The essence of peaceful struggle is compromise – By Mikael Deribe

January 28th, 2008 Print Print Email Email

In recent days, our political society was put to the test when the former defense minister Mr.Seeye Abraha came to the United States to consult all Ethiopians about building an Ethiopia that is free of injustice and a “land of righteousness” as described by prophet Mohamed. Surfing through the pro-government and the opposition websites, it was interesting to read comments and articles written in support of and against Mr. Seeye Abreha’s prospect of participating in Ethiopian politics, as a weathered opposition leader. (more…)

In recent days, our political society was put to the test when the former defense minister Mr.Seeye Abraha came to the United States to consult all Ethiopians about building an Ethiopia that is free of injustice and a “land of righteousness” as described by prophet Mohamed. Surfing through the pro-government and the opposition websites, it was interesting to read comments and articles written in support of and against Mr. Seeye Abreha’s prospect of participating in Ethiopian politics, as a weathered opposition leader. Some articles expressed hope in Mr.Seeye’s potential to bring us out of our internal political crisis while others revisited Mr. Seeye’s political resume and out rightly rejected him. The pro-government websites, notably AIGA, have tried to isolate Mr.Seeye as only a Tigrayan fighter by using misleading phrases such as “Tegadalay Seeye” and warning him that he will never be accepted neither by the opposition nor by the people of Ethiopia and that the only option he has is to “come back” to his mother party, while the government this website supports is currently working hard in Tigray trying to convince people that Mr. Seeye is a traitor of the Tigrayan people.

I commend Ethiopians who wrote articles that were forward-looking and have highlighted the potential of Mr. Seeye to bring inclusive change in our political society and in our country in general. However, I was personally more disappointed with articles that were written by oppositions that focused mainly on the past and gave no alternative or hope for the future than the grammatically incorrect and disgusting ethnic-centered commentaries written by AIGA’s editor. One would think that an opposition would not attack Mr.Seeye if not for his principles of working together, but for strategic interests aiming at putting an end to the continued existence of an oppressive regime,

Many oppositionists, in their speeches, commentaries, and writings, have eloquently expressed national reconciliation as the only solution to take Ethiopia out of this vicious cycle of winner-loser hateful politics; and there is no better time to put that to action than at the present time- when Seeye Abraha, the co-founder of TPLF, a former defense minister, comes to talk to all Ethiopians about building an Ethiopia that our people live together in unity, peace and harmony. Whether we believe Mr. Seeye would be fruitful or not, given this opportunity, are we to back off and push Mr. Seeye away when he approaches us? Just like EPRDF’s government soldiers killed 196 protesters in our capital, 424 Ethiopians in Gambela, thousands in the Oromia and the Ogaden region and still have the guts to tell us we live under a democratic state, are we telling Mr. Seeye that “you were part of TPLF, therefore, you are not a man to work with” and still claim to hold our reforming, inclusive, forward looking and peaceful revolutionary ideas?

It is high time that we realize that the regime is insulting our intelligence and bamboozooling us into involuntary tameness. We must stimulate our political sense and think strategically.

Our history tells us that the most destructive powers in Ethiopia are those extremists in and not negotiators by nature. Extremists such as Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam had so many times refused to negotiate and reconcile with ONLF, OLF, EPRP, EPLF, TPLF and many other rebel groups fighting his government and had instead pursued military action as the only solution in an attempt “to kill them all.” Yes, it was as foolish and destructive as it sounds and has proven to be. Even worse, the current TPLF dominated EPRDF government is now trying to destroy the same forces that were in the coalition that overthrew the dergue. Therefore it is needless to say EPRDF will soon or later be overthrown, because our prophetic history shows us the destiny of powers that have failed to negotiate. We must learn to compromise for the sake of advancing our common good, the good for the Ethiopian people.

But the most important question is: are we the oppositionists able to negotiate and reconcile? In many occasions, I have asked myself this question and did not want to answer it! When Kinijit’s high level delegation came to the United States, in their first public meeting, Dr. Birhanu Nega expressed the importance of the participation of the EPRDF party in the imminent change that is to take place in our country. We did not heed to Dr. Nega’s advice, and the result is the current impasse in the politics of the rigid opposition. We must know, however, that compromise is the life line of politics.

We, the supporters of Kinijit and other opposition groups need to realize the significance of a care-taking and inclusive change and nurture that sort of political atmosphere in our meetings and discussions. If we believe TPLF/EPRDF ought to be destroyed, although I don’t doubt we can bring change in Ethiopia, I am uncertain that we can avoid destructive internal conflicts in the future as we will not get out of the winner-loser vicious cycle of hateful politics.

In his speech in Washington DC, Kinijit’s North America Support Chapters’ chairman Mr. Aklog Limeneh said that Ethiopians need to seek not a regime change but a democratic system that makes every political group relevant and functional. We must realize that we are all prisoners of our hateful political culture and if we are to free Ethiopia, it means liberating not only the oppressed but also the oppressors. We must practice what we preach and by no means should we become the same hypocrites that have misruled us for a long time!

We must realize that the obstacles to solve our conflicts are fostered by extremist elements both in the oppressive government and in the opposition. These radicals criminalize compromise, dialogue, and reconciliation leaving us with no arena, in Mr. Seeye’s words, “to heal our wounds” by attempting to make us forget that we are, after all, a people of one nation.

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