying regime. The US is walking a tight rope. Mr. Obama does not want anything to complicate matters in this election season. The Israeli Lobby is beating war drums. Mr. Obama has no intention of picking a fight with a powerful constituent no matter what the cause is.

Russia is posturing. Mr. Putin still possess a few not sea worthy submarines prone to accident and rusting nuke Silos and for some reason the West pretends he packs a punch. Clint East Wood would say “Go ahead Vladimir make my day.” Russia’s useless posturing is tolerated because it buys the West time to figure out the volatile situation inside Syria.

The Chinese are looking after number one here. They are thinking “if these foreign devils pass a resolution regarding interference in Syria what is to stop them doing the same when it comes to Tibet?” China is still smarting over being tricked into going along with the invasion of Libya. They have concluded this not to be the time to posture but send scouts to bid on infrastructure building that will definitely follow the mayhem.

Did you notice who I left for last? Yes, good old Syrian people. I am afraid they allowed this abuse by the Assad family and his minority Alawite Clan to go for so long they have become an after thought in the search for a solution to their problem. No one takes their protestations and defiance seriously. Outsiders are looking for a ‘solution’ to impose on them with little or no regard to what they want. It is exactly like what parents say to their child ‘eat your vegetables, it is good for you!’

We Ethiopians are looking closely at the situation in Syria. We have a lot in common. We are both victims of a mad leader and minority clan rule. We both live in a very dangerous neighborhood where others use our precarious existence to wage proxy wars. My interest in writing this paper is to show you what will be done to your country and people in the next few months. I hope you will not feign surprise or pretend you were in the dark. What you see in Syria will be what you will witness in Ethiopia. It won’t be exact but it will be close enough to act as a model. I promise to be the happiest person if I am proven wrong, but that would be flying against facts.

In a very simplistic term this is what we got in Syria. Assad is a second-generation dictator. His power base is the minority Alawite Clan. They consist 12% of the population and occupy all the upper echelons of the military. Security is in the hands of close family members. The economy is used to reward or punish the rest of the population including the majority Sunnis. All media is under the control of the State.

Syria has been in turmoil since March of 2011. The official figure is over seven thousand killed. The Syrian government has killed over seven thousand of its own citizens to stay in power. Bashir and his Alawite Clan are telling the rest of the Syrians either we rule or you all die. It is that simple. He owns a formidable army. Unlike in Egypt the Army is disciplined and controlled better from above. They do not hesitate to fire even into populated areas. Assad, his family and Clan today are feeling like cornered animals. Due to situation they created their escape route is narrowing as we read this. Under the circumstances the only thing to do is pray that the Syrian people put their differences aside and finish this varmint once and for all.

When we look at Syria in the mirror why do I get this feeling that we see Ethiopia. Look at the bright side. This gives us the opportunity to avoid disaster. If we share a common problem and if one of us self-destruct trying a solution I believe the second party should lean from the mistakes and adjust accordingly. That is where we come in. Observe and study all the wrong moves taken by the Dictators and circumvent it before it takes place. I know it is easy said than done. I agree it is not easy for Prime Minster Meles and his group. It is a little naïve to think they are doing this because they are evil or lack the expertise. The simple answer is it is because that is the only way they know how. But it is very easy for us to learn and adopt.

A far as Assad or Meles are concerned the last thirty years has only proved the effectiveness of their method. I said effectiveness not correct and sustainable. Since their inception the use of brute force has been the only way they have resolved any contradiction. The chances of teaching them the value of compromise and the lasting nature of give and take is not possible and utterly a waste of time. It is not going to happen. Gaddafi did not fall for that. Assad will not even consider such farce. The TPLF party is not into committing suicide.

We know they are not capable of learning. I was talking about us. I believe we are capable of learning from the tactics of Gaddafi, Saleh and Assad. Ato Meles is not going to invent a new reality. He is going to act exactly like his friends in a predictable manner. Killing and more killing is the only solution. The assume the more they kill the less we rise up against them. That always worked. Unfortunately once the population gets rid of its fears death is not a valid threat anymore. More killing only breeds more sacrifice and primal anger. Go ask Gaddafi he will tell you what that feels like.

There isn’t much the world can do for the Syrians. Send ‘coffins’ is what a Syrian said in the town of Homs. The Syrians are on their own. May be it will be a good idea to work on our collective responses when the time comes. We Ethiopians are going to find ourselves on our own pretty soon. Thus when you hear the agony of Homs think of Addis Abeba, when they mention Daraa you might as well cry for Dire Dawa when you read the shelling in Hama remember that is what is waiting Hawasa. You might say I exaggerate but really isn’t the same Meles that killed close to three hundred unarmed kids? Isn’t it Meles and company that used their EFFORT lorries to haul any body and everybody to Zuwai, Sendafa etc? Do you think I am being an alarmist?

We have an opportunity to find a way to work together and minimize the damage that is bound to occur when this unfortunate experience implodes on itself. Sergena meta berbere kentesu is not a winning strategy.

Emperor Tewodros and Ato Meles

By Yilma Bekele

I watched a video of an interview Ato Meles gave to a woman journalist. The edited version on You Tube and our Independent Diaspora sites starts without introduction and ends abruptly. We have no idea who the questioner is and why she is granted a one to one interview. The role she took in the video is that of a question reader not an inquisitive reporter.

Her questions were very profound and far-reaching and she settles for the explanation her host offers without a follow up question or probe further to get insight into the startling conclusions by The Leader. I figured the questions asked and the explanations given are meant to inform the faithful regarding the line of thought currently being favored by headquarters. That is the normal workings of a totalitarian system. The Leader telegraphs his wishes in various ways. The Soviets were good at using pictures to show who is ascending based on proximity to the boss. In the old East Europe when the Party paper bloat your picture from old files the game is over.

In this interview Ato Meles was deflecting responsibility from the approaching famine and he was giving the opposition some things to chew on since he believes they ‘hate’ him intensely no matter what. I was saddened to see that he was discussing such profound issues as the origin of our old Country the wisdom and heroism our forefathers and the recurring famine as if he was discussing some mundane issue say like climate change. There is no life in his monologue.

