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11/24/09

  12:32:23 pm, by getachewta, 2773 words  
Categories: CurrentEvents

Ethiopia: Time for Peace & contrition.(By Getachew T.A)

Time for Peace & contrition.

Recently, Professor Al Mariam has written an excellent article on how much wealth was spent on Washington lobbyist group to quell the effects of HR 2003. But who is to blame here? I would not blame the current rulers for spending on their defense. What else were they expected to do?

It seems a reality to countries like ours, that social unrest; war and corruptions are preferable/profitable than countries with no dissident groups to be used as pawns or bargain chips in their demand from a sitting government, (which amounts to extortion.)

There were some allegations in Chad last year, that a charity organization from France was allegedly found trafficking humans, to sale them for their kidneys. That investigation did not go far. (Imagine my absolute, lack of, shock on that!)

War/defense industries need a place where they can test the effects of their weapons; Big Pharma needs a place to test their drug experiments. Where else can they go, except to a country which has so many competing parties who hate each other to a point of no hesitation to burn the whole city just to catch one of their nemeses!

Based on some articles, I see around, the Ethiopian opposition seems frustrated by the Obama administration’s rather slow paced approaches to some of the initiatives in the congress, lose of some faith, for not scaring the leaders in Addis to be more… DEMOCRATS!

I guaranty you; they will pick it up in time! Just in time when they need something or pressured from their campaign contributors or even from the lawyers/lobbyists which Professor Al Mariam mentioned in his article… just to nudge their hourly rate up a bit. Not for your sake. Or for the love of Democracy or humanity…No.

Perhaps, when a BigPharma is denied a bio/genetic lab in Ethiopia or some contractor/charity could not get his permit to a “Clinic for the poor” in some remote location. Then only then, you my friends will be HEROES. , and suddenly you would be surprised to see your faces in CNN and other broadcasts…Documentaries of ‘untold sordid stories’ of 'corruptions' from Ethiopia. The poor farmer, with nine children, denied food from the AID package; the guy who has been in prison for ‘getting elected’; suddenly, my friends we will see so many sensational headline stories!

A few weeks ago the United Nations held a World Summit on Food Security and the three-day meeting in Rome did not produce much. The U.N. World Food Program estimate more than a billion people , - one in six worldwide – to be on the list of those who could do not get enough food to be healthy. Even the UN chief acknowledge that 17,000 children dying of hunger, EVERY DAY. (They love to show those kids with no food in the world of plenty and excessive eating; crowning hotdog eating winners, “biggest loser, bread throwing contests for immunity on games… Imagine, the world of plenty could not agree to feed those dying of hunger and malnutrition?

You just wonder why there is such a flow of ‘love and sacrifice’ to quickly send the swine flue vaccine to get to these starving kids?…. Which one is more dangerous or what is killing them today? Is this what is known as a hypocrisy? I think not.

We have to save our country and the path is a simple…. just use the current constitution, and start from the Ethiopian Parlama, which can enact a bill and provisions to a formation of special committee/commission to look into your requests and other concerns.

You may have questions on the constitution and how it is interpreted at times, but to my reading it is a very generous legal document which can even entice the neighboring countries to become Ethiopians. (The Ethiopian constitution is online, for those of you who want to look at, don’t just leave it to the lawyers. a 50 page PDF file is available when you Google for it…I can email it to you if you do not find it.)

The step is very clear. Denounce any forms of malfeasance, reject any forms of foreign involvement in our internal political affairs, the rest is just being a hero and accept your past mistakes. Don't get carried away by some indexes and statistics from these agencies whose revenue comes from the same group which does not care whether we die of starvation, war or when some experiment goes south.

Dr. Birhanu Nega, god bless him, has warned us, last time he came to our state, that the country's economy and situation in general seems bleak, due to various factors which would negatively undermine the stability of the country as a whole. It was a very sobering assessment we heard from him and the notion of ‘failed state’ is a very scary prospect for a country one calls home.

What is the solution?

Perhaps for many of you this is “Woyane’s Parlama”. Well, you have called the last one “Dergue’s Parlama”, and the one before that, was known as “YeNigusu Parlama”. So we cannot invent a ‘Parlama’ which is suitable for all of us at this time and it is imperative that we work with what we have. After all politics is, the art of the Possible; and for now stick with the current Parlama.

Stay clear from some in this body, there are some elements you should avoid. I followed one interview recently, from an honorable member of the current Ethiopian Parlama, he is an opposition member talking with foreign journalists, about his frustrations on the inability of the current majority to implement a ‘federalist government like USA’. I cringed with some of his assessments of a US congress and its reactions to the states. I just wished, he knew.

If the economy was as bad as the one we have, we would have seen American politicians seeking asylum elsewhere in the world. I just wish he read articles by Jim Traficant, an Ohio congressman, or Cynthia McKinney on how the government works in the US and grievances of 'red States' whenever the white house is taken by the Blue Democrats and vise-versa.

It is time for all to stop pushing initiatives in Washington and other western capitals and in the process hinder the empowerment of the people of that country. I have heard election problems in many parts of the world. Some bloodshed here and there, but few venture into punishing their pears by way of a foreign body. I did not see many Africans in G8, or G20 summits as I see Ethiopians without failing a single summit of the Europeans. Kenyans or Nigerians do not love their country as much as we do? Why can’t we ask the same thing from our Congress/Parlama?

The point I want to drive on this article is the essence of time. The time we are squandering away with so many preconditions and claims and readings into so many "statistics' from those who would like to portray Ethiopia/Africa as a hopeless continent, should better be spent on looking into a solutions to escape from the looming crisis, which is brought by an unprecedented transformation of the world economy.

The current crisis, which was described by Mr. Henry Kissinger, as just a “unique opportunity for creative diplomacy.” has a devastating consequences to unprepared/developing nations like ours. (Since we spent so much time fighting and defending we have not managed to feed our population, which seems to go out of control, we have not developed a reliable/renewable source of energy in country with 13 months of sunshine and so many rivers, etc. We have managed to create a ‘unique opportunity’ to be had at their whims. The crooks are poised to utilize the seemingly neutral and ‘scientific’ tools of macro-economic policy which constitute a non-violent instrument of recolonization and impoverishment. (Watch the full video on Utube and get Mr. Kissinger’s message to President Obama.)

Somalia could not have a functioning government for the past 20 years and it has become a “good thing”, because eliminating nuclear waste suddenly becomes very cheep for the wealthy Europeans. Who cares if the Somali moms bear children with ears attached to their nose?

Do you believe it is really hard to form a government in Somalia? Come on! Failed states are like a big lottery winnings; the incentive to fix it is very minimal. Recently there is an army buildup in Kenya, and you have to wonder whose mission it is going to carry, when the march order is issued.

I am sure you have seen or heard predictions on how many of this developing nation would fail in the coming years. I can see the crooks salivating with the prospect of such a windfall. All the kidneys that can be harvested …a hundred grand a pop!

