Friday, September 30, 2005

Revolutionary Melesocracy

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Emasculation Proclamation

You would think… you would just think that the EPRDF’s oddly unappealing ambassador to these United States would have a little savior faire. I mean, dude lives in DC, ferchrissake … he must get out in the cocktail circuit… he must watch some TV... he must have some diplomatic… what’s it called… knowledge? Hmmm? You would think.

Okay. I know it’s the EPRDF and the most we can expect from its disciples is that they wipe their mouths after they projectile vomit their hackneyed talking points on innocent bystanders.

But… but… it’s DC, people! Couldn’t the Meles government scrounge up just one able person to rep-ree-zent other than the present alpha male wannabe they plunked down on International Drive?

It took a while, but I finally listened to the ambassador’s interview on Chicago Public Radio in its entirety. Yes, the one where he traded words with curmudgeon-in-chief Professor Donald Levine, who was at one point breathing fire about having his intelligence insulted ostensibly after being duped into serving as an "observer" at the 1992 “democratic” Ethiopian elections. Miskeeeen! The professor is obviously still very emotionally scarred by that indignity. Oh, Professor Levine. Welcome to the club. Try repressed memory therapy… that's where you actually repress memories. That’s how most of us have survived the EPRDF.


So when your top ambassador can’t defend your government from the verbal whiplash of sociologist Donald Levine, or is even mildly flustered by him, do you think it’s time to step back and... I dunno, reflect? Something like, “Why are all the morons on our side?”

True to form, Mr. Ambassador-Lite totally parroted Prime Minister Meles’ now-certified “Gee, you think he wrote it under the influence of Benadryl?” response to the preliminary EU report. Almost verbatim. I mean, after all the ridicule Ato Meles’ “my temper tantrum in 14,000 words or less” received, wouldn’t you think that someone in the EPRDF Department of Bullshit would have come up with a new spin? You’d think that, wudn’ja? You would be sadly mistaken, my friend.

The ambassador ended up referring to Ato Meles’ long-windedness as “detailed” and “exhaustive”… okay so far… I mean, he is the Ambassador, after all. What's he gonna say? “It shortened my growth spurt”? “It made me want to have the mother of all bowl movements”? But then… then comes the nauseatingly obsequious “well argued” and “based on facts” nonsense. Eeesh. [edited ]

Anyway, so what’s wrong with this picture, boys and girls?

I have heard that [The Carter Center] has submitted their report yesterday or today. I haven’t… uh, gone through it.

Now, I'm probably being picky about these things, but wouldn’t you think that the Ambassador of Ethiopia would actually have, let’s say, read an important document like the Carter Center report on the Ethiopian elections before he sat down to an interview about the Ethiopian elections? Especially when the report was released a full day prior to his interview? Is that still within the job description of an ambassador these days? Reading a report?


With the predictability of a tightly wound nymphomaniac let loose on Fleet Week, the ambassador then goes on to try to persuade us that the EPRDF is not Marxist and that it has been following a “completely different policy” from “day one” of its rule. Youuuu crazy ambassador, you! C’mere!

And God bless America, the land that allows the disgorging of fuzzy logic: we get a healthy dose of the whole “the EPRDF is better than the Mengistu era” bullet point, which the EPRDF miserably thinks is an actual point.

Surprise, surprise the EU report is “full of bias” as is the professor’s point of view: “full of bias.” Many things and people are “full of bias.”

There are several “no, he did’n!” moments, one being when the good ambassador-man remarks about past, um, Ethiopian elections… you know, the ones where the EPRDF won by 99%.

This last election was the third ever. In this election there have been a marked progress. You have referred to the 1992 election. I wouldn’t be surprised! The people did not even have any experience, any exposure to elect their leaders. They did not even know that leaders could be challenged. So this has to come gradually. This is an emerging democracy.

Yeeeah. So the only thing wrong with the 1992 elections were that people just didn’t know... how to vote? Oookay.

Remember the hearty laugh we shared when Ato Meles tried to lecture us on how the government of Ethiopia is different from the EPRDF? Well, get ready to chuckle s’more. Ambassador, your take on that?

The government, and I am not talking about the ruling party, but I am talking about the government, the government is not saying that this election is pure and clean. There are irregularities...

Uh-oh. Someone’s not been reading their talking points either. Um, Mr. Ambassador, when it has time, could the government please break the news to the EPRDF that this election was not… pure and (cough!) clean because, um, the EPRDF kinda seems to think that it... it is pure and clean. Just like a virgin. Forget it. Mr. Ambassador, who do we talk to in the government to straighten up this baby? Maybe this is just a matter of the people in the government and the people in the EPRDF not having met each other.

I have a quick question: does the EPRDF think that there is “stupid” written on all our faces or just on the faces of people who listen to public radio?

Oh, and by the way, the Prime Minister did not mean to insult anybody with that whole “garbage” thing. It was a matter of semantics. Mr. Prime Minister is not that fluent in English. (“Self-appointed colonial viceroy”? He must have meant that in the nicest way possible.)

The haze of bullshit pollution around the ambassador’s personal space soon thickened… yes, yes… the ambassador will be “sad” if the opposition doesn’t join the parliament to “challenge” the government. Ohhhh…and the ambassador will thank you not to be going around day dreaming about no coalition government... for it is written in the Constitution. So, ixnay on any oo-ni-tay government-tay talk. Yes, our sacred constitution. The same constitution that the EPRDF holds in such reverence that it thinks it is tantamount to an insult to follow all its articles... especially the one about the right to assemble freely. And the one about the right not to be shot in the head.

In case you wondered, the ambassador thinks democracy should be strengthened, details on how to be hammered out soonish. Sure, why not?And, no, Ato Meles never said, heck would never dream of saying (even in 1992), “If the opposition wants power, let them do what we did.” The professor insisted otherwise, pointing out that he was in the actual room when Ato Meles said it, but the ambassador was having none of that crapola in any language. "No.. no.. no... he didn't say that. No... No...No!" I think I heard Levine grit his teeth. I am sure the ambassador is kneenly aware of all of the prime minister's utterances, so let's not quibble. And very much no, no, heavens to Betsey a thousand times no, Ato Meles is not a dictator. All allegations of intimidations and abuse are “all allegations.” There have been no intimidations. What initimidations? You call a few assasinations intimidations? What are you, a fascist? No, no, no. Most people are bias. Personally bias against the prime minister. Thank you, good night, please tip your waiter.

The best part came towards the end. Speaking about those who were killed on June 8, the ambassador predictably whips out his laser-guided, EPRDF-sanctioned, super oafish cliché saber. He tries to belch out the customary bullshit that the people killed were those who were caught trying to usurp the constitution, and that the government bears the responsibility of “preserving the peace.”

Does no one at the EPRDF get it? A government which cannot control an unarmed crowd without killing 42 unarmed people is, by definition, a government that is not fit to govern. Say it with me, people: only thugs respond to stone throwing with live bullets. What part of that is not clear?

