Beyene Petros, Professor Mesfin W/Mariam and election 2010 – Eskinder Nega (Addis Ababa)

April 30th, 2010 Print Print Email Email

Many political leaders, big and small, have come and gone over the past two decades. (more…)

Many political leaders, big and small, have come and gone over the past two decades. Few have remained a permanent fixture though, firmly placed in public consciousness as embodiments of the post-Derg years. Seyoum Mesfin, Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister now for an unprecedented 18 years and still counting; Bereket Simon, the acclaimed Godfather of EPRDF’s malice; Professor Mesfin WeldeMariam, high profile human rights activist-cum- controversial opposition politician; Haile GebreSelassie, an inspiring gold medalist turned successful business man have endured prominently in the spot light through the years.(This list excludes artists, about whom I confess almost complete ignorance; but which is not so with the public.) But there are two more public personalities whose name recognition looms even higher amongst rural and city folks alike, sustained by their consistent presence on state media over the years: Meles Zenawi, PM and leader of the EPRDF; and Beyene Petros, the only opposition figure who has been a Parliamentarian since the first days of the Transitional Government, established a mere month after the downfall of the Derg almost nineteen years ago.

Beyene was a content scientist in May 1991 when leaders of the EPRDF triumphantly led their army—much of it mobilized in the last 24 months of the conflict– in to Addis. He was reluctantly piloted in to the political arena by his ethnic kin, who insisted that he represent them in the national conference scheduled for June 1991; from which the Transitional Government was to emerge. His first year in politics was uneventful by the standard of subsequent years, though perhaps the best in his political career so far, having served in both the legislative and executive branches of government as a Parliamentarian and Vice Minister of Education. The withdrawal of the OLF from the Transitional Government was to end that honeymoon ; with an enraged Meles, responding to Beyene in parliament, once blurting “ I was not voted for(to be in parliament) because of my good looks”; a sarcastic allusion to the upper class persona of Beyene.(He hails form a humble background in actual fact.) But not even Meles, who is serene and calm at one moment and explosive and enraged the next, has ever accused him of wavering from the legal framework; Beyene being the one reliable politician, by universal consensus, that sincerely abhors any prospect of violence. “He has been called a wimp for his commitment to non-violence,’ says a pundit.

It is with these particulars in mind that the public and pundits alike received news of his alleged incitement to violence with utter disbelief. “Overthrowing a government that fails to keep its promise to the people is not new; as it happens in different parts of the world. In fact it won’t last five years,” said Professor Beyene Petros at a public meeting held in Addis last Sunday, thundered a press release from the EPRDF on Monday. “Such statement is against the constitution, and is subtlety intended to provoke violence.” But the EPRDF did not stop there, as it would have been expected to do so at this point in the election season. “No party must expect to instigate violence and expect to operate within the legal framework at the same time. We call upon the NBEE to take measures against such anti-peace statements,” summed up the EPRDF. Beyene responded by insisting that all his remarks strictly adhere to the standards set by the constitution. “ I spoke of a public that votes in to and votes out of power, all through the ballot box. And that is mandated by the constitution. There was no incitement to violence,” said he to local media.

Since no one else, including the EPRDF, really suspect otherwise, the question that pundits are asking is: Why is the EPRDF rocking the boat when almost all things appear to be going its way? Of course there are still the minor tremors that it handles as a matter of routine. But that is to be expected. Consider, for example, these three minor tremors. The first: a report by Reuters, filed by its Addis based correspondent, Barry Malone, while on a trip to Nairobi, of an opposition member allegedly killed last week, this time in Oromia; citing Medrek as its source. Berket Simon responded with indignant fury, temporarily blocking Barry’s return to Addis. “Check with us before you (foreign correspondents) file a story,” instructed Berket’s office after refuting Medrek’s statement. But in the fast paced world of international news, securing the government’s prompt reply remains as allusive as ever. Both sides expect trouble as the election and its aftermath unfolds; with an expulsion or two in the event of street protests. And second: an IMF report that projected Ethiopia’s growth this year at only 4.6 percent, much lower than the double digit growth that the EPRDF has packaged its election campaign around. But a media monopoly (Ethiopia’s small private press has so far remained irrelevant) ensures that the majority will not hear from the IMF. Finally, and more seriously, a bomb blast in Adi Daero, Tigray, killed 5 people and injured 20 others on Saturday; days after EPRDF supported rebels attacked a military camp inside Eritrea. “The Eritrean government is clearly behind it,” said an Ethiopian government statement a day later; and now popular sentiment in Tigray is growing for a military strike against Eritrea. “There is widespread belief that Meles habitually treats Shabiya with kid’s gloves. May be this will be the catalyst that will drive many voters in to the arms of Arena (Gebru’s party),” says a pundit. Such calculation on the part of the EPRDF leadership at the height of the election season could endanger the uneasy peace at the Ethio- Eritrean border. “I don’t think there will be war. But an Ethiopian response of some sort is inevitable after the eletions,” said a Western diplomat upon my inquiry.