That is why the political leaders should take charge and work the system, however incompetent/incomplete. Acknowledge your mistakes and ask for forgiveness. Do not give a freaking chance to the political hit men whose insatiable greed is geared to destabilize our country.

This is a call to all political parties, and libation fronts, to see the real danger and ask for a general amnesty for all to work within the frame work of the constitution. To issue a joint communiqué in support of the constitution and denounce any forms of foreign involvement in the internal politics of the country.

I read in one of Professor Al’s commentary that the opposite of LOVE is not hate, it is INDEFERENCE. True to his word, do not be complacent and shrug it off like it does not touch you, that is worse than hate; and we owe it to the fallen heroes in search of peace. The rest of us have also to contribute our time and money to support such acts of heroism.

I did not contribute my money when Dr. Berhanu Nega came to our state this past summer, because he did not have a clue or sounded capricious on how to go on from hereon. I could be wrong, but he seemed to savor the idea, that people in Ethiopia cannot even utter the word ‘Ginbot 7’, because of ‘fear of going to jail’. I felt bad for those who were born on that day or have some kind of anniversary associated with that date. But at the end, we all lost one more day to live to its fullest. I hope he would acknowledge his errors of judgment in time for him to utilize the amnesty and return Ginbot 7 to the people. So much has been taken from the people and returning that day to the people should be an honorable act for him.

I hope it does not look like as if I am singling him out or have anything against Dr. Birhanu, if you go back a few articles, I was among those who urged/wrote for his release and even I was among the people who went to Crawford, Texas to voice our concerns of their safety in prison and petitioned, the former president, Mr. George Bush to intervene and influence the Ethiopian government for a lenient sentence.

Now, we got Dr. Birhanu out of prison, but left in the limbo of the past. That does not sound a good investment. No hard feeling though. He is as misguided as any of his predecessors and I am sure he would do the right thing for the benefit of the country and the people, he so eloquently wrote about, in his book.

I am also asking the help of elders and scholars like Professor Al Mariam, in shaping the debate on other websites and publications of any kind. I chose Professor Al, because of his tenacity for the cause of justice and a shared desire to see a prosperous Ethiopia. I am sure he knows what is best for the country at this time and where we need to place more emphasis in this fast moving global madness, we are in today. I read his outrage about the amount of the money spent on the lobbyist group, to defend those in government and it is my belief he would take the other side (the enablers) with equal force and show us the path for a peace which would not add any tax on all of us.

My last message for the political parties,--Please do not get carried away by who-is-who in that Parlama, and try to diminish their power of creating laws or granting amnesty. Such negative vibes toward such body would end up creating monsters and dictators in our political existence. The respect to such collective organ of government is paramount to good governance and maintain the balance we require from departments which constitute a government. Please do not make it look like leading a country to be a one man show spectacle.

This is what the “developed” countries media would have us think. I wrote it in my last piece. that the term is different when it applies to us. They call it public service, and if you and I do it, it becomes ‘power mongering’.

We need councils of ‘Wise men and women’ in ‘Parlama/councils’ of that country. The west media has made us to believe or confused us to believe the word “Wise” to be equated with “Educated”. Now we know that all educated people are not wise and all wise men and are not only the educated ones. We need councils of ‘Wise men and women’ in ‘Parlama/councils’ of that country. The west media has made us to believe or confused us to believe the word “Wise” to be equated with “Educated”. Now we know that all educated people are not wise and all wise men and are not only the educated ones.

So many confusions, with so many words and concepts and statistics which amounts to naked lies to justify their actions. I do not like to waste your time here by listing them all here.

We have to move forward and look toward the future.

I know there is a huge material to force us look back into our “glorious past” and lament on what coulda, woulda have happened, had it not been for this or that. Let us start afresh and look ahead. After all, most of the ‘history’ in circulation today is written by political cadres of various factions. We did not get time to really sit and digest our own history.

It does not matter who leads that country, it could be YOU, but before you know it, your turn would come to give in for your handlers through the application of ‘creative diplomacy’, because of such continuous venom and in-fights for the past deeds. It has created a ‘unique opportunity’ for the west or east to dictate us while we fight about parliamentary procedures and on various definitions of the word ‘sovereign.’

I think it was Jomo Kenyata who famously said something to the effect of,…They came to our land with only the bible and told us to pray, eventually, we got the bible and the prayer but they got the land. Amen.

We all have seen or heard enough not to quote from Gandhi or Buddha to help you make up your minds and take a path of contrition and ask for forgiveness, for the greater good of a country. You owe it to yourselves and to the people of that country who have been shortchanged in many occasions. That is a mammoth task for some as it requires the elimination of egotistic and narcissistic beliefs which has been a shared trade mark of all participants of the political process since the early 60s.

My brothers and sisters, have you ever asked your selves, may be, just may be that …you…unwittingly playing into, supporting and complicit in the evil that is being perpetrated in the name of freedom and democracy, to destroy your own country? …

Your pledges to support peace and dialogue in the country would give all of us a better leverage in our dealing with the outside world. We have to focus on being able to support ourselves and produce what we need and understand the distinction between what we really ‘need’ versus what we ‘want’.

Do not let your passion overwhelm the reason to stand together!

Yes you can!

Thanks!!!

(Leave a comment or question and I will respond, if I need to.)
Getachew T.A
getachewta@hotmail.com

07/28/09

  11:10:01 pm, by getachewta, 1927 words  
Categories: CurrentEvents

Ethiopia:-“We are children of God”. Really? By Getachew T.A

We are all God's children. We all share common aspirations -- to live in peace and security; to access education and opportunity; to love our families and our communities and our faith.” President Barak Obama, Acra, Ghana (July 11, 2009.)

Dear brothers and sisters, there seems to be a rush to quote from Mr. Obama’s various renditions that it is seldom, we do see articles, without a phrase or a sentence from this great man.

I know I am also guilty of such travesty, and will use his speech in Ghana, not for fear of being outdone by others, but to put some contrasting incidents in light of some news and activities in Africa. I would place more emphasis to his message, which encourages us to “stand up to inhumanity in our midst”. I will ask for your will to unite and fight, after a list of things which I want to get off my chest, first.

This month, Reuters had a headline “Nigeria, Pfizer reach settlement on drug lawsuit”. I could not discard it as yet another one of these conspiracy theories, and the story is about the world's biggest drug company Pfizer ,agreed to compensate for the trial of meningitis drug “Trovan”, on about 200 Nigerian children; which were told to be getting a proven/approved vaccination for their ailment.

The vaccination debate is still unsettling even by the western standard. Tens of thousands of babies mysteriously die each year with the catch-all SIDS (Sudden infant Death) diagnosis. You can find a sobering statistic from CDC and other agencies about the adverse out comes of such mass inoculations, but my intension here is to show you how far Pfizer went to profit from a failed drug. According to Washington post, Trovan was never approved for use by American children. The Food and Drug Administration had approved it for adults in 1998 but later severely restricted its use after reports of liver failure. The European Union banned the drug in 1999. I wonder if it is still being tested somewhere with a different name.