Uff. Ethiopundit was right. It’s like putting lipstick on a pig. No matter how statesman-like the ambassador tried to come off, in the end, justifying the deaths of 42 people, some of whom were shot in the head multiple times, some of whom as young as 14-years old… justifying this thugishness by saying that the government was protecting the constitution exposes the ambassador as having the political sophistication of a gussied up guerilla fighter with the analytical competence of a two-bit gangster. Hel-lo! What part of that is not clear? An AK-47 mentality is an AK-47 mentality, even in zip code 20008.

“My role is not to blindly support the government,” the ambassador tells us. “My role is to learn from really concerned people.”

Oh, pul-lease. Different shade of lipstick, same pig. This is a government and a party that has been unmerciful in its brutality. It continues to zombie-like defend its behavior on June 8, going as far as calling the victims “hooligans.” It has not bothered to investigate the deaths, yet the ambassador tells us verrrryy saccharinely how it was all soooo "regrettable" and that there “should” be an investigation. Oh yeah? Well, there should be a low-fat bacon triple cheeseburger, too. But guess what, sunshine?

I lost count at how many times the ambassador dips his head deep into the septic tank that is the EPRDF's blatant hypocrisy, only to then come up and douse himself with dime- store cologne in a childish attempt to hide the distinct stench of eau de bullshit. Ah, poor thing. That’s the problem with spewing out spoon-fed propaganda: you never come out smelling like a rose.

Interestingly, the professor then gets on the defensive, assuring the ambassador several times that once upon a time he himself had written glowing love letters to and about Ato Meles. This pleased the ambassador. Not sure what made the proffessor change his mind in subsequent years, but he shore sounded decidedly more pissed off at Ato Meles in his June interview.

Then... did I hear right? Did the professor say something like how he agrees with the ambassador on about 99% of the issues? Uh-oh. Methinks the professor was momentarily pussified right in front of our very ears. Me really thinks that. Ohhhh… so that’s how Ato Meles managed to find Tony Blair’s G-spot and convince him about the whole "new breed of Africans" lump of garbage? I am beginning to see the method behind the madness.

Incidentally, here’s the problem plauging the ambassador and the EPRDF: they both insist on measuring their government's success and gauging its progress against the Mengistu regime. The ambassador kept crowing (“Here. I have figures,” he tells us breathlessly at one point) about how many people did not die of starvation in the Meles regime as opposed to how many died in the Mengistu regime.

Oh, yeah, baby. Tell me more! Did your government also not gas people? Hmm? Oohh. That is so sex-aye. And I bet you your government never ran a terror campaign named after a primary color, has it? Oh, yeah, sweetie, right there. And… and your government never land locked your 71 million people because it was involved in a gluttonous, deliciously avaricious orgy with its guerilla friend, did it, babe? Umm. Yeah, that's it... Um, babe? Babe? Oh. It did landlock 71 million people because it was involved in a gluttonous, deliciously avaricious orgy with its guerilla friend! Hmm. What about not used a draconian resettlement policy to combat starvation? Okay. Never-mmmmind!

It is the most retarded reasoning, eve-er!

The EPRDF also computes its contribution to humanity in terms of the roads it has built and how many shiny buildings sparkle in the Addis Ababa skyline. It thinks that sporadic high speed internet connections make up for all the violence it has heaped on the Ethiopian people. Ex-squeeze me very much, but didn’t colonialists also build roads and railways… ports and fabulous villa homes? Didn’t they "educate" and “civilize” the natives? Do we excuse their brutality? What would happen if England got up today and said hey, we built roads in Africa, so that whole colonialism thing... sooo overrated. I mean, come on, people. This is bush league. Or is it okay when an Ethiopian traumatizes another Ethiopian… as long as he’s handing him an iPod?

Seriously, what the fuck?

This government can’t even face a demonstration from its people, let alone investigate their death. Asking us to give it credit for building roads and cleaning up Addis (which the EPRDF would be surprised to find out is what governments actually do... sort of like reading reports) while telling us to ignore all its other traits is lunacy. Is that in any way ambiguous, 'coz I can ellaborate 'till the cows come home.

This is what passes for intelligence in the EPRDF circle. You go, boys!

Prime Minister Meles is a child of revolution, a stepchild of group think and is not even distantly related by marriage to free thought. These are the traits of a tyrant. In order to rule, tyrants have to discourage free thought and dissent. They surround themselves with android yes-men who are little more than groupies with benefits. That would explain Ambassador Kassahun Ayele, who is neither a kassa nor hayal… discuss amongst yourselves. He is alas another castrated cadre who does not possess neither the ability nor the wherewithal to stand up and say, “enough!”

Meanwhile at the palace, Prime Minister Meles has the balls to sputter ad hominem crap about violators of the sacred Ethiopian constitution even as he is gang bangs the constitution. His little men surround him, nodding in perfect harmony and venerating his prowess.


Leaders who are afraid of dissenters are cowards, tyrants or both. They know that their ideology is not stable without leaning it heavily on a sub-machine gun. This was none clearer than when Ato Meles and his party were magnificently humiliated during the debates in the days before the election. (Does someone have the video of that they can link online?) In the mano-a-mano, no holds barred cerebral warfare, they were left naked and disgraced. Remember the Hardtalk interview with the BBC? Prime Minister Meles was so used to spewing non sequitur drivel which is swiftly accepted with “amens” and hallelujah”s, that at the slightest challenge he ended up sweaty and stuttering like a schoolboy who had just seen his first pair of grown up breasts. It was like watching a small-time street bully being knocked around by the bigger boys. So sad, yet compelling to watch. It also had a nice beat and you could dance to it. I give that inteview an eight.

As someone in the comment section said, “The EPRDF is stuck on stupid.”

Ethiopundit, the Altoids of political discourse in the halitosis that is innernetz Ethiopian politics once again radiantly breaks down the splendid inanity of the EPRDF and how it almost anal about confusing the line between normal idiocy and mental retardation. Read Caravan Redux.

I am sick and tired, ladies and gentlemen. I am sick and tired of stupidity. I don’t care where it comes from, the EPRDF, the opposition… I have decreed a fatwah on stupidity. September 29, 2005: the road to stupid makes a U-turn.

Ethiopia has to be fara-free! We have got to start thinking analytically. The EPRDF and its mignons sling slogans like "Choose freedom or Dergists" and it thinks it is soooo freakin' clever. It puts a blue pentagram on the flag and it thinks that it has soooo arrived. Ohhhh. Hail thee EPRDF... We are overcome with awe.

Someone, please press stop.

Okay, now that we’ve covered that…

So here’s why I am liking über-geek, get-the-man-a-pocket-protector Berhanu Nega, and why I was initially impressed with how he handled that whole thing with hot tamale Lidetu and the disagreement on the talks with the EPRDF. Listen to his arguments and response to questions. And then listen to any speech by Ato Meles. I mean the difference in logic and style is so cosmic that Ato Meles, without exception, betrays his jungle-ly, insolent roots.

To most intelligent people, dissent is not dysfunction. EPRDF devotees, who are not allowed to think outside the very inner box, were gleeful at the Berhanu/Lidetu fracture. Um, dissenting views at the EPRDF are dealt with…what’s it called, death and/or lifetime imprisonment .

