How to bring down Meles Zenawi By Abebe Gellaw

February 23rd, 2011 Print Print Email Email

Waging nonviolent struggle is a smart option to end tyranny in Ethiopia

In the first part of this piece, I started from the presumption that the vast majority of Ethiopians agree that their country is facing untold misery due to tyranny, (more…)

Waging nonviolent struggle is a smart option to end tyranny in Ethiopia

In the first part of this piece, I started from the presumption that the vast majority of Ethiopians agree that their country is facing untold misery due to tyranny, corruption, discrimination, exploitation, injustice, abject poverty, rampant human rights violations and lack of accountability. The consensus on these popular grievances that have made the country an intolerable prison to the majority leads us to the fact that drastic socio-political change is badly needed to transform Ethiopia for the better. If revolutionary changes are indeed long overdue and inevitable, how then can Ethiopians bring down tyrant Meles Zenawi and end his reign of terror?

Before I try to make my points, I would like to offer two contrary views that come from the minds two different people. The first viewpoint was made by Bereket Simon, one of the ugly faces of tyranny in Ethiopia. According Meles Zenawi’s Goebbels, the kinds of changes that have swept away dictators in Tunisia and Egypt are impossible in Ethiopia. He told Capital newspaper recently that in Tunisia and Egypt “there are desperate people, people who have nowhere to turn to.”

“Our people are not desperate. Here we have a public that has seen hope, a public that enjoys a glimmer of hope more than ever [before] due to recent years’ economic growth and transformation,” he claimed. “We have embraced democracy, freedom of expression is widely exercised and the public can put in power whomever it wants through elections.” This is obviously what the Bereket Simons of Ethiopia want to believe. As it is quite evident, self-imposed ignorance is a painkiller for dictators that dread facing the reality under their own boots.

Contrary to what Bereket and Meles claim, Bill Richardson, former US Ambassador to the UN and Governor of New Mexico, has this to say: “Ignorance has always been the weapon of tyrants; enlightenment the salvation of the free.”

Why civil resistance?

Last June, I had an opportunity to attend the Summer Institute for the Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict, at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Massachusetts. It was as a result of this uniquely insightful opportunity and follow-up studies that I have gained some level of confidence to scrutinize why nonviolent struggle has failed to take roots in our country since the 1974 Ethiopian revolution and hence make a bold inquiry on how it can succeed.

It should be noted from the outset that this is not an effort to prescribe a single dose that can be taken to expunge a dangerous parasitical tyranny from Ethiopia’s body politic. Instead of trying to come up with a prescription, I herewith offer a few ideas based on my observations and understanding as a contribution to the ongoing discussions on ending tyranny and oppression in Ethiopia.

Quite obviously, getting rid of a militaristic tyrannical regime built by brutal rebels is neither simple nor impossible. It is not simple because Meles Zenawi has repeatedly proven to be a genocidal killer, who resorts to the use of lethal force to suppress every little protest and muffle the voices of dissent. And yet, the task of ending his misrule is not impossible because when an oppressed nation rises up in unison, no tyrant can survive the rage of the people as it has been proven time and again.

One of the misconceptions that has seriously undermined the popular struggle for dignity and freedom in Ethiopia for so long can be partly be attributable to the fact that there are so many people who believe that nonviolent struggle has been tested and totally failed in Ethiopia. But in reality, nonviolent struggle is not only widely misunderstood but also untested in Ethiopia under Meles. Some political leaders and their followers, whose strategy of ousting the tyrant through his own bogus elections and a few disorganised protests, have repeatedly declared the “end of peaceful struggle”. But the concept of “peaceful struggle” is by itself confusing as it is misinterpreted as being inaction, submissiveness, obedience and pacificism. For the sake of clarity, it should be noted that nonviolent struggle is more akin to civil resistance, people power movements or unarmed insurrections than obediently running in unfair elections that are deceptively designed to create a semblance of democratic legitimacy to brutal oppressors like Meles Zenawi and the rulers of Burma.

Professor Gene Sharp, one of the leading authorities on modern nonviolent struggle, noted: “In conflicts between a dictatorship, or other oppression, and a dominated population, it is necessary for the populace to determine whether they wish simply to condemn the oppression and protest against the system. Or, do they wish actually to end the oppression, and replace it with a system of greater freedom, democracy, and justice?” This is an important point because at times people may think that condemning oppressors is an end that is sufficient enough to bring down a tyrannical regime. Even in our case, there are so many people in and outside of the country who are preoccupied with the task of condemning TPLF without waging a well-organised and sustainable struggle that is targeted and aimed at ending tyranny.