This was a very important and far reaching discussion. It is true they say action speak louder than words. When it comes to Ato Meles his action and his words go together. In this “interview” he manages to tell us in his own words where the justification for those actions originate from. We cannot ask for a better interview how ever distasteful it might be.

It took him all thirty seconds into the interview to get into the ring and toss our early leaders around like a beach ball. Here is the profound question that led into this incredible answer.

Question: When we think of the past generation they have left bad fingerprints specially during the final moments of the Millennium we had dangers of disintegration so what do you think the causes are?

Ato Meles: Generally for the last thousand years or so our economic and political system has been backpedaling. Several attempts were made. For example if we start with Atse Tewodros during his perioed the Japanese were embarking on centralization. Japan’s atttempt succedded and while Atse Tewodros did not. Tewodros choose conquest to unite the country and he died running one end to the other bare footed. He did not succed. Without fully understanding the source and foundation of our unity and waiting too long without a solution we were faced with disintegration. While the Japanese learnt from the westerners and concentrated on development. Wheras on our part our develompmetal efforts were full of ups and downs, not successful and wrong. When we take Atse Tewodros his plan to create Ethiopia was by conquest. Thus he even thought it civilized to manufacture weapons and succed in makeing an artillery gun. This direction did not work. After that if we take Atse Minilk he did instead of making foreign technology into ours he took the direction of relying on foreign professionals. Without the fedual nature of the society he just gave it some modern face thus the poverty acclerated and that is the other cause of the danger of our disintegration.

I am not a historian by profession. I hate to disagree but I find Ato Meles’s interpretation of my history regarding my leaders and their place in our past to be a little puzzling. I did not feel insulted. I was not upset. How could I? Thinking of Atse Tewodros like that is beyond my capacity. My humble love, great respect and gratitude forever knows no bounds when it comes to Emperor Tewodros II. He is our collective pride.

Putting that aside there is one issue that has been bugging me since I watched the video. I was trying to come up with an incident where leaders have dismissed their past so casually. I am still looking. Nations are very fragile things. Their egos have to be massaged constantly. Successful leaders know how to do that. They make their people move mountains. Even the most powerful, richest of nations wave their flags and play their national anthems constantly.

You would never hear President Obama discussing the slave ownership of Washington or Jefferson. That would be considered disrespectful. The Indian Prime Minster will never disparage Mahatma Gandhi and live to tell about it. President Zuma does not look down in condensation at the great Kingdoms of the Zulus or the father of his country Nelson Mandela. Historians can theorize all what they fancy but leaders create myth and accentuate the positive legacy. How could you doubt the strength of your foundation while you are trying to build a whole house on top of it? That is my problem.

Ato Meles as usual is standing things head down. Comparing Ethiopia to Japan is wrong and Japanese history is not like that. Japan is a homogenous Nation. It is an Island. Ethiopia is made up of several Nationalities and ethnic groups. Ethiopia is not an Island but surrounded by both friends and enemies. When Tewodros ruled Ethiopia Japan have a weak Emperor and the Shogun ruled in his name. I believe there was one Japan.

When it comes to Emperor Tewodros, I his humble subject is not learned enough to defend him. I am not worthy of that honor. But I cannot sit by when my Emperor’s vision is questioned. I am happy to take the blows however soft. To start with Emperor Tewodros succeeded in his vision of great Ethiopia. Ato Meles is my first exhibit. He is sitting in Arat Kilo because my Emperor laid the foundation one hundred fifty years ago. Now about the business of the Cannon gun, in my opinion it was a brilliant move. The British were approaching from the North, the West and the South. The Italians were sniffing at the Red Sea Coast and the French were probing from the East. The contention between Christianity and Islam was still not settled around us.

Emperor Tewodros understood having a big gun is a good deterrence. He also needed more weapons to extend the reach of his Empire. Surely you don’t expect him to Fed Ex his intentions to King Tona or poke King Aba Jifar to be friends on Facebook. Those days you sent an army and subdue. That is how Nations are forged. It is not unique to us. In fact isn’t that why we are famous? They say with envy you guys have never been colonized and we nod with swollen chest. That is a special gift from our forefathers.

One thing about Emperor Tewodros, he loved his country so much. When he lost to the British he did not shoot the hostages and he was not going to be taken prisoner to give the British a trophy. They have their people he was dead and there was no reason to stay. They burned our churches and ransacked the palace. They stole valuable items like Kibre Negest that they display in their museums and some are sold to collectors. When Ethiopia rises we will bring it all back to Magdella.

Again I am not worthy of defending Emperor Menelik. The whole world knows the true Lion of Adwa. If it was not for Menelik and his multi National army today, we will be speaking Italian and dining on spaghetti. I don’t see any reason why I should say more do you?

What was the reason of all this negative venting by The Leader? I have a theory. I am glad you knew that. My theory is based on the psychological concept developed by Sigmund Freud that stated ‘people use psychological projection to reduce their own stress or feelings of guilt.’ Simply stated Psychological projection is a form of defense mechanism in which someone attributes thoughts, feelings, and ideas which are perceived as undesirable to someone else.’ Ato Meles is projecting his own failure onto our old Emperors. I will attempt to show how.

When Emperor Tewodros appeared on the scene that was a period known as Zemene Mesafint or the Age of the Princes. The Agaws, Amharas, Tigreans, and the Oromo were in the process of creating mini kingdoms. That is what Tewodros conquered. Now what did Ato Meles do? He created the Zemene Warlords. Kilil is reversing the vision of Emperor Tewodros. Projection number 1.