Thus all three events were of manageable proportions that did not risk to derail the elections form its almost scripted course. But there is an unpublicsized element in EPRDF’s calculation that is clearly troubling it. “Their obsession with street protests borders on paranoia,” says an opposition leader “But they know that we are in no position to go down that road.” But scores of pundits cite the lessons of history and acknowledge the reason behind EPRDF’s unease. “The street protests of 1972 and 2005 were not instigated by political groups,”says a pundit, “It could happen all over again. And they know that.”

However, with the disarray in the opposition increasingly dominating the news, the prospect of mass street protest is diminishing if not disappearing. Disappointment and anger is rife amidst the public after a faction of UDJ, the party of Birtukan Medeksa, upped its challenge against the legal leadership of the party this week by instigating a brawl at the party’s head office in Addis. “Their timing is terrible. They could have waited until the elections are over,” says a prominent member of the opposition. “At stake is the image of not only UDJ but the entire opposition.” The faction convened what it said was a congress/convention of UDJ two weeks ago and elected Professor Mesfin WeldeMariam to the position of First Deputy President. A ten point statement released after the meeting declared the suspension of UDJ’s leadership, which includes Seye Abraha and Negasso Giddaa,; upheld the party’s original program; and refuted the rational for UDJ’s membership in Medrek. Proceedings of the meeting has already been submitted to the electoral board, which registers political parties, according to sources; raising the prospect of an awkward legal snag for the eight parties coalition, Medrek. “I don’t expect them (the EPRDF) to do any thing before the elections,” says a political pundit, “but this will be useful to break the will of Medrek after the elections.” But ten people ,including Professor Mesfin, were detained by the police yesterday after fist fights broke between the two sides, outraging the public; and, say pundits, damaging the image of the opposition. “ What effect this will have on the opposition’s prospect in the elections this year is an open question. But a political backlash against the Professor is easy to predict,” said a pundit as he watched images of bloodied heads and broken car windows on sate television. UDJ has condemned the move by Professor Mesfin WeldeMariam et al, and is insisting that the meeting had nothing to do with it. “We have confirmed that the permit issued for the meeting was not in the name of UDJ,” said Asrat Tase, an executive committee member, a day after the meeting. “We have seen the permit issued.” Few expect Professor Mesfin’s minority to garner much public support for what has been viewed as a last minute nihilistic spoil-sport effort, but pundits still expect it to forge ahead; blindind by fury against the majority that expelled it—unfairly, it says– from the party. In yet another contentious move, Professor Mesfin accused the American spy agency, CIA, of being one of three principal actors responsible for CUD’s post-election breakup in his recently published book, Aguteni. “He makes the assertion,” says a high school teacher, “but offers no explanation.”

Indeed. But that is only because there is no plausible explanation.


Compromisng National Security?

