Friday, July 29, 2005

PM Meles Talks to Dr. Phil Part 1

Exclusive to Weichegud- Guest blogger: goneTe gonetatlew

Transcript of Prime Minister Meles’ conversation with Dr. Phil.

It might be a good sign that our fearless leader has sought a little shrink help to guide him through these turbulent times… being a tyrant, after all, is not as easy as it used to be. Oh what shame these godless days have brought us. So we applaud Ato Meles, and perhaps by the sixth session or so with Dr. Phil, he will finally come to terms with his tortured inner child and leave the Ethiopian people in peace.

Dr. Phil:So, pal… I’ve been reading a lot about you. What gives?
PMM:Most of what you’ve read are lies.
Dr. Phil:Woah, cowboy. How do you know what I read?
Dr. Phil:A little defensive are we?
PMM:No. It’s just reflex.
Dr. Phil:So, you think everyone’s lying about you?
PMM:Yes! Yes. Dr. Phil, you so get me.
Dr. Phil:Hell, boy. All I’m getting’ right now is a few heebies and a lot of jebbies.
PMM:Is it your first time treating a tortured man?
Dr. Phil:Naah. Do it all the time. First time I’ve treated a man who has tortured, though.
PMM:Oh. Don’t worry. We are people, too. If you cut us, we will bleed. Then we’ll cut you in small pieces and throw your bodies to the…
Dr. Phil:Alright. Stand down. So tell me, who has been lying about you?
PMM:Everyone, Dr. Phil. Everyone. Except Walta and Aiga Forum. They are vessels of truth.
Dr. Phil:Ya think? Okay, so tell me why you are here today?
PMM:Dr. Phil, I don’t understand. As you may know, all I wanted was to bring democracy to Ethiopia and…
Dr. Phil:Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the decision right.
PMM:I like that, Dr. Phil.
Dr. Phil:Not bad, huh? Hey, I’m going to call you Mel.
PMM:I prefer Prime Minister Meles.
Dr. Phil:Hm. Nah. You look like a Mel to me. Okay. So, you wanted to bring democracy. What went wrong?
PMM:Well, I am just not appreciated. I am a man ahead of his time. I …
Dr. Phil: Okay, Mel. Let’s stay focused. What happened?
PMM:They just don’t appreciate a visionary leader like me, Dr. Phil. Only Tony Blair and Mr. Carter know how much of a visionary I am.
Dr. Phil:Well, that’s no endorsement to be proud of. I mean, one’s an old coot and the other is a fornicator, so that’s just dumber than a box full of owl poop.
PMM:I beg your pardon, Dr. Phil?
Dr. Phil:We have a saying’ in Texas, Mel: The fool's so lost he don't know if he's afoot or on horseback.
PMM:Can we go back to me?
Dr. Phil:But you get my drift, Mel? Okay. Tell me. Democracy and you.
PMM:Yes. I conducted the most free and fair elections the country has ever seen. You know why?
Dr. Phil:‘Coz you realized that democracy is a better system than that… what’s that snazzy thing you had there… Revolutionary Democracy? Now, you know that is a bunch of malarkey, doncha, Mel? That Revolutionary Democracy is 'bout as useful as teats on a boar.
PMM:I beg to differ, Dr. Phil. We have brought much prosperity through the…
Dr. Phil:Okay, okay, okay. Mel, look at me. Look at me. You lookin’ at me? Revolutionary Democracy is as useful as gooseshit on a pumphandle. You get my drift?
PMM:Why’s that?
Dr. Phil:‘Coz, buddy, it’s all commie stuff, you know what I’m saying? Commie. Red. Looney left. Pinko. Homicidal totalitarian utopian mirage.
PMM:Well, I have to tell you that economic paradigms are a non-litmus…
Dr. Phil:Mel, it’s me you’re talking to. And being windier than a bag of assholes is not going to help you.
PMM:I must stress, I don’t agree with those superlatives…
Dr. Phil:Land. Who owns the land in Ethiopia?
PMM:Well, that a rather capricious question that is statistically…
Dr. Phil:Mel. Focus. Who… owns… all… the… land…in… Ethiopia?
PMM:In a strict non-comprehensive sense that analysis…
Dr. Phil:The state owns all the land, Mel. That’s commie.
PMM:That’s one interpretation.
Dr. Phil:Who owns the TV station?
PMM:Television is really not an…
Dr. Phil:The state owns the TV station. That’s commie, Mel.
PMM:If you are talking strictly about the fourth estate exemplar…
Dr. Phil:The term “Revolutionary democracy”… where does it come from?
PMM:Well, it is a term … actually we created…
Dr. Phil:Lenin used it in 1919. Remember Lenin? The Bolsheviks? Dissolving parliament?
PMM:Comrade Lenin was a…
Dr. Phil:He was a thug. Mel: lemme read you something. Who said: "It would be the greatest nonsense to assume that the profound on-going revolution of the TPLF/EPRDF, the first transference of power from the hands of the exploiting minority to the hands of the exploited majority in Ethiopian history, could take place within the framework of the old bourgeois parliamentary democracy."
PMM:That brings tears to my eyes, Dr. Phil.
Dr. Phil:Aw, suck it, pal. You said that. You know who also said that parliamentary democracy was ka-ka?
PMM:The revolutionary impact of Revolutionary Democracy…
Dr. Phil:Mel… fooooo-cus. Who also said that parliamentary democracy was a bourgeoisie democracy?
PMM:Comrade Lenin.
Dr. Phil:Um-huh. And what happened to communism, Mel?
PMM:Were it applied properly, Marxism would have prospered. But traitors destroyed it.
Dr. Phil:Mel, Mel, Mel. Can’t you see that you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear?
PMM:That metaphor is not familiar to me.
Dr. Phil:Going back to that quote: is the EPRDF not a minority government?
PMM:I … beg your pardon? The EPRDF encompasses the oppressed majority. The EPRDF has embraced…
Dr. Phil:Mel. Look at me. Look at me. You lookin’ at me? Are you tryin’ to be slicker than snot on a doorknob?
PMM:What has all this got to do with the elections? And the feeling of isolation I have been feeling lately?
Dr. Phil:Mel, we have to delve to the root causes. We gotta yank the commie out of you, y’know what I’m saying, Mel? We gotta know what’s gotten you more mixed up than a fruit smoothie.
PMM:[sigh] All I wanted to do was bring about democracy. Was that so wrong?
Dr. Phil:Mel, that’s what I’m sayin’ to ya… commies can’t bring about democracies. It’s like askin’ Paris Hilton to deconstruct the theory of nuclear fission. Can’t be done. Just ‘cause a chicken got wings, don’t mean it can fly.
PMM:What are you saying, Dr. Phil? Are you saying that by nature I am unable to bring about democracy because at the very heart of it I am a … ?
Dr. Phil:Dyed in the wool commie? Mel, I think you’re getting it.
PMM:Are you saying that I’ve just been paying lip service to democracy because I was under pressure from donor countries and that it was all lip service?
Dr. Phil:Mel, this is what we call a breakthrough.
PMM:Oh, I see, Dr. Phil. I believe that your inference is that I can put my boots in the oven, but that don’t make 'em biscuits.
Dr. Phil:For a tyrant, you ain’t half bad.
PMM:This ain’t my first rodeo.
Dr. Phil:You mean you’ve sought therapy before?
Dr. Phil:What happened?
PMM:I got bored. So I had the therapists executed.
Dr. Phil:Woah. Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit. You are a crazy SOB. But nothing we can’t fix.
Dr. Phil:Yeah. So, our time’s nearly up. What have we learnt today?
PMM:My homage to democracy is faker than a Louis Vitton bag on sale on 14th Street.
Dr. Phil:Atta boy.
PMM:I tried to fake democracy but the people were smarter than I was and usurped the plan.
Dr. Phil:Boy, that just put a quiver in my liver.
PMM:You are saying as long as I am fundamentally a commie, I can’t marry democracy.
Dr. Phil:Yeeeeah. Okay.
PMM:So the whole premise of the 2005 elections was…
Dr. Phil:Full of more shit than a sick baby’s diaper? Ya.
PMM:Okay. Well, I am cured. Thank you.
Dr. Phil:Wow. Hold up. We still have a lot of work to do.
PMM:We do? You mean I’m not cured?
Dr. Phil:Well, let’s see… so now that you know you’ve opened up Pandora’s box, whatch you gonna do with to resolve this big mess?
PMM:I’m gonna slap the opposition so hard, their clothes will be outta style.
Dr. Phil:Nope. You’re not cured.
PMM:I’m gonna re-house arrest Hailu Shawel and Lidetu Ayalew and then mass arrest their supporters.
Dr. Phil:No… no… no…
PMM:Then I’m gonna re-declare the ban on demonstration and call the opposition bloodthirsty before I, um, enforce more laws.
Dr. Phil:Boyeee… Hush yo’ mouth.
PMM:Um, I’d sign a treaty saying that I wouldn’t do those things beforehand, of course. I’m not an animal.
Dr. Phil:Did you fall out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down?
PMM:I’m sooooo confused.
Dr. Phil:You are more confused than Bereket Simon in a logic class. Okay. Our time’s up for today. How do you feel?
PMM:I… I am depressed.
Dr. Phil:Good. That’s a good start. I’ll give you some drugs to calm your nerves until our next appointment.
PMM:Oh, I love drugs.
Dr. Phil:Down boy. And you need not to kill people until our next appointment.
PMM:Not even one?
Dr. Phil:Not even a’ one, Mel.
PMM:This therapy is hard.
Dr. Phil:Bless your heart.
PMM:We’ll keep this confidential, of course. The politburo frowns on this kind of endeavor.
Dr. Phil:Sure, bud. Oprah won’t like it if she knew I was treating dictators. She’s all into this Angel Network thing… You’d hate it.
PMM:I hate people like that.
Dr. Phil:I know you do. I know you do.
PMM:What’s on the agenda for the next session?
Dr. Phil:We’ll talk about your psychotic tendencies.
PMM:Yes, I need more of them.
Dr. Phil:Oh, jezuz.