But there were also a lot of people on the side of the opposition who thought that these kinds of disagreements should be dealt with in-house. Don't ask me why. But to me, this was a watershed event. It set precedent. It was tremendous. This was huge for Ethiopian politics and I don’t think it has been written about enough.

Part of the handicap of the opposition is that is it not just endeavoring to change Ethiopian politics, it is trying to change behavior; and not just any ol’ behavior, political behavior. It is a colossal responsibility… especially when you are doing it without the aide of a specially trained killing posse. Changing behavior is lugubrious and painstaking systematic. It is a process, not a laxative. That’s why people who need therapy the most (um… does Ato Meles have a good PPO?) don’t believe in therapy. They want fast-acting blue pills. That’s why Jeffrey Sachs thinks dumping money on Africa and sucking up to leaders like Ato Meles is good policy. Shit. Who wants to deal with “good governance”? That’s… messy.

Great thinkers are rarely appreciated in their time, and econ maharishi Berhanu shows signs of being a great thinker. Maybe it is his academic background that obligates him to use logic to emaciate his opponents rather than boisterous but banal gibberish. (By the way---and I don’t necessarily mean “by the way” in a “speaking of which” way--- I attended a Hailu Shawel speech this past weekend. Okay. Short end of it: we need to get Very Engineer Hailu Shawel a hobby other than the CUD. I’m sending him my knitting needles. No. No. He might poke his eyes out with them and call the whole thing “highway robbery.” Okay, let’s all think of a hobby for him.)

I have a great weakness and profound esteem for people who have the ability and gift to be great thinkers; these people are methodical in their analysis and unconcerned about counterfeit bravado. There is nothing more fulfilling than seeing logic shatter brutality. It is nirvana. Yet we Ethiopians are yet again seduced by situations and people who make us feel better rather than someone who forces us to think better.

For example, when the EPRDF came up with its asinine ethnic policy which it wrappedloosely in thin layers of tattered logic, many people rushed to it as if it were the last doughnut on a fat farm. Few people stopped to examine its real intent because even a cursory look would have revealed that this was not about getting rid of oppression, my friends. So all of a sudden, otherwise previously normal people (even those who grew up in the melting pot that is Addis Abeba) started affiliating themselves ethnically. And now, when things are rough, the TPLF turds are murmuring about ethnic cleansing. Someone from the TPLF will soon start reverting to a liberation movement, because that’s the last desperate move to hang on to power. Talk about stuck on stupid.

Similarly, Eritreans were told that they were not Ethiopians, but a super-race with a super DNA structure, so they lobotomized themselves and canonized a psychopath to sainthood. After all, they had "won a war against Africa's biggest army". Yeeeah. Turns out, they are mere mortals. Total buzz kill. A few years later, mothers would question why they gave up their children for an independence that is now claiming their grandchildren. Now that’s what they call a socially engineered mind-fuck.

Same thing with Mengistu. He ratcheted up a scheme that convinced a few village idiots and disgruntled petty officers that there is an oppressed mass in desperate need of a bloody revolution, and soon young people, without questioning that logic, starting killing their own brothers and sisters as a sacrifice for the Communist Revolutionary Gods.

I see a trend here, and hopefully leaders like Berhanu and Beyene Petros and their kind can help us break that cycle. Sadly, a whole new generation of Ethiopians is about to be made uncomfortable with the concept of peace and rational thinking. Ato Meles and Co. are programming people so that soon, violence will be on auto-pilot , and people will press their own buttons to destruct themselves and anyone near them.

Leaders like Meles and Mengistu appeal to the lowest common denominator. Instead of addressing our grievance, be it ethnicity or class, they expertly manipulate our national vulnerability until we become hopelessly addicted to pain--feeling it as well as inflicting it. That's why Ambassador Kassahun and countless EPRDF apprentices cannot for the life of them understand our sheer horror at their defense that killings ensure "law and order." They can't inherently understand the contradiction in that, nor can they imagine what all the fuss is about there have not being the slightest attempt to "investigate" the killings. Because to them, June 8 was nothing more than collateral damage. No big whoop. They have been vitually numbed to the sanctity of human life. Their default setting is stuck on violence. They can wear expensive clothes and hobnob with Tony Blair and Jeffrey Sachs, but when push comes to shove, their default is stuck on brutality.

What do you think it would take for you to kill, dear reader? Imagine picking up a gun and shooting someone dead because that person does not agree with you, or you feel like that person is trying to take away your power. What will it take for you to pick up a gun and kill a human being over an ideologial difference?

Leaders like Berhanu, at least so far, not only want us to aim higher, they expect us to aim higher. But it’s so much more easier to aim low.

There is a lot of nerve-racking chatter in the ET cyberspace pontificating about whether the opposition should join the parliament or not. As always, because there is little introspection, matters are discussed in binary format… yes/no, black/white, do/die. People translate the mere discussion of joining the parliament as legitimizing "the weyane."Next question. "Mommy should the CUD join the parliamnet, yes or no? Do people think that Isreal left the Gaza Strip because it was feeling generous? Did it sit back and watch synagogues being burnt because it really believed that Palestinians truly belonged there?

As the philosopher and self-appointed poverty viceroy and one time God awful musician Sir Bob Geldolf put it succinctly, grow up! Reducing the complexity of the Ethiopian election and its aftermath into a yes/no configuration is appallingly reductionist.

Only children like things put in binary mode. “Mommy, can I have a cookie, yes or no?” “No!” Beqa. There is also a lot of hand-wringing about the upcoming rally called by the opposition on October 2. It’s presented in a “do or die” paradigm, as if, if for one reason or another, the rally is canceled or delayed it’s over for the opposition. Please.

What the opposition has been very adept at so far has been changing behavior. It’s not a matter of winning the election or not (and I believe it has), or sitting in parliament or not. It’s about the process of democracy being honored. People going apoplectic about “to parliament or not to parliament”, or getting ulcers about the number of people who’ll show up at the demonstration seems a little politically immature to me. But that’s just me, and I ain’t the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Changing behavior and engaging in a process is like drinking instant coffee… yeah, technically it’s coffee, but grown ups wait for the real brew to brew.

So far, the opposition has managed to riddle the EPRDF’s armor by strategy and wit. It is breathtaking to be witness to. Hopefully, it will continue doing so, drowning out the cacophony of pseudo-intellectuals and Starbucks warriors… and know it all wonqettes. To me, the opposition winning the elections is a lesser priority than the fostering of the process and culture of democracy. Power is ephemeral. Culture is permanent. The EPRDF is a dead entity. It's finished. But replacing it with another EPRDF-style “if you are not with us, you are against us” regime that believes in the means justifying the end is careless. I don’t believe in the idiom, “He may be a bastard, but he is our bastard.” I think we should aspire to a general level of non-bastardiness.

A lot of people have been asking me if I think the opposition should or should not join parliament. Here is my honest answer: I don’t know. That’s up to them and the people who elected them. LijE, I have my hands full dealing with another totalitarian regime: a PTA run by MILF fascists in Chanel pumps who want to make me chair the next mother-son dance. Sheeet. You wanna talk about dealing with a tyranny.

Listen to Berhanu’s latest VOA interview here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

How to know you support the EPRDF.

