A regime believed to be illegitimate by all: why letting it stay? – By a concerned individual

May 29th, 2010 Print Print Email Email

Already five days have passed since the latest general election in Ethiopia. The government has announced that the party in power is the winner, claming almost 100% of the votes. However, given the wide-spread distrust and opposition of the Ethiopian people against the ruling party, it is hard to take the announced outcome without a pinch of salt. There is ample evidence that before and during the election, opposition parties and their supporters were put under tremendous pressure and disadvantages by the government in favor of its own party. This included harassment, intimidation, kidnapping, misinformation, death treat, and bribery, among others. Opposition parties who suffered from these unfortunate and illegal acts of the government, have made documentations of some examples of such incidences and made them available to the public. Foreign governments and organizations concerned about Ethiopia have also expressed their concerns about the unfairness of the election. For sure, with time, more cases of mistreatment of the opposition by the government will be unveiled. Rightfully, in reaction to this situation, at least two major opposition parties have publicly rejected the results of the election. They have, in fact, demanded a rerun of the election. If this demand is not given due consideration, they implied that the new Ethiopian government will not be legitimate at least in the eyes of the Ethiopian people. History has witnessed that the life-span of a government labeled as illegitimate by its own people is short and the opposition seems to understand this very well. That is where we are now, briefly stating.

I personally admire and salute the opposition leaderships for rejection the results of the fake election and demanding a new election. This is the right step to take and an act of good leadership and allegiance to the oppressed people of the country. Taking lessons from the 2005 election, I hope they will stick to their demands together and do whatever it takes until the demand is fulfilled. Realization the long-term value of this demand, the Ethiopian people should remain behind their leaders in the opposition as long as it is needed. It is most likely that leaders will be able to execute their entrusted responsibilities successfully when they are sufficiently supported by their followers. If so pursued, this can open a new chapter in Ethiopian history.

In the past, opposition parties were divided into two camps regarding participation in the May 23rd election: those who chose to participate in the election and those who did not. The majority of opposition party members and supporters who opted to participate in the election belonged to those who wanted to pursue peaceful struggle. This group did not believe armed struggle or any kind of action leading to violence would bring desirable changes in the country. It rather made a conscious decision to explore if there was any opportunity to wage peaceful struggle, including through participation in elections. On the other hand, most of those who elected or advocated boycotting the election were in favor of a multi-faceted struggle, including armed struggle. Analyzing the nature of the TPLF/EPRDF regime from past experiences, these people did not believe peaceful struggle alone would work in present-day Ethiopia. They rather expressed that participating in political elections in Ethiopia while TPLF is in control is tantamount to giving legitimacy to the regime, which would make the struggle even more difficult. In general, most of them right from the start and later on, after the 2005 election, didn’t consider the TPLF regime as legitimate.

Now, when one compares the views currently held by those who chose to participate in the recent election with the views of those who did not, it becomes clear that both groups consider the TPLF/EPRDF regime illegitimate. Accordingly, both seek to establish a legitimate government for Ethiopia, elected democratically by the people. Therefore, participation of the opposition in the recent election and the decision made by the leaderships should be given the credit of eliminating one of the major disagreements between the two groups. It should also be mentioned that the persistent and forceful demand by the other group might have contributed to the decision making-process by the former. With the establishment a key common ground for a struggle against a common enemy, there is no more a justifiable excuse for both groups now for not be able to work together. Thus it is time to shake hands and start the inevitable journey together.

Despite severe criticisms from some corners, the “lawful” opposition, by participation in the May 23rd election, was able to achieve some important things that worth mentioning here: (1) it was able to reorganize the Ethiopian people once again, which would have been difficult otherwise; (2) it was able to further expose the undemocratic and fascistic nature of the regime; (3) it was able to bring further sympathy, and possibly help, to the Ethiopian people from influential international/foreign organizations and individuals; and (4) it was able to demonstrate the civilized and peaceful characters of the Ethiopian people to the rest of the world.

In the writer opinion, for the prepared mind, these recent gains have created a fertile ground even better than in the past for renewed commitment to work together against a determined common enemy. They should be taken advantage of by all those concerned about their fellow citizens and Motherland. The regime is believed to be illegitimate by all. Why letting it stay?

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