Emperor Menelik was fascinated with technology. Menelik started a banking system, a postal system and signed the agreement with the French to build the one and only railway system. He defended our honor at Adwa and made black people all over the planet very proud. On the other hand during the reign of The Leader he fought with Eritrea and lost, fought with Somali Warlords and lost and is witnessing the starvation of millions of our people. We lost five thousand people at Adwa and over eighty thousand at Badme. Projection #2

When asked about famine being synonymous for Ethiopia The Leader said, “I feel ashamed, it is disgraceful but these things can are not the mistakes of certain individuals” A very curious statement. That is what he wanted to convey all along. That is why the questioner brought it out of the blue. It is interesting. President Obama inherited a country on the verge of a meltdown. That was two years ago. Today folks are mad at him because he has not fixed the problem yet. His re election depends on him making the economy right.

Ato Meles came to power twenty years ago. That is ten times Mr. Obama’s reign. Ato Meles has been blaming the Derg since day one. That was not enough, now he is going back in time. By the next interview he might include Negest Saba. All this to avoid taking responsibility for failed policies. Instead of remorse and shame he comes with excuses. He was given a task and he failed to perform. No one is responsible except him. Not Tewodros, not Menelik, not Mengistu but the person in who is charge now is the owner of the debacle. No need to shift responsibility.

It is wrong for Ato Meles to use the power of his office and the total control of the media to subject our country to such distorted interpretation of our glorious history. It is not all right to discuss imaginary disintegration of our country so lightly. For a lot of us in the Diaspora our country is the one thing that keeps us going when things get tough. Mother Ethiopia is the source of our pride. It is a shame to stand on the shoulders of such giants and deny their achievements.

Arrival of the Ethiopian Spring

By Yilma Bekele

No one likes a whiner. Why complain insistently when it is of no use. We used to be good at that. Whining was our domain. Did I just say ‘was’? Yes I did. It seems that we are coming out of our shell. The Arab Spring has arrived. The Diaspora is infected with a sense of optimism and hope. It is a very good feeling.

It is the {www:convergence} of three events that is making me delirious. To say they are a defining moment in the life of the Ethiopian Diaspora is not an exaggeration. We have made a great leap forward. Whining is so yesterday. Let us just say we are going where no Ethiopian has gone before.

We have made our share of mistakes. We have fallen plenty of time. We have scars to show for it. At long last we are showing signs of life. The giant is waking up. Our tenacity is paying off. We have come to realize there is nothing satisfying like doing the job your self. That little fact escaped us for a long time. A lot longer than some of us would care to remember. The important thing today is that we have arrived. Any mother would be proud of the new us.

What exactly I am gushing about is the founding of ESAT, the successful debut of The Ethiopian Heritage Festival and the just concluded public meeting organized by Alliance for Liberty, Equality and Justice in Ethiopia (ALEJE) in Arlington, VA. All three can be considered a giant step forward in our search for peace, democracy and the rule of law in our motherland.

Free Press is the first causality of a dictatorship. News is professionally filtered before it reaches the citizen. Unfiltered news is viewed as a threat. That is why the Meles regime spends millions to block ESAT, block independent Web sites, jam international newscasts in Ethiopian languages and kill, hound or exile journalists. All this expenditure to block the free flow of information while millions of our people starve. We used to complain and go around in circles seething with anger about this unjust situation. ESAT is our response. Meles, you can run but you can’t hide.

Since its inception ESAT has been battling the Woyane regime. Like they say ‘the strongest steel goes through the hottest fire’ ESAT is being tested. ESAT has shown {www:resiliency}. ESAT has been embraced by the children of Ethiopia. The just concluded fund raising campaign is testimonial of the love of the Diaspora that donated over three hundred thousand dollars to help ESAT. We will nurture ESAT until it penetrates the flimsy Woyane grass curtain.

Organizations that claim to serve the people should be open, transparent and the leaders democratically elected. Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America’s claim to be at the service of the Diaspora was glaringly brought into question during the ‘guest of honor’ selection process. ESFNA refused to listen the call of its supporters for transparency and accountability. We used to complain and threaten all kinds of calamities that will befall the mafia outfit. We used to boil over for a month or two and cool down to zero degrees until the next abuse. The Ethiopian Heritage Festival is our response. We created an organization that is open, transparent and keeper of our beautiful culture and the spirit of our brave ancestors.

The first Ethiopian Heritage Festival was a colossal success. It was a celebration of all things good about us. It was a place where our flag flew with the dignity it deserved. The setting was family friendly and the crowed was in a festive mood. The organizers should be complemented for such a lavish presentation that brought people together to celebrate our culture. Thank you for showing us good things can be done without {www:ulterior} motive. Love for people and country is reason enough and the reward is priceless. We thank the organizers for giving us a choice.

The ugliest malignant cancer introduced into our body politic by the Woyane regime is the concept of Kilil. It is presented as a righteous {www:indignation} of the downtrodden to right what was wrong. It is considered dangerous to even talk about it. It is a cancer cell mimicking to be normal. It has turned our country into a nation of strangers. Its effects even reverberate across the ocean.

Thus it was a breath of fresh air to see Dr. Berhanu Nega of Ginbot7 and Dr. Nuro Dedefo of OLF on the same stage discussing the future of our country. It was a direct contradiction of the concept of Kilil. It was an affirmation of the commonness of our struggle for freedom and Democracy. The twenty years of propaganda to divide us and set brothers and sisters against each other is laid to rest. What unites us is a million times more than our little differences. The symposium in Arlington, VA. was a milestone in our quest for justice.

If you notice the happenings in North Africa there are certain question that have come to the forefront. Why did things go smoothly in Tunisia and Egypt while hell broke loose in Libya and Syria? Among the many explanations presented there is one that seems to define the situation that is common to all. The magic word is the absence of ‘independent civic organizations’ under the two dictatorial regimes. We in Ethiopia are familiar with that mode of operation. That is what the TPLF regime did upon entering our capital city.

The Meles regime’s first order of business was the destruction of all independent organizations and associations. Today’s Ethiopia is marked by the complete absence of any outfit without the presence of TPLF boss at the helm or behind the scene manipulating their chosen manikin dressed up for show. Trade Unions, Chamber of commerce, Teachers Union, Women’s Organizations, Sports Federation and even Political Party are not safe from the Woyanes dirty finger. That is the reason Libya and Syria are on the brink of the abyss since there is no credible voice of the people inside the country.