These are trying times for Ethiopians. And in trying times facts get confused, people get fidgety and governments get that certain… what’s the word I’m looking for… bloodlust.

Don’t be confused, dear Wonqettieer. Here are a few simple ways of finding out where you stand politically and intellectually.

  • If your leader has bragged at one point that the elections he held were “not just fair by African standards but by ANY standards” and you believed him… you might be an EPRDF-er.

  • If your party claims that it landed a “landslide” victory after losing an election, and you don’t question that logic… you might be an EPRDF-er.

  • If your leader goes on the record and begrudgingly admits that there might have been some flaws in the election by proclaiming, “But because of the fallibility of human nature, mistakes cannot be avoided“, and you don’t scoff at him with derision… you might be an EPRDF-er.

  • If you find yourself compelled to file things like “The complaints investigation process took place in the context of serious violations of human rights and freedoms…” under “F” for “Fallibility of Human Nature” … you might be an EPRDF-er.

  • If you are also moved to file “Context of complaints process did not meet international democratic standards for elections” under “H” for “Human Nature, Fallicies and Stuff”… you might be an EPRDF-er.

  • If your leader says, “The victors will establish a government soon and administer the country democratically” while threatening to “unleash fire” on peaceful demonstrators and you follow that logic… you might be an EPRDF-er.

  • If one of your leaders’ lackey is quoted as saying, “Anyone who incites violence, other than those elected, will have to face the law" and a big lump of stupid doesn’t get stuck in your throat, you might be an EPRDF-er.

  • If you nod wistfully and get vaguely aroused when your leader lobs out slightly psycho-sexual statements such as, “Thus what remains is to consummate the democratic process in a democratic manner”…you might be an EPRDF-er.

  • If it makes perfect sense to you that your party first blames the opposition, and then the EU for making it kill 42 people and imprison thousands… you might be an EPRDF-er.

  • If your leader does not have the intellectual capacity to understand the difference between an “election process” and “winning an election”, and he vomits his temper tantrum in a tortured letter-to-the-editor that has been ridiculed by most people who’ve finished high-school, yet you write a letter “exalting” praise for it… you might be an EPRDF-er.

  • If you just don’t understand that killing people who oppose you is fundamentally, er, wrong… you might be an EPRDF-er.

  • If your leader drones on about the sanctity of the Ethiopian constitution, yet he routinely violates at least 3-4 articles in the constitution per day, and you can’t see the glaring contradiction in that … you might be an EPRDF-er.

  • Similarly, if your leader hides behind a knee-jerk, pre-programmed “supremacy of the law”, and trite “work peacefully and legally”-type boilerplate sound bites while he breathlessly violates many, many laws, yet you think he is the upholder of freedom and democracy… you might be an EPRDF-er.

  • If you like your facts pre-fabed in a “Revolutionary Democracy” lab, sanitized and wobbly against even the most rudimentary intellectual scrutiny, or if you have no problem believing 2 + 2 can sometimes add to 5.6 due to “human nature and fallacy”…you might be an EPRDF-er.

  • If something in you tingles with joy even if you don’t quite understand what he means when your leader says,

"If they choose the violent option by disrespecting the constitutional order, there could not be negotiation for the respect of the constitutional system with a force working for instability, a force that refuses to respect the constitutional order."

… you might be an EPRDF-er.

  • If you think that frightfully archaic ethnic Bantu-fication of a country is “progressive” in the face of the digital century… you are a serious EPRDF-er.


  • If your understanding of democracy and what it means to have a vibrant opposition is summed up by your leader’s contention that:

"If by some reason EPRDF lets these oppositions to participate in the government it would automatically quit development activities and other works and becomes a government of crisis and disputes. Thus EPRDF never contemplates [the unity government] option."

… you MOST DEFINITELY are an EPRDF-er.

Okay, people? You get it now? You know where you stand? You’re welcome!

Oh wait… my most favorite, favorite quote from Prime Minister Meles in this must-read-and-gasp-with-incredulity interview... (I wish I was a good enough satirist to come up with this stuff…)

Asked about the outgoing parliament’s passing of legislation that says only the party that has a 51% majority can bring up items to be put on the agenda, let alone discuss and debate it, Ato Meles pops a potent unreality pill and opines:

The third country that was taken as a model is Germany. The parliamentary and federal system of Germany is somewhat similar with our own. Therefore, it was on the basis of these and other countries’ experiences that the regulation was amended. And the objective is not to limit the opposition. It is to provide the incoming parliament with the conventional practices that those democratic countries follow so that the parliament would become efficient and more democrat in its activities.

I could not make that up if I tried! No. I couldn’t. I don’t have that kind of depth in shallow logic.

Sooo… those goddamn Germans! Ever since that whole Hitler thing, I tell ya…

Errrr… and this, ladies and gentlemen, is the Ethiopian leader at work. Limiting the opposition’s power… what? The Germans (who also divide their nation by ethnicity, by the way—Bavarians vs. Frankfurters--- bitter rival since the 11th century) do it, and, really, aren’t we more like the Federation in Germany than, say, name me another country that rules through stoking ethnicity and divisiveness. And wasn’t it that waskly wabbit Gerhard Schröder who accused Angela Merkel of supporting an Interwhame, that bastard! Come to think of it, we are just like the Germans—they’re in a stalemate over elections as well, and just today Mr. Schröder warned the Christian Democratic Union that any mass rally against election fraud will be considered an attempt to subvert the German constitution. See? See how we be the same?

(In case you find it interesting, the other countries Ato Meles based this new parliamentary procedure were India and … (ta-da!) Great Britain.)

Seriously, aren’t EPRDF supporters mortified by this, or do they think it’s okay to be led by Ato Meles’ dazzlingly retarded logic? Don't they feel tired of their intelligence being so mercilessly insulted?

Ahhhhhh… who cares? They’ll soon all end up in Washington working for the World Bank.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

We Ask You Not to Interrupt This Suicide

Took a break from blogging for the highest of High Holidays—Fashion Week, Spring 2006. And yes, there might be anti-Fashionista fascists in Wonqville, but before we get all political, here is my summary:

First impression: where are all the black models? This year was particularly less diversified, except at the atrocious, at-ro-cious L.A.M.B (not even the liberal use of the colors of the Ethiopian flag- minus, thankfully, that hideous blue pentagram that the EPRDF has plastered on it- could make this show bearable!), and at the perennially ghetto fabulous brainchild of Kimora Lee Simmons. But, at the risk of being flogged by fellow-Fashionistas, the greatest disappointment: Vera Wang! Tragedy. She was supposedly inspired by the HBO show Deadwood. Hm. And here I thought the only thing that that show should inspire is heavy drinking and slurring out of profanity.

Best shows: Luca Luca—new favorite in Wonqettedom… beautiful cuts as usual, with stunning muted colors. (Incidentally, Luca is married to a Nigerian model.) D00-Ri (Geoffrey Beene protégé): Yes, she lives up to the hype. Really. And although I could not get tickets, buzz on the street was that the Oscar collection was astonishingly fabulous, as was Esteban Cortazar and Alice Temperley. (Temperley London dresses: so must-have.) But the best of the best, and the best 13 minutes I’ve spent in the last few days… Narciso Rodriguez. Thank God for the classically beautiful. His colors for spring are mucho muted—someone write an obituary for hot pink and neon green. Also toned down are accessories, especially handbags—and none too soon. Worst trend: the metallic colors of this winter might extend to spring. Somebody shoot me if I am seen in silver boots.

