Amen to UDJP Covenant for Peaceful Struggle – By Robele Ababya

July 11th, 2008 Print Print Email Email

I very seldom miss the daily British Broadcasting Corporation’s “Focus on Africa” program on the radio. The one I listened to on 07 July 2008 coinciding with the opening of the G8 Summit in Japan caught my attention. From the comments made by fellow African listeners, it dawned on me that the African people, especially the young, are fade up of the hypocrisy and double standards of the western powers and the beggar mentality of their leaders that has become a habit and “get- rich- quick” pursuit. (more…)

I very seldom miss the daily British Broadcasting Corporation’s “Focus on Africa” program on the radio. The one I listened to on 07 July 2008 coinciding with the opening of the G8 Summit in Japan caught my attention. From the comments made by fellow African listeners, it dawned on me that the African people, especially the young, are fade up of the hypocrisy and double standards of the western powers and the beggar mentality of their leaders that has become a habit and “get- rich- quick” pursuit.

Focus on the miseries of Africa reportedly featured high on the agenda of the G8 leaders along with the hither to unmet pledge of development aid to the continent – that as we know has been the subject of empty talks by western industrial powers for many years.

Comments from various parts of Africa read over the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) radio program captured my attention. Fellow Africans from Nigeria and Uganda in particular expressed views consonant with the ideals of unity, self-reliance and focus on development. Some of the commenting listeners in effect described the G8 Summit as a forum for expressing empty rhetoric of little substance to the long-term economic development of our continent; it merely is a forum to advance the interests of the richest industrialized world at the expense of Africa in which they want to entrench and perpetrate dependency syndrome.

Most of the Summit leaders in the pack, can hardly forget the hey days of their imperialistic rule on the continent; looting its natural resources as they pleased; taking its peoples in chains in order to exploit the labor of the slaves in building the economies of the countries of their captors.

The era of colonialism ended owing to a complex, arduous, and costly mix of peaceful and armed struggles spanning the years covering the period for Scramble for Africa that started in 1981. Victory over imperialism was won. However due to inept and corrupt African leaders, the fruits of victory did not filter down to the masses to this day of the era of neo-colonialism gaining strength in full view of our own toothless AU which is nothing more than a club of western stooges competing for leftovers from the high table of ex- colonial masters.

It is in the public domain of discourse that the AU is a toothless entity which is unable to deal with increasingly acute multiple problems including bad governance, poor health, abject poverty, and internal conflicts. Most of the AU leaders lack moral authority in confronting the abuses of their corrupt vote robbing colleagues. But this will change for the better with energetic young leaders with new ideas in power.

Topics of interest to me, as an Ethiopian-African, The Summit dealt with climate change, fraudulence in the Zimbabwean election of 27 June 2008, aid to Africa, soaring costs of food and oil. These were of interest to me as an Ethiopian-African

The nonbinding agreement to reduce gas emission by 50% by the year 2050 is hailed as ‘significant progress’ by none other than President George W. Bush who had refused to recognize the Kyoto Protocol. In any case, the issue of emissions has little relevance to Africans who should necessarily continue to depend on conventional sources of energy for their economic development. The greedy rich should therefore set the example in reducing the effect of global warming.

There was indeed a despicable fraudulence in the Zimbabwean election of 27 June 2008. Robert Mugabe, once a darling of the UK on whom the coveted title Knighthood was conferred (and later was stripped off), was the chief culprit along with his Zanu-PF stalwarts and generals. Poor Mugabe was being grilled at the Summit for vote rigging and stealing crimes far less than those committed by Meles. The illegitimate Ethiopian dictator who stole votes; killed 193 peaceful demonstrators in cold blood; incarcerated tens of thousands of Ethiopians protesting of votes; threw the victors of the election in jail was freely mingling among the G8 leaders. Mugabe’s abuses, not those of Meles, caught the limelight in equal measure as the global warming and world economic down turn posing violent public uprising. It is a shameful demonstration of double standard.

The leaders of the eight industrialized nations stressed that they were “deeply concerned” over rising food prices and supply shortages, and urged the world to reduce the “unnecessary demand” for food. Just after expressing their “deep concern” the leaders drew outrage from various quarters for setting bad example of feasting on 24-course lunch and dinner in just one day. The question is not one of feasting on a variety of sumptuous foods. It is rather that the leaders did little to deserve it as well as failed to practice they preached.

No wonder that the good pop star Bob Geldof in frustration christened the Summit as an expensive talk shop and questioned whether it has not out lived its usefulness. I agree with Mr. Geldof. The only choice is to rely on ourselves.

