Monday, June 06, 2005

Premature Evaluation: A Recurring Theme.

Oh, man! Final decision of the elections have been delayed another month—a fact which has distressed no one more than my husband who was hoping that my ET Wonkette-ary would be a passing fancy (much like squash league) and life would resume back to “happy-shiny-people” status.

Whatever happens after now, it is safe to assume that Ethiopia will never be the same again. If the EPRDF retains power it’s with the understanding that it has been irreparably damaged. And if the opposition wins… we’ll have five years of Ato Engineer Hailu Shawel’s “let the NGOs do it!” domestic policy. Fun, fun, fun! Maybe we can have an interactive list going here… list of things we want the opposition to do if it gets to form a gu’v’ment.

But I have bigger fish to fry…

So, for a cat who just lost his seat in parliament, Ato Bereket Simon has been unusually chirpy these days—a sign of either delusion or dementia, or, delusionary dementia… let’s take a poll. Oh, Baghdad Bob, you amuse us so. By the way, only a tirazz neTeqq organization like the EPRDF would think that the Information Minister of the country also serving as its party spokesperson bears no conflict. It’s soooo … progressive… they save on HR costs, I guess. (By the Way Part II—Ato Bereket’s constituency is in the Amhara district of Bugna—you see? Who said the EPRDF wasn’t multi-ethnic?) Anyway, no wonder he’s chirpy… he might have lost his parliamentary seat, but he still has a couple of jobs… plus who knows what EFFORT company he is running!

Lucky for us, glaring inconsistencies don’t intimidate the EPRDF. After all, this is a government so ballsy as to support China’s anti-secession law.


Ethiopia's parliament fully supports China's adoption of the Anti-Secession Law, which is intended to prevent Taiwan's secession from China, Speaker of the Council of People's Representatives of Ethiopia, Ato Dawit Yohannes, said Wednesday.

Eeeeeyaw’za! Too bad Ato Dawit, a little bit of terrific that he is, wasn’t there to support the same thing when it came to that memory we call Ertra and its subsequent succession from Ethiopia. Oh, wait—what to do about that pesky Article 39 of the Ethiopian Constitution: “Every nation, nationality or people in Ethiopia shall have the unrestricted right to self determination up to secession.”

Now, now. Let’s not confuse each other with facts, please. Not now.

But like I said, I have bigger fish to fry.

A suggestion to the EPRDF from an amateur wonkette: give Ato Bereket a “huge promotion” and make him Chairman of … let’s say… the Office of Inter-Ministerial Liaisonships and Pre-Protocol Ambassadorial… Thinggys. (Those of you in the corporate world know that when they make you “chairman”? … might wanna start selling your stock. You’re toast.) Give him a big office, a huge computer and keep him busy with stuff so that he won’t have time to spit out the first incomprehensible thing that sprouts in his mind.

I wanted to chronicle the EPRDF’s… um, what is it called when men reach the culmination of pleasure a little too early? Here’s a little chronology I have managed to piece together… correct me if I’m wrong (all emphasis mine):

The Ethiopian Elections were held on Sunday, May 15. On Tuesday, May 17, fresh off polishing his crystal ball, Baghdad Bereket was quoted as saying:

We have the majority. We can't give exact figures but we have won more than 300 seats.

Aha. It would have been nice if the counting of the ballots had ended before Ato Bereket came up with that weirdly vague proclamation, but, as they say in Venice Beach, what-ev’r!

Mr. Engineer Hailu Shawel, your reaction, sil vous plait?

If they have won fairly and squarely I have no problem with that, but the counting is not even over yet. It is still too early to call.

Too early?? How long does he think it takes to count 26 million votes?

The EPRDF, new to this Democracy thing, must have forgotten that when a nation votes, the votes need to be actually, what do you call it, counted before one claims victory. But, it happens to every man—or so I am told.

So, counting had to be done and counting continued

Counting is going smoothly," Bereket said. "We are not blocking anything, everything is being counted and the time schedule is normal.

By May 21, according to Xinhuanet, the NEBE had gotten the official results for 36 constituencies—19 of them from Addis Ababa and the 17 from other parts of Ethiopia… 17! Out of the 547 constituencies (including Somali region.)

