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 CarterCenter, 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.
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!
Meles Zenawi Prime Minister of Ethiopia 1991-Forever
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.
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 CarterCenter 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 CarterCenter? 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 CarterCenter 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 CarterCenter 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 CarterCenter was giving the EPRDF the abridged version of what human rights are, or the EPRDF didn’t take copious notes.
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 CarterCenter 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 CarterCenter 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 CarterCenter 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.
Remember our brothers and sisters who have been affected by Katrina.
This begins a short series on my take on the diplomats who are at the helm of Ethiopian politics these days.
Today: Tim Clarke.
I don’t know what it means to be a foreign diplomat in Ethiopia these days. I am sure some are anguished. Yet some… I just don’t know.
Okay. So here we are. The reality is that the EU and the rest of Ethiopia’s donor community have either cajoled/negotiated/urged the EPRDF into legitimizing itself and earning the billions the world pours into its coffers. That is obvious, and that’s one thing we have to recognize. Yay for working within the system!
Prime Minister Meles, consciously or while he was busy existentially thinking about the peasants, decided this was a great idea. He wanted to be seen as a statesman by the donor community even though Ethiopians knew otherwise.
To the donor community, this was supposed to be easy. The EPRDF would handily win the elections, Ethiopia would be seen as a beacon of democracy… bara-bing, bara-bing! Move on to the next problem.
What it didn’t count on was the Ethiopian people saying, “Not so fast, good ladies and gentlemen.”And what the donor community definitely didn’t count on was Ato Meles’ very rapid, very public regression back to his days as an equal part psychopath, equal part ersatz intellectual. Soon the Ethiopian Elections starting looking more and more like a Queer Eye for the Straight Guy makeover gone very, very bad. Ato Meles stopped using mousse, and after all the grooming lessons from Tony Blair et al, it must have been a disappointment to see a pet project go so bad. Ah, well.
Then June 8, 2005 happened. Among the 42 now confirmed dead (who knows what the real number is) is Nebiy Alemayehu. He was shot to death at close range. He was 14 years old.
It left the rest of the world scratching its head and saying, “Tell us again why you thought this guy was progressive and enlightened?”
So, at what point are diplomats allowed to say, “Screw this!”When you are a diplomat, do you check your conscious at the door?
The EPRDF first blamed the June 8 massacre on the opposition, and then, because it’s a little crazy like that, on the EU. It has consistently shown it is incapable of grasping even the most basic tenets of democracy. If there was any, any doubt about that, Ato Meles crystallized it for the world in his 13,287-word deliriously dopey response to the EU’s preliminary statement.
What else does the EPRDF need to do to cross whatever threshold the diplomatic world has for tolerating volatile drama queen despots?
You can’t put your finger on a reason why it went wrong. So what did happen was a massive landslide swing away from the ruling party to the opposition parties, particularly in urban areas, but also to some extent in the rural areas. And they’ve been rumors going around that the counting process… that was a move to stop the process because there were fears that the outcome wasn’t exactly what the ruling party wanted.
What went wrong? People voting for the opposition was not what went wrong. The ruling government not wanting to accept the results is what went wrong. It is not the Ethiopian people who need courage these days. It is the international community.
It would be a major mistake for [the opposition] to pull out because there is no other way forward. … Of course, they may not be happy with the results, and they will be discontent, and they will have difficulty with their supporters perhaps, but this is the only game in town.
This is what drives me crazy. Obviously, people were convinced that it was not the only game in town, and they said so through the ballots. I am assuming that means something.
I want to ask Mr. Clarke what in the heck kind of government he thinks the EPRDF will be like if it is left alone. Has Ato Meles, in any way, given any indication that he is up to dealing with a strong opposition? After what happened on June 8, is Mr. Clarke comfortable that Ato Meles will behave like a democrat, respecting the constitution, and all that tedious stuff leaders have to contend with? It is not the only game in town, and it is saying so that has emboldened Ato Meles to this point.
At what point does diplomacy end, and real life begin?
The Meles government has been playing the Interwhamecard, very brazenly low-balling our collective IQs.He has tried to embed the international community with the hazy notion that if not for the EPRDF, Ethiopia would disintegrate into another Rwanda.Uh-huh. Ato Meles has also managed to spin a very deliberately vague but sufficiently threatening myth around the idea that the Horn of Africa will be destabilized if he were to exit—incase the west thought that waging a … what do call it… war with his former pal was not quite enough of an unsteadying adventure.
