The Past of Seye Abraha et al in Perspective. – Eskinder Nega, Addis Ababa.

April 16th, 2010 Print Print Email Email

Seye Abraha’s commanding presence and well delivered speech on foreign affairs in last week’s televised debate between political parties has vexed EPRDF leaders, say sources. (more…)

Seye Abraha’s commanding presence and well delivered speech on foreign affairs in last week’s televised debate between political parties has vexed EPRDF leaders, say sources. Their only solace is Seye’s rather brash characterization of the recent row between the EPRDF and the Obama administration as “staged drama”; which went down well with the public but will hardly endear the opposition with the diplomatic community in Addis. “The row between the Ethiopian government and the US,” said Seye in the debate, “is really a staged drama. America has outsourced its war in Somalia to Ethiopia, saving American lives. That is what matters to them the most. The jamming of the VOA and the consequent row are no more than a staged drama. Ethiopians have not only died in Somalia for a war that is not theirs but our national security has been endangered as well. There are reports, for example, that the Ethiopian Airlines that crushed in Lebanon was bombed by terrorists.”(Abridged.)But of course Seye could not offer real evidence that the spate was faked as he had alleged, and it will remain a stain on his otherwise impressive performance; the best so far, reckon many pundits, by the opposition.

Seye’s criticism of the Algiers agreement and the subsequent Boundary commission ruling are popular themes, particularly in Tigray; where he and many of his friends are challenging the EPRDF. The EPRDF’s muted response is indicative of a divided leadership over the issue; with Meles and his allies in favor of a closure of the issue largely—but not exclusively—on the basis of the ruling; and the rest, part half heartedly part vehemently, against any change of the reality on the ground. And this division cuts across the whole spectrum of the governing elite, which is why the threat of Seye Abraha et al—bounded to the governing elite by a common history at its finest hour—is menacing to Meles Zenawi. Arkebe Ekubay’s brazenly opportunistic attempt to drive a wedge between Seye and the military by charging that Seye had characterized the Ethiopian army “as a mercenary force in Somalia” in last week’s debate, which Seye made a point of refuting, amply demonstrates the anxiety that pervades in the midst of Meles Zenawi and his allies.

No other political personalities but Seye Abraha et al bring in to opposition politics this kind of dynamism, blurring the argument that their past undercuts their present importance to the democratic cause as has been suggested by some people in Seattle last weekend. “Some speakers mistook Negasso and Gebru perhaps for Meles Zenawi and Bereket Simon and tormented them like they were convicted criminals,” said an Ethiomedia news report on the meeting held in Seattle over the weekend, “It has been over ten years since we quit EPRDF, but some folks never get that; and keep asking questions as if we are still active government officials, the former EPRDF leaders said with a tone of remorse. Others accused them that the reason they have joined the opposition is because they are power thirsty.”

The importance of this issue to a post-EPRDF national road map can not be under stated. The broad consensus for a plural democratic order is beyond doubt now, but if there is ever to be a chance for its realization, how Seye Abraha et al will be treated as they venture in to opposition politics will either foster trust and confidence or entail a continuation of the abhorred legacy of vendetta and victimization. Of crucial point here is that none amongst Seye Abraha et al is being asked to account for substantiated and specific violation of human rights; as was the case, for example, with Kelbessa Negawo from the Derg era, who was unsympathetically deported from the US to Ethiopia to serve a life sentence; but are being decried for serving a regime with broad shortcomings, including of course extensive human rights violation. But almost all of them have at one time or the other addressed the issue, publicly expressed regret and are now challenging their former party at the height of its power. Only two days before the meeting in Seattle, Seye Abraha had acknowledged his share of responsibility for what he termed as EPRDF’s fiasco on the Eritrean issue in the nationally broadcasted debate between political parties: “ Medrek will peacefully opt for Ethiopia’s outlet to the sea; this is one of our national security objectives. The EPRDF has committed a grave mistake in handling the Eritrean issue, and I concede my share of personal responsibility.”

And so the questions loom: Is there room for redemption in the political space? Could there be a moral imperative to deprive the capacity to forgive and reconcile? And on a more practical level, would the nation be able to bear the human and emotional cost of the alternative? The answers are too obvious to merit detailing here. They have also been thoroughly addressed on numerous occasions by others and to entertain them further here will be to merely repeat the same arguments. What is of importance is that Seye Abraha et al are test cases, carefully being watched by all political actors, and how they fare will for a long time determine which way the nation goes.