By their very nature, tyrannical regimes are vulnerable and sick. This is due to the fact oppressive regimes are very costly and their survival hinges upon their security and military apparatus that consume a huge chunk of the national budget. It is quite obvious that no nation in any part of the world gives consent to get abused, dehumanised, robbed, exploited, and oppressed by a handful of corrupt tyrants and their cronies. It is because of this very fact that the concept of nonviolent struggle or civil resistance, as opposed to the use of violence for political ends, is based on civil disobedience and nonviolent actions against oppressors. When people wage a sustained civil resistance against a tyrannical regime, the financial, security, political and moral cost of violent suppression increases and becomes more and more unsustainable. While suppressing disorganised and spontaneous protests is an easy job to do for any tyrannical regime, using violence to crack down on a well-organised and cohesive movement usually produces the opposite result and can add momentum to people power movements especially when the popular uprising is deep and widespread. The collective actions and disobedience of citizens determined to win their freedom can make a country totally ungovernable to tyrants given the fact that the controlling capacity of any regime is limited. The more people come out in protest and defy the regime and its oppressive laws, the more power shifts toward the resisters which can in turn lead to a significant level of loyalty shift.

Nonviolent struggle is a systematic way of waging and escalating coordinated and organised mass actions and campaigns using the power of mass mobilisation, protest, persuasion, civil disobedience and disruptive measures that can cripple the regime. It has so many innovative techniques, tactics and strategies that have proven to be effective in ousting many tyrannical and oppressive regimes around the world. While the dramatic revolutions in Eastern Europe, Egypt or Tunisia appeared to be spontaneous to television viewers across the world, the reality is that so many passionate activists that played significant roles in igniting and building the momentum of the movements were working behind the scenes. Waging a successful nonviolent struggle, requires some level of mass mobilization, organisation, strategic planning, discipline and leadership that will give the movement a purposeful direction and devise different tactics and strategies.

It is quite obvious that neither Egypt nor Tunisia is similar to Ethiopia. It is indeed true to say that Ethiopia has its peculiar problems that are more complex than the average nations suffering under tyrannical regimes. The worst part of our political reality is the level of deep ethnic division and hostility that has been deliberately created and fomented by Meles Zenawi and his trusted lieutenants in order to sustain their tyrannical divide and rule system. There are over 90 political parties in Ethiopia, most of whom are ethnic “parties” created and controlled by the TPLF. Despite all that, when a nonviolent struggle starts in earnest, the calls for change and freedom mostly make it possible for different groups to form broad-based coalitions and narrow differences with a view to ending oppression as it has been witnessed in many cases.

People living under oppression share similar discontents and grievances which can fuel and energise their struggle for freedom. Suffering under a corrupt and oppressive regime inevitably begets widespread discontent that can easily be turned into a popular uprising for change. It is because of this fact that regime change in oppressed countries rarely come without mass protests, uprisings, revolts and revolutions as the stake of losing the reigns of power is too high for those who are ruthlessly and criminally abusing, exploiting and oppressing their own people. Tyranny cannot be possible without abuse of power and the exertion violent force. As a result, in the process of the struggle against oppression, sacrifices such as being killed, injured, jailed, displaced or being forced into exile, can be inevitable consequences for many people because tyrants rarely relinquish power and concede defeat without a stiff resistance. Compared to armed struggle, however, the cost of waging a well-coordinated and organised nonviolent struggle is much less minimal.

Civil resistance against Meles Zenawi

Since 1991, we have witnessed so many half-hearted efforts and uncoordinated activities but we have never witnessed the rise of a formidable movement, be it armed or unarmed, that is capable of bringing down the tyrannical regime of Meles Zenawi. It is for this very reason why ordinary Ethiopians, leaders as well as opinion makers need to start debating and devising ways starting a movement capable of undermining, disobeying, defying, cracking, crippling and ultimately dismantling the tyrannical regime through mass mobilisation and civil resistance.

The struggle may take a few days, months or years. No matter how long it takes the resilience and sustainability of a nonviolent struggle is a crucial factor in weakening and crippling the regime. Unless the struggle against the tyrannical regime is ignited and escalated in earnest, the regime may not face the stress and strains necessary to make it easier to bring it down. Those who are expecting that the people will suddenly erupt like a volcano to get rid of the regime must be committing an act of oversimplification because it is much easier to violently suppress a spontaneous revolt than a well-coordinated and organised movement that has well-defined objectives and cohesive leadership.

Nonviolent struggle is not obedience to oppressors nor is it waiting for dictators to reform and step down out of their own volition. It is rather a war waged through civilian uprising, resistance, campaigns, mobilizations and disobedience. For a nonviolent struggle to succeed in bringing about the desired outcome, it must normally be well-coordinated, organised, planned, strategized, unified and sustained for a length of time.

