For the first and last time yours truly is going to rant briefly about the current politics in Ethiopia. I plain hate politics but I am a firm believer in change and I don’t think change is something that’s should be left to politics/politicians rather it’s up to the individual. I will start by briefly summarizing the political history of Ethiopia.
Despite the fact Ethiopia has theoretically remained a soveirn nation throughout time; the country has been under foreign influence since the first outside contact. Back when independent nations flourished, contact was mostly trade ‘I will give you my guns for your slaves’ and access to other nations. Although I won’t be getting in to it, religion (Foreign & Inside) has also been a major influence on the Ethiopian way of life.
The 20th century has been somewhat different. This time it’s was not just about trade contacts you see. Especially after the end of WW1, the world operated in terms of gangs (who call them selves allies) instead of nations. And the fate of Ethiopia rested upon the hands of the European-colonialist gang (Britain, France and Italy). Everything that happened from then on was up to those three countries, especially the British. The second Italian invasion is not the work of just the Italians, both the French and the British damn well knew what was going to happen; after all they had an agreement. At the same time every gang had their problem, benefit was the main but gang members two-timing with other gangs is also an issue. Hence, the expulsion of the Italians in 1945 was not fully the work of the Ethiopian patriots who managed a similar task once before (Battle of Adwa, 1896), there was also a great deal of British effort since Italy by then was part of the fascist gang (Germany and Italy). If it wasn’t for Ethiopia joining the allies earlier during WWII, the British would have colonized us right after they liberated us from Italy.
Now jump to the cold war, with the help of the CIA (the western gang) in 1974 the king got ousted, the monarchy fell and Ethiopia is fresh out of autoclave for more political experimentation. This also caught the eye communist Gang (USSR & Cuba), which made their move during the disconcerted transition period when the eminent border war between Ethiopia and Somalia erupted. The Somali’s with an existing help from the Russians had a major advance but the Russkies weren’t too happy with their new big catch being messed around with so they switched sides. Then came the flow of Russian made weapons, ammunitions, the MIGs, my motor bike and what not. At a snap of a finger the Somali’s were defeated. In the mean time, a new civil war including the Eritrean struggle for independence has taken another step with the help of the US. aha said the then leader Mengistu H/Mariam, so the best way to gain more victories is to stick with the Russians. in that case communism all the way.
Fast forward to the fall of the Berlin wall. Now the east is weakening so was the subordinate Ethiopian government. Even after 17years of iron fist rule and scores of military assistance from the USSR, victory was far from the their hands. In a scramble to save its regime, Mengistu seeked assistance from Israel and china but none of them could measure up to the Russians. In the meanwhile, hats off to the US, the civil war had reached every corner and the rebels were in control of a considerable amount of the country. Finally in 1990, the EPRDF, the main opposition front took control of Addis Ababa but Mengistu had fled the country just in time with the help of who else but The CIA. Since then EPRDF has been the Ruling Party (RP) and it’s been “democracy” for everyone.
Now for the third time since the fall of communism, on May 15 , 2005 Ethiopian’s are democratically going to attempt to elect the party that’s going to lead them till the end of the decade.
This time the involvement from the opposition parties (OP) is rather strong, which makes the current elections a lil’bit democratic that the previous two. But you still see that ‘power or death’ attitude in the officials of the ruling parties, which means more pushing and shoving for the public, unfair treatment of the OP members and the inevitable rigging of the election it self.
However, world politics have shifted in two major ways. One is people in the ‘post communist-mediocre democratic’ countries are starting to realize the full extent of a democratic nation. Second, there is another gang in town, the Asian Gang led by the Chinese.
The outcome of recent elections in the former Soviet Union countries, namely Ukraine Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan has been a major wakeup call for others in a similar situation. At the fall of communism, Democracy was the only available paradigm (when looked at from the advantageous perspective) to be picked up and for that very fact it’s been working haphazardly since then. In the past year alone, Oppositions in Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan took a stand against the mediocrity plus the unfair elections and mobilized the people for CHANGE. I am sure we are all aware of the outcome of the Ukrainian Orange Revolution, Rose Revolution in Georgia and Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan.
Ethiopia is more or less in the same situation, the majority had no clue what democracy was or bothered to ask at the beginning, they just had to fill that empty ideological gap, they were told “Democracy good, Everything else bad”. Once again the Ethiopian public became a Guinea Pig for politics. The one definition of democracy the RP has stood by since their advent to power in 1990 is Article 39 of the FDRE constitution that states “Every Nation, Nationality and People in Ethiopia has an unconditional right to self-determination, including the right to secession” plus the rest of the unkept promises like freedom of speech. What good is secession in a country where you can’t even own your own land? By hook or crook tho the EPRDF have managed to hold on to power up to now.
The Asian involvement in Africa so far has been purely economic, both to their own and to the Africans advantage. Africa needs fast cheap technology and the usual economic kickbacks while the soaring Asian economy needs lots’o’energy and lots’o’ resources. Where else would you look for such supplies but East Africa, where decades of instability in the region have left everything untapped? So far, it’s looking the RP has taken up the Chinese while the OP has the US backup. Here are some of the issues that led me to the previous statement.
- The government (i.e. the RP) supported China’s anti-secession law directly contradicting their own Article 39. Mind you the US did NOT support that act.
- The US congress acknowledged the human rights abuse in Ethiopia and insisted on an immediate change.
- The Ethiopian government kicked out US election observers.
- Finally, the members of the OP are composed of an Elite Diaspora group who lived/live in the US with close ties with the US.
When the smoke finally clears, we will get to see who’s behind the curtain. For now the peoples question is for Straight, untainted democracy in order to complete the experiment. or is it? Other obvious questions are; who is going to win? is it going to be a fair and square election? are we going to see another Colour Revolution? is the RP going to tolerate peaceful demonstrations? All are questions only a period of one week can answer.
If you have read this far you know the answer to my question. I AM POLITICS. As for that rule of not being political, I guess I’m going to have to break it and keep you posted on the happenings.
For more election coverage check BBC, AllAfrica, Reuters and other internet news portals and local blogs Addis Ababa Fun Rocking Zone and Ethiopundit
About Thursday’s show; the play list is almost complete and it’s going to be uplifting, revolutionary beats.