Herman Cohen says TPLF’s minority rule unsustainable By Abebe Gellaw

January 5th, 2012 Print Print Email Email

America’s top diplomat for Africa under George H.W. Bush has said that the hegemonic minority rule of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) is difficult to sustain as Ethiopians are demanding freedom and democracy. Former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Cohen, played a key role in Ethiopia’s transition from the military junta of Mengistu Hailemariam to the minority rule of Meles Zenawi in 1991.

In an exclusive interview with ESAT, Ambassador Cohen noted that the hegemony and authoritarian rule of the TPLF is a fact that exists in Ethiopia. He noted that Ethiopians should never give up on democracy and they need to continue putting pressure of the Meles regime until democracy eventually comes to Ethiopia.

In the aftermath of the violent election-related crackdowns in 2005 that claimed the lives of nearly 200 civilians, Ambassador Cohen had told the Voice of America that Prime Minister Meles proved to be a failure.

“Mr. Meles and his TPLF party fought to overthrow a very dictatorial and tyrannical regime. Everything that Prime Minister Meles said at that time indicated that he was a true believer in the democratic process. But over 10 to 12 years, he has proved to be a disappointment…. They are condemned to rule the country as a minority and that is very dangerous for stability,” he said.

Ambassador Cohen pointed out that US diplomatic efforts in 1991 were primarily focused on saving Addis Ababa from destruction. “The TPLF was at the gates of Addis. We wanted to make sure that the war ended with what we called a soft landing in Addis and there should be no destruction….We didn’t say takeover the government. We said take over Addis,” he said.

Ambassador Cohen also indicated that he tried to engage Meles and press him to implement genuine political and economic changes. He revealed that Meles had once told him that the reason why he would not implement land reform was because of his distrust for Amharas.

“He [Meles] told me that the federal system would work so that each region governs its own affairs. But it didn’t happen that way. And I questioned him about land ownership. I was promoting allowing the farmers to have ownership of the land. He said that was not good because the Amharas would come and take over and buy all the land; and these people [the farmers] would return to be serfs like they were under the Emperor,” according to Ambassador Cohen .

The former diplomat said that after hearing such rhetoric it became clear to him that Meles was going to “impose the same type of authoritarian regime that Ethiopians has always had.”

Asked why the US is still supporting the Meles regime, Ambassador Cohen explained that after President Bush lost the election to President Clinton the later was “seduced by Meles” as he talked the kind of language that Clinton wanted to hear. “He spoke the language that Clinton liked to hear. We want free enterprise, we want democracy and so the Clintons gave him the benefit of the doubt.” He also indicated that Ethiopia’s position as a strategic ally has been another factor why the US still maintains closer ties to the Meles regime.

Ambassador Cohen also revealed that the US government had also given priority for the airlifting of Ethiopian Jews, also known as Felashas. During the last hours of the military junta, the government of Israel paid $35 million as ransom, which was deposited in the government’s account in New York. The former diplomat said that the money was not embezzled by Derg officials, contrary to popular belief.

Ambassador Cohen also admitted that the May 1991 London Peace Conference, which has been recorded as an America-brokered peace process in history, did not happen as it did not go far beyond a consultative meeting he held with EPLF representatives led by Isaias Afeworki and Meles Zenawi’s TPLF delegation, as well as OLF that had a minor role, at the Berkeley Hotel. It also emerged that the so-called “London Peace Conference” of May 27, 1991 under America’s mediation never happened.

Asked why it was necessary to hold a peace conference if there was no negotiations, Ambassador Cohen said: “We thought it was good for public consumption and to show that everyone was sitting around the same table having discussions. The British were there and we wanted to show that this was a true peace effort and that we were not doing everything in secret.”

In his book Intervening in Africa, Ambassador Cohen candidly wrote: “The peace conference began the morning of 27 May [1991] in the conference room provided by the British Foreign Office. I opened the meeting with a statement urging the parties to work out a transition to a democratic form of government and to maintain a single economy of Ethiopia and Eritrea…After my statement, the three parties decided to continue on their own without a mediator…They repaired to a private room for their own discussions, which produced a short public statement. The statement said that a decision has been made to hold an all-parties conference in Addis Ababa no later than 1 July, at which time a transitional government would be debated and launched.

ESAT also enquired why Ambassador Cohen read the statement in front of the international media despite the fact that he was not part of it. “I read the statement [because] I did not have any problems with it. They told me the reason they wanted me to read it was that it would give it more credibility with the international community if the American government would announce it. So I felt that if it would promote true peaceful outcome, I should do that,” Ambassador Cohen said.

