Thursday, June 30, 2005

Never Again!

This is really going to be a short blog because I know that if I start unleashing my festering intellectual bloodlust against the superbly incompetent institution that is the United Nations, ferggedid.

Okay, so the UN turned 60 years old on June 26. Kofi Annan, the first African Secretary General, delivered his usual boilerplate speech about peace, love and understanding in his usual infuriatingly monotone manner—never have peace, love and understanding been so unappealing.

We went to a surprisingly muted “aren’t we fabulous?” 60th anniversary celebration (yep, took time during my vacation to raise the roof for the UN) and I thought that being in that kind of an environment would at least sway me from the sinking feeling that the UN is fast becoming the impotent, pussified institution of its lore. (I heard the celebrations in San Francisco were even less enthusiastic where not only the modern day sostu sellasiEwech (Bush/Blair/Chirac) did not show up, but Kofi Annan himself was AWOL.

Oh, UN. Remember when you mattered?

C’mon… the UN is in so much disdain with the US government that there is a possibility that a certifiably unhinged pencil-pusher like John Bolton could be the next US Ambassador to the UN. And why not? The only person that can probably deal with the kind of entrenched psychosis at the UN is another sufficiently erratic person. All the sane people have left. Maybe Bolton can go in and rabble rouse the stodgy empire from its signature inertia… maybe that’s the only way the UN can grow a new spine.

Didn’t I tell you not to get me started?

The last time we heard from Kofi Annan about Ethiopia was on June 8, when he was kind enough to condemn the violence unleashed by the importunate PM Meles who had flashbacks to his days as a guerilla fighter and mowed down 36 innocent, unarmed people. And then his spokesperson, sensitively-challenged Bereket “Darth Vader” Simon, proceeded to call the dead “hooligans” even as mothers were trying to bury their children.

Since June 8, PM Meles has also had recurring flashbacks to his wily Marxist days, and has been rounding up people indiscriminately and throwing them in jail. Oh, and he’s been killing opposition members and newly elected parliament members as well. All in the name of democracy, small ‘d’. Did the Prime Minister, perhaps, read the wrong cliff notes on how a democrat is supposed to act? Perhaps?

So anyway, since June 8, PM Meles has thrown Ethiopia into a bloody upheaval while ambidextrously hosting ambassadors and dignitaries who are pleading with him to act like a half-way decent human being. A lot has happened since June 8, the most prominent being that the fate of 71 million people is in the hands of a deranged psychopath.

June 29 rolls on by and Kofi Annan has something to say about Ethiopia. Ahh. He’s finally telling his buddy Ato Meles that his behavior towards the people of Ethiopia has been reprehensible. He’s going to tell him to respect the people’s voice and to get over the Hitler complex.

Oh, people of Wonqville, you know so little about Kofi Annan.

Hostile rhetoric between Eritrea and Ethiopia over their border stalemate is
threatening military stability along the tense frontier, U.N. Secretary-General
Kofi Annan has warned.


Excuse me very much, as they say in Pointe Croisette. Is this the same border dispute that has stayed undisturbed for… five years? A border dispute about demarcation? That’s what’s bothering Kofi Annan?

And really, Mr. Secretary-General, when was the last time that the rhetoric between Ethiopia and Ertra been anything other than hostile? (I mean since the two leaders formally got a divorce and since Ertrans discovered that hey, maybe they weren’t the superhuman race that they were led to believe they were?)

Tensions have been high since December, when Ethiopia moved as many as 48,000 troops closer to Eritrea in a move it characterised as defensive but which
Asmara viewed as a provocation.
Big whoop. Here’s a newsflash: tension has been high since way before December. And tension will remain high with every new mini-bout of testosterone attack these “two most progressive leaders in Africa” have. Besides, that was in December. A few things have happened since then, Mr. Secretary-General, if you don’t mind. Oh, I see you so mind.

Eritrea insists that the legally binding peace agreement be followed, and the
border ruling be accepted without condition by Ethiopia. Addis Ababa has said it
accepts the ruling in principle but wants dialogue with Eritrea first.

When will the world stop harping about legal documents as if it has any meaning whatsoever to PM Meles? Oh, please. Who do you think he is that a few signatures here and there translate in any way to anything meaningful to someone of his disposition? Why is everybody acting so “oh there was a peace agreement and it is legally binding”? As if!

And by the by, has anybody (besides the convoluted mind of Ato Meles and Ato Bereket) been able to figure out what in the hell accepting something “in principle” means? Is it a polite way of saying “I got your binding ruling right here!”?

Some of us remember another legally binding document that feudal lord Ato Meles signed condemning all violence and promising to resolve the matter of his rigging the elections in a civilized manner. Ehh. He changed his mind about that too. The next day he continued terrorizing people, and has not been able to stop himself since. Didn’t the opposition have the wherewithal to know that he was accepting the terms “in principle”? I dunno about the opposition.

(Aside: have you noticed that the opposition is laying low? Members of the old Eastern Block used to say that they were never scared of the US as long as it was talking. But when the US was silent, they knew shit was about to hit the fan. I have a feeling that the opposition is up to something. Call it a woman’s intuition.)


So, please, world. Once and for all: don’t come all huffing and puffing about some cockamamie “legally binding documents.” That dog don’t hunt in Ato Meles’ world because he knows, and he would like the rest of the world to know, that his word is absolutely, positively worthless. What more do you want from him?

Back to Mr. Annan, who must not think that Ethiopia’s democracy is not worth addressing… not until more people die.

But neither side is talking, and Annan wrote that the frustration at the
stalemate was growing more apparent in Eritrea's state-owned media. "The tone of
the commentaries has, of late, become more strident and filled with war
," Annan said…

Of late? Of late? Hm. Did the Secretary General just begin listening to state-owned media in Ertra? Here’s the line up of news on Ertan state-owned (is there any other type?) media:

Good evening, citizens of Ertra. Today in the news:

… Ethiopia sucks.

… Ethiopia wants to eat our children.

… We will destroy what is left of Ethiopia, and our martyrs shall sing from their graves.

… By the way, if we find you with foreign currency you are toast.

(Commercial break: Hear ye… hear ye… state controlled hibret souq #10 now has soap. One per family.)

We’re back, citizens of Ertra.

… Ethiopia is a bunch of Amhara chauvinists.

… Ethiopia is an empire that wants to gobble poor little Eritrea.

… We will rain our fury on Ethiopia and reduce it to rubble.

… Did we mention that if we find you with foreign currency you shall get a whipping?

… Oh, and Ethiopia doesn’t have great Italian architecture, which makes them savages.

And that’s the news from TV Ertra. Goodnight. Sleep tight, we’ll see you tomorrow.

[Cue in depressing commie-era music.]

That, in a nutshell, is probably what the state-owned media in Ertra has to say about Ethiopia, Mr. Secretary-General, and it’s what it will continue to say. Sometimes when Ato Isayas doesn’t take his valium he ups the vitriol. Ho-hum. What the hell else can Ato Isayas talk about? His version of democracy?

So about the

frustration at the stalemate was growing more apparent in Eritrea's state-owned

Listen… it ain’t the frustration with some stalemate that has gotten the state owned media in Ertra and Ethiopia all hot and bothered. It’s having to spew out a never-ending stream of bullshit from two sociopaths. Damn straight that would be humango frustrating. So, what new thing is the Ertran media saying that has gotten the Secretary-General of the UN so concerned? Is it saying that Ato Meles is a megalomaniac crackpot? Ooooh, so hostile. We’ve been telling them that since ‘91, when they were frolicking with him.

In case you are wondering, Mr. Annan, we’ve moved on.

Wonder what the Ethiopian media is preoccupied with these days, Mr. Anann?

… adding that Ethiopia's media had been more preoccupied with its May 15

Oh, yeeaaahhh, the elections. Remember those, Mr. Annan? Well, yes, we have been a little preoccupied with that little problem. Mainly we’ve been preoccupied with how to make Ato Meles understand that people don’t want him to be their leader any more. Perhaps you can help us convey that message to him?

In his report, Annan also appealed to Ethiopia to redeploy the troops that it
moved up to the border in December, and again urged the international community
and witnesses to the peace agreement to push both sides into dialogue.

You don’t seem to understand, Mr. Secretary-General. Like a few of us speculated, Ertra is Ato Meles’ Monica Lewinsky. If everything fails and Ato Meles’ maniacal cadres botch up a “re-counting” by stuffing the wrong ballots, well, guess who’s going to get bombed, or at the very least, threatened to be bombed? Yes, our former countrymen to the north. Don’t put it past Ato Meles to start another crazy war as a distraction to his domestic woes. He’s creepy like that. So, if I were you, Mr. Annan, and I don’t mean to tell you how to do your job, but if I were you, I’d concentrate on asking the international community to pressure the Ethiopian government to grow up, because it is making a lot of people puke.

The Secretary-General mentioned in his speech commemorating the UN’s birthday
that among one of the greatest failures of the UN, in his estimation, was its
inability to stop the genocide in Rwanda that resulted in the deaths of 800,000

So, perhaps Mr. Annan can kindly ask Ato Meles and Ato Bereket to refrain from willy-nilly brandying about Rwanda like it was child’s play? I know they are trying to be cute and all, and they will think nothing of using one of the most horrifying episodes of human history as a PR ploy, but really, Mr. Annan, can you make them stop? Tell them it’s cynical and, well, a little sick.

While you are at it, mention that it is in bad taste to kill unarmed people.

Here is a revelation I had. And here is why I keep talking about the people who were killed: I don’t think that PM Meles and Darth Bereket, honestly, realize that it is fundamentally wrong to kill people. It just does not compute with them that it is, on a very basic level, wrong to commit homicide. So, no wonder they can say what they have been saying. There is no other explanation. To them, murder is collateral damage. That, my friends, is what we are up against.

So, Mr. Annan, maybe its time to speak about the state of flux Ethiopia is in? Demarcation can wait a little longer. And let poor Ato Isayas have something other than himself to demonize. He has so little to do these days.

When did the UN become so irrelevant?

Here’s how to keep your sanity about the UN, by the way. Just think of it as one big jobs program for liberal arts majors, political hacks and former ministers. Think of how many Ethiopians benefited from those jobs. So, primary purpose of the UN: a place that hires people who have no intention of doing anything with their lives. (They need someplace to go.) That makes as its secondary purpose to, even if it is by accident, do something relevant. One or two things… no pressure. Stop a war here. Make dreadfully innocuous observances there. Oh, and hold conferences about lovely things so that Angelina Jolie shows up in a Chanel suit and pearls. That’s it. And hope that it does more good than harm. That’s all we want and should expect of the UN.

Thinking of it like that humanizes the UN and you don’t have to think about the billions it wastes. Besides, I feel safe knowing that most of these people are quarantined in one place and they are not flittering about among us unrecognized.