That is exactly the reason I am full of hope with the emergence of genuine, homegrown response to Woyane atrocity. We are done crying. We are now creating our own robust response to force Woyane to do the crying. We are laying the foundations for sustainable and genuine associations by the people for the people. The seeds are planted, it is the responsibility of each one of us to nurture and grow our future building stones for a free and democratic Ethiopia.

Like it has been said many times ‘if you want it done right it is better if you do it yourself.’ Well it looks like we heeded that call. I believe the three examples are the road in the right direction. We learnt whining does not cut it. Now we are beginning to come with the answer instead of just the question. We have started with a good solid foundation. It is definitely a good beginning. It shows forward thinking, it shows determination and most of all it shows maturity. Our Ethiopian Spring is here. Despite the gloomy report regarding our starving brethren, our inflation whipped parents; we see light at the end of the tunnel. The new road we are traveling looks bright and hopeful.

The ‘domino effect’ in living color

By Yilma Bekele

What is referred to at the domino effect is “a chain reaction that occurs when a small change causes a similar change nearby, which then cause another similar change, and so on in a linear sequence.” We are witnessing that phenomenon right now.

Fear of the domino effect is what got the US involved in Vietnam in the ‘60’s. When The Vietminh under Ho Chi Minh took over North Vietnam and established the Democratic Republic of Vietnam the US was convinced the communists will over run South Vietnam then continue on to Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand and so on. The war was to arrest the Communist juggernaut. Whether it failed or was a success is a matter of interpretation.

A recent example of the fear of the domino effect is the bailout of the Banking system here in the US and Western Europe. The US Treasury came up with the term ‘too big to fail.’ It was felt that allowing a major bank to go bankrupt would start a chain reaction that will threaten the capitalist system, as we know it. The taxpayer was compelled to prop up the banks with no interest loans and a guarantee by the Federal Reserve to do what is necessary to protect the integrity of the system.

This last week the domino effect came home to roost in every capital city where freedom and civil rights have been put in the back burner. Our beautiful and brave friends in Tunisia started the ball rolling in a spectacular fashion. May the almighty bless Tunisians and their ancestors. The elegant system they devised to topple a tyrant of over twenty years was awe inspiring in its simplicity and ease of application. It was a work of art. They are still fine tuning their copy righted manual “Seven Easy Steps to Get Rid of A Tyrant©”

An ordinary citizen named Mohamed Bouaziz set himself on fire because he decided it was not worth living in such an environment. I have no idea if he saw the bigger implication of his one-person defiance. For whatever reason he did it for, his public immolation set the domino effect in motion. Let us just say tyrants everywhere are rethinking their future prospects. No matter what brave face they present or pretend to do business as usual Tunisia has scared the pants out of them.

There was no fighting force in Tunisia. There was no opposition party that seized the leadership. Religion was not a factor. There were no glaring signs that things were simmering. But in less than thirty days the eruption of dis-content engulfed a whole nation. In a blink of an eye el macho, full of himself, the leader for life, tyrant and bully Ben Ali was stripped of his humanity.

It looks like Egypt is the next domino piece to fall. May be not. It really don’t matter, the foundation is showing cracks as big as Abbay gorge. Sooner or later it will crumble. As I write this, it is the third day of spontaneous protests and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel for Mubarak and company. His son who was considered the heir apparent left for London with his wife and family. Now Mrs. Mubarak is reported to be in London too. I assume the tyrant of thirty years will join them soon enough. I will also venture to state that dictator Mubarak and family will settle in the US for the rest of their life in exile. Welcome fellow refugees.

Since I am in this euphoric mood may I predict the fall of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the demise of “The Leader”. For you not in the know, that is how they refer to Corporal Gaddafi of Libya to be followed by Saleh of Yemen. Even Lloyds of London will deny King Abdallah II and Colonel Gaddafi’s life insurance coverage.

With all this excitement twirling in North Africa and the Middle East it was strange to listen to Secretary of State Hillary Clintons advice to the Egyptian people. Reuters reported that “US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday urged all sides in Egypt to exercise restraint following street protests and said she believed the Egyptian government was stable and looking for ways to respond to its people’s aspirations.”

It sounds familiar to Ethiopians. In the aftermath of the 2005 elections the US and European Diplomats were urging Kinijit to show restraint. It is sort of strange advice after her forceful statement congratulating the Tunisian people. It would not be surprising if the Department of State condemns the abuse of power by former President Mubarak and his associates of course after his downfall. It is not only dictatorships that refuse to learn, super powers are short sighted too.

With all this drama around us, it is not asking a lot to see if we can learn a few lessons so we can make our transformation less painful. The last two times we tried this game of change we sort of stumbled and fell hard. Let us hope the third time it will be a charm.

We have a lot in common with both Tunisia and Egypt. All our leaders have abused their welcome by twenty years and over. The regimes are based on single party rule. Opposition is not tolerated. They speak the language of democracy and emerging economies. They trade heavily with the current currency of being anti terrorism. They are favored by both the IMF and the World Bank. The youth unemployment hovers 30% and more. No matter how much rosy picture the IMF and their propaganda machines paint, the reality is their economy has stagnated. It cannot support the aspirations of the people.

Compared to the two, Ethiopia is a little different. We are lot poorer. Ethiopia is still a peasant society. Communication like Internet, Television, and Radio are deliberately suppressed. Our leader understands knowledge is power. In Ethiopia there is a Communications Department that oversees what is being said and printed in the country.

In both Tunisia and Egypt what is being called ‘Social Media’ played a big role in the citizens ability to be informed and organize. Facebook and twitter are the new heroes. That is what we lack in Ethiopia. The Meles regime was aware of the power of information and suppressed the media. The 2005 general elections proved to Meles and company the danger of even a half free press.

But we are innovative people. We will always find a way out. We created ESAT. I know Voice of America and Deutche Welle are doing an excellent job of informing our people. But ESAT is different. ESAT is you and I. It is the result of our own labor and sweat. It is accountable to no one but us. ESAT is our Facebook and twitter. The TPLF regime knows that. They will spare no amount of expenses to shut ESAT down. They have done it once. They will try again. We will deny them that pleasure.