Monday, July 25, 2005

That Thing They Call Honor

I’ve been thinking these days about political awareness—specifically, my initiation into political awareness—very specifically, my initiation into Ethiopian political awareness.

I am a child of a communist Ethiopia. My adolescent memories of Ethiopia and her tumultuous politics is solidly anchored by memories of a perennially belligerent, original Axis of Very Evil Mengistu Haile Mariam and his fire-‘n-fury speeches excoriating imperialism and capitalism- the ‘c’ word of my youth. The only excitement in Mengistu’s tirade that kept us young’uns glued to the television was the possibility of witnessing one of our favorite Mengistu stunts: the part where he hurls a bottle of blood from the high dais of Abiyot Adebabi and watching the bottle crash on the sidewalk while our parents gasped in horror. What did we know? The sheer atrociousness of adding yet another layer of blood to the already blood-soaked sidewalks of Addis Ababa never struck us as being inappropriate. Hell, we were looking for something other than weird Soviet films to pass the time. (Boy did I have flashbacks when Colin Powell very ominously thrust back and forth a vile of Anthrax during his speech at the UN as many delegates shifted uncomfortably in their seats.)

Ethiopian politics, to those of us growing up during those times, was something only evil people who looked okay in blue kahki uniforms got involved in. It never occurred to us that we could ever have a right to demand that our leaders treat us halfway decent. It is an amazing power to have: the ability to terrorize a whole generation into apathy and compliance.

I washed my hands off of Ethiopian politics after the EPRDF took power in 1991and I had the misfortune of being first hand witness to its base behavior. Whatever hopes I had of being part of an Ethiopian renaissance was indubitably quashed by the pervasive perversity of the unholy alliance between the TPLF and the EPLF in the early 90s. Again, the culprit was communism, except that this time it was masked with a thin veneer of “progressiveness” that both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton endorsed. I came back to the States, totally bereft of hope.

