By: O. Ujilu
Forbidden City, China 2008/01/19
To begin with, it is high time for CUD and UEDF to start talks and weed out the sources of division to build on the culture of working together. As these two parties vastly share common vision and command popular backing of the Ethiopian people, this is the time to affirm their resolve to lead the peoples movement and restore lost confidence. At this juncture, Ethiopians are impatient to see to it a renaissance of partnership, solidarity and patriotism in lieu of protracted altercation. The old habits of skirmish proved disastrous and stalemate to any course of action. There is no way out except tearing this wall down and showing commitment to bail out our nation from this predicament.
Meanwhile, it is worth mentioning new signs of encouraging unofficial cooperation within the unity camp making headway in the past few months. What was impressive is a one time confrontational children of Ethiopia push their differences aside and break the ice to stand shoulder to shoulder, share sympathetic feelings and supportive attitude. I urge these organizations to capitalize on this promising breakthrough, foster cooperation and set the stage for others to take part.
For our crusade to germinate and mushroom we have to reach the most disadvantaged and forgotten communities to board and sail on the same vessel. About 70% of our people are in the countryside. It is morally essential and strategically productive to look at the rural Ethiopians who constitute the majority of the country. A strategy that overlooks this section of our society as central is bound to fall flat miserably. The mobilization process has to jump-start from the political capital we gained in the previous election and build on it brick-by-brick and layer by layer. It makes no sense to write off what was accomplished and start all over again. Reawakening the old ways of EPRP and AEUPs mass organization genius could trigger a chain reaction in every nook and cranny of our nation to stand up together.
The attempt to reconcile with EPRDF is an empty rhetoric. Can anyone help bring North and South Poles on a round table to resolve their differences? Well aware of oppositions spinelessness, EPRDF will continue downplaying the need to reconcile. The unpleasant noises that we hear around working with EPRDF are barefaced and preposterous at best. Ethiopians are tired of hypocrisy and subterfuge. If by miracle the regime learn to abstain from old tricks and come clean to play fair game, lets see to all intents and purposes down-the-line. No play-act! No window-dressing!
How can we turn our differences into common good?
The road that we travelled since the 1974 popular revolution is becoming increasingly dangerous and dotted with lots of potholes. A new wave of defection (what some call it Lidetus Flu) scales down our strength and exploited to the tune of tyranny. We are facing an important puzzle that how do we solve the riddle of defection that marred our determination and capacity to challenge the regime in power? At this time of our nations highest calling, we have to realign and patch up our failures to move on a new spirit of resolve.
CUDs experience has already thought us an important lesson of the danger of putting all apples in the same basket. It constantly reminds us the need to be judicious in sorting and grading into appropriate place. Similarly, lumping parties with deferent background and political culture together proved unfeasible. Noncompliance of mainly Kestedamena members is important lesson to learn by heart. It is understandable that there are individuals burnt with pipe dreams to seek their own political space to have their own castles that CUD likely not keep a roof over their heads.
I personally do not bother if individuals endeavor for the best and grandest without stepping on moral grounds that we value most. Perhaps, the resurrection of their former party Kestedamena could be a agreeable option for those who aspire to pursue their ambitious dream and leave the peoples party – CUD alone. However, the current fruitless drive to expropriate CUD at the expense of the Ethiopian dream is simply destructive and ill-conceived. Pretty well, they know the only one to make the profit out of it is the regime in power. I have a feeling that, depending the way they recognize this truth, could make or break their future political standing.
If Kestedamena assumed to stand by it self and work constructively in partnership with CUD and other political actors, it will then be a win-win solution for everyone. No sensible people do embark on an impulsive project of self-destruction to bring an opponent down. My sincere recommendation for Kestedamena to stand by itself emanated from the fact that its minuscule representation to claim CUD is unwarranted and the condition to stay as part and parcel of CUD spoiled and unviable. A strategy of standing by itself and play constructive role in loose partnership will certainly help to bridge the gap and transcend into slicing the fruits of collaborative efforts.
In case of EPRP dissenters, conflict resolution formula may not be as complex as the Kestedamenas case. EPRP has to make effort as promised in its communiqué to setup mediators and constructively resolve their outstanding differences. After all they have been spending most of their life as camaraderie in three challenging consecutive regimes.
Time for loyal oppositions to reflect:
In my humble view, every opposition including those who join the parliament must be accommodated and courted to join hands with the opposition camp. The oppositions strategy has to be formulated in such a way that the EPRDF regime runs out of pretexts used to fool the world. Sadly enough, loyal oppositions are the ones who spoiled the strategy to bring EPRDF to the negotiating table and pressure to play fair game in equal terms. Therefore, bringing loyal oppositions onboard of the opposition vessel is the first most important phase of plan of action the oppositions to think about. Once they are on the unity fold, it may be easier to tell EPRDF, STOP YOUR JOKES!
