A message to Ethiopians on a historic day – Abebe Gelaw, Editor of Addisvoice.com

May 15th, 2007 Print Print Email Email

Two years ago, over 29 million Ethiopians registered to cast their votes across the country queued up for hours in scorching sun to elect their leaders. (more…)

Two years ago, over 29 million Ethiopians registered to cast their votes across the country queued up for hours in scorching sun to elect their leaders. Eager to reclaim their freedom, they rejected the corrupt tyrannical regime in power which has employed deception, violence, arrogance, divide and rule, ethnic animosity and every trick in the book to cling to power.

On May 15th 2005, the conflict between tyranny and democracy appeared irreconcilable. The pro-democracy leaders, who won the hearts and minds of the Ethiopian people, emerged victors while the pro-tyranny camp suffered humiliating defeats across the country where proper vote counting took place. In every town and every village, where eagle-eyed observers were present to monitor the count, it proved beyond reasonable doubt that the TPLF-led ethnocratic regime had suffered irreversible defeat despite its illegal tactics and monopoly of force.

Meles Zenawi’s lust for tyrannical power was deflated. His ruling elite, which turned a peasant revolution into a corrupt ethnic oligarchy of the worst kind, was overconfident that they would not have much difficulty in deceiving peasants in rural Ethiopia. To the despair of the ruling oligarchy, even the peasants turned out to be smarter than their deceptive rulers. No votes even in the remotest villages for the fly disguised as a bee, which was TPLF’s campaign symbol!

Shocked at the outcome of the election results wherever proper tallying took place, the Meles regime resorted to its old trick; it chased away any observers around and took control of polling stations as well as ballot papers. It counted the remaining ballot papers and declared victory. “TPLF/EPRDF has won the democratic election!”? The rejected tyrant Meles Zenawi told the world that the Ethiopian people had given him a mandate to continue riding roughshod over them. election_cry.gif

Such was the farcical drama that plunged the nation into another cycle of hopelessness and crisis. The dream of Ethiopians to be masters of their own destiny for the first time in their long but tragic history was shattered irreparably by the ruling military junta, masquerading as a civilian government, whose history is tainted with bloodshed, terrorism and destruction.

It is still outrageous that one man and his cohorts have continued to defy not only the common good but also common sense. Prominent political leaders, journalists and human rights activists have continued to suffer in the tyrant’s dingy jails accused of genocide and treason. What crimes did they commit? Did they engage in vote rigging, shooting kids and mums, detaining innocent citizens en mass, torturing, maiming and killing dissidents”¦? None whatsoever”¦except voicing their protest over the crimes being committed against their fellow countrymen in broad daylight. .

Needless to list down the countless but well-known crimes of the ruling elite, Addis Voice would like to call Ethiopians across the world on the occasion of its 1st anniversary to unite for the grand cause of freedom. It would be an act of dishonesty to declare that it was only the ruling party that has been dividing and messing up Ethiopians. The opposition camp, especially the leadership of a few political parties in and outside the country, have also been causing unnecessary rift and conflict by engaging in accusations and counter accusations. The ability to lead is akin to uniting people in harmony to achieve common objects. There is a wrong perception among many that those who can talk colourfully can make good leaders. Despite the fact that articulating ideas in a convincing manner is an essential quality, leaders should prove themselves with good deeds and actions that can bring positive changes to their followers and the whole nation.

Leadership, as we know, is not a popularity contest or a populist endeavour. As John Kotter said: “We know that leadership is very much related to change. As the pace of change accelerates, there is naturally a greater need for effective leadership.”? More than any other time in Ethiopian history, where our own Mandela have selflessly surrendered their liberty so that their poor fellow countrymen will gain freedom and escape from the fangs of hunger and abject poverty, there is a great need for leadership.

No amount of insincere declarations can erase the gravity our crisis. Ethiopia is a fractured and broken nation. It suffers from tyranny, hunger, poverty, backwardness, pestilence”¦ and ignorance. Our future as a nation is uncertain more than ever before.

From churches to monasteries, from universities to kindergartens, from big cities to small hamlets, from opulent palaces of rulers to the shacks of the majority poor”¦ we stand divided. The English poet Alexander Pope, who famously declared “To err is human, to forgive is divine,”? once wrote in one of is treatises: “A man should never be ashamed to own that he is wrong, which is but saying in other words that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.”? There are so many wrongs that we may need to own individually and collectively so as to seek wiser ways of getting out of the quagmire. There is a greater need for a real national reconciliation that should start among leaders who preach about freedom and democracy. That process should start sooner rather than later.

At a time when all outlets of truth have been blocked by the tyrannical regime, the Internet has been serving as the major source of news and views that have no chance of being freely aired in Melees Zenawi’s empire of injustice. Since its official launch on 15th May 2006, Addis Voice has emerged as one of the few pro-democracy voice for the voiceless. In spite of the challenges and numerous constraints, Addis Voice will continue to play a role in the effort to achieve change.

Freedom has never been achieved without a cost. We need to ignore tyrants lurking at every corner and demand us to abandon our freedoms and adopt their mediocre orders. As Thomas Jefferson said: “The liberty of speaking and writing guards other liberties.”? Let us all continue speaking and writing to guard our God given liberties. Sooner or later tyranny will be defeated once and for all”¦ as history attests too well.

candle.gif Availing itself of this opportunity, Addis Voice would like to thank all those who have supported our efforts and generously provided their time and energy.

Though time and space do not allow us to list all the wonderful people who have directly and indirectly contributed to our success and continual improvement, Addis Voice would particularly like to acknowledge the significant contributions and inspirations of the following people; MEP Ana Gomes, Professor Al Mariam, Wondimu Mekonnen, Meron Ahadu, Dr Meqdes Mesfin, Workie Birye, Nigussie Gamma, Dilnisaw Getaneh, Hanna Demmissie, Yonas Hailu, Neamin Zeleke, Obang Metho, Belayneh Abate, Zeg Fanta, Zenebe Bekele, Professor Mamo Muchie, Getachew Garedew, Lulit Mesfin, Tedla Asfaw, Ephrem Madebo, Fikru Halebo, Ferencha Tulu, Tariku Aba Dama, Kahsay Berehe, Ayele Bojia, Orion Mengistu, Girma Kassa, Aie Zi Guo, blogger EthioZagol, just to mention a few among many others.

We can’t thank you enough!

Abebe Gelaw

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