In the last two decades, nothing that resembles a civil resistance has been waged in Ethiopia. The truth of the matter is that tyrant Meles Zenawi has not survived in power for over two decades not because of the strength of his army or his Gestapo-like security apparatus but because of facing weak adversaries that have neither realistic strategies to end Zenawi’s tyranny nor a clear vision for change.

The lack of a cohesive opposition and serious movements capable of converting the deep popular discontent into a movement for change has given the Meles regime a great advantage without a fight. In most cases, certain individuals usually make themselves indispensible and relegate their causes to a less important status. As a result of this fact, the tyrant has never been seriously challenged for 20 years despite the fact that his reign of terror is extremely vulnerable as it is oppressive, corrupt, discriminatory, unjust, undemocratic, unconstitutional and illegitimate that is not even willing to respect its own the letters of its own constitution.

It may be true to say that the May 2005 elections were serious challenges. Yes, that is partly true. Millions of Ethiopians were agitated for change. But the opposition lost the rare political capital as the people were not mobilized into a movement, which is more difficult to suppress and dismantle. Before the agitated mass were organised into a formidable political movement, which could have shaken off the yoke of oppression by now, the leaders wavered and started dismantling and undermining one another. The effect of the blunder is still felt as so many Ethiopians became disillusioned and lost faith in almost all the leaders that were supposed to lead the march for freedom.

In the last two decades, the majority of opposition political parties pursued strategies that are contrary to the very concept of nonviolent struggle. Almost all opposition political parties have adopted a strategy of “ousting” the tyrant through his bogus elections. They made futile efforts to win stage-managed elections that have been designed to produce the same result again and again. So in all the elections, they “lost” the fake elections lending the regime a semblance of democratic legitimacy. The 2010 elections were the worst for opposition parties including those who had willingly presented themselves as “loyal opposition” and signed deals with Meles to make the elections “free and fair.” In reality, the elections were over in 2008 when the TPLF and its puppet parties took all local government seats that were deliberately expanded to over three million. The regime took all kinds of oppressive measures to make sure that its tyranny goes unchallenged. That was followed by the parliamentary and regional elections. The results were the same. As it stands today, must opposition political parties are fundamentally weak and bankrupt as a result of internal and external factors. They have been suffering from deficit of smart leadership and clear visions.

One of the most important methods of waging nonviolent struggle is noncooperation aimed at denying the regime its perceived legitimacy, control, authority and power over the oppressed masses. If the adversaries of the regime run in highly restrictive elections without even having a right to hold election rallies and unfettered access to public media, the outcome of cooperating with the regime can only end up consolidating the power of the regime.

In Ethiopia under Meles, the only time a nearly competitive election was held in Addis Ababa and some regions was in 2005. Opposition political parties were at least allowed to hold rallies, canvass in the regions and there was an air of open debates. TPLF had suffered a humiliating defeat in Addis and many places. Even then, it was evidently clear that Meles and his cohorts were not ready to accept defeat graciously. It is obvious that tyranny and democratic elections cannot co-exist together. This disturbing reality calls into question the strategy of opposition parties in sheepishly running in fake elections as a means of bringing about “regime change” or widening a closed political space. The score card may be shocking. But the net gain of the opposition as a result of repeatedly running in TPLF’s show elections has proven to be fatal. TPLF and its puppets hold 546 seats in “parliament”. The entire opposition group has a single seat. In over 3 million local and regional government seats the opposition has only two. And yet, some of this opposition parties seem to waiting for another “election.”

It should be noted that though TPLF is a ruthlessly oppressive force, it has strategies and tactics to quell dissent against its misrule. TPLF’s negative “success” is partly because of the fact that its leaders think and act with evil strategic calculations to sustain their corrupt tyranny, domination and projects of oppression. As a result of this fact, we have an entrenched tyranny in Ethiopia making billions of dollars from its privileged businesses facing fragmented, weak, disillusioned and disorganised opposition groups that have almost no strategic planning and minimum common agenda to unify for a cause.

As we have witnessed over the years, none of these political parties have adopted strategic nonviolence action, which requires knowledge and awareness, as a means of challenging and dislodging the entrenched tyranny of Meles Zenawi. Because of this undeniable fact, Zenawi’s tyrannical rule is still intact without facing any formidable challenges in the last two decades. One can claim that bringing down Zenawi has not begun yet in earnest given the fact that sporadic resistance and protests in Brussels and Washington DC will never be enough to win freedom for all.

