Friday, February 03, 2006

How much is “not that much in the thousands”?

Just when you thought it was safe for celebrities to dibble dabble their fabulous selves in politics, there goes Bono musing about Ato Meles’ psychological defects- of which, admittedly, there are plenty. Ethiopundit stitches up Bono’s tattered reasoning very succinctly in a beautiful piece, Earth to Bono. Just in case you want to refer DATA to the article, you can use their online form, here. And in case Bono is reading this, I ain’t no psychologist but I think what Ato Meles is suffering from is what you call your… schizophrenia. If I may:

December 5, 2005

International communities have now warned that they are considering suspending aid if their concerns are not addressed. This does not seem to disturb the prime minister.

And… wait for it… wait…

I believe we deserve… assistance from our friends but if our friends feel otherwise I respect their decision. After all, it’s their money.

And then the medication must have run out because…

February 1, 2006

Ethiopia's prime minister on Wednesday accused donors of "a breach of trust" for stopping direct budget aid over a crackdown on opposition supporters, saying his government had held up its end of the bargain.

Meles Zenawi told Reuters Ethiopia's arrest and trial of opposition leaders on treason and genocide was strictly following principles of law and democracy which his nation was trying to nurture.

Could our prime minister please, please, please stop nurturing us so much? Shoot! And no, I don’t mean that literally.


Budget support to Ethiopia was conditioned on a number of terms the country had to meet in 2004 and 2005, he said, referring to economic and other criteria.

"We've taken those steps and the donors have agreed in good time that we did take those steps ... but as far as the current budget is concerned there was a breach of trust and that, in my view, was committed by our development partners," Meles said.

Hm. Here’s the latest from Human Rights Watch:

The Ethiopian government is using intimidation, arbitrary detentions and excessive force in rural areas of Ethiopia to suppress post-election protests and all potential dissent, Human Rights Watch said today after a research trip to Addis Ababa and the Oromia and Amhara regions.

“The Ethiopian government is violently suppressing any form of protest and punishing suspected opposition supporters,” said Peter Takirambudde, director of Human Rights Watch's Africa Division. “Donor governments should insist on an independent, credible investigation into abuses by federal police and local officials in rural as well as urban areas.”

Did Prime Minister Meles misunderstand the terms of the deal? It was: do NOT violently suppress people, torture them and arbitrarily detain them, and we’ll throw money your way. Note the “not”.

You’ve probably been saying to yourself, “Boy, we haven’t heard too much from the new Information Minister, one Birhan Hailu, these days. Wonder how’s he’s handling the pressure of defending EPRDF policies?” Fear not. Like herpes, Ato Birhanu might disappear on occasions, but just when you think he’s gone for good, there he is majorly cramping your style.

Everyone, please. Silence while an Ethiopian government official utters copyrighted absurdities.

Ethiopia Denies Protesters Are Wrongly Detained

“Those people have the right to protest but protest under the rule of law. They are under [sic] jail because they were acting unlawfully. They were trying to topple the government using unlawful means, which was against the constitution. So the case is now out of the hand of government, and it is [being] handled by the court. The case should be finalized through the due process of law, and based on the decision of the court, those detainees may be released or they may be sentenced.”

Yes. They are under jail because they were acting unlawfully. That’s all you need to know. What constitutes unlawful behavior in Ethiopia these days? Whatever the hell the EPRDF thinks is unlawful behavior, that’s what. Now that is a pretty lawful state of mind.

On the latest Amnesty International report that the Ethiopian government has unlawfully detained Ethiopian students of Oromo descent, Ato Birhan demonstrated the standard Ethiopian government issued berserkville posturing:

“Well, those reports are very much exaggerated. There are people we have in jail but the number is small, not that much in thousands.

Does any part of an Information Minister’s job actually include furnishing information? And seriously? We have a government that says “There are people we have in jail but the number is small, not that much in thousands”!! I ain’t no mathematician, but how much is “not that much in the thousands”? And speaking of math, for those of you wondering if there is a minimum IQ requirement to join the Ethiopian government, you now have your answer: No there is not a minimum. But there is a maximum. And the number is small.

Speaking of schizophrenia:

“The situation in the country is stable, and both the political and economic situation is in good condition.”