You know how we do that? We make ESAT strong. We make ESAT independent. We contribute to make ESAT to have the best capability to inform our people. It is easy. Go to and you can give using pay pal, bank transfer or just call them. It is not how much you give. That is not the issue. It is all about building from scratch and encouraging the best in us. There is no point feeling good about Tunisia and hoping for Egypt. We can help them by contributing our share of liberating our corner of the world. Go to and give your share. It could be ten dollars or a thousand but what matters is you gave. Are you up to the challenge?

The Meles Doctrine

By Yilma Bekele

What exactly is a doctrine is a good question. It is a formal way leaders lay down their beliefs, principles, and/or vision so that their citizens will have some clue of where they are taking the country. Apparently Sarah Palin was not aware of the concept, when she sat down with a reporter before the 2008 elections. When asked regarding her understanding of the ‘Bush Doctrine’, the barracuda from Wasilla, drew blank. Her simple innocent answer was ‘in what respect Charlie?’

I do not want you responding ‘in what respect Charlie? when asked about the Meles Doctrine. There is of course a big difference between ‘Ideology’ and ‘Doctrine’. One can say ‘ideology’ and ‘doctrine’ are cousins that can easily be confused by the layman. Marxism is an ideology. Leninism, Stalinism, Maoism are upgrades. Then you have the poor man cheap Apps. that do not rise to the level of ideology, but are thrown in to give petty tyrants a certain air of intellectualism. Juiche in North Korea, Ujama in Tanzania, Green Revolution in Libya etc. are good examples. If you remember Ato Meles came up with ‘revolutionary democracy’ to explain his style, but unfortunately, it did not get traction. It was not definable because it was just empty rhetoric thrown in to explain single ethnic supremacy.

Let us look at some famous ‘Doctrines’ to get a better understanding of the term. I will start with the ‘Monroe Doctrine’. The Monroe Doctrine is a United States policy that was introduced on December 2, 1823, which stated that “further efforts by European countries to colonize land or interfere with states in the Americas would be viewed, by the United States of America, as acts of aggression requiring US intervention.” The US President was warning the European powers to stay out of this hemisphere.

The Truman Doctrine was a policy set forth by U.S. President Harry Truman on March 12, 1947 stating that the U.S. would support Greece and Turkey with economic and military aid to prevent them from falling into the Soviet sphere. It was a warning to Stalin to stay put.

Last but not least, we have the ‘Bush Doctrine’. Compared to the other doctrines, the Bush Doctrine was as confused as the person himself. It was left open for others to define it and/or to attribute different meanings to the concept. It went something like ‘the US should depose regimes that represented potential or perceived threat to the security of the US even if that threat was not immediate.’ It was an open-ended policy to justify the use of military power. Those without a few nukes were worried.

The ‘Meles Doctrine’ was officially unveiled during his speech at the ‘World Leaders Forum’ last month. It was supposed to be a moment of great significance that will usher a new path of ‘salvation’ for the developing countries. It was a crowning moment organized by his friends and fans for our ‘Dear leader for life’ to shine in the international scene. Professor Stiglitz referred to it as ‘academic dialogue.’ A lot of work went into it. The speech was written, rewritten, proofread, and deemed Columbia worthy by all top TPLF cadres, at least all those that can read. Thanks to the ‘vocal Diaspora’ it fell on deaf ears. How could one formulate such an earth shaking theory with such incessant jabbering by misguided Diaspora and unworthy audience that filled the auditorium. Pox on all of them.

I will attempt to right that went wrong. I took my time and listened to the speech thanks to you tube

Professor Joseph Stiglitz’s introduction was both revealing and sad. The Professor is a Nobel laureate and a highly respected economist. Why the good professor is ignoring the findings of highly respected international organizations regarding his guests alleged ‘criminal’ acts is not clear. I didn’t know being a Noble laureate entitles one to forgive and befriend dictators that believe in ethnic purity. I was a little surprised when he said ‘I hope he will, I am sure he will say a few words about Ethiopia’s economic progress.’ What else dear professor, when the title of the discussion was ‘The current global environment and its impact on Africa.’ Am I mistaken in thinking that the prime Minster will talk in general and support his argument with first hand experience as it affected good old Ethiopia?

He did not even mention Ethiopia. Not even once. Not even as an example of ‘neo-liberalism’s failure, the subject he is trying to prove passé. I felt insulted. We don’t even fare a footnote in such a forum. Anyway, without further ado, here is Ato Meles in his own words explaining the Meles Doctrine.

“The last three decades which could be described as the decades of the emergence and triumph of neo liberalism in key centers of global power and hence throughout much of the world have been very bad decades for Africa. They have for all intensive purposes been lost decades. At the beginning period Africa faced a huge burdens and associated micro economic imbalances and low rates of economic growth due to weak management of the economy and unfortunate external circumstances, therefore it was forced to seek support from the international financial institutions which had by then become key enforcers of the emerging neo liberal paradigm. Africa was asked to undergo fundamental neo liberal economic reforms and in return for the support it sought from the international financial institutions. These reforms were sold as the ultimate salvation for its problems and were supposed to lead to sustained economic growth and transformation. The reforms could not and did not lead to salvation. On the contrary the limited industrialization of the continent that has taken place since independence was reversed with no economic revival in sight…..Africans were made to see that neo liberalism was the only game in town ….. this insanity of implementing the same failed neo liberal policies and expecting different resulted in another lost decade during the 90’s. While Africa was mired in perpetual economic crisis and associated political malaise punctuated by horrific and senseless violence neo liberal globalization was making tremendous progress…(here he makes a linear analysis of the international economic situation regarding the emergence of China, India and others) …it was towards the end of the roaring 90’s that the pretense of neo liberal reforms finally leading to sustained growth then transformation in Africa was finally and more or less explicitly abandoned. Africa was now more or less explicitly being managed as a lost case, as a continental ghetto on the margins of a fast globalizing world….. Poverty in Africa was seen to be endemic. The new name of the game thus because not the transformation of Africa’s poverty thru neo liberal reform, thru neo liberal or other reform but the management of its chronic poverty. The objective became to alleviate poverty in Africa and limit the damage of its poverty to itself and to the rest of the world. A new generation of externally driven poverty alleviation strategies thus mushroomed over night thru out the continent…..the emergence of new players in the global economy in general and the emergence of China in particular was beginning to significantly impact on Africa’s economic prospect….as the emerging powers were either opposed to the neo liberalism or reluctant to evangelize on its behalf a new and different game came to town ….Africans have for the first time in three decades real alternatives to the orthodoxy, they now have a choice that they have not had for a long time. The fact the Africans now have a choice is in of itself fundamentally liberating above and beyond that Africans now have a real chance to chart a new course of development, one that incorporates best practice elsewhere and is capable to generating fast growth and transformation. “