Can we make a wager on when the Secretary-General will address the matter of Ethiopia? Place your bets…

On another matter… (did I mention this was a short blog?)

On December 7, 2004 Santa Claus-y lawmaker Senator Richard Lugar, Chairman, US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations gave a report on his trip to the Ukraine made on behalf of President Bush. This was about Ukraine’s mock elections.

The campaign for president in Ukraine had already been marked by widespread
political intimidation and failure to give equal coverage to candidates in the
. Physical intimidation of voters and illegal use of governmental
administrative and legal authorities had been evident and persistent.

Hmm. Sounds familiar. What was it that the EU said about the aftermath of the Ethiopian elections?

These practices, taken as a whole, are seriously undermining the transparency
and fairness of the elections. They also risk increasing the scope for
manipulation and consequently putting in doubt public confidence in the

Since election day, the state-owned media have been
releasing on a daily basis provisional, unofficial results mainly showing the
partial victories of the EPRDF
in a number of constituencies and regions across
the country. However, the same media outlets have ignored press conferences or
any other statement about results made by opposition parties.


Monsieur Lugar… back to you…

President Bush wrote in a letter which I carried to President Kuchma: "You play
a central role in ensuring that Ukraine’s election is democratic and free of
fraud and manipulation. A tarnished election, however, will lead us to review
our relations with Ukraine."

Can the President’s person-in-charge-of-writing-letters-to-despots please pull up that letter and do a “find/replace” … find Ukraine…replace with Ethiopia. Find Kuchma replace with Ato Meles…? Save, print and send?

Unfortunately, a nationwide celebration of democratic election procedures at
that point, was not to be. The government of President Kuchma allowed, or aided
and abetted, wholesale fraud and abuse that changed the results of the election.
It is clear that Prime Minister Yanukovich did not win this election despite
erroneous election announcements and calls of congratulations from Moscow.

Find “Moscow”, replace with “Beijing”, but we are down with “wholesale fraud and abuse.” That part can stay.

President Bush has expressed his unequivocal support for democracy around the
world. He has said: "I simply do not agree with those who either say overtly or
believe that certain societies cannot be free. It’s just not part of my
thinking." I agree with the President.

Phew. So do we, Mr. Lugar. So do we. I listened to a very interesting interview Professor Mesfin Wolde Mariam gave to Andenet Radio a few days ago. He mentioned that the thing he envies most about the US is its belief and mantra that it is “home of the free.” And that, said Professor Mesfin, is what we want for Ethiopia as well. We want Ethiopia to be home of the free. (By the way, it was a great interview… except the interviewer… oh, in major need of an intellectual enema. You’ll know what I mean when you hear it.)

So, despite Mr. Tony Blair and Mistah Jimmah Car’ra, who figure that Ato Meles is a good ‘nuff leader... “for an African”, we say that we want the same standard of Democracy that the west has for itself… minus the debacle in Florida. What happens in Florida should stay in Florida.

Basically, we don’t want an affirmative action democracy. Would the west accept a leader that gunned down 36 unarmed people? Would it want to set up a coalition government with someone who is stealthily dispatching terror throughout the country? Would the west not find it appalling to have to deal with someone of Ato Meles’ moral depravity? So why do they think we should accept murderers as leaders? Why do they think we want the bar lowered when it comes to our leaders?

But, Mr. Lugar, I interrupted you?

The United States must be at the forefront of international efforts to secure
individual freedom. Democracy must be at the core of our foreign policy. We must be prepared to play an active role in ensuring that democracy and basic freedoms are promoted and preserved around the world.
Bingo! So, when we write letters to Senator Lugar ( we can remind him of those words. If you are a phone person his phone number is (202) 224-4814. Tell him WonqeTTE said hi, how are ya, are you in the mood for a trip to Addis? Much better than Kiev in the dead of winter, I promise.. Ethiopians in Indiana will especially have to mobilize hard since, as constituents, they have more power than those of us in the godless blue-states.

An election on December 26 that is free and fair will be a tribute to Ukraine’s
maturing democracy and will place Ukraine on a path to join the community of
European democracies. A secure and democratic Ukraine is in the national
security interests of the United States, NATO, the European Union, and Russia. A
fraudulent and illegal election would leave Ukraine crippled. The new president
would lack legitimacy with the Ukrainian people and the international

Do we have nuclear arsenals lying around Gonder somewhere that we can say we are “concerned” about falling into the hands of terrorists? Would it be wrong to say that? It can’t be anymore retarded than Ato Meles waving the Rwanda card around! By the way, that’s the only way countries can get attention. Build something nuclear. They will come.

Even in the face of these attempts to end any hope of a free and fair election,
I was inspired by the willingness and courage of so many citizens of Ukraine to
demonstrate their passion for free expression
and the building of a truly
democratic Ukraine. As corrupt authorities tried to disrupt, frighten and
intimidate citizens, brave Ukrainians pushed back by continuing to do their best
to keep the election on track and to prevent chaos.

Find “Ukrainians” replace with “Ethiopians.”

It has been an excruciatingly humbling exercise reading about what Ethiopians are going through to make sure that their voices are heard. From the students at Addis Abeba and Gonder Universities to the people in Debre Sina and Bahr Dar; from Chagni to Sebu Sire and to the remotest villages where there are no cameras witness to their anguish, Ethiopians have found strength to stand up to tyranny. I am not sure where people get the strength and moral conviction to stand up to the EPRDF’s murderous goons. But they are. And we can never forget that. Stories will soon come to light about what happened to the kids rounded up in Zwai, and it will be bone-chilling. But though all that, Ethiopians refused to stay quieted. Those of us in the Diaspora will always have to remember who it was that paid the most for Democracy in Ethiopia, because certainly was not us. Here we are, some of us, still too lazy to even write an email to our senators.

The United States has stood by Ukraine through difficult moments before and we
must not fail to do so at this critical juncture.

Welllll… Jimm’ah Carhuh and Bill Clinton have highly dubious records when it comes to Ethiopia. Maybe Mr. Bush can come though.

In closing, Mr. Chairman, I am pleased that Ukraine has dominated newspaper
headlines and media broadcasts all over the world for the last sixteen days. In
that time, extraordinary events have occurred. A free press has revolted against
government intimidation and reasserted itself. An emerging middle class has
found its political footing. A new generation has found its hope for the future.
A society has rebelled against the illegal activities of its government. It is
in our interests to recognize and protect these advances.

Call it the Byte Revolution, call it whatever, a new generation of Ethiopians is going to stand up to Ato Meles. We want leaders who will never again be called “murderers” by grieving mothers who watched their children be gunned in front of them.

Never again.

Senator Lugar: Email:
Phone: (202) 224-4814.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Suicide Watch

Something happened last night that brought me back to my computer to write a short blog.

It was declared kid-free night, which meant that we actually got to dress up and pretend we have no kids. At the restaurant (of course reservations needed to be moved twice because, y’know traveling with a bunch of Ethiopians means a lot of “You said 8 p.m. It’s only 8:30 p.m. Whaddaya mean I’m late?” Demmo said with such moral outrage that you actually start thinking that perhaps you are being anally retentive… I fell for it. I ended up actually apologizing) …

Anyway, at the restaurant… which, by the way, prominently featured the dual theatrics of a stick-up -their-butts maitre d’ and sommelier, turned out to be pretty good, and it got better when sexually repressed sommelier managed to crack a smile when he found out we were Ethiopians. He regaled us with stories of how his uncle was one of the service people that the British government gave Emperor Haile Selassie during his exile in Bath. Who knows? But at least he got all the details correct…

Anyway, there were a couple of Satre/Rimbauld-quoting ETs snuggling in the corner and they ended up joining us, as did their Satre/Rimbauld quoting friends who materialized almost out of thin air and kissed everyone at the table upon their arrival. (They are friendly, these ET-Francs.) Okay, so my first impression of the Franco-ETs… you know how judgmental I can be… sometimes. They seemed so removed from it all… vacations-in-Fribourg-apartments-in-the-5ème… you know the type.

But after the fifth or sixth bottle of wine the Franco-ETs changed, or maybe I changed. Talk of Ethiopia ensued, which of course meant politics, which meant someone asking why there hasn’t been a demonstration in Paris by Ethiopians. I noticed that one of them, a thin faced, bespectacled, intellectual type, remained quiet. That, of course, gave me license to immediately “poor, miskin, irredeemably-ferenjie” him. (Patronization… my forte.) All of a sudden, he… let’s call him Heruy, all of a sudden Heruy raises his glass and starts a long soliloquy/poetry in Amharic. At first I thought he was drunk. And then I thought I was drunk…

… but there was something about the way the words dripped from his lips, the way he took in sharp breaths between stanzas, the way he said “'to-Piyaa”, the way he made his voice dip down and up, up and down, the way he stroked each word with the proficiency of a seasoned wordsmith, the way he danced around the sem and werq, the way his eyes engaged us, let us go, then engaged us…

By the time he finished, all of us from the States were left gasping… for them, the ET-Francos, however, it was… it was an everyday occurrence. They were totally unaware what listening to poetry in Amharic in a French restaurant in France was doing to us. While we were gasping to recalibrate our invaded souls, they had easily moved on… another one among them picked up where her friend had left off and soon this ridiculously thin woman in a skimpy Agnona cocktail dress was mouthing words to an Amharic poem that still sends shivers down my spine.

I am sure I stopped breathing at one point.

I could tell that memories of Ethiopia had inevitably flooded all our minds… me?… seeing my father cry for the first time when I left Ethiopia… watching my mother bathe my ailing grandmother… the time my mother brushed lint from my shoes on my wedding day… the time my husband sent shimagilEs to my father’s house to ask for my hand in marriage, … the first time my son was able to put his arms around my neck and mumble, “emma-ma… my emmama.” I live for these moments. And last night was one of those moments.

To me, Ethiopia has been politics the past few months. All politics. And the politics of Ethiopia is ugly. And the EPRDF’s politics is downright vile. But what I was in danger of was losing the Ethiopia that gave me immeasurable joy as a child. I had lost the poetry that is Ethiopia. And of all places, I found it in a restaurant in the French Rivera, surrounded my modern day ET-beatniks. . Now, if that don’t beat all.

To the Franco-Ethiopians breaking bread with us, Ethiopia is so much more than ephemeral political woes. What keeps them centered and connected is that they love the Ethiopia that we had forgotten exists. To them Ethiopia is not what some loose lip, half-wit with a gun says it is. To them Ethiopia is also history, literature, poetry and art.

What Mengistu was able to do to the generation before us was to take the poetry of Ethiopia away from it—he dipped it in blood so many times that Ethiopia became a wound. And with all wounds, one can only wrap it up tightly, retreat and evade. It is what the EPRDF is trying to do to us today. It wants to shock us so much with brutality that a new generation of wounded Ethiopians retreats.

