Home | Press Releases    Thursday 20 October 2005

ETHIOPIA- No alternative to pursuing Peaceful-Democratic Struggle

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Network of Ethiopian Scholars (NES)


Scandinavian Chapter
Press Release No. 17
October 20, 2005

Defective Constitution, Rigged Parliament, Sabotaged Negotiation, Illegal Government: No alternative to pursuing the Popular Peaceful-Democratic Struggle!

“Only free men can negotiate; prisoners cannot enter into contracts. Your
freedom and mine cannot be separated.” Nelson Mandela, June 1961

“Defying unprecedented intimidation by the State, trailed and hounded by
the Special Branch, denied the right to hold meetings, operating in areas
heavily patrolled by government and municipal police and teeming with spies
and informers, they stood firm as a rock and spread the stay-at-home
message to millions of people throughout the country”. Nelson Mandela
June 1961

“All the elements of a solution to the great problems of humanity have,
at different times, existed in European thought. But Europeans have not
carried out in practice the mission that fell to them.” Frantz Fanon. The
Wretched of the Earth, 1962

“I am surprised by the Ethiopian government’s decision to lift immunity
from opposition members. Without the “human right” of parliamentarians
to dissent or enjoy freedom of assembly, it’s unlikely there will be
human rights for average person”. Anders Johnsson, the secretary-general
of the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union, 19 October 2005

“Many sub-Saharan countries, including Benin, have already enjoyed a
prerequisite of political pluralism: the alternation of power between the
opposition and ruling party”. Anders Johnsson, the secretary-general of
the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union, 19 October 2005

Introduction

The constitution is defective and needs radical revision. The parliament is
rigged. A rigged parliament elects an illegal government. Those who
congratulate this illegality such as Mr. Blair are becoming thorns on the
peoples’ genuine ambition to achieve democratic transition. Calling off
the strike was a mistake despite what noble intentions the opposition and
the foreign mediators may have had. Negotiation must always be based on the
manifested backing of the people that the opposition continue to enjoy
despite all the difficulties. There can be no negotiation behind the back
of the people. The struggle for democracy is open. The era of
conspiratorial deals must end once and for all for the sake of renewing
Ethiopia’s deeper soul mangled by successive brutal and lying
dictatorships. Unfortunately the regime sabotaged the negotiation. The
people and the opposition must unite and continue to struggle for democracy
by enlisting the good will of those who stand for human rights, democracy
and good government with consistency from the wider world. The Diaspora
must continue to deepen its mobilisation the likes of which has never been
seen in peacetime before as it is now. This is the time never to surrender
to tyranny whatever the cost. NES says that no one can stop an idea whose
time has come time. No one can stop the Ethiopian democratic future!

1. Post-election politics in Ethiopia
Stage I of the election process is over with claims of pyrrhic victory by
the regime and defiance against electoral theft by the main opposition
parties. The country has now entered stage II of the process. It looks this
period of post-election politics is going to be even more impenetrable and
violent than what has transpired and been experienced in the first
pre-election and election phase. Ethiopia has now entered a more uncertain
and difficult phase of the struggle where the regime has chosen to continue
blackmail, frame opposition leaders with ordinary criminality and wishes to
follow a strategy of culling and plucking out one opposition member after
another from the political struggle by pretending that they are all
ordinary criminals. The regime has always responded with fury and without
fail continues to speak with the language of threats and intimidation
against political opponents. The regime does not engage in debate, it finds
it easier to want to instil fear instead. But the struggle for justice and
democracy is enduring and resilient and the people will not be cowed into
submission to the plots, framings, deceptions, threats and dictatorship of
Meles and his inner core. The regime talks of dishing out yellow cards for
warning and red cards for expulsion and jail or death to deal with the
opposition. It says it is serving yellow and red cards to warn the
opposition with the aim or desire of punishing the players that do not
submit to the rules the regime prefers to impose. The rulers obdurately
have started to show their red cards and began to spill blood reportedly in
the city of Jimma against opposition members. The repression is on as it
has been anticipated to be unleashed on a large and brutal scale with
reported arrests starting largely in rural Ethiopia. Repression creates
even deeper resistance. There is no alternative for the people and the
opposition but to struggle peacefully for democracy, human rights and good
democratic governance.