Two high-flying journalists from state media were imprisoned at the end of last week, allegedly caught while negotiating to sell film footages from the archives of ETV to the Qatari based Al Jezzera television. HaileYesus Werku and Abdulsemed Mohammed , both of ETV, now face the specter of long prison sentences under a stiff anti-corruption statute.The case is being handled by the Anti-Corruption Commission, whose oversight was controversially transferred from parliament to the PM; after, according to sources, it pried too aggressively on senior EPRDF members. Since then the PM’s significant action has been to sack and demote its naively independent minded female head, herself a veteran of the armed struggle against the Derg, to head an obscure government housing agency; shattering institutional credibility and morale of employees. ETV spokesperson Tesfaye Mengiste’s remarks against the journalists, whom he accused of “compromising national security”, has been widely derided as hysterical and symptomatic of the politicization of sate media. “The state media are now more than news organization to them now,” says a ETV journalist. “The mere act of independent thought is now actively discouraged and penalized as it is in the EPRDF.”

  1. wey gud!
    | #1

    How dare you say something about Professor Beyene Petros???
    Getting internet access and having friends who post your nonesense writings doesn’t mean you are credible!

  2. Ayele
    | #2

    Just a wonderful article ! there is nothing to say. Thanks eskinder you rock !

  3. Anonymous
    | #3

    Good report.

    Thanks Eskinder.

    The professor is beginning to act like a real senile person. What is his motive? Does he have to destroy Medrek to “avenge” his expulsion from UDJ? This is really bizarre

  4. Tsedey
    | #4

    I am crying for Birtukan, How could she managed to work with all this selfish “Shmimaglewoch”. Instead of being unite and work hard for her to free, they are fighting for their own fame and power.Meles knows only Birtukan can win him therefore,he hold her in Kaliti Prison and he let the shimagles to fight. He is loughing with Berket now . Shame on Ethiopian people!!! we will never have a true opposition. Our dream has gone. Shame on us!!! I am crying , I am burning. Shameful professor.
    God be with Birtukan,
    God be by her side. God asfetalin eswan….. Why should she?

  5. Hailelom
    | #5

    Woyane bluffs, will not attempt a strike against Eritrea. If it happens that will be the end of it. Let me ask you guys, if Woyane has power, could have done it long time ago, they have support from the WEST being a servant. It did not work before and it is useless to try again and the consequence will be severe.

  6. Alula
    | #6

    You said…”an IMF report that projected Ethiopia’s growth this year at only 4.6 percent”.

    That is not correct. The 4.6% is the average growth rate IMF predicted for several countries among which Ethiopia is one. IMF still belives that Ethiopia will grow at a much higher rate than the average for those countries. Please check the IMF report again to educate yourself better.

  7. Esepatesa
    | #7

    The writer,Mr.Eskinder Nega,oversees all what happening in Ethiopia.I used to read his articles any way.He is talented writer from Ethiopia.
    In this artcle,Eskinder be able to analyes what in which our leaders came up together,stiil on similar roads after all.Any way concerning on this report I have to say Eskinder,please go for it.You are promeniant writer for diaspora web pages in addtion to other participation there.Ethiopia will be one!

  8. goitom
    | #8

    Professor Beyene is naively too innocent in his long career in opposition politics after the meltdown of the Derg regime. He is oft criticized for failure to take strong stance against the ruling regime. What he called for in Sunday’s meeting is not controversial at all unless Zenawi is in a state of paranoia. He enlightened the voters that they can put different kinds of pressures on the government to remove it from power as people in other parts of the world are doing through legitimate and peaceful means. What is wrong with denying vote of confidence to your government when your elected representatives fail to meet your expectations. What is wrong with peaceful demonstration. What is wrong with having Tea Partiers or the Red Shirt demonstrators in Ethiopia. What is wrong with intending to remove EPRDF from power if it fails to deliver on its promises. If Zenawi wants to crack down on the opposition as the saying goes ‘satamehagn bilagn’, he can resort to his dreadful tyrannical tactics. But history will judge him and he will be held accountable when the time comes.

    However, I don’t agree with this author that the idiosyncratic aspirations of Mesfin Woldemariam to grab power and his effort to oust Siye & Negaso from UDJ will change the verdict of the Ethiopian people to vote out EPRDF from office. The Ethiopian people are sick and tired of the ruling regime due to its failure to deliver justice, democracy and economic security for citizens of this country that we all love. Ethiopians understand and follow closely the stalemate at UDJ; they know that it is motivated by EPRDF and fueled by power monger oldies like Mesfin Woldemariam. Sell outs like Mesfin have no chance at all to win the will of the Ethiopian people. If Mesfin and his gang have true cause at clearing the ground in UDJ that is messed up by Siye & Negaso as they oft claim they could have waited to the post polling period. Now it has become clear more than any time that Mesfin and his clique are the true enemies of the Ethiopian people. Good for the old man to form the trio club of traitors of the Ethiopian cause. Hope Lidetu & Hailu Shawul will receive him with red carpets. Maybe we have to forgive Mesfin for he may not know what he is doing because of his senility.