I don’t know how well any of us in my generation have really explored just how much of a total mindfuck (please excuse the French) communism was on us, or have tried to delve into its long-lasting impact. Surely, a generation raised on the enduring fear in its parents’ eyes, a generation that equates politics with political malfeasance and torture, a generation that wanted nothing more than to escape from Ethiopia… surely we have issues. Hell, our issues have issues!

Communism was the quintessential opium of the people—so debilitating and humiliating, and we had O.D.ed on it. I don’t know if we have ever taken the time to examine the root cause of our apathy and detachment, or care to endeavor to deconstruct our learned helplessness. How can we be successful immigrants and rally for equal rights in America while the thought of advocating the same rights in Ethiopia would not even cross our minds?

That, my friends, is what communism did to a generation. Even though we are not old enough to have blood on our hands, we have been royally opium-ized: we have made it chic to be politically inactive—not, mind you, generally politically inactive, but Ethiopian politics-inactive. Even as we fancy ourselves to be fearless citizens of the world, what we fear foremost is Ethiopian politics because it has done nothing but burn our parents.

Ahhh. Who do we blame?

At the Los Angeles Times Book Festival last spring someone asked a panel of politicos why the current American generation was so apathetic. The answer: “There is nothing that this generation is suffering from that a good old-fashioned draft won’t cure.”

For my generation, the Ethiopian elections of May 2005 was our draft. It awoke us from a comfortable slumber. I will leave it to sociologists to examine why. For me personally, I didn’t want my son to grow up thinking that Ethiopia was a distant place his parents had to escape. I didn’t want him to think that Ethiopia was not an option. Most of all, I didn’t want him to see the same fear in my eyes I saw in my parents’.

So there! I never thought, not in a million years, that I would be writing about Ethiopian politics.

Whether I like it or not, I am grateful to the EPRDF and its quest for legitimacy that made it experiment with democracy. I have not been shy about my disagreement with (and recently, aversion to) the politics of the EPRDF. But whatever it was, delusion of grandeur or hubris, that made it flirt with the concept of democracy, thank you. Only the EPRDF could have destroyed the EPRDF (see “Suicide Watch”).

But there is something else that has fascinated me these days. What does it take for someone to take on the EPRDF? Few things about the opposition intrigue me as much as its cahones to stand up to the EPRDF. For the first time in Ethiopia, we have an opposition that is staring at a political Goliath and not blinking. I don’t want to canonize the opposition, but whether I like it or not, I am also grateful to it for the path it has cleared.

Prime Minister Meles has this tendency of saying that the May 2005 elections were “the most free and fair, not just by African standards, but by any standards.” I am left wondering if the prime minister knows anything about democracies at all.

To illustrate its point, the EPRDF is fond of throwing around the fact that the state media gave time to the opposition. Well, ya-ha! Wouldn’t that be at the core of democracy: that the opposition, um, presents its case? That’s what democracies do, except, Mr. Prime Minister, the state in other democracies, does not control most of the mass media, but let’s not let facts get in the way.

From that simple fact, which is really very basic, to the greater picture of an impartial National Board of Elections, and countless of facts in between, the EPRDF has shown that the way it conducted itself was not democratic, not only by world standards, but even by the EPRDF’s depleted standards.

But those are broad, cerebral concepts—democracy, rule of law, legitimacy. From the onset I have been much more fascinated by a more basic concept: at the core of political parties are people, men and women who run the political machine, and to me, they make for a more fascinating subject.

Concepts of how these men and women translate and apply honor and morality to politics has fascinated me more than policies and manifestos. That’s because I believe policies can always be changed. Personalities and core values, however, are much more entrenched.

By definition, Mengistu’s personality was so vile and murderous, that none of his policies, no matter what, could produce long-lasting peace and prosperity.

Similarly, Prime Minister Meles has proven to us time and again that he is either incapable of, or unwilling to embrace truth and honor. Whatever you say about the prime minister, not even his staunchest supporters can say that he is an honorable man. If anything, he is proof that honor is an afterthought in Ethiopian politics. That’s what Mengistu and communism did to us, and that’s the baton that Ato Meles picked up.

At this point, to me, whether the opposition controls the next parliament has become a second-tier priority. The primary is the re-introduction of honor in the Ethiopian political topography. We desperately need honorable men and women who are accountable and responsible, who keep their word and who have reverence for human life either as the opposition or as a ruling party.

I have given up on the EPRDF to take on the cause of honor and I look now to the opposition.

Overhauling the deeply ingrained mentality of mistrust, battling the manifestations of artificial ethnic divisiveness and restoring the Ethiopian peace of mind is an august responsibility and the opposition has its work cut out for it. If the past 30 years have taught us anything, it is that most of us have stopped believing in Ethiopia. It’s not lack of economic policies, certainly not lack of money (cash from donor countries still pour into Ethiopia) and lack of political rhetoric that has ailed Ethiopia. It is lack of spirit. Colonialism spread easier in Africa the minute we Africans started to believe that we were the people that the colonialists told us we were: inferior, uncivilized and unintelligent. They realized that seizing our minds was much more effective than seizing our land.

The psychological manifestations of oppression are intriguing. Mengistu made us live it, and Ato Meles almost made us believe it.

I am not sure how it did it, but the opposition managed to stir up the dormant spirit of Ethiopia, and that’s what’s surprised and angered the prime minister and his party. Look back at the 2000 elections and the farce that it was. (By the way, it is the same NEB that ratified the 2000 elections as free and fair that the international community is depending on to conduct an impartial investigation into the 2005 elections. Hm. The track record of the NEBE, I hate to tell ya’ Jimmah Car’ra, not so, how do you call it, sane.)

That the opposition has managed to wake us up, inspire us and, most importantly, give us back hope shall forever be its crowning glory. Who would have thought even two years ago that people from Desse to Gonder, Bunga to Bahr Dar would have dared to stand up to the EPRDF? Somehow, the opposition managed to tap into that undefeatable part of the Ethiopian psyche that refuses to bow to tyranny. Not a shabby start.