2. The Conceptual flaws in the current Constitution
In Ethiopia’s history May 15, 2005 is a turning point for democratic
renewal. It signals Ethiopia’s irreversible entry into a democratic
epoch. This means the struggle to bring about a comprehensive democratic
transition brooks no retreat. Democracy means opening everything that
prevents Ethiopia from creating democratic institutions to build its
future. One of the key issues on the democratic agenda is to revise a
conceptually defective constitution that has been imposed by the particular
politics of the current regime. This inspection is related to ventilating
the parliament, to un-rigging its operation and open it for free public
debate, public engagement and deliberation.

Generally speaking, constitutions can be crafted either from the desire to
inscribe universal human values and establish enduring and resilient
institutions to protect social justice and the rights and freedoms of the
people of a given country or to embolden the will of a particular dominant
political group that has taken political power very often by violent
methods in order to secure as dominant privileges it claims as an exclusive
self-entitlement. The dominant political group after seizing power
considers as a priority the security of its politics first and foremost and
nothing else matters to it. This posture renders its relationship to the
people a particularistic logic where it patronises the people by assuming
the haughty platform of appearing to “grant” the rights and freedom to
the people. So the accent is in making sure its own politics prevails, and
the rights and freedoms of the people are interesting to the extent that
they preserve the dominance of the politics of the ruling regime.

The first type makes the will of the peoples, the rights and freedoms of
citizens as the primary source for erecting a constitutional order. The
second variant makes the will of the dominant political player and its
particular politics the guiding principle for the making of a constitution.
The examples of the first type are the American constitution and the
universal declaration of human rights that humanity won thanks to the
intellectual, political and moral inspiration of the French Revolution.

The second type of constitution is mainly a consequence of the particular
type of politics of any ascendant ruling group that is fearful to let the
people frame freely with open debate with communicative rationality,
dialogue and discussion the kind of constitution they wish to see with
which their own nation can be guided. In 1991 Ethiopia had yet another
opportunity, as indeed it had also in 1974, to frame a constitution of the
people, by the people and for the people with open debate and freedom.
Unfortunately the imperatives of comprehensive control of the society,
economy, politics and force of the ascendant ruling group that was not sure
of its rule over majorities that did not welcome it influenced the very
construction of the constitution. Its own fear of losing control has
infused the spirit and letter of the key provisions of the constitution
especially in relation to the separation of powers and the stress to anchor
the constitution with overlapping powers that crystallise and bestow
dictatorial authoritarian power to the ruling party and its chiefs. What
was inscribed in the constitution is therefore the dominance of a ruling
group’s political power fearful of the people it imposed itself upon by
violence to rule including their ideas of rights, their understanding and
their misconceptions of governance.

At a conceptual level, we cannot say that the coming to power in 1991 of
the current regime has produced a constitution that has been a consequence
of the politics achieved through peaceful and non-violent democratic
transitions. It is not a constitution that has been crafted with all the
legal and moral care of inscribing the will of the people by building the
foundation of democratic institutions by creating strict separation of
powers amongst the legislature, executive and judiciary. It is a
constitution still contaminated with the politics of an ethnic based
movement from a minority community to rule over majority communities by
interlocking with intricate hedging the rights and liberties of citizens.