ESAT raised a range of issues with Ambassador Cohen related to Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa including US foreign policy toward Ethiopia in the context of gross human rights violations.

Watch the Video below:

  1. Bright Hope
    | #1

    Interesting interview. Well done Abebe!

    There was only one part of the interview I didn’t fell Mr Cohen was truthful: the part where he talked about Mengistu wanting to leave and that the US did not pressure him, and also that they knew Mengistu had bought a home in Harare. His body language when he answered that was not comfortable. I think he may have been trying to hide something.

    But good interview. Its sad that Ethiopians are not in charge of our destiny and that another nation is determining what goes on in our own nation.

    Its also distressing that most Ethiopians are not aware of what was happening to their country. The lack of media freedom is why all this happened. As long as Ethiopia does not have free media, we will continue to be surprised by what happens to our country and to our people.

    We must work to be free! Free media, free elections, freedom!!!!!

  2. Anonymous
    | #2

    Ethiopia is waiting for true children to fight and make the country to be free

  3. biyaa
    | #3

    God Bless ESAT, they are working an outstanding work ever to deliver a true and reliable news, for that matter we should support ESAT irrespective of the negative echo that comes from weyane, eprp and anti esat stupid elements.

  4. visitor
    | #4

    ETHIOPIA IS A GREAT COUNTRY WE MUST STAND ETHIOPIA FOR ALL HER CHILDREN NOT ONLY FOR TIRAY LIBERATION FRONT WE MUST STAND EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER LAW EQUAL OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL ETHIOPIANS WALK OF LIFE.WE MUST STAND AGANIST THE BLOODY DICTATOR OF ETHIOPIA MELESSE ZENAWI AND HIS ORGANIZATION THE TIGRYAN PEOPLE LIBERATION FRONT ONCE FOR ALL AND MAKE ETHIOPIA FOR ALL IT’S PEOPLE.THE MELESSE REGIME TAKE AWAY THE ETHIOPIAN PEOPLE LAND BY FORCE AND SELLING IT FOR OUTSIDERS,PEOPLE HAS NO RIGHT WHAT SO EVER TO PUT IT SIMPLY THE ETHIOPIAN PEOPLE GAVE UP IT’S GODLY GIVEN RIGHTS.IN ETHIOPIA TODAY THERE IS NO FREEDOM OF SPEECH,NO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSIONS,NO FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY,THERE IS NO FREEDOM OF PRESS AS MOST JOURNALISTS ARE ARRESTED ON BASELESS,FABRICATED CHARGES.GENERALLY SPEAKING ETHIOPIA TODAY IS A LIVING HELL FOR IT’S PEOPLE.ALL ETHIOPIANS MUST UNIT AT THIS MOMENT TO BRING CHANGE,THE CHANGE THAT ALLOW THE PEOPLE LIVE FREE LIKE ANY OTHER DEMOCRATIC NATIONS OF THE WORLD.VICTORY TO THE ETHIOPIAN PEOPLE STRUGGLE!

  5. visitor
    | #5

    ETHIOPIA IS A GREAT COUNTRY. WE MUST STAND UP FOR ALL HER CHILDREN NOT ONLY FOR TIGRAY LIBERATION FRONT WE MUST STAND FOR EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER LAW EQUAL OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL ETHIOPIANS WALK OF LIFE.WE MUST STAND AGAINIST THE BLOODY DICTATOR OF ETHIOPIA MELESSE ZENAWI AND HIS ORGANIZATION THE TIGRYAN PEOPLE LIBERATION FRONT ONCE FOR ALL AND MAKE ETHIOPIA FOR ALL IT’S PEOPLE.THE MELESSE REGIME TAKE AWAY THE ETHIOPIAN PEOPLE LAND BY FORCE AND SELLING IT FOR OUTSIDERS,PEOPLE HAS NO RIGHT WHAT SO EVER TO PUT IT SIMPLY THE ETHIOPIAN PEOPLE GAVE UP IT’S GODLY GIVEN RIGHTS.IN ETHIOPIA TODAY THERE IS NO FREEDOM OF SPEECH,NO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSIONS,NO FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY,THERE IS NO FREEDOM OF PRESS AS MOST JOURNALISTS ARE ARRESTED ON BASELESS,FABRICATED CHARGES.GENERALLY SPEAKING ETHIOPIA TODAY IS A LIVING HELL FOR IT’S PEOPLE.ALL ETHIOPIANS MUST UNIT AT THIS MOMENT TO BRING CHANGE,THE CHANGE THAT ALLOW THE PEOPLE LIVE FREE LIKE ANY OTHER DEMOCRATIC NATIONS OF THE WORLD.VICTORY TO THE ETHIOPIAN PEOPLE STRUGGLE!