Yet… NEBE official Ato Mekonnen Wondimu… you have something to say?

[Mekonnen] said the ruling party is getting enough seats in the parliament to form the next government of the country.

After “officially” announcing 34 of the 547 constituencies, the NEBE, which is “responsible for the administration, conduct and supervision of all elections in Ethiopia” just declared the EPRDF a winner?


He said that 524 constituencies' electoral offices nationwide, except the Somali region, are posting results at the constituencies' level, starting from Saturday. "It takes time to bring those results to the NEBE headquarters in Addis Ababa. They are on their way to deliver their results to the board. In the coming days the board will continue to post results received from the constituencies," Mekonen said.

But… so, why did you say that the EPRDF had won?

I blame former “Ms.” Education Minister Genet Zewdie and her cockamamie “new math” curriculum for this saga. (Does anyone know what her new venture will be now that she’s done dumbing down the youth of Ethiopia?)

Meanwhile, also on May 21, Ato Bereket, not one known for subtlety, asserted:

I assure you again that we won over 300 seats in the parliament. We have evidences on that. As it was witnessed by the observers and the public at large, the election was fair and democratic. We are proud to conduct such elections in the country's history.

We have “evidences on that”?? Grammatical inaccuracies aside, that was one darn confident swagger…

… But then again Clinton, patriarch of inappropriate spillage, did wave his finger to assure us that he had “no sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.”

Um, okay, EPRDF, maybe you shouldn’t give Ato Bereket such a big office-- maybe a medium-ish office. At least until he stops saying “evidences on that.”

But before he moved on to pour over his thesaurus Ato Bereket managed to shoot off one more round of “economical truth.”

He also said frauds have been committed by the opposition in Addis Ababa and other regions of the country.

"We have evidences about this case. We would take the case to NEBE and to the court. But the opposition parties are accusing the EPRDF for the victory. It is baseless allegation which is not confirmed by EU and other observers," Bereket added.

Again with the evidences! How many are there? And what the hell does “But the opposition parties are accusing the EPRDF for the victory” mean?

Okay, EPRDF, maybe you should plunk Ato Bereket in a cubicle and call it a day because he is not representing you well. Really, he’s not. Surely you have someone who can… yerasachiu gudaye!

On May 24, Ato Bereket must have woken up on the wrong side of his bed because all of a sudden he’s grumpy and belligerent:

Ethiopian Information Minister Bereket Simon reiterated the ruling party's promise to clamp down on post-election violence or disobedience.

"Nothing can hold back the EPRDF from forming the next government," he said. "It should be known to all that defying the verdict of the people will not be accepted."

Huh? Who plucked your feathers and made a pillow, bud? The count… remember? We have to wait for the… oh, never mind. Maybe Ato Bereket went on an “evidences gathering” voyage that sadly ended up a bad acid trip. He’s moody.

Going back to his quote of May 21…

"But the opposition parties are accusing the EPRDF for the victory. It is baseless allegation which is not confirmed by EU and other observers," Bereket added.

Too bad that the EU, on May 25, announced that:

The National Electoral Board does not seem to be in control of the counting operation by the constituency electoral committees and limits itself to passively receive the reports from a limited number of constituencies… Unless there is a "drastic reverse toward good democratic practice" the observer team and EU "will have to publicly denounce the situation." … “Otherwise, the EU jointly with ex-President Carter will be held largely responsible for the lack of transparency, and assumed rigging, of the elections."

Bummer.

But that did not faze Ato Bereket… stalwart defender of asresh michiews. May 28:

“The figure issued by the election board is a confirmation of the report we issued earlier," said Bereket Simon, the government information minister and EPRDF spokesman.


“The fact that the election board has come with the facts clearly reveals that the counting and tabulation of results has been done in a proper manner."

Wait, the EU that you happy quoted on May 21 just blasted the counting process, so why…

Last suggestion to EPRDF: You have a hall closet Ato Bereket can call home? Send in someone to check on him once a while and start looking for a new spokesperson with no noticeable “evidences” fetish.

Let’s backtrack though, because there is a mini sub-plot within the big plot that you’ll find a little amusing and a lot disturbing.