This constitution is thus particularistic and not universal built on the
basis of the will and deliberation of the people. Its foundations are built
from a partisan political base and not a universal or meta-based principle
of rights, democracy and governance. What is yet to come is the
constitution of the people based on their will and free debate and
deliberation. We think a democratic transition that is at the same time
peaceful and non-violent is a necessary condition for the Ethiopian people
to write an enduring and resilient constitution that can inscribe a system
of rights, justice and freedom in building and forging new institutions and
capacities for the people to self-govern by working in in-built corrective
mechanisms through a vibrant parliament. The people make their
constitution; they do not need any political group that forced itself upon
them to sell them a constitution. They people have experienced a regime
that has put in its constitution the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
whilst routinely violating their human rights and continuing to do so for
the last fourteen years. It has not stopped even now. Every time, the
people try to use the rights put in this constitution from the Declaration
of universal Human Rights such as the right to assembly and association,
the regime threatens the people for inciting ?insurrection and committing
treason’. Why put these rights in the first place only to misuse and
abuse them when people invoke them to express their dissatisfaction or
dissent. You cannot put the right to dissent and prevent those who are
compelled by the injustices around them when they invoked their duly
recognised right to dissent. One can only surmise that the rights are not
there for people to use them to protect themselves, but more probably they
are there to make the rulers appear that they subscribe to universal
standards. It is the rulers playing hypocrisy with human rights, democracy
and the forging of democratic institutions and governance.

3. Ethiopia yearns for a constitution that consolidates democratic
institutions
Let us state the obvious: Ethiopia is not new to constitutions. In the
modern period Ethiopia had a constitution under the emperor. It had a
constitution under the Derg. It has now a constitution under the current
incumbent. What is shared and common amongst the constitutions from these
dictatorial regimes is that they reflect the dominant politics of each of
the major ruling group that arrogates the right and power to define what is
good for the people. We had an imperial constitution under the emperor, a
military top down constitution under the military regime and an equally
democratic seeming but ?authoritarian-dictatorship’ legitimising
constitution under the current regime. The reason why the regime frequently
invokes the constitution is because it has articles that fully backs and
legitimises its ambition to retain power and continue to do so
indefinitely. In the perspectives of the regime, anti-democratic features
are rendered un-harmful because they have been given a face-lift with
constitutional airs and graces by the craftiness of the way those who
helped frame this constitution for the regime did it. Once an
anti-democratic measure is protected with a constitutional force, any
opposition to it is likely to incur the wrath of the would-be
?protector’ of the constitution. The strange spectacle of Meles and
others insisting on the protection of the constitution and the rule of law
go to the extent of ordering to kill innocent and unarmed civilians. They
have been chanting and raving accusing the people and the opposition who
choose to exercise the right of association and assembly by strikes and
stay-away as preparing ?insurrection’ and committing ?treason’
against the constitution and the rule of law. They behave as if they are
the constitution and the rule of law. They are ?right’, others are
wrong. They are ?innocent, others are ?power-hungry’. They are the
?patriots,’ others are accused of ?treason’.

4. Many constitutions, but no democracy yet!
The Chinese saying we live in interesting times is apt for what Ethiopia
has been going through and is likely to go through. The nation has been
through many elections, but there has never been a non-violent and peaceful
democratic transition. The nation has had many constitutions, but there is
no democracy yet. The nation had different parliaments; but there is no
democracy yet. What the nation has arrived at, in our view, is the time to
have democracy first, and build its institutions such as the legislature,
the judiciary, the executive and the constitution that clearly delineates
and elaborates the separation of power to empower the people.

The Ethiopian people have voted to bring about a democratic transition
through a non-violent and peaceful road for the first time in living
memory. May 15,2005 signifies on the one hand, a great opportunity and a
historic achievement of the expression of the people’s collective will to
taking their own destiny in their own hands; on the other hand, it
signalled a sinister danger considering the various conniving schemes and
plots by the regime and its explicit and behind the scene supporters to
neutralise this historic expression and determination by the people to be
the central dramatis, the authors and primary architects of Ethiopia’s
national democratic renewal. It is easy to see the people are right to
manifest the will to democratic renewal and to realise it as the new
historical fact and direction for the country. It is equally easy to find
the regime and its supporters are wrong in trying to oppose this historical
current and dynamic. The people are right both in their historical action
and historic sense to launch a new democratic political evolution. They are
right in their recognition that it is high time that the nation undergoes
such a peaceful transition. Meanwhile the regime invokes the current
constitution to prolong the authoritarian dictatorship of the current
ruling clique.