Okay. That’s my take.

So, I see that Mistah Jimmah Car’ra came out with his final report about the Ethiopian elections. Poor EPRDF. When even your best friend can’t quite come out to say that you ran free and fair elections… Hmm. But of course, Mistah Jimmah could not quite get himself to give the EPRDF the finger.

While pre-election and election day processes were generally commendable, the post-election period was disappointing. The period following May 15 was marked by highly charged political tensions, several days of protests and electoral violence, delays in vote tabulation, a large number of electoral complaints, and a prolonged and problematic electoral dispute resolution process.

Oh, well. That’s as much as we can expect from Mistah Jimmah: he’s disappointed.

However, in retrospect the CRB/CIP process did not provide an adequate means for a fair resolution of all electoral disputes.

At this juncture, the EPRDF desperately needed for Mistah Car’ta to come out unequivocally endorsing these elections without the usual “on the one hand… on the other hand” discourse. Alas, even Carter could not summon up the bile.

Then came the kiss of death:

Therefore, it is incumbent upon dissatisfied political parties to file appeals to the High Court in an expeditious manner in those cases where they feel that there is credible evidence. If parties decide not to file court appeals, the NEBE’s announced results should be accepted as final and legitimate.

At first, this recommendation might seem like the usual diplomatic “out” for the Carter Center, but look closer with your Diplo-speak magnifying glass that reads between the lines. What Carter just told the EPRDF is that the game is not over yet… The EPRDF needed that as much as it needed a hole in its head. It was hoping to put an end to the political process by simply flying on Mr. Carter’s blessing and go on about with Plan B—arresting opposition members and starting the violence it hopes will paralyze the people. A little bump in the road.

Then came the French-kiss of death:

Overall, the CIP mechanism did not provide an adequate remedy to ensure a fair resolution of all electoral complaints, and it did not serve to increase general confidence in the election process.

Hmm. I wonder if the Prime Minister is drafting a 13,257 word letter calling Mr. Carter “the good man who is acting like a self-appointed Imperial Viscount.”

But, Carter could not quite get himself to proclaim the Meles regime dead.

In the spirit of the expressed will on the part of the electorate for furthering democracy in Ethiopia, we urge the leaders of the new parliament, both ruling party and opposition, to work together to devise new rules and practices to ensure that all voters’ interests are represented in parliament, and that the upcoming 2006 woreda and 2010 national elections build on the gains made during the 2005 elections.

Of course. We’re back to “Good Enough for Africans” democracy. Basically, after Mr. Carter detailed the government’s thuggish post-May 15 behavior, and after concluding that the CIPs were not a wholly adequate apparatus, Mr. Carter is still telling Ethiopians to suck it up.

Here’s the last word on Mr. Carter: In the larger scheme of things, it doesn’t matter a bit what Mr. Carter says. But we in the Diaspora would be thought less of if we did not point out these glaring contradictions from people like Mr. Carter and Jeffrey Sachs, who think that Africans are undeserving of the kind of democracy that they expect in their own country. Again, if 42 people who were protesting the war in Iraq were gunned down in broad daylight, we could have expected Mr. Carter to squeal in disgust. But when 42 people die in Ethiopia, it is tempered with Diplo-speak and made somewhat palatable. Neo Poverty Pimps like Jeffrey Sachs even go as far as presenting Prime Minister Meles with a “Green Revolutionary” award. It must be our duty to call these people on their condescension and contempt.

The elections have deprived the EPRDF of the bragging rights to a “free and fair” election, not that Ethiopians were under any delusion that the EPRDF was even remotely interested in anything democratic. But it’s so-ooooo good to see that the international press no longer refers to Ato Meles as “enlightened and progressive.”

The beauty of it all is that Ato Meles lost in a game he rigged to win. He so fancied an image of a statesman, that to him the elections were merely an exclamation mark to this whimsy. Ato Meles and the rest of the EPRDF cabal realized the importance of not being seen as jungle boys out on a power trip. And for a while the world believed it.

Now, Ato Meles stands bereft of his cloak. He is reverting back to the very image that he had taken painful steps to disguise, that of an astonishingly unsophisticated thinker and a pitiful parvenu who is just another trigger happy guerilla. The opposition, by engaging him in the political process, by filing appeals to a court it knows is rigged, and by proposing a “unity government” it knows the EPRDF would never agree to, has cleverly left a paper trail. Fortunately, Ato Meles and the EPRDF were not smart enough to pick up on this, and, like all uncivilized warlords, took it as a sign of weakness.

What the opposition has been able to brilliantly accomplish is to carefully push Ato Meles into a corner. And now, the only way out for Ato Meles is to start unleashing violence on the Ethiopian people, thereby cementing his image as a garden-variety tyrant. The violence is inevitable because that’s the only thing the EPRDF is adept at, and violence is the only way Ato Meles can hold on to power. Ato Meles and the EPRDF have been excruciatingly out-witted and out-maneuvered in these diplomatic wranglings, so, like the spoiled brat who topples the chess set when he knows he is about to be check-mated, Ato Meles is on the cusp of unleashing his signature violence. Thankfully, the longer he wants to hold on to power, the more absolute the EPRDF’s demise will be.

What would have weakened the opposition, had EPRDF possessed an ounce of fortitude, was to have been “reasonable” and calm in the aftermath of the elections. If the EPRDF had taken the initiative to propose pointless meetings and discussions (knowing it would never honor any agreements), and if it had come off looking even a little magnanimous by taking a few hits (by letting the university students protest under strict supervision instead of... I dunno, killing them), the opposition would have been significantly weakend. What the opposition was very much depending on was Ato Meles' base gut reaction to being taunted. So it taunted him, and he chomped on the bait. Classic. Meanwhile, all Ato Meles’ friends in the west wanted was to not appear like they was backing the wrong guy. Oops.

Fortunately, Ato Meles’ visceral instincts of an innate bully who also pulls double duty as the village idiot, legitimized the opposition, making it look like the party of reason and intellect.

In short, the Prime Minister was seriously punk'd.

In the next few weeks, those in EPRDF who have any sense at all and who don’t want to be associated with a government that inflicted so much pain on its own people will start jumping ship. But I might be wrong on this since the EPRDF is chock full of yes-men who have not had an original thought since 1991. But maybe someone will summon up the guts to break loose… some pseudo-intellectual in charge of, let’s say a…university…? Or.. or.. the head of a religious institution. No? You don’t think so? Oh, well.

But, one after the other, the EPRDF is making unbelievably uninspired and amateurish tactical mistakes, and eventually even those within its higher echelons will start to abandon it.