Skip back to May 18-- a testy Dr. Berhanu Nega from CUD proclaims:

Any and all attempts to thwart and tamper with the appropriate proceedings in the conduct of the election results and efforts to continue the undemocratic dictatorial rule would be resisted.

Alrighty… a little testosterone-y.

But look how Ato Bereket chose to interpret Ato/Dr. Berhanu’s statement:

As usual they are crying wolf. So far they have shown both to the Ethiopian people and the world that the opposition is contemplating the use of force… Today's press statement is a clear testimony to their behaviour."

Contemplating using violence?? “Would be resisted” is contemplating using violence? But, you know, the prime minister had already floated the idea that the Opposition would unleash Rwandan-style Interhamwe on Ethiopia so it’s all par for the course. Ana Gomes, chief EU observer:

…slammed statements by the ruling Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front that the country's opposition parties operate much like Hutu rebels did during Rwanda's 1994 genocide in which Hutu extremists killed up to 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The ruling coalition said opposition parties have similar policies of creating hatred and rifts between ethnic groups.

Ms. Gomes also cited instances of the ruling coalition, its supporters, and government officials assaulting or harassing opposition members, and intimidating voters.

At this point one would think that the EPRDF would back down with the Interhamwe talk and divert the conversation to more believable propositions such as “the opposition party endorses cannibalism.” But, no… Ato Baghdad just had to go there:

Ethiopia's Minister of Information, Bereket Simon, tells VOA the comparison of the Hutu rebel group's actions during Rwanda's genocide to the actions of Ethiopia's opposition parties is fair and accurate, especially after Sunday's opposition rally in the capital, Addis Ababa. "They are preaching for violence and for kicking out the ruling party out of Ethiopia. This is what they are saying. So this is the way exactly what the Interahamwe was doing in Rwanda. So we do not think that is an understatement," he said.

Oh, geezuz. Dude, let it go… “kicking out the ruling party” is a very acceptable term… never mind.

Then on May 23 the opposition groups started chatter about ways to resist EPRDF ramroding through the elections. Genteel “What Qedamawi Haile-Selassie might have looked like if he were in his 60’s in 2005” Beyene Petros:


Beyene Pertros, vice chairman of UEDF said that it is time to declare "peaceful revolution" to establish the next government in the country. This peaceful revolution would be guided by the public at large. If it is necessary, we would go to hunger strike and peaceful demonstration," Beyene said.

Well, awfully cute.

And CUD? Any big plans you have up your sleeve?

Ethiopia's main opposition party on Monday threatened to boycott the next parliament unless accusations of fraud and rigging are investigated and new polls held.

It all seemed so endearing… one would boycott, while the other advocated a blurry “peaceful revolution.”

But Ato Bereket was having none of that bullshit!

We advised them not to take violence as means to reject the election result. This would bring a bitter and bad reward to them," he added.

Whhhaaa?

First off, I am convinced that no one else in the world loves to mangle metaphors like our own Baghdad Bereket. When in doubt, mangle! “This would bring a bitter and bad reward”??!! Ah, c’mon, dude. You can’t hate your job that much! And is it me, or is someone keen on predicting bloodbaths?

Well, so long short lived pact:

“In order to ensure that the process of the elections is smooth, we have agreed to sign a non-violence pact," Information Minister Bereket Simon and campaign manager for the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) said, AFP reports.

I have a question: isn't there a copy of “Diplomacy and Tact for Dummies” laying around Menelik's Palace because someone needs to dogear a couple of pages for Ato Bereket. Y’know, when Human Rights Watch says:

The pervasive pattern of repression and abuse documented in this report ensures that voting on May 15 will be a hollow exercise for most of Oromia's population…

about your government, you might want to have something more… weighty and meaningful than:

Human Rights Watch [sic] are lying and they are fooling nobody," Bereket told The Associated Press. "This organization is politically motivated and bent, as usual, on undermining Ethiopia .

As usual? You mean they’ve said this about you previously?

And then comes potent quotable #1,203 from Ato Bereket:

It can be dismissed with the contempt it deserves. The report has nothing to do with the realities of Oromia and other parts of Ethiopia. These people (HRW) after observing the mammoth opposition rally and that of the government should have at least given credit to the democratic process pursued by the government.