5. Some key actual flaws of the current constitution
Let us take a few of the current provisions of the constitution that make
it attractive for the ruling group to keep invoking it to blackmail
opponents and charge them falsely with ?insurrection’, and with
?treason.’ For example, the limited tenure of the power of the
president vs. the unlimited tenure of the power of the prime minister is a
serious flaw in the current constitution. The power of the president is
largely ceremonial. The power of the sitting prime minister is unlimited,
multiple and big. Capping the power of the powerless and putting no limit
to the power of the powerful is an indirect formula for perpetuating
authoritarian dictatorship pure and simple.

In principle tenure is made limited in order to discourage the autocratic
temptation of the executive power. In the Ethiopian case, the tenure of the
powerful executive such as the prime minister has been made infinite
whereas tenure limit was made on the non-executive, non-powerful and very
ceremonial president. The constitution should have been crafted to do
exactly the opposite. In Africa we have the spectacle of dictators who defy
limits to their terms of rule and wish to be lifetime presidents. In
Ethiopia the constitution has been drafted to make sure that the prime
minister has constitutionally validated life- time tenure as long as his
centrally controlled Stalinist party keeps selecting him for the job every
five years.

In Ethiopia, the power of the prime minister is unprecedented compared to
other prime ministers in parliamentarian systems. He controls the armed
force, the cabinet is accountable to him and he is accountable to nobody
since his party is the majority in the parliament, and he is the leader of
the majority party. The constitution (Article 74.7) gives him a power to
select and recommend to the parliament an appointment of Commissioners, the
President and Vice-President of the Federal Supreme Court, members of the
election board and the Auditor General. This in turn gives power to the
prime minister that he has to control the judiciary and other important
institutions that could be key structures for building checks and balances
in the country’s political system. His power is all pervasive that it
violates what should be a central objective of constitutions to protect the
rights and freedom of citizens by fostering the creation of enduring
democratic institutions.

The president of the federal Supreme Court and the vice-president of the
federal Supreme Court serve as a president and vice-president respectively
of the Council of Constitutional Inquiry (Article 82) that have powers to
investigate constitutional disputes (Article 84), the Prime minister also
has a big influence to interfere or intervene with constitutional disputes.
This makes the power of the prime minister in Ethiopia uncontrolled and
unchecked by the legislative and other federal or regional institutions.
For instance, recently, in May 2005, Meles declared an unconstitutional
emergency law, but no federal institution has tried to intervene to
challenge him, as there is no such constitutional power delegated to other
federal or regional institutions. When the opposition party brought the
case into court, the issue was decided in favour of the prime minister. The
system is already rigged in favour of the prime minister and not justice!
It is rigged to abort rather than enhance the proper functioning of
properly constituted democratic institutions.

More broadly, the Ethiopian federal project suffers from absence of an
independent constitutional interpretation procedure because the president
and the vice-president of the federal Supreme Court become a president and
vice-president of the Council respectively. The Prime minister has
tremendous influence in the appointment of the president and vice-president
of the federal Supreme Court. Thus the prime minister has direct influence
in the operation of the Council of Constitutional Inquiry that could
certainly limit its independence and non-partisanship. The judiciary is
totally controlled by the prime minister in view of the fact that a
majority party in the parliament always belongs to the prime minister and
therefore expected to endorse the prime minister’s selection of the
president and the vice-president of the Federal Supreme Court. As articles
78 and 80 of the constitution declare “Supreme Federal judicial authority
is vested in the Federal Supreme Court; the Federal Supreme Court shall
have the highest and final judicial power over Federal matters and; the
Federal Supreme Court has a power of cassation over any final court
decision containing a basic error of law” (1994 Constitution). In
addition, though the constitution declares that judges should exercise
their functions in full independence and should be directed solely by the
law, the Judicial Administration Council, which has a power to remove
judges due to violation of disciplinary rules or on grounds of gross
incompetence or inefficiency, is accountable to the parliament since its
decision to remove a judge should be approved by a majority vote in the
parliament. The parliament that is controlled by the majority of the prime
minister’s party means that the prime minister can remove judges that may
act independently of policies favoured by him.