  9. Biddho
    | #9

    Be realistic, we have 20 million people starving and you are telling me Ethiopia has over IMF growth rate. Woyane cooks the number for election drama, your poodle prime minster was challenged at the paralam and he was defensive. Stop your noonsense

  10. atuba dolla
    | #10

    It is true and a fact that Professor Mesfin has been a fine intellectual who contributed to Ethiopia by producing fine sons and daughters of Ethiopia in educatinal instutition;for that,Ethiopians are humbly in debted to his unparalled deeds and contribution in eductation.

    Dear,Professor Mesfin W/Mariam;you have been practically proven to be a man of immense knowledge and subsequently has become globally recognized an Ethiopian intellectual.Now,at age 80 you have reached the apex.As when you reached this stage,don’t you think wisdom must reach its fruition?

    What you are doing currently,at a time Ethiopians are fighting the nazi regime tooth and nail is not a pardigm shift;it is only a show of unhelpful attitude;we urge you not to fascilitat the situation to Zinawian just simply to score bad credits.

  11. Asimba
    | #11

    The infantile analysis lacks objectivity and balance. Fear is the only thing that is keeping Ethiopia or what is left of it today. The unity and cohesion of the people is at its lowest there had been.

    Ethnic Apartheid is the rule of the land and Bantulands are it’s products. The re-election of the Tribal Junta could spell the end of the empire. The Junta would be glad to see this happen. They don’t consider them selves Ethiopians anyway.

    The only salvation is for those that are waging armed and political struggle to intensify their activities. The Junta listens to force and violence only. Secretly, negotiation with the ONLF is going on in London.

    In addition, Melles is begging the Arabs, Qatar and Kuwait, to help him make peace with Isaias. This isn’t going to happen. Isaias despises the spoiled child.

  12. Binyam
    | #12

    With the exception of his lack of courage, I have respect for professor Beyene’s leadership. He operates within the constitution and can not be accused of advocating violence. The EPRDF is scared of its own immige not that for Beye Petros.

  13. Ferenj lebaw
    | #13

    In all truth, nothing but the truth, Eskinder, don’t you know who are the biggest politicians in Ethiopia? KAEUP has the most aggressive and fierce fighters in the entire globe. They are no chickens like you and Dr.Birhanu Nega. How come you never write a report about the largest opposition ,KAEUP, not even a single statement. Are you trying to tell us now that we should trust Siye over Prof. Mesfin? I believe Mesfin finally found out the group he had joined are Woyane bribed and threatened. Please don’t hide Eskinder. Come out of the closet.

  14. Tamirat
    | #14

    Please, you should also bear in mind that Beyene Petros is a professor, who have contributed a lot to Ethiopia. So, please correct this as soon as possible.

  15. Weyane lebaw
    | #15

    Ferenji lebaw, we know that you are weyane. you try to spread discord and suspicion in oppostion are not AEUP. you only pretend to divide us. WE KNOW!!! GO to aigaforum. leba weyane!!!