Okay, we give you credit for the democratic process “pursued” (not achieved). Now can you PLEASE stop killing people?

HRW… anything else to add, you lyin’ SOBs?

The Ethiopian government claims that the elections demonstrate its commitment to democratic principles. But in the run-up to the elections, the authorities have intensified the repression they have used to keep themselves in power for 13 years.

Rip ‘em a new one, if you please, Ato Bereket:

“This is all lies … the election will be free and fair ... If we are anti-democracy, why have we let in more than 300 foreign observers?”

Well, why wouldn’t you have 300 observers observing the elections? And why did you expel three U.S. non-governmental democracy groups which had been “helping prepare the African country for elections in May”? Besides, Ato Bereket’s argument, to this amateur wonk, sounds like, “Listen, we let you vote, so we should win!” I know they are new to democracy, but, people, please.

Overall, is it okay if we wait for the real results instead of depending on Ato Bereket’s and Prime Minister Meles’ hunches because, track-record-wise, they are a little “iffy”.

The Ethiopian News Agency, which the paranoid in me tells me is skeletal on the “news” part and obese in the “government mouthpiece” part had this to say about the EPRDF’s big rally on May 7.

The entire residents of Addis Ababa City expressed its full support to the Front saying the development activities should be further consolidated during the demonstration held under a theme "We will not hand over our peace" to a third party at the Meskal Square.

Take your time trying to figure that one out... but the phrase we are looking for is “entire residents.” Entire residents? A little self-aggrandizing? Yes… but nonetheless…

PM Meles, what do you have to say about the big turn-out you had—the entire city!!—for your rally?

Prime Minister Meles told journalists after the demonstration that the
Participation of the entire residents of the city was a victory for EPRDF and an embarrassment for anti-peace forces, who claim that the city is their backyard when in fact it is not.

Uh-oh. I smell trouble.

Ato Arkebe Oqubai, first Ethiopian metro-sexual and then-Mayor of our fair city… you wanna chime in about the entire residents showing up for your rally?

Arkebe called up on the city residents to make use of their democratic rights by casting votes in May 15 elections. The Mayor also said the Front is ready to work with the people hand-in-glove during the next five years.

Hand-in-glove? Mmmmmmm… maybe not so much.

Ato Bereket Simon… so sure you have something to say, doncha?

Information Minister Bereket Simeon said on his part that the active participation of the city residents shows that they are supporting and voting for EPRDF. He said it had also showed that EPRDF is the sole alternative for the election while mentioning that people in others parts of the country are also extending their support to the Front.

Well this ain’t ending pretty.

And finally, Ato Seyoum Mesfin, our esteemed Foreigner Minister:

Foreign Affairs Seyoum Mesfin said on his part that the active participation of the Addis Ababa City residents in the demonstration shows that the public and the EPRDF are together.

He also said the support given by the public manifests that EPRDF is the force of reality, development and democracy while it is a victory for EPRDF.

I wouldn’t say that the public and the EPRDF are together, together. Maybe they crossed path once upon a time… maybe even engaged in an illicit one-night stand … but “together” must have been too long-term a commitment, because apparently the “entire city” voted to oust every single member of the EPRDF in Addis Ababa, and the opposition swept all 23 seats. It was not even close.

Awwwwwkward.

So maybe its safe to assume that the EPRDF does not have its fingertips on the pulse of the Ethiopian people afterall… around its neck, maybe… but not its pulse… how else do you explain this colossal misreading of the people?

Here’s the best part of that ENA story—the very last sentence:

Some residents of the city said that they would vote for EPRDF.

After the “entire city” came out to support the EPRDF, some people said that they’d vote for the ruling party? If I have told you once, I have told you a million times, I blame Genet Zewdie! No one in Ethiopia can count anymore!

Unfortunately, this premature… um… expression of victory that our government leaks in times of tension is nothing new. Remember the border decision back in 2002?

Well, the decision came down on Saturday, April 13—a 125-page thick report that had to be read thoroughly, which our government must have thought pointless because it announced on the same day:

Ethiopia was jubilant on Saturday when the new 1,000km (620 mile) boundary was decided by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague

Immediately after the ruling, Ethiopia declared it had won the land it claimed and Eritrea had lost the case, just as it had lost the war….