You may also wonder why these industries/individuals get a slap on a wrist, only in civil courts. Are we not God’s children too? They have done enough atrocity on humanity as any gun totting dictator in the third world. Or, Is there a difference?

And where is the outrage on Pfizer??. Who is overseeing their endeavors? The UN?

The UN is another mysterious organization whose function is dubious at times and none existent when it really matters. UN has called almost twice more times for meetings on Darfur, than it did for a similarly atrocious, if not more horrendous, war in Congo.

Despite the presence of the largest U.N. peacekeeping mission in the world, no Atrocities in Congo did merit enough sympathy as that of Darfur’s. The only difference between DR Congo and Darfur is the presence of vast oil in the latter. (This is also becoming annoying to the Chinese, because they see it as turf war between Chinese oil companies and the others.)

Last month, when the US flagged ship Maersk Alabama was hijacked by Somali pirates President Obama have emphasized the need “….to continue to be prepared to confront them when they arise, and we have to ensure that those who commit acts of piracy are held accountable for their crimes."

According to a recent interview published by huffigton post, the crisis in Somalia seems to be beneficial to some in high places; and if one wants to hold anyone accountable for crimes in that region, there are so many culprits.

Mr. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, was interviewed by Johann Hari (HaffingtonPost.com) and here is a quote from Mr Ahmedou: "Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury - you name it. Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to dispose of cheaply…."” And about the support from European governments, Mr. Ahmedou said (with a sigh): "Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no prevention."

Now we need someone to define the word. “Crime”.

Mr. Obama said, in Acra, “Africa doesn't need strongmen, it needs strong institutions." We have to question him on lack of specifics on this issue. How can we have strong institution without strong men and women who can stand to such unfair/illegal activities?

We always have had governments of one kind or the other, which tried to imitate what has been seen in the East/west and never finished a full round. No African government, at its present state can mirror what the American or British systems of government have in place.

We are still striving to build our civic, legal and other institutions but could not get it through for lack of resources or time. Perhaps, we have to try something else that has not been tried before.

President Obama mentioned some African leaders “…Change constitutions” to stay in power. Although it drew applause, I did not see anything wrong with that. The western institutes those who make the real changes are not bound by term limits in congresses or parliaments. If you have a willing majority in the legislative body and a good reason, there is nothing wrong to want to stay in power.

As long as I remember, the Israeli leadership has been recycling a few faces to keep their pressure on their neighbors. A few people have been leading the institution of their government, as a prime minister, then as a defense minister, then as another minister … For the past two decades, I never heard any one calling Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, or Berluscone a dictator, or power hungry.

The Russians are also recycling few faces maintaining the same agenda and stand, digging their heals to combat, what they consider, a tacit NATO/western encroachment along their boarders.

For us, to strengthen our institutions, we need strong men to stay in government and keep the same demand and pressure the Chinese or the west to do business in good faith.

I may not agree on every decision the Prime minister of Ethiopia has made, but when he gets questions, about his “retirement” from BBC, Reuters and other news outlets, I wonder if they ask the same question to Natnayehu, Putin or Senator Kennedy.

Lately, Prime minister Meles Zenawi, has been asking questions and sharpening his rhetoric and placing the responsibility on the developed nations, from climate change to unfair stipulations (predatory type lending practices) from IMF and World bank.

This is creating a new precedence in the relations between Africa and the developed nation. AU is becoming more "radicalized" because of such individuals like Meles. I bet you, such type of resistance is not “appreciated”. This is not expected from a leader of a developing nation. These are by and large, encouraged to loot and get an escort service to their exiles, to a place where they will not return from. The poor country, then starts grappling with a new start, with freshly minted “leaders” which would, hopefully, abandon what ever was started before. That seemed the Modus operandi so far.

Let us face it, we do not have a strong parliament yet, our judiciary is in its infancy. Understanding of civic duties and responsibility of a citizenry is in need of huge campaigns in every part of that country. Yet, we do not seem to line up our priorities in order.

We probably have to get along with each other, first. Gauge our strength and acknowledge the strength of others, in our wish to form strong institutions. A multi-million dollar grant by itself alone cannot form a strong institute, unless the effort is led by those who have the caliber to do it, plus ample time to complete the task.

We never had such a conducive political atmosphere. Politics is self has never been practiced, by the opposition parties, as an art of the “possible”. Our opposition leaders have, hitherto, played it as a game of the “impossible”, be it for some mysterious “tactic” or worse, as a pay back to an old adversary on the other side of the isle. Those who benefit by the current situation in our country, would always reward such tensions, they even throw a tea party or a few medals or grants for those who are demonstrated to be “cool”.

That is where I want to ask your help to be aware of such fan-fares and empty promises and the dangers of a “we are god’s children” type of messages. Because history so far has shown us we have never been treated as a children from same parent.

I believe, President Obama had good intensions when he said “ we are god’s children” , I do not doubt his sincere desire to bring a change to a world which is full of inequality and injustice, but that notion does not bind us to face our social and political woes. Simply, We have a different kind of sickness, which the western medicine cannot cure. We have to reinvent a new paradigm, (Medicine) which would put us on a par with the rest of the world.

Our resources have been decimated due to misuse and quality of life has been deteriorating, due to so many factors. I agree with Mr. Obama on some point, that part of the blame falls on our shoulders. Poverty has eclipsed our morality and blunted our sense of a fair judgment. Our bio-sphere is threatened with pesticides and mysterious “experiments” due to lack of a proper over sight and a voice of defiance. For that we need strong men and women from Wolayita, Afar, Tigray, Somali, Gambella, Amharas, Oromos, etc We need strong unions, which would speed up the creations of so many institutions to look after the best interests of their constituents.( Even the Scottish are doing it nowadays.)

We cannot have strong institutions without strong men and women and we should not push strong men from active duty because we are “bored” with them. A four or five year term seems too short a time to accomplish anything, considering the enormity of our problems.

Just for the sake of an argument, what if the Ethiopian parliament amends the constitution, and ratify a bill to make a president’s term “for life”, and extends the premier’s tenure for 30 years? Would that be “un-cool” and unheard of?

I know it sounds like an endorsement to the slogan “Melese Zenawi for Life”. (One of my friends suggested that He should come back as a Foreign Affairs Minister and the other guy as a Ministry of Education and the other one as a Ministry of Education or Defense, etc...while keeping the stoogies from west/east on check.) I only hope he would say “I ain’t going nowhere, babu!’ next time a feneji asks him about his retirement.

I know I touched a grim subject and I would like to tell you a story that would put the smile back on you face…(This is what I heard)…The talented singer, Bono was on (sold out concert) stage in Glasgow, he held his hands out and said, "every time I clap my hands a child in Africa dies!" and he proceeded to clap. After several such claps a voice came from the audience, "well why don’t you stop then,--you murdering bastard"

Thank you!!
Getachew T.A
(getachewta@hotmail.com)

01/21/09

  12:25:46 pm, by getachewta, 4320 words  
Categories: CurrentEvents

Ethiopia - H.R. 2003, in perspective.

H.R. 2003, in perspective.