You see? No problem. So the Prime Minister shouldn’t be indignant about supposed breached trusts? Birhan, draft a memo. “Your Excellency: The situation in the country is stable, and both the political and economic situation is in good condition. Please don’t worry. If you need me, I will be at the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia—withdrawing the little savings, not that much in the thousands, that I have been able to amass. Yours truly… etc.”

No interview with an Ethiopian official is complete without the requisite Diaspora bashing. Asked about the demonstration in Washington DC, Ato Birhan left no cliché unturned. Speak, oh ye of little vocabulary:

Those people in the Diaspora should to have [sic] understand the reality here in Ethiopia and the situation in Ethiopia is very calm and stable. Their concern over there does not bring any change in the country. In fact, those who are against the government and… do not understand the real situation of the country so they don’t being any significant impact on the country.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: why does the Diaspora refuse to understand that random killings, arrests, torture and beating are signs of a stable and calm government? What part of shooting a mother in front of her children is does not scream “democracy” to you? Nitpick, pick-pick-pick!

Does anyone else miss Bereket Simon because the new guy seems unmotivated to me.


Ambassador Jendayi Frazer is back from Addis. She was on ‘Straight Talk Africa.’ I wish I could say there was something new there… U.S ‘pressuring’ Prime Meles to release “some” of those in jail, and giving the rest due process of law. Hm. I don’t think our fearless leader quite knows how to do that. Can people who put thousands of people in jail without due process in the first place learn about due process of law and fair and speedy trials ex post facto? I guess Ato Meles is being asked to start practicing democracy on those who were undemocratically arrested? Let us know how that turns out, willya? I wonder what the State Department will say if after the ‘trials’ Ato Meles sends the jailed opposition leaders and journalists to death. “We are pressuring Prime Minister Meles to use humane methods to end the lives of people who have gone through due process of law.”


The Ambassador said she met with members of the opposition during her trip to Addis who told her that their supporters in the Diaspora didn’t want them to join the parliament. A clearly agitated caller, Tedla from New York, called in to remind Ms. Frazer that it was the Ethiopian people who didn’t want their representatives to join the parliament, not the Diaspora… especially since Ato Meles, in one of his famously infamous hissy fits, changed the parliament rules which now state that only the party that has a 51% majority can put forward bills. So, Tedla from New York wanted to know, why is the US financing the Meles government? He finished by asking that the US give Ato Meles asylum.

Hel-lo! Sweet Jesus, no. Imagine running into Ato Meles in a DC restaurant just as you are about to bite into a piping hot piece of godin tbs! No, thank youuuu. There are a few spots open in Harare.

Speaking of the Diaspora, … didja see the pictures from the February 1 protest? Yaaaaawzah! In a true sign that the Ethiopian case is getting traction in Washington, Donald Yamamoto, Chris Smith, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher , Congressman Chris Smith (all hail!) and Reverend Joseph Lowery spoke to the crowd. Ethiopia Media Forum kept posting live updates of the march and even loaded some of the speeches the same day. Loving the technology, and thank you very much. doesn’t have pictures posted yet, but I’m sure a video snippet or two will soon surface. And this time the Washington Times decided that thousands of people marching in DC was worth investigating. Does anyone know if the local TV stations covered it? (By the way, where were representatives and senators from Maryland and Virginia?)

This was huge for the Diaspora. Huge! The Diaspora has found its voice. And man, it is loud. Now I know Ato Birhan thinks this is ineffective, but this is how civilized people petition their governments… And look, no arrests! More importantly, no killings of demonstrators.

Think about it. Draft a memo.

Have a great weekend everbody.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

dont ever attempt to do EPRDF math.....well, you can if you can prove the following:

EPRDF claims

X=number of hooligons on abc jail
Y=number of hooligons released from abc jail

**ALSO CLAIMED ALL TROUBLE MAKERS ARE ARRESTED, the economy is growing, everyone is eating 2 ingera (be siga wot) instead of half (yawum beshiro), the country was so peacfull that even the PM could go to TELA BET with no problem, that is bn time the above X and Y claims were made.

Going back to the math,

Using the above information prove that the following could be true,

X = Y + 5000,

**i couldnt find the exact differential and I just put 5000. That is besides the point since we are talking about EPRDF math. Any number could work as well.