There have been a couple of defining moments for the opposition, the major one being when uber-sexy, primo baby-daddy Ato Lidetu Ayalew left his position as the spokesperson of the CUD. Zany-brainy King of Econ-Geeks Non Engineer Berhanu Nega addressing the issue ,very calmly said something to the effect that it was Lidetu’s right to openly oppose policy he did not agree with, and that he should not be forced to accept everything that the CUD does. Hold up! Hollll-d up! A political party that tolerates differences within its ranks? Sorry. An Ethiopian political party that tolerates differences within its ranks? Whatever happened to the tradition of secretly assassinating your detractor, or, at the very least, calling him/her a traitor “hager asedabbi” in a public rebuke? Ah, times are a changin'.

I told you. This is not our fathers’ opposition. A lot of people could not swallow the mere possibility that Lidetu can still believe in the core values of the CUD but disagree with some of its policies. (EPRDF supporters were circling the wagon with glee. Tewachew, miskeenoch nachew.) But it was nothing short of honorable for Lidetu to step down from a position that required him to defend policies he does not believe in. And it was nothing short of honorable for another member to say that differences in opinions were… okay. This is what I mean by changing the fundamental way we look at politics, and nurturing the spirit of democracy from the ground up. What kind of message would the CUD have sent if it censored Lidetu?

Can you imagine if… oh, formerly chatty foreign minister Seyoum Mesfin (whatever happened to him, by the way?) declared that the EPRDF’s little trigger happiness on June 8 was wrong and that he disagreed with it? Hm. They’d have eventually named the west wing of Zwai Camp after him after he languishes there on “corruption” charges… (Is Siye Abraha still in prision?)

Changing minds without the use of guns and renewing spirits is a far more challenging endeavor and more honorable calling. So far, the opposition (I think Beyene Petros in particular) seems to be the one which understands that what we need is honor in politics. For that, we should be grateful.

I’ve been trying to summarize my thoughts on this matter, but Ethiopundit said it best (still my favorite quote):

Ethiopians will remember who they have always been and not what they have been told to be at the point of a gun.

Okay, that’s what I’ve been trying to say in four pages. That’s where the opposition succeeded: not because it has some super-duper economic or political solution, but because it reminded us of who we have always been, and what we can become. We are a resourceful people who don’t actually like to be seen as charity cases for guilt ridden donors. In us somewhere, underneath the layers of faux “zeraf” and emaciated pride, is the indefatigable spirit that can rise above what we have been told by Mengistu and Meles: that we should be grateful for what little we are given and that aspiring to more is treachery.

Whatever its next steps, the opposition shall always get the credit for smashing that glass ceiling and showing Ethiopians that there is, indeed, honor in Ethiopian politics, and that 2005 was when the true Ethiopian Renaissance started.

No, really, thank you.

[For evidence of the fundamental differences between the EPRDF and the opposition read this interview held with Mega Mouthpiece Ato Bereket Simon and Non Engineer Berhanu Nega conducted on May 24, 2005. Have I apologized enough for ever suggesting that the EPRDF fire Ato Bereket? Defining moment for the EPRDF:

Let me paint the other scenario. With the EPRDF being a ruling party and the opposition being the governing party in Addis Ababa, what approach would you take in dealing with them? Will you make life hell for them or try to cooperate?

If there is one thing that we worship, it is the people. No matter what they decide, we worship the people. Any decision that is passed by the people democratically and out of their free will be respected. People have the right to choose whatever they want; otherwise we would not have opened things up. The fact that we did had its own risks, including that of losing the game.

Um. Can someone wake me up when the "worshipping of the people" starts?

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Hex, Lies and Videogames

Ah, the rat race. It is addictive and repugnant at the same time. As my deadline for a project slowly looms ahead of me, the only solace I find is in blogging a few words here and there. The thought of returning to our regularly scheduled Wonqville sustains me, but until then I am only good for a quickie blog-and-run. It’s great you guys are keeping Wonqville alive with your comments. Some of you should guest blog.

So it was reading some of the comments from the last blog that prompted me to call my now unwittingly famous uncle in Ethiopia to get a summary of what’s going on there. For those of you new to this blog, I have an uncle whose special talent is summarizing major world events in seven words or less.

With all due respect to deranged cyborg and Ethiopian government spokesperson Ato Bereket Simon and his wooly contention that:

It (the ban) was meant to give us the opportunity to get a cooling time for the
emotions. It seems that emotions have run out of steam now. The overall
situation has subsided… uncle’s POV is that, “sewu indet indebeqaw bawequ.” (“They don’t know how much people have had enough.”… Have to start translating since, apparently, ferenjies have gotten passports to Wonqville.)

Incidentally, it must take some vigilance to completely debauch the English language the way Ato Bereket does with frightening ease. I mean, can’t he practice what he wants to say in front of, I dunno, he must have friends at the British Embassy. It just seems that he has stopped even trying to be comprehensible, lazily stitching together whatever tattered logic comes wafting through his mind. Inday! Ere benantot, Ato Bereket. I know you’ve uttered a lot of whacky things before, but, “…was meant to give us the opportunity to get a cooling time for the emotions”...?! You do realize that people actually understand English, Mr. Bereket? Be like our Prime Minister and make like a , um, “resound man.” (Do you have a sneaking feeling that the person who left that comment graduated from the Bereket School of Grammar and Malapropism? Hmmm… read it again.) In the future, Mr. Spokesperson for the second most populous country in Africa, abide by these simple rules: if you think it sounds cool, it probably isn’t. If you think it sounds logical, run away! And, please, can we leave metaphors to those who know what they are. Miskeen. I know you have a sucky job defending the EPRDF and its macabre policies. But, you can’t keep going around sounding like the village idiot. I’m just trying to help, Ato Bereket. You are representing my country after all, y’know.

I needs me a cooling time from the emotions.