We live in a very fast paced world environment and things change so drastically in such a short time that the term "latest" is losing its significance.

The Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007 (H.R 2003) was introduced during a height of electoral crisis of 2005, and if you read it today it needs many modifications and some solemn considerations.

During the imprisonment of the Kinejit leaders in Kaliti prison, many of us were furious over the whole thing and did not believe they deserve imprisonment let alone a pending punishment of a death penalty; and we all needed to support any movement which could exert enough pressure on the sitting government, to free those precious sons and daughters of our country.

Today, it is a different day and we have to look back and evaluate past events in retrospective to our future.

This is by no means, an attempt to discard the substance of the bill altogether or an effort to belittle the tremendous efforts, organizational works and the numerous sacrifices the bill sponsors/organizers have paid to push the bill through congressional floors. Perhaps, if it was not for this bill and the organizers' unabated struggle, those prisoners would have been in prison today; or worse, some of them would have been subjected to the severest forms of punishment.

Based on what we know today, we need to place greater emphasize on the importance of peaceful transitions to bring sustainable socio-economic developments through utilization of global, indigenous resource improvements with an application of fresh visions of building long term infrastructure foundations to provide livelihoods of the growing population in our country.

I did read the H.R 2003 bill recently and found out many issues which I would like to present to you all, in the hope of provoking discussions and help us identify what best serves the country as a whole.

Here are some items I want to highlight…with an assumption that you read the whole bill; I will try to be very brief. (Bolds and italics are mine.)

"SEC. 3. SUPPORT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN ETHIOPIA.
The Secretary of State shall--
(3) seek to promote and bolster the independence of the Ethiopian judiciary through--
(A) facilitation of joint discussions between court personnel, officials from the Ethiopian Ministry of Justice, relevant members of the legislature, and civil society representatives on international human rights standards; and…"

I really don't understand their collaboration with political appointees from the executive branch or Civic leaders for that matter. Can you imagine such thing in USA? That would never happen and the President would be under fire for interfering with the judicial process or snooping outside his jurisdictions. Refer the issues of litigations and indictments on "Watergate", or what had speeded up the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez a few months ago.

Unless there was some misunderstanding between the members of the US House of representatives or the bill proponents, it wouldn't have been difficult to see the dangerous consequences of such recommendations. It is a known recipe for despotism which would eventually hamper the immergence of an independent judiciary system. We may not have an 'ideal' judiciary today but any forms of interference outside the interpretation of the laws provisioned from the parliamentarians would undoubtedly invite anarchy, as it did in the preceding regimes.

Some of you may have questions on the personal/political affiliations of these judges with current ruling party officials, but it is not something that can be avoided. These individuals are part of the society and could not be free from bias or ideology. (The Judges which have shaped the outcome of the year 2000 presidential election of the US presidency were largely thought to be leaning toward the conservative ideology and the majority of those were also appointed by previous Republican administrations, nevertheless, their judgments were ALWAYS accepted, by both parties, as coming from the "Justices".---Never from "Republican" or "Democratic" judges.

An independent judiciary is not a product we can assemble because of a bill or a will, it is a body of government which grows with civic understanding of society as whole and a high regard for a rule of law; regardless of which side voted or brought that law into effect. (I am not sure if it is a life time appointment for the judges at the supreme and federal/appellate courts in Ethiopia, but it should be, in order for them to interpret the law with no fear of retribution from anyone.)

I do also have concerns with, SEC. 5. ENSURING GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, DEMOCRACY, AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN ETHIOPIA."

It is very loose and has very ambiguous stipulations which would not be possible at the current capability attained in that country. Not even in the developed nations, like USA, can successfully do that. For instance under 3) CERTIFICATION
" The certification described in this paragraph is a certification by the President to Congress that the Government of Ethiopia is making credible, quantifiable efforts to ensure that--…

(F) print and broadcast media in Ethiopia are able to operate free from undue interference and laws restricting media freedom, including sections of the Ethiopian Federal Criminal Code, are revised;
(H) Internet access is not restricted by the government and the ability of citizens to freely send and receive electronic mail
and otherwise obtain information is guaranteed;

We all know, internet is a new medium to countries like Ethiopia, and to guarantee " citizens to freely send and receive electronic mail" is not a simple matter that can be effected because of an order. Not even Yahoo, MSN, ATT , Google, etc can guarantee that, if you have time to read their disclaimers, you will find their limitations and liabilities regarding electronic mails.

I am sure most of my readers will remember the hearing, in US congress, on the "inappropriately fired" US attorneys last year (which dragged AG Alberto Gonzalez to his resignation.), Congress had subpoenaed email transactions between the White House and the Republican national Committee to get to the bottom of the unfair meddling of a 'judicial process' but the "emails could not be found". well ...The backup was bad and some of the 'emails' never reached their destinations or been deleted since then, and could not be presented.--If that is not possible here in the US, then members of the US house should not ask the Government of Ethiopia to make credible, quantifiable effort and assure the rest of us to the safely deliver electronics transactions. I would assume that members of the US congress did not know the capability of the Ethiopian telecommunications, which has over-burdened itself into being the sole ISP in that country.

I am also not sure how one can interpret the paragraph "...media in Ethiopia are able to operate free from undue interference and laws restricting media freedom." as internet traffic is monitored and filtered everywhere in the whole world, for various reasons, be it national security or protecting groups. Emails which contain "security phrases" are captured and read, and they may also get "lost" in the process. Server crushes or a bad link can also cause data loss; hence, it is very difficult to guaranty and allow freely send and receive emails; unless the US congress add a budget to Ethiopian telecommunications or allot some of the twenty million dollars provisioned on the bill, to purchase/deploy clustering solutions and redundant links across that country, I do not see it happening anytime soon.

If you transmit, President, Kill, Jihad or any of the "security phrases” in the internet traffic, there is a high probability that such contents will be looked at. There are many "Executive" orders here in the USA, directed to NSA and other agencies, to monitor, subpoena ISPs/mail hosts or stop the flow of undesirable contents, to protect the system. (There are websites blocked in USA, according to Pakistani sources and user-generated content sites like MySpace and YouTube, are blocked on Pentagon IT resources all over the globe, etc)

(Perhaps, those words in bold, on the above paragraph, may have triggered a security alert email which is automatically sent to the blackberry of a certain security officer to see what is going on in this blog.)

I do not believe, the US congress got the real picture or capacity of the Ethiopian internet security apparatus and its inability to automate a quarantine bucket to emails deemed threats to 'national security'….I would not be surprised if it is a manual process with few individuals sitting at some basement in Addis, reading every "suspicious" email in the queue. (Some times it takes two days for an email to be delivered, allegedly waiting to pass the rigorous test!?)

The first amendment of the in the U.S constitution has such stipulation as such “…Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” But there is Federal Communications Commission, FCC, which regulates and issue permits and levy hefty fines for 'violations'. You cannot buy a two way radio which exceeds a certain bandwidth/frequency in this country unless you acquire a permit which justifies your business's need for such radios. Airwaves are managed/licensed and policed like the highways, incompliance to various ‘regulations’ all over the world.

