The prevailing Meles Government political considerations over Rule of law per se. – (By Demisew Tessema)
In a democratic and free society, rule of law is the guiding principle to promote democracy and conduct free and fair election .Each political party is equal before the law and can compete for power through election with in the legal framework. Among all the competing political parties, the party that presents the best political and economic programs would gain popular support and would win the election. Once it won the election, such party would take over the political power and administer the country for a particular stated period of time. The elect political leaders would work in the best interest of the public , and no possibility to act in their own interest . Those who hold political power would lose their status in a society with truly limited government. It simply would not matter much who occupied various political posts ,since their ability to tax, spend and regulate would be severely curtailed. And therefore, in countries where there is democracy in practice ,the act of the government and the exercise of political power is fiercely restrained by the rule of law and the governing political party would lose its political power through another periodic election. It is the people who are the ultimate decision maker in choosing as to which party and as to who should take the political leadership.
In countries like Ethiopia, however, what prevails above all is political power in pursuing self interest, not the rule of law. After the rebel group ‘’EPDRF’’ took political power in 1991 by overthrowing the Derge regime, political leaders of the ‘’EPDRF’’ party started to use coercive state power against other oppositions, and influential persons for their own political interest. Emphasizing ruling party’s interests and powers prevail over the interest of the country because the intention of political leaders of the regime is to maximize their individual wealth by firmly staying in power. The ruling party is determined not to allow any other political party that would compete its political power .As a result of this , opposition parties , in the 1995,2000, and 2005 election, have not got the chance to compete the ruling party in a free and fair election. Leaders of the ruling party are political figures who fanatically sought power over others through the apparatus of the state. The desire for political power for these politicians is to pursue their individual interest at the cost of the public interest. In this regard, the people have objected the glorified political power of the dictatorial regime, but have never been heard of .Thus, in Ethiopia, political power is inherently dangerous .It threatens the rule of law and thus threatens our fundamental freedom to establish a public elect government that accounted for its citizens.
Most surprisingly , on the name of democracy, and on the name of promoting public interest, the dictatorial regime of Meles Zenawi has used all possible illegal and illogical means and tricks to stay in power. To mention some, first let me start with the enactment of a new law as a means or tricks to restrict or obstruct others from competing its political power. Forexample,when a rising political party or civil organization or politically influential person(s) get(s) high public support and come up in a better position compared to the ruling party, the dictatorial regime systematically enact a new law or amend an existing law designed to restrict or to stop the target in issue with the view to protect its political power. However, the state legislative organ, in principle, enact a new law or amend an existing law with the view to govern undesirable social behavior and to promote law and order in the country .This prevailing principle implicitly assumes that state lawmakers are faithfull agents of the governed, so that ensuring that a state has a fair shot at regulating conduct will lead to the right results. Contrary to this principle, in Ethiopia the act of the legislature in favor of the ruling party interest to stay in power over the interest of the people at large has distorted the whole purpose of the law. The following four proclamations are good illustrations of the ruling party’s techniques in using parliament passed laws to maximize its political power by limiting others from competition. (1)The Amended Party registration proclamation law. After the 2005 election, the Meles government through its parliament systematically enacted this proclamation, a proclamation that requires opposition party to give the list of names of its members for the simple reason that the regime can easily blackmail to arrest ,torture and imprison opposition members.(2)The Media and Freedom of information proclamation law.The private media has played a great role during and after the 2005 election by showing the true ugly picture of the regime. Realizing this ,the regime enacted such restrictive law with the view to monopolize the media and limit the flow of information that discloses the tyranny of the regime.(3) The charities organization proclamation law. After the regime has realized the adverse effect of human rights defenders they played in the 2005 election, this proclamation purposefully enacted to limit NGO’s involvement in defending gross human right violations in Ethiopia, and (4)The anti terrorism law. This very recent law is enacted nothing but to categorize members and supporters of opposition parties that choose armed struggle as terrorist groups. The true intention of the Meles government behind the passage of the aforementioned four proclamations is just to criminalize any and all dissent persons, and to close the door for oppositions from competing political power, thereby ,creating a dictatorial police state.
On the other hand, when the ruling party faces a time constrain to enact or amend the law as a means to restrict competing oppositions or influential political figures ,the dictatorial regime takes arbitrary and illegal measures and violates its own laws enacted by its own parliament. In Ethiopia, arbitral arrest, killing, inhuman treatment and imprisonment by the dictatorial regime of Meles have been common knowledge to all Ethiopians and to the international communities in a clear violation of Ethiopian law and international law. The regime’s each decision-making with the view to stay in power is based on political considerations rather than rule of law per se. As evidence, the re-arrest of a vibrant Ethiopian opposition leader Ms Birtukan Midekssa and the “revocation” of her pardon is a typical example that the Meles regime has acted in violation of the pardons proclamation 395/2004. In order to revoke a pardon , Article 17(1) of the pardons proclamation requires that the grantee should be given a written notice about the intent of the Board to recommend revocation and be given the opportunity to respond within twenty days. In violation of this law, however, Ms Birtukan did not receive a written notice of the Board’s intent to revoke her pardon, not given a twenty-day opportunity to respond to the government’s allegation, and not given a fair trial to determine whether her act violated the condition of her pardon. And also, Oral and written summons of the police commissioner do not satisfy the requirement of the aforementioned article. So, the Meles regime violates its own laws and does not respect due process of law and makes a decision merely on political consideration in cases where its political power is in challenge.