Dynamic of civil resistance

At the Fletcher summer school that I mentioned above, Jack Duval, President of the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict, gave a talk on the dynamics of civil resistance. He contended: “When the people deprive an oppressor of their consent, it reduces the perceived legitimacy of the system. When people say we do not cooperate with the state of affairs any longer, because we think it is unjust and wrong that reduces the perceived legitimacy of the system and engenders a contest for legitimacy. When enough people refuse to cooperate and withdraw their consent, the cost of holding control by the oppressive regime goes up which automatically renders the system unsustainable….” In fact, that is precisely the kind of consideration that must be taken into account to wage an effective nonviolent struggle.

The TPLF regime has repeatedly expressed its love for what it called the “silent majority.” After the 2005 elections, TPLF has made significant efforts to undermine the desire for change. It has crippled civic society groups, closed down over 16 newspapers and expanded its tentacles. It also systematically used intimidation, threats and oppressive laws to silence the people so that they would be safely categorised under its “silent majority.” But in reality they know full well that the so-called “silent majority” is a volatile and explosive group.

The withdrawal of consent is one of the pivotal moments of a nonviolent struggle. When “consent” is clearly, publicly and boldly withdrawn at a massive scale, the controlling power of the regime will be inevitably undermined making the regime more unstable and vulnerable. Civil disobedience can effectively deny TPLF the semblance of legitimacy it has created through deception, corruption, use of force, threats, repressions and bogus democratic elections that are designed to sustain oppression and inequality.

Key elements of waging a successful civil resistance movement

According to Dr. Peter Ackerman, one of the leading experts and financiers of civil resistance movements, there are three key elements necessary to wage a successful civil resistance movement aimed at ending tyranny and oppression in countries like Ethiopia and Burma. In a 2009 video, Dr. Ackerman has the following to say on the elements of waging a civil resistance movement.

The first thing is unity. A civil resistance movement must unify the widest possible spectrum of society: young, old, all ethnic groups, all religious groups, all economic strata, around a limited set of achievable goals, and designate for the moment a leadership that has legitimacy to mobilize all these groups in service of those goals. The second thing that’s required is planning. There has to be capacity for that leadership to look objectively at what its capabilities are, how it can mobilize, what tactics are at its disposal, how to sequence those tactics in a way that has the biggest negative impact on the opponent….

That planning needs to go on at an offensive and defensive level. Defensive level means there are things you should anticipate…. For example, you might have an oppression that might end up killing some of the leadership. There needs to be planning for redundancy of leadership….

And then the last of the three is nonviolent discipline…. The reason I use the term discipline is to emphasize that it’s a strategic choice, not a moral one. Because civil resistance can’t succeed unless you induce loyalty shifts and multiple defections from the other side that basically weakens the power base [of the regime]….So unity, planning, and nonviolent discipline are the ingredients that are sort of the necessary conditions for a successful civil resistance movement. And I think, expressed this way, they transcend all cultures and all time.”

It appears that the three key elements of civil resistance movement are still missing in Ethiopia. As a result of the deficits in unity, strategic planning and leadership, Ethiopians have not been able to seriously challenge and confront the tyrannical regime. If Ethiopians are serious about winning their freedom, a formidable and all-inclusive civil resistance movement must be born without any delays.

In the last part of this series, I will try to touch upon ways of building a movement, devising realistic tactics and strategies that can be used to wage an effective civil resistance in Ethiopia in order to bring down Meles Zenawi.

The writer can be reached for comment at editor@addisvoice.com

  1. Assta B. Gettu
    | #1

    Important lessons for Meles Seitanawi (Zenawi) to learn from the sweeping Arab Revolutions:

    1. Sleep no more, thinking there will be a lasting peace in Ethiopia while the majority of Ethiopians are suffering under your regime.
    2. Diminish your unwavering trust in the might of your army.
    3. Put no more confidence on the Ethiopian ambassadors serving in various countries.
    4. End the hope of hiring foreign mercenaries to fight for you your dirty wars.
    5. Distribute among the Ethiopians all the money you and your wife have stolen.
    6. Free all the political prisoners before the Ethiopian Revolution get them free.
    7. Get rid of all the documents you have signed to sell lands to the foreigners.
    8. Stop dividing Ethiopians on tribal lines; it doesn’t seem working in Libya.
    9. Avoid using force on the Ethiopian peaceful demonstrators; if you choose to do so, the whole world will condemn you, including your closest allies – the United States and the European nations.
    10. Convene the parliament and put forward your resignation peacefully.

    Follow my advice and find a place to live in Ethiopia like Sharm el-sheik, where Hosni Mubarak is now residing happily with his family.

