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.

MONDAY, JUNE 12

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.”

Oh…m’gad.

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… amazon.com)

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.

Awwww!

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 Mediaethiopia.com), 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.

Fascinating!

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.

25 Comments:

Anonymous lisane wonqette said...

holllliiii crap, wonqiii... now *that's* what i call breakin it down for the l'il guy.

must we wait until july 8 for the resolution to mTSdeq? can't we do a wonyanne style "honwal, honwal new"??

5:43 PM, June 15, 2005  
Anonymous Yohannes said...

Damn. I don’t know whether to be buoyant or depressed. You said: >>> It was bad enough when PM Meles had something to prove. But now that he has nothing to lose… God help Ethiopia.<<< I guess Byte Revolutionaries still have our work cut out for us.

On the other hand, I read about what our, ehem, compatriots, in DC were able to accomplish.. so I’ll restrain myself and be in a state of temporary buyoancy. At least until your next blog.

Birtantun yistish.

8:39 PM, June 15, 2005  
Anonymous not Genet Zewdie said...

wonqqi...

oh``` my... god!!

7:09 AM, June 16, 2005  
Anonymous Mikael said...

wonqi,
can i marry you?
i'm in love with your
work.

8:23 AM, June 16, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

simply brilliant wonqette! ay chinklat :)!
God bless u dear!

8:26 AM, June 16, 2005  
Anonymous balabat said...

i am still trying to figure out how the tplf made the colossal mistake of killing students in front of cameras??? what did it think that was going to do for its reputation? one of your comment-givers (yetewenekketu?) mused about how savagery does not come in small doses. is that what happened here? that there so much "democracy" strongmen can take? God help ethiopia indeed.

8:59 AM, June 16, 2005  
Anonymous sosina said...

The machiavellian in me wants the EPRDF to find a way to prevent revoting and reneg on the pact. that way, Ethiopia will rid of these guys forever. not a trace of them will be left if they try staying in power by force. (armed thugs being overthrown by the ballot... schhhweeet!) but that will be the only way the international community will wash its hands off the eprdf. the opposition should keep to the diplomacy so as to not give tplf/eprdf any excuse (not that that will stop the meles cabal!)

i am a "bite me!" revolutionary... or "kiss my bole ass" revolutionary. personally i see light at the end of the tunnel.

9:13 AM, June 16, 2005  
Anonymous abebe besso lebesse said...

Wonqettegnoch,

The time for the "moderates" in the eprdf to say something was last week. If they say something now they will look like opportunists jumping off a sinking ship. But then again, what in the hell is a moderate in the eprdf?

9:47 AM, June 16, 2005  
Anonymous mozaza said...

Five sure ways to know your suffer a new mysterious affliction: Schizophrenia Democracia ..

a) beat up/imprision/kill journalists, opposition members and human rights advocates

b) shoot students

c) sign a pact "condemning violence and call for restraint" and then arrest your opponents

d) arrest 3000 people who you suspect don't like you shooting students

e) re-sign pact "condemning violence and call for restaint"

rinse and repeat.

10:57 AM, June 16, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the Year of Our Lord 2005
In the 7th Week of the Reign of ETtege Wonkitu

Besmab Wold Womenfess Qiduss.
In the name of God The Father, unbegotten, without beginning,
from whom is all beginning, and His Son Eyesus Kiristos,
begotten by the Father before the beginning of the world,
before all beginning.

I begin:

To The Queen
Your Honorable Right Majesty The Queen.
Ruler of The Boundless Space of WonkiTE.
She, Who Must Be Loved!

Behold, it is I, my Sun, my Queen! It is I, thy miserable servant, whose life’s mission is to sing thy praises as loudly as my dreary voice will carry across the boundless stretches of thy kingdom. I, and nobody but I, your no-good ashker, ashamed to breathe the same air that Her Signora is
a-breathing. Me! Thy worthless subject, undeserving to fall FACE FIRST on thy pedicured feet. Ouch!

I prostitute myself before thee, er, PROSTRATE myself before thee, my Sun, my Queen! I fear that I might give thee great annoyance, but there is a matter of utmost gravity I, your ignoramus slave, unacquainted with proper protocol dare ask Your Royal Highness:

How is it that thy lips giveth forth the sweet juices of wit and wisdom, and good judgment floweth from thy quill, but in your infinite wisdom thou hath decideth to take thy Royal ass on the road at a time like this?

Oh, Your Benevolence! My Sun, my Queen! Who to guard the gates of the Great Lands of WonkiTE in your absence? Who to do battle with the nemesis while Your Magnificence is sashaying down the Interstate chillin’ and everything while we, your wretched servants, are chillin’ and everything in detention centers across the land? Not that we complain, your Highness. Me personally, I’d have preferred Langano, but given the circumstances, Ziway will do for now.