These flaws are deliberately put in the constitution to facilitate in turn
the control of the constitution by Meles as the prime minister. It
demonstrates that Meles was more interested to use the constitution to
control than to inscribe the institutional separation of powers, balances
and checks so sorely needed to habituate, embed and sustain in Ethiopia’s
long quest to create democratic institutions. This arrogation of power
passed through the drafting and endorsing process of the constitution
unchallenged because those who were entrusted to draft the constitution
were more loyal to the ruling regime’s tenure of power than to the
production of institutions that protect justice, rights and enduring
democratic freedoms. We have the anomaly in Ethiopia of a constitutionally
legitimised authoritarian prime minister who is keener to spread the
pretence of democracy whilst concentrating dictatorial power on and to
himself.

This is a clear illustration when the interest of a dominant party politics
frames the constitution and not universal values of justice, human rights,
governance and the enshrinements and ensuring of enduring citizens’
freedoms. It is this conceptually and empirically flawed constitution- as
we have tried to demonstrate here- that has been imposed on the Ethiopian
people. Lo and behold, the Ethiopian people are expected to obey this
flawed constitution, and if they raise questions that the constitution
requires radical revision both conceptually and in the affairs of practical
politics, the regime’s top brass and their acolytes cry foul accusing
citizens of committing ?treason’ and violating the rule of law. Let
them know that pointing out the anti-democratic features that has been
inscribed in the constitution has nothing to do with committing
?treason’ or preparing an ?insurrection’. Democracy means, amongst
other things, the right to revise the constitution and institutionalise the
separation of powers and limit the tenure of the prime minister who is now
threatening to rule for 20 years largely on votes denounced as illegally
and deceptively gotten by independent observers!

6. What does entering the ?constitutional and parliamentary process’
mean?
When foreign forces advise the opposition to follow “constitutional and
parliamentary process,” we wonder whether they are fully aware that the
constitution is defective and the parliament has been rigged. If the
opposition parties join parliament, one of the key tasks for them is to
make sure that the constitution is amended to create the separation of
powers which do not exist now in reality despite the jargon the regime uses
to confuse all and sundry. There is a need to re-examine the constitution
with a view to institutionalise democracy in Ethiopia. The 1995
Constitution is flawed in relation to the primary issue of facilitating a
peaceful and non-violent, non-fraudulent and non-deceptive democratic
transition that has eluded Ethiopia for generations.

The 1995 Constitution suffers and blocks a clear way of bringing about
democratic transition. It is as dictatorial (notwithstanding its democratic
rhetoric) as the other constitutions have been in Ethiopia. It is even
worse than the others because of its pretensions in being sold to the
outside world as a democratic constitution despite its degrading and
fudging cardinal principle of the separation of powers. The reason why the
popular resistance against dictatorship cannot be stopped is precisely to
make sure that Ethiopia enters into a period of democratic transition and
leave firmly behind the authoritarian politics of the authoritarian
politicians such as the likes of the very crafty and devious Meles.
Ethiopia suffers from so much deception, and it seems this regime generates
more deception than all its predecessors and seems to do it remarkably with
a complete moral and intellectual abandon.