  2. United we stand!
    | #2

    All the weapons in the world is not big enough to bring down a determined human army, this has been proven during the Italian war. If the mad man Meles kills tens of thousands Ethiopian protesters, he might as well dig his own grave and make a room for his ugly wife as well.

  3. Sam
    | #3

    Abebe’s writing is persuasive. Every sentence of his has the stamp of a well-versed academic observer of Ethiopian politics. I totally agree with his understanding of Ethiopian politics. I would have prefered though if he stressed the reason the Meles’s regime seemed to have had an omnipetent power is the government has spent more mone and human resources to stop any opposition real or imagined in its infacy. No government on earth right now could spend time and money to silence opposition as EPDRF does. From its inception TPLF takes politics as a personal thing. They always have enemies real or imagined. After the 2005 election the whole Ethiopia, especially those who live in big cities, became enemy number one. Then the TPLF politicos, or those who choose to stick with it despite diminished influence– the big guy is in fact TPLF by himself–, started, as Berket being the principal player, to divide the distitute Ethiopians playing with their poverty. They forced anyone who wants to have three meals a day, have an employment, want be free of constant harassment, to sign with EPDRF. Failing to do so makes the miserable life the 90 plus percent Ethiopians live more dire. My very worry is– I wish I am wrong here– there are more Ethiopians who will give away their friends and relatives to the merciless sword of EPDRF just to continue of having a meal. It is very, very sad. Ethiopians have never snitched on each other just to secure having meals, but it is happening now. Supplanting the ethnic divide and rule by dividing people who choose to sell their conscience for just to make a living and those who do not cannot have any parallel in world politics. TPLF is the worst ethnic organization that has been created since the world came to existence.

  4. Arthur
  5. Worse than foreign enemies
    | #5

    Here is another human misery caused by inhumane TPLF that shook me to my inner core. A must read:

    http://ecadforum.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Voice-of-the-Victims5.pdf

  6. Compromise
    | #6

    The best instrument to be used in dismantling the tyranny of Weyane regime is first of all by tacling its scare tactics. We know that Weyane cadres are nowadays very busy to hinder the revolution from taking place in the Ethiopian empire by using the fact that the peoples of the empire are not homogeneous, but different (the colonized and the colonizer), as an instrument of division and polarization. If the scare tactics, which they try to use, hinder the revolution, the only option we the colonized people do have is the anti-colonial armed struggle, on which we have to concentrate and invest most, even though it is a very difficult job, given the little support we do have from the international community. For the revolution possibilly not to take place, unfortunately also the pro-independence freedom fighters (the Oromo, Ogaden, Sidama… liberation forces) and the pro-unity freedom fighters (the Amhara, Gurage, Harari… patriotic forces) are still mistrusting each other. Both want to secure the direction of the move after the FREEDOM from Weyane (to secure the result after the revolution). The first bloc wants no reversal of the already achieved victory of a limited cultural autonomy on the way towards national independence (self-determination), whereas the second bloc wants to be sure that the empire stays intact and possiblly the process will be reversed back to the unitary country.

    But, why should these people worry too much about the situation after the revolution? Is the caution regarding the unity of the empire, which is lamented by the pro-unity freedom fighters, different from the scare tactics used by the Weyane cadres? The cadres go to Oromo forums and tell us the “worse will come = Amhara will take over and there will never be the reality of Aayyo Oromia, if you push for the revolution”; and then they go to Amhara forums and tell them “take care, the worse will come = OLF can take over and it will be the end of Imiyee Ethiopia, if you make a revolution”. Both Aayyo Oromia and Imiye Ethiopia are actually taken hostage by the Weyane. Whenever Oromo force is stronger, Weyanes threaten with the possibility of dismantling Oromia; and whenever Amhara force is stronger, they threaten with dismembering Ethiopia!

    Weyanes use the opportunity of such division among the opposition to threaten both camps of the freedom fighters. If the revolution should happen, the two camps of the freedom fighters need to be bold enough to take risk of losing their ideals after the revolution and live with a possible compromise solution: the first bloc should be ready to lose for instance Oromia, Ogadenia… and the second camp should be ready to risk Ethiopia! Otherwise, in short, Weyane is really lucky, there will never be any revolution; and getting rid of Weyane through election is of course minimal, that is why armed struggle then will be the only option left. If both the public uprising and the armed struggle are not effective, shouldn’t we then be ready to be ruled by Weyane for the next one century? In short the scare tactics, which the Weyane cadres nowadays are using in forums and paltalks are:

    - “if revolution happens, Amharas can take over and dismantle Oromia”
    - “if revolution happens, Oromos will be in power and dismember Ethiopia”
    - “if revolution happens, Weyane army is not like Tunisia’s army, but will massacre the civillians and take over power”
    - “if revolution happens, there can be a mayhem against the Tigreans, like that of Ruanda”
    - “if revolution happens, there will be absolute chaos and civil war among different ethnies”

    Are the freedom fighters from both blocs (pro-independence freedom fighters and pro-unity freedom fightrers) ready to tacle this scare tactics of Weyane? Can they agree on the middle ground: FREEDOM and REFERENDUM (on self-determination of citizens and nations)? Those freedom fighters, who just sing about the UNCONDITIONAL independence of nations must cool down and accept the public verdict, as well as those freedom fighters who now cry for UNCONDITIONAL unity also should learn to be moderates and accept the public verdict. That means both camps must agree on first to get FREEDOM from Weyane fascists and racists, and then democratically decide for either Independence or Unity per REFERENDUM. That means, only democratic independence or democratric unity (independence or unity based on public verdict) can be a lasting solution. We like it or not, all peoples in that region are interdependent, be it they decide for political Independence or for political Union. The political WILL of the peoples in the empire/region is what matters at the end!

    Unfortunately, there are still blind nationalists in both the Amhara and the Oromo camp, who yet couldn’t see the common CONVERGENT short term goal of the two BIG nations, i.e. the ‘FREEDOM from Weyane’s fascism’. Such blind nationalists concentrate on only their divergent long term goals: independent Oromia (Oromo’s goal) vs united Ethiopia (Amhara’s goal)! But the smart nationalists from both the Amhara and the Oromo camps are trying to forge an alliance to achieve together their convergent common short term goal and then to decide on their respective long term goals per public verdict (by REFERENDUM). The blind ones are too far from accepting and respecting the WILL of their respective public as a final verdict. That means, in short, the blind nationalists do preach democracy, which includes the referendum, but they are not yet ready to practice what they do preach! We hope the few smart and genuinely democratic nationalists in both camps, who try to practice what they do preach, will prevail to cooperate and make Weyane’s fascism be history! Here we also can call the blind nationalists as dictatorial nationalists. Those who want to achieve either ‘Independent Oromia’ or ‘United Ethiopia’ per public referendum are democratic Oromo nationalists and Amhara nationalists respectively. The others who just want to achieve their long term goal without a public verdict are purely dictators, who can talk about freedom and democracy, but know nothing what freedom and democracy really mean!

    Those of us, who do have a cognitive ability to imagine something in abstract way, let’s just try to imagine a very big letter ‘Y’ and try to distinguish four points on the letter (the bottom tip, the middle junction, the left top tip, and the right top tip). Then let’s imagine that the bottom tip is the status-quo of Ethiopian politics, where both the Amhara and the Oromo are under the TYRANNY of Weyane; the middle junction is a point for FREEDOM of both nations from the tyranny; the left top tip is the point of Oromian INDEPENDENCE; and the right top tip is the point for Ethiopian UNITY. Then let’s imagine that this letter ‘Y’ is a route of the liberation journy for both the Amhara and the Oromo from the tyranny, from their present common situation, towards their short term and long term goals. Can we imagine that these two oppressed nations do have a possibility to move from the bottom tip (point of tyranny) to the middle junction (point of freedom) together? This is our common route of the journey towards the common CONVERGING short term goal (kaayyoo). Then after will come the two DIVERGING routes towards two different and diverging long term goals of the two nations: the left top tip = Oromian Independence (long term goal of Oromo) and right top tip = Ethiopian Unity (long term goal of Amhara).

    Now if we could imagine this well, it is not hard to comprehend that we need the Amhara-Oromo alliance (the all-inclusive alliance) to move from the status-quo of tyranny to the point of Freedom, not to move together to the right top tip (together to the Ethiopian Unity goal of the Amhara) or together to the left top tip (together to the Oromian Independence goal of the Oromo people). After achieving our Freedom together, it is upto the Oromo public to decide per REFERENDUM which direction to move further: to the left top tip of Oromian Independence or to the right top tip of Ethiopian Unity. If the Oromo majority will choose to move to the right top tip, then our long term Kaayyoo will be similar to that of the Amhara. Otherwise, if the Oromo majority will choose to move to the left top tip, no Amhara can hinder the Oromo nation from achieving this Oromian Independence. May Waaqa/Igzabiher help us all to understand this move!!