At one time, I saw an Ethiopian government official, cornered by a foreign journalist, denying reports of filtering the internet traffic in Ethiopia. It is preposterous to assume and demand unregulated internet traffic. Governments, companies...all filter/block their internet traffic to keep up productivity, to prevent law suits, to protect an individual or group's rights, to abide by rules from the regulatory bodies, like FCC, EEOC, JHOKO, HIPPA, etc. (Recently a state run regional hospital was sued by its own nurses for providing "Guest WIFI internet access" without a filtering mechanism to keep out adult/porn contents, which apparently violated the nurse's 'freedom of fair work place environment.'

The other area the US congress did overlook is the complexity of providing residential internet services to provide secure computing in Ethiopia. They do need lots of material and labor support to work on browser/portals, parental control and other features to protect kids from sexual and other predators, a partnership with international vendors of anti-virus/spam solutions to provide a healthy cyber experience. You can add all the list of things which we take here for granted, and legal issues that has to be worked to protect all the citizens from cyber chieftains. I am sure, had the representatives in the US House known, the real situation in our country, they would never have asked the government to open the flood gates just to satisfy the demands of different groups to freely send and receive electronic mails or allow ALL the web sites be available to Ethiopians.

I am sure many of you agree that we need assistance from the US congress to help us develop the internet/intranet and its bandwidth to support the economic growth and to help improve the social welfare/ quality of life in that country, through a provision of an IT development fund which would focus primarily on:-
- real time interfaces which feed real time data among factories, farms, their market place and raw material producers in order to provide real time data to our economic forecasters/investors shift priorities based on demand and supply.

-passing real time data between health institutions and the monitoring physicians all over the country to see and identify pandemic situations in order to quarantine an area or supply resources before it gets out of hand.

-provide access, to downloadable forms and other intranet services from all governmental bodies, to expedite workflow, online seminars, and assist the development efforts through virtual private network solutions between universities or other organizations inside and out.

-to provide improve education through unlimited online access to text books or study materials; through digitalization of relevant research and other documents; making searchable copies of thesis and dissertations of many of our intellectuals. (Our higher education students do need a “guarantied” access to previous publications and up-to-date materials for the supporting arguments in their graduating papers.)

-to speed up the creation of local search engines, to shape the internet experience as a source of relevant information in combating ignorance.

(There was an old joke in my university days which goes like these…"Our universities have such a higher concentration of knowledge, with the freshmen bringing/adding more knowledge to it, and the graduates leaving everything behind!"... I am not sure if it has changed today. )

My friends, I do not want to insult your intelligence by telling you that everything is accounted and monitored, everywhere. Your computer/gateway IP or the burned in address (MAC) is tied to your daily computing experience. Telephone conversations have to be tapped when it is deemed 'necessary'. CC cameras have to be installed in public places to monitor daily movements, etc...You may not see the federal police in full gear in the western cities, but I bet you my lunch box, it is always there keeping the system from those who really want to disrupt it.

In October 2006, a thirteen year old girl named Julia Wilson had “exercised her right” by putting a “Kill bush” message on her mySpace page. It was not hard to track her. The US Secret service scooped her from her class room in Sacramento, CA. She was young and naïve, but the fact is, there are lots of things you cannot write about or show in this country. There will always be laws which would restrict 'media freedom', weather we like it or not. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from the consequences of that speech. You can count all the law suits of 'slander' on the basis of defamation and libel across the US courts.

The United States constitution guarantees, among other things, "…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", but it never guarantees “happiness”. Asking any government a guaranty to electronics file traffic or to refrain from making any law to prevent and detain individuals who have shown some intent to harm individuals in the public service, is simply ludicrous and as good as asking for an unfettered access to "happiness".

I am not suggesting that we take every legislation which is unfair or live with excess of restrictions on our lives, just because it came out from the majority in the Ethiopian Congress (Parlama), nor this is it a call to ignore the disproportionate nature of punishment to a 'crime' in that country; but we have to utilize every means from the system of courts to the petitioning elected officials, propositions, etc before any form of revolt or asking for an outside mediation. Whatever is passed this year does not mean it is written on stone, there is always another majority, by way of peaceful transitions, to reverse any congressional mandate, executive order or to undertake institutional reforms as a whole, etc. Nothing is for good as it is all a "process".

Revolt or blind hate, which by itself is also a form of an 'injustice' does not help grow an economy, restore justice or alleviate corruptions. Instead, it adds a cloud of uncertainty about the future, thereby killing every chance we get to escape from hunger and disease.

Former US President, George W. Bush had the lowest approval rating for the last several months but he was by no means pressured to leave office nor were his executive orders ignored. Now that Mr. Obama has assumed the presidency, he would reverse whatever needs to be reversed and forward his own agenda to fix the ailing system. As they say, "The best defense against usurpatory government is an assertive citizenry."---I am sure we have witnessed that in this past US presidency election.

In this bill, I support the paragraph which prescribes support for VOA and local Ethiopian journalists. I sent my support in the feedback page to congress, with a recommendation to spend all the money on VOA radio efforts of spreading its pioneering models of responsible journalism and to strengthen the Ethiopian Telecommunications, which is in dire needs of various modifications to be the leading force of IT for development. (You can fill you suggestions too.)

We want to have Freedom of press in every medium, and variety of print/Radio/TV channels creating numerous job opportunities through specialized topics... I would not underscore the heavy handed approaches from the government forces, to keep the media inline with party propaganda or use it for continuous rebuttals and countering the never ending "rumors of war" from other liberators; but only our collective efforts toward a peaceful transitions and an application of common sense would bring a solution to the monopoly of media by one group. As it is a vital tool for development, it can also be dangerous if it falls on the wrong hands.(You may refer to studies and articles written on the devastating role, media/radio had played in exacerbating the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

In this bill the Ethiopian government is given the task of "making credible, quantifiable efforts" for the development of a free press. The question is how to quantify it? For instance, if we take the index for freedom of press, by the 'Reporters without borders', in 2008, USA itself was ranking 41st. This by itself tells us, that such achievement is a process which emanates from a mutual respect, and maturity of the individuals in the profession. Journalism, as you all know, is a provision of truthful, accurate, objective, impartial and fair assessment of incidents with a self imposed public accountability to limit any harm. It is a disciplined process which comes from a greater understanding and careful evaluations of 'facts'.---cannot be gauged by a number of permits issued or the number of emails/websites left 'unfiltered', but by the quality of education/awareness and the burden of responsibility these individuals carry, in their quest for the 'truth'. ---It is not an issue of a bill or a will.

The main issue we should not discard from this paragraph is the need to "release of all political prisoners." In deed, no one should be in prison for his or her beliefs, as it is our guarantee to create a free and vibrant civil society.

In a country with a very low understanding of 'Civic duties', it is not abnormal to trespass or commit an offense unintentionally, and throwing the book on everyone does not justify the punishment. We probably need a nation wide "Zemecha" to create awareness on all relevant duties and responsibilities and our individual and collective rights in the country we all call home. We need a healing process, a learning sessions, restitutions and amnesties for those that have been shooting there way to political power since the 60s, many conventions on peace and reconciliations, etc For such efforts, I strongly believe the Ethiopian pardon board or President Girma Wolde-Georgis, is found at a much shorter distance than the US congress.