Tim Clarke again:
I think it’s a tinderbox. Essentially, it could explode at any moment. It is a very, very dangerous situation. Ethiopia is in potentially dangerous situation. Because if the opposition feels that they’ve lost credibility, that they’ve lost a sense of ownership of the results, if people’s voting have been taken away from them and there’s despair, distrust, tension and hostility, then you’ve got a recipe for civil war, and under no circumstances can that be allowed to happen.
First off, civil war?? Did I miss something? Tell me again why people demanding the government to respect the vote will lead to civil war? Is that the choice Ethiopians have: Meles or civil war? (People might forget that before the TPLF marched into Addis in 1991, there were days when the country functioned without a government. And you know what? Ethiopians did not degenerate into animals and kill each other.)
Okay, so let’s see… which party has shown a pronounced tendency for violence? So, assuming that Mr. Clarke is right; wouldn’t it be a moral obligation for the international community to side with people who are NOT going to inflict civil war on a nation which has already suffered enough? I am assuming that “under no circumstances can that be allowed to happen” is a stern warning to Ato Meles to not swagger around with the Ethiopian people in the crosshairs of his machine gun. Unless… surely Mr. Clarke was not saying, “Hey, peeps. You want Meles, or war? Pick one.” I am no diplomatic wonkette, but I’d think that that would send the wrong message to Ethiopians and to people fighting against tyranny.
The Brits in general want this situation to fade away without having to answer for their part in emboldening Ato Meles. Ironically, it is Ato Meles who is making that impossible for them. He has basically dared them to shun their trademark moral relativism. It is checkmate time, and later in September, when the final verdict is in, we’ll see who blinked.
For once, I’d like to see the Brits say, “Y’know… we fucked up on this, and this is what we’ll do to make it right.” (Hopefully, it will not be another G8 concert. Please, noooooo!) I’d just like some kind of accountability from Tony Blair for his hyperactive protégée. Hell, I’ll settle for the slightest gesture of contrition.
Seriously, what would Ato Meles have to do to get swift condemnation from the international community? Here’s what a friend said to me when I asked that question:
“Frankly, most of the world expects so little from Ethiopia that as long as Meles is not seen smashing babies against the wall and drinking their blood at the next Commission for Africa meeting - most will be happy to hear as little fromEthiopia as possible.”
And that’s just it, good ladies and gentlemen. All democracies apparently are not equal. Silly, uppity us! We thought we deserved the same kind of democracy as Britain.
Working within the system has gotten us this far, and we thank the international community for it. And if the EPRDF were a different kind of government, the kind of government that had even the slightest respect for human life, that might have been enough. But I am hoping that Mr. Clarke is not asking Ethiopians to work within the system anymore, because the levies holding that system are irreparably broken. I don’t know how much more “in the system” you can get than running for elections within the EPRDF framework. The opposition did that, and it won. What is it that Mr. Clarke is now asking of the Ethiopian people?
At what point do even diplomats say, “Mr. Prime Minister, you’ve been punk’d!”
Do you get the feeling that the people at “The Society of Lunatic African Leaders” are rapidly going crazy trying to pin down the nominations for the 2005 “Idi Amin Award for Africa’s Most Retarded Leader”? I do.
Well, there are the usual mainstays—Mugabe, Obasanjo, Mengistu (he is perpetually on the list and, well, no award show is complete without an honorable mention)… But then, Ato Isayas Afewerqi and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi seem to be vying fiercely for the title this year.
Former Ethiopian and ragamuffin-turned-metrosexual despot Isayas Afewerqi had, in my limited estimation, made a valiant effort to catch up with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who, it should be noted, has triple overlapped his competition, when Ato Issayas spent his summer impounding UN cars and blocking food aid at the port until the donor nation paid tax on the donated food.
Nice try. Great effort. But, sorry. No cigar. Ato Meles has a patent on crazy these days.
To prove that he ain’t kidding around, Ato Meles spent most of his summer vacation obfuscating, vituperating and enforcing the constitution that constituted 42 people out of their lives. Most observers in the political arena had thought that he had surely clinched this year’s award, but Ato Meles looked up North and decided on a “in yo’ face!” one–upmanship.
The latest assault unleashed by Ato Meles came in the form of a three-part “You are not my friend anymore, and I hate you!” letter, an unbelievably infantile and intellectually puerile riposte to the EU-EOM Preliminary Statement on the Ethiopian elections.
