Changing of the Guard Msmaku Asrat
It has been announced that Haile Mariam Desalegn has been chosen to be the Chairman of the TPLF dominated EPRDF and Demeke Mekonnen as Deputy Chairman. According to Communications Minister Bereket Simon they have been effectively chosen to become Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. He said that the Old Guard of Freedom Fighters have passed the baton to the new guard who had not participated in the liberation movement which has defeated the Derg and run the country for the last 21 years.
It is on the face of it a most welcome development. How could the Ethiopian people forget the Derg – those most heinous of criminals, those who drenched Ethiopia in rivers of blood, those trigger happy hooligans who run the most primitive, the most uneducated and, at that time, the most criminal government on the face of the Earth – only to be equaled or rivaled by those criminals of Cambodia who called themselves the Khmer Rouge. The Ethiopian people are eternally grateful for the Tigrean freedom fighters for the singular act of driving the Derg and its attendant criminals from power. But unfortunately the gratefulness ends there and then.
What followed was the pillage of the State as war booty by the Tigrean and their Eritrean overlord “freedom fighters” unprecedented in any time of Ethiopian history of the past. The Woyane became hungry vultures who devoured everything and cheerily declared that they deserve it. Until they were ‘driven out’ OFICIALLY by excessive greed, the Eritreans declared that Eritrea is for Eritreans but Ethiopia is for Eritreans and Tigreans. Later the Eritreans returned through the back door opened for them by the late dictator and tyrant Meles Zenawi. The TPLF leadership, supported by the entire Tigrean people and 100% of the Tigrean elite embarked on a two decade pillage of Ethiopia by owning and controlling the commanding heights of the economy. Their guru and intellectual ideologue Sebhat Nega (and a stooge of Isayas) declared that EFFORT, a conglomerate established by pillaging the resources of the Ethiopian people, is for the benefit of the Tigrean people ONLY. Period. The sole benefactors of EFFORT, the Tigrean people, cheered and the Tigrean elite in particular showered him with admiration, Meles went on to say that the Amara, and particularly the Shewan Amara, need to be subjugated and destroyed. And no Tigrean except Getachew Reda and later Gebre medhin Araya objected. A shame for the Tigrean elite which will be recorded for posterity. No brow beating or revisionist history after this!!
We may ask “has the guard really changed?” The old Ethiopian wisdom says let your suspicions thrive. ያልጠረጠረ ተመነጠረ (he who is not suspicious; will be weeded out) There is this proverbial story of a country folk who had a knock on his door and he comes out. A person asks for Ato X and said he had come to visit him. The country folk answers “Ato X is not at home. May I take a message” The person answers “I am his second cousin, son of so-and-so, I am passing by and came to visit” The gentlefolk says “wait a minute here” he then goes back into the house after realizing that the person is indeed his relative. Then he goes out again and enthusiastically kisses both cheeks of the bewildered visitor and says “I am Ato X, welcome. Please do come in my relative.” This is the way it goes. Now coming back to Ato Desalegn and Ato Demeke one is tempted to ask “is it for real that the Tigrean oligarchy had willingly surrendered its absolute power – a power which has corrupted it absolutely for over two decades – and surrendering its power to a Wolayta and worse still to the hated Amara. How can we be sure that these two are not Trojan Horses or marionettes to be manipulated from behind. The Tigreans own the whole country and had pillaged the wealth and had billions stashed in foreign banks from Malaysia to Bangkok, Singapore to Hong Kong, from Swiss to Canadian and European banks as well as the US. It is said that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. We would find out soon.
Would Hailemariam be able to persuade the West to return the pillaged wealth of the Ethiopian people? Or would he even dare to ask? If, as it is being speculated, it was the gentle pressure of the West which put him in his position in the first place, then he can certainly push forward. Could he be able to reverse the recent appointments of Tigrean Generals in the army which has been done without his consent? Could he be able to appoint other generals from other ethnic groups in order to make the Army an Ethiopian army and not merely a Tigrean army? Would he even go further and retire hundreds of Tigrean Generals and put their overall number from the current 99% to less than 51% in the immediate future? After all Tigreans constitute only 6% of the population.