It (the ban) was meant to give us the opportunity to get a cooling time for the
emotions. It seems that emotions have run out of steam now. The overall
situation has subsided…

I know Ato Bereket and Frankenstein-y Prime Minister Meles do not venture out much outside their Bat Caves, but perhaps they should send some cadres (um, the unarmed, non-killing machine kind, if they have any) out into Ethiopia to gauge if people’s steam has run out. For normal human beings, and again, please find some to confirm this, the pissed off feeling we get when we are lied to and killed… not so much dissipates with time, but it in fact calcifies. Look into it, Atos Meles and Bereket, when you take a break from your two most favorite activities: constructing ridiculous non-sequiturs and, what’s that thing called when you snuff a life… homicide.

Only incorrigible and hopelessly disengaged emperors would think that people will forget atrocity because they were banned from demonstrating for a couple of months. The EPRDF should have its own reality show because God knows, its reality check has bounced. “The overall situation has subsided”?? Which situation would that be? The vote-rigging situation or the killing of unarmed people situation, ‘coz both are very fresh in my mind.
According to uncle SOL: “Yaletemare gedelen.” (Um. Ferenjies are SOL about that translation…)

The EPRDF's wishful thinking that people won't remember its intolerable cruelty if it drags out the process just enough until eventually people throw up their hands in the air exclaim, "Eh, election schmlection, let's call the whole thing off" exhibits its fundamental misunderstanding of how much it is reviled in Ethiopia. Ethiopia changed on May 15, Mr. Prime Minister, and while you are busy trying to reseal the lid, people are saying your time is up. How the EPRDF lost the opportunity to leave office with a modicum of grace is something political textbooks shall be written on.

The EPRDF's hallucination and removal from reality reminds me of a line in Mel Brook’s “History of the World, Part 1.” In the twilight of the French Revolution, there is a scene between Louis XVI and his hapless mignon.

“But, Sire, the people are revolting.”
“Yes, they are quite disgusting.”

Or something like that… or am I mistaking it with “The Life of Brian”? But you get the point: so clueless about the fact that people have had enough of the EPRDF’s puerile delusion about democracy and its extraordinary malice and very adult vindictiveness. But severely underestimating the will of the people is a sure sign of a government that’s levitating to its certain death. The EPRDF, like an irascible old man, learns lessons slowly. Remember a few short months back when it told us that it um, had won the elections “by a landslide”? This after having its behind handed to it after all the bluster about how much the people love Revolutionary Democracy? Ah, well. It’s good the EPRDF keeps underestimating its opponents.

But back to Ato Bereket, a face that couldn’t launch a thousand paper boats.

He indicated demonstrations would be allowed provided procedures were followed
and local authorities consented.

"You go to the respective government authority that gives you the permit for demonstrations regarding the time and place and that will be left for the respective government office so that procedure is there," he said.

Ah. Rigging votes… such time consuming endeavor. Leaves no time for logic.

Anyway, wade through that tortured sentence and its labyrinth of bullshit and here’s what it means: there ain’t gonna be no demonstrations. Which dim-witted, robot EPRDF lackey/guv’ment authority do you think will grant the opposition any kind of permit to hold demonstrations? Oh, please. And even if such permit was given, the EPRDF would "appeal" it right before it repeals it. By now, the EPRDF has become painfully predictable. Demonstrations, ha! PM Meles has a better chance of sauntering through the Pearly Gates armed with an AK-47.
Speaking of sacrilege,

Bereket contested accounts by hospital officials that 36 people were killed in
the June 8 violence, saying the real toll was 26.

If that is not the government of Ato Meles giving bad taste a good name, then I don’t know what is. Do they think that admitting to killing 26 people instead of 36 makes them better people? Were I in an advice-giving mood, I’d tell them that such statements make them look like lunatic, ghoulish heathens, but, really, who has the energy? Seriously, isn’t there one sane EPRDF-er who can tell Ato Meles and Ato Bereket that they are sounding more and more undignified with each word they utter? (Poor Stephan Sacker of the BBC. Did you note his incredulity when Ato Meles casually dropped the bombshell that investigations into the killings of the 36 people has yet to start? Oh, Steve-o. Your eyebrows so rose up and arched in horror when the Prime Minister said that he would take his time even opening inquiries into the deaths. Such is the value Tony Blair’s best African friend has for human life. We have the videotape to remind us.)

Another entity that Prime Minister Meles holds dear, almost as dear as human life, is democracy and people’s right to express themselves without being, um, shot at. No, that's not right. They have the right to demonstrate, it's just that the government also has the right to kill them. I keep forgetting how magnanimous that Prime Minister of ours is.

Meles has said he had renewed the ban, which gives him personal control of
security in the city, because the opposition had tried to overthrow what he
called the constitutional order.

And how did they do that? By participating in elections? But of course, silly.

By the way, can someone tell me why a ban on demonstrations was necessary? Okay, don’t tell me. Just remind me what the prime minister had said when he officially banned demonstrations on Monday, May 16, the day after the elections, which was exactly when the EPRDF was claiming victory. What was the reason he gave, again?

Well, that’s a little complicated. Here is what he said then:

"I have heard the comments of the foreign observers and the elections were
peaceful and democratic," Mr. Meles said in an address on state radio.
Whatever. So that would mean everything was copasetic. No need for any infringement on people’s, um, democratic right to gather in peace. Or is there?

"As peace should be respected within the city and its environs, the government
has decided to bring all the security forces, the police and the local militias,
under one command accountable to the prime minister," he said.

Hm. It’s always trouble when they start referring to themselves in the third person. “The prime minister would like to order steak and fries. The prime minister would like the steak rare, just like the prime minister’s brain development.”

Outdoor public gatherings in Addis Ababa were banned "to ensure a
violence-free and peaceful atmosphere", he added.

What am I missing? If everything was hunky-dory and it was the prime minister’s assertion that all was “peaceful and democratic”… then why ban demonstrations? To what? “To ensure a violence-free and peaceful atmosphere?” But, according the prime minister himself, there WAS a "peaceful and democratic atmosphere" awreddi! What the...?