In what could possibly be the most stupefying and inept political move made by the EPRDF so far (and boy, those are not slim pickings), last week it reached out to the OLF, an organization that it has labeled as “terrorist.” Those of us who don’t have amnesia or have an IQ higher than 20 remember the unconditional vitriol the EPRDF has been leveling against the OLF, an, ehem, armed struggle movement. In fact, whenever it needed to “clean house”, the EPRDF has used the excuse that those it was mowing down were members of the OLF. Well, what a difference a botched election makes. (This clumsy move was mostly meant as a threat to the OPDO to stay on message.) Man, it must be hard being an ethnic monger these days. For those of you who don’t know the background on this, imagine, say, if Phyllis Schlafly baked cookies and invited Planned Parenthood and the ACLU to a fireside chat. Yeaaaah. Now you get it.

It would all be funny were it not so tragic.

As the EPRDF slowly disintegrates, its next illogical step will be to reach out to Ato Meles’ former buddy and present recipient of his venom, the EPLF and Issayas Aferwerqi. Believe me, birds of the same “LF” flock together. People think that this scenario is absurdly unimaginable, but a few months ago we would have emphatically said the same thing about the new and convenient "love affair" between the OLF and the EPRDF.

What the EPRDF doesn’t have the prudence to calculate is people asking: Yo! If you can reach out to an organization you’ve labeled “terrorist”, how come you can’t talk to a bunch of unarmed, geeky professors in the opposition? And if you can sit and negotiate with OLF, why aren’t you doing that with the CUD? Why are you instead killing people who participated in a democratic movement?

Ato Meles is “Dr. Kevorkian”-ing the EPRDF, and only he could have done it with such precision. My guess is that eventually, some people in the EPRDF will say, “You ain’t takin’ us with you.” In the meantime, the opposition should keep filing lawsuits and appeals and sit back and watch. Going apoplectic about joining or not joining the parliament, to me, is a very superfluous squabble. The fact is, it doesn’t matter.

The era of Meles is over. The best thing the opposition and its sometimes know-it-all supporters in the Diaspora can do now is help the EPRDF tighten the noose around its neck. The worst thing the opposition and its bordering-on-the-hysterical supporters in the Diaspora can do now is interrupt the suicide.

Sit back, relax and enjoy the show. Please be courteous to other viewers and shut off your cell phones.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Part Four: The Lost Diatribe

Yes, Weichegud has a team of crack researchers (or is it researchers on crack?) who were able to siphon a copy of Part Four of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s response to the EU-EOM’s Preliminary Report on the Ethiopian election Appeals’ Process etc. (For those of you who missed it, the EU thought… it did not meet international standards. Yes, yes. Who isn’t shocked?)

You might wonder why this fourth installment in a series of painfully verbose yet intriguingly anti-intellectual schoolboy tirades was never published. Well, y’know… the Prime Minister’s unspeakably ill-spoken spokesperson, Bereket Simon, had to earn his pay. (By the way, is it true that Ato Bereket lost his parliamentary seat to an opponent who was, um, unemployed at the time? Oh lawdy.)

Anyway, Ato Bereket must have decided that the PM sounded ridiculous enough in parts 1 through 3 that he stepped in to halt the cerebral hemorrhaging of the beleaguered prime minister, who must be cursing the day he thought he could write a few lucid sentences all by his lonesome self. (In case you’ve wondered, yes, the prime minister likes the “delicate” cycle when he meShaff maTebs. He be quite sophisticated like that.)

Ahhh… but we got a hold of Part Four… It ain’t purddy.

Part IV: If the Golden Goose Lays an Egg, Should We Not Make an Omelet?

Ladies and Gentlemens,

As I have thoroughly examined in Part 1 of my response to the Good Lady who is a fanciful colonial viceroy, the EU report is full of contradictions. I have tried to point out those contradictions in agonizing detail in parts 2 and 3 as well.

I have given you an example of how limiting media access to the opposition, imprisoning the opposition and creating legislation impeding the opposition has nothing, nothing to do with democracy. The Good Lady Colonial Viceroy obviously needs to brush-up on her democracy, because, as the blind but good singer Stevie Wonder sings, “Love’s in Need of Love Today.”

In today’s installment, I’d like to explore on how the EPRDF (which, as I pointed out earlier, is not the government) is not the government of Ethiopia. In fact, if you ask me, “Who is the government of Ethiopia?” I could not tell you. Who are they? I don’t know. Does anybody know? Nobody knows. The EPRDF is one thing. The government is a totally different entity. The Good Lady Viceroy of Colonialism tries very shrewdly to mix them up and confuse us. Well, I say to you, “Don’t try confusing the confuser”!! As the singer You Two says, “It’s a beautiful day!”

Now, in paragraph 1 of the EU statement, the Good Lady of Colonizing Viceroys says,

Re-runs of elections went peacefully and orderly, albeit without opposition representation and with militia and security forces present around and inside polling stations of some sensitive constituencies.

Why, why, why? WHY? Can you answer me this, Lady Goodness of Colonizing Viceroys: Why is it necessary for the opposition to be present in an election? Mature democracies have traditionally not had that, so, hence, thereby and therefore, it is not, allow me, should not be a necessary litmus test for the Ethiopian elections. As if that were not enough of an affront to all thinking men (and some women, indeed, I am sure), now the Good Lady of the Colonized Viceroy is telling us that we need the presence of an OPPOSITION to hold elections! Obviously, the Ladyiness of the Good Colonial Viceroy-ities does not know her EPRDF history. May I point out to her that the 1995 and 2000 Ethiopian elections ran very smoothly WITHOUT the presence of any so-called opposition? (Nor without the presence of busy-body "observers", I hasten to add!) We do not accept pre-conditions such as an "opposition" to ensure democracy. Despite what the Good Lady-in-Waiting for Viceroyality thinks, we are not savages!

And so what if there were security forces inside polling stations? Who in America has not been accompanied by an armed guard when he/she enters the booth to pull the lever? So, why can’t we have that in Ethiopia?? Because we are poor? Because we don’t deserve it? Well, I say to that, as the also-blind-but-dead singer Ray Charles sang, "You Can Stay But That Jive's Gotta Go!" Go away, Jive!

The EU statement also says:

The opposition may appeal NEBE decisions on the CIPs [Complaint Investigation Process] conclusions to the Courts. Nevertheless, the chairman of the National Election Board, Ato Kemal Bedri, is the same person who chairs the Supreme Court.

I don’t presume to read what is in the dark recesses of the Lady of Good Colonial Viceroyness’ mind, but I have a suspicion that she feels that this is inappropriate. It is mind-boggling presumption unbefitting of a proper Colonial Viceroy. Surely, she jests! Would it be wrong if the chairman of the election board in the United States (do they have one?) also be the head of the Supreme Court? As we always say at the end of EPRDF committee meetings, "If it is good for the goose, then the gander has to wonder."

On the whole, the CIPs made recommendations against the opposition parties in 80% of the complaints in which they were involved. On the other hand, CIPs made recommendations for EPRDF in 87% of the cases.

There you are! 80% to 87%! That means that the CIPs voted against the EPRDF at least 20% of the time! If that is not democracy then I don’t know what is. (It should be noted that we instructed them to make it 75% of the time, but just to show impartiality they kicked in another 5%! That’s called “mirreqa” in the Ethiopian culture, but la femme Viceroy Colonial de Good Lady would not know that now, would she? Again, as the singer Ray Charles put it more aptly, "Bippety Be Bob Pony"!