The fall of the EPRDF is not an end by itself. It is desirable only in so far as it is a means to an end; in this case, a means to a pluralistic democratic order. The quest for such a political setting in Ethiopia has to date not closed its door on ex-WPE(Derg) officials and members untainted by personal violation of human rights; it can not fairly do so against ex- officials and members of the EPRDF held to the same standard.

  1. Ayele
    | #1

    It is a very strong and well founded article.I duly support the Idea that the downfall of EPRDF should be seen in a perspective of a means to an end which will pave the way to a multiparty democracy.We must be politically longsighted.

  2. SHAME
    | #2

    shame on you Eskidir. How much are you paid to do the nastiest propaganda of our time, i.e. to shamelesly tell us to believe fasvist Siye abraha again. How low did you go from yr respected status to a mouth piece of Tigre nationsilists? Or were you also one of the fake prisoners like dawit kebede who went to jail to do the dirty job?

    You better hung yourself, Mr. eskidir, I tend to vomit whem I read yr trush propaganda about siye, aregash etc. Why don’t you openly join for weyane misinformation mister ? I think that would be a better job

  3. Anonymous
    | #3

    Siye will be the new leader of ethiopia and Burtukan will come out of prison victorious and becomes the minister of foreigh affairs under Syey’s adminstration,with Allah’s help. Inshaa-Allah.

  4. Abe
    | #4

    Seye is the man.
    He very mature and fearless poletician.No wonder why Meles waste no time to jail him after the split of TPLF.Thank you for your honest coverage Mr. Eskinder.

  5. tewbel
    | #5

    A change with the same actors is a sad joke.

    Is it that there are no potential leaders in Ethiopia ? Omwe on !!

  6. Alelegn
    | #6

    That is a good point. It is obvious that the siye group commited mistakes when they were in the ruling party which they openly admit and regret about it. I really appreciate what they are doing now. They are doing a great job. For those people who oppose what people like siye are doing, they should ask them selves – what is the option? The option of not working with people like siye means leaving Tigrian people for meles to play for ever and to rule ethiopia for ever by devide and rule. Trust,Reconcilation and negotiation is the only way for ethiopia.

  7. Andromeda
    | #7

    Seye Abraha is a person who can create a formidable siege against MZ’s domination of the political platform in Tigray. I believe that he can influence the people of Tigray to stand shoulder to shoulder with their Ethiopian brothers and sisters, against dictatorship and against those who betrayed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ethiopia. He can open their eyes to see the extent to which they have exploited the respectable name and the great sacrifice of the people of Tigray. He can make them stand on the right side of history.
    Many Ethiopians participated, knowingly or unknowingly, in the bureaucracy of the Derge in the past and that of TPLF/EPRDF at the present. However, there are those who changed their minds and got off the bandwagon because they were disappointed by the way things turned from bad to worse and they did not want to continue to be part of the big Ethiopian betrayal, committed by the hard core TPLF gangs.
    To find oneself in a storm of change is not bad. The problem is to be part of the destructive force, which unfortunately, is inherent in African revolutions. The red line that nobody should cross is that of violation of human rights (i.e. torture, unjust incarcerations, killings etc) and betrayal of one’s own country. As long as they did not commit these eternal political crimes, politicians are eligible for redemption, for their previous participation in a regime that failed to correct its unlawful practices. Nevertheless, contrary to others, such people should always be under strict scrutiny and they should do their best to prove that they remain trustworthy and dependable. This is the price they would be paying for their past transgressions.

  8. Socrates
    | #8

    Taken to its logical conclusion, the argument in the above well-written piece suggests allowing current EPRDF, ‘Woyane’, officials to live a peaceful life should they lose the vote in a national election. However, I am very skeptical that this is even a remote possibility, given the extreme sense of animosity, resentment, etc, etc among ordinary Ethiopians and those in the Diaspora. Fearing what may follow EPRDF’s hypothetical downfall, its leaders will continue to tighten their grip on power and perpetuate the vicious cycle. In a way, by not providing reassurance to EPRDF leaders that their fall from power will not lead to persecution/death, we all may be partly to blame for the sorry state of governance in the country.