My Sun, my Queen! I, and nobody but I, a sinner, a motherf----ing sinner, pray that the Lord dunk thee in a flood of Holy Spirit so from thy Royal Heart shall issue forth judicious reasoning. I, an unlettered man of no consequence entreat thee, Oh Exalted One, to reconsider thy decision to abscond.

In closing, ma’am, I, your wretched soul lead those other wretched souls, all 3000 of them in wishing thee well from Ziway,DC (Detention Center):

“Alrighty then, Wretched Souls! On a count of three! 1 . .2 . .and 3!”
“Ta----ke me out to the ball-game, take me out to . . !”
“No, no, no, no! On a count of three we go ‘Loooong Live The Queeeeen!' Just repeat after me. Okay . .1 . .2 . .and 3! Looong Live the Queeeen!”

“Looong Live the Queeeen!”
“Kiss my Bole-ass!”
“Kiss my Bole-ass!”


I, your humble Scribe, who WILL kiss your Bole-ass
Yeneta MenTeqo
From Ziway


Cc: Ato Hailu’s maid

11:57 AM, June 16, 2005  
Anonymous wana tewenkach said...

hey there,

any chick who's writing can accomodate oo-oo-tayE with a grateful dead reference is okay by me.

let me know if you ever leave your husband.

1:50 PM, June 16, 2005  
Anonymous mamo begebeya said...

won-Q-ayte,
benatish, babatish, bagotish, bakistish, be uncle al amoudi, lileminish. Please make the posts a little bit shorter. You write so beautifully. BUT I can never finish the posts because after reading a few pages, something else always comes up. It is either the serategna to say berbere alqual, or somethin'.

Yaw engidih, after the requisite chigir-talking, I want to thank you for your passion. I normally dismiss cyber arbegnoch because at least our idiotic leaders (all politicans) are here doing whatever shitty thing they can do best. Yes, I just gave the fuckers credit for being here to shoot people. This is what happens after being numbed by incredibly low expectations.

I like the renewed interest the younger diaspora-ns have developed these days. I hope it will not just be ke ruQ hono metereb. I hope y'all buy kevlar vests and join the rest of us.

ke akbriot gar,
ke 'hugs' to the anyonymous who reminded me to count my asses and not genet zewde,

mammo begebeya

p.s. I'll explain why I didn't vote next time.

10:47 AM, June 17, 2005  
Anonymous zilzil said...

mamo:
are you holed up in your house with your wife and maid as well?

4:53 PM, June 17, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mamo begebeya,

koy koy, what else are you getting other than berbere alqual from your serategna? "somethin'"? hmmm
you hear that not genet zewdie?

anyways, you don't have to explain why you didn't vote - you're right it's always easy to blaber from thousands of miles away - as far as we can be, from the little town on planet cyber space called Wonkiville - I guess for now, we're just happy we've our safe haven in Wonki - we love our queen!!

8:30 PM, June 17, 2005  
Anonymous Fitawrarri MeTbesha said...

Wonqqyelesh,

Please do not lsiten to mamo begebeya. the length is temechi, yemimech. after reading you, i don't need to check out other sites that ping-pong low brow insults. Tttttgb biye, affEn aTaTimE, you send me on my way. So, don't listen to anyone who tells you that size doesn't matter. we all know the only people who say that are those with .. shortcomings?

I agree that the time for whatever moderates in the TPLF to havve said anything has passed. As much as I was for the eprdf to have one last term, that accomodation spirit in me ended last week. What amazes me still is the people who defend this govenment wholly. Not even a "what they did was wrong but i support them" to be found anywhere. Like you said, we will remember.

By the way, WonnqqiTiye... wede qum negeru inamra inna... is there room to be a wonWeTTe-wushimma?

Please let me know.

akbarish,

Fitawrarri MeTbesha

12:40 PM, June 18, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MeTbesha? Mnew lijE, kalTteffa sim? Ere “anonymous” yishal neber!

Anyway, Fitawrari . . . .

Mamo’s plea for shorter posts strikes a responsive chord with me. Sure, Wonq remains compulsory reading for self-respecting ET adults thruout her fara-free domain, but the word on the street is that “short and sweet” would NOT take away one darn thing from the incredible sense of wit that underlies her writing; that perfect blending of substance and seductive charm that’s become her trademark.

You wrote: “Ttttgb biye, affEn aTatimE you send me on my way. So, . .size doesn’t matter.” But, of course, Fitawrari, size doesn’t matter in the context that you have it. When it’s the MOUTH that’s involved.

2:21 PM, June 18, 2005  
Anonymous not Genet Zewdie said...

anonymous!
No... you... didn'!!! did you just... atadergewumma!

i agree... size matters... the bigger the better.. Wonqqi... don't cut ne'ether a word, lijE... we women know.

yancheew,
ehetish.

