Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Curbing my Enthusiasm

You know when you feel like the lining of your stomach is starting to unstitch? That’s what I felt like when I read this article about the opposition’s latest cockamamie statement that it might boycott the parliament.

Maybe the beginning of the end is for the opposition instead of the EPRDF like I sermonized in yesterday’s blog. I have this sinking feeling that unless Ato Hailu Shawel, excuse me, Engineer Hailu Shawel, is put in the “time out chair" (my son can point it to him) things might get a bit calamitous. Ewnetim weichegud!

Of course I say all this from the comfort of my chair. I can only imagine the extreme frustration of the opposition in seeing/hearing all the election fraud that’s been the talk of the town. I can only imagine what it is like to invest so much time and energy into a campaign only to see it disappear before your very eyes. (Note to self, remember to posthumously sympathize with the Kerry/Edwards campaign.) I can only imagine the disgust and irrationality that can take over knowing that you could possibly win a political campaign--- if only everyone behaved.

But that’s the point. The ruling party doesn’t know how to behave. The question is, can the opposition rise above it?

The opposition said it would boycott the elections way before it was necessary to do so and then backed off. Now it’s saying that it might boycott the parliament. Even if it has no intention of doing so, saying so makes it look like the opposition is not yet ready to play with the big boys. Why is the opposition making this an all or nothing issue? They do realize that they aren’t the first ones to have lost an election unfairly? When you play in the big leagues, the game can sometimes get dirty. The test of a true leader is how you play the game with those rules. If everything was smooth sailing then what would leather chair analysts like me do in their spare time?? Forfeiting the game doesn’t make you a hero. And hasn't the opposition learnt anything from its boneheaded decision to walk out on the debates? Hasn’t it wasted enough time boycotting the elections in 1995 and 2000?? Double weichegud!

Can anyone out there who knows people who know people who might know someone at CUD/UDEF pass them some Alka Seltzer, please? Let’s drink some bubbly and strategize.

For starters, no more of the hyberbole, please? Okay? Okay! I get enough shilela at the playground. I don't need it coming though my motherboard.

Now, unless we are all expecting the EPRDF to suddenly become a fair, law-abiding organization which will respect the outcome of the elections even if it loses…

Okay, enough fantasy. Let’s all get a grip. This is a party whose leader, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, leader of 74 million people, found it to be within the realm of acceptability to say (right before elections) that if the opposition gets elected Ethiopia will degenerate into another Rwanda. It was a vile attempt at swaying votes. Yet it typifies the mentality of those who are in power and to what extent they will go to hold on to power.

So, tell me, are these the people that we expect to concede graciously? I don’t know who to be mad at anymore. Why do we insist on inflicting such pain on ourselves?

Unless the opposition is expecting either the EU or another big international observer to declare that it won (let’s not count on Jimmaha Cart-ah who might finally have taken his image as a man of peace a little too seriously), there needs to be a serious look into what the next steps are for Qnijit.

My opinion is that the opposition might want to win the p.r. war and lose the parliament. You can always win back parliament. Your reputation is a harder battle, especially when you are holding on to a fragile coalition. And why does everything in our culture have to be either big or insignificant? You have to win, or you are worthless. Winning at any cost is such a bizarre concept… it breeds bizarre leaders. We all compromise in life… we compromise with our kids, our work, our lives. But when it comes to politics and the Ethiopian psyche, it’s always all or nothing—even if it is to the detriment of our goal. Why aren’t little but most definitely forward steps considered achievement???? Isn’t there a sane middle ground?

I am not saying that the opposition should curl up and declare defeat. I am saying that it should play smart politics until June 8. If the EPRDF is reelected, then what? What does it mean to say “We won’t let them steal the election?” At a certain point you are going to have to back up your words with action and it is going to get harder to produce action when your words have already sown weeds. Even worse, being in a position of having to produce action, most probably the wrong one, just to back up your words.

So first question first, to what extent is the opposition going to fight? By making the ultimate prize "winning the parliament" and intimating that nothing short of that will do, the opposition might be setting up itself for a big black eye; because if they don’t get the parliament then, as I mentioned yesterday, they would be seriously undermining their constituency. How about expanding that horizon a bit and saying, ”Okay, we fought a good, honest fight and we gained all these seats.” Play up how much the ruling party lost. (The coverage in the Western media was actually going their way for a while… we all know that the ferenjies like the underdog, and a gracious underdog—they’ll lap it up.) Really, lost in all of this is the immense gain the opposition has made. Why is that being undervalued?

While we are all hoping that the EPRDF will step down if it loses, do we have a contingency plan if it doesn’t? How about making plans to be the most effective leaders Ethiopia has seen for the next five years? Prove to people once that you are a reliable, strong leader and you would win their respect. They might not like you, but they will respect you. That is priceless. People, people, people… 5 years is not a long time. It isn’t. And the EPRDF’s power has been eroded so it’s not business as usual. You have a historic opportunity to be a powerful opposition. Being a powerful opposition is much better than being a marginalized political party with more bravado that cahones. Can we please refocus the lens so that the future is in focus?

Pushing this a little further might start to make the opposition look like a power hungry entity that will do anything to grab onto power. Why is graciousness so underrated in our society??

Oh, wait a second… wait one damn second! Is this all a sophisticated political game that the CUD is playing to appease its base by putting up a fight but when push comes to shove it will buckle down? It is, isn’t it, Qnijit? You are probably reading this laughing at me at how over my head you are! Oh you smarty pants. You made me sweat bullets for nothing, that’s what you’re telling me. Oh you cunning, impish politicos. You go on ahead with yo’ bad selves. I’ll stay quiet.

Shit. I’m going back to watching “Boiling Point.” Yerassachiu gudaye!


Anonymous wankster said...

ewenetem weichegud!!!!!!

good to find someone that shares the same feeling with regards to the election back home. boy, did u put it in fine words too. i am flabergasted about the claims of the opposition. this is indeed a big gain for them. have they honestly thought they would even come anywhere to a 1/3 of the seats. no way. now, capitalise on the gains and prove themselves to those that elected them for real and be a pain in the back side for the government. they should bring all the issues that were put under the carpet by the former rubber stamping parliament.

ethio politics has always been all or nothing. haven't the opposition just got together merely 6 months ago. dont they know they are dealing with one hell of authoriterian regime. have they really got to some of the areas they claim that votes are stolen from them.

please somebody tell me how in the hell a party that claims to have won something like 150 seats out of 524 say they are the over all winners. ok, i know about another 50 (or is it 70) god, who knows!!! by UEDF; even then that does not make up anywhere close to half. or have they decided anything but eprdf belongs to them. now, who in the rigt mind that knows the politics in ethiopia believes the OFDM that ask for more autonomy and federal power in the oromo region sides with CUD that says forget ethnicity, we are all ethios. please stop the BS and live with what you have.

it is a great stride by the ethiopian public and if it was not for the people the opposition would have walked out long time ago like they did in 95 and 2000. please grow up and work for the betterment of the people than all or nothing utopian attitude.

5:35 PM, May 24, 2005  

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