Thursday, October 20, 2005

Beam me up, Melesocracy

So I see they are having a “buy one, get one free” sale on crazy pills in the Horn. Again.

Let’s see. We have the depressingly control freakish government in Eritrea, ineptly led by troubled dictator and former Ethiopian Issayas Afewerqi, who was sure that banning UN’s helicopter flights would force the Security Council to pay attention to his increasingly shrill screeches of “Look. Can’t you see? I’m gonna start me a war!”

Nothing doing. Kofi Anan was tied up washing his hair. Ato Issayas felt he had to save face. And how does a dissembling wanabee fascist save face? He limits UN night patrols. Atta boy!

Does the UN plead to have flights restored and take out Ato Issayas to a fancy restaurant to make nice-nice?

Ahh, no.

Nations participating in a U.N. peacekeeping mission on the Eritrean-Ethiopian border told Security Council members on Wednesday to pressure Eritrea to reverse its ban on U.N. helicopter flights, with some hinting they might withdraw from the mission.

Uh-oh. Meaning no buffer between Issayas and Ato Meles, who needs any and all distractions from a staged elections gone fantastically wrong? That, my friends, is the sound of merde hitting the fan.

Then you got your Somalis who took an unscheduled break from Ramadan to... hijack a ship. Yes, no rest for the Somali pirate, even the holy month of fasting, praying, and charity work.

And then of course we have own Prime Minister, who continues to gush out absurdities faster than we can say, “Melesocracy, Schlememocracy.”

Yes, I am afraid Ato Meles has been speaking to journalists again, blithely undeterred by the fact that he is sounding more and more like a particularly funny sketch on Da Ali G Show, except it ain’t Ali G. who comes off looking like a glib lunatic.

Remember Ali G. interviewing James Baker, President Reagan’s Chief of Staff and Bush I’s Secretary of State?

Ali G.: How does youse make countries do stuff you want?

Baker: Well, the way you deal with countries in foreign policy issues, I think that’s what you are asking me…

Ali G.: No doubt.

Baker: … is with carrot and sticks.

Ali G. (taken aback): But what country is gonna want carrots even if dey is like a million tons of carrots you is givin’ over dere?

Baker: Well, carrots… I’m not using that that term literally. You might offer foreign aid… Money. Okay? Money!

Ali: Ahh, money is better than carrots even if a country love carrots dat is like dere favorite national food, if they get given like billions of tons…

Baker: Don’t get hung up on carrots. That’s just a figure of speech.

Ali: Would you eveah send carrots?

(Incredulous pause.)

Ali G.: I mean, is there any situation…

Baker: No!

Ali G.: What... about... in a famine?

Baker: Carrot themselves? No!

It’s becoming apparent that Ato Meles has the same kind of grasp on democracy that Ali. G. has on foreign affairs. (Soon he, too, will gravely pontificate on Iraq's possession of "BLTs.")

So IRIN asked Prime Minister Meles why the government removed immunity from opposition members.

As far as the removal of immunity from some of the parliamentarians is concerned, legally speaking most lawyers in Ethiopia would tell you that the parliament need not have taken this step simply because of the fact that until they are sworn in they are not parliamentarians. They have not been sworn in; therefore they do not enjoy the immunity of parliamentarians. The immunity applies to parliamentarians so long as they are not involved in serious crimes.

Oookay. So you stripped people of immunity who did not technically have immunity in the first place?

Hm. Think back to the pointed question Ali G. threw at a bewildered Marlin Fitzwater, White House Secretary 1983-92.

Was it embarrassin’ workin’ as a secretary? Did it have the same kind of … stigmata? Like bein’ a male nurse?

Immunity… parliament…srtipping... To the Prime Minister they all just random words, pluggable and playable at his whim. Secretary? Yes, as in administrative assistant and Secretary of the State… same difference.

Let’s imagine Ato Meles as Ali G. He’d answer IRIN’s question thus:

Booyakasha! Immunity has nothin’ to do with immunization of parlimenta-tay-rians. They ain’t innit, so theyz can’t be widdit. We wuz sending ‘em a message: “Yo! Check yo’self before you wreck youself!” Like when the racialist constabulary ‘arrass the black youff for some ganja. Aiyit?

Okay. Stop let’s stop imagining.