10:00 PM, June 18, 2005  
Anonymous semm 'n werq said...

anon (the one with the size issues)

fitawrarri meTbesha... fitawrarri meshesha... gedd-id?

where is the sign-up sheet for wonqilat wushimmaz?

6:17 AM, June 19, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

not genet zewdie,

you urge our Wonq not to cut another word, because you believe that "bigger is better."

I say, a short post, ehem, can be just as stirring if it’s got meat and is fleshed out nicely.

12:17 PM, June 19, 2005  
Blogger Folly said...

To Anonymous,

I am here. Looking for you. And where do I find you? Face down on the ground, gazing adoringly at Her Majesty’s perfectly pedicured Toe! Well now, the gods have seen it fit to make my job a tad easier. For, had you been gazing adoringly at Her Supreme Source of Wisdom’s lips, even Kidus Gabriel himself enticing you with a free pass through the Gates of Heaven would have stirred not a single strand of hair on you – let alone a dimwit like me. God, in his infinite wisdom, has created the Toe, that hard to beautify protrusion, as the backdoor for every aspiring insurgent and subversive. Mind you, the Toe exists not because God particularly cares for insubordination, but because His entire Universe depends on that critical element, Change. And the Toe, I submit to you, is the backdoor to Change. A prime example: You and your 3000 friends are chillin’ in Zwai because his Excellency the PM’s Toe won a major argument against his Commission-conscious Reason. How is that for uneducated illogic?

Back to me. Yes, a dimwit and a corrupt one at that. Do you know what I have taken to lately? Speeding faster than her Majesty’s excursions down highway 80, right past Her Majesty’s sublime analysis and dispensations of wisdom (Blasphemy!), only to arrive breathless at responses posted to Her magnificent examination of the issues, in the hope of finding You. There you have it, the very depth of depravity. But then, to be fair, and in defense of my poor state of being, the sublime analysis of Her Learned Brightness is very much wasted on a toad like me. You see, my feeble mind has gotten religion, thanks to Her Supreme Light. I know and chant the basics – EPDRF = Very, very BAD. Opposition = Maybe Good, Maybe Bad, Maybe maybe. And that’s about all this oaf can appreciate. Surely, you now must at least feel sorry for me? And I will gleefully take sorry, as it is a small distraction from you fixation on the Supreme Toe.
More about me. I am Fat (three square meals and two to three snacks, depending on the proximity of a vending machine). I am Lazy (Enate t’mut, to the very bone). I am Rich (really, I am). I am a Naturalized American (nuff said). And I don’t Care (Not even about you, my dear Anon – don’t mean I don’t want you, now..).

Whhhhaaatt! You say, “A Fat, Lazy, Careless, Fake American, trying to entice me away from My Sun, My Queen!! Folly!! Absolute Madness!!”. Yes, dear, Folly is my first, middle, and last name. Folly F. Folly, here to plant a tiny stem cell of Fara malignancy in the Wonder-la-la-land of Wonk. Leaves one speechless don’t it, the audacity of it all, enough to make one see Fuschia! It is all very simple really. You see, the key to Opposition is not substance, but Contrast. Herein lies the essence of folly, my true nature. I am too feeble of mind and character to outshine the Reason of Her Learned Brightness, but I can be Different and I can be what you WANT me to be.

Was it not Erasmus who wrote, “By Stoic definition, wisdom means nothing else but being ruled by reason; and folly, by contrast, is being swayed by the dictates of the passions. So Jupiter, not wanting Man’s life to be wholly gloomy and grim, has bestowed far more passion than reason – you could reckon the ratio is twenty-four to one.”? Do you not begin to see, my dear Anon, my clear advantage? Me suspects, your days of Toe worshiping are numbered. As Erasmus puts it, Reason (aka Her Learned Brightness) is confined to a cramped corner of your head, while I, rule over the rest of your body, right down to your crown jewels. How long then, my dear Anon, before you tire of Her Majesty’s repeated formulae of virtue, and exhausted by the call of careless, wanton existence, you bid your Sun, the Queen, to go hang herself?

1:20 PM, June 19, 2005  
Anonymous not Genet Zewdie said...

However well you try to stir matters with a short eh, stump speech, can never reach deep and rouse the heart of the matter. To do that, one must delve in and out with a longer reach, caressing each point with finesse, bie negn.

1:36 AM, June 20, 2005  
Anonymous lisane wonqette said...

perhaps anonymous and not genet zewdie would like to get an albayrgo?

8:35 AM, June 20, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a politically charged blog! Please take your erotic fantasy somewhere else!

11:07 AM, June 20, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ya, ya, ya! we know, we know! ET politics! It's all good. But ET-politics with a little side-bar is even better.
not genet zewdie, don't listen to this other anonymous lijE, a party pooper!

1:12 PM, June 20, 2005  
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