There is also a grave danger, which the proponents of this bill need to take into considerations. I.e. such type of bills in Iraq, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, etc so far has demonstrated to be doing more harm than good to the targeted countries. The people who were thought to be "librated" are becoming so destitute to a point of nostalgia; missing the old 'tyranny' days. It is my wish that some of the Ethiopian opposition groups, specially those which support a "regime change" by way of an armed struggle, start thinking with their eyes opened and digest the outcome of such "victory", assuming it is achievable.

As we all know, Ethiopia is a very unique country; our borders or the country itself, the larger part, is made up of lands from neighboring regions. Our forefathers fought for its existence and formation. They paid their dues and in the process they left us a big country and a problem for us to solve. It is up to us to make it work through finding workable solutions short of any war.

The concept of "Sovereignty" is a fading paradigm which needs a careful examination. The absoluteness, which is central to the concept of a "Sovereign" or the "one country, one nation, one Mengistu!" type of approach is not going to work at this time. We need people with new and working visions of Ethiopia, and the rest of us to develop a tolerance for a "change".

The colonial map of Africa, which is currently recognized by the UN, would inevitably change in the coming one to two decades and I believe we have a workable solution through a federal system of government, by which each entity/nation would have a representation to the central authority while preserving its heritage and govern its own area as the local people being the real source of political power. This places power in the hands of the poor with a relatively weaker central government. This model can bring all the neighboring countries under the Ethiopian federal states.

The task of our intellectuals/leaders would be seeking indigenous solutions to save us from our ignorance, through a broader outlook of country and the things that can be had with peaceful transitions and a cosmopolitan approach to tribal and other 'trivial' issues. The coming challenge would be how to make the Kenyans, Djiboutians, the Sudanese and other surrounding nations become "Ethiopians''. The new ‘struggle’ calls for emergence of new political parties with answers to new and old questions and priorities, like ‘What can we offer our neighbors/nations be Ethiopians?.

I am sure many of you have seen variety of polls, suggesting that Southern Sudan would vote overwhelmingly to secede, by the year 2011. And you may have been wondering what can attract these nationalities to become part of the federal government in Gambella. I would assume the benefits from the federal structure, the self rule and their power of determination regarding their local affairs would present itself as a viable choice to this emerging new nation.

I am sure many of you know that "Ethiopia" used to be a reference to a greater part of Africa and parts of the Middle East at one time, and with the uncertain situations in the current world order, it is inevitable that Africans would be forced to look into their own continent for resources, markets and other solutions. Movements of ethnic awareness/federalism would eventually dictate a new demarcation in the map of Africa. The current demarcation which created 54 'sovereign' countries is a product of early colonials, and has never had any significant merit for the past half a century, other than being a source of contentions fueling tribal wars and unnecessary 'boarder' skirmishes; with byproducts of displacement, hunger, disease and brain drainage. As many say, the 'system' we adhered to, hitherto, has been forcing us "to produce what we do not consume and consume what we do not produce."

You may not agree with the way the current regime is leading the creation of federal systems of government, but we should not shun a remedy because of a 'bad' attitude or personal flaws of individuals in current political power structure.

Our elites, specially those who want to liberate us from poverty, should step up their efforts in finding a common language and a new ideal in a greater "Pan-Africanist" renaissance models of indigenous solutions. It should not only be a choice between a unified or a decentralized mass of looters, but a challenge to rewrite our history, which has been distorted since the beginning of the 19th century and a greater challenge of creating a positive awareness and assertions of individual rights with greater understanding of the country and its place in an African context.

In short, our problem is more than what is stated in H.R. 2003 and the fix is nowhere in this document. We should not allow the good relation between Ethiopia and the US be strained because of this bill, which many of you would agree, needs a careful revision.

I do understand the good intensions from the good people in the US House of Representatives. I also have a very high regard to the Ethiopian sponsors/organizers. We should all thank them for the tremendous efforts and sacrifices of time, money and other unquantifiable emotional tolls on them and their family members; but time has passed, thanks to you all, we have learnt a lot since the introduction of this bill and the release of former Kinejit Party leaders from prisons. Although we have a long way to go, this bill does not do us any good as of now.

We need a new approach in this New Year. Let it be the year the liberation/opposition groups modify their stands and become much more involved in the 'now' than in the 'glory of the past'.

Let this year be the year that we set individual goals to strengthen the capacity of building a fair and transparent systems of government that serve its people, through an absolution from excessive partisan bickering, hate politics and narcissism.

Let it be known that our main ENEMY is "ignorance" that needs to be tackled and sanctioned!

It is my conviction that the bill sponsors in the US house will introduce an amendment to H.R. 2003 in this new 111th session of congress; to place a significant emphasis on eradicating poverty and ignorance from that country and a positive spin from the Ethiopian community in support of such efforts.

In deed, we all have been craving for a change and if one wants a change, one must change; above all, as Sir Winston Churchill once said it “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Yes we can!

With respect,

Getachew T.A.
getachewta@hotmail.com

11/20/08

  06:51:18 pm, by getachewta, 1940 words  
Categories: CurrentEvents

Ethiopia-"Change" in Diaspora politics.

"Change" in Diaspora politics. (by Getachew T.A)
Yes we can!

Mr. Obama has won the election for the presidency of the United States and many countries would assume there would be a shift on US foreign policy in the coming years. There are also lots of excitement and expectations, understandably, by the Ethiopian opposition determined to see a "change" in our country.

I am also excited by the fact that Mr. Obama, a son of an immigrant from Africa, becoming the "most powerful person on the planet." Such a victory is a great psychological gain for the black race. I can finally tell my kids to stop wearing the sagging pants and look ahead to the bright future and "be what they want to be."

Actually, I am not too enthusiastic about the change Mr. Obama promised to bring after I heard him say…"…We may not get there in one year or even in one term…." on the election night. It is because I am impatient and want to see all the changes he has promised in my life time.

True to his word, "Change" takes time and change is also a gradual phenomena or a process rather than a product…that is the message I would like to expand on this piece.

When I read articles of "Change" from the Ethiopian oppositions in Diaspora, they pretty much sum it up as a "Radical and swift action" That looks like the type of a "change" tried with all the preceding governments and, to my knowledge, it did not produce any yield other than chaos, mass immigration and destruction of life and property. It has never been approached as a process and the "new" had always discarded everything the "old" did and then we harvested ignorance and mediocrity.

If you are following the news and expert opinions these days, you would not miss the issues on the selections and considerations of assignments to the new cabinet positions of the coming US administration. The president-elect seems to be leaning to the old guards known as "Clintonistas" and this has brought a two thronged arguments with one side, doubting his message of "change" due to such high concentration of the old Clinton supporters and the other side being a little more being pragmatic, highlighting the importance of "Experience" to bring a necessary "Change". …so the notion of "Change" does not necessarily require a change of faces but a policy.