  9. mateos
    | #9

    To Seye and those who may represent the Ethiopian people in the near feature: although in most cases your past dictates your feature; and in all honest your past seems to be full of tainted blood all over Ethiopia as well as Eritrea, revenge and avenge against your former comraids for betraying and back stabbing you, the Ethiopian people complete understanding of what EPRDF stands for after nearly 20 years in power, for what Meles/Abebe/Legesse/Mathza and his boss Bereket Simon (Mebrahtu Gebrihiwet), then what would be different that you or your allies do than what Meles/Abebe/Legesse/Mathza and his boss Bereket had done in the past 20 years for Ethiopia and the whole region? In my humble opinion and if I’m not mistaken the Seye clique is still the same, despite the rehetric: MORE WARS AGAINST ERITREANS, SOMALIANS, OROMOS, SOMALIANS, AND MORE

  10. Gashaw
    | #10

    Those who panic at the name of Seye Abraha are those who draw their water from the Shabbo banda fountain. Ato Seye gets his support from Medrek, and Medrek means the Kinijit of 2010. Those who are tearing their clothes can go to Eritrea, and lick the boots of their Eritrean boss Essayas Afework.

  11. atuba dolla
    | #11

    You,gentle Ethiopians;the success of the democratic candidates that you presented for the 2010 election is your sucess and the success of Ethiopians is the success of the democratic candidates that the voters presented for the election.When Ethiopians win,Ethiopia will win;thereby the current and the future generation will definitely win.

    Vivre l’Ethiopia.Amen.

    Revolutionary Democracy is obselete,unproductive,and undemocratic.Whereas,Liberal Democracy is flexible,challanging and excitng,meaningful and measurable.Zinawi’s social and economic policy is based on democratic revolutinary that isn’t all inclusive;it only takes care of its own system and has failed in the beginning and is failing still.Because it didn’t and it won’t include people in the system it built,revolutonary democracy had become an ideology for the negative forces.This is why Zinawi and the system he built had failed successively resulting in the Ethiopians rejecting Zinawi and the system he established.

    For a democratic Ethiopia,Zinawi and revolutionary democracy are not needed.The oppositions do have people;whereas,Zinawi and his groups have guns and bullets.Well,guns and bulletes don’t vote people do;this is the main reason Zinawi will continue to lose,as he lost the 2005 election when voters successfully gave their valuable votes to the trusted citizens.

    Zinawi has never liked Ethiopins;he can’t help it;neither advil nor asprine can. In the parlament,when he was challanged by members of the opposions;he immediately became nervous and turned into red;then he gulped water from the plastic bottle and was seen holding the water for too long in his balooned mouth on both sides of his jaws chewing the water with his eyes closed.Then he became mad and angry at anybody and anything that was infront of his wicked eyes.Is this dingutt man normal?

    Although the speaker of the house,another angry man,seemed to come to his coward boss aid,but he too was repealed by the right answer that was given by a member of the oppositions.

    Guns and Bullets don’t vote people do.Anxiety,Panic,and Guns and Bullets Zinawi has but not people.As Zinawi did in the 2005 election,he did it this time too.He had already dispatched armed cadres allover Ethiopia and alredy moved them into villages,towns,cities,and the neighbourhoods to ambush Ehtiopians and rob of their valuable votes.Isn’t this wicked robbery?

  12. Lambadina
    | #12

    If Siye and Meles were two sides of the same coin, they could not have fought each other.
    Siye is trying his best to do something good for the country before he is too old so that he will correct some of the mistakes he made before.
    It is up the Ethiopian people to decide whether to accept or reject the siye endeavor. If accepted, change will be soon and there will be positive transistion in the country. If rejected, we will have more tens of years under TPLF. Mark my words! Those of you who are just opposing siye with out putting an option, show us your option to bring change in Ethiopia. but dont tell us working with ISAYAS is an option better than working with Siye:)

    To Eskinder Nega, you better understand that there are confused souls in the diaspora – there are people who just oppose for the sake of opposing with out even thinking about the alternative. Those people have started to lable you WEYANIE – this is them. you are in the right track. never retreat from your stand. By the way, those kinds of people can never win any struggle coz they dont usually have reasonable cause to oppose something. The last 20 years, the struggle was dominated by this kinds of people and they were merely being used by EPRDF. The struggle from now on should be dominated by real people like you who are reasonable,pure, democratic and longsighted. Discouraging MEDREK means trying to take the country backward one step.