And this was parliament’s first act… why? Ato Meles, we believe you are pining to opine:

The government plan was on the one hand to convey a very clear political message and on the other to avoid room for all sorts of interpretations of the law; to make sure that people understand what the consequences of their actions are.

So it was a political message. Aha. A lump of truth in a pile of … um, untruthiness. In other words, this had nothing to do with legal procedure or protecting the –say it with me- constitution. The Prime Minister just used parliament to send a political message to his opponents? That’s some kind of fancy democracy we have there in Ethiopia.

IRIN’s management, by the way, needs to spring for a journalist who asks … what is it called, follow up questions. None of Ato Meles’ remarks warranted a “come again?”, which leaves me to believe that either IRIN could not care less about the answers or that the reporter is way smarter than little me.

Moving on…

Q: Will the government take any action against the chairman of the CUD given that you have accused him of an act of treason?

Drum roll, please…

Our preference is not to be legalistic. Our preference is to seek political solutions to these problems, not legal ones.

Ya, man. Legalistic-ism is for the birds.

Yes, take a breath. The Prime Minister of Ethiopia did actually say “Our preference is to seek political solutions to these problems, not legal ones”?? So no legal definition of “treason” is needed? Or has it already been established that Very Engineer Hailu Shawel has committed treason but the EPRDF is not prioritizing treason as anything to be particularly perturbed about, at least not this week. Which came first: legal definition or political benevolence? Is Ato Hailu free despite being a traitor, or is he free because a “political solution” is being sought to address his treason?

Indeed, Melesocracy is a verrry fancy kind of democracy.

So far we have refused to be provoked into acting in a purely legal fashion. We have been patiently seeking a political way out. We shall be patient until patience exhausts its potentialities.

Be patient with me while I thumb through my Melesocracy-to-Democracy dictionary. I think what the Prime Minister is saying is… were he dealing with stuff on a “purely legalistic” paradigm, Very Engineer Hailu Shawel would have been “dealt with” a long time ago, but it is purely because of the Prime Minister’s and the EPRDF’s “political situation seek-iness” magnanimity that Ato Shawel still lives.

OR… was the Prime Minister bullshitting us in the first place when he called Ato Hailu a traitor? Hmm?

Well, let’s truly hope that patience does not exhaust its “potentialities.”

But what is this I see? Yet another lump of truth in a pile of more untruthiness?

So far we have refused to be provoked into acting in a purely legal fashion.

Ye-ah, baby.

So, this “not acting in a purely legal fashion”… does it extend outside of how the EPRDF deals with opposition leaders? I say yes. We could have all told you, Mr. Prime Minister, that you were never at risk of acting in a purely legal fashion… ever! All the way back when your security forces enforced bullets in some 42 unarmed people last June. And then the whole indiscriminately arresting of opposition supporters (well into 4,000 at one point)? Good thing you didn’t bog yourself down in legalistics then. Just the paperwork involved in that!

Question: Was the new Minister of Information responsible for coming up with that line, perchance, or did the Prime Minister just birth himself another improbably retarded idiom? Hopefully it was the new Minister of Information because that would mean he has potential to scale to spokesmanship heights beyond Ato Bereket’s now quaint “Anyone who incites violence, other than those elected, will have to face the law” avowal. And that means more fun for us.

Oh, whoever is in charge of new EPRDF logos… hurry: “EPRDF: We won’t be provoked into acting legally!”

It’s becoming hard not to wince when Ato Meles tries to sound cerebral. He betrays such a colossal lack of erudition. Luckily he has the same kind of Ali G. deadpan delivery when discharging lines such as, “So far we have refused to be provoked into acting in a purely legal fashion” and “we shall be patient until patience exhausts its potentialities” that (phew!) all his bluster is summarily diminished. Give it time and all of the Prime Minister’s edicts will soon start with “Booyakasha wagwan!”

So, regarding the immunity? What was the government’s intention?

So the intention of the government was not to take this action with a view to following it up quickly with the detention of those personalities involved. If it had been that we would have detained them and that has not happened. It was just a precautionary measure and it has not closed off any opportunities or options, whether it is dialogue or any other options.


So, stripping opposition MPs of immunity that they never had in the first place was not intended as an antecedent to arresting them because they never had immunity in the first place, but they’ve been known to have designs of toppling governments illegally and being traitors, so it is but a “precautionary measure” that allows arrest in case they do join the parliament and proceed to topple the government by joining parliament, in which case they do not most certainly have immunity… and oh, none of this closes off any opportunities to dialogue?