Moreover, the Meles regime has also determined to use all possible means like making false promises, using politically designed tricks, double-dealings ,international lobbyists and intermediaries so as to restrict oppositions from competition, civil organizations from defending human right violations ,medias from telling the truth, and restrain influential political figures from their voice to be heard of . The interest of the dictatorial Meles regime to stay in power has gone to the extent of bribing leaders and members of the oppositions and requiring ‘’ EPDRF’’ party membership card to get employment. It is evident that a person has to be ‘’EPRDF’’ member to get employment in the government both at regional and federal level and for any vacancy at all level of the kebele, woreda, and zonal administrations people are required to be member of the ruling party. Now a days, a university student , besides his/her degree certificate, is required to show party membership card to get employment after graduation. Because of the political imposition of the ruling party, a person is not free to be a member of opposition party of his/her choice. These unwarranted acts of the regime forced the people not to raise their fundamental political right and they are pressed down to think only how to make a living to survive through the blessing of the ruling party.
The Meles government spends much money to conduct strict surveillance and supervision on the people in general, and members and supporters of oppositions both living in Ethiopia and in abroad in particular, through its loyal agents. Some more finance has been used for a similar work of surveillance and security intelligence with in the ‘’EPRDF’’ party itself. Members and leaders of ‘’EPRDF’’ have to be loyal and should not question the legitimacy of Meles and his loyal politicians but if they acted otherwise they would be sent to jail either with corruption charges or other suitable charges that deem fit to the regime.
What is most surprising is that the Meles government craziness has gone to the extent to spend much money in millions to block foreign websites and radio broadcasting programs with the view to limit information flow from abroad to Ethiopia. Moreover, the regime has also misused huge amount of money for foreigner lobbyists and intermediaries for the sole interest of the ruling party.
Unlike democratic countries that spend their public finance to render good governance and economic achievement in their country, the dictatorial regime of Meles has used the public fund very little or nothing for the advancement of the economy and the public good rather has misused for its own ‘’EPRDF’’ party activities. In Meles government, there is no as such distinction for the ruling party to use the government treasury or the ruling party treasury. This is so because the government treasury ,in one way or another, is under the control and supervision of the top political leaders of the ruling party. The report of Dr.Negasso Gidada on account of his visit to Dembi Dollo,in Qelem Wellaga Zone of oromia Region ( September 18-29,2009), is a good testimony of the misuse of public finance, equipments and other public resources by the’’ EPRDF’’ party.
For Meles government, the top over riding interest is staying in power and using the public treasury, at will, for activities that would assist the continuance of its political power. In such type of government, it is illogical to expect economic development and democracy. In effect , someone would not be surprised if Ethiopia, which according to the latest UNDP report, ranks as one of the bottom 11 poorest countries in the world .The two major reasons among others for the country’s stagnate economic development and frequent famine are: The first one is, the misuse of public money for activities of the ‘’EPRDF’’ party with the view to stay in power and for maximization of self-interest at the cost of the public interest. The second reason is, the indictment of a failed economic policy of the regime. In contrary to the timely needed economic developmental agenda of the country, the different economic policies have been designed merely to meet the requirements of the world bank so as to secure aid and loan. Moreover, there is no level field for all persons to compete with the ruling party as business entity at equal footing in the Ethiopian market. The ’’EPRDF’’ party as business entity has excessive state control from land to small business and monopolized the land, fertilizer, telephone, internet, import and export market. It is in this type of market environment that the dictatorial Meles regime dare fully speaks that free market economy is flourishing in Ethiopia.
Knowing the limitless interest of the ruling party to stay in power and its determination to employ all available means in pursuing its self interest at any cost, a more demanding lobby and diplomacy works in abroad have to be continued to impose the regime to respect the rule of law and further to stop all non-humanitarian aid and assistance to the regime. Beside this, opposition parties , in coalition or in separate, have to be critical and actively engaged in an open debate with the view to reach a conclusion that the necessity of boycotting, unless Ms Britukan and other political prisoners are released, as a precondition for the forth coming 2010 election. In doing so ,leaders, members and supporters of the oppositions are expected to be strong enough and ready to stand firmly to resist the act of bribing and false promises’ trembling wave of the Meles government. And, all Ethiopians and loving Ethiopians should stand together in unity with the view to breath oxygen in the struggle against the’’ divide and rule’’ policies of the tyrannical regime.
Ethiopia and Its People prevail !!!