As they are presently constituted both the parliamentary and constitutional
process in Ethiopia would not serve as the appropriate route for democratic
transition. What we have is a conceptually and practically defective
constitution that is tailored to perpetuate authoritarian not democratic
transition, and however sad to admit it, a rigged parliament that has
imposed theft demanding that the people and the opposition surrender to it
and live with it. What the constitutional and parliamentary process produce
as they are would not be democratic transition now or even for a long time.
They have not been constructed to bring democratic transition but
legitimise as democratic the authoritarian power of authoritarian
politicians that wish to use any means they can conjure up to have a
parliamentary majority to perpetuate themselves in power. That is why the
regime forces resorted to using all kinds of unsavoury means and tactics to
re-fill the parliament with their majority. They even went to the extent of
bribing people by writing taxes off in order to create a majority by hook
or crook. It is truly a shame that outsiders who should know better have
continued to insist and advise the opposition to accept a defective
constitution and a rigged parliament. It is to the great credit of the
opposition leadership that they saw through this and refused to enter
parliament without first securing the freedom to discuss all issues without
any preconditions. Unless the regime accepts all the demands put to open up
debate and parliament, the only other available route for democratic
transition in Ethiopia will continue to be peaceful popular resistance
until democracy prevails. The popular resistance is needed to redress these
two gross inequities: one, the non-existence of separation of power between
the legislative, the executive and the judiciary since the majority party
in the legislative always exclusively assumes the executive. This is indeed
inappropriate in a multiethnic society and the design of democratic federal
structures, which facilitate the fair distribution of power arrangement
between various levels. Two, the parliamentary system decreed in the
constitution that mimics largely and inappropriately the Westminster type
of government that entails the winner takes all kind of arrangement would
not provide a viable parliamentary model to Ethiopia. It will not fit in
the context of Ethiopia, which has very complex variations in political
development, tradition of statehood, cultural assortments and ethnic and
language configurations.

7. The democratic momentum must accelerate
The real issue in Ethiopia is to make sure that the democratic momentum is
redoubled. This should not be interpreted to enter a parliament that has
been deliberately rigged to legitimise and extend the tenure of the
existing ruling group. The major opposition has put forward highly
reasonable demands in order to take their seats in parliament. The regime
has ignored the opposition demand and went straight to behave as if the
situation is ’normal’. Meles got himself reconfirmed as a prime minster
by the rigged parliament. This setback did not reduce the people’s fury
and the opposition’s resolve to continue the protest by using every
possible arena to see justice done. It appears people like Mr. Blair who
should know better are encouraging Meles on his wrong path. The Ethiopian
people and those who consistently stand for democracy, human rights and
good governance would find the behaviour of Mr. Blair deplorable. What is
Meles doing after reconfirming illegally his role as prime minister? He has
started to continue his threats and intimidation. He instigated a motion to
deprive legal immunity to those who are trying to enter parliament provided
the parliament is prepared to operate and function as parliament. The
opposition showed a huge good will and stopped two calls for a strike in
order to open genuine dialogue. Meles was not interested in dialogue. He
has now begun to accuse the main opposition leader, Engineer Hailu Shawel
for protesting his assumption to power through illegal means as if he
committed ?treason.” The least Mr. Blair and the international
community should do is not to position themselves in Ethiopian politics to
abet repression, but to do all they can to encourage dialogue and stop the
impending repression. They should heed Fanon’s warning quoted at the
start of this release and learn to stand on the side of democracy, human
rights and good government and not dictatorship, repression and deception.

8. Why the negotiation process mediated by the ambassadors faltered?
Meles shrewdly used the Ambassadors in Ethiopia to negotiate with the
opposition to side-step and escape the three-day strike in order to confuse
and disorganise the opposition and the Ethiopian people. Having sabotaged
the strike, he proceeded to mount concerted attacks that he began earlier
against the opposition especially in the rural areas. His aim was evident
in the early days of the illegal parliament that stripped the opposition
their immunity in order to frighten them to refrain from calling any
democratic resistance against his tyranny. Meles is now ready to imprison
the opposition leaders if they make any call for the Ethiopian people for
peaceful demonstration, assembly and any other form of peaceful democratic
resistances.

In the first place, though it was commendable for the ambassadors to open a
window for negotiation and also commendable for the opposition leaders to
agree for negotiation, a big error was made to agree on Meles’s
precondition to call-off the three-day strike without demanding any
reciprocal precondition from Meles. Meles used this sincere effort from the
opposition and the ambassadors for his own insincere aim in closing the
opportunity for negotiation.