That is his story and he is sticking to it. It is very important that you watch the youtube video or re-read the excerpt above. I just want to make sure you know that I am not making it up.

What exactly is the neo liberalism that Ato Meles is ranting about? Here is a definition of the term from

Neoliberalism is a market-driven[1] approach to economic and social policy based on neoclassical theories of economics that stresses the efficiency of private enterprise, liberalized trade and relatively open markets, and therefore seeks to maximize the role of the private business sector in determining the political and economic priorities of the state.

Thus, what he is theorizing is that the West led by the US and Britain, forced poor Africans to follow this prescription that caused the current distressful situation. Unfortunate for the West, their bankrupt theory has come home to haunt them as seen by the ongoing economic melt down. On the other hand, it had a positive effect on countries like India and China, which brings us to his fantastic conclusion that Africans can now abandon neo liberal voodoo economics and follow the Chinese path that comes without evangelizing about certain bad and nasty African habits such as dictatorship, human right abuse, Kleptocracy, and general evil deeds.

The problem is Ato Meles is not some University professor going on a limb and coming up with fantastic scenarios to prove. No, Ato Meles is a leader of a country. He is, though a Prime Minster by title, the de facto King of Ethiopia. His wish is the law. His theory is the practice of his party. His belief is the national policy. All this is due to the simple fact that he controls the military and public security, both perfect tools of coercion.

Now it would have been better if he has volunteered some factual data to support his argument. After all this is not some Starbucks discussion where anything goes. If we are going to have an ‘academic dialogue’ as promised by the Professor, let us at least make it real and not some ‘Alice in wonderland’ tale.

When he claims that the International financial institutions ‘forced fundamental economic reforms’ on Africans, he should tell us what exactly they forced Ato Meles to do to get financial relief? Let us take the policy of deprivatization as practiced in Ethiopia. I don’t think the IMF prescription was to create a private business (EFFORT) in the name of an ethnic group or sell the illegally expropriated property back to the original owners at inflated price. We are not even going to talk about land. Ethiopia is the only country in Africa where all land belongs to the government and is leased by its people. Americans say ‘there is a sucker born every minute’, they must have been thinking of us.

When he says ‘Africa faced a huge burdens and associated micro economic imbalances and low rates of economic growth due to weak management of the economy and unfortunate external circumstances’, does it sound like shifting responsibility? Let us see Africa was mismanaged by the like of:
· Mengistu Hailemariam of Ethiopia 1974-1991. King of ‘Red Terror’ specialized in using ‘neighborhood committees (kebeles)’ to terrorize and murder over a million citizens. (Body count 1.5 Million lives) He destroyed a generation of future leaders that the country has not yet recovered from.
· Idi Amin of Uganda 1971-1979. Specialized in removal of organs (bodies were found with genitals, eyes, livers, noses missing) and prisoners were forced to bludgeon each other to death with sledgehammers. (Body count about 300,000 lives)
· Jean Bedel Bokassa of Central African Republic 1966-1979. Specialized in cannibalism and known for murder of Scholl age children for refusing to wear uniform manufactured in his factory. (Money count $125 Million)
· Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire 1965-1997. Specialized in what is known as ‘Kleptocracy’ where the distinction between state assets and his own was blurred. (Money count $4 Billion)
· Charles Taylor of Liberia 1997-2003. Rain of death on Liberia and its neighbors. Specialized in ‘child solders’ and his personal fortune was greater than Liberia’s GNP. (Body count over 300,000 lives)
Which of these gentlemen is expected to invest time and energy on good governance and nation building? Micro economic imbalance doesn’t sound credible to me. It is more like ‘lack of accountability and megalomania and a dash of grandiosity’ on the part of these mad men in charge.

As for the theory that commodities are bringing more wealth to Africa, it is a tried and tired notion. Africa’s problem is not the lack of money, but it is purely lack of democracy, the rule of law, and accountability. Look at Nigeria where the leaders have stolen over $400 billion from the oil income Yes, that is billion. Guess what they did with it? Deposit it in Swiss, London, or New York banks.

He concludes by saying ‘Africans have for the first time in three decades real alternatives to the orthodoxy, they now have a choice that they have not had for a long time.’ I fail to see what is new here. Didn’t we have a bi-polar world with just two super powers? So what is the big deal about replacing the Russians with the Chinese? Is the expectation that the Chinese for some pure altruism will be better masters than the ferenjis? Shifting between the West and the East did not bring us any gains last time around. They played volleyball with us. Should we give it another try? Didn’t Ato Meles make a choice when he followed the Albanian model? Of course, he grew up and replaced it with the Western model that he is outgrowing today. What is this madness about adapting a new model at this late in the game?

On the other hand, we are told and retold that the Ethiopian economy is growing double digits and is the talk of the continent. Why would anybody quarrel with such an impressive record? Shouldn’t Ethiopia be presented as poster country for the ‘triumph’ of neo liberalism? It is not good to bite the hand that feeds, is it? Or was the growth statistics a hoax? What is curious is that the Chinese we are trying to emulate are moving towards the Western model at the speed of light. Chairman Mao’s body was not even cold when Deng Xiaoping remarked “black cat, white cat, I don’t care what color it is as long as it catches mice”? Today’s China is boasting plenty of billionaires and the Communist Party is working overtime to balance economic growth and political freedom. A very elusive goal if you ask me. What part of that system are we ogling? Don’t tell me we are looking at the Chairman!