  7. nick giovannis
    | #7

    Let us not ignore the elephant in the room Ethiopians have to stop running after name brands and get serious about the people business. It is not lack of personality or person. There are many capable Ethiopians qualified to lead. I completely agree with all the academicals exercise and analysis of Abebe Gelaw’s piece on strategy. What Ethiopians lack could be summed up in one sentence “LACK OF ORGANIZATIONAL UNITY” One front that is capable of determining the greater threat; refuse to ally with the adversary; have one comprehensive master plan in common to achieve the goal. All opposition parties should suspend fighting amongst themselves and declare a united Front to focus their energies and resources. That will be a moment in rarity establishing their credibility both at home and the eyes of the international audience. Forging unity is one powerful, unique and irreplaceable mark of geniuses of any party and group at this juncture of events in Ethiopia. Its stiffer is a direct indicator of maturity in vision, concreteness, magnitude of accommodation, patience that an individual or group leader/s, should be measured against. That is the main reason we gave the current regime a failing grade in leadership. They are excellent in dividing and exploiting the circumstances to advantages limited to their circle. What Ethiopia needs at this very moment is a selfless unite-er who would exploit the circumstance for the common good of all citizens. Those concrete actions obviously boost the confidence and morale of people at home waiting to accept genuine leadership replacing the mono-racial, despo-cratic dictation. And it will establish the legitimacy of the created united front in the international arena, exactly shortening the life of the regime in power. The level of actual co-operation and co-ordination between parties and groups could be strengthened through time. Any genuine government, party or group engaged in activities with the goal of uniting the Ethiopian Opposition as the first priority should be supported and those who works hard against are nothing but people with different settled agenda, counter to the interest of the people and they should be condemned by all means.

  8. aha!
    | #8

    Although, I do not share to your background and justifications for non-violent struggle to freedom as being based on tyranny alone, when the system in place is autocracy, ethnocracy, totaliarinism from the marxist and leninst ellements of the student movements on the the oppression of nations and nationalities of the student movement led by TPLF and EPLF, still lingering with ethnic and secessionist politics and/or policies, and the Marxist-lennist dogma of the dergue regime as the major form of the landholding system and housing administration, and the countrys resources and its resources are understrangle hold by TPLF and TPLF affiliated enterprises, and UDJP is settling for “No Change but durable democracy” in a regime where the mantra is economic development before democracy in the East Asian Style.

    I was going to mention the book, None-violence reaction to democracy by Gene Sharp, before I read that you have accross it, which the Egyption revoltionaries had adopted to the fullest. I commend you for that, but I suggest that you anchor that strategy of Gene sharp to attain political and economic freddom and liberty of the silent majority of Ethiopians through a non-violent resistance for unity, territorial integrity and sovereignity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians. The choice for Ethiopians in the diaspora and at home is align themselves with the positive forces of integration with national agenda to maintain Ethiopian Nationalism and Ethiopian national interests to form a pefect union and perfect democracy of free individuals who will elect a party to power to rule by their consent, but not otherwise. What major focus is to abolish autocracy, totalianism, replace ethnic federalism with State federalism, or the apartheid systme of governance and/or adminstration, reject secessionism, upon whch bases you can not have a democratic system or government.

  9. ETHIOPIAN JEW
    | #9

    To Asta B. Getu

    Your article is more to the point. In fact, it supersede the original article by Abebe Gelaw be it in its coherence,cohesiveness or substance as it mentioned all the necessary demands by Ethiopians as awhole. Keep-up in your faith to your creator and the love you have for your country. I am your debater on Theology in the past but my pen name is not “Ethiopian Jew” but I used it here so that you can remember me.
    Thank you and good-by

  10. Birtu/can
    | #10

    You don’t always use water to extinguish a fire. sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. A “controlled fire” is a fire that fire fighters purposely start to stop the advance of a larger fire. We can use that as a metaphor to Ethiopian politics. It is about time that we fight fire with fire to bring down the Woyane regime.

    The question is how? How do we bring down the Woyane regime against all odds? I have heard/read of fantastic suggestions/solutions, but nobody dares acting upon them. W e have too many chiefs, where there are not enough Indians.As they say, talk is cheap unless we prove ourselves by walking the walk.

    Actions speak louder than words. Walking the walk requires cleaning house. The stench in the opposition camp is so bad that it killed the manhood(if you will) of the Ethiopian people rendering them to give up any fighting spirit left in their souls.We need to get rid of the so-called opposition leaders over 55 years old ASAP and replace them with young ambitious individuals such as Birtukan Mideksa. We need leaders with a clear vision that can not be intimidated or outmaneuvered/outfoxed by Meles Zenawi easily.