I should end my sketchy but important remarks about the Summit here and turn my attention to what concerns me most, affairs in my own beloved motherland, Ethiopia.

Self-reliance was the hallmark of the Ethiopian revolution of 1974. That spirit was soon forgotten and replaced with the slogan of solidarity with international proletariats with which the Dergue was not familiar. It was unfortunate that building ‘invincible’ military might was the centerpiece of the policy of the soldiers. That policy held the junta subservient to the defunct USSR power block as well as in close ties with North Korea. Both were rich in slogans and military weapons but had little to offer by way of economic development.

What I hear nowadays from my fellow Africans, especially young university graduates and students, is the need to resurrect and bolster the spirit of self-reliance. This does not mean development in isolation but asserting our interests as Africans in the global market place.

There is hope for the revival of self-reliance in the ambiance of emphasis on economic development. All free societies are self-reliant in basic necessities like food, clothing, shelter and health. So, the free flow of ideas, dialogue, prudent utilization of natural resources and human capital are central to all round development of a nation.

There were strings attached to the procurement of military equipment and weapons. At one time the officer in charge of MAAG in Ethiopia plainly and audaciously told the Imperial regime that the aircraft and munitions supplied by the US were for the purpose of quelling internal political unrest or opposition. Indeed, Humvees were on display in several locations in Addis Ababa during the infamous crackdown on peaceful demonstrators protesting the daylight robbery of the victory of the Ethiopian people at the historic election of 15 May 2005.

The outcome of military clashes in the Horn of Africa has nothing to show except a dismembered and impoverished Ethiopia; to usher in a failed state of Somalia after the fall of Siade Barre regime and further misery to the Somali people under the occupation of Meles’s security forces; an impoverished Eritrea on the verge of explosion. The evidence is before us to admit military adventures did not work. Therefore, the one and only one sane option for all in the region is in my opinion to genuinely commit ourselves to civilized dialogue by embracing the principle of peaceful resolution of conflicts and concentrate on meaningful multi-faceted development aimed at liberate the people of the region from abject poverty and political unrest fueled by dictators.

The Ethiopian people comprising all ethnic groups have amply demonstrated their united action and common values of freedom at the historic election of 15 May 2005. The election showed that there were no contentious issues between the common people to reconcile about. The spirit of Kinijit spontaneously brought them together to proclaim the values inherent in every human heart, mind and soul. Therefore I contend that it is the leaders of national liberation movements in particular that are in dire need of reconciliation with the Ethiopian people by asking forgiveness. It is the protagonists in the White Terror and Red Terror debacle that need reconciliation with the Ethiopian people by asking forgiveness. Most of all it is the TPLF that will need reconciliation with the Ethiopian people for having betrayed vital national interests and for its heinous crimes far too many to mention but well recorded by the international community.

The Ethiopian people, who are at peace with each other, shall be the fair judge in all cases.

The path of peaceful struggle is the logical outcome of our turbulent past. Armed struggle will get us no where in the troubled environment in which our economically poor Ethiopia finds herself. Peaceful struggle is the way forward. As Dr. Yacob Haile Mariam succinctly put it, those of us supporting this method of struggle are not pacifists. All peaceful means including civil disobedience, public demonstration, diplomatic representations et al shall be applied in exerting effective pressure on the regime in power to respect the rule of law.

The birth of UDJP, as an offshoot of its predecessor Kinijit, came in the wake of our troubled social, economical and political past coupled with exorbitant expenditure on military hardware and personnel training to operate that hardware. Our exorbitant spending on the military has to stop because the use of force as a means for resolving internal conflicts did not work at all.

Thus, it is reasonable to suggest to young Ethiopians at home and in the Diaspora to make a clean break with the past culture of seeking political power by the barrel of the gun and remain in office by sheer force.

It is my earnest call to officers and men of the Ethiopian Defense Force to send a clear signal to Meles that their accountability is only to the Ethiopian people and demand that the tyrant opens the political space and create the necessary enabling environment for change without fratricidal bloodshed. Your sacred duty is to deter external aggression and the Ethiopia people will support you in that noble endeavor.

On my part, without fear or pursuit of favor:

• When Professor Mesfin speaks I listen; when he writes I read. This is so because I believe in his consistency and selfless courage I had known for a long time. He never hatched lust for power; there is no reason to believe he does now.

• When Judge Birtukan Mideksa leads, I follow for all those of her qualities that won her the trust and love of millions of Ethiopians and election as President of UDJP by her illustrious colleagues – men and women of principle.

So I am finally at home to reiterate the principle I had believed in for many years.

I say “Amen to UDJP Covenant of Peaceful Struggle” for all the reasons” I have written in this piece.


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