PS. I havent got reply for my appology demand on your previous post. still love you Wonk,( you see i do tolerate)

Wonk,I know you are a good writer and its time for you math IQ to be exposed,

7:03 AM, February 03, 2006  
Anonymous Queyi said...


On aid vs. justice; a stimulating discussion,


11:29 AM, February 03, 2006  
Anonymous not anonymous said...

my dear wonq, wonq’yE:

CHileman tegen argo yemikahedew e-hizbawi sEra tedersobetal!

Just read the comment you posted under the cover of darkness last night! Can’t respond here for fear that it might detract from this new entry. Ah, well!

You asked about guest-blogging “whilst you sip bicherin from the mountaintops.”
I say to you, my child, no worries! Go!
Go to the mountaintop! For, when you return, you’ll have earned the right to say unto us, thus:

“I've been to the mountaintop. . . (God) has allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the . . .”

How fittin’, this being Black History Month and all.

12:00 PM, February 03, 2006  
Anonymous ETW said...

Uhhhhhh... dude. MLK was shot right after that. You tellin' me something?

1:34 PM, February 03, 2006  
Anonymous not anonymous said...

ere Telatish, wonq, ere Telatsh!

however, you can’t go tobogganing down some mountain and expect to come back in one piece, do you?

benegerachn lie, this winter-vacation thing! It clearly indicates a growing sophistication in the cultural lives of Ethiopians in America, where Americans themselves are selodm so sophisticated as to counterfeit a culture of going on a winter-vacation. good for us!

go get ‘em, wonq! show them how it’s done! Get up that mountain fast, since THAT seems to be your idea of moving things to a higher level!

3:42 PM, February 03, 2006  
Anonymous kezira said...

mmmm. if i had not seen that coming from a mile away.

4:08 PM, February 03, 2006  
Anonymous ETW said...

well, he tried. :)

4:28 PM, February 03, 2006  
Anonymous not anonymous said...

tried what, wonq? I hope you're not taking umbrage at a remark meant to express our gratitude to you for representing us up there on the mountaintop! inde?
It would break my heart so, if you took it the wrong way . .ehem . .

4:56 PM, February 03, 2006  
Anonymous H. Gabriel said...

Just read your comments about Lidetu on your previous post. Soon after that I heard an audio of his speech in parlament at Ethioforum. You got to give the guy credit for what he has done and is still doing. He is a far cry from being a "traitor". Thank's for speaking your mind as usual!

12:26 PM, February 05, 2006  
Anonymous not anonymous said...

H. Gabriel,

To my mind, that was Classic Lidetu doing what he does best. Looking out for Number One! The main thrust of his speech, I thought, was his resistance to the idea of holding new elections in Addis. The rest was window-dressing. Astute at gauging prevailing sentiments, Lidetu knows he’d have no prayer if new elections were held.

10:57 AM, February 06, 2006  
Anonymous H. Gabriel said...

My point is we can't just have black and white. The mentality that "You are with us or against us" is counter-productive. There need to be a big enough tent to accomodate all shades of grey. I will not put him in the company of the CUDP leaders in Jail but I wouldn't call him a "traitor" either.

12:14 PM, February 06, 2006  
Anonymous QQ said...

I thought his may help the debate.

Dagmawi is excerpting the book by Lidetu Ayalew. It makes for an interesting read:

And was sourcing a seller for the book, I came across this article about Lidetu by the now defunct Addis Tribune back in 2002/3.

I can almost feel the reason for his uneasiness and apparent revolt for working with the other leaders.

Still, I don't know where to place the guy. Traitor, may not. I think he lacks real understanding of issues; may be that lack of education and world exposure. For the latter, you only have to listen to his characterization of the Diaspora in the portion of the book, the aiga folks chose to narrate like "mefekir" at times.
He is captivating and he seems to just like talking! And likes to crave attention as a leader of something...youth group and party.

But still, he seems to have that passion or flare for the dramatic to dissent in politics. May be,this dude who has apparently faced much imprisonment and torture in the hands of EPRDF may become a leader of that land if the democracy he wishes to see happen, happens! God forbid.

2:18 PM, February 06, 2006  
Anonymous Gooch said...

Hey, H. Gabriel, not anon did not call him a traitor this time. That's a step forward, isn't it?!