Unfortunately for PM Meles, he awoke in us the part that refuses to retreat. We can’t raise arms against him, but we won’t retreat.

I’ll explain.

To me, the true nature of a government can be seen using two simple litmus tests: whether it needs peace to thrive, or if it can only survive in self-inflicted chaos.

The EPRDF, by its very nature, needs fear and chaos to survive. It needs to tell people that if its opponents take over, there will be a blood bath. Listen to Bereket Simon’s words carefully from his latest interview:

But, what was the alternative? Let's look at it. The alternative was strife
between the different nationalities of Ethiopia which might have made the
Rwandan genocide look like childsplay.
This was the alternative.

This is the very nature of a psychopath leading a psychopathic government. To justify killing, it has to hold above everybody’s head the myth that if it hadn’t killed, more killing would have ensued. That sentence will forever define the EPRDF, and its supporters will always have to live with that legacy.

…anybody who feels they are capable of taking matters into their own hands will
reign over society and that will definitely bring the whole Ethiopian society
into turmoil.

The EPRDF needs turmoil and the illusion of unspeakable turmoil to survive, and that is a sign of a bad government. Think about it. How does one leap from students protesting inside a campus to a situation that “might have made the Rwandan genocide look like childsplay”? How is this acceptable to supporters of the EPRDF?

Secondly, the EPRDF is deathly afraid of the truth. To survive, not only has it always got to be on mystical “genocide watch,” but it also has to depend on an uniformed public. When you want and aim for a population that is misinformed, it is another sign that you are a failed government. Good governance demands a vibrant, intelligent populace that will tell you to “shove it where the sun don’t shine” when you spout crap like “we prevented genocide by killing only 36 people.” Like all two-bit, delusional megalomaniacs, the EPRDF thinks that if it says something often enough, it will be true. And to make sure that opposing views are not heard, take that extra step and control the media. How else can you explain that the state-owned media doesn’t even cover opposition press conferences? How else do you explain massive, capricious arrests of the opposition and anyone remotely associated with the opposition? The government whose constitution says that, ehem, people have to be charged within 48 hours of arrest or be released is still holding thousands in camps, now for the third week. It is all so amateurishly control-freaky.

So those are the tests: if a government can only survive by fear-mongering, and if it is afraid of an educated populace, what you got yourself there, skippy, is a monumentally sucky government. Remember what one of the first acts of the EPRDF was after it got comfortable running up and down the halls of Menelik’s Palace squealing, “Is this all mine? All mine?”? Yep. It fired those professors from AAU. Nice move. And then you have the tragedy that is the former “Less Education is Better” Education Minister, Genet (dinqem!) Zewdie, and her cosmic campaign to dumb-down Ethiopia. It’s a theme with the EPRDF, just like its predecessor, the Derg.

It would have worked pre May 15. But the problem for the EPRDF is that people have had enough, and people are, to its utter surprise and frustration, smart enough to decipher the bullshit from the all-out bullshit. It made the colossal mistake of undermining the intelligence of the people, a classic mistake power mongers make because they need to believe that they are love, loved, adored and loved s’more.

The EPRDF will undoubtedly claim victory on July 8 because its gruesome temperament won’t let it accept rejection. It’s kind of democracy is “be grateful we let you vote” democracy. That might have worked in the bushes, but it’s a new world now.

Sure you can always rule with an iron fist, but that’s just counting down your days to the grave. The trick was to have people think you were an okay enough government, and with the exception of a few, we had all fallen for it. But when you manage to radicalize the unradicalizable, you have just slapped an expiration date on yourself. When people have had enough of you, you have got to go.

This brings me to a little self reflection. Someone at the dinner table asked the duplicity of us being politically roused now when we weren’t in 2001 when the government again had mowed down students, or when it was wiping out our people in Gambella. Isn’t it a little hypocritical to be outraged now and not then? I beg your pardon. It is not a little hypocritical. It’s a lot hypocritical. Those of us addis meTewech to this political process have to come to a reckoning about our silence of the past and make sure that our voices are never again silent.

So, is the EPRDF going to ban demonstrations forever? Eventually people are going to come out to make sure the world hears them. And, sure to form, the EPRDF will do something incredibly heinous, and that, my friends, will be Tony Blair’s out. After remaining silent for so long, he is hoping for one stupid move from his “progressive, come be my buddy” pal so that he can wash his hands off of PM Meles. And then Tony Blair will be a hero. He took down Meles! Isn’t he a good guy, that Mr. Blair? And Mr. Blair just has to hope that people suffer from massive amnesia that’ll make us forget that he had stayed silent so long. Hell, I’ll fake amnesia.

For PM Meles, unfortunately, he has embarrassed his benefactors once too many times.

The British government is particularly embarrassed by the turn of

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is a member of the
British led Commission for Africa.

And the central recommendation of the Commission is that African governments should improve their governance. British Prime Minister Tony Blair telephoned Mr. Meles to express his concern at the killing of demonstrators.

Cute. A whole phone call. Imagine if he had done something, oh, really horrible. He’d have gotten a telegraph.

So, anyway, talking about governments who are major suckfests, all you ever wanted to ever know about the EPRDF’s nature is in that fateful interview Darth Vader Bereket Simon gave to Mesqel Square, and when I come back from vacation I will delve more into that. But all you ever needed to know and some things you never wanted to know about the destructive, spiteful and dissolute nature of the EPRDF is laid out for you in that interview. That interview might have sealed the EPRDF’s fate, and I take back what I said about the EPRDF firing loose-lips Bereket. We need him to make our point for us. His words should galvanize us for years to come. We will always remember:
The alternative to this would have been much more disastrous where you might
find millions or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands perishing within the coming days and months."

Noooo... the alternative to “this” could have been, and I am no military wonkette, but, I duuno, using tear gas?

Q: I am still not sure why guns were necessary and not tear gas or water

DARTH: Well tear gas and water canons were

Q: When?

DARTH: During that day. We used them. But the enormity and the overwhelming power of the protesters was not there to be stopped by tear gas.

First of all, Ato Bereket… those little things that whirl and flash, they are called cameras; and in case you don’t know what they do, they capture images. Images captured: your thugs assaulting kids, older men bleeding as they are carried off in stretchers, people crying, mothers wailing, dead bodies, armed cars… nope. No water cannons or tear gas. I know you are used to talking to nauseatingly obsequious yes-men all day long… but… please?

“Comrades, we used tear canons, right? Is that what they are called…I need to say it right.”

“No, sir, it’s water canons.”

“Okay… and those make you cry, right?”

“No, tear gas makes you cry.”

“Okay, comrades, we used tear gas and water cannon, if anybody asks.”

“And when should we say we used them?”

“Just… beqa… during the day. Yes, that’s right. We used tear canons in during the day and water gas at night. Got it?”

“Your sage and masterful logic blinds us with awe.”

And then of course there is Ato Bereket’s ridiculous:

But the enormity and the overwhelming power of the protesters was not there to
be stopped by tear gas.

Enormity and overwhelming power of the protestors?? I mean, wouldn’t that imply the whole city was out in force? Enormity and overwhelming power of the protestors? Shoot… could it be that Darth Bereket is really just a pussy afraid of a few people throwing stones, hmmmm? Were there big crowds that I missed because I watched the, what do you call them… videos and stuff… and … wait. There was no mention of this tear gas thing before and… Oh, I’m sorry, he’s bullshitting. You see? You see how he does me like that. I keep forgetting.

Seriously, are we supposed to believe anything this man has to say anymore? If I was caught in a rainstorm and Darth Bereket told me it’s raining, I’d have to go out and get soaked before I believe him. This is the nature of the EPRDF: it lies about the obvious. And that pisses off people. These are the progressive leaders we are supposed to respect.

By the way, again, let me apologize for ever suggesting that the EPRDF fire Bereket. Please, please… can we forget I ever said that?

“ET-Wonkette, you said the EPRDF should fire Ato Bereket. Why?”

“I never said that.”

“You did... on…”

“I never said that! You are trying to incite an ethnic war by saying that.”

“What?! I…”

“You are. I never said he should be fired. I said that there was a… fire in his belly.”


“You are going to make child’s play out of Rwanda.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Okay forget it.”

Ehhh… my bullshit skills need honing. I should read Ato Bereket's interview again.

By the way, have you noticed that no reporter, especially Western reporters, ask Darth Bereket to … um, explain how the opposition is going to unleash this impending interwhame that had to be preempted by killing people? That’s probably because of the guilt these reporters feel for having said nothing for a long time about Rwanda, and now all you have to do is mention Rwanda and they just move on. Okay, it’s a theory I came up with lying on the beach, but doesn’t it make sense?

I mean, cccc’mon! How do you not ask a follow-up question or even a for a little evidence to substantiate an incendiary and outlandish statement like, "The alternative was strife between the different nationalities of Ethiopia which might have made the Rwandan genocide look like child's play"!! I mean, how about a meek little, “What do you mean by that, Mr. Information Minister? We were just talking about containing a crowd which thinks that you stole the elections, not a crowd saying “Death to XYZ ethnic group. So, how can that escalate to genocide-status? ” Seriously, can anyone tell me why reporters from the BBC and Reuters don’t ask Darth Vader that. Or even a little, “Well, you see, this is what happened in Rwanda.. now can you make the parallels as to HOW the opposition will start an adult version of the Rwandan genocide, hmm, Mr. Information Minister?”

So, you see? Anything you want to avoid from now on, blame it on genocide. Late for work? Genocide. Your child wants a video game? “Son, that causes genocide.” No one will ask why.
By the way, does the Information Minister not realize that was is worse than a liar is a liar who lies about killing people in broad daylight? We used tear gas, my ass.

I was more than a little disappointed by a commentary in one of my favorite Ethiopian weeklies, Addis Fortune. In the June 12 commentary it makes an eloquent case of what makes a good democracy and then assigns both parties, the opposition and the EPRDF, the task of playing by these lovely rules. The rules being?

Ethiopia’s culture is common respect for a set of fundamental values and
institutions. It is time for the political leaders on all sides to acknowledge

I am really hard pressed at this point to come up with one core value or democratic institution that the EPRDF values. Really. Is it democracy? Human rights? Freedom of assembly? Wait. Let me think. I’m sure it’ll come to me.

…both camps to assert - loudly and clearly - their common attachment to these
core values

Yeah… Hold on… I’m thinkin’… I’m thinkin’…

Stable and mature democracies are based on a national consensus around core
values that allow issues to be debated and policies to be changed, without
disturbing the fundamental social and political order.

Sounds, g'ooooo to me, Lucy. But, I’m still stuck on the “what part of democracy does the EPRDF respect?” question…

After all, the victorious candidate does not just represent the people who voted
him into office, but the entire constituency…

Yeah… except when the people of Addis Ababa and most of the country rejected PM Meles’ love... I gotta tell ya, he kinda got cranky.