Oh, Ato Meles. You make the “Society of Lunatic African Leaders” proud.
Yes, a three-part letter constituting of shrill “how dare you”s, “Well, I never!”s and “if I am that, then what are you”s that succeeded in causing more havoc on the intellectual community than Katrina did in Louisiana.
In law school we used to call the kind of arguments put forward by Ato Meles as a “Shitless Wonder”… (Can also be used as an adjective: “He tried to shitless wonder me.”) That’s when opposing counsel who knows he has nothing to defend his client with bombards the jury with an endless tirade of ‘evidence’ and disparate anecdotes in hopes that the jury gets so disoriented and/or bored that one knucklehead amongst them concludes that if the defense can so ably talk this long about a slam dunk case, then surely there is room for reasonable doubt.
The trick is to drone on and on, quoting and misquoting witnesses, swaggering back and forth with gaudy bravado and slamming the jury with superfluous intellect. Those are the basic tenets of Shitless Wondering a jury and Ato Meles’ 13,287-word response to a preliminary statement has all the makings of a worthy S.W.
In one particularly memorable moot court a classmate of mine actually ended a case with, “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, look into my client’s eyes… If you've ever wondered what the color of pain is, look into my client's eyes. My client is in pain. And you, you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, YOU have the power to end his pain.” (His client was accused of bludgeoning his wife to death with a sledgehammer.) The client got off, and my classmate now runs a tobacco lobbying firm.
Of course the person who has perfected the “shitless wonder” style is the inimitable Jerry Spence, who still self-effacingly calls himself a “country lawyer”. Mr. Spence has mesmerized juries into awarding his clients millions of dollars, sometimes based on nothing more than his famous “Bird in the hand" story.
Once there was a wise old man and a smart-aleck boy. The boy was driven by a single desire--to expose the wise old man as a fool. The smart aleck had a plan. He had captured a small and fragile bird in the forest. With the bird cupped in his hands so that the old man could not see it, the boy's scheme was to approach the old man and ask, "Old man, what do I have in my hand?" To which the wise old man would reply, "You have a bird, my son."
Then the boy would ask, "Old man, is the bird alive or dead?" If the old man replied that it was dead, the boy would open his hands and allow the bird to fly off into the forest. But if the old man replied that the bird was alive, the boy would crush the bird inside his cupped hands until it was dead. Then the boy would open his hands and say, "See, the bird is dead!"
And so, the smart-aleck boy went to the old man, and he said, as planned, “Old man, what do I have in my hands?”
The old man, as predicted, replied, "You have a bird, my son."
"Old man," the boy then said with disdain, "is the bird alive or is it dead?"
Whereupon the old man looked at the boy with his kindly old eyes and replied, "The bird is in your hands, my son."
Jerry then would then march up to the jury box, lean in and whisper to the jury, "And so, too, ladies and gentlemen, the life of my client is in yours."
Ridiculously pointless as that story seems, in Jerry’s hands it works. Unfortunately for Ato Meles, his version of “bird in the hand” has rendered him… well, a shitless wonder.
The response to the beleaguered prime minister’s intellectual debris is not a paragraph-by- paragraph refute which I usually get into. That would, honestly, mean elevating his multi-page temper tantrum to scholarship.
After all, the best comeback to a sub-standard “bird in the hand story” has always been: “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, do you wonder if the defendant thought about the bird as he bludgeoned his wife to death with a sledgehammer?”
As it turned out, the statement has some big, really big, lumps of truth in it, and it is relatively easy to remove the garbage that has covered those lumps of truth. While I was expecting a huge garbage damp all I got was newly started garbage damp that was unable to bury the truth.
(Hmm. I see that the WaltaDisinformationCenter grammar Ombudsman has been helping the Prime Minister pen his thoughts.)
Okay. No need to re-read that paragraph. It’s of no use. Even the latest EPRDF Bullshit-to-Normal-Bullshit dictionary was unable to translate that kernel of scholarly wreckage. And then it’s all downhill from there. Part one ends with:
The rest of the contextual factors have no relevance, whatsoever, to the investigative process. Indeed, they remind me of the famous Tina Turner song. What has love got to do with it?
Oh, as if! If that is not the worst use of pop culture reference-ever! It reminded me of that skin crawling-ly uncomfortable scene in an episode of "The Larry Sanders Show" when the Jewish, middle-aged Hank Kingsley, worried that he was on the verge of being replaced by a more hip second fiddle, tried to “get down” with RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan.