    Some people say that siye is here to keep the Tigrian supremacy in the country. Well I also know Tesfaye G/ab has repeatedly said that but even he him self was saying that it is just his guess. Assume MEDREK come to power, how do u think siye will succeed to force supremacy of one ethenic group? or you guys are out of your mind? To me, the disguise behind this cry is that there are few extremists who want revenge Tigrian people as people especially EPRDF members. So they dont want to see any Tigrian in power after EPRDF so that they will do everything they want. This is the evil driving all their motives to oppose Siye and his group. They dont want Tigrian people to live in peace after EPRDF. The people understand this well. that is why they were supporting EPRDF with all its problems why? because of the logic of the lesser evil! They dont know what will come if EPRDF is gone. So our motive for change should never be revenge. It should be for a positive change. If our motive is for a positive change, there is no reason to oppose the comming of siye/MEDREK to power.

  13. Ethiopia first
    | #13

    why Adawa and north showa elite are crying , when the people of tgriya want to work with ethiopian people?TPLF is lead by Melese and his follower that comes from the same place, AEUp lead by Hailu( the person signed thw woyane’s fake code of conduct now he pretend and cry). weEthiopian people need democracy, freedom , justice and rule of law not like melese ethnice and like hailu vilage ideology.

  14. guma woraWO
    | #14


  15. Aymro
    | #15

    The fact that Ato Siye is criticising the Amercans indicates that they are not planning to displace Ato Meles and put him in power. Anyone who disputes that they have the ablity to do that if they want to should take another look at the color revolutons in Serbia, Georgia and the Ukraine. Therefore, it seems that they do not want to and still support Ato Meles. They must still see him as more of an asset than a liability. This may account for Ato Siye’s irritation with them as he is likely aware of this.

    The only way Ato Siye could take power would be with the type of public support last seen during the 2005 elections and American backing. He is unlikely to get either. In a genuine election it is possible that he and his party could be elected but no one is likely to want to face Ato Meles’ bullets just for the sake of Ato Siye and his party. People need more than an abstract princple like democracy to sacrifice all, they also need a leadership that is untainted by the past and pointing towards a brighter future. Kinijit filled that role in 2005 but it is unlikely that Ato Siye and his party will in 2010.

    Winning the already rigged ‘elections’ through fair means by ballot alone is likely impossible even for parties and individuals who have genuine public backing, barring a miracle.

    Ato Siye and his party may conceivably expect the public to forgive them and even vote for them but not sacrifice for them. The past is still too fresh for that.

  16. guma woraWO
    | #16


  17. atuba dolla
    | #17

    Seye is a gentleman and a good thinker;if fact,we believe that he is the son of Ethiopia who is born for a good cause.His success is the success of the rest of Ethiopians and the success of Ethiopians is his success.Since he has poured out to the res of Ethiopians the content of his mind and heart,we’ve seen and heard it all;therefore,this an Ethiopian,in fact,will lead the rest of Ethiopians to the desired victory.

    May we hold hands with Mr.Seye and mrach to the victory.

  18. aha!
    | #18

    Why does Ethiomedia allow a commentary on its webpage, so that one could could comment on the information at its source, in a media with many viewers?

  19. aha!
    | #19

    Correction: instead of “allow”, it should read “does not allow”.

  20. Ferenj Lebaw
    | #20

    Well well, my comments were thrown away by abugida last time when I complained that people even go to prison to do the drama these days. Maybe I assume that it was too much for public consumption. I don’t believe it was not something that is far fetched from the truth. I can support my statements by what happened in other countries at some time. For example, here in the US, at one time, ex-convicts were released from prison for a deal of serving the government of risky missions of the FBI or the CIA for exchange of release. At some cases they were even hired after the fake fact. If Abugida doesn’t let me post famous names, I make my comments without mentioning some so called political celebrities. One thing we need to know is that there were two types of groups that were realesed from Kaliti prison. 1/ Those Ethiopians that consistently opposed EPRDF without fear (which the gov. today would like to pin them as “Gemb” Amharas). 2/ The young aged chickens that try to make “wanna be sofisticated statements” to confuse us. The EPRDF hired these prisoners after their release to do some decieving propoganda work. Yo’ll try to figure out what I am trying to say. Yo’ll feel me?

    Just as simple as that. Yo’ll figure out the rest.