Wait a minute. I know Ato Meles thinks we are all stupid, but.. okay, so chief EU election observer/dominatrix Ana Gomes said that “The situation is one of calm." Okkkay. So, again, why was it necessary to ban demonstrations? When things are peaceful you have to ban demonstrations to ensure that they remain peaceful?? And why ban them in Addis when the EPRDF knew that it was soundly defeated? And by the way, not that we depend on your word for anything, Mr. Prime Minister, but what the hell happened to your lousy “assurance” that banning demonstrations would result in peace, because on June 8 you sure let us down.

So, the real reason, Mr. Prime Minister, for banning demonstrations? Say it, Mr. Prime Minister. Say it loud, say it proud! You were scared shitless. It wasn’t to keep the peace, nor was it “meant to give us the opportunity to get a cooling time for the emotions” (a cooling time, singular? We only needed one, apparently.) It was because you realized you were getting a spanking (the kind you don’t enjoy) and you panicked. Perhaps you can instruct your patsy, English language hater spokesperson Ato Bereket to start clearing his statements with you?

A little “for the record” here. We should remember that:

Mr. Meles said he would accept an opposition victory if this was confirmed by
international observers.

Ah, words that may just come back to haunt his prime ministership.

But back to the babbling brook that is Bereket Simon.

Bereket said he believed the opposition still generally favoured what he called
a violent way of politics
but it could not carry this out because ordinary
people were content to let the probe into poll fraud take its course.

"It is my opinion that they have not shown us an earnest, fundamental departure from their violent way of conducting politics," he said.

First off, how many “ordinary people” do you think that Ato Bereket knows exactly? Ordinary people as in sane people. Yeah, ordinary people would wait for the unfolding of the truth. It’s you we are worried about, Ato Bereket… you and your “we only killed 26 people” kinda people. We’d ask you for assurances that you know ordinary people, but, y’know, you and your boss don’t have much of a track record there. Allow us skepticism. Better yet, allow us to accept your proclamations “in principle.”

Secondly, regarding “the opposition still favored what he called a violent way of politics”… and that they have not “showed us an earnest, fundamental departure from their violent way of conducting politics…”

You are right, Mr. EPRDF spokesperson. I mean, how can you trust an entity that keeps on claiming that its opposition is ready to unleash a Rwandan-style genocide on the country when it KNOWS it’s a bogus claim? And, you are right. Any dufuss that guns down unarmed people in the name of the law--- frrreeeakkky! And of course, any outfit that has a knack for capricious mass arrests and torture…? Definitely has not departed from a violent way of, um, conducting politics. Oh, and don’t forget, anyone in the process of stealing votes, puulease! SO favors a violent way of politics.

When you are right, oh Prince of Darkness, you are right. Now guess who we don’t trust to go through the democratic process? You, or the opposition? Who killed the 36 people? You or Beyene Petros? Who threw people in jail-- nearly 4,000 people? Merara Gudina? And who has denied the opposition access to state controlled media and keeps arresting opposition members? Oh, that Hailu Shawel! Ever since he was holed up in his home with his wife and maid he has been upto no good. No good at all.

Seriously, what can you say about the EPRDF? What potency of a Prozac/Lithium cocktail do you need to kill people and then have the balls to accuse some other entity of being violent? It would have been cute if people had not actually died in this farce. I had proclaimed that the EPRDF was no longer an administration that it was a regime. Now I can argue that it is a cult.

Oh, hell. Baghdad Bereket is till talking.
"Addis is for sure in the hands of the opposition, the rest of the country is
for sure in the hands of the EPRDF, so this is a basis for people to
understand the situation
," Bereket said. "I don't think that people expect a
much different result from the investigations."

Er, the situation? And what basis to understand which situation? Y'know, Ato Bereket, just because you say stuff, doesn't make it true. Just because you will them, the votes won't magically materialize. You have to work hard at stuffing ballots for that.

So, here’s a situation: actually, Darth, and please don’t think I am being anal here, but people DO expect a much different result. You know why? Because the results ARE much different than the, um, current situation. I know it’s simply not done in EPRDF circles, but we need to face facts. Statistically speaking, the EPRDF has lost the elections. (Where would we be without Dagmawi? Between him and ethiopundit… mmmm…. Shh! Bad WonqeTTe… You are a happily married woman.) But numbers do not lie. Psychopathic murderers who will do anything to cling to power, on the other hand… not so much enamored by the glaring truth.

So, “the situation”, Mr. Grand Wizard, is how is the EPRDF going to get away with stealing the votes. Yeah, yeah, you think that people have lost steam. Good luck if that’s what you are depending on, although you have little option otherwise. You could always kill some more people, and you probably will, but right now you have to deal with the world watching as you expose yourself to be the power bogart-ing, murderous crazies that you are. What to do, what to do? To kill or not to kill? Apparently, that has never been a question for the EPRDF.

More importantly, you will notice how Ato Bereket’s lame-ass lie “rest of the country is for sure in the hands of the EPRDF” rolls off his tongue with ease. Oh, brother. Let’s see… are major cities in Ethiopia still considered “the rest of the country”, because if they are, we gots a little trouble.

So, some of the most populous cities in Ethiopia, how “in the EPRDF’s hands" are they? (Results from the beleaguered National Election Board of Ethiopia- NEBE.)

Dire Dawa: Constituency 1: (population: 208,700)

Ato Dereje Debebe We/Mariam , CUD- 60.85 %

Ato Mohammed Abidulahi Ahimed, EPRDF (OPDO)- 30.56 %


Dire Dawa Constituency 2:

Ato Mohammed Yusuf Umer, SPDP, 46.62 %
Ato Birihanu Kenaw Gelet, CUD, 33.67 %

I’ll take Adama for 100, please Alex. (Also known as Nazret before the OPDO got in on the game and found a way to make itself relevant: changing names of cities, it’s biggest achievement yet. Population: 161,800.)

