ODM: The CUDP of Kenya – By Yilma Bekele
Recent events in Kenya bring a smile to all Africans. Darkness and gloom are in the process of being replaced by joy and hope. The Kenyan government should be given credit for its willingness to sit and negotiate. This gesture should not be seen as a sign of weakness. (more…)
Recent events in Kenya bring a smile to all Africans. Darkness and gloom are in the process of being replaced by joy and hope. The Kenyan government should be given credit for its willingness to sit and negotiate. This gesture should not be seen as a sign of weakness. President Kibaki and his party tried to change the outcome of the election by illegal means, but when they saw the destruction caused by their unlawful act, they agreed to sit and negotiate for a better tomorrow. They choose to settle the conflict by peaceful means. They must truly love their country. This is good for Kenya, this is good for their neighbors, and this is good for Africa.
In the December 2007 election we can definitely say that Kibaki lost. The people disappointed the government and Kibaki decided to declare himself the winner by using trickery. The problem was that no one was buying his story, especially the opposition (ODM-Orange Democratic Movement) led by Raila Odinga. The ‘frightened’ state responded with force. The use of force by the authorities unleashed a general breakdown of law and order. It became open season to settle perceived differences by force.
The opposition ODM refused to intervene to save the government from its own follies. ODM refused to back down and accept defeat when it was clear that it has won. ODM demanded that the ‘right to peaceful assembly and protest’ be respected.
The Police used live ammunition to frighten and control the people. The ruling elite, which has been using ethnic divide to stay in power, found itself with a wish come true. Reality is painful. It is impossible to quit “cold turkey” after having played the ethnic card for such a long time. Kenya was taken to the edge due to the selfish and corrupt policies of Kibaki and his cronies.
Here is a chronology of events, which led to this ‘elite caused disaster’.
Dec 27, 2007 — Elections were held.
Dec 30, 2007 — Mr. Kibaki is declared a winner in a hastily called ceremony.
Dec 31, 2007 — Troops and riot police were ordered out in Nairobi. Live TV broadcast is banned.
Jan 1, 2008 — Riots start. Churches, meeting halls, private residences were torched. Citizens were displaced from their homes.
Jan 2, 2008 — Kibaki accuses ODM of ‘ethnic cleansing’
Jan 3, 2008 — Kibaki says he would accept a re-run of the disputed election if a court orders it. Opposition questions the fairness of Kibaki’s court and rejects it.
Jan 5, 2008 — Kibaki says he is ready to form a government of national unity, but the opposition rejects the offer.
Jan 7, 2008 – ODM cancels planned protests after meeting U.S. envoy Mrs. Jendayi Frazer.
Jan 8, 2008 — AU Chairman and Ghanaian President John Kufuor arrives in Nairobi.
Jan 11, 2008 — ODM calls for international sanctions against Kibaki.
Jan 11, 2008 — ODM calls boycott against Kibaki and his associates.
Jan 15, 2008 — Parliament convenes and ODM wins the post of speaker in the assembly.
Jan 16-22, 2008 –Riots through out the country.
Jan 24, 2008 — Kibaki and Odinga meet thanks to former UN secretary Kofi Annan.
Jan 25, 2008 – Feb 2 Riots continue.
Feb 3, 2008 — Negotiations resume.
Feb 15, 2008 — Mr. Annan talks of ‘Power sharing and Constitutional reform’.
Mr. Kibaki used every means at his deposal to deny the will of the people. ODM stood firm and refused to budge despite threats and intimidation. As usual the European Union and the US were standing by the sidelines while shouting their orders and threats. They were shedding the usual crocodile tears lamenting the loss of life and property. Their main focus was to save their ‘man in Kenya’ rather than the Kenyan people.
Here is a list of how the European Union and the USA made the crime possible:
I) They turned a blind eye when the elite were stealing from the national treasury.
II) They loaned money to the government in the name of the Kenyan people, knowing that most of it disappears into the pockets of the ruling elite.
III) They pretended not to know when the aid money was flowing back to the western capitals.
IV) They praised the regime and offered to train their military and police knowing that it was a tool of coercion.
When the regime started to feel the fury of the people, some emissaries started to talk about ethnic cleansing. We can safely say that that is pouring gasoline into the fire.
ODM stood firm. Even though the killings forced moves, and the property destruction was very painful. The leaders in their infinite wisdom were able to see the bigger picture. Kenyans have suffered for a long time under a succession of corrupt and selfish leaders. It was time to make a stand and say enough. If not now, then when?