First, there is the rule of law. We all want to live in a country in which laws
are fair and are fairly enforced.

I’m sorry. Is Addis Fortune telling this to the EPRDF, ‘coz if it is, it needs to speak a little more loudly. What part of the EPRDF intimates that it has the slightest interest in respecting rule of law?

And call me a stickler about things like this but… okay, lovin’ the “fair” part of respecting rule of law… sounds downright yummy to me … ‘cept… EPRDF ain’t so crazy about the “fair’ part. I mean it likes enforcing the law when it comes to “keeping the peace”… but when it comes to that little thing about, let’s say, charging people within 48 hours or letting them go… not too crazy about that part. How did Darth Bereket put it…?

Q: I thought people in Ethiopia could only be held before they were charged for
48 hours. Have these people still in custody been charged or will they go to
court? What is the procedure?

DARTH: It is true that police in Ethiopia, under normal circumstances, have the responsibility to go to the courts and get the permits to detain people.

But… ?

This was a violence that broke out. It happened in the streets.

Uh-huh! It happened in the streets. Well, why didn't you say so in the first place? So you see why that changes the constitution. Let’s move on.

No, wait. I have a question. So when laws are not broken it’s good to have laws. But when they are broken, then we don’t need laws? So, laws should only be valid “under normal circumstances”? Meaning, if any breaking of laws happening under abnormal circumstances (um, like in the streets) it’s okay to not follow the laws. Okay, to summarize, laws when they are not broken = good. Laws when they are broken =not so much good…? I’m … confused, but… go on…

And you can not go to the courts when violence is spreading in the city. The
first thing they have to do is pre-empt it – pre-empt it by detaining people or
by taking the necessary action.

In this case, “the necessary action” meant killing people.

And then you go to the courts and bring charges regarding these people.

Okay, so let me see if I get this one ‘coz I ain’t no law wonkette: So you kill ‘em first and THEN you bring charges. And if can’t kill ‘em, arrest them... and … then… bring … charges? I’m followin’ ya, Darth. Go on…

Now what the police are doing is going to the courts and securing the permits to
bring people to justice. Of course they are releasing people on advice, on
counselling, especially those people who committed minor crimes who were engaged
in not too big subversive activities.

Okay, so arrest them, then go get permits TO arrest them, and since its thousands of people you have arrested with no evidence, then surely, you aren’t expected to get the permits to arrest them within 48-hours…The thing about the 48 hours? Yes, well, we can’t do everything the constitution tells us, now could we? Especially, especially when laws are broken in the streets. … So, I’m diggin’ this… Darth, do go on…

Q: And will any more people on top of this 700 be released?

Definitely. As I have told you, although the police has ample evidence regarding
most of the detained people, they were telling me that they will start
differentiating between the serious and the light offences. So that those who
are accused of light offences will be released either on bail or on advice and
counselling basis. So most of them will be released, I assure you.
Yeee… kinda lost me there, Darth. Kill ‘em. Then arrest ‘em. Then get permits to arrest ‘em and kill ‘em. Then start differentiating between the good and the bad… then counsel ‘em, then release ‘em … rinse and repeat?

Okay, so Addis Fortune people, will you please take the time to explain to the EPRDF about respecting the law, because I don’t think they quite get it.

The next administration must be formed in accordance with the law. That is
clear. Let all parties be clear that they support the rule of law. Next, there
is civility and mutual respect.

Yeahhhh… civility and mutual respect… not EPRDF’s strong points. I mean, when you call kids you killed “hooligans”, ehh, maybe it’s time for a refresher course on civility and mutual respect. But I ain’t no etiquette wonkette.

No one can doubt the EPRDF’s commitment to reducing poverty. One can question
whether its policies have worked, or whether they were correctly implemented,
and one can argue that other policies will be better.

Listen, Addis Fortune. I ain’t no policy wonkette, neither, BUT…

It’s always nice to have the desire to do something… me? I have the desire to get back to running an 8-minute mile. But you know… that would actually mean dedicating my lazy ass to running everyday and not every other day or whenever my kid asks me about girls. So, I’m happy with my 10 minute mile. Sure I am, if it means I don’t have to sweat it. BUT, I still have the commitment for an 8-minute mile, so I must be a-okay? So, surely you are not saying that just having the desire or commitment is good enough, right? Coz I love you more than that, Addis Fortune. Or is that the new standard for Ethiopian leaders now? You actually just have to have a standard. Any standard will do. How about you hate poverty? That’s a pretty good standard. Praise the Lord and hallelujah.


One can question whether its policies have worked, or whether they were
correctly implemented, and one can argue that other policies will be better.

Yeah? Damn straight!… So you mean it’s not enough to just be committed to reducing poverty, you actually have to have policies to back up your desires? Not only do you need policies but, goddammit, the policies have to work? Well, that's no way to run a guv'ment!

Now, I am also no financial wonkette, but is begging for more aid money the way to reduce poverty? Is that what we want our leaders doing? When I was growing up in Ethiopia in the Mengistu era, the only foreigners we saw on TV were the ones giving us aid. Can you imagine the deleterious effect that can have on people? And it has had long term manifestations. Even today, when a group of Ethiopians wants to do something, inevitably someone will ask, “Can’t we ask so and so for financial help?” Or, worse, we look to the West to solve our hunger problem and howl at the ferenjie’s indifference while we sit and scribble on the innernetz.

The PM of Ethiopia went on international media to say that 15 million Ethiopians are on the verge of starvation. And what does he get for that colossal failure in governance? Repudiation? Shame? Ridicule? Nah. He got appointed to Tony Blair’s Commission on Africa, tasked with, um, uplifting the African continent from poverty. Do you not have to perform to get appointed to these commissions? Can I be appointed if I flirted with Tony Blair, I wonder. I’d make a good commissioner. I’d commission my self a vacation to see my new ET-Franco friends.

So, yes, Addis Fortune, not only can one question the EPRDF economic policies, but I AM questioning the EPRDF policies. Like I said, I am no economic wonkette, but I don't think building shiny buildings is progress. Still having a rural based economy in the 21st century? Not progress, neither. (Sure that’d make 80% of the population your personal serfs, but… oh, that’s the point of not making the slightest bit effort to move towards an industrial economy? Sorry, I keep missing the point.) Whatever economic progress it had as a cache, the EPRDF lost. And it’s a shame because I know there must be decent people trying to work hard to make a difference. Don’t listen to me about economics … my checkbook is in a state of perpetual disarray. ethiopundit has laid it all out… (by the way, check out the comments on the last blog about ethiopundit and his studmuffintory status among female Weichegud readers. It’s time women thought intelligence is sexy!)

So, anyway, the Addis Fortune article goes on and one about respect, rule of law... all the things that make a society civil.

Here’s the catch: the EPRDF is not civil. The whole point is that the time for romanticizing the EPRDF is over. That ship done sailed. What events after May 16 showed us and the world is PM Meles and his goons are utterly incapable of accepting rule of law. Whatever sham of a modicum of decency we thought they had, has now been soundly erased from our memory.

To open fire on a crowd, and not even a crowd, at passersbys (read “Mourning of Two Sons” ) and then to justify it with trademark flippancy has disqualified this government from ever championing rule of law.

To fester an ethnic war so that it can be seen as the keeper of peace and stability, has forever marred this government from being thought of as even remotely civil or honorable.

To rig elections (and I hope that we are all in concert that there was so much irregularity in the vote counting that no amount of fiber can fix that baby; read Dagmawi’s analysis) and then take your opponents prisoners, has disqualified this government from ever claiming that it brought democracy to Ethiopia.

Does the EPRDF think that we have forgotten the EU memo of May 24?

In a press appearance on Monday 16, EPRDF claimed victory in the absence of
any results having been made public by the National Electoral Board. A similar
statement was released on May 23.

Ten days after the election, although electoral results had been posted
outside the polling stations in most of the country, the National Electoral
Board has only released results from 121 out of 547 constituencies.

Since election day, the state-owned media have been releasing on a daily basis
provisional, unofficial results mainly showing the partial victories of the
EPRDF in a number of constituencies and regions across the country. However, the
same media outlets have ignored press conferences or any other statement about
results made by opposition parties. For example, on May 18, while international
media (e.g. CNN and BBC) covered the press conference by CUD, Ethiopian TV and
Radio Ethiopia as well as the next day editions of the state-owned newspapers
Addis Zemen and The Ethiopia Herald completely ignored it.

Regarding the European Union Election Observation Mission Preliminary Statement of May 17, the
state-owned media reported the positive side of the statement while disregarding
any critical comments.

These practices, taken as a whole, are seriously undermining the transparency and fairness of the elections. They also risk increasing the scope for manipulation and consequently putting in doubt public confidence in the process. The European Union Election Observation Mission would like to recall that the state media has a duty to report on post election events in an even-handed manner. This duty includes allowing all parties access to the media, albeit while respecting the public interest.

Listen, for the EU to say that, it must have seen a shit lot of stuff, so we don’t even know half the story. This is not a few constituencies here and there, this is the whole election.

So, please, Addis Fortune, no more lectures on what makes a good government. Besides, the EPRDF is not a government, it is a regime. We all know the tenets of what makes good government, but we would be naïve to think that the EPRDF will form a coalition government of any sort as some people have been suggesting. We would be highly, highly naïve to think that the killings will stop. And we would be downright gullible if we think that the Addis Ababa administration will be run by the opposition even though it has swept all 23 seats. And thinking that there will be a fair re-count? Get over yourself!

Last night at dinner, people I had callously dismissed on strictly superficial basis, showed me how to change the world with words; the way to love Ethiopia is not to just hate PM Meles & Co. Our responsibility is to engage in the process, however small. It’s by writing letters, signing petitions, keeping ourselves informed and, most importantly, never letting them take the poetry that is Ethiopia from us. We can’t be numbed any more.

I have said it before and I will say it again, the best position for the opposition is to stay an opposition for a few more years… and completely expose the EPRDF for the ineffectual sham that it is. That way, no remnant of its ghastliness will stay with us. To me the opposition’s job right now is to let the EPRDF commit suicide. And it is our job, we the Fara-Free in the Diaspora, to keep making noise and pointing out EPRDF’s bullshit. This is not a fight about what happens on July 8, or August 8 or whenever the EPRDF claims victory. This is a fight to say, “Enough, already!” once and for all. We cannot be bystanders in the fate of Ethiopia any longer. We have the money, we have the time, we have the know-how, we have the voice, and if we don’t use all of it, then shame on us.

One of the best moves from the opposition I’ve seen so far, and there have been few and far between, is when zany-brainy-sexy-in-a-Woody-Allen-kinda-way Veep Berhanu Nega “welcomed” the EPRDF’s asinine move to move the capital of Oromia from Adama to Addis Ababa. He basically said, “Sure, we welcome them. That means more jobs, more taxes for us. So, welcome OPDO… now pay up.”