“Hey, where’s Ol’ Dirty Bitch?” he seriously asks a confounded RZA.
Jon Stewart, who was guest hosting for Larry, is mortified by Hank’s obsequiousness. When Hank finally leaves, Jon looks up at the RZA. "On behalf of all of my people I'd like to apologize for that...”
So, me too. Tina, if you are reading this, please accept my apologies on behalf of all sane Ethiopians. (Can’t you just imagine the first draft of that line? “In conclusion, I say unto thee, EU, I am reminded verily of that rock and rock song by the black American and great singer, that of Mrs. Tina Turner when she sang unto us: “So, this love. What has it got to do with anything?” The EPRDF must have an intern that watchesVH1.
Sigh. One more thing the EPRDF is bad at: nuance. Let’s just stick to petulance, Mr. Prime Minister. At least you do that well.
What could have rankled the Prime Minister so much that he was forced to this level of discomfited tragedy? Well, apparently the EU was not impressed with his much touted elections. Uh-oh.
And so, to summarize Part One, the Prime Minster’s basically said, “What’s democracy got to do with elections?”
My second favorite part was when the Prime Minister had a near orgasm about item #2 in the EU-EOM’s statement:
In many occasions, the EU observers reported that opposition parties presented their cases based on poor evidence, inconsistent testimonies or weak arguing.
And the Prime Minister rejoiced.
That the opposition parties' cases were based on poor evidence, that the testimony of their witnesses was "inconsistent," to put it mildly, and that their arguments were weak is a matter of record, and I fully agree with the EU-EOM on the matter… No wonder the EPRDF won most of the cases!
And the halls of the EPRDF offices reverberated with songs of victory. “Viva the revolution!” they cried. “Viva our exalted leader!" they shouted. He shall march us to victory! Oh, and What's love got to do with it? Nothing!”
Alas, the next paragraph was a buzz kill. (Surprisingly, Ato Meles ignores it. )
Significant numbers of opposition members and activists were arrested in early June and remained in prison during the complaints process.
Let’s see. How do you get your evidence to seem “more substantiated”; your CIPs representatives “better prepared”; and your “witnesses (often members of the local administration) more impressive”? Simple. You arrest the opposition’s witnesses (Mr. Werku Dulecha of Shasemene), assassinate some of the newly elected opposition MP’s (Ato Wudu Amelegn, in Meragna Constituency), and THEN you have the investigation process. Heck, even the EPRDF can win against a dead opponent!
Opines the EU-EOM:
This context undermined the opposition’s ability to participate in the process freely and effectively.
Gee, you think?
If only Dubya thought to imprison half of the Gore campaign operatives. The country would have been saved all that indignity.
And thus the Prime Minister goes on… and on.. and on… dragging the “bird in the hand story” to such extreme lengths that one’s mind wonders off, and pretty images of Tim Clarke playing Santa Clause at the British Embassy Christmas party soon drown out the Prime Minister's voice.
You see? You see how he does us like that?
In Part Two: Guilty Until Proven Innocent, (yes, an overworked cliché for a title, but at least it’s not “I want to be your Private Dancer”) the Prime Minister attempts to deconstruct the EU-EOM’s two major findings, which are:
However, the overall process has not satisfied the state’s obligation to provide an effective remedy for complaints, for two main reasons:
The complaints investigation process took place in the context of serious violations of human rights and freedoms, namely of opposition leaders and suspected supporters.
... aaaannnnndddd… numero two-oh:
Questionable CIP’s impartial arbitration.
The Prime Minister was having none of that. His comeback, which was vengefully fustian, was that everyone had a level playing field.
Well, if the opposition had an equal chance of mass arresting EPRDF cadres and didn’t, well, I am going to be very upset!
Here’s my favorite quote from Part Two, which was the most bereft of content and logic but the most nauseatingly plump full of shitless wonder, despite what Mesqel Square thinks. (“ …he makes some pretty targeted attacks on the EU reasoning, most devastatingly in Part II when he takes on specific allegations of fraud during the election complaints procedure.”) With all due respect, Andrew! No more caffeine for you! For three months! No caffeine! (Said in the 'Soup Nazi' accent.)
Anyway, my favorite quote from Part Duh!:
Those who were involved with the CIPs were the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) and the parties. The government was not a party to the process.
You know, here’s the mistake the EPRDF makes so often: It always thinks it is talking to four-year-olds. Either that or it is so used to congenital untruths that it’s lost its bearings. I prefer the former explanation.
