Meles Zenawi`s sham elections and the accompanying opposition.

Zeineb Aliye

Meles Zenawi and Co. call Ethiopians chauvinists and it is right for Ethiopians in turn to call them ethno-fascists. Ethno-fascism is fascism shrouded and served in the plate of ethnicity. However, this does not mean that all Ethiopians espousing ethnic politics are ethno-fascists. The description ethno-fascism applies to the Meles-Sebhat brand of ethnicity which has the characteristic features of fascism and racism. Ethno-fascism is the foundation of the ideology of the Tigray People`s Liberation Front (TPLF) and that is why Ethiopians call its leaders an ethno-fascists. Thus it is now time to leave aside the political correctness and resort to the use of the suitable descriptions ethno-fascism and ethno-fascists when referring to the TPLF and its leaders.
The rise of ethno-fascism to power in Ethiopia is an alarming development with potentially devastating consequences. It is threatening national as well as regional stability in the volatile horn of Africa. Its increasing dependence on western aid and willingness to go to any length to serve foreign interests, are harming the long term interests and sovereignty of the country. The ethno-fascists are demonstrating their hostility to Ethiopia by signing and giving away the vital interests of the country like access to the sea and fertile lands. Thanks to these anti-Ethiopia fascist forces, Eritrea and the Sudan have benefitted a lot at the expense of Ethiopia.
The Ethno-fascist and racist Meles Zenawi has been staging sham elections in order to deceive and portray himself as an elected leader in the international arena. In the eyes of Ethiopians his periodic sham elections are simple dramas he stages to entertain himself and his donors. Ethno-fascism is pursuing its trademark of divide and rule as a result of which our communities are polarized and the bonds holding them together are disentangling. Thus ethno-fascism should be rejected and the struggle against it should take the central stage and serve as a rallying issue. Ethiopian intellectuals should be courageous enough to call `a spade a spade` and enlighten the general public on ethno-fascism and the grave dangers it poses to the country. Meles Zenawi`s repeated references to the genocide in Rwanda are by no means mere political rhetoric. It shows what he has in store for Ethiopians and intends to do if his power comes under threat or he is forced to leave Ethiopia. It is well known that Meles Zenawi has employed fascistic propaganda and agitation methods to mobilize the Tigrayans and wage his wars against Ethiopia and Ethiopiawinet. The relatively destitute Tigrayan society has been receptive to the fascistic politics of the TPLF and Meles Zenawi. Ethiopian forces standing for Ethiopia and Ethiopiawinet receive his harsh treatment and severe punishment as the case of Birtukan Midekssa proves. History has amply demonstrated that fascism is very violent and does not entertain the ideas of equality, peace and reconciliation. Ethno-fascism is based on the politics of discrimination, exclusion and ethnic favouritism. It does not accept the equality of citizens and rule of law.
Meles Zenawi has defied and derided at repeated calls for peace and reconciliation. He has defied all the appeals and calls for the peaceful resolution of the deepening political crisis in the country. He continues to strengthen his brutal security apparatus which he uses to punish and silence the voices of peace and reconciliation. As a fascist, he has no interest in reconciliation and is squandering all such opportunities. Instead he has chosen repression and violence as his instruments of rule. His regime is declared illegitimate but clinging to power through sheer force and violence.
At this juncture, I am glad to express my support to the Ethiopian voices of democracy, freedom, justice and reason who are calling for the outright boycotting and rejection of Zenawi`s sham elections. The forces of democracy and freedom never take part in sham elections and cooperate with a ruthless dictator. Instead they stand for and pursue the course of creating an all inclusive and free political space in which fair and free elections can be conducted. It is only then that we will be able to have a democratic process in which all the stake holders take part without fear, hindrances, intimidations and restrictions. A democratic process can not be launched as long as the country is under the grip of ethno-fascism. It is also high time to put pressure on those forces who have been part and parcel of these sham elections by embracing Zenawi`s ethno-fascistic rule as a democratic process worth taking part in.. In this regard one does need only to see Zenawi`s preferential treatment and empowering of members of his golden ethnic group in the economic as well as the political arena. These facts are not lost to opposition forces vying for some seats Zenawi will kindly allocate to them. It is long overdue for these forces to review their wrong pro-Zenawi positions and come to terms with the political reality in the country. They should be aware of the long term political costs associated with taking part in sham elections and legitimizing ethno-fascism.
The so called code of conduct shows that sham elections are the joint undertakings of donors and Zenawi to improve and promote the international image of the latter. The belief among many Ethiopians that Zenawi is charming or deceiving the west is easy to refute considering the close alliance between the west and Zenawi. Zenawi can not deceive or mislead his western political advisers or coaches. Conflicting interests are at play and those are the aspirations of Ethiopians for democracy and freedom on one side and the sham elections of Zenawi. There is not any advantage to be gained by taking part in Zenawi`s farce. Nor do these sham elections advance democracy, freedom and justice in the country. Meles Zenawi has reportedly told his followers and supporters that his or the absolute power and hegemony of the TPLF will not be contested or submitted to public votes. It appears that Zenawi is more candid than the opposition groups who are lining up to get some seats from him. That is why I doubt the credibility and sincerity of the opposition who are participating in Zenawi`s farce.