It was, simply, brilliant! What the EPRDF wanted was a fight (an ethnic based fight at that) and the opposition wouldn’t give it one. That’s what I mean by letting the EPRDF commit suicide. You make it look so ridiculous (thankfully, not a hard job) that it becomes a complete joke. And the best way to do that is from the inside, especially if the opposition has enough seats to challenge bogus legislation from passing though a bogus parliament. Unless the EPRDF is allowed to destroy itself completely, it might keep creeping back, not unlike herpes. The opposition must never be lured into fighting dirty with the EPRDF because that’s the only kind of war the EPRDF can win. Instead, it must be allowed to checkmate itself, and that takes meticulous planning, not boisterous “zeraf-ing.”

If there is anything we the Fara-Free in the Diaspora have learnt is that we do have some power. And heaven help the Meles regime when we finally exercise that power. I seriously doubt if the opposition would have been invited to the EU in Brussels this week if it were not in small part due to the Fara-Free in the Diaspora/Europe Division making a lotta lotta noise.
Listen, only an obtuse institution like the EPRDF can think that it can rule a country while having lost all major cities. It wants the opposition to keep on challenging the elections because that will deflect from the reality that it really has lost a lot in these elections. The last thing the EPRDF wants is for someone to say, "so, okay, let's get back to business" because that will show the EPRDF have little power it now has.

So, July 8 is when the countdown to EPRDF’s final demise starts.

But no one listens to the little ET-Wonkette.

The way to win against an adversary, as those of you trained in the legal profession know, is to first ask yourself one vital question: how low will my opponent go? That’ll map out how you are going to fight. If there are certain boundaries that you both respect, then you can look forward to a fair fight.

But with the EPRDF’s debased mind-set, however, the rules of engagement are that there are no rules of engagement. Just like there were no rules of engagement with the Derg.
So, how do you fight someone who has a voracious appetite for power? How do you win against someone who only thrives by creating a series of havoc? What can you do to counter your opponent’s relentlessly rapacious appetite to stay in power?

Simple. You hand your opponent the noose and watch him tighten it around his neck.

(Was this supposed to be short? Okay, I’ll be back to mommy duty/vacation in a few hours. p.s. My husband just told me that some of the poetry that them Frenchies were reciting was Tsegaye Gebre-Medhin’s rendition of Atse Tewodros’ speech at Meqdella and Solomon Deressa’s “fnCH yelew tarik.” Now all of you… go read some poetry and listen to Asnaqech Werqu. It’ll rejuvenate you. Promise. Then write a few letters to your Senators! )

Monday, June 20, 2005

Vacation Evacuation

My husband was aghast that I brought my computer on vacation until a short excursion in search of a cyber café left him cross-eyed with anger… “How in the hell don’t you put a cyber café on some Rue freakin’ de Etats Unis… doesn’t that mean United States? Goddamn … bla-bla-bla…”

More tales about “The Misadventures of the Hyphenated Ethiopian in Southern France” later… By the way, when you take kids on vacation with you, is it still called a vacation? Well, it shouldn’t. Even our LMK (low maintenance kid) morphs into some fessam little mischievous sprite… egzio! Refreshing fact: seemingly everyone here knows what’s been going on in Ethiopia… amazing. I am usually in “Ethiopia 101” mode with ferenjies in the States, that it’s actually interesting to hear a French cabbie say, “So, you have a crazy guy in Ethiopie, non? What his name is?” “We all just call him crazy guy.”

I am heeding to the advice left in the comments section from the last blog and keeping it short… sorry about the long-winded heave.

A couple of little things first…

Think back to the Clinton administration. You remember what each congressional probe into what he did to/with thonged interns meant: people in Iraq had to die. All of a sudden, pacifist B.C was a cowboy finding some excuse to drop a few on Iraq whenever people in the Senate started talking about cigars…

Well, the former Ethiopian land known as Eritrea, is the EPRDF’s Monica Lewinsky.

June 16: The government was kind enough to inform us that

Some Eritrean spies suspected to have been sent by Eritrea to commit terrorist
acts in Ethiopia have been arrested by police with assortment of weapons,
explosives and personal guns last week.

(Personally, the only terrorism I see is the syntax in that sentence.) Oh, so that’s where the EPRDF goons got their “assortment of weapons, explosives and personal guns” to commit their “law enforcement” activities of last week? (Personal guns?? As in they are engraved?)

But my favorite part:

These Eritrean security agents, who are said to have a hand in last week's
violence in Addis Ababa, are under strict interrogation and our sources said no
one knows the type of action the government will take against them yet.

Well, if the government didn’t willy-nilly let Eritrean journalists come into the country to interview opposition members under house arrest, maybe the spies would have had second thoughts about bringing in their personal guns!

Expect more news like … lo and behold, “Hundreds of Eritreans Flee to Ethiopia.” 600 of them, actually… Cigar, anyone?

Next little item…

Proving that without a doubt California is where former stoner, hippie dingbats go to be elected into government… check out this story.

Short version: Orange County, CA … Rep. Dana Rohrabacher… he has a surfing buddy… a very good surfing buddy… surfing buddy has family who used to be Ethiopian but are now Eritrean-American… family used to own alcohol distillery in Addis… MengE, who either hates distilleries or people who own them, nationalized the distillery in the 70s. Got it, so far? Okay, so back to surfing buddies. Rep. Dana’s bill holding up all US aid to Ethiopia unless the government pays surfing buddy’s family mucho moolah … just passed the house!

Now the dispute is poised to reach the highest levels of government.
Rohrabacher's resolution passed the House last week as part of a larger foreign
policy bill and is making its way to the Senate, where little opposition is

"The reason they don't want to give it back is because the senior government
officials have probably been pilfering it for years.”

Probably??? Dude, you have no idea.

I am not kidding… Eri guy and Rep. Dana are surfing buddies:

"Frankly, he became sort of a surfing buddy to me,” Rohrabacher said. "He's a
good friend.”

Man, if I was PM Meles I’d be royally pissed off. All he got from his long-term friendship with Jimm’ah Car’ra was the permission to rig one lousy election. Some brain-dead surfer-dude managed to find someone to hold up millions of dollars for the entire nation until he getz payyyed! I love this country.

Remember the time and effort it took to pass H. R. 935 urging the Ethiopian government to hold free and fair elections? Shoot, you mean all we needed to do was to have taken surfing? We still have a lot to learn about American politics…

In addition to withholding U.S. economic aid, which last year amounted to about
$100 million, it also would block money through the Export-Import Bank, Foreign
Military Financing, the Global AIDS Initiative, and the Overseas Private
Investment Corporation.

Eheh! Who needs money for AIDS… we have a distillery problem to solve.
(Note to self: move the hell out of California!)


Just in case you, too, want to surf with Rep. Dana and chill out in Margaritaville in Speedos , or, if you want to thank him for showing all of us how far we should go for our friends--even if it means that 70 odd million people... whatever, y'know, like suffer, or, if you think REp. Dana has wiped out one too many times and you want to pay for an MRI of his brain… please call to tell him: (202) 225-2415 or email him:

Speaking of California, it took me getting out of the country for the Los Angeles Times to cover the crisis in Ethiopia…

The international backlash poses a serious challenge to Prime Minister Meles
Zenawi, whose party seized control of Ethiopia in 1991.

Tell that to Tony Blair… I should have a “Days PM Tony Blair has remained quiet about his friend’s bloodlust” counter. It’s too beautiful outside right now to figure out html.

So, annnnyyway… here’s the clincher:

But his government's heavy-handed response to its apparent poor showing in the
May 15 national election has dealt a blow to Meles' credibility.

No, here’s the clincher:

It's frustrating," said one Western diplomat in Addis Ababa who declined to be
identified. "The government simply doesn't want to give up any power."

Well, that’s the thing about Albanian Marxists… they are so stubborn about stuff like that. It’s almost as if they think that power is their god given right. Silly Marxists.

Go LA Times! … By and by, I am out of the country for 9 more days so feel free…

Next item:

When the EPRDF lobotomizes its cadres, does it use anesthesia? I don’t think so.

So after weeks of suffering through the indefensibly witless musings of PM Meles and his blindingly substandard spokesperson Bereket “Baghdad Bob” Simon, it was, well… refreshing is the wrong word… nice to see that they were able to piece together and parade another loon to defend the 36 who were killed in the June 6-11 carnage.

All hail dwarfy Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States, Kassahun Ayele who
blames the deaths on "illegal activity."

Ya-huh! As far as planet Earth is concerned, Mr. Ambassador, and please correct me if I am wrong, gunning down unarmed people … still very illegal. But something lets me that that’s not what the good “I am on growth hormones, shuddup!” Ambassador means.

He says, "They [i.e., the protesters] had set out their clear objective to
violate the constitution through an illegal way. It led to violence, which was
uncalled for and which was unnecessary.
There were complaints like there were
anywhere else about the counting [of the ballots], but there are provisions to
handle these complaints [within the law]."

Oh, snap! Did the Ambassador just call what his government did “uncalled for and unnecessary”? Did he just deviate from the well-towed line, “the government was just enforcing law and order” line? Some----onnnne’s deeeee-fecting …; Some----onnnne’s deeeee-fecting berry, berry soon… mmmmm?

Can I just say something about the opposition here…? Yes I can… it is my own damn blog! What is up with the opposition taking this “you incited the violence” thing laying down…? What the…?? How about you get brainy-sexy-mmm-mmm-good Dr. Berhanu Nega to come out guns a blazin’ telling the world that since the opposition is not allowed on state television, it has not been able to talk to its constituents to calm them down, huh? Huh? Listen opposition, WonqeTTE can’t do everything… I’ve already signed up for the utterly exhausting task of mapping out the flight patterns of the EPRDF’s extraordinarily erratic thought processes. And believe me, that’s a full time job. So, can’t hold your hand too…

And why, opposition, why oh why, haven’t you coquettishly asked the government to rescind (or better yet, defend) its statements that you are perpetually on the verge of inciting a Hutu-style ethnic cleansing? “Er, perhaps if the government takes back that statement, people’s nerves won’t be so frayed.”

To which the Darth Vader of Information Ministers, Ato Bereket, will swiftly reply: “We never said that they were like the Hutus. They are lying! They lied when they lied about lying, but this is “to incite violence” lying. In fact we have gotten reports that the opposition’s pants are on fire. So we have decided to take them to an undisclosed position while we investigate. It is against the law to put fires in your pants that the government did not put there.”

Sounds about right.

I was just about to sign off when I got wind of this little news… It’s from the Ethiopian pre-sorted News Agency so take it with a grain of laxative.

So you remember that the NEBE was investigating complaints on 299 constituents. Well, apparently that number was up to 434... who knew?