Here in danger is the future credibility of the role of the ambassadors
and the public motivation for further negotiation. We know that negotiation
needs patience and time, but for Meles negotiation is a Machiavellian
tactic to be used to destroy the opposition and the popular resistance.
This situation would make future negotiations very difficult. It tests and
shakes people’s tolerance. Negotiation without keeping a promise does
bring a dangerous consequence. It is not good to show negligence to such
crucial matter of public decency and tolerance. Disregard could breed
mistrust and unfaithfulness that could emasculate any negotiation capacity
in the critical future.

9. Engineer Hailu Shawel and Meles
Meles accuses Hailu Shawel of ?treason’ in opposing his illegal and
illegitimate government. However, Hailu Shawel argues that it is Meles who
is in breach of his own constitution by holding state power by force and
theft. The people protect Hailu Shawel; Meles is protected by his
unaccountable security machine. Hailu Shawel freely meets the people, and
is not afraid of the people. When he travels he does not protect himself
from the people. Meles literally brings Addis Ababa to a standstill every
time he travels with a retinue of personnel and security marshals and black
limousines lined up for miles to the airport. It is a nightmare for
citizens to see such a frightened and caged fellow. In South Africa, the
democratic president is so modest he hardly uses the type of massive
security like Meles commands at his disposal. If Meles is such a democrat
why does he need so much security to ring and cage himself in? One can
only wonder.

Hailu Shawel came abroad and conducted open meetings with the people in the
Diaspora. For Hailu Shawel the threat is Meles, his security forces and
cadres, not the people. However for Meles by the way he behaves towards the
people, what he regards as threat are the people. Meles seems to have lost
touch and contact if ever he had real contact with the people in Ethiopia.
He never seemed to have met the Ethiopian people, care to feel and
understand their real and true concerns. Meles assumes the people hate him
and that is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy sadly for him. Meles has
not shown courage to meet people in his own constituency with out the
presence of massive security protection. It does not look that Meles does
trust his own constituency. Hailu Shawel is elected by his constituency in
a free and fair way; Hailu Shawel meets his constituency without security
protection. Why does Meles need heavy security protection to meet even his
own constituency that are said to have voted for him 100 %? Meles was
elected from the constituency he has never lived for the last 30 years;
Hailu Shawl is elected in a constituency where he is living and where he
knows the people. During the seventeen years before he came to Addis Ababa,
Meles lived in Somalia and moved around in the region to many places that
have gone to war against Ethiopia.

Countless reports on conditions of human and democratic rights in Ethiopia
for the last 14 years from international organisations such as Human Rights
Watch, Amnesty International, International Federation of Journalists,
Committee to Protect Journalists, International Labour Organisation,
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and other independent
human rights organisations have written credible and unbiased numerous
reports showing how Meles has consistency breached even his own defective
constitution repeatedly, fanatically and shamelessly. In doing so, Meles
accuses other individuals like Hailu Shawel who have the backing of
millions of people, who move without protection amongst unarmed people and
who show no fear and in fact enjoy meeting ordinary citizens of ?treason.
How outrageous is this accusation. It is beyond the pale.

Meles must not get away with such accusations as ?treason’ and
?insurrection’ and continues to breach his own constitution that
included universal human right declaration for the last 10 years by
arbitrary arrest of citizens, journalists, opposition leaders; killing of
unarmed students and protesters. We understand treason as committing acts
against the interest of the people. Hailu Shawel stands for protection of
human rights, for democracy and the protection of the interests of the
people. Hailu Shawel and treason are like oil and water. They have no
relationship at all.