On Sunday, Ethiopian state radio interrupted regular programmes to broadcast patriotic music and victory songs, and several thousand people demonstrated in Addis Ababa.

Well, now I see the remarkable restraint and self-control exhibited by Ato Bereket when he managed to hold back until Tuesday May 17 before declaring victory for the EPRDF. They didn’t even wait that long to announce that Ethiopia had won Badme in 2002—and several thousand people had died for that!

So, by Wednesday, April 17 you’d have thought that our esteemed Foreign Minister Ato Seyom Mesfin would have had read the damn report and have started to diplomatically tone down the enthusiasm that sent thousands of people to Mesqel Square… I am assuming that reading major binding reports by the Hague is part of our Foreign Minister’s job description. Nothing’ doin’…

Ethiopia's Foreign Minister, Seyoum Mesfin, said the boundary commission had "unequivocally confirmed Badme to be the sovereign territory of Ethiopia".

Don’t stop scratching your head, coz there’s more… By Thursday April 18 it was a done deal, at least according to the Ethiopian government.

State media issued congratulatory wishes to the Ethiopian people for persevering with the four-year-long conflict. After the announcement thousands of people gathered in Meskel Square, in central of Addis Ababa, to celebrate the ruling.

There was an atmosphere of euphoria with singing and dancing, as the news that Ethiopia had been awarded what the government said was "all territories" that it had claimed.

Fast forward to 2003… The dust settled. According to IRIN,’s story “Border ruling "dangerous", says Tigray president

But it was the controversial announcement in March this year, placing the Ethiopian-administered town of Badme in Eritrea, which has fuelled tensions. Badme is the flashpoint of the war. Other decisions – like awarding the northern tip of Irob in northern Tigray to Eritrea – have also sparked anger over the ruling by The Hague-based commission.

Demarcation of the border is expected to take place in October after being delayed twice. But Ethiopian officials are demanding key changes to the ruling – particularly in Tigray.

Tsegay said the federal government had supported the April 2002 boundary ruling because it believed adjustments could be made during the demarcation process.

“That is why Ethiopia positively responded to the delimitation decision,” he told representatives at the state council in the regional capital Mekelle. “Despite this the commission went out of its mandate and jurisdiction to award Badme to Eritrea. This is a wrong decision.

Now, could Ato Seyom Mesfin have misread the report in 2002, or had he thought the truth was malleable?

Premature exuberance seems to be a habit of the EPRDF’s. I don’t think I’ll take its word when it says that it has won these elections.

5 Comments:

Blogger tsegasaurus said...

first, my condolences to your husband.
second, extended erections lead to premature ejaculations. scientific fact.

7:57 AM, June 06, 2005  
Anonymous Yohannes said...

r.i.p. ato bereket, lerasu-miskiin-new. glad you'll be around for the next month, wonkki.

is there somewhere i can apply to be your elfign askelkaai?

respectfully,
YKY

8:34 AM, June 06, 2005  
Anonymous Gera Geru said...

“(By the Way Part II—Ato Bereket’s constituency is in the Amhara district of Bugna—you see?…” admit it, you cannot stop talking about “Bagdad Bob”- you must ba falling in love. Otherwise, how do you explain yesu Neger Endezeeh zarEshen YeMeassnessaw ?

Confession: I’m hopelessly addicted to your world-class Bucheka!

12:32 PM, June 06, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wecheeeewguuuuuuud. Thank you for bringing it all into perspective, I even felt like I was watching a movie, going back a few years to show how we came about to the current scene. And to think that we would remember all that has happened over the years now, hmmm, ke drama lay drama drama drama ... feature film honobinal. I could say I have seen enough, but I am sure there is more to come, something including the "starring" himself, metrosexual Arkebe (now that's a killa'). I wonder if the newly elected politicians would be as affluent. Politicians are supposed to be a form of entertainment... as Baghdad Bob displays his performances on a daily basis.

M'ts, yihem ale...

Yanchiw addicted, daily follower. Le husbandiyew ej nestenal. And no, he does not know me either, but deserves ye egziher selamta!

8:52 PM, June 06, 2005  
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4:41 PM, October 02, 2005  

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