  16. አንበሴ
    | #16

    ማንኛውም ተቃዋሚ ፓርቲ አባል ነኝ ብሎ ለ20 የሰቆቃ ዓመታት ወያኔን በውሸታሙ የትያትር ማሳያ ፓርላማ ድራማ ይጮህ የነበረ አባል ሁሉ: የወያኔ አጃቢና: የወገንን ጩኸትና ስቃይ ለዓለም ሃገራት በግልጽ እንዳናሰማ መጋረጃ የሆኑ ናቸውና: ወያኔ በማንኛውም የትግል ዓይነት ስልት እንዲመታና እንዲወገድ የሚደረገውን ትግል ሁሉ ሲያኮላሹ ስናየውና መላው አካላችን በንዴት ሲቆስል ኖሯል::
    በቴሌቭዥንና ራዲዮ በፓርቲ ውስጥ ያሉትን ተቃዋሚ ፓርቲ መሪዎች አንድ ወገን ያዘለ የተቃውሞ ጩኸት እንዲታይና እንዲሰማ ወያኔ ፋሽስት በማሰራጨት ምዕራባውያንን ዲሞክራሲ ያለ አስመስሏል:: ይህ እንግዲህ የወገናችንንና የሃገራችንን ስቃይ ምን ያህል እንደጎዳና የፋሽስት ወያኔን አምባገነንነት እንደሸፈነ ያስተዋለ ሁሉ ማወቅና መገንዘብ የነበረበት የዛሬ 20 ዓመት ነበረ::
    ተቃዋሚ የፓርቲ አባላት: ወያኔ በምርጫ አሸነፈም አላሸነፈም ስልጣን ላሸነፈ ሕዝብ እንደማይሰጥና: ስልጣንኑም ባይሰጥ እዚያው የፓርላማ አዳራሽ ውስጥ በመቀመጥ ዳጎስ ያለው የመቀመጫ ደሞዝ እንደማይቀርባቸው ጠንቅቀው ስለሚያውቁ ማጀባቸውን የሚያቋርጡ አይመስለኝም::

    ከእንግዲህ በኋላ ግን: ያወቁና የነቁ የተገነዘቡና ያስተዋሉ ሃቀኛ ኢትዮጵያውያን: ከራሴ በፊት ለውድ ሃገሬ ኢትዮጵያ እናቴ የሚሉ ካሉ በዚያ ድራማ ፓርላማ ካልገቡና ፋሽስቱ ወያኔን ካላጀቡ የወያኔ አምባገነንነት ግልጽ ብሎ የአንድ ዘረኛ-ፓርቲ መሆኑ የሚጋለጥ ከመሆኑም በላይ ለትጥቅ ትግላችን ታላቅ አጋር ነው ረዳት ነው: የዓለም ሃገራት ከኛ ጋር የማይሆንበት ምንም ምክንያት አይሆንም:: አንድነታችን ይበልጣል: ዝምታ ራሱ ትግል ነውና: ከዚህ የምርጫ ድራማ በኋላ:- ዝምታ የትጥቅ ትግልና ሌላም የትግል ስልቶች: ከፓርላማ መቀመጫ ውጭ ማለቴ ነው:- ኢትዮጵያን የሚያድን ስለመሆኑ ማየት ማመን ነውና ለ20 ዓመታት የተዘናጋችሁ ወገኖች እባካችሁ ለውድ ሃገራችሁ ቀስቃሽ አያስፈልጋችሁምና ለፍትህ ለነጻነታችሁና ለዲሞክራሲ መብታችሁ በአንድነት አስተውለን ወያኔን በመቀመጫ ማጀቡን እንድታቆሙ ድካማችሁን አስተውሉ: የቁራ ጩኸታችሁን አስታውሱ እላለሁ::

    ኢትዮጵያ ለዘለአለም ትኑር!!!

  17. atuba dolla
    | #17

    Mannequins do laugh too.In Zinawi’s parilament,the greatest majority of the seat is occupied by articulated maniquins.For the past twenty years,Zinawians have been attacking Ethiopians from different corners by releasing toxic sludge,and then have poisoned the natural discourse.

    On May,23rd.2010, a mock election will be held;because it isn’t going to be fair and free one,of course.However,democrat candidates turly deserve credits for bringing up a wider platform for millions of Ethiopians because MEDREK is a choice for the voters.Zinawi,a natural humor dehyderated,his approval rate is extremely low.Having known that Ethiopians won’t give their valuable vote to him,he left with no choice but one and only option,to use guns and bullets and rob voters their vote and declare as a winner;nevertheless,facts on the ground speak for themselves and for the rest of Ethiopians.Just like voters came out as victorious in 2005,they will redoulble their efforts and coordination and definitely repeat a new victory over Zinawians and the regime they established.

Comments are closed.