  6. Bantu man
    | #6

    It is amazing these 3 bitter-wheats (Inkirdads) and arch-enemies of ethiopian unity, called EPLF, TPLF and OLF sat together behind closed doors and prepared the road map for the state that all ethiopian people find themselves now (this is known as the 100 year assignment by the EPLF). Herman Cohen, the USA representative, gave it a cover stamp. Of course this was part and parcel of USA’s game of regime change…of regimes that were not comfortable to its policy of global dominance. At least it is good to hear this American-jew confess that that the tyrant that he implanted in Addis Ababa 20 years ago is effectively running a south-african style apartheid system.

  7. Abba Tobia
    | #7

    የኛ ሰው ታላላቅ መንግሥታትን በአገሩ ጉዳይ ያማቸዋል.እኔ ተስማምቼ አላውቅም. በነዚህ ታላላቅ መንግሥታት ዘንድ እኛ በጣም ድሀ ስለሆንን አንታወቅም, ቦታ የለንም, ዋጋም የለንም. ታላላቆቹ ጉዳይ ሲኖራቸው በአገራችን ጭራቅ ቁጭ ይበል ጥሩ አስፈቅደው ይጠቀሙበታል. እመኑኝ እንክዋን እኛ ጉዳይ ውስጥ ገብተው ሊፈተፍቱ መፈጠራችንን እንክዋን አያውቁም.

    ስለዚህ የአገርችን ዕድል በኛው ዕድል እንዳለች እባካችሁን እንወቅ.

  8. ችግሩ የኛ መፍትሔውም የኛ መሆን አለበት
    | #8

    በመጀመሪያ ምስጋና ለአበበና ለESAT
    ዲፕሎማቱ ምልልስ ጠቃሚው ትምህርት ይሆናል ብዬ የማምነው
    1. አሜሪካ የውጭ ፖሊሲ የአሜሪካንን አገር ጥቅም ያስቀድማል
    2. የኢትዮጵያ ዲሞክራሲ ጥያቄ የሚመለሰው በኢትዮጵያውያን ነው እንጂ በአሜሪካን አይደለም

    ሌላው የዲፕሎማቲክ ተግባራቸውን ለመወጣት የተጠቀሙትን ሽወዳዎችን በተመለከት
    1. መንግስቱ ሃይለ ማርያምን መሳሪያ ግዢ ጥያቄውን ሸወድነው
    2. ሰላም መግለጫ በማንበቤ የተፈለገውን ውጤት እስከሰጠ በስብሰባው መኖር አለመኖሬን ለውጥ አያመጣም

    እውነቱን ነግረውናል ባንማር የኛው ችግር ነው

  9. ችግሩ የኛ መፍትሔውም የኛ መሆን አለበት
    | #9

    ከዲፕሎማቱ ምልልስ ያልተደስኩትና ሰደቡን ያልኩት
    አቶ መለሰን አስተያየት በተመለከተ የሰጡት አስተያየት ነበር
    ኢትዮጵያውያ በዲክታተርሽፕ ስር መተዳደር የተለመደ ነው ብሎ መለሰ አለኝ እኔም ማን ነኝና ልተች እችላለሁ ሲሉ መልሰዋል

    አቶ አበበ የተሳሳተና ዘረኝነት የተሞላበት መልስ መሆኑን ተገንዝቦ ማብራርያ ወይም የሚያፋጥጥ ጥያቄ ማንሳት ይችል ነበር አላረገም

    1.አፓርታይድ ፖሊሲ ቅኝ ግዛቶች ዘርኝነት ማስፋፋት በክፍተኛ ስኬል ያካሄዱት የአፍሪካ አገሮች አይደሉም
    2. ነጻነትን መፈለግም የነጮች ብቻ ባህል አይደለም

