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
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
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.