Ato Atenafu Tenagn Tilahun, CUD, 67.74 %
Ato Ashebire W/Emanual Biru, EPRDF (OPDO), 16.67 %

No wonder they want to move the capital of Oromia to Addis Ababa/Finfine! 67 to 16 percent! Maybe the Addis air will take the sting out of that result.

What must the EPRDF do to win a major city in Ethiopia… besides killing the opposition?

Gonder (Population: 142,100) Ketema 1:

Ato Lioul Kesiks Astatike, CUD--- 64.49 %
W/ro Beletu Zelek Merisha, EPRDF (ANDM)-26.70 %

Hmm. Let’s try Gonder Ketema 2:

Ato Siyoum Mamo Datite, CUD- 72.33 %
Ato Tesema G/Hiwot Engida, EPRDF (ANDM), 24.15 %

This must be waaaay bumming the EPRDF.

Dessie, that lovely Dessie… (Population: 123,300)

Ato Muhammed Ali Muhammed, CUD, 80.78 %
Ato Kedir Muhammed Ahimed, EPRDF (ANDM), 15.65 %


Bahir Dar (Population: 121,700)

Ato Abayneh Brihanu Bellay, CUD- 80.76 %
Ato Mullat Gezahegne Wolde, EPRDF (ANDM)- 13.71%

I ain’t no statistic wonkette, but I sense a trend.

Jima: (Population:112,500)
Major Asirat Tekalgn Balcha, UEDF- 83.64 %
W/ro Asinakech Kebede Feysa, EPRDF (OPDO)- 14.11 %

Uh-oh. “Rest of the country” seems not so crazy about the EPRDF.

The only major city the EPRDF was able to win was in Meqelle.

Meqelle (Population 122, 700)
Ambasader D/r Adisalem Balema Abay, EPRDF (TPLF), 94.95 %
Ato Getahun Abay Tegegn, CUD 2.45 %

Shoot. Who can win against an “Ambassador/Dr.”?

Other major cities…
Debre Brhan:

Ato Belayhun Zemedhun Kabebewu, CUD-76.11 %

W/ro Beletshachew Agzew Dres-EPRDF (ANDM)-18.21 %

Double ouch.

Ambo 1:

Ato W/Yesus Mengesha G/Yohanes, UEDF- 73.18 %
W/ro Ararise Dabela Mirekana, EPRDF (OPDO)-17.84 %

No, seriously…

Ambo 2:

Dr. Merara Gudina Jefi, UEDF - 83.74 %
Ato Taye Uma Dendessa, EPRDF (OPDO)- 16.97 %

Now that is a bitch slap if I ever seen one.


Ato Legesse Biratu Retebo, CUD- 70.02 %
D/r Kasu Yilala Ashami, EPRDF (SEPDM)- 30.37 %


Dare we go to Shashamene?

Ato Hamado Hami Wakayo,UEDF, 71.13 %
Ato Tafese Jula Goracha, EPRDF (OPDO) 22.57 %

Arba Mnch:

Ato Kifile H/Mariam Kocha, CUD, 56.17 %
Ato Getachew Hamussa H/Mariam, EPRDF (SEPDM), 36.50 %

56 to 36! Phew. That was close!


Corneal [sic]Birhanu Tesema Temocho, UEDF, 47.23 %
W/ro Genet Berkesa Feysa, EPRDF (OPDO), 30.58 %


Ato Abidulkadr Dkisiso Bedasol, CUD, 50.69 %
Ato Jemal Aley Sima, EPRDF (OPDO), 24.57 %

So, after this small sampling, which statement is true, more true or very true?

a) “the rest of the country is in the hands of the EPRDF”
b) “the rest of the country thinks the EPRDF sucks” or,
c) “Ato Bereket’s pants are on fire”?

The EPRDF has lost (and lost badly) in nearly all major cities in Ethiopia. Going back to Ato Bereket’s web o’ lies (over a Billion served):

“Addis is for sure in the hands of the opposition, the rest of the country is
for sure in the hands of the EPRDF”

Eh, not so much. So, Ato Bereket, maybe we can depend on your good senses to admit that statement was a boldfaced lie the next time you see fit to obfuscate? No, we can’t? Oh, well. We tried. It is a good thing that facts don't mean anything to the EPRDF, 'coz it sure won't like the fact that the "rest of the country" is not in its hands. Not that it did not know that the rest of the country was not in its hands, but, y'know... lying about it is so much easier.

Oh, by the way, the EPRDF must be contesting Ato Bereket’s rather embarrassing parliamentary loss 'coz the NEBE website doesn’t have the election results of that seat anymore. Do what you can for your boy, NEBE. You know how murderous he can get when he doesn’t get his way.

So, what kind of government loses nearly all major cities in a nation? The EPRDF kind of government, that's who. And what’s more, it has lost most of the countryside as well, and if it were not for some terrible ballot box stuffing, none would be wiser.

So, Mr. And Mrs. EPRDF, grow up! Grow the hell up.

What will be the final verdict of the EU? Eventually, it will have to declare the Ethiopian elections either free and fair or not so free and fair. My guess is that it will abstain from making a declaration (citing something terribly lame like not having a mandate for any post-election observances), or it might give a lukewarm “whatever!” in favor of the EPRDF. In doing so, it takes away Mr. Meles’ bragging rights for holding a free and fair elections by “any standards.” But the EU will mar its status as one of the most respected elections observing institutions the world can depend on. (By the way, can the next interviewer please ask Ato Meles why he kicked out the American observers? And, please. Let him not pussyfoot with the "they did not have permits" bullcrap. We are grown ups.)

Remember the “confidential memo” the EU leaked to the AP? It was the hex on Ato Meles’ glib assertions that he made democracy happen.

The confidential report said the EU might have to make a public denunciation of
developments to distance itself from "the lack of transparency, and assumed
rigging" of the vote.
"Ten days after the polling day, the situation is of political uncertainty and
informational chaos regarding the results of the election," said the
confidential report.
"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."

Assumed rigging? Them is fightin’ words.