Confused? Don’t be. Here’s how to digest these kinds of unfortunate forays into logic by the Prime Minister:

Think again of Ali G. On how to handle terrorists… he leans into Professor James Ziglar from the INS (“The Immigration and Naturalized Society”), and with the same kind of campy Melesesque gravitas he says, “Could it be possible to work with the terrorists, to say, ‘Yo! Ere iz a buildin’ that we wuz gonna demolish anyway... Go.. ‘Ave yo’ fun with it. Do whateveah you want, and just… don’t do the other ones.”

Similarly, "I’m gonna take away the immunity that you never had, but as a precautionary measure I’ll take it away in case you join parliament and have immunity… which you don’t!"

You see how that works?

And what in the hell kinda government goes as far as stripping MPs' immunity (which is reserved for indictment after serious crimes) as a precautionary measure? Here's what I consider to be an example of a precautionary measure: taking Vitamin C so as to not catch a cold. Stripping immunity, even the one people did not have in the first place? Not so much a precautionary measure. Sorta like aborting black babies in order to reduce the crime rate. A bit... hasty, shall we say?

Let’s move on.

Ato Meles repeated my most favorite of his feeble defenses when asked about the new parliamentary procedures which effectively render the opposition useless. (See also How to know you Support the EPRDF.) And this time, he generously added gusto.

Q: Why have you introduced new parliamentary rules that mean you need a majority to put forward an agenda, which has been criticised for not being democratic?

A: These procedures were designed on the basis of the procedures of well-established parliamentary democracies - Canada, Germany, India and of course the oldest parliamentary democracy, the UK

It’s precious.

First of all, here I was thinking that the EPRDF suffered from acute “Parliamentary Democracy”-ities, for Ato Meles had once proclaimed,

"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."

… which is why we went with the whole “ ‘Revulsion-ary’ Democracy” thingy. (read Dagmawi’s elucidation on this; Ethiopundit has written beautifully and extensively on Revolutionary Democracy.”)

I am confused again. It’s all so confusing. So, when does Revolutionary Democracy end and Parliamentary Democracy start?

When the opposition wins more seats than is tolerable, that’s when. You get it? You’re welcome!


What we have said is while the intention and the plan was to emulate the procedures of these parliaments…

So, now we like-ee the parliamentary democracies… so much so, we are going to emulate them? No, not the part that says individual MPs (Canada and England, called Private Bills) can sponsor bills. We don’t like that. The part where… where MPs sit in one room? Lovin’ the emulation of that part.

(Aside: Did the Prime Minister know that in England a bill cannot become law as an act of parliament until it has been agreed to by both Houses of Parliament and has received Royal Assent from the Queen. Uh-oh. Might have to emulate that? “King Meles Zenawi, Revolutionary Democrat of Revolutionary Democrats, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Revolutionary Democracy.”)

So what does it mean that we are emulating parliamentary procedures of the greatest democracies in the world without bothering to, um, actually have a great democracy in the first place?

Well, to the Prime Minister, who thinks we all function at IQs lower than his shoe size, it’ a sign of political sophistication. Let’s see. Does England sanction ownership of private property? Not being arrested without cause? … Equal access to the media? Freedom of assembly? It does? Oh, well. Does it investigate the deaths of its citizens at the hands of Special Forces in a timely manner without calling them hooligans? Hmm… let’s put a fact checker on that.

But, we do have almost the same proceedures, so that must be good enough. Yes?

One more time, to Ali G we turn.

Ali G., conducting a panel on medical ethics (“efficks”) with four distinguished experts:

Ali G.: Okay. Let’s talk about doctors. Does they have the right to end old peoples’ lives?

Dr. John Freeman(John Hopkins Medical School): That’s euthanasia.

Ali G. (taken aback): Why is it the responsibility of the youth in
Asia for killin’ someone else?

Ahh... the fog has cleared. At this rate, by the time the Prime Minister grasps the basics of democracy he will be sharing zip codes with Mengistu. Is it just me or are also getting the feeling that Ato Meles thinks that if he says ‘democracy’ enough democracy will magically transpire? (Someone please write the script of a conversation between Meles, Mugabe and Mengistu.)