Recognizing and reflecting on violations of trust that the loyal opposition made will definitely help us understand the level of damage caused and the opportunity we missed. Without such understanding and reflection we may drift along in a comfortable haze of denial. Indeed, the dramatic nature of betrayal had distracted us from the more vital short and long term strategy and severed the psyche of the Ethiopian people to trust oppositions. The truth of the matter in our own lives can be settled only by honest, rigorous self-examination on our bonds of trust with each other and the general public we claim to represent.
No question, violations of trust can shatter our perception of the world and our place in it. However, in order to move beyond this subjective sensation, we must integrate the experience within the larger context of the world in which we live in. Although some of our compatriots break ranks to join parliament, this time asks for a second thought how to move on the right direction. The precarious condition of our country urges us to revitalize the struggle and deny tyranny in our soil without fail. This is a grand project calls for a new approach by closing the unfortunate chapter of our recent past and move forward. It is my sincere belief that this unholy marriage did reduce them to oblivion and taught them a painful lesson. Let me clear my argument in the following scenarios that may help us to figure out what course of action we have to follow.
Scenario # 1: (If loyal oppositions are not accommodated)
It doesnt take an expertise to discern that they have no alternative but carry on playing loyal opposition role with a promise to retain their seats as softener from EPRDF. Dont forget EPRDF is going to manipulate them as marketing tool to spread around façade of a perfect election. Whether they are guaranteed to retain their seats as promised is a matter of time. One has to ask does EPRDF honor its promises. The answer is, absolutely not! That means their hope is hanging in the air.
Lets assume EPRDF honors its promises by a quirk of fate. But, will voters forgive them to cast in their favor? Absolutely not! Recently, I bump into an old friend who came from Ethiopia over a cup of coffee and run the gossip mill. He made no secret his resolve to boycott the 2010 election. If he is compelled to do so, he said, I better vote for an EPRDF animal rather than an opposition chameleon kept on changing colors at every turn of opportunity. This scenario did prove me loyal oppositions are waiting their final days on political death row. As a matter of fact, it is naïve to think, they are unaware of the down-and-dirty truth of this scenario. Indeed, they are standing at crossroads incoherently. Nevertheless what the future holds, if the opposition camp blocks the road, they will definitely hang in there playing the spoilers cameo role. Then, carefully crafted phony election rules and procedures christened by EPRDF will roll out, and the hopes and aspirations of Ethiopians for a better change will be postponed for unspecified time. Meanwhile, EPRDF will comfortably extend the lease to destroy our nation for one more ugly term.
Scenario # 2: (If they are accommodated)
If they are accommodated to join ranks in constructive manner, the loopholes that EPRDF using to derail the process of democratization will effectively be shutdown. By contrast, the trust among the oppositions will be solidified and get up steam to energize the struggle. In other words, the capacity to mount powerful pressure on EPRDF will be multiplied. The effect transforms the downhearted masses into robust and formidable fighters for their own rights. As a result, EPRDF will run out of excuses and leverage either to give in to the peoples demand or openly declare GOOD BYE DEMOCRACY. My recommendation is UNITY IS INDESPENSIBLE and we have to bring all oppositions onboard for a win-win solution, without SACRIFICING cherished principles of UNSEATING TYRANNY and the INTEREST OF OUR NATION.
Examine how the strategy works:
First of all CUD and UEDF have to come together and devise a roadmap how to deal with all odds of our struggle. In my view we are confronting many battles on multiple fronts. Aside EPRDF and loyal oppositions, self-claimed ethnocentric liberation fronts and resource hungry neocolonialists are posing threat to the security of our nation. This is high time all patriotic Ethiopians to rise in unison and defend OUR COUNTRY. The reason I choose to begin with CUD and UEDF is due to the fact that both organizations have the clout and political capital to influence the public while playing constructive role as uniting forces. I strongly believe these parties are capable of tilting the balance of power if they are quick to work together in good spirit and fraternity. By all means they have the strength and knack of mobilizing the masses to salvage our beloved nation from the yoke of tyranny. The May 2005 election was our fresh memories to prove me right.
In my view, EPRDF is not as strong as we may think to present formidable resistance, if we are working hand in hand and alienate from all pretexts that used to ride free. EPRDF is a lone reed growing on sand that can be humbled with a cupful of wind. EPRDF strength never had been derived from the support of the masses it command, but from devious schemes employed to divide and conquer. Therefore, our challenge is simply to roll back division in to unity, indifference into compassion and suspicion into trust. We have to embrace all Ethiopians across the spectrum, minimize confrontation and offer them to join hands as long us they believe in the Ethiopian nationhood, territorial integrity and the rule of law. Our approach must revolve around promoting win-win solution by reinstating trust and confidence in one hand and isolating tyranny and denying all tributaries that feed its survival on the other.
What to expect from elders, religious leaders and scholars:
Nevertheless Ethiopia was endowed with a long tradition of conflict resolution mechanism through local elders, religious leaders and wise men, it seems now failed her to respond when she deserves such intervention more than ever. The CUD and EPRP internal crisis would have been curtailed if the traditional peacemaking system acted immediately. Contrary to our expectation, even some scholars indulging themselves in stirring the skirmish.
