Hailu Shawel offers no olive branch – By Selamwit Fikre, Washington DC

October 15th, 2007 Print Print Email Email

The high hopes of reconciliation between Engineer Hailu Shawel and his Kinijit comrade-in-arms were shattered once more at a meeting held Sunday at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington DC. (more…)

The high hopes of reconciliation between Engineer Hailu Shawel and his Kinijit comrade-in-arms were shattered once more at a meeting held Sunday at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington DC. To the dismay of Kinijit supporters and members around the world who have been praying for a peaceful resolution of the petty differences in the party, Ing. Hailu had offered no olive branch to the fifteen top officials of the CUD who have been branded and condemned as “renegades” and “dissenters” throughout the meeting.

Regrettably the belligerent leader of Kinijit conveyed contradictory messages at the meeting, which was being transmitted live via EPRP’s Assimba Paltalk room. On the one hand, he had made all those who seek the reconciliation of the leaders happy by declaring that Kinijit would never be divided. On the other hand, he broke his own promise with scathing attacks against those who exercised their liberty of voting against his orders. He suggested that the “renegades” would be replaced by others willing to do the job under his leadership. According to him the “departure” of the majority that he called “renegades”, will not seriously harm Kinijit.

Like a Kangaroo court, disgruntled Kinijit members Weizero Negist G. Hiwot and Bedru Adem, who had declared in court that he was no more a member of Kinijit, also took turns to blast their comrade-in-arms in their absence in a hotel meeting hall filled with well known EPRP operatives, supporters and admirers of the engineer. Both Weizero Negist and Bedru Adem flew from Addis Ababa for the meeting. On the occasion, a lot of money was collected and ardent supporters of Engineer Hailu Shawel even pledged to give two cars to Weizero Nigist.

The most serious sin of the “renegades”, according to the accusers, was to leave their leader back home to tour Europe and America. “How dare they!” they said. The chairman accused them of lacking what he called “human sensitivity,” as if he understood the magnitude of frustration and despair he brought upon millions of his supporters in and outside Ethiopia.

Engineer Hailu has also defended his long time friend Shaleka Yoseph Yazew publicly as incorruptible without conducting a proper investigation and audit. Engineer Hailu said that the allegations against Shaleka Yoseph were groundless because he knew him very well in spite of a well documented submission by the former auditor of Kinijit Ato Tesfai Asmamaw, who alleged that the Shaleqa and Engineer Moges Brook were involved in siphoning off public funds to their own pockets.

The meeting was facilitated by former ETA President Taye Woldesemayat who left the teachers union for Kinijit after a serious dispute with his colleagues in Addis over serious allegations.

One would be forgiven to conclude that the day marked a black Sunday in the struggle for democracy in Ethiopia. The unanswered question remains to be how such a dictatorial move by one man, who cannot reconcile with his comrade-in-arms would bring about freedom, justice and democracy in Ethiopia. The great Kinijit movement, which had once threatened to obliterate the tyranny of Meles Zenawi, seems to have been seriously ambushed and derailed by its own leader who has failed to lead the party properly at this critical time in Ethiopian history.

I respect the feelings of those who were in jubilant mood due to the leader’s empty bravados. But when I left the Renaissance Hotel, I felt totally betrayed by a leader that I had once adored and hoped that he would give us hope. “As soon as I get home,” I said to myself in anger, “I would pull down dictator Hailu Shawel’s huge picture that had been a permanent fixture in my little bedroom since November 2005.” Filled with anger, I got home and went straight to my bedroom and pulled down the picture as I promised. “How many times can Ethiopia be betrayed?” My hands shaking with frustration and despair, I wrote across the face of the picture in red marker and pushed it in the bin with utmost sadness. Don’t blame me!

“If our leaders fail to unite themselves and the whole nation, I will never turn my face back to Ethiopian politics,” I told myself. And yet, I switched off the light and knelt down by my bed to pray for our leaders to see the great pains of millions of Ethiopians who have suffered with them while they were in jails. With some sense of regret, I took out the leader’s picture from the bin. I carefully unfolded it and appealed to it, as if it was listening: “Please come back to your senses and unify your people.” After all, leaders must know how to make peace rather than bothering about their own glory. We need leaders who can mobilize and unify us for the last showdown with tyranny in Ethiopia. Emotion overwhelmed me…. I wiped off my tears as there was no one else around to comfort me. I hoped against hope….

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Editor’s note: Addis Voice extends its thanks to the young journalism student Selamawit Fikre for the story. Engineer Hailu Shawel indeed shoulders the greater responsibility as a leader of Kinijit. As a leader, he should unify the party in a spirit of humility, reconciliation and the democratic principles that Kinijit has been preaching to win public trust. The majority of Ethiopians want one Kinijit. They want to see their leaders speak in one voice. It is the unity of our people and its leaders that can defeat dictatorship. Empty bravado of any sort by any leader can liberate no one and facilitate disastrous downfall.

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