You know how you try to explain away the concept of the Easter Bunny even though your precocious four-year-old kid is looking at you with utter disparagement? “But mommy, I saw that the man behind the bunny costume!” The only answer is, of course, “No, you didn’t honey. You are upsetting mommy.”
That’s what the Prime Minister is saying to us when he tries to sell us the idea that the EPRDF is just another party and not the government. To the Prime Minister, we are perpetual four-year-olds.
Us: But… but… how can you say that the government is NOT the EPRDF? Isn’t that what Revolutionary Democracy is all about?
PMM: You are upsetting meeee!
Ato Meles recounts his “bird in the hand” story with such verve that someone... somewhere… (ehem, Andrew) is bound to eventually say, “Well, maybe there is room for reasonable doubt.” It’s gone on for 14 years and the Prime Minister always thinks that he has gotten away with convincing able-minded adults that the Easter Bunny exists. This is why during his interview with the BBC’s Hardtalk he honestly thought no one would ever question his utterance that “All international observers have said that this was the freest election ever, ever, ever!…”
Unfortunately, the interviewer knew that there is no Easter Bunny. Not only that, but to the Prime Ministers ire, he also knew that the Easter Bunny has nothing to do with Easter.
There, there, Mr. Prime Minister. (Or, if he prefers in Amharic, “Inday! Beqa, beqa… y’qir.”)
Oh, an interesting point: you gotta love the way that Ato Meles tries to intermittently lecture the EU on the machinations of democracy.
“In all democracies…blah blah blah.” “In some of the oldest democracies… blah blah blah..” “The practice of established democracies blah… blah.. blah.” “The author must know that judges in all democracies blah… blah.. blah…"
Very, very cute. You have to give the new and improved Marxists mad props. They have even managed to get on a democracy soapbox.
By the time the Prime Minister concludes Part Two with:
In disproving the allegations of the EU-EOM, I am not at all trying to prove that there is no case of violation of human rights in Ethiopia. I know no country on earth can say that. I recognize that such violations do occur in our country and we are trying our best to change that…
you are left thinking that not only is he trying to convince us that there is an Easter Bunny, but that Santa Claus lives in Bugna, Wello. There are still no investigations into the 42 who were shot to death on June 8, some of them with as many as three bullets to the head.
Still, no one in the EPRDF has the balls to let the Prime Minister know how ridiculous he sounds.
Part Three of Ato Meles’ tirade is incongruously titled, The Grapes are Sour…and I am betting that not-so-pretty-boy Disinformation Minister Ato Bereket Simon came up with that not-so-clever title. That waskly wabbit!
Here’s how Ato Meles uses the sour grapes metaphor:
I think it is pretty obvious that the list of “negative developments” is merely a matter of the EU-EOM declaring the grapes are sour and could thus be simply dismissed.
Fortunately for humanity, so can Part Three.
Okay, so I have some favorite parts.
On the possibility that the presence of armed goons at polling stations might have hampered voting in the Somali Region, the Prime Minister says:
There is also the more important issue of whether they were behaving in a threatening and intimidating manner or whether they were simply present. Their very presence does not cast any shadow on the fair and free nature of the elections. It seems however that the EU-EOM are incapable of making the distinction between the presence of armed elements and intimidation of voters.
Sure thing. The Prime Minister then quickly asserted that the armed goons, who have never, ever misbehaved and are in fact the pillars of civil society, had smiley t-shirts on to take the edge off of their menacing looks. How can anyone be intimidated by a guy wielding an AK-47 that has a “I heart democracy” sticker pasted on the trigger?
The Prime Minister might as well be pacing furiously back and forth in the courtroom, swathed with moral indignation, arguing, “Yes, Exhibit A is my client’s sledgehammer; and yes, his fingerprints are on it; and yes, he might have let the sledgehammer, um, connect with the deceased’s head… a few times; but how do we know that it was he who dealt the fatal blow? Isn’t it a possibility that he hit the deceased once, as a joke, and then he went into shock… at which time my client’s mistress came in and finished the job? Isn’t that a possibility? Can we honestly rule that out, ladies and gentlemen of the jury?”
Similarly, armed goons with a history of shooting into an unarmed crowd? Pffffffff! What? Why would that automatically lead you to conclude that it was detrimental to democracy? Huh? Huh? Onward Christian soldiers.