Some may think intervention may be employed to temper confrontation exclusively between sworn enemies. In my view, friendly enemies could also complicate the matter sometimes worse than a sworn adversary. The truth is, it is possible to keep sworn enemy at bay but practically impossible a friendly one. The stakes in a friendly enemy are very high because it stays on friendly terms, pretend as loyal while collecting weak points and dazzle with praise until finishing the project of bringing down secretly kept opponent. The good news is, it may be much easier to contain damage and resolve confrontation if early intervention of traditional mediation is employed.
Our elders, religious leaders and scholars has moral responsibility to intervene when the skies are about to fall. For example, the conflict within CUD can be easily contained if not resolved by convincing the warring parties to forge truce not to work against each other while running different organizations. If it had been wisely handled, even their differences could have been redirected for a common good. Dont call me judgmental, but our elders, religious leaders and scholars cant escape a few mild lash of criticism for ignoring the traditional wisdom of our forefathers. I hope they will come forward to rescue our struggle by connecting the dots and solving the puzzles with the help of indigenous traditional wisdom and compassion. They can be used effectively as mediator to cement partnership among oppositions.
What we should and we should not:
The current wild pursuit of blow-for-blow game spearheaded by Debebe Eshetu in North America ahead of every scheduled event of the CUD chairman further complicated the division and openly demonstrated who this guy is all about. It is too silly for a person of high ranking professional, shamelessly to embark on the very tactics of the EPRDF divide and conquer. This unpleasant venture is totally immoral, disgusting and way out of the mainstream Ethiopian culture. A person of his stature shouldnt have been embroiled in such a nasty and pathetic project. Given to his age and experience he would have been pacifier and level-headed to defuse tensions instead of fanning. Personally, it is weird to see an old man stalker. He must be stopped and enough is enough. It could be a good lesson for oppositions to cultivate more friends is better than an enemy.
I was very much impressed by Chairman Hailu Shawels down-to-earth speech in Seattle, a straight talk on real issues that are grinding our nation instead of rant and rave like what Debebe Eshetu is doing. This is a wise strategy to bury trivial issues and move on to the big picture that calls for immediate action.
The journey forward:
If we aspire to see our dream come true, we have to clean our hoses first and forge workable partnership while maintaining individual party status. Once we do this, the wind starts to blow in favor of our direction. 80 million strong vibrant and change-thirsty Ethiopian people are at our disposal. We can safely occupy a political space to make history and change the old rules of Africans cant change without the blessing from the Western World.
It is understandable that many of my compatriots are frustrated by the events unfolding following the May 2005 election. And some of us may have been given up the redemption of our nation. But, I personally am not in that kind of mood. We have an ambitious project, and it is natural to expect shocks and tremors. There is no smooth democratization ever happen on this planet. It is packed with lots of ups and downs.
In the meantime, it is fruitless to lament and grieve on past failures, but, with renewed energy and new resolve to stand up firm and insure success. It is all about converting failures into achievement. As a people of great nation, we have no reason to abandon our principles and values to see a vibrant, powerful and democratic Ethiopia. I tell you, no nation ever make progress in frustration and discouragement. The state of Japan and South Korea are living testimonies. We have to try all avenues to give flesh and blood for our dream of GREAT ETHIOPIA to walk alive.
Hence, rapprochement and settling differences wisely are the best option to save and shore up the staggering Ethiopian opposition. It may be totally naïve to contemplate winning EPRDF without winning the unity of oppositions. We have to stop talking about EPRDF until we talk the goods in the opposition camp. In the absence of good, sometimes, evil is nearly good.
It looks like only few understood we are facing a battle on multiple fronts. But, the battle within us is the most complicated and lethal. The lingering question is, should we engage on all fronts or choose one on our terms? Certainly, the oppositions are too frail to handle multiple fronts. I suggest, dealing with us first may save us time, energy and resources. It is essential to begin with a rational discourse on how to clean the mess inside our houses as soon as possible. The battle with-us have to take off right now if we aspire to emerge triumphant and ready for the next show-down with EPRDF.
Trust me; the battle with us is not going to be conventional war. No guns, no snipers! No casualties! It is peaceful-war with the aim of defeating animosity, mistrust, reluctance, betrayal and backpedaling with humility, compassion, enthusiasm, patriotism and steadfastness. That time we will rise from ashes of bigotry, decadence and self-abnegation to the heights of formidable force that is ready to put the affairs of Ethiopia into its hands.
Then after, we may not need the business of cult-farming to outfox our own friends – nothing but to blow our unity and kill our progress. We may not need to run non-stopping gossip-mill to grind on one time camaraderie which is a perfect recipe for self-destruction. We may not need to train ghost cadres to do the dirty business of brainwashing. We may not need to screen DNA for loyal friends and family circles around us sooner or later to dig our own graves. And we may not need to sneak in backroom-deals that will eventually erode the faith of our supporters.
This time around we can only free ourselves from the costly destruction of us and move on deal with and reclaim our dignity from the grip of divide-and-rule-machine EPRDF.
Ethiopia will prevail