Ethio-Zagol discredits Washington Posts’ article that Ethiopian Prisoners Sign Paper in Bid for Release – By Ethio-Zagol
Stephanie McCrummen of Washington Posts wrote today that some of the prisoners have signed Meles’ proposal. Read it here. The report isn’t very accurate. I think the American officials in Addis Ababa whom she quoted and EPRDF are trying to spin this even before an agreement is reached. I hope all will be resolved today. Meles has come some way in this last round. Although the terms are still short of what we expect ideally, and although negotiating under duress is unjust, I think this one is can be accepted without compromising basic principles.
It is 4:50 in the afternoon here in Addis Ababa. The mediators are in Kaliti right now talking to the prisoners. Now that it is broken, this is what has really happened so far.
Friday, 15 June
Meles sent a proposal to the prisoners outlining his intention to use his executive powers to release them. There were two main points in the proposal which differentiates in from his previous terms.
1. The terms “fault” and “guilt” were substituted by “mistake”. The proposal states that the CUD leaders admit that they have committed mistakes after the election, and that they take partial responsibility to the consequences of the mistakes including the violence in October.
2. Meles says that he doesn’t accept the “guilty” verdict by the court.
Caveat: The proposal is a “take it or leave it.”
Monday, 18 June
Representatives of the prisoners debated about the proposal. Hailu Shawel (the chairman of the CUD) and Birtukan Mideksa (Vice chairwoman) rejected it. Dr. Yacob Hailemariam, Birhanu Nega and Muluneh Eyuel, Gizachew Shiferaw and Hailu Araya were just debating the pros and cons of the proposal without making their decision known.
Tuesday, 19 June
Hailu and Birtukan haven’t changed their stance. The others said that once the two had decided civility, solidarity and the idea of practical public reason won’t allow them to sign the document unless there is a consensus among the prisoners. The legal and political debates regarding signing the proposal continued.
Wednesday, 20 June
Hailu Shawel and Birtukan haven’t changed their mind, and the others weren’t willing to sign the paper. Late afternoon, the talks seem faltering. With the mediators except Ephraim Isaac giving up hope.
The mediators are still there. The morning went the same as yesterday. But in the afternoon, all of the prisoners (not only the representatives) have met to debate on the issue.
Again, I believe this is an agreement our heroes can take. Meles’ statement that he doesn’t accept the guilty verdict of the court creates a false diversion between the executive and the judiciary. However, it is very valuable politically for the CUD leaders and the pro-democracy movement. This is just my opinion. It has nothing to do with the decision of the leaders. I know they will decide what is best for the country as they usually do.
I don’t like the way it is spinned by the US officials here though.
(more to come…)