The developed nations talk about a "change" and they may make it happen with less effort, compared to what it takes our poor country survive any global crisis. To help the country be in a better negotiating position to market its resources, or pass a storm of crisis of any type, its elites should reshuffle their priorities and be a leading proponent of a uniting front to benefit the people they all want to serve.

I am sure you all know that IMF and other world wide money lending institutions are like any other credit agencies which provide credit services for you and I. They will check marital status, Job type/Profession, how long you lived in your residence, income, etc determines the size of a loan….And when they look at a credit application of our country, they see the marital status as being shaky right from the start because there are many reports of fighting between the partners and no future hope of reconciliations because of so many divorce petitions in every court of the globe, too many address changes, not a significant amount of income other than a welfare food stamp collections., etc these are signs of a deadbeat crackhead who would not qualify for a $100 credit from K-Mart.

A few days ago, IMF granted more than 7 Billion dollar loan for Pakistan, to aid its Economic stimulus plan. Can they extend half of that cash to Ethiopia? why not?

I am not defending the current regime but it is an easy task to criticize a sitting government,…they build houses with no sewage line, or a three story condominiums without enough pressure to get water to the upper levels, You can add all the imperfections we have heard so far but one thing remains clear, they are doing "something" and only those who do not try are the ones who do not make mistakes.

I have raised many noble politicians in my pieces before, politicians who have put their country before their personal gains. President Ford's pardon to former president Nixon and Mr. Algore's acceptance of the Supreme Court's decision which made Gov. Bush president of the USA in 2000, are fewer great examples. These people were never out of reasons/facts nor support to fulfill their personal desires but they chose to step aside and let the country move forward.

The Ethiopian opposition, in Diaspora does not lack enough truth to justify a prescription of a "Change". We all agree about Change being a good thing and we want it to come every four or five years. change is the one thing which keeps our hopes alive until we get to our higher goals. The only problem is when that change requires us to go to war.

I admire those individuals who are willing to sacrifice for a cause, but there is no noble idea which is good enough to kill another human being.

Terror or war only justifies repression and if you hear about the expansion of prisons in that country, you my friends, who have determined to "fight by any means", are contributing to it. People in that country are afraid of long distance calls from here. Anyone wonder why?

It is because of such militant mentality that everyone becomes an object of scrutiny and suspicion. Fear of persecution is a very unhealthy situation one can get into. It was such fear which brought havoc and mayhem during the 60s. The "Red/White terror" campaigns are the direct results of such fears, to which most of us lost beloved ones and above all the country has lost so many talents and all that capability was washed with blood and left the country swimming in mediocrity and limbo of the past…for generations.

It is because of this open display of caustic attitude and open hatred to one another that donor nations would not commit to any long-term capital infrastructure development other than short-term AID "eat this and beg for more" type of developments. The country is a begging capital of the world with all the AID "Save the poor" international organizations in every corner, because of such unpredictability of her future, bestowed upon her by none other than the elites of that country themselves.

If you determine to kill for your "ideas" then what would be the fate of those who would oppose you when you run out of "ideas"? It is a dialectical fact that you too would run out of ideas, whatever is being preached as a "Change" today would become obsolete tomorrow. That is why change is a never ending process. We can all be agents of change but none of us represent "Change" for good.

I hope to see an opposition party which would bring policy changes without rocking the boat and further endangering the country's stand to benefit by being a country of peaceful transitions. That only comes through mutual respect and equal partnership of all the nationalities in that country and a respect of institutions, however imperfect.

According to many economic forecasters, the coming years will not be easy for anyone, global recession is already underway and developing countries with no incentives or economic stimulus plans will further experience a down turn which translates to starvation, pandemic diseases even war for survival.

There are many questions, we need the opposition leaders in Diaspora to answer for us and challenge the government and all of us.

Can Ethiopia afford to get the peace keeping force out of Somalia? The Ethiopians in Ogden region have a higher stake in the peace and stability of that country. Would it not be abandoning these citizens of ours, if we cut and run? What is the guaranty that the flames of lawlessness would not pass their border and spread to Ethiopia? I believe we have a higher stake than any of the neighboring countries. Can we afford not to support that mission?

Considering the fact that Ethiopia is a country of many nationalities, Can it survive without ethnic politics? Is there any other country in the world which is not federated along ethnic lines?

Please enlighten us on press freedom and duty and responsibility of citizenry and the way we respond to political events. The respect we give to elected officials and government institutions, would determine the level of our "civilizations." As a society, we need to have a code of conduct and abide by the rules of the law, even if we do not agree with the ruling of the courts. How do we create a vibrant civic society, if we do not agree with the ruling of say…a supreme court? One has to work the "system" in order to achieve a goal; as there will not be a "system" which can satisfy each and every one of us at a given time.

Do these petitions/initiatives in congresses of donor nations help the standing of our country in the international stages? Do such movements in these western capitals further alienate the government from other oppositions straining their relationships? Is there a window of opportunity for reconciliation rather than looking for tribulations? Do these movements from outside hurt indigenous civic and humanitarian agencies doing there duties inside the country?

I am not looking for right and wrong answer to my rhetoric but seeking what would benefit the majority in that country is a collective effort which we all need to digest and be a part of any peaceful movement. If being wrong brings such benefits of co-existence, then there is no reason for some of us to be to be right, after all it is a very subjective concept.

Our opposition leaders have to adjust their positions every now and then, taking into considerations the global situations and current realities. It is also high time they re-read their mass mailings before it gets out. Give us a new direction and please leave the old songs out, including self-righteousness and hind-sight politics.

The night Mr. Obama won the presidency; I was touched by Senator McCain's humility and extension of a genuine appreciation to the efforts of his opponent and a message to his supporters to stand united for the good of their country. Here I quote from his concession speech…

“Senator Obama and I have had and argued our differences and he has prevailed. No doubt many of those differences remain. These are difficult times for our country, and I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.”

I hope to hear such words from our politicians in their pledges to keep us stay united and tackle the looming global crisis, which would be brutal to countries like ours, unless we form a united front and pledge to help one another.

We do need a change. A change of attitude and political maturity, from all who want to serve their people. Yes we can bring a change to our country and to the people who hitherto has been waiting to see a new dawn and a better tomorrow to their kids. Yes we can!

With respect.

Getachew T.A.
getachewta@hotmail.com

05/16/08

  05:37:49 pm, by getachewta, 2007 words  
Categories: CurrentEvents

ETHIOPIA:- The worst Reconciliation. (By Getachew T.A)

Hello my friends, I am sure those of you who are in USA are following the Democratic Party primaries; there seems to be lots of HOPE messages spreading around. I am sure change is coming. -I heard the latest farm bill has very big provisions for food stamps, and it would be a matter of time before I get mine in the mail, just in time to fill the empty slots in my wallet, where I used to keep my credit cards. (I am counting on some us to, finally, meet at the mall parking lot, while loading the free gov’t cheese onto our scooters.)

