By Alem Mamo
There are dictators and there are purist dictators. The first group of dictators have the minimum intelligence required to notice and somehow accept when their time is up. They reluctantly give in realizing the fact that time and history are not on their side. The latter group, however, believes that the principles of dictatorship should not be adulterated or diluted. As a result they continue to rot in their bubble, failing to wake up when the smoke detector goes off. Since this group of dictators are chronically delusional they keep telling themselves, I am in control, Things are fine, I will crush my opponents, so on and so forth. They have extremely exaggerated versions of their own self worth. Adolf Hitler, Nicolai Ceausescu, Benito Mussolini, Samuel Doe, Jean-Bédel Bokassa, Mengistu Hailemariam, Slobodan Milosevic, and yes, the current menace, Meles Zenawi, fit into this band of dictators. They regularly have to invent a narrative to nourish their egomaniacal personalities. The narrative is primarily based on their insistence that their version of the truth is not only superior but also absolute.
On December 11, 2009, Meles Zenawi demonstrated his delusional personality in front of local journalists (a.k.a. handpicked TPLF cadres). Answering a broad range of pre-planted questions (http://www.ethiotube.net/video/6974/PM-Meles-Zenawi-Press-Conference-on-Current-Issues–Dec-11-2009–Part-1), he jumped from one topic to the other without a semblance of coherence or a discernable pattern. Among the questions asked was the issue of possibly forming a national unity government in the next election, modelling the power sharing arrangements of Kenya and Zimbabwe. The answer he offered clearly revealed the inside workings of Meles Zenawis brain. One can pick two clear signs of delusion from this particular answer. First, instead of answering the question within the context of the Ethiopian political process, he chastised the political compromise made by Kenyan and Zimbabwean politicians. In this regard, I believe he still thinks he is in the Dedebit Mountain, and he is the leader of a guerrilla movement, not a leader of an internationally recognized state. Second, I say this because in doing so he violates one of the basic tenants of international relations and international diplomacy. This is the non-interference by outside leaders, in particular dictators, in the internal affairs of any sovereign nation moving toward democracy. While Zenawi grips tightly to the principle of non-interference when others challenge his human rights record, he ignores it when pointing toward the Kenyan and Zimbabwean processes, which are actually moving in a constructive and inclusive direction. A very convenient contradiction in support of one thing: absolute dictatorship without borders.
The questioner asked about the possibility of a national unity government (if the need arises in the next election) modelling the Kenyan and Zimbabwean experience? As for the so-called Kenyan and Zimbabwean model, Mr. Zenawi said, one must understand the strategy of the color revolution organizers in its entirety. According to Mr. Zenawi, the strategy of the color revolution organizers is divided in to three stages. Their first goal is to achieve power through post-election chaos. If that fails, he said, They are prepared to settle for national unity government. Once they succeed that, their final goal is to remove the ruling parties of their respective countries from power. He went further and said, This approach of rewarding the leaders of the color revolution is not only wrong, it is also undemocratic. In an accusatory tone, he further elaborated on the Kenyan experience. In the case of Kenya he said, politicians agreed to form a national unity government after instigating religious and ethnic violence between the Kenyan people. The path Kenyan and Zimbabwean leaders took in power sharing is a path of chaos, destruction and most of all is undemocratic. Therefore, my government and my party do not intend to follow this path. It has no chance in Ethiopia.1
The United Nations Charter clearly states: No State has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly for any reason whatever in the internal or external affairs of any other State. Consequently, armed intervention and all other forms of interference or attempted intervention and all forms of interference or attempted threats against the personality of the state or against political, economic and cultural elements are concerned.
The African Union Charter also clearly states under no circumstances can one country interfere in the domestic (internal) affairs of another country.2 Contrary to these international covenants, Meles Zenawi has waded into the domestic affairs of Kenya and Zimbabwe. He even went as far as saying that the formation of national unity governments amounts to rewarding the leaders of the Velvet revolution here; without mentioning them by name he is referring to Prime Minister Raila Odinga of Kenya and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of Zimbabwe. International diplomacy 101, even for junior level diplomats let alone for someone who claims to be a leader of a country is clear: Dont meddle in the internal affairs of a state.
The formation of national unity governments in Kenya and Zimbabwe has been aided by national and international heavy weight diplomats. In the case of Kenya, for instance, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan personally facilitated the process and helped Mr. Mwai Kibakis Party of National Unity Party and Mr. Raila Odingas Orange Democratic Movement party reach an agreement. It is clear that these governments are steps on the way to real democracy, but at least they are steps. As a chief negotiator of Kenyas power sharing arrangement, Kofi Annan said: I have the firm impression that sufficient political will now exists among the coalition partners and sufficient unity of purpose exists among the public at large to provide Kenya with a historic opportunity for peaceful transformation. Yet, this is a time of immense challenge for Kenya. It is also time of great hope. By becoming together as one people, in pursuit of shared objectives, I am confident that Kenyans will overcome the difficulties of the past, restore confidence in Kenya as a unified nation and serve as a source of inspiration for people far beyond the countrys borders.3
Ironically, the same man who was charged with the task of representing Africa at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, Zenawi, shows no respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a member state, as he shows no respect for democracy itself. Kenya is one country that I am familiar with and for which I have a special affection and affinity. In the mid-1980s when I was forced to leave Ethiopia due to the atrocities of the military regime, Kenya was my destination. It is there that I was welcomed with open arms and provided refugee status until I moved to Canada. I know the decency and generosity of the Kenyan people. By all accounts, they deserve respect and at least non-interference in their internal matters. Whatever political path they choose should be left to the Kenyan people and their elected leaders. An un-elected tyrant like Meles Zenawi has no business telling them how to govern themselves. I hope the authorities in both Kenya and Zimbabwe take notice and demand an explanation from this unruly regime, which still behaves in accordance with the law of the jungle, and does not know or understand the basics tenants of international relations.
What is inferred in Meles Zenawis statement is the following: The acceptance of a national unity government by Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Kibaki sets a dangerous precedent for him and other delusional tyrants. If the trend continues in this direction, he is the next one to be forced to share his AK47 earned helm of power with others. Therefore, he has to clearly oppose this kind of government before anyone gets the idea of applying it to Ethiopia.
The problem with this thought is that the next time around it is him and himself alone who should be pleading for a national unity government. Whether or not he agrees, the wind of change will soon reach his office. The question is not if but when. Our concern is whether he would follow the path of Ceausescu, Samuel Doe, his predecessor Mengistu Hailemariam, or would he learn from Mugabe and Kibaki. In the meantime, Mr. Zenawi, if you are contemplating adding another NGO into your business enterprise, the name Dictators Without Borders is not taken and it fits your Curriculum Vitae perfectly.
The writer could be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org