A Brilliant Move By Siye, Negasso, And The UDJ – Dessalegn Asfaw

November 27th, 2009 Print Print Email Email

A lot of us, including me, spend quite a bit of time criticizing the leadership of the Ethiopian democracy movement. But when they do something good, in this case, brilliant, they must get their due. Siye Abraha and Negasso Gidada’s decision to join the UDJ, and the UDJ’s decision to accept their application, is one such brilliant move.

The political futures of Siye, Negasso, the UDJ, and everyone in the opposition depend on the success of the democracy movement. These politicians and parties do not have any armed force behind them to propel them to power. Their only way to real power is via democratic means, which is why they are part of the democracy movement. The only way the democracy movement will succeed is by creating large coalitions and supermajorities. Only a broad democracy movement can muster the pressure needed to make force the EPRDF to make democratic change.

What Siye, Negasso, and the UDJ have demonstrated by their actions is that they not only understand this reality, but that they are really committed to unity for democracy. Remember that they will all be criticized for their move – Siye and Negasso for joining a party that believes in reforming federalism away from being purely ethnic-based, and the UDJ for accepted former members of the ruling regime and former die-hard ethnic federalists. All three may lose some of their constituents as a result. But they are showing that they are ready lose a little in the short run in exchange for future gain. They are showing a farsightedness much needed in Ethiopian politics.

Siye and Negasso, in particular, are making a very bold committment to the future. Note that they are going beyond being part of Medrek and standing in coalition with the UDJ. By actually joining the UDJ, they are signing on to the UDJ’s charter and values, a significant change from the ideologies they have held in the past. This sends a message to other members of the opposition, to the democracy movement, and the people of Ethiopia as a whole. It demonstrates that the human values of introspection, of being able to change one’s mind based on new evidence or in view of past mistakes, of listening and empathy, of community, should outweigh the pull of ideology, stubbornness, ego, and individualism. It sets a moral example for Ethiopians, an example far too rarely seen in Ethiopian politics.

It also demonstrates discipline. It would have been easy for Siye and Negasso to stay where they are, to avoid re-evaluating their ideas, to hold on to their little constituencies, and to stay away from taking risks. But having realized that this would not be a solution, they conquered their fears and took a bold step. Taking such action and handling the consequences requires discipline and strength of character, and having done so, Siye and Negasso are setting an example for all.

Hopefully, the real effect of this extraordinary evolution in the Ethiopian opposition will be seen at the grassroots level. In coming together, Siye, Negasso, and the UDJ leadership have demonstrated farsightedness, moral fortitude, and discipline, all values necessary for democratic change. They have set an example for opposition party members, democracy activists, and the population as a whole, an example that if followed, will result in a democratic dawn for Ethiopia. Let us all hope that their example will be followed and that Siye Abraha, Negasso Gidada, and the UDJ will continue to be a positive force for democracy in Ethiopia.

  1. Rau
    | #1

    I agree with you it is a very nice move in the democratic movements of Ethiopia let us do our home work as individual.

    | #2


    | #3

    To the Writer Desalegn Assfaw:

    I am not sure whether you wrote your article in your normal state of mind. Seye Abrha joined UDJ to promote anothe mischeiveious trick because his position is that “Ethiopia will not survive unless EPRDF continue to rule Ethiopia”. (see The Memoire of the Jornalist, (or Yegazetegnaw Mastawesha) by Tesfaye Gebre-Ab. Read how Samora and Seye hate Ethiopian flag and the unity of the ethiopian people at page 165-166) Based on Seye’s role as a former TPLF Military wing, his resume is disastor to the Ethiopian people, but people like you support him at the present. Remember: tomorrow you will certainly curse him like Lidetu Ayalew. For this reason, I think, the Web Master of this blog had distroyed my comment which I explained my opposition to Seye’s affiliation with UDJ. Surprisingly those who oppose Meles on press freedom, among other things, had removed the six part article after 2-3 days after it was poste. Under Democracy you have the right to support whatever party/individual of your choice but your freedom not to read my article is under control by Abugida people, whom I know one by one but chose to let the matter go unquestioned. My pen name was different back then, however.

  4. GG
    | #4

    I think this is a positive development on many fronts. As the writer explained well, the fact that former ‘ethic-Federalists’ embraced the ‘unity’ movement is significant by itself. However, Dr. Negasso’s speech, in which he recognised the importance of individual rights and civil liberties is another crucial development. For someone like Dr. Negasso who has spent most of his adult life advocating for ‘group rights’ to recognise the irreplaceable nature of individual liberties shows the developing consensus in the pro-democracy camp.

    Equally important, a very clear message is transmitted to the TPLFites and their surrogates. The pro-democracy camp is not interested in ‘retribution’ or exacting apologies. If anyone is interested to fight for unity, democracy and justice (despite past differences), they are welcome to contribute!

    I think these powerful developments should get prominence and we should build up on them. I have observed some people are interested in winning every battle at the expense of losing the war. I notice such people are bent on retribution. These people oppose Seye’s and Negasso’s membership in UDJ. I think this is short-sighted. The pro-democracy camp is fighting a multi-faceted war. The defection of the likes of Seye and Negasso to its ranks should be considered a significant achievement. Teferra Walewa and company are also welcome!This does not mean UDJ’s leadership should not be vigilant to guard against infiltration by Ethiopia’s enemies but we need to be ready to embrace regime defectors as long as their motives are genuine and geared towards liberating Ethiopia from tyranny!

    Ethiopia and Ethiopian pro-democracy forces shall prevail!

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