What hurt me personally was the contention that the

Opposition [was] hindered by intimidation and arrests of their witnesses.

I found this to be personally hurtful. In fact I was inconsolable until someone played me the song I'm Afraid The Masquerade Is Over by the dead, Black-American singer, Mrs. Billie Holliday. I don’t know about you, but me, personally, I don’t want to live in a world where arresting people is considered intimidation. It might have been in the colonial times in which Frau Good Lady might be living in. But this is the 21st century!! May I kindly remind the self-appointed Lady Viceroy of that, please?

I will simply dismiss the next allegation:

The context of the complaints process was marked by on-going high tension in the country and stalemate between the government party and the opposition. This was aggravated by the handling of the June disturbances by governmental forces, in violation of human rights and the citizen’s rights enshrined in the Ethiopian Constitution.

Simply, I will say to Señora Our Lady of Viceroy and Sorrowful Colonialism, hogwash! The June incidents were in keeping with the enshrined Ethiopian constitution: No Citizen Shall Interfere With Bullets Flying into His/Her Head From a Government Gun. Is it not within the rights of the bullets to end up where they were intended? I dismiss you, Good Lady Viceroy! I… dismiss… YOU!

Their findings about the polling process were generally positive. Their overall assessment of the process has been rated as good in 64% of the cases and very good in
24 %.

I ask you, ladies and gentelmens of the world, 64% of the election was “good”. 24% was very good! The Lady of Colonialist Viceroydom wants to parse sentences and say that the “polling process” is different from the “election results.” Well, as one of my favorite singers, the popular Metallica -- I don’t know if that is his first name or his last—but as Mr. Metallica says, “Nothing Else Matters.” Indeed, I say to you today, nothing else matters. That polling places opened up on time is as good as “free and fair” elections! Therefore, thereby and hence, the elections in Ethiopia… get me a calculator, were 64 + 24 =… hold on… 88% good. And that is without the traditional Ethiopian mirreqa, which is usually 5%. So, in all honesty, the Ethiopian elections were 93% good! Nothing Else Matters, indeed, Our Lady of Good Colonial Viceroy. Nothing Else Matters.

Of course, I could go on and on. But as the not-dead, not-blind singer Robert Palmer would say, that would be “Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley”. In short, I have more than showed that the EU has no experience in observing elections! It tried to tell us that there was intimidation, yet, moreover, thus, thence and therby, the only evidence it has to substantiate this scurrilous accusation is that people were imprisoned or killed! This is not just a case of grapes that are not-yet-sour, but more-than-a-little-ripe! Hmmm?

To excavate the garbage from the EU report takes the mind of a three-year-old, and I have proven that I am indeed qualified. The lumps of truth in the report were so lumpy that it took me less than a few hours to excavate them. But we are not fooled by Signora Our Good Lady of Perpetual Visceral Colonialism. She has been listening to too much Nine Inch Nails, who have been known to croon, Happiness in Slavery. We are not slaves.

Democracy is alive and well in Ethiopia, and anyone who says otherwise shall be dealt with to the full extent of the law. I am not kidding.

Often, when I am surrounded by unquietness and existential disturbances, I look outside the palace windows and I think, “What would the ordinary, run of the mill, commonplace, average Ethiopian peasant do in this situation?” Well, first off, I think that the ordinary, run of the mill, commonplace, average Ethiopian peasant would stop to listen to the chanteuses Bananarama intone,

It's a cruel, cruel summer
Leaving me here on my own
It's a cruel, cruel summer
Now you're gone

The city is crowded
My friends are away
And I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle
So I got to get up and go

And then, as he has done for millennia before, and as his grandfathers have done before that, the ordinary, run of the mill, commonplace, average Ethiopian peasant would raise his fist and chant, “Revolutionary democracy is in my bones, and I will protect it with my life!”

That ordinary, run of the mill, commonplace, average Ethiopian peasant would then hunker down and take the calcium necessary to protect his Revolutionarily Democracy bones. He would then rise up and say to all Ladies of Annunciated Colonialist Viceroy-ity at the EU, “You shan’t take away my Revolutionary Democracy. Oh, no, you can’t take it away from me.”

The ordinary, run of the mill, commonplace, average Ethiopian peasant would then defend Revolutionary democracy by destroying anyone who does not believe in Revolutionary Democracy. Do no underestimate the ordinary, run of the mill, commonplace, average Ethiopian peasant, for he is wise and does not suffer Ladies in Vicerory Colonialism easily.

The 2005 Ethiopian elections shall be seen as a triumph for the whole world. As the legendary but so-in-the-grave great singer Frank Sinatra said, “I did it My Way”!

Viva the revolution! Viva!

Yours truly,

Meles Zenawi
Prime Minister of Ethiopia

p.s. Has anyone seen Bereket? Hey, Berri, call me. Need to work on Part 5.


Hmmm... wonder why that was never published? The Opposition finally came around to responding to Ato Meles. Thank God, in one part... titled, um, "Actually, Love has a Lot to do With Free and Fair Elections." Oh, jeezuz.

Remember our brothers and sisters affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Friday, September 09, 2005

What Jimmy Carter Owes Ethiopia

I am no genius, but to me, few ferenjies have contributed to Ethiopia’s current state of Battered Woman’s Syndrome-ness than former president Jimmy Carter. He is the enabler who counsels a woman bashed up by her husband to be patient, and that she also has to take responsibility for “provoking” her husband into bashing her against the wall. “After all,” Jimmy Carter tells the woman whose eyes are bloody and swollen, and whose body is coarse with bruises, “after all, didn’t he buy you a nice outfit? See? Deep down he loves you. So, be patient. Go back, clean yourself up, and make him dinner. I’ll talk to him about not beating up as often. In fact, he’s only beaten you up twice this week. I told you he loves you.” He give the woman a bloodcurdling smile before sending her back to den.

For more than 14 years, that’s what Mr. Carter has been telling Ethiopians. YOu could do worse than Meles. So what if he bashes us up occasionally? “He gave you elections, didn’t he? Now clean up the blood and let’s not provoke him into killing you.”

To this day, my father and uncle get a flash of fury in their eyes whenever they recall Mr. Carter’s role in Ethiopian politics in the 70s.

Well, a generation later Mr. Carter is not faring well.

According to Mr. Carter, his relationship with Ato Meles started in the 1989 when Ato Meles was, um, “the leader of Tigrayan revolutionaries.” Those were the days when Ato Meles was an unabashed Marxist. According to the BBC,

the TPLF had a reputation as hard-line communists who saw Enver Hoxha's Albania as a model state.

Observers used to joke that when the TPLF captured towns from Mengistu's Marxist regime, they would take down the ubiquitous portraits of Marx, Engels and Lenin in government offices, and replace them with even larger ones.

What is a former president of these great United States doing cavorting with hard-line Marxists “at airports in Paris, Atlanta, and London”? Well, for one thing, Ato Meles would “spread his war maps on the floor, and describe his progress against Mengistu's forces.”