The Meles Doctrine should be declared dead on arrival. It needs work. It is not ready for prime time. The PM should go back to the drawing board and give his argument some meat. Declaration might work when one is dealing with underlings but scholarly work requires a little bit more diligence. In my humble opinion the ‘Doctrine’ suffers from tunnel vision. It looks at the world in one dimension. It is afraid to look out side of the box. I agree with his often repeated statement about ‘the insanity of implementing the same failed policy and expecting different result.’ Isn’t presenting the choice between the Western and Chinese model following a failed road.

The ‘creative potential’ of the Ethiopian people is not taken into consideration. Surely a people scattered all over that left their country bare feet to settle in strange lands and manage to send over a billion US dollars in remittances is a formidable force. They are the same people that work hard and invest in Ethiopia that Ato Meles is taking credit for. If it was not for the Diaspora remittance (a cool billion a year) TPLF’s Ethiopia will be one destitute place. We daily think of those that stayed behind and are suffering the brunt of the fire of poverty, ethnic degradation, famine and general apathy. They should be commended for being so calm and peaceful under trying circumstances. Our people are our precious asset. Our only choice is having faith in ourselves and meeting the challenge head on. There is no free lunch in this life. Both the East and the West require a pound of flesh for their handout. The idea of playing one against the other is a zero sum game. It is so yesterday, it is pathetic.

Ethiopian and Californian elections

By Yilma Bekele

It is election season in California. Two positions are open. The governorship and Federal Senate positions are up for grabs. Both parties, that is the Democrats and Republicans are going thru the primary process to nominate their strongest candidates for the November elections. November is Six months away but the contest is becoming hot.

Television and radio are the two preferred medias to reach the electorate. We are being inundated by sleek commercials costing millions of dollars. The candidates are spending their own money, their supporter’s money and their friend’s money as if it grows on trees. There is no such thing as ordinary elections. It is both art and a science. Nothing is left to chance. Commercials are prepared after a lengthy process of focus groups, pools, psychological impact, sociological studies and good old ‘makes me feel good’ assessments.

There have been lengthy debates between the contestants organized by independent groups. Free, vibrant and long debates on issues are standard. There is a media watch group checking all the facts thrown by the candidates. A small mistake can be their undoing, so they are very careful before they open their mouth. They avoid what is known as ‘foot in the mouth disease’. Supporters organize town hall meetings, neighborhood functions and public rallies to introduce their candidate. Fans put signs on their front lawn, windows, cars and every conceivable open space to advertise their preferences. They set up phone banks to call every voter, prepare mailers, use their email accounts and move heaven and earth to reach every last voter.

There is no such thing as government imposed ‘Election code of conduct’ on the candidates, journalists or the party’s. The local Police, State Police and the Federal police (FBI) are not part of the equation. The State has not yet threatened the candidates regarding their positions on issues and the possibilities of being charged for their frank opinions. The Governor has not warned the party’s regarding any wild intentions of withdrawal from the election. No one has offered to come and observe the election. The candidates have not requested observers either.

The candidates know that the voter is sovereign. They are no attempt to belittle the citizen or intimidate an opponent. It is not acceptable behavior. One-person one vote is the rule. It is not always perfect but there is no organized attempt to steal, cheat or exclude.

The voting in our neighborhood is conducted in a small church around the corner from our house. They have a roll of names from DMV, check your name and hand you a ballot. Ethiopians that have arrived a matter of six years ago and that have acquired US citizenship can vote. The only requirement is citizenship and age.

It is election season in Ethiopia too. Citizens are voting for membership in the Federal Parliament. The Party with the highest number of winners will form the next government. That is well and good, but as they say the ‘devil is in the details’. There are a few issues we have to clarify in this Kafkaesque process of election in Ethiopia. Kafkaesque is an apt description of what is billed as election. Here I am using the term to mean ‘intentional distortion of reality, senseless disorienting, often menacing complexity and a sense of impending danger’ by the one party state.

To begin with there is the ‘National Election Board of Ethiopia’ (NEBE) appointed by the ruling party. The members of this government body owe their allegiance to the party. Please see PM Meles’s interview with Stephen Sackur’s regarding the election board. ( Their survival depends on the whims of the Prime Minster and his TPLF party Politburo (it is an old Soviet term to mean Central Committee of the ruling mafia group). It is alive and well in Ethiopia. There is also an ‘Election Code of Conduct’ proposed as (‘”I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse” kind) and a few ‘chosen’ ones signed the contract. The ‘code of conduct’ is an all-reaching agreement that controls the activities of the Party’s, the Media the Candidates and the air they breathe. It is entirely drawn by the ruling TPLF party and the TPLF appointed Judiciary is the final arbitrator of all issued raised. If the election is a football match this will be analogous to having the TPLF assign the referee, linesmen, the football rules and is in control of the stadium with its own security force.

There are over eighty political party’s registered by NEBE. All but less than five are organized by the ruling TPLF party. Most exist by name only to be activated on a need basis. They can field candidates recruited by the regime, accept state funds thru the ruling party and show up for make believe debates and official functions. They have assigned ‘leaders’ from their own ethnic group but TPLF cadres (mostly Tigrai) run the show from behind.

The fantasy created is so real that it puts real competition to shame. There are candidates but they cannot campaign, meetings are allowed but meeting venues are closed or owners of such places as hotel halls or parks are threatened by the state not to allow opposition activities. Candidates meetings with their constituents are discouraged by arresting and intimidating their supporters. Please read Dr. Negasso Gidada’s article ( Debates are held but since all parties are counted as real the opposition ends up with a fraction of the time. The opposition candidates have to be careful what they say in the heat of the debate since the Prime Minster have warned about the dangers of prosecution after the election.