Anyway, the NEBE

…said it will investigate 146 of the 434 complaints presented by contesting
political parties.

Wow… that was quick.

The Board office told ENA on Sunday that the complaint reviewing has been done
by complaint investigating team set up by the Board.

Okay, am I wrong in thinking that the NEBE should not announce these things exclusively through a government newspaper? It just seems so … retardedly bias. By the way, they were supposed to announce it on Friday… but make room for ye abesha qeTero… even when it comes to the important matter of governing the nation… “Qoi mn aschekoleh…?”

The complaint investigating team asked additional evidences for 29 complaints
lodged by the political parties on elections in Amhara, South Ethiopia and Afar

One can get old waiting for the ENA to say something of substance without making one want to pulls out one’s nails.

Among the 187 appeals presented by the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD),
some 80 would be investigated, while additional evidences were required on 29 complaints.

The team also said investigations would be carried out on 14 of
the 43 complaints lodged by the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front

Oh, yes… I forgot to tell you… the EPRDF has accused the opposition of rigging votes.

Out of the 149 complaints submitted by the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces
(UEDF) some 40 have met the requirement to be investigated, according to the

Among 127 complaints presented in the Amhara State, some 34 merited
investigations, while 61 of the 142 complaints presented in South Ethiopia
Peoples' State have fulfilled the investigation requirement, according to the
team.Additional evidences were required on seven complaints presented in South
Ethiopia State, it added.

I have no idea what that last part means… someone ‘splain to me.
My son’s up from his nap (note to self: more vodka in his milk next time.) Gotta run. We’ll see what this all means next time…

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Prelude to a Kiss of Death

As the EPRDF’s distinct brand of oafishness continues to metastasize faster than Bill Clinton can say “what blue dress?”, I have found myself contemplatively entertaining whimsical thoughts. For example, yesterday, as I artfully cut off annoying little convertibles on Highway 80, I thought, “who could play Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in the movie version of ET Terminator: The Unraveling of an Evil Commie Vyborg? Who has shifty, beady eyes? No, who has shifty, beady eyes whose lids don’t flutter when they look in the camera and proclaim (with gauche grandeur) “We can’t turn back from democracy?” Who? Which thespian can carry off the kind of impudence needed to say, “We are preserving law and order” when talking about a massacre? Hmm… is Mengistu Hailemariam doin’ anything these days?

Okay, so take out your calendars and let’s track down what’s been happening.

Friday, June 10th

After a week of deluging “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” type terror throughout Ethiopia, the EPRDF drags itself to a meeting with international observers and the opposition parties to sign a non-violence treaty. Ah. They finally came to their senses, we all thought. Either that or Bereket Simon got his shrink to refill his Lithium prescription.

The ruling party and the two main opposition groups signed a two-page document on Friday in front of diplomats pledging to condemn all violence and exercise restraint.

Phew. Okay, people move along… nothing more to see.

One hitch…

The difficult-to-please opposition, can’t take those folk out anywhere nice, I tell ya, decide to put in some kind of “precondition” to a perfectly good treaty condemning all violence. Their “precondition”? Something namby-pamby like “the current violence should stop.”

What? What? What is wrong with these people? Since when does violence need to stop before one signs a non-violence treaty! Oo-oo tayE! Ay ye temare ygdelegN! They know nothing.

So the EPRDF signs this treaty, knowing that there was some, um, preconditions. Namely, it can’t keep on killing people.

Well that makes no sense. No sense at all. But, the two parties sign the damn thing before the EU mediators have a slight brain concussion brought along by babysitting all these fellers.

The world sighed with relief… so, back to more important stuff… is Angelina Jolie a home-wrecker?

Saturday, June 11th

On Saturday, the EPRDF decided to celebrate the signing of the peace treaty in a very special way: by playing itself in “Short Attention Span Theater”:

AP… ?

Two Ethiopian opposition leaders were placed under arrest Saturday, a day after the ruling party agreed to work with its foes to end violent protests that have left 29 dead.

You’re shittin’ me. Your'e not shittin' me?

The leader of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy, Hailu Shawel, and a senior official in the party, Lidetu Ayalew, have not been allowed to leave their homes by police, said coalition vice chairman Berhanu Nega.

"Nobody can go in and nobody can leave," said Berhanu. "We are extremely concerned about what is going to happen next."

Arresting the very leaders with whom you just signed a peace treaty? Yep, sounds about right to me. Where’s the confusion? Oh, I see where you are confused. You see, the opposition, in its haste to act all “Oh we love peace”, forgot to read the fine print of the treaty. Sure the fine print was written on the Prime Minister’s palm with a ballpoint pen, but still. And isn’t it the opposition’s duty to read all fine prints, wherever they may be? How the hell do these guys expect to lead a damn nation?

So here’s what I think happened: the treaty must not have stipulated that “no violence” means that you don’t have to not take the leaders of the opposition party prisoners. You see, that’s why you should read all non-violent treaties carefully. You just never know.

So, yes. Ato Hailu and Ato Lidetu… house arrest. It all makes sense when you adjust the dunce cap, doesn’t it?

Wait-wait-wait. No way! C'est impossible! Not even the EPRDF would put hunk-o-burnin’ love Ato Lidetu and tall-dark and-handsome-if-you-are into-that-kinda-thing CUD leaders under house arrest the day after it signs a peace treaty! Impossible, I tell, you.

Can someone please send journalists to Ato Hailu’s house and dispel these rumors? BBC, you have any journalists floating about?

Journalists who went to Mr Hailu's home were beaten by police with fists and clubs and had their cameras confiscated, witnesses said.

Holy mother of Jesus! Did the Ethiopian government just arrest its main opposition after signing a non-violence treaty? I mean, could we have waited until the ink dried? No? We couldn’t? Hm? I guess we couldn't. We you gotta arrest your oponents, you gotta arrest your oponents.

So, maybe both the Prime Minister’s and Ato Bereket’s AADD must have started to kick in. Ordering murder does that to one. Well then, the solution is simple: all that’s really needed is a Ridlin refill and everything will be a-okay. In the meantime, we should probably ask someone in the government why the house arrests? Who should we ask? Oh, geezuz … they’re parading around Bereket again! Oh, for the love of insane asylums…. Okaaay, Mr. Bereket. Whachoo gonna say?

Hailu's coalition is "once again showing us their commitment to violence and the government will not shy away from ensuring the peace and security of the country, that is why we have taken these steps," the Information Minister said.

Well, so much for thinking outside the box.

Maybe the Information Minister has a point. Nothing shows one’s commitment to violence than signing a non-violence treaty just one day earlier. (And aren’t we glad that the Ethiopian gov’ment isn’t “shy” about gun totting? The EPRDF is a lot of things… but shy about murder ain’t one of it.)

Ooookay. Maybe we need to put a “stat” on that Ridlin prescription.

And… then, and then, after showing this… this commitment to violence, the opposition doesn’t have the decency to shut its trap:

After signing the peace agreement, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy accused the ruling party of continuing to arrest its supporters and said the deal was "not worth the paper it is written on".

Well, guess who didn’t read the fine print on that treaty, Mr. & Mrs. Smarty Pants Opposition people? Today’s non-violent treaties… very, um, open-ended… sort of like the Walwal thinggy… friendship… protectorate… Doesn’t anyone know history these days? (Ooooo, that Genet Zewdie!)

And so, Saturday passed with Ato Hailu boarded up with his wife and his maid.

Sunday, June 12th

The CUD, maybe having gone to church and wrangled with God, came to its senses and realized the error of its ways. It decided to lift whatever harebrained “preconditions” it had demanded for no known reason. Oh, joy.

The Coalition for Unity and Democracy, or CUD, Sunday said it "unequivocally" accepts the terms of Friday's deal with Ethiopia's ruling party.

Wait, I forgot already. What was the pact for?

The pact was negotiated in an effort to stop recent violence sparked by last month's election results.

Oh, yeah. That!

CUD even seemed to be rescinding its blustery “not worth the piece of paper it’s written on” proclamation.

The CUD would like to once more unequivocally and without reservations declare that it accepts all the provisions of the Declaration it signed on 10 June 2005. It further undertakes to implement forthwith the provisions of the agreement.

Ohh… don’t try niceties with us now, CUD! What about those… those outrageous preconditions? Huh? Huh? CUD… lemme ask you this: why don’t you be like EPRDF’s democracy and mature! Now, speak!

It is to be remembered that the Ministry of Information announced CUD is "out" of the Declaration saying it has "put preconditions".

In signing the Declaration, the CUD nowhere put any reservations or conditions or equivocation to its adherence to the spirit and letter of the Declaration. The Declaration in fact is a final and binding document on the signatories.

During a presentation after having signed the Declaration, CUD pointed out that the existence of a peaceful enabling environment is a sine qua non for effective implementation of the Declaration. CUD pointed out that harassment of the leaders and functionaries of any of the signatories would render it impossible to implement the Declaration.

Oh… what-ev’r! Pointing out… precondition… same thing. Now go back to your house. And take your Latin phrases with you! And don’t be waving at no reporters through your gate! Shhheeeessh. The EPRDF, out of the goodness of its heart, offers you democracy and you want to sully it with a… a… seedy, seamy… sordid “pointing out” that your leaders and functionaries should not be harassed? Why I outta…

BBC…? You have something else to add?

Friday's EU-brokered agreement - signed by both the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and the two main opposition coalitions - broke down when the opposition alleged the government could not be trusted - though it later withdrew the comments.

Still not good ‘nuff. They “pointed out” already. And once you “point out” buddy, ferggedabouddid!

Inn'nilectual scud stud Berhanu Nega… perhaps you can grovel some more?

We have stated that we will abide by that agreement, but in order to implement it our members have to be released and our leadership allowed to move around, otherwise we cannot function," said Berhanu Nega, the coalition's vice-chairman.

In the prudent words of Mensa president Paris Hilton, “That’s hot.”

I am fast losing faith in the opposition. What does their leaders and members being under house arrest have to do with a… with a peace treaty? Read the treaty, CUD. Promising to abide by a vow of non-violence and pledging to resolve matters peaceably is one thing… randomly rounding up your people… quite another. Don’t try that making sense thing with us!

And so, Sunday passes with Ato Hailu boarded up with his wife and his maid.


Okay. It’s Monday. All pharmacies are back open so things should be better. The CUD has given some obsequious mea culpa, the Prime Minister’s doctor has kicked up the Paxil prescription, Ato Bereket just spent the evening playing “Grand Theft Auto”… everything will be alright. In fact, the PM Meles is due to speak on national TV. (… if Denzel Washington shaved his head and grew an obnoxious goatee,.. could he…no? Okay.)

So, everyone’s calm. Let’s put an end to the boys-will-be-boys joshing and get back to sorting out the votes… Mr. & Mrs. EPRDF…? Show the world how Albanian Marxists do “gracious accepting of mea culpas”…

Ethiopia's government rejected an opposition offer to resume a peace deal Monday, saying it must do more to save the agreement aimed at ending a week of political violence that left 36 dead.