Ato Meles then attempts to ‘splain how his Information Minister, or, as he affectionately refers to Ato Bereket-- “Mini-Me” won back Bugna in the “re-election.” Needless to say, the Prime Minister was shocked, shocked by some of the happenings in Bugna. Dagmawi busts that bird in his amazingly succinct post, “Meles Zenawi Analyzes Turnout Patterns.” (I am sure he meant ‘analyzes’ sardonically.)
But the penultimate in cuteness:
I challenge anyone to show me an investigation process that was more transparent than ours…
Hmm. Where can we find an election that was challenged in which the government did NOT arrest the opposition en masse? And has there ever been an election where, let’s saaaayyyy, people were NOT killed for having challenged the transparency of the election process? Head-scratcher.
The Prime Minister finally gets totally unhinged at the conclusion of Part Three, and it was about damn time. One sub-heading of his is, “Why, Why, Why?”
Lawdy L’or. That boy done g'on crazy.
The EU-EOM, in Ethiopia, has become part of the problem rather than the solution beginning with the highly speculative report they leaked, a report that I believe significantly contributed to the June events.
Remember, boys and girls, the olden days of yore when it was the opposition that made the government kill the people on June 8? Well, scratch that. Until further notice it was the EU. And let’s all remember, government guns don’t kill people, leaked reports do.
Damn the EU and its murdering bastards. No wonder they can’t get their constitution together! They’re busy murdering Ethiopians.
Then the Prime Minister goes into a “she said, I said” accusation about Ana Gomes which, until today, I’d have thought was beneath even his dignity. Alas, the Prime Minister reduces himself to a cheeky schoolboy. It was an embarrassment not just for him, but for Ethiopians and Africans at large.
I know it’s too much to ask, but please, can someone in the EPRDF’s Office of Protocol and Stuffs (staff: one, duty: make the PM look “edumucated”) please remind the Prime Minister to elevate his rhetoric from the diplomatic ghetto in which he seems perfectly at home?
Ato Meles underscores his vehement condemnation of the EU statement that dared say that little things like the monopolization of the media by the government, the EPRDF’s new legislation rendering the opposition’s gain in parliament useless, and the NEBE’s overall impartiality all had a deleterious effect on the investigations process, and hell, on the whole electoral process.
Oh, it's so on, bee-yotch!
To the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, who is still finding his way through the very concept of democracy, the fact that the government (which, I kindly remind you, is NOT the EPRDF) denying the opposition any air time while bombarding the airwaves with crass accusations has NOTHING to do with fostering a hostile environment that might, just might, have had a negative impact on the investigations. Arresting people? What has that got to do with their ability to present their case? De facto saying that if you don't have a 51% majority you can't bring up an agenda in the new parliament? Sooo?
Maybe it’s a “new democracy thing” and we just don’t understand.
But everybody’s favorite part:
The good lady [yep, that’s how he refers to Ana Gomes] apparently does not know her Ethiopian history, or her EPRDF’s.
Shhh. Maybe if we stay vay-wee, vay-wee still the profundity of that sentence will overwhelm our senses, and its wisdom shall engulf us. Everybody, assume the Zen position and... 'ummmmmm'. No? Nope. Oh well.
She apparently does not understand that as soon as these merely bad ideas become tainted by association with an election observer turned self-appointed colonial viceroy hell-bent on twisting the arms of the government to force it to accept her dictates, merely discussing the ideas, let alone accepting them, becomes unthinkable.
Ah say-ah... Ah say-ah... didn'ah t’hay’yl you he becomes unhinged.
Okay, so here’s how he concludes this whole exercise in churlishness.
Whenever I am faced with difficult challenges, challenges that could potentially be of existential significance, the first question I ask is what would the average Ethiopian peasant do under such circumstances?
Right. So, to all of you out there who have demurred that the Prime Minister is never wrought with existential angst, least of all when he is thinking about Ethiopian peasants (15 million of whom were on the verge of starvation because of circumstances that have nothing to do with the Prime Minister or his policies), I hope you see the error of your ways and apologize to Ato Meles right this minute! He feels their pain.
Wait. I’ve heard of “What would Jesus do?” but this whole “What would the average Ethiopian peasant do?” business…? I dunno.
So listen to this… the final thoughts of the Prime Minister who loves the peasants so much that he does not allow any of them to own the land on which they toil.