Seriously guys, the idea is not to guess at people's motives, but just to look at what they actually say and do. And the reason for this is that often, when we Ethiopians start guessing people's motives, we don't give them the benefit of the doubt. We tend to assume the worst, and then end up end up alienating each other.

So, to avoid falling into this trap, I think we need to discipline ourselves to deal with matters at face value.

In the case of Lidetu, one can easily argue, objectively, that he did a bad thing. He's insulted colleagues and cast aspersions on their motives as they languish in jail, he's remarked that they wouldn't be in jail if they'd listened to him, he's made crude remarks about age, and we can go on and on. And the icing on the cake - he implies that he is actually more mature and open-minded than the 'old generation'. These are all bad things, and probably signs of immaturity and a lack of self-awareness, if I had to guess.

But we should learn to leave it at that. Traitor is a whole different ball of wax.

2:35 PM, February 06, 2006  
Anonymous dube said...

guwad Gooch,
Isn't he right in that point? He may be immature and a dissenter for dissent's sake, but the older generation ARE intolerant. The older generation have a black and white view of the world.

In addition, I find the whole cult of personality that forms around these opposition leaders is not very helpful.

I am always suspicious about those who want to sacrifice their all to help the masses.
But that's a whole other show...

3:15 PM, February 06, 2006  
Anonymous not anonymous said...


That I did not call him “traitor” in my last comment is not a sign that I’m backing away from my earlier assertion that he is one. Even *I* could not vacillate that much this quickly. I just didn’t want to sound like a broken record is all, if you’ll forgive the cliché.

I’ll tell you what’s a step forward, gooch! That you concede he did a string of bad things. Now, if you could take it one step farther and include in your selective list of Lidetu’s “bad-boy” indiscretions the more egregeous acts he’s guilty of, you and I can be friends.

The fact is, I too might have had reservations about calling the man a traitor, if all I had to go by was the list of relatively benign transgressions you offer.

“The idea is not to guess at people's motives, but just to look at what they actually say and do,” you say. Well, isn’t that what I am saying also? That I have seen and heard enough to have come to the conclusion that a Traitor is as a Traitor does?

Gooch, ain’t nobody guessing at nothin’ here! Where Lidetu is conceren-ed, examples of grievous offenses abound.

But really, my intent here was never to wrangle over whether Lidetu is or is not a traitor. My whole thing was about my RIGHT to call him as I see him based on the information *I* have about him!

Nothing devisive about feeling a certain way about somebody as long as one’s feeling is not born of hatred of any sort! That’s all.

And, I have a bit of a problem with folks who preach about the virtues of tolerance while, in the same breath, they’re being intolerant towards those whose take on something or someone happened to be different from theirs. If, out of some irresistable, psychological urge, one MUST preach, at least, one should practice what one preaches.

4:58 PM, February 06, 2006  
Anonymous Gooch said...


Yes, I agree, I think he does have a point.

But I don't know if the difference between generations in this regard is worth talking about. In my opinion, there's not much difference, and I think it's more important to talk about the problem in general than to point out the minute differences between generations.

not anon,

Sorry, yes, I was preaching. Guilty as charged. And rest assured, I have granted you from on high the right to call Lidetu whatever you want without being psychoanalyzed or unfairly judged for it!

I am interested, not anon, in what you think are "the more egregeous acts he’s guilty of" that perhaps smack of treason. Maybe I've missed something, which I readily admit is quite likely.

8:41 PM, February 06, 2006  
Anonymous ETW said...

Not Anonymous,

Alright already. We are tolerant of your intolerence. But do you know what I mean about dealing with disappointments? I am more interested in how we deal with disappointments and being let down. Demmo sira tefeto anten
"psychoanalyze" snaderg!

You do make a good point about re-elections, though. But would you support re-elections in Addis?

Have you decided to blog in February? You can ravage what is left of your favorite politician.

11:12 PM, February 06, 2006  
Blogger enaseb said...

Vaclav Havel:
You do not become a "dissident" just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career. You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society.

if we indeed have faith in the process...there must be room for any and all to follow their hearts. how we judge the heart of Lidetu (oh brazen folk) should be based on his track record not his one act of dissent. therein lies the difference...

9:49 PM, February 05, 2006

11:52 PM, February 07, 2006  

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