Uhhh. Noooo… not that kind of graciousness, EPRDF. I meant the kind where you agree to get back to taking seriously the fate of 71 million people. Sorry, I should have been clearer.

You have the floor again, EPRDF. AP, let these good folks speak.

(AP guy... "Wo-ho... setiyo... aygebasim indayE?")

Ethiopian Government Rejects Opposition Offer!

Well this ain’t purrdy.

The ruling party and the two main opposition groups signed a two-page document Friday in front of diplomats pledging to condemn all violence and exercise restraint. Then the government began arresting opposition leaders, prompting them to call the nonviolence deal meaningless.

Okay folks. I can deal with the degradation of the ozone layer. I’ll even tolerate global warming. But a world that considers arresting your opponents the opposite of “exercising restraint”? That’s a world I don’t want to live in.

You… in the back. Yes, you. You flailing your arms around. I assume you have something to say? Oh, you’re from the BBC. (That’s always trouble.) Whaadoyouwant?

What do you mean that the government was not just arresting the leaders and functionaries of the opposition?

More than 3,000 people have been arrested in Ethiopia, since disputed elections last month, human rights workers say.

The arrests have intensified since protests were violently suppressed last week, said an official with the Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO).

Yeeah. And? What’s your point?

The ruling party and the two main opposition groups signed a two-page document Friday in front of diplomats pledging to condemn all violence and exercise restraint.

What does that have to do with anything? What does arresting 3000 people have to do with honoring the spirit of non-violence? Two separate things. Sit down.

And by the way, just so we clear this up… all that bellyaching by the CUD about “ohhh… poor me… the government has put my leaders under house arrest… nga….nga…nga..” Not true! Lies. All of them.

The government denies having placed under house arrest the main opposition leader and another senior official, saying that some opposition figures had been put under surveillance as a precautionary measure.

There you go. All the soldiers outside Ato Hailu Shawel’s house were… there just admiring his garden. Oh look… he has rose bushes. Thuggish soldiers sure love them roses. And what’s wrong with that? Besides… it’s a nice house and someone needs to protect it. So, you’re welcome, CUD.

And every one, shame on you for thinking that the EPRDF, having spent 14 years wooing the world with its progressiveness, would ever sink so low as to hold its opponents against their will. It was all it could do to place them under, um, under surveillance. And that just as a, um, precautionary measure.

And the only reason it even did that was because… Mr. Information Minister…?

“Immediately after the rejection of the agreement, the government observed new activities from CUD aimed at inciting more violence," he said.

See, immediately! Ayasarifachew lenegeru CUD-wechin. MequneTneT limadachew.

Oh. What were the activities that the government sensed were a clear indication that the opposition was stirring up violence?

Well, the most egregious one of all… er… was holing up in your house with your wife and maid! It’s a well-known tactic used to incite violence. Ethiopia’s maturing democracy is on to you, you peace-hating, war-drum beating opposition!

But back to the case at hand… Now that it is clear that the opposition loves violence more that it loves house arrests, can we blame the government (which, by the way, is very busy arresting 3000 people… it has no time for this kinda crap) for rejecting the proposal to resume the peace talks … peace talks torpedoed, by the way, by the opposition’s “pre conditions”? Nope.

Just as a reminder:

Ethiopia's government rejected an opposition offer to resume a peace deal Monday, saying it must do more to save the agreement aimed at ending a week of political violence that left 36 dead.

Lessi now… the opposition did a total mea culpa… withdrew its “preconditions”… swore on a stack on bibles not to resort to any kind of ugly “pointing out” of facts… what more can it do? I dunno. It just can do more, alright?

Well, good thing that the EPRDF’s magnanimity knows no bounds. Let’s hear it one last time:

… [T]he opposition must take further steps to save the agreement aimed at ending political violence that left 36 dead.

You see? If it were any, any other government it would not have stood for this kind of disrespect… back talking about not arresting opponents! That’s what governments do, or is the CUD new at this game?

Oh, EPRDF… you possess the last heart golden given to Marxists. But tell ‘em that even your generosity of spirit has its limits.

"They have missed the boat because during the signing they attached preconditions to the agreement," [Baghdad Bereket] said. "What they are saying does not go far enough."

Yep! Really. What kind of half-assed, “non-commitment” commitment is “unequivocally and without reservations declare that it accepts all the provisions of the Declaration” anniwayyy? We all know what that means. Yes we do.

But… there is no room for hate in Ato Bereket’s heart.

Bereket, though, said on Monday the [opposition] parties must meet three criteria before the government will accept their commitment to the pact.

And there you have it. See what a little Ridlin, a little shoot ‘em up does to recalibrate ones sense of compromise? Enlighten us, oh, noble Information Minister/EPRDF spokesperson. (Seriously, am I the only one who thinks that Bereket’s dual role is so… frighteningly creepy?) You were enlightening us, Ato Bereket?

"We would like them to announce they attached preconditions and that was wrong," Bereket added. "They shifted the blame to us by saying we have misinterpreted them, but they are just playing with words. They need to announce it was their mistake and we have not misinterpreted them."

Take a quick sec to read that again. Yes, that is the country’s information minister.

Seriously, if you down half a bottle of any 90-proof liquor in quick succession that statement will start making sense. I swear to you! Go get yourself some libation.

Unfortunately, I’m sober now so I have to break it down manually…

“We would like them to announce they attached preconditions and that was wrong” … means… “I know you muttered something under your breath as you signed the paper…and that is a precondition. You should have held your breath.”

“They shifted the blame to us by saying we have misinterpreted them”… means… “Why are they trying to blame the EPRDF for the deaths when we know that guns don’t kill people? People who deliberately run in the way of bullets kill people.”

“…but they are just playing with words” … means… well, when Ato Bereket says that someone is “playing with words” then… shoot! All linguists take cover!

“They need to announce it was their mistake and we have not misinterpreted them”… means… “All we accused them of was trying to start an ethnic cleansing... harmless banter, really. That does not warrant their fancy-schmancy, viscous word calisthenics about us being, y’know, untrustworthy. That was an assault on our integrity. Now, come with us.”


So enough shit must have hit the US State Department’s fan ‘coz it wasn’t taking it anymore. By Monday afternoon:

The United States condemns the violence and unnecessary use of excessive force in the continuing election-related violence in Ethiopia. We extend our deepest sympathies to the families of those who have died. Reports of numerous arrests and detentions have increased tensions. We urge the government to respect the rule of law, international principles of human rights, and due process with regard to those arrested or detained. The United States looks to the opposition parties to abide by the rule of law, to respect their commitment to end the violence, and to ask their followers to remain calm.

Uh-oh. Somebody pissed off the big guy. Shhhhh.

The United States commends the signing of the June 10 Joint Declaration… the parties should abide by their commitment to the agreement without condition. We expect the parties to resolve electoral complaints through the established legal electoral mechanisms.

Take out your diplo-speak decoder: what that means is, “Yo, EPRDF! Get ‘cho crazy-ass, word-parsing, logic-twisting, unbearably qebaTari-qbTrTr self back to the negotiating table! And oh, by the way, put a cork in it!”

(Diplo-speak decoder… $19.99…

And so, another night Ato Engineer Hailu Shawel has to … he’s probably not a happy camper right about now surrounded by all that estrogen.

Tuesday, June 14

Ethiopian political leaders have signed a declaration renewing a deal to try to end violence and launch an investigation into election complaints.


But wait… what of poor Ato Engineer Shawel Hailu? Has he drowned in estrogen? Has marathon ye mender gossip driven him to madness? (Isn’t that every guy’s nightmare, by the way… three days in solitary with your wife?) Can someone check on Ato Hailu, please?

Ethiopia's main opposition leader was freed from house arrest on Tuesday after the country's main political parties agreed to work together for peace after 10 days of political unrest.

Hailu Shawel, the leader of the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), said he was told his house arrest was lifted after two days of talks mediated by the European Union (EU).

"This is a breakthrough and should now get the political process back on track," said European Commission ambassador Tim Clarke, who mediated the talks.

And I bet you that the first thing Ato Engineer Hailu did was watch the Tyson fight at CUD headquarters with a bunch of his buddies!

And his studmuffin-ness, Ato Lidetu? Anyone heard from him? EPRDF you know his whereabouts? He’s busy giving an interview to Eritrean TV? Noooo. What is he saying? What?! He’s saying “what stinkin’ agreement? Ain’t no agreement signed by no one!”

Well, at least according to the EPRDF. Walta Disinformation Center… I do believe you have the scoop…

In an interview aired on the Eritrea State Radio and Eritrea Television (ERI-TV), Lidetu Ayalew denied that agreement has been reached among the three parties neither concerning the post-election nor following the recent violence.

Lidetu said rather CUD has set preconditions for the implementation of the June 10 Joint Declaration agreeing to a process to investigate and resolve electoral complaints. It was impossible to implement any procedure on the post-election issues, and nothing different came out rather than distorted reports on the matter, Lidetu said.

Poor EPRDF. Surely, surely there is someone in the EPRDF Office of Bullshit who can come up with something better than that. I mean they have been lying to people for 14 years! You’d think they’d have gotten it done pat by now. By the way, where are the rest of the EPRDFers? How come we only hear from Crazy Bereket and Crazy Prime Minister anyway? Seriously? Where did they all go?? Unlessssssss… all “sane” EPRDF-ers are under house arrest lest they deign something rational? Or.. or.. or… maybe they have all defected to the opposition… Hmmmmmmmmmmmm?

So anyway! Wait. How did an Eritrean TV crew (from the State-owned TV station, by the way!) get press credentials in Ethiopia, waltz past all the thugs posted outside of Ato Lidetu’s house, set up a camera and interview a house-arrestee who was, um, under intense government surveillance? Unless … wait a minute. Is… did the EPRDF and the EPLF renew its friendship when we weren’t looking? Is that what’s happening? Are they back to having slumber parties at each other’s palaces? It must be if the EPRDF has its goons look away while Eri-TV chitchatted about the peace treaty with Ato Lidetu?

This is becoming too easy.

So the Prime Minister got himself on State-owned TV on Monday, and addressed the people for the first time since the killings of last week. There’s statesmanship for you… put the country under siege and then… disappear. Its leadership 101. In fact the Prime Minister’s first interview even addressing the past week was with Reuters, and that was on Friday--- five days after the bloodletting. Someone needs to re-consult his “Despot’s Guide to Good Etiquette” book. Now, if it was me, and I was an Albanian Marxist, and my troops killed 36 people… hmm… yeah. Maybe I’d not have the stomach to face the people either. Never mind!

So, anyway, what did our Prime Minister have to say? Any words of comfort… wait! How about if Christian Slater get a really, really deep tan, shave his head and… no? Doesn’t work? Okay.