The peasant hates injustice like no other abomination. You can therefore bet your life that plan A of the peasant in such circumstances would be to fight the injustice tooth and nail, with no holds barred, with the view to correcting the injustices. But your average peasant would not be the sage of facing existential challenges if he/she only had one plan. Again you can bet your life that there would at least be a plan B just in case the perpetrator of the injustice was able to get away with murder.
Phew! Just in case there are Meles–converts out there who have been “shitless wondered” into thinking that he has the makings of a democrat, he is quick to unveil his true nature.
“The peasant” that Ato Meles refers to in that loutish paragraph is code word for his government, which has shown nothing but contempt for the real peasants. Sadly, it is a warning to the international community: “Leave me alone or my wrath shall envelop the land.” Nothing new here. Prime Minister Meles is quite famous in the “beggar nations” circle for his astute methods of blackmailing the donor community into feeding his people. “Gimme money or people will die.” (For further elaboration on that see, The Sopranos-Ethiopian Style.)
In the end, Ato Meles knows that brute force is the only way the EPRDF can stay in power because the Ethiopian people, peasants and otherwise, have told this government that enough is enough. Ato Meles staked his reputation on these elections, and he lost. He’ll probably be able to stay in power for a few more months, but his fate is sealed.
Ethiopundit brilliantly analyzes this concept here.
So, the “Ladies and gentlemen, ask yourselves if the defendant was thinking about the bird while he was bludgeoning his wife to death with a sledgehammer” equivalent to Ato Meles’ acid trip is, simply, to lean in and whisper, “You forget, Mr. Prime Minister. You invited the EU to observe the elections. And you did say you were going to cede to its conclusion.”
Right now, the EU is concluding that these elections were deeply flawed.
I am sincerely hoping that the EU and the international community is not really surprised by Ato Meles’ cerebral vulgarity because if nothing else, the Prime Minister has been very consistent about the way he deals with contrariness: he destroys it. Oh no. Was that news to the EU? (“But he was so niiiice to us. What happened?”)
The venom of a snake is still venom. (Okay, I’m trying out Melesisms, ah’iight? How about, “When one lies with the fleas, one can’t pretend one is DDT”? Or, “A junta by any other name is still a junta”? Any of those work for you? No? Nada? Note to self: work on facileness.)
No example of Ato Meles’ vengefulness to those who dare cross him is starker than the way he dealt with Eritrea. Those of us who were in Addis in 1991 had front row center seats to the havoc caused by the TPLF/EPLF on Ethiopia and the Ethiopian psyche. I have often cited those days in my writings and I hope that I will have it in me to eventually write a book about those days as an epitaph to Mr. Meles’ reign.
Anyway, remember those days? Eritreans were the new “ferenjies” of Ethiopia. My uncle’s tenant, to his utter surprise, turned out to be a closet Eritrean, and refused to pay him rent. Furthermore, she announced, she’s report him to the “Eritrean embassy” if he brought up the subject again. Ah, those days. (For a refresher listen to Ato Meles’ rousing speech delivered at a rally celebrating Eritrea’s independence. Sorry, non-Amharic speakers.)
And then all hell broke loose, and the former best friends, alas, thought it better to start a war than separate amicably. Ato Meles’ government deported the former Ethiopians tritely saying, “We will deport them. If we don’t like the color of your eyes we can deport you.” There you go. That’s what passes for bravery in EPRDF politick.
Eventually, tens of thousands had to die, and now nothing makes the EPRDF bristle more than the Eritrean issue—at least on the outset.
So, same deal with the EU, which until now tolerated Ato Meles and his crabbiness at the considerable expense of the Ethiopian people. I hope the EU is not going to feign surprise that its golden boy was really a cheap alloy. To Ato Meles, donor nations never had a status higher than a sugar daddy. He tolerated their whimsical fantasies and he gussied himself up for their visits, but that was it. He would go as far as holding elections, but he was not going to lose power, no matter what.
In the fight between the EU and the EPRDF, as was the case with the fight between Eritrea and Ethiopia, the ones who will inevitably pay the price will be the Ethiopian people.
Hopefully, Ato Meles’ saucy outburst will compel the EU to not beat around the bush when it comes to issuing its final report. It seems apparent that the Prime Minister has dared the EU into taking a moral stance. Will the EU do so unequivocally, or will it cave to Ato Meles’ threats and do whatever it takes to shove Ethiopia into the “Problem Solved” column?