Mandela was accused of treason and imprisoned by the South African
government for decades, but he fought all the time for a non-racial
democracy. Hailu Shawel fights for a non-racial, non-ethnicist and
non-discriminatory democracy. Would Meles call Africa’s icon of
liberation, Nelson Mandela also committing treason for rebelling against
racial dictatorship? By attacking an elected democrat Hailu Shawel one who
has come to mean a lot to ordinary millions of people in Ethiopia by his
courage and decisive action, Meles risks developing his case more fitting
the logic of the defunct apartheid regime in South Africa, and not the
popular liberation movement headed by Mandela. No! Meles is pathetic in
accusing Hailu Shawel of ?treason’. Hailu Shawel has full right to
call his people not to submit to tyranny. All those who wish a thriving
Ethiopian democracy should support his call and not tolerate the notorious
attack of false charges of treason against Hailu Shawel.

10. Concluding Remark

Unless one deliberately does not wish to see, in today’s Ethiopia, the
constitution is defective and conceptually flawed with overlapping powers
that produce the dominance of an authoritarian prime minister; the
parliament is rigged with un-clarified and tainted counting that have not
cleared gross theft of vote and suppression of voice; and the negotiation
that has been mediated by foreign ambassadors from the UK and USA has been
sabotaged. There is no way given these conditions a peaceful and democratic
transition can be expected through the current parliament. The only
guarantee of peaceful democratic transition will come if and only if there
is no cold water poured over the peaceful popular struggle for human
rights, democracy and good government. The peoples struggle must continue,
and their right to dissent must not be tampered with, by threats from the
regime. The people must achieve the democratic transition that they voted
for to bring peacefully.

Now Meles has organised his illegal government with the approval of his
parliament to impose on the Ethiopian people a kind of the “legality of
the illegal and the rigged” and with an authoritarian style rule of law.
For that matter, Derg also had a government with a constitution, parliament
and court. Meles’s government is no better than the Derg’s one. It is
illegal and non-legitimate. It does not have a legal binding on the
Ethiopian people.

The Ethiopian people know that the election victory of EPRDF is a travesty.
For the Ethiopian people the ruling party has formed an illegal government
in Ethiopia that assumed power through theft and force. The ruling party
has breached even its own constitution and tries to accuse others of
breaching it. Therefore, the struggle should continue to create a legal and
democratic government that is accountable to the vote and voices of the
Ethiopian people.

We appreciate the courage and consistency of the EU Observation Mission,
and the EU parliamentarians in speaking the truth to power by siding with
the Ethiopian peoples striving in bringing about hopefully Ethiopia’s
first ever-democratic transition. We are alarmed; however, why to date the
EU-EOM full report has not been issued. It was meant to come out on
September 23, 2005. Nearly a month has come since then. The EU-EOM owes it
to democracy and their own credibility to come clean and release the
report. We call on the international community to refrain from rushing to
support the illegal assumption of power by Meles and his party and support
the just aspiration of the Ethiopian people to bring about a sustainable
and just democratic transition. We call upon those who have rushed to
recognise the illegal regime of Meles Zenawi to refrain from their
ant-democratic, unjust and unhelpful actions. They must know that they are
abetting a repressive dictatorship that has come to power through vote
rigging and manipulation. We call upon the numerous nations in the world
that have not rushed to recognise the illegal regime to put pressure on it
to enter into dialogue with the opposition and clear up the electoral mess
it alone is responsible for creating and confusing the world with. We
admire the enduring resiliency of the Ethiopian peoples struggle and effort
for justice, truth and democratic transition. No alternative to accelerate
the peoples struggle comprehensively inside and outside Ethiopia. Only then
can what the people did together on May 2005 can have meaning and full and
lasting historical consequences.

- Professor Mammo Muchie, Chair of NES-Scandinavian Chapter
- Berhanu G. Balcha, Vice- Chair of NES-Scandinavian Chapter
- Tekola Worku, Secretary of NES-Scandinavian Chapter

Contact address:
- Fibigerstraede 2
- 9220- Aalborg East
- Denmark
- Tel. + 45 96 359 813 or +45 96 358 331
- Fax + 45 98 153 298
- Cell: +45 3112 5507
- Email: mammo@ihis.aau.dk or berhanu@ihis.aau.dk or
tekola.worku@bromma.stockholm.se

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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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