    ምናልባት አፍሪካንስ አብሮ መኖር እንደሚቻል አፓርታይድን መበጣጠስ እንደሚቻል ሰለጥንን ላለው ሕዝብና አገር አስተምረውታል

    ያለ ጦር መሳርያ ክምችትም ቅኝ ግዛት አስፋፊዎችን አፍሪካን ድል መተዋል

    ለማንኛውም ምስጋና ለአቶ አበበና ኢሳት

  10. ከበደ
    | #10

    Dear Ato Abebe you missed a good opportunity to use Mr. Cohen’s ammunition presented to you. For example when he said that former secretary of state Mr. Baker’s priority is Yugoslavia not Africa you could have used that the racism of the US foreign policy. He also misrepresent the historical fact which he said that Ethiopia and Eritrea’s union as confederation that was not the case it was federation. Confederation and federation are two separate thing. Eritrean referendum has been criticized by scholars of international law. So you didn’t raise this issue. Asab’s case was not even an issue for Italy during 1947 conference, Italy recognized that Asab belong to Ethiopia so that the representative claimed Eritrea mines Asab. Therefore, Ethiopia shouldn’t rent her own property and this should have been raised. The way the referendum was conducted, slavery or freedom so on and so forth. I consider Abebe as the raising star and my expectation was based on these perception. I expected grilling and cornering the former undersecretary of state.
    But that didn’t happened.

  11. Gigi
    | #11

    Mister Cohen said that Meles argweud that “we need Ethnic federation because the abissinians will take clam our lands”. Why would Abissinians clam their own land and from who? I don’t know. If he is taking about feudalism, at least
    Those people who owns land was the majority of the country except very few and those few most of the time was given
    Land to farm and pay from their harvest or profit to the land owner. And those are all Ethiopian who defended their people and country until their last breaths.
    Does he mean him? If he called him self a Tigray then, Tigiray has been the apic center of Abissian civilization and kingdom/empire. But how ever wether he is an Ethiopian Arab or what ever I don’t believe he has a Jewish ancestry
    Like most of the abissinians, he is the one who clamed Ethiopia in unpresented way and selling to his god knows what.

    What is his problem ? I think we have to understand Mr Cohens interview more than we should. He is telling us a lot of
    Things that we need to know about the TPLF and Melesh I mean Meles.

  12. weygud
    | #12

    Let us not be mistaken also what Herman Cohen means when the Weyane rule is unsustainable could mean that TPLF’s plunder is enough now it is time to break Ethiopia as well. Of course I am speculating.

    If you take a look at this:
    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30182.htm
    AFRICOM has been in Eritrea all along that is why Cohen is supporting Eritrea’s separation the weaker Africa is the better.