    The Ethiopian church and rag tag Ethiopian army can expedite the fall of Meles by engaging their membership accordingly. We all know the Ethiopian church/members are hypocrites. They preach you to death about the next life while people are living in hell here on earth. The church and the boogy woogy entertainers have the capacity to draw a large number of people, which means a resource of man power, finance, knowledge..etc. to withstand Woyane’s dictatorship and ultimately overcome its grip on power.

    Last but not least, the short cut for freedom in Ethiopia is through blood. Blood needs to overflow like the Ganges river for Ethiopians to be liberated from the parasite regime of Woyane. Let Woyane’s sharp shooters have a field day by offering them wave after wave of heads and bare chests for target practice. Let them take a swimming lesson in the blood of innocent men, women and children. There is a remote possibility after seeing so much blood, woyane’s rag tag army will call it quits and surrender their weapons. It is the blood of Christ that brought salvation to mankind. It is the blood of Ethiopians that will trip down Melese’s regime. It won’t be too long before Meles Zenawi follows the foot steps of his brothers in crime, Ben Ali–Mubarak and Qaddafi.We have no choice, but to fight fire with fire even when the cost is so high.May we rejoice the freedom of Ethiopia and its people soon!!!

  11. Come to your senses!
    | #11

    First and foremost, the Ethiopians who were brainwashed by Esayas and Meles to divide Ethiopians need to wakeup from their amnesia and realize that no one is more brutal and hateful as TPLF and UNITE to protect their mother land from the most bloodthirsty, heartless, vicious and Godless Woyanes that have killed tens of thousands law abiding Ethiopians, looted and sold the Ethiopian fertile land to foreigners. The late Haile Selassie who came from a family of Amharas, Guragaies, Oromos, Muslims and Christians loved his country and had done his best to protect Ethiopia from domestic and foreign enemies. Haile Selassie had tried to educate all ethnic Ethiopians from every province the best he could and a lot of Ethiopians came from far away to attend Haile Selassie University. Yes, he should have done a lot more, but compare to Meles, without a doubt the late Haile Selassie was a saint. Even the other brutal tyrant Mengestu was a much better leader that loved his country than the current evil dictator Meles. Please come to your senses and UNITE, UNITE, UNITE to stop the bloodshed and the sufferings of your fellow Ethiopians and stop the slow death of your mother land Ethiopia.
    UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL!

  12. aha!
    | #12

    Furthermore, our non-violence struggle to freedom from the current regime and its implicit supporters is akin to the struggle against Afrikaners of South Africa, less the Communist element in it. Apply to that the Non-violence struggle of Gene Sharp, the outcome will be political and economic and liberty of the individuals, not democracy.

    For that to happen the political leaders will have to call a national convention and create a by law to defend Ethiopian Nationalism and its national interests and agree to prepare their future platfom based on that, not on ethnic agenda to dismantle ethnic fedreralism and secessionism, and land holdings according to Marxist ideology to promote free enterprise, remove the exploitation as well as the political and economic strangle hold of the country’s resources by TPLF and TPLF affiliated enterprises to form a truly democratic government, not supper imposed ethnicism and secessionism (ethnocracy, totaliarianism and politics of secession)and border conflicts.

  13. aha!
    | #13

    Compromise/ AFDist please stick to the topic on the article being commented upon. Say, so if the article does not meet your frame work of idea/ideology from the stand point of AFD and stop blaming other etnic groups, especially Amahara who stand up for integration rather than disintegration. If you are ready to convince the silent majority of Ethiopians of the prevalent ethnic and secessionist politics and/or policies please do so, explicitely. In a non-violence resistance to freedom, there is no compromise between the negative forces of dis integration and the posive forces of integration, where the balance is tipped towards the negative forces of disintegration, which for the 20 years, the teletafi and loyalist oppositon parties and the liberation movements have contributed to it.

  14. Werner2010
    | #14

    To begin with, I don’t think your presumption is right. We are experiencing an unprecedented growth, peace and stability in our beloved Ethiopia, and you write about untold misery, intolerable prison and reign of terror. I remember the good-old-days of the times of Derg, where our people were faced with famine, national military service, war and red-terror. Your “presumption”once again shows that the opposition is “out of touch with the average Ethiopian”.
    Just by reading the manual to revolution by Professor Gene Sharp, you may believe that you can start a revolution in Ethiopia now. There are enough manuals about getting rich in 10 weeks, how to lose weight, becoming popular…etc. The internet is full of such “spam-like” prescriptions. Instead of trying to incite revolts by the book, or copycat Arab revolts, The opposition better come up with feasible alternative programms for further peace development and stability in our beloved nation. Instead of attempting to block much-needed foreign aid to Ethiopia, the opposition better be part of the struggle to eradicate poverty by encouraging reconciliation and investment in our motherland.

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