Hailemariam should free ALL political prisoners who are again 99% non-Tigrean. He should open political space so that people can express their political feelings freely without embarking to armed conflict. Let ideas and arguments stand ‘on the strength of the better argument’. Let him assert the independence of the judiciary and the supremacy of the Rule of Law. In this regard let him issue an immediate order to reverse the decision of Meles to release the barbaric Derg Members, who had been released amongst of the cowed – down, brow beaten and sheepish Ethiopian populace who had been suppressed for four decades and could do nothing. These Derg mass murderers need to be returned to prison to finish life in prison – a merciful decision where they will not face the firing squad! Above all he should ask the brutal tyrant Mengistu Hailemariam to be sent to the International Court. It is said that people who forget the past has no future. We should learn from the gallant people of Israel and Armenia. Only justice will push us forward. Everything else will be a sham.
The death of Meles and the mass hysteria that followed it is an aberration which would be in the history books as other mass hysterias of the past: (Mumbai sweet water-2006; Tanganyika laughter epidemic-1962; Hindu milk miracle-1995; bug epidemic-US-1962; soap opera hysteria-2006; penis epidemic-1967; the dancing plague, the mewing nuns, and finally the one that is that most similar to Ethiopia, the hysterical grief for the “Great Leader” of North Korea. Ethiopians should not be surprised by the high delegation of the US (the highest from the West) nor by the accolades Susan Rice heaped on Meles. We, however, must be incensed, by her affirming the designation of Meles to those who oppose him as idiots and fools, and she throws this bold and insensitive insult to our faces and in our citadel. Ethiopia –Americans need to protest vigorously about this. We must point out to the US Administration that American Exceptionalisn and the insensitive bravado accompanying it has brought anti-American havoc throughout the world- from the Far East to the Middle East to Africa.
Supporting dictatorships that terrorize their people will inevitably breed an undying hatred to America. We see this flaring up from time and even places where the US expects it least. We should be able to speak Truth to Power and remind America that it was one of the five countries which stood by the side of the Ethiopian people and did not recognize the occupation of Ethiopia by the Fascist forces of Mussolini. We must remind America that had it not been for Imperial Ethiopia refusing to undergo land reform; the US was determined to make Ethiopia the bread basket of the region and Africa, by establishing land-grant agricultural schools in every awraja if possible and introduce the Green Revolution and rid Ethiopia of food shortages forever. If their wise council had been listened to the name Ethiopia would have never been associated with famine hunger and pestilence which has become our adjective to this very day.
We must also remind the foolish Billionaire Bill Gates to stick to what he knows best, and not lecture us by boldly declaring and even lecturing saying that Ethiopia has the best medical system in Africa. He says this ignorant of the fact that Ethiopians in their millions are being infected by malaria, when TB is epidemic is rampant when even almost every Ethiopian immigrant coming to Ethiopia is afflicted by the disease, where HIV is not contained and where millions have parasitic diseases because of contaminated food and water. Bill Gates is the perfect example of what is fundamentally wrong with lassie-faire Capitalism. What is the logic for him to become a multi-billionaire and others not having even a fraction of one percent that he has. Is his knowledge that unassailable? Who decides that?
The era of dictators is rapidly coming to a close in this 21st Century and Ethiopia would certainly be among them. It is unsustainable for 5 million people to dominate 85 million others for a long time and two decades is certainly more than enough. The pendulum has to and will swing back. Tribalism as promoted by TPLF will die and multi ethnic Ethiopianism will flourish. The hideous ethnic enclave called “kilil” will be demolished and once again Ethiopians will live together in harmony any one would have the freedom of movement to work and live where ever he or she chooses. The millennium plus past history of Ethiopia will attest to that. Individual right will triumph over group rights. Since the demise of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974, Hailemariam is the first Ethiopian leader who has a religion. That is a most welcome development as Ethiopians believe that God is the arbiter of all things. This belief in God of Hailemariam will be severely tested now. If he prefers to be Godless like his predecessors it would be better for him to resign now. However, if, as he has continuously declared his faith and his commitment to Christian morality, he walks along that path we say to him Godspeed ahead.