The EU report also said U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who led a team of 50
election observers, undermined the electoral process and EU criticism with "his
premature blessing of the elections and early positive assessment of the
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

The behavior of the EPRDF in the post election days has not been, even by, say, Robert Mugabe’s threadbare standards, a “drastic reverse towards good democratic practice.” I might be wrong about this, but unless the EU considers murder, mass imprisonments and denying the opposition any time on state owned media a “drastic reverse towards good democratic practice”, it will declare these anything but free and fair elections. We will hold it to its word and wait for the public denouncing to commence... annnny day now.

Meanwhile, on a seemingly unrelated but potentially very "nail in the coffin" matter, the UN Security Council is pressuring Ato Meles to accept that pesky border ruling he agreed would be “final and binding”. Hm. Didn’t he sign some kind of peace treaty with his “we were pals when we were guerillas” foe-turned-pal-turned-foe and fellow sociopath Ato Isayas Afewerqi? Whatever happened to that agreement? Oh, Ato Meles reneged on his word? I am shocked, shocked. It’s going to be interesting to see what Tony Blair says about his friend’s reliably blatant disregard for things he signed up for. It is also going to be interesting to see how Ato Meles responds to this pressure.Will he declare Badme no longer Ethiopian? That's gonna be sticky. Remember the Prime Minister’s empty bravado, “If Badme goes, I go”? Or will be continue ignorning the international community eventually royally pissing off the most earnest amongst them?

Ah, Mr. Meles' word. If only it was worth the paper it is written on.

Mr. Meles said he would accept an opposition victory if this was confirmed by
international observers.

Yeah, right.

In memory of those who died in London; and for Londoners who are defiantly going on.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Waiter, I'll Take One Leader-- Hold Off on the Psychotic Killer

I am drowning in post-vacation trimiss and injera-related work, which has piled up while I was , um, sunning my teeth, so to speak, with the Frenchies. So, trying to catch up. (I hope that Anon does not think that I, too, have turned “woyanni”.)

Bad timing on my part since I am dying to pick apart the Prime Minister’s letter to Congress as well as his interview on the BBC. And I shall be as soon as I appease my bosses that I am worth the corner office.

Regaring Ato Meles… sheesh, that guy is creepy. You know, when someone asks you to apologize for killing people, the only decent thing to do is to apologize—even is you don’t “feel it”, just goddamn do it… the people are dead, ferpetessake! It strikes me as the only decent thing to do. When you refuse to do so, you end up saying unconscionable stuff like “we will take our time investigating the deaths.” (Oh, can’t you see Tony Blair just criiiiinnnnging that his best African buddy is such a callous, calculating creepazoid? “Oh, Martha, I do believe he is a bastard. Oh, bullocks! Now I have to pretend I never knew he was so dastardly ignoble. Oh, Martha… why does this happen to me? I just wanted one African friend. Pass the crumpets., please, darling.”

The least Ato Meles could have done was to feign shock, Isreali-style. What? You think square-ish head BBC interviewer is going to go back and check what a total dick the Prime Minister was about the dead? Oh, please, grow up. So, Ato Meles could have dropped in a few “I am appalled”s and, “As a father myself I can only imagine what the death of a child can do to a parent.”s and come off half-way normal. Beqa. But Ato Meles, like he has proven to us time and again, is missing the human decency DNA.

I do contend the Prime Minister is an unmitigated, complete King of Faras!

From the comments on the last blog, I agree with Filwuha (perhaps sand the part that civilized people live in Lown-don.) Cranky, curmudgeon Ato Engineer Hailu “Yes, I saw the killings… my chauffer drove me around” Shawel should have remained in the timeout seat with my son. His interview with the BBC was a terrible waste of opportunity. Oh, please. Someone needs to pass him a newspaper and point him to a rocking chair. Or maybe he can take up golf and leave the politicking to others. Minew itayE!

But here’s the thing, as far as I know, the Engineer has not gunned down 36 people… well, 26 by the New Math courtesy of Non-Education Minister Genet Zewdie. (How undignified do you have to BE, by the way, to contest the number of people dead? And wasn’t that an official figure? Perhaps the Prime Minister has a Jesus complex and he might have thought that he resurrected some of the dead. Alazar, call your office.)

Anyway, as I was saying, whatever Hailu Shawel’s faults, and being a bad dresser is one of them—oh, that outfit was so blaaa!, at least he is not burdened with the moral responsibility of having gunned down unarmed people. And I will take incompetence over congenital lying and murdering any time. I am weird like that.

To me, the Engineering wonder that is Hailu Shawel is the Ronald Regan of Ethiopia—minus the head bobbing and “O’m’gad he is just like my grandpa” charm. As long as people like Berhanu and uber-sexy Lidetu are by Ato Engineer’s side, nodding their heads patiently while he finishes sputtering out a string of incomprehensibles, the world is fine. At least he is surrounded by sharp people who are not yes-men. And actually, better that the Engineer know his place and be humbled now, than when it matters. Life has a way of calibrating egos.

But like I said, I like my leaders to have not sanctioned killing. Don’t much care if they come off as doddering in one interview. As long as they don’t have blood on their hands.

Listen to me, have you all seen that speech/Q&A with zany-brainy Non Engineer Berhanu in the Stockholm? (By the way, did the venue seem like an S&M dungeon or was it me remembering my youth….? Anniiiiway.) That interview should be required viewing to all of us following Ethiopian politics. It is breathtakingly brilliant. The guy has cahones the size of Mesqel Addebbai, and that’s on a bad day. Watch it, and you will know that there is much to be hopeful for in Ethiopia.

I am falling off my chair, so I gotta run. Sorry I’ve been MIA.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Ladies and Gentlemen... Zany Brainy Super Cool Non-Engineer Berhanu Nega

A most welcome respite from the painfully predictable droning of soon-to-depart-kicking-and-screaming despot and Mengistu Haile Mariam's new neighbor-- Ato Meles, and his sidekick, whackjob hack Darth Bereket.

Proving that all economists are not not monumental geeks, may we present, Ato Dr. Berhanu Nega.

For those of you in the States, happy Fourth of July.