The opposition cannot campaign in the Kilils due to fear of intimidation and the real danger of being beaten, jailed, and property like cars, video cameras damaged. Please see Dr. Merera’s report regarding his visit to Moyale (click here). The only exception seems to be in Tigrai due to the fact that the candidates were former members of the ruling party and seem to have clout in the military. It is ‘check mate’ situation in Tigrai. The rest of the Kilils are like the American ‘wild west’ where might is right.

Television and radio are the sole property of the TPLF party. The opposition is given the two minutes during debates that are also delayed for ‘editing’ purpose while the ruling party is allowed twenty-three hours and fifty minutes. The independent ‘print media’ has been decimated thus it does not play any significant role while make believe ‘independent’ newspapers are a few but loud.

Supporters of the opposition Party cannot campaign door to door, neither holds meetings in their own houses nor put up placards on their cars or front door. It will surely invite catastrophe and this fact is clear to all. The mere attempt of wearing T-shirts with the opposition name and picture is a criminal offense. The law to watch out regarding meetings is the new ‘terrorist’ law passed after the last election. Please see Human Rights Watch analysis of the law here.

Election observers are members of the TPLF party and its junior affiliates. Foreign observers are a few in number and rendered ineffective by the ‘code of conduct’ that specifies no video, no picture and no interview in the pooling places. Ferenji philosophy is ‘I will not tell unless you complain’.

Suffice to say that the only thing the two elections have in common is the word ‘election’. In California the citizen is free to make his choice without undue pressure from anyone. In California the chances of electing the most capable person for the position is statistically high. In California the candidates have utilized every available media to let the citizen know their stand on issues. In California the Kilil and the Federal government have taken ‘hands off’ attitude and recognized the right of the citizen to make a decision based on his own conscience. In California the ‘candidates’ are not threatened with harm, their family and friends intimidated or stay up all night gripped with fear of what tomorrow might bring.

In Ethiopia the election is over before it started. For the opposition it is what is called as ‘fait accompli’ situation. That means it is over before you know what happened and it is not reverse able. As the sun will rise up from the East tomorrow morning TPLF (EPDRF) will have a majority in parliament, Ato Meles will be elected Prime Minister and more than ten million Ethiopians will wake up hungry with no prospects for a good lunch the day after the ‘democratic election’.

In this election over half of the country is closed to the opposition. There have been three reported incidents of candidates being murdered the last two months. The one Party State has been known to use lethal force on its citizens. It is a clear warning of what is to come. There are not enough brave souls that are foolish enough to tempt fate and stand for elections. In the Democratic Republic of Ethiopia the Chairman of the strongest opposition party is jailed on trumped up charges (Chairman Bertukan Mideksa). The logo of the opposition is awarded to an affiliate of the ruling party (CUDP logo to EDP). The name of the opposition party is handed to ‘hand picked’ leader (CUD to Ato Ayele Chamiso). Even the Chairman of an opposition party is removed from his position and a new one replaced by the NEBE (Dr. Merera and ONC). In Ethiopia the chances of electing the most capable person is nil, zero none.

Please note this not due the Ethiopian people being stupid and incapable. It is due to a lack of good governance. Election 2005 marks a watershed in our country’s history. It showed us that our people embrace the concept of good competition and fair election. The road to the elections were the most exiting, hopeful and a rebirth of the good old Ethiopian ‘free and proud’ mindset. The atmosphere was ripe with anticipation and people were filled with purpose and unity. That Ethiopian sense of ‘not trusting’ was hovering in the background but we choose to believe that a positive outcome was possible. What can I say the Nation was drunk with hope?

The ruling party sent all kinds of signals to show that it hasn’t changed. A few candidates were murdered and some beaten. We knew it was part of the ‘weaning process’ of a Party that was used to violence. You just can’t expect them to quit cold turkey. The PM raised the specter of ‘interhawme’. Alarms were raised and dismissed. Another hiccups we thought. The May rally at Meskel Square was our epiphany. At last we knew that we are good people that can unite for a great purpose. Please read Ato Debebe Eshetu’s article on Awramba Times. Meskel Square showed that under the right conditions we are capable of rising above religion, ethnic affiliation and social class.

We come to the most important question now. Why participate in such a farce? The real answer is, it does not really matter much. Why discuss something that is insignificant in the great scheme of life. What is true is that a democratic election is a process of building a successful, growing and peaceful society. Those countries that hold democratic and free elections have a stable, peaceful and healthy society. Those that deny the basic right of their people suffer from civil war, insurrection and a miserable population always on the verge of catastrophe.

The Ethiopian election is not democratic. The Ethiopian Nation the TPLF leaders have built for the last eighteen years has not borne any fruit. It has only exacerbated the problems they inherited from the failed Junta dictatorship. The TPLF philosophy is not capable of growing the economy, creating real peace and having a happy, healthy and content population. The economic system of favoring an ethnic group to lord it over all others does not work. The idea of a single ruling party and ethnic group monopolizing both the military, and the business sector does not work. The concept of power emanating from above and treating the population as serfs does not work.

Thus electing some members from Medrek, some from AEUO, EDP and others is not a game changer. The problem is not the number of party’s. The system itself is the problem. With the Ethiopian system the question is not a matter of fine-tuning it. It is a complete overhaul that is called for. Party’s can go ahead participate to their hearts content, but remember other than creating employment for a few more individuals it is not going to make an iota of difference. And arguing whether to participate or not at this eleventh hour is only to create a distraction from the shameless act that is to follow. Just do not expect us to cry when you scream foul because Meles cheated or your behind is hauled to Kaliti for further schooling on the true nature of a dictatorial one party state. We promise not to say ‘we told you so!’ Furthermore, this business of bitching because you are not offered a solution is very lame. If someone tells you jumping from a cliff will kill you it doesn’t mean that not jumping will help you solve your problem. Telling you not to jump gives you another chance to contemplate, and to find a lasting solution that will prevent you from entertaining this crazy idea of trying to solve a fundamental problem by ending your life.