Anyway, back to the Prime Minister’ TV appearance… and what words of comfort did he have for the grieving country? :

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi announced yesterday that the one month ban imposed on holding demonstrations and outdoor assemblies has been extended by a month.

Alrighty! Hello how are you, I’m fine thank you to you, too!

In a televised address he gave here, Meles said the extension of the ban was made to ensure the security of the people in a sustainable manner.

Here’s a wild conjecture on my part… you know what I think would “ensure the security of the people?” Not shooting at them. Can we try that this week and see how that goes?

He called on the security forces to discharge their responsibilities with patience and minimizing casualties.

Errrr… do the Prime Minister’s law enforcers have to be told to uphold the law? “Memo to security forcers: Try not to make me look like a deranged maniac. Thanks.”)

And then the Prime Minister remembered one more thing… Oh, yeah…

The government would like to express its deep felt sorrow over the loss of lives caused on compatriots, which he said was a result of the breach of the one-month ban imposed on holding demonstration.

Okay, I am so hoping that Walta Disinformation Center got it wrong and that our Prime Minister did not actually use the word “compatriots” when addressing the bereaved. Why not Comrades? Nahhh… I’m sure the Prime Minister said that he was pained by the loss of the lives of men, women and children.

Soooooo, what do you do when you have a city full of armed-to-the-teeth, trigger happy douche bags roaming around like maniacs? Well, you gotta give them something to do. They can only circle around Mesqel Square aiming their guns at people in groups of three for so long without getting into trouble.

Let’s see… what can we have them do? Oh, how about making sweeping arrests? That should occupy their time for a while. But.. who to arrest? Who would be perfect to randomly arrest?

Security forces have also continued to arrest large numbers of CUD supporters in the capital over the course of the past several days.

There you go. Who said the government is sluggish about creating jobs. Look at how many jail wardens you’ll need for this!

What else can the thugs do lest they find themselves bored with sweeping up CUD supporters?

They have also detained three investigators for the Ethiopian Human Rights Council, all of whom had been working to gather information about the continuing arrests.

Well, they have to occupy themselves somehow! There are so many CUD um, compatriots can you can possibly round up before it gets monotonous?

Okay, that’s taken care of the city. What about in the outskirts? How do macho government gangstas fight the ennui of a lackluster Sunday afternoon?

Police shot dead a newly-elected Ethiopian opposition lawmaker at the weekend in the first killing of a politician since disputed parliamentary polls last month, an opposition coalition said on Monday.

You see, variety is the spice of life. And political assassinations can keep an army very, very busy.

Beyene Petros, deputy leader of the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF), told Reuters that police opened fire at UEDF deputy Tesfaye Aden Jara in Arsi town 180 km (112 miles) southeast of Addis Ababa on Sunday and he had died overnight.

"Tesfaye and his friends were sitting and relaxing when police and opened fire, wounding Tesfaye and his friends," Petros said. "His relatives took him to Black Lion hospital in Addis Ababa where he died overnight."

Very… very busy.

So, it’s been an “Extreme Makeover” month for the EPRDF.

A month ago today it was the “progressive” darling of the donor world. It was the harbinger of democracy to a beleaguered nation.

Then it became a sometime authoritarian regime that’s on the wagon.

That quickly changed to “Godless commie, Meles is Capitalist on the outside, a Marxist in the inside” talk.

And now? Now it’s a schizophrenic, vote-rigging, killing machine.

Last week's outbreak of election violence and the deteriorating situation since also call into question the reliability of African leaders such as Ethiopia Prime Minister Meles Zenawi who have promised democracy and good governance in return for greater aid and debt relief.

The type of backsliding into old authoritarian ways seen last week in Ethiopia's capital could be an excuse for the world to turn its back on the continent once again, fearing any aid given now could be wasted like the money given to African dictators during the Cold War.

Summarize for us, please, AP…:

While U.S. presidents have praised Meles as a new kind of African leader and British Prime Minister Tony Blair appointed Meles to his Commission for Africa to help draft a blueprint for ending poverty and building democracy, at home his government has little tolerance for dissent and has been accused of severe human rights abuses.

What a short, strange trip it has been.

Listen up EPRDF. Lesson numero uno:

When, say, someone like poofy-haired-uber-freak-dwarf-tyrant Kim Jong Il kills people, the west wrings its hands and looks away. See, they say. That’s why the world needs democracy. It eliminates the number of poofy-haired-uber-freak-dwarf-tyrants in this world. If only he were one of us.

But when the west sees one of its own protégés acting like a poofy-haired-uber-freak-dwarf-tyrant, well, we gotz a problem. ‘Coz the one thing that just rankles donor nations is being confronted with pictures of dead kids who were shot at close range because they wanted to assemble peacefully. Especially when it is their buddy who ordered the shooting.

Last week, the EPRDF forgot that when one courts the world with the moniker “progressive democrat,” one can’t be seen shooting randomly at ones people and arresting one’s political opponents in the name of preserving a democracy. It’s just not done… publicly. When one does that, one pisses off one’s powerful friends who had proclaimed one “progressive.” And when one’s powerful friends get pissed off, one’s powerful friends get ready to drop kick one in the ass.

Tony Blair is right about now burning all the pictures he had ever taken with Prime Minister Meles. And in a way, the fact that Tony Blair has said nothing about his Africa Commission compatriot could be a rather ominous sign for Prime Minister Meles. Now, let’s not kid ourselves. It’s not like Mr. Blair didn’t know Mr. Meles’ human rights record all along. But there is a certain don’t-ask-don’t-tell gentleman’s agreement happening. Sadly, the standard for “good governance” for African leaders these days seems to be, “Who’s not exactly like Idi Amni? Oh, him. We’ll take him. Hey, you. Wanna be friends? I have lots of money…?” Tony Blair feels duped, and Tony don’t play that… even though deep down he knew how creepy PM Meles was, he can’t be feeling great about this.

For a great piece assessing the past week in Addis Ababa, see this article in Media-Ethiopia.

The portrayal of the EPRDF as a murderous, out-of-control-usurper of democracy have already started to pop up. Its unconscionable behavior in the countryside are surfacing rapidly…

In the wake of last week's election-related protests, the Ethiopian government's crackdown on potential sources of unrest has spread throughout the country, Human Rights Watch said today. While international attention has focused on events in Addis Ababa, opposition members and students in other cities are increasingly at risk of arbitrary arrest and torture.

And then pictures of the atrocities will come to light. From progressive, to sometimes authoritarian, to godless commie to murderous villain… these are the final stages of the EPRDF’s miserable life. It blew forever the chance to be lorded as the party which gave Ethiopia it’s first peaceful transition of power. And soon, it will be so obvious to the world that the EPRDF is an unredeemably dishonorable outfit that even Tony Blair will not be able to stay quiet.

The situation of individuals detained in towns relatively far from the capital is of particular concern, as little is known about their total numbers, the reasons for their arrest or the conditions under which they are being held. Local officials in many towns have cast a very wide net, arbitrarily detaining individuals they suspect of being sympathetic to last week's demonstrations. Most of these detainees are locally prominent CUD members and students.

"Given the Ethiopian security forces' long record of detainee abuse, there is every reason to worry that those arrested are being mistreated," Gagnon said. "This is especially true for those who have been detained in towns far from the media spotlight that has focused on Addis Ababa in recent days."

The Ethiopian Human Rights Council has been chronicling the stories, and eventually they will all come out.

The arrests have intensified since protests were violently suppressed last week, said an official with EHRCO.

The EHCRO official, who wished to remain anonymous, told BBC News that they had not been given access to detention centres.

He said that EHCRO researcher Chernet Taddesse had been arrested when he tried to investigate.

But the stories won’t come out soon because a human rights outfit has no place in a Marxist democracy.

“As for the Ethiopian Human Rights Council,” Mr. Bereket says, “the EHRCO is an arm of the opposition, and its members will be arrested like anyone else if they are suspected of illegally aiding recent protests.

Ahh… utterances of a madman… so sweet to the ear.

So, there you go. That’s the summary of the last few days. And what does this all mean?

Well, the NEBE will today begin investigations into more than 300 complaints in the 547 constituencies.

And what that means is that this time the election brouhaha is going to be resolved under the watchful eye of the opposition, the EPRDF and those pesky international observers. And that, my friends, means trouble for the EPRDF. Now that the opposition has conned it into signing something that is binding, the EPRDF has to start acting like a grown up and suck it up. But it is not in the EPRDF’s nature to honor its word.

The EPRDF knows that if there is any wide-ranging fair counting of the votes, or heavens forbid, a Ukrainian-style “redo” of the elections (read this interesting piece on that concept on, the world will know that it has lost the general elections. Not only that it has lost the elections but that it knew it had lost the elections as far back as May 20 and it still decided to forge ahead with its debauchery. Even the EPRDF can’t delude itself into thinking that it won by a “landslide.” According to Blog God Dagmawi, the EPRDF has lost every single constituency where there was an international observer. So let’s say there is re-voting in only 200 of the 299 constituencies… the EPRDF is toast.

And with the behavior it exhibited this past week, guess who people will be voting for in case of a re-vote?

So what to do? The arrests will continue… there will be more killings… the opposition will never get on state-owned media to present its case (maybe the EU can work on making that happen)… and more stuff will be blamed on the opposition. Basically, anything to distract people from the issue of resolving the elections. It will find a way to get out of the treaty it signed.

What is sad is that the EPRDF will never let itself understand why it is reviled so much by the people. Remember how Mengistu kept saying how much the people love him? Yep. What is it about Marxists and their type of self aggrandizing psychosis?

Since it has come this far, treaty or no treaty, the EPRDF will not allow for re-voting of any significant breadth… What is going to be interesting is what excuses it will come up with to scrap the peace-treaty… lemme see… what have they tried before: blaming the opposition, maybe?… so a lot of that is going to happen. If that doesn’t work any “they didn’t dot the ‘i’” excuse will suffice.

Whatever honorable members there are in the EPRDF, maybe this might be the time to jump ship… hmmm?

There was one little phrase in a BBC story on Monday that was most fascinating:

Observers say there is still considerable tension, as the government decides whether it can live with the outcome of an election that has apparently left it with considerably reduced authority.


The EU has already started its displeasure at the way the votes were being counted, and the EPRDF has to find a way for there to not be a massive re-voting.

The EPRDF has absolutely zero incentive to keep its “progressive” mask on now. What does it have to prove? It has already unwittingly showed its real self to the world. It was bad enough when PM Meles had something to prove. But now that he has nothing to lose… God help Ethiopia.

How long before the opposition is accused of inciting an ethnic war and the non-violence pact is dissolved…? 3…2…1…

In memory of the first month of the 2005 Ethiopian Elections. May mothers never again have to bury their children.