A time to patronize, a time to condescend; a time to sing pretty, a time to put on rose-tinted glasses. A time to…
When former U.S. Ambassador to
Let me tell you what ordinary Ethiopians tell me.
They tell me that as parents, they do not want their children to live through the violence and upheavals that they experienced. They tell me politicians should respect one another, talk civilly to one another, and focus on issues important to the people, not focus on tearing each other down.
… and dodge…
They tell me Ethiopian society historically has not valued compromise and accommodation but yet they yearn for these traits for their children and for their country’s leaders.
They tell me they want the political parties to accept election results, join Parliament, and work from within the system.
… double whoosh…
They value their democratic institutions and the constitution, and they want political parties to do the same. They want peace. They want wise leaders.
[Le Phew. Le pant. Le phew. Le pant.] Incoming…!
Whether it is to stay alive is your decision. Whatever the case, it is your responsibility. As I depart
But then it becomes hard to be sardonic coz Ms. Brazeal quotes negro spirituals and the bible. Gulp. Can’t mess with negro spirituals and the bible.
But here’s what I thought was the most interesting part of the speech. In envisioning the features that will propel
These central features are: a multiparty system here to stay; a legal constitution and institutions to frame debates, even about how to change both; economic reforms to come – and I personally urge faster reforms – as Ethiopia races to join the global economy; a vigorous press and a social climate that increasingly promotes free expression – another area in which I hope there are great strides in the near future; and a development agenda that promises grassroots results. These are features that, if carried through forcefully and positively, prefigure a redemptive future and national renewal.
A multi party system? A legal constitution? Institutes to frame debates?
Economic reforms “to come”? A vigorous press and a social climate that increasingly promotes free expression?
I wonder what Ms. Brazeal is thinking these days. I wonder if
Soooooooooooooooo, okay. Dealing with the EPRDF on a prolonged basis is bound to make you read the scriptures if only to keep a tight reign on your sanity.
But how the hell do you explain Vicki Huddleston, the brand spanking new Chargé d'affaires? Short answer: you don’t.
VOA Amharic had a fascinating interview with Ms. Huddleston last Thursday. Even if you don’t speak Amharic listen to the English snippets.
Fast forward to minute . Ms. Huddleston is quite perturbed that the main opposition coalition leadership has decided not to join the parliament without eight preconditions. Picky, picky, picky. And what, you ask, are those drama queen preconditions? Are they demanding extra stretch limos to shuttle them to and fro? Access to the VIP lounge at EPRDF Central.
Don’t be silly. The VIP lounge can’t be open to ‘anti-peace’ elements. Here are the eight preconditions:
1. The legal system must be able to operate independently without any coercion from the ruling party.
2. All forms of media should be free and available to all political parties.
3. The Election Board needs to be restructured and be able to operate independently
4. All political prisoners should be released.
5. Opposition party offices that had been closed should be opened.
6. Repression and intimidation of opposition party members must be stopped.
7. An independent commission to be established to investigate the
8. Ensure the police and armed forces do not favor and take sides with the ruling party.
They killed Kenny. Those bastards! Where do they think they live? In a democracy?!
Ms. Huddleston is vexed.
And what I really want to say is for democracy to succeed you have to be involved. Change and democracy comes from within. It can’t be imposed from the outside.
Ehhhhhhhh? Did the Bush administration have a change of policy here? Sheesh. First Fukuyama now Huddleston. It’s hard being a neocon these days.
[Translation to Amharic starts. Re-translation mine.]
So we at the United States embassy, the EU and donor nation ambassadors are hopeful that the opposition groups will participate in and be part of the democracy movement.
Interviewer: To critics who say that the process has not allowed for all CUD members to participate equally, Ms. Huddleston quotes extensively from the bible verse that there is time for everything, and asserts that her main message is that democratization should not be stalled.
Oh, brother. How can you counter bible quotes with snide remarks? Not fair!
Ms. Huddleston: Now, nearly a year after the elections of May it is time to embrace the democratic process to move forward…
[translation begins] It is time, for the sake of the well being of the country, to bring together all opposition parties in the move forward to democracy.
Here’s a funny story. The CUD swept all but one seat in Addis. Awwwwkward. The EPRDF didn’t miss a beat transferring the
The US Embassy really, weeeaaaly wanted the CUD to take over the administration of the city. That way we can say we are moving towards democracy.
Slight problem. The Mayor elect of the city? In jail. Other members of the council? In jail. Chairman of the CUD? Vice chairman of the CUD? Secretary of the CUD? Elected MPs? Jail… jail… jail anddddd jail.
At this point those inured with pessimism would probably start thinking, “Well, OK. Maybe release the opposition members so they can join the parliament?” Hmmm?
The EPRDF and the US Embassy recruited the few, the brave, the unjailed and ‘organized’ them to created a new party… name it… let’s say… I dunno… CUD. The mission: get 70 of the 138 elected members to sign a petition…There, you got yerself a democracy. Now go. Get 70 people.
Ms. Huddeltston, how do you explain this new form of democracy? People seem… rankled. The leaders of the CUD, the ones in jail, say this is bogus. Especially when you see it in light of the fact that CUD offices in Addis and all over the country have been… what do you call it... shut down, and elected administrators are being harassed by the government. ‘Splain to us, this new democracy.