I have read some contributions which arguing in favour of taking part in Meles Zenawi`s farce or what they refer to as elections. But I have not found any compelling or convincing arguments in them. In fact some of their points bear resemblance to the ones being advanced by the supporters of Meles Zenawi. Their reasonings condense to the assertion that democratization is a process and participation in the process via elections would contribute to moving it forward. There are also others who also cite  participation as a condition for the legal existence and functioning of the opposition parties in the country. Whether they take part in or not, these opposition groups and personalities are at the mercy of Meles Zenawi. Their participation in his sham elections does not safeguard them against his assaults and crack downs. They say that there is no free meal with Zenawi and one must expect to receive some pinches and punches from Zenawi. Some opposition forces claim that the peaceful struggle is the only effective means to dislodge the dictator from the palace. But in effect they are denied the basic rights such as free assembly and expression of ideas. Zenawi has banned demonstrations and the free press. They can not conduct public meetings without the permission of Meles Zenawi. Leaving aside the political cost participation in Zenawi`s farce entails, his degrading and humiliating treatments of the opposition figures sitting with his herd of cadres are unbearable. In fact as the enemy of our country, Zenawi is humiliating us all Ethiopians and derives a lot of pleasure by doing so. Even a practising Christian like ato Girma Kassa are fervently arguing for taking part in the sham elections. We know that the Bible forbids supporting deception or falsehood and ato Girma Kassa`s position contradicts the teachings of Christianity. This same person has written some pieces praising the ethno-fascist and racist rule of Meles Zenawi which is not expected of Christians. It is worth mentioning that there are also Ethiopian muslims supporting and working for ethno-fascism. This shows that our institutions of faith are becoming morally bankrupt and instruments of repression and violence. Besides, ato Girma Kassa, there are also others who are promoting and selling Medrek as a strong and unique combination of political parties with the potential effect of uniting Ethiopians and winning the sham elections. The advocates and supporters of Medrek seem to suffer from a short memory or be misleading the public. Some of the leaders of Medrek are well known personalities who have been an integral part of Zenawi`s sham elections and sitting in the rubber stamp parliament. These guys do not have any popular or national vision other than taking part in the farce and offering the sembalnce of legitimacy to ethno-fascism. Opposition politicians who have been cooperating with Meles Zenawi by taking part in his sham elections do not have any achievements to show and convince us. What they incorrectly call a democratic process is not moving forward since Zenawi is tightening his grip on power and closing the so called political space. Ethiopians are well aware of the reality and can not be deceived neither by Zenawi nor the opposition. We know why Zenawi is putting the opposition politicians in his assembly and enjoying their company. The recent successive draconian laws of Zenawi all refute the claims of those supporting participation in the sham elections. Zenawi has moved swiftly to close all the small openings or venues he thinks are available to the opposition. As a result we see no visible opposition political activity in the country. I do not see any difference between banning and stifling the opposition. Zenawi has apparently preferred stifling to banning to avoid embarrassing his donors. It is once again important to emphasize that the country has yet to set on a democratic process. A democratic process can not be initiated under a fascistic dictatorship like that of Zenawi. The sham elections Meles Zenawi stages are by no means part of the democratic process. As stated by many Ethiopians, they are designed and conducted to consolidate and legitimize his dictatorship. I think these are the essential points missing in the arguments and where the main confusion lies. Those arguing for participation are missing or deliberately overlooking these stark political realities on the ground..
As the main enemy of Ethiopia Meles Zenawi, should be denied any direct or indirect cooperation he seeks to legitimize his ethno-fascistic rule in Ethiopia. The opposition should not allow itself to be used as a pawn or tool to advance Zenawi`s anti-Ethiopia and personal agenda.. At the maximum they ought to mobilize the public and frustrate Zenawi`s ambitions of selling himself to the outside world and continuing to collect western aid cheques. At the minimum the genuine Ethiopian opposition forces should denounce his sham elections and distance themselves from them.  It is true that the west can continue to finance Zenawi`s regime irrespective of what happens. However, the election or democratic camfloulage or pretext they use should not be available to them. We recall how the donors and World Bank changed their canals of channelling money to Zenawi after the latter shed the blood of innocent citizens in the aftermath of the May 2005 elections. That is why many of us have come to the conclusion that the donors are not credible partners for democracy, freedom and development in Ethiopia. However, Ethiopians should continue their anti-fascist struggle to get rid of the illegitimate rule of Zenawi and associates and secure their rights and sovereignty.


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