Excuse me very much, but isn't the TPLF, if I have my acronyms right, the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front…? And wasn’t the TPLF fighting for secession from Ethiopia? What in God’s name is Mr. Carter doing looking at war plans… never mind.

So 1991 happened. Here's what a “Waging Peace paragraph on the Carter Center webpage have to say about those days:

A 1991 conference of the leading forces in Ethiopia set the course toward full democracy under President Meles.

I swear to you, that is what he says. No mention that Ato Meles was a rabid Marxist who would not know democracy if it sat on his lap.

Subsequently, all but President Meles' Tigrayan groups withdrew from the transition government. Although Ethiopia was well on its way to achieving democratic practices, elections in 1992 were flawed.

Saying that the 1992 elections were “flawed” is like saying that it’s a long walk from earth to the moon. And Mr. Carter does not really get into why all but the TPLF withdrew from the transitional government. (Withdrew??) And the presumption that “although Ethiopia was well on its way to achieving democratic practices…” Amazing.

How much contempt does Mr. Carter have for Ethiopians?

In 1992, President Meles Zenawi, who assumed office in May 1991, requested President Carter's help to incorporate strong mechanisms for the protection of human rights into the structure of the Ethiopian state. With these goals in mind, the Center worked with various Ethiopian government ministries in 1992 and 1993 to prevent human rights violations.

Maybe Ato Meles didn’t read the part that said “prevent” because human rights agencies- Amnesty International to Human Rights Watch, NOREM to the US State Department, have consistently excoriated the EPRDF’s abominable human rights record. The Carter Center? It’s still thinking about it.


Training and assistance were provided to: conduct fair trials against officials of the former regime, design a human rights training program for law enforcement personnel, and increase awareness within the judicial system of human rights issues.

Does the Carter Center have a pass/fail system to evaluate how those “training program for law enforcement personnel” have been working out for the EPRDF?

One of the major initiatives of the Carter Center is its Human Rights Initiative, and its first canon is “Intervening on behalf of victims of human rights violations.”


On June 8, 2005 the Ethiopian government shot and killed 42 unarmed people on the streets of Addis Ababa.

Fekadu Negash, 20, who works in a garage, was at his home around a place called 'Addis Ketema'. He was standing by his door when he heard shootings and screamings. He went out to see what was happing, and before he knew it, he was shot dead on his doorstep.

His younger brother, Abraham Yilma, 18, came running out of the house and called his mother shouting that his brother was shot. Both of them went out, and as Abraham took a step to pick up his brother, he saw the person who shot him.

"He picked up his hand and said, that's my brother, let me pick him up," their mother, Etenesh, recalls in grief. "Then he shot him too. I saw my sons lying on the road, their blood flowing like water."

Either the Carter Center was giving the EPRDF the abridged version of what human rights are, or the EPRDF didn’t take copious notes.

Funnily enough,

One of the founding principles of The Carter Center is a commitment to human rights. The Center advocates for stronger international human rights systems, sends human rights monitors on election observation missions, helps new democracies establish human rights laws and institutions, and intervenes on behalf of victims of human rights abuses.

Nowhere in the Carter Center webpage is there any mention of Ato Meles’ human rights record. You would think that the EPRDF’s role in the genocide of the Anuaks in Gambella would at least have been mentioned in passing. You’d be wrong. There is not a word about it. Not one lousy word!

After a dozen years of calculated human rights violations, it finally took the EPRDF gunning down Ethiopians in front of international media to induce mild discomfort in Mr. Carter.

The Carter Center joins other members of the international community and Ethiopian citizens in expressing its deep alarm and sorrow at the violence, injuries, deaths, and violations of human rights that have occurred since 6 June in Addis Ababa and elsewhere in Ethiopia in the aftermath of the 15 May national elections.

That was the last we heard from Mr. Carter on human rights violations and the EPRDF. There is no public record urging the EPRDF to investigate the deaths.

Imagine if you will, if the government of the United States gunned down 42 people protesting… the war in Iraq. How extensive and vitriolic do you think the Carter’s Center’s condemnation would be? Why aren’t Ethiopian lives worth the same respect, especially from a Nobel Peace Prize winner? Why isn’t Mr. Carter horrified that a government he has worked so closely with is committing clear human rights violations? Liberals in America are very trigger happy about volleying accusations of “coddling dictators.” Their dirty little secret is that their premiere spokesperson, who took time to condemn Abu Gharib and urged its closing, has his own dictator boy toy.

Aren’t Ethiopian lives worth as much as those in Abu Gharib?

Mr. Carter descended into Addis Ababa with 50 observers to witness the 2005 elections.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi represents a relatively small ethnic group from Tigray, and has had difficulty retaining political control in the face of strong opposition from the much larger Oromo and other tribal groups. His parliamentary elections in 1995 and 2000 (which we did not observe) were carefully orchestrated to ensure a ruling party victory, and we accepted invitations to observe this election after the prospects seemed much more democratic.

No sooner had he arrived than he proclaimed the elections peachy. Telepathy? Maybe. That didn’t sit well with the EU, and in an unprecedented admonishment of a fellow observer, it ripped into Mr. Carter.

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 results."

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."

(For a chronology of Mr. Carter’s misadventure in Ethiopia, see Game, Set, Match.)

Mr. Carter went as far as defending Prime Minister Meles’ decision to ban demonstrations in the aftermath of the elections.

"His opinion was that this was a cautionary measure, temporary in nature, geographically limited to prevent any confrontation of a violent nature between winners and losers here in the capital city," Carter told reporters.

"We believe collectively that the decision of the prime minister was not excessive in preventing any possible arousal of animosity or violence among his own supporters or the opposition," he said.

What does Ato Meles need to do to finally get condemnation from Mr. Carter, because 42 lives and countless imprisonments still don’t violate Mr. Carter’s sense of civility.

The Carter Center is supposed to come out with its final statement about the Ethiopian elections next week, and the part of me that believes Mr. Carter is fundamentally a decent human being urges me to believe that he will come out swinging. This, of course, despite the utter irresponsibility with which he has dealt with Ato Meles so far.

With all that has gone down, it is not enough for Mr. Carter to deliver yet another lackluster rebuke. It is not enough to “it’s a great start” us. Mr. Carter has the moral obligation to send a clear, unambiguous message to the Ethiopian leader who is quickly coming to par with his predecessor, Mengistu Haile Mariam. Any further indulgence of Prime Minister Meles will undoubtedly undermine Mr. Carter’s already fledgling reputation.

For whatever reason, Mr. Carter has been smitten by Ato Meles, and unfortunately, the Ethiopian people paid a heavy price for this aberrant love affair. And now, after Ato Meles has been unequivocal about defiling everything that is democratic, I hope Mr. Carter has the decency to do the right thing. Anything short of that will be condescension. (As always, Ethiopundit puts it in much more succinct terms in The Tragedy of Low Expectations.)

It is said that it took the Soviet Union invading Afghanistan for Mr. Carter to say, “For the first time I really understand what the Soviet Union is all about.”

Hopefully by now, he really understands what Ato Meles is really all about: an abusive husband who has been extraordinarily cruel to his wife and children.


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