ODM and CUDP flow out of the same stream. ODM and CUDP have young, educated charismatic leaders, believe in the power of the ballot instead of the bullet, and both have a wide social base. The international powers to be are leery of both movements due to their nationalist tendencies while the western media tries to portray them as ethnic based organizations.
It is clear that ODM studied the 2005 Ethiopian elections and the aftermath very closely. Mr. Kibaki’s actions were similar to Ato Meleses. Mr. Kibaki ordered out riot police and clamped down on the media. Ato Meles closed down the small ‘private ‘ press and called out the so-called Federal Police, in essence his own force. (Agazi or keber zebegena). Mr. Kibaki cried ‘ethnic cleansing’ while Ato Meles was shouting ‘Interamahwe’. Mr. Kibaki like Ato Meles urged the opposition to go to court. In Kenya almost all the killings occurred between civilians, while in Ethiopia all the killing was done by government soldiers. As Mr. Kibaki accepted negotiations, Ato Meles also agreed to talk.
ODM seems to know how to respond. Their demand was simple but firm, “Mr. Kibaki steps down or the protest will continue.” Boycott was requested and foreign friends were asked not to cooperate with the regime. ODM knew you could not win in Kibaki’s Kangaroo court. They were only willing to accept prominent African negotiators. They saw through the ploy of the US and European diplomats who would have liked to drag out the situation so Mr. Kibaki can retrench and attack. They wanted to buy him time. They did not fall for the old Addis trick. ODM stepped up the pressure while still negotiating.
WHAT WENT WRONG IN ETHIOPIA?
This is a very important question. It should be studied so we can learn exactly what works. We cannot overlook that we are faced with a highly militarized state in Ethiopia. The TPLF came to power by the gun and not by the ballot. The TPLF has a nasty history of reverting to violence to settle differences. Unlike Kibaki, Meles has his own army and a security force that is accountable to him and not to the state. The minority government stays in power using terror, bribery and cooption. The current Ethiopian state apparatus was a smooth transition from Derg to TPLF. The new regime disbanded the army but it inherited the Security and an intact Kebele Administration.
Cursory glance shows what stands out is the firm and resolute stand taken by ODM. The use of force by the regime was not a deterrent. The offers of cabinet positions were ignored. The pressure from the EU and the US were respectfully discounted. Offers by ferenjis to mediate were refused. ODM was focused. They allowed the government dig its own grave. ODM focused on the strength of the Kenyan masses. It appealed directly to the Kenyan people to continue the protests. ODM talked to the fernji emissaries but they were not swayed by offers of ‘future democracy’, and ‘democracy requires patience and time’. Imagine if ODM has committed and enthusiastic supporters like the in the Ethiopian Diaspora.
I am sure the TPLF regime is terrified of the possibility of a positive outcome in Kenya. This is why controlling the media is the primary goal of the regime. There has been no mention of Brothers Kibaki’s dilemma. At this time Meles and Bashir are the best of friends. A stable, democratic Kenya will not cooperate with TPLF Security agents, nor would it be dragged in to this ‘terrorist’ hysteria. The minority Ethiopian regime will devise ways to counter the emergence of people’s power. Its thousands of spies and security agents will continue to infiltrate all aspects of society. The opposition has to find ways to cripple the security apparatus. Most of the government supporters do it very half-heartedly. Most are supporting the government half-heartedly. The majority are ‘economically challenged’ spies; doing it for the money and not out of conviction. Except for a few core supporters, the TPLF is a paper tiger. The 2005 Election proved that TPLF is a house built on sand. The people have found many ways to counter the culture of ‘fear’ created by the regime. Their propaganda machine is designed to make them bigger than life but the opposition has to exploit their weakness and expose them for the cowards they are.
We have to believe that they are more scared of the Ethiopian people than we are afraid of them. All you have to look at is the closure of streets and neighborhood when the leaders zip thru town, the bullet proof glass when they appear in public, the secrecy of their whereabouts and their pathological fear of free flow of information and the millions of dollars spent on disinformation.
We thank Kenya for teaching us two important lessons. The FIRST one is how to sustain pressure without wavering from your stated goal, and the SECOND one is not to be disturbed by those who are always predicting the disintegration of our motherland. Even though TPLF regime tried to fan the flames of ‘Interamahwe’, the Ethiopian people proved that our nation is too cohesive and strong for such an evil and devious attempt. We need to reflect and study the Kenyan experience in order to be able to use their pain and losses to help us lay the foundation for a free and democratic Ethiopia.