  21. Helen
    | #21

    እስከመቼ ድረስ ነው ኢትዮጵያኖች ደግመን ደጋግመን የምንታለለው ? አሁን የኢትዮጵያን ህዝብ በማሰቃየት ላይ ያለውን ወያኔን ከምስረታው አንስቶ በተለያዩ የስልጣን ቦታዎች ላይ እስከ ጦር ሚኒስቴርነት በመሆን ያገለገለ፡ በስልጣን ሽኩቻ ይሁን የግል ጥቅምን በማስከበር አለመግባባት እስካሁን ግልጽ ባልሆነ ምክንያት ወያኔን ለቆ የወጣ ሰው በነጋታው ተነስቶ ከእድሜው የበለጠውን ጊዜ ያሳለፈበትንና ያመነበትን በዚህም እምነቱ የስንት ንጹሃን ደም የፈሰሰበትን አንዲት የመጸጸትና ይቅርታ የምትለውን ቃል ከአፉ ለማውጣት የከበደውን ተለውጬአለሁ ቢለን እንዴት እንደበጎች እየተነዳን እንከተለዋለን ? ስየ አብርሃ ብዙ ጥፋት በኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ ላይ የፈጸመ ነው ፤ አዎ እንደጥፋተኛም ጥፋቱን አውቆ ከዚህ በፊት ላጠፋው ጥፋት ይቅርታም ባይጠይቅ ከተቃዋሚዎች ጋር ለመቀላቀል በአባልነት መብቱን አንንፈገው ግን እንዴት በተቃዋሚነት አመራር ቦታ ላይ እንዲቀመጥ የእሱ ህሊና እንኩዋን ቢፈቅድለት እንዴ የተቃዋሚ ድርጅት አባሎች ሊፈቅዱ ይችላሉ ፡ እንበል ስዬ አብርሃ በእውነቱ በፊት የነበረውን አቅዋሙን ቀይሮአል ተሳስቼአለሁ እስካሁን ላጠፋሁት ጥፋት የኢትዮጵያን ህዝብ መካስ እፈልጋለሁ ብሎ ቢመጣ እንኩዋን ፡ እሺ ጥሩ ከዚህ በፊት በፈጸምካቸውና ባመንክባቸው መሳሳትህ አምነህ ይሄን አሁን ያለውን መንግስት ለመቃወም ከልብህ አምነህ ከእኛ ጋር መሳተፍ ከፈለክ በእውቀትህ በችሎታህ እርዳታህን እንድትሰጠን በትህትና እንጠይቅሃለን ግን አንተ እራስህ ያቆሰልከውንና ገና ቁስሉ ያልተሻለውን ህዝብ እወክላለሁ ብለን የተነሳን ድርጅት አመራር ቦታ ላይ ስልጣን ለመስጠት ህሊናችንም አይፈቅድልንም አንተም ሊገባህ ያስፈልጋል ብሎ ከዚህ በፊት አብሮአቸው ስለነበሩት በቅርብ የሚአውቀውን ምስጢራቸውን ለኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ ይፋ በማውጣት እንዲተባበር ጠይቆ ስልጣን ላይ ማስቀመጥ ሳይሆን በአባልነት ማቆም ነበረባቸው ፡ አይ ኢትዮጵያ የሞተልሽ ቀርቶ የገደለሽ በላ የሚለው አነጋገር ደግሞ ተደጋግሞ እየተሰራ ነው ፡

  22. Helen
    | #22

    ኢትዮጵያኖች እባካችሁ ንቁ ስየ አብርሃ አሁን የመድረክ አባል መሆኑ ቀርቶ መድረክን የሱ አባል ለማድረክ እየገሰገሰ ያለ ሰው ነው ፡ ልብ በሉ ባንዳው መለስ ምጣድ ሲሆን ስየ መቁያ በመሆን እዛው እነሱ ያነደዱት እሳት ላይ የኢትዮጵያን ህዝብ እያገለበጡ ሊቆሉት ነው ፡ የስንቱ ኢትዮጵያዊ ደም የፈሰሰበትንና የተሰቃየበትን ምክንያት አይተን ትምህርት ወስደን አሁን ካላቆምነው መቼ ልናቆመው ነው ?????????????

  23. aha!
    | #23

    Lambadina! Siye and Meles are rivals over the same ethnic agenda. What the two sides of the same coin or mirror images are TPLF/eprdf,and Tigrai-Harena/fdd/efdr, because the cross products of equal ratios are equal. Any individual from any ethnic group may qualify to govern Ethiopia, if one is free of ethnic and seccessionist politics and/or policies, does not succumb to entitlement of ethnic federalism and seccessionism and considers Ethiopia as one nation, one flag, untainted, one language and develop the country as a nation,and enhance the development of other laguges and cultures, rather than the confinement of these groups into their ethnic enclaves, where ethnic rights supercedes individual rights.

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