  13. MELKAMU
    | #13

    እንደ ኸርማን ኮህን አይነቶች የምእራባውያን መንግስታት አፈ-ቀላጤዎች የልባቸውን ከሰሩ በኋላ አዛኝ በመምሰል መልሰው የአዞ እንባ ማንባት የተለመደ ተግባራቸው ነው፡፡ከኸርማን ኮህን አደራዳሪነትና ከዚያም ይህንን ተከትሎ ካለ ከእነ አቶ መለስ ስልጣን ላይ መውጣት በኋላ ኤርትራ ከኢትዮጵያ እንድትገነጠል ሆነ የአሰብን የባህር በር በሻጥር እንድናጣ ሆነ የኢትዮጵያ ወታደር የመንግስት ሰራተኛ የዩኒቨርስቲ ምርጥ መምህራን ወዘተ በገፍ እንዲባረሩና አውላላ ሜዳ ላይ እንዲጣሉ ሆነ፡፡ኢትዮጵያውያን በዘር እንድንከፋፈልና እርስ በርስ እንድንባላ ሆነ፡፡
    ከዚያም ብዙ የመንግስት የልማት ድርጅቶች ለኢንቨስተር ተብዬ ዘመናዊ ዘራፊዎች በርካሽ ዋጋ እንዲሸጡ ሆነ፡፡ከኛው የተገነጠለችው የአብራካችን ክፋይ ኤርትራ መልሳ በግፍ እንደትወረንና አላስፈላጊ ብዙ የሰው ህይወትና ሀብት እንዲጠፋ ሆነ፡፡ለም መሬታችን ለውጪ ባእዳን ሃይሎች በርካሽ ዋጋ እንዲቸበቸብ ሆነ፡፡ኢትዮጵያውያን በገዛ ሀገራቸው የዜግነት መብታቸው ተከብሮ ለመኖር ባለመቻላቸውና ከሁለተኛ ዜጋ በታች በመቆጠራቸው እንደ ጨው ዘር በየሀገሩ እንዲሰደዱ ሆነ፡፡ኢትዮጵያውያን በገዛ ሀገራቸው የዜግነት መብታቸው ተገፎ የጥንት አባቶቻቸውና እናቶቻቸው አጥንታቸውን ከስክሰው ደማቸውን አፍሰው ባቆዩት መሬት በገዛ ሀገራቸው መሬታችሁ የእናነተ አይደለም የእኔ የአቶ መለስ ዜናዊና የግብር አበሮቼ ነው ተብለው በይዞታነት የያዛችሁትን መሬት መልሳችሁ በሊዝ ከእኔ ግዙኝ ተባሉ፡፡ኢትዮጵያውያን በገዛ ሀገራቸው የዜግነት መብታቸው ተነፍጎና እንደ ሰው ባለመቆጠራቸው በገዛ ሀገራቸው የሚመረተውን መሰረታዊ የምግብ ፍጆታ እንኳን በቅጡ መመገብ እንዳይችሉና የእለት ጉርሳቸውን እንዳይሞሉ አቶ መለስ ኤክስፖርት መር እያሉን የገዛ ሀገሩ ዜጋ ሆድ በቅጡ ሳይሞላ ጉሮሯችንን እያነቁና እያስራቡ ወደ ውጪ ሀገር በገፍ ይልካሉ፡፡በተራው ደግሞ ጥራቱን ያልጠበቀና ውዳቂ ከየአረብ ሀገራት የተለቃቀመ ጊዜው ያለፈበት የምግብ ምርት ወደ ውጪ እየገባ ኢትዮጵያውያን ይህንን አንዲመገቡ ይደረግና ሲታመሙ ደግሞ እንደዚሁ ጥራቱን ያልጠበቀ መድሃኒት ከውጪ እንዲመጣና እንዲጠቀሙ ይደረጋል፡፡ግፉና ዘረፋው ተዘርዝሮ አያልቅም፡፡
    ይህ ሁሉ አልበቃ ብሎ ዛሬ በስተመጨረሻ ኢትዮጵያውያን እንደ ቢንላደንና መሰሎቹ አሸባሪ ተብለው ዘብጥያ እንዲወርዱ እየተደረገ ሆነ፡፡አቶ መለስና ወያኔ ይህንን ሁሉ ተቆጥሮ የማያልቅ ጥፋትና ግፍ በዚህች ሀገርና ህዝቦች ላይ ከፈፀሙ ከሃያ ዓመታት የግፍ አገዛዝ በኋላ እንደ ኸርማን ኮህን አይነቶች የምእራባውያን መንግስታት አፈ-ቀላጤዎች ቀድሞውንም እየረዱና እየደገፉ ስልጣን ላይ ያወጧቸው እነ አቶ መለስና ወያኔ ለኢትዮጵያውያን ያጎደሉት ነገር ዲሞክራሲ የሚባል የዘመናችን መከረኛ የፋሽን ዘይቤ ብቻ ይመስል እነ አቶ መለስ ዲሞክራሲን ባለማስፈናቸው ከስልጣን መውደቂያቸው አይቀሬ ነው ይሉናል፡፡እነዚህ ፈረንጆች እንዴት አድርገውን ቢገምቱንና ቢንቁን ነው እስከዚህ ደረስ እንደ ህጻን ሊያሞኙን የሚፈልጉት እረ!!!ምን ያድርጉ እነሱም አይፈረድባቸውም ምክንያቱም ኢትዮጵያ መቀነቷን አስራ ተርባ ያስተማረቻቸው ፖለቲከኞቻችንና ምሁራኖቻችን ከእነሱ ጋር በጠረጴዛ ዙሪያ በተቀመጡ ቁጥር ዲሞክራሲ ከሚባል ቃል ውጪ ሌላ ነገር ትንፍሽ ማለት አይፈልጉም፡፡ከዚህ ቃል ጋር ልክፍት ይዟቸዋል መሰል ልበል፡፡ስለዚህም እንደ ኸርማን ኮህን አይነቶች የምእራባውያን መንግስታት አፈ-ቀላጤዎች የደረሰብንን አሳዛኝና አሳፋሪ ግፍና በደል ሁሉ ዲሞክራሲ በሚለው ቃል ብቻ ሸፍነው አሳምረው እየፅናኑ ያቀርቡልናል፡፡ስለዚህም ሀገር ክፉኛ እየጠፋ እየወደመ እየተበተነ ህዝብ በገፍ እየተሰደደ እየታሰረና እየደኸየ ዛሬም ያጣችሁት ዲሞክራሲ ነው ይሉናል እነ ኸርማን ኮህን፡፡ፈረንጆቹ የሚገርሙ ሰዎች ናቸው ያልበላንን ቦታ ያኩልናል ላላመመን በሽታ መድሃኒት ያዙልናል፡፡
    መቼ ነው ግን ልብ የምንገዛውና ከዚህ አይነት የፈረንጆች ድራማ የምንገላገለው፡፡

    እግዚአብሄር ኢትዮጵያን ይባርክ!!!

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