Now it is only slightly ironic that the EU Parliament, which hopefully Ato Meles also considers at least a wee-bit democratic and worthy of emulating, had this to say in its resolution of October 10:

Expresses its serious concern at the [Ethiopian] government's attempts to reverse the democratic process, including the introduction of an absolute majority requirement to submit agendas in the forthcoming parliament, which render the opposition's gains meaningless;

Does no one read these things to the Prime Minister anymore? Isn’t Ato Bereket on personal, special PR duty?

So, and I loathe that it is I who is breaking this news to you, dear Wonqetieer, but does this mean that we were not emulating western democracies all these years the EPRDF has been in power? Oh, yes. Ambassador Kassahun covered that. Those were the dark days of “emerging democracy.”

Remember when Baker said, “Don’t get hung up on carrots. That’s just a figure of speech”? Well, to Ato Meles democracy is just a figure of speech. And he ain’t getting hung up on it. And to us, so is Melesocracy. And we won't get hung up on it either. It's expiration date is around the corner.

May the Prime Minister never stop granting interviews.


Anonymous Yohannes said...

all time favorite: gore vidal on ali g:

check it! yo pees. dis me name be gore vidal. aye spittin' rhymes 'bout earlee histooree;
whya homies give props to Uzis no' books?
ain't nothin' but a mys-tree.

(i had a tshirt made.)

wonq, wonq, wonq... how you do weave us in and out, making sense of the senseless.

i chersih you.

Wonqette Peoples Liberation Front.

1:00 AM, October 21, 2005  
Anonymous Jeremiah said...

Ato Meles:
"Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight."
Isaiah 5:20-22

1:54 AM, October 21, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Conspiracy theorists would have Hailu Shawel meet representatives of the Eritrean government while he was in the US for possible ways of collaborating in putting pressure on Meles. After all, their enemy’s enemy is a potential friend. Can Meles fight two wars at the same time? And a PR war with the EU?

4:36 AM, October 21, 2005  
Anonymous paris hiltonette said...


One word: Ooooouchegziyo-o-o-o! What has Ali G. ever done to you, girl?

p.s. Yonni, I "cherish" you? Minew-minew? The 18th century called... they way their term of endearment back.

8:03 AM, October 21, 2005  
Anonymous nadew said...

all I dreamt about last night was Borat interviewing PM Meles.

8:17 AM, October 21, 2005  
Anonymous adhari said...


There's a reason why IRIN does not do follow ups.It's run by the UN and rarely rocks the boat. It is clear though that the international media, including IRIN,is disentangling itself from Meles et al. This IRIN story (even with its disclaimer of not being the view of the UN etc) was a turning point. Even the BBC's tone has changed. At the end of the story regarding the arrests of supposed coup plotters the BBC reported:

The Ethiopian government angrily dismissed an assessment by European Union monitors that the elections failed to meet international standards. That's a far cry from the usually tepid "Meles' democratic credentials have come into question recently..." Even going as far as to remind readers that, "Last week, the CUD head warned that there could be a campaign to harass and jail political opponents."

Dude is goin' down. All his donors are waiting for is one slight act of violence and he is toast. That's why he is not arresting Hailu Shawel.

Big up, Wonq.

8:53 AM, October 21, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Democracy--- melesocracy--- eprdf--- cud---- did not know much. ali g? NOW you got my attention. This Meles guy is a creep. why couldn't u have said so from the begining?

(this blog rocks.)

9:28 AM, October 21, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for exposing Meles's lies

11:49 AM, October 21, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for exposing Meles's lies about parliamentary procedures in initiating laws in Canada and the UK. He also mentioned Germany. Germany requires only 5% of members of the Bundestag (Parliament)to introduce legislation.

12:01 PM, October 21, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can even ethiopundit write "beautifully" about revolutionary democracy?

3:51 PM, October 21, 2005  
Blogger DaEBushu said...

No anti-wonqettes around here…
hey “it’s a good thing”. Just an observation.

10:15 PM, October 21, 2005  
Anonymous Solo said...

meN LadergeSH!
advise or prescription to wonqitter DaEBushu-wonq's
'How to know you support the EPRDF'-next time will be more advanced if this does not work for you.

6:23 AM, October 22, 2005  
Anonymous Yohannes said...


indetta! it's not like i threw a lomi at the venerated Wonqette deret?

6:44 PM, October 24, 2005  

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