When Nelson Mandela was put in prison, the movement to democracy did not stop. People on the outside continued to participate in the political process. We should remember that when Nelson Mandela was released he took over power.
No she didn’ go there. Oh but she went. And then inched further away from us…
A process does not end because people are detained. A process must continue… there is a continuation. As it says in the bible, (Ecclesiastes 3:2) “For everything there is a season. A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; It also says there is “a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.”
A time to stop patronizing? Is there a time for that?
But back to this business of creating a ‘new CUD’. Nah. Ms. Huddleston takes umbrage, and how.
There is no attempt to create a new CUD but to work within the framework of the existing CUD. I believe there are a lot of brave men and women within CUD, and we should we proud of them because they are trying to have their voices heard for the people in
Brave… brave… brave!? She did say brave, right? Oh this is way highly spooksville-ish.
When has this ever worked?
The trouble is, the
You might gasp at the incongruity, but it’s what’s happening in
Each passing day the leaders of the opposition spend in jail legitimizes them more and more. Trying to go around them to create a new CUD? It’s a veritable gift to the CUD. CUD, write these people a thank you letter. And if sexy little Lidetu wants to redeem himself, he’ll get his toothbrush and camp out by the gates of Qalliti and beg to be arrested.
But Ms. Huddleston has not flung her last monotonous bromide. Part two was on Friday.
We know there are problems. But if we want the political process to work, participation is essential.
I ain’t m no political genius. Shit, I ain’t no kind of genius. But what are donor nations suggesting? That the leaders spend 20-something years in prison to become even bigger icons of democracy—Nelson Mandela style? The way its going, the US and EU will be telling us that democratization has commenced when the EPRDF finds the prisoners guilty of ‘genocide and treason’, but graciously concedes not to sentence them to death. “Look. We didn’t kill them, okay? Now can we go back to democratically democratizing demon-cracy?
Celllll-a-bration now, c’mon!
Asked if the new, non-fake fake CUD has the blessing of those in prison, Ms. Huddleston tells us that they are scurrying to get approval. Get off the edge of your seats, boys and girls, the CUD leaders were having none of that.
Ms. Huddleston wants to say something about those in prison.
There has been much hate, and there has been much violence, and now I think it is the time to nurture reconciliation and peace, because if all sides should put aside their differences, if they agree to talk in the spirit of forgiveness it will open up a means for the release of the prisoners. And not just for their release but also for a chance at strong democracy and development in
One more slobberingly sanctimonious shibboleth (ha? You like?) for the road?
Well, as you know everybody would love to see the opposition and the CUD and the leaders of civil society out of jail. But we don’t know when that’s going to happen. What we want will not always come to fruition. So we have to create conditions that will allow their release.
Now that’s hot.
Question: How does encouraging the formation of a new group outside of the leadership to take over the leadership of a political party allow for the release of the CUD leaders? Seriously?
Okay, so it was time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. Is it time for a reality check yet?
So you might be wondering… how did that whole exercise in democracy work out? How did the non-fake fake CUD thing work out?
The deadline for the CUD to accept the administration of
You mean to say people weren’t playing nice? Yaw, Mary. You betcha they didn’t.
So… what next? Here’s my prediction so when it comes true I will be greeted with flowers and candy.
Simple. Ms. Huddleston and the EPRDF will come to the conclusion that 62 is really like 70, so for the sake of democracy, the new number needed to take over Addis Ababa will be… 20. You’re welcome,
I am a strong believer in working within the system. Heck, I am a b--lack woman living in the
It’s been nearly a year since Ethiopians went out and patiently waited in line for 12-18 hours to vote. They did that against the tremendous subtle and impudent pressures from the Ethiopian government. In the countryside, away from the prying eyes of the international media, Ethiopians died protecting ballot boxes. Ethiopian peasants gave up access to fertilizer (strictly supplied by government-affiliated companies) to vote against a party they knew did not represent them. Opposition parties agreed to the rules of engagement despite the odds stacked against them. They engaged in the elections because they knew working within a broken system was a step forward to a better
Consequently, and since Ms. Huddleston is new to this job so she might not know, Ethiopian youth were gunned down for speaking up for democracy. And who knows how many countless of them died in concentration camps and in the countryside. Ethiopian mothers, women Ms. Brazeal talks so eloquently about as agents of change, saw their children being riddled with bullets in front of them because they never thought this government would inflict on them what its predecessor inflicted on their mothers.
And still the Ethiopian people are asked to compromise just a little bit more. For fourteen years they’ve lived with the real Prime Minister Zenawi, not the one manicured and gussied up to please fawning foreigners. And on May 2005, they said enough.
So to lecture Ethiopians who have lived under these circumstances about compromise is a bit audacious. Ethiopians have their spirituals, too. They are looking for the same great civil rights movement that propelled change in these great
At a certain point, we have to acknowledge a broken system. Ordinary Ethiopians can’t be used as cannon fodder for a fake democracy. Ethiopians voted this government out of office. The opposition has offered a unity government with a government that refuses to leave power. Now, that’s compromise. CUD keeps playing the EPRDF because the EPRDF is unable to think practically. Ethiopians, it appears, were looking for more than shiny buildings and five-star hotels.
Ethiopundit had two eerily foreshadowing articles on this:
Sem-ina-werq, a blogger from
All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the
Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the
- President Bush.