It is important to me that people understand that my sun does not rise and set with every EU proclamation. But it is very important to me that the EU, Tony Blair and Jimmy Carter clean up their mess and own up to tolerating the likes of Ato Meles. (The titillating anticipation of reading another 30,000-word treatise hurriedly coughed up by the Prime Minister excoriating his former Johns? That’s just icing on the cake.)
Ato Meles very impudently noted that Ana Gomes “does not know her Ethiopian history.” Well, neither does he.
This is not the first time that the government of Ethiopia had to stand up to Europeans. Emperor Haile Selassie did it in 1936 at the League of Nations. There he warned Europe of the calamity that would befall it if it ignored Italy’s aggression against Ethiopia. The speech was so crushingly eloquent, erudite and forceful that even intellectual snobs across the Atlantic were stunned into admiration.
The venerable TIME Magazine saw in the Emperor what his opponents couldn’t or wouldn’t see, and in a move that portended things to come, it named him Man of the Year… in 1936 America!
In 1935 there was just one man who rose out of murky obscurity and carried his country with him up and up into brilliant focus before a pop-eyed world.
If by some unhappy chance the Italo-Ethiopian war should now spread into a world conflagration, Power of Trinity I, the King of Kings, the Conquering Lion of Judah, will have a place in history as secure as Woodrow Wilson's. If it ends in the fall of Mussolini and the collapse of Fascism, His Majesty can plume himself on one of the greatest feats ever credited to blackamoors.
Without quibble or qualification the best and wisest ruler ancient Ethiopia has ever had is the present Man of the Year.
Well, I never.
It was sheer genius for Haile Selassie to deny that Italians used dumdum bullets instead of charging them with that military offense. It was again genius for him to cable out that in Ethiopia the local press had been ordered by the Emperor never to apply discourteous epithets to Benito Mussolini.
In those days, diplomacy and ingenuity were actually considered an art.
Emperor Haile Selassie finished his famous speech with this:
"Apart from the Kingdom of the Lord, there is not on this earth any nation superior to any other. Are the States going to set up the terrible precedent of bowing before force? ... It is international morality which is at stake! ... Representatives of the world, I have come to Geneva to discharge in your midst the most painful of duties for the head of a State. What reply have I to take back to my people?"
Fast forward a hundred years and here is Ato Meles’ version of the Haile Selassie speech:
The statement has come as a great surprise to me. I had expected that the statement would have very few if any nuggets of truth, and, if any, that these would be buried under so much garbage that it would be virtually impossible to excavate them. As it turned out, the statement has some big, really big, lumps of truth in it, and it is relatively easy to remove the garbage that has covered those lumps of truth. While I was expecting a huge garbage damp all I got was newly started garbage damp that was unable to bury the truth. The letter cannot but therefore start by identifying and highlighting the lumps of truth in the statement.
And then, of course…
The good lady was not convinced, for as late as the eve of her press conference, she was trying to sell these ideas [unity government] to some senior EPRDF officials. … The good lady can apparently not take NO for an answer from the natives … with an election observer turned self-appointed colonial viceroy hell-bent on twisting the arms of the government … The good lady does not appear to understand that what her action succeeded in doing is put the last nail on the coffin of her “recommendations.”
It was made abundantly clear to her and to all concerned that she has no business making recommendations, and that her mandate was to observe and report.
Goodness! No one can do maladroit like Prime Minister Meles. How we Ethiopians descended to this should forever haunt us.
Ato Meles, at the end of Part Three, was not at all evasive about what he would unleash on Ethiopia and Ethiopians if the EU does not stand down. He quixotically calls it “Plan B.”
You can take the boy out of the jungle, but never the jungle out of the boy.
The best the Prime Minister can do is win a permanent spot on the ever-growing list of African despots, right next to his buddy Mengistu and his soon-to-be-buddy-again Isayas Aferweqi. Supporters of the EPRDF will always have Ato Meles’ three-part letter as their legacy. How long before Ato Meles turns his sword against them? 3…2…1…
Tell me if I am imagining this, but there was a time in history when Ethiopia was globally venerated, right? We were always poor, but we had gravity and moral certitude. Right?
After reading Ato Meles’ response, those days seem not a hundred years ago but a thousand. Perhaps it is true that it is darkest right before dawn. Poor Prime Minister Meles. No matter how hard and how desperately he tries, he is slowly realizing that even he can’t suffocate dawn. Ethiopians are remembering who we have always been, and not who we have been told we are at the point of a gun. (ethiopundit.)
Ato Meles’ response to the EU was his obituary, and just like all crazed despots, he had to write it himself.
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