Well, It is been forecasted by many economists that the developing countries will also be the first causalities in the path of this looming global economic storm. Food riots, shortages of energy and higher inflations are expected to destabilize many developing nations. These leaders in developing countries are also expected to print more money in order to appease their supporters-- help them stay in power. So, in the face such predictions, … would it be wrong, if I envision the emergence of a brand new “One Thousand BIRR note” equivalent to two bucks?—I hope so.

Factors such as the disappearance of the middle class, and "forced" engagement of large portion of society in politics and "service giving" sectors, coupled with unpredictable political climate which has been unfavorable for long term planning/production of material wealth, leads to have what is known as an inverted pyramid , which would collapse under its own weight.

I do not have enough statistics to predict how long it would take before we see the inflated "1000 BIRR note" but I do know the dire need for a change in the intra-party structure and inter-party relationships of our political groups, to which I would like two throw my usual two cents.

“The worst reconciliation is better than the best divorce." M. Cervantes 1547-1616.

Many Ethiopians have tried the unsuccessful path to reconciliation through “loyal” oppositions and other forms for more than a decade and half but did not seem to succeed in making progress or make a dent into our perception of a “Federal states of Ethiopia”. (I had thought a few years ago, that we would be well beyond Uganda and into Rwanda by now.)

I cannot offer a tangible reason behind all the failings, but to some novice souls like me, there seems to be some type of conspiracy behind it. Like a secret pact between the élites of that country, vowing not to create a viable peace within themselves; so as to keep the country on a continuous suspense of impending “rumors of war.”

Does anyone care about the people in this endless game of suspense…lack of meaningful/sustainable progress? Or is this the only way for the élites to make a living?

Some of you might say, this is a feeble attempt of creating a colorless picture using a monolithic brush about our political discourse. I am also running a risk of angering some of you, but here are some of the worst reasons for you to work hard towards a reconciliation, however, UGLY and unceremonious.

• As much as I admire their dedication and love of their country and its people, many in the opposition camp still take the regional division (Kellil) on ethnic lines as divisive and as a danger to the existence of the country.

At this day and age of higher ethnic awareness, ethnicity is the main form of identity at every corner of the globe. (As you all know, Europe itself is a federation along ethnic lines. The new map which is currently proposed by EU is also a reflective, mainly of ethnic boundaries compared to other considerations.)

In the continent of Africa, the old day slogan "Afrikaans vs. Colonials" is long gone. The latest ethnic violence in Kenya has shown us, searching for ethnic identities has become a frontal issue in power sharing. You can further look deeper into the current problem between the "black Refugees" and the "natives" in South Africa...It is a no brainer,there is a new dynamism going on in Africa, today.

Before long...there is a higher chance for the Afar people in the current Ethiopia, Eretria and Djibouti to become one nation, the Somalis in Ogden with their brothers in the main land Somalia to form a federation and join the union of Ethiopia.-- It looks inevitable, but the actions of the élites would determine whether this is a bloody or a peaceful outcome.--The current map of African nations seems to be obsolete and would inevitably change before the end of the coming decade. (The question is whether this change comes from bodies like the African Union or the IMF, et al.)

You know it as well as I do, Ethiopia is such a big land which houses numerous nationalities some portions of it still living outside its current map and, at this stage, Federalism seems the only way for continuum of its existence.

If we also look back a few pages from our history, Federalism was the motto for Emperor Menilik II. During the incorporation of the surrounding lands, he ’d left the local rulers where they were after their pledge of allegiance to the central authority. He had waged equal war with the clergy and his own generals to leave the “Internal matters” to the locals. (I urge you to revisit that part, specially the great conspiracy which lead to the defamation/destruction of Lij Eyasu, by the power hungry clergy and some Generals.)

Federalism-if not by ethnic lines, then what would be a determining factor? In my mind, the only argument left for the opposition is the demand for prevalence of equal incentives to all nationalities to stay citizens of Ethiopia.

When the opposition argument becomes… “Woyane is botching it ”? You got my vote!

• The case of Eretria: which is taken as a deliberate “mistake” of the current regime. As we have witnessed it, EPRDF was not even ready to govern Addis Ababa let alone wage another war with the Eritreans.

The Eritreans had fought for decades and would have taken nothing short of an independent state. To me, anyone who is talking about restoring “Port of Assab back to Ethiopia” through an act of war does not have any merit or feasibility.

So, the next topic from the political parties should be about a clear diplomatic agenda to bring a mutual agreement of co-existence with Eritreans and other neighboring regions rather than commandos falling from a sky to "save" one from the other.

• The nationalist parties also need to look into current realities. This is by no means to belittle their mammoth contributions and sacrifices in no circumstances, but the fact on the ground is different.

Today's youth does not even remember the heydays of the Dergue, let alone the years of struggle in the 60’s. ( This is not because the current youth has no interest of our past, but as we all know history is only written by the VICTORS and the “truth” carried by the opposition in exile is not the "Prevailing truth" inside the country.) -Simply it is time for them to get together and make a change-- find ways to become active participants in the process of strengthening the national identity and save the country from disintegration.

Today, we do not need to deny, due to higher emphasis on ethnicity, the rural people have been able to have relatively shorter access to resources, however incomplete and unbalanced.

The argument for the opposition should be,...whether there is a fair prevalence of social and economic justice to all or not. Is the current regime creating further problems through favoritism and heavy-handed approaches to solutions?

When the opposition parties concern becomes, the fear of such disgust and resentment from the locals toward EPDRF would unravel into deep chaos further endangering the Union? You got my vote!

There are many platforms the opposition can run and win elections, today without sensationalizing or distorting facts. -Lack of development of free and responsible press, the continuous chokehold on media communications which curtailed technological advancements (Monopoly of information), lack of sustainable development in many sectors which require solid foundations,-unfair and unleveled field of trade and commerce which have become a breeding ground to corruption of a higher scale, current tax laws, etc are just a few for any opposition to sharpen their wit and win an election. (While you are there, think of proposing a bill which provides a very generous "retirement" package for any elected officials losing their seats and to those who have served their country in higher offices too. That is how the developed nations survived all the bloody revolutions until now.-Please DO NOT OVER-ANALYSE THIS.)

Today, as it was the case in the previous regimes, people are subjected to arbitrary detentions and being forced into exiles, ownership of property and lives are still in peril-- mainly due to lack of insightful leadership and lack of flexibility from both the leaders of current regime and the angry oppositions. I strongly believe, we all owe those who perished for democracy and justice not only a debt of gratitude but also humility and a self imposed absolutions to our past actions.

Support our leaders to be leaders and take a vow never to follow, especially those who are singing the “Banda” songs.

( The word “ Banda” has created a degenerating mental deformity in our society bringing a total eclipse shadowing naked socio political realities, through a kaleidoscopic mountain of lies, denying any flexibility or compromises among political groups.- I wish there is a way to put a moratorium on its usage in any medium for the next 100 years!--Any attempt of reconciliation, short of a declaration of war, or unless it is a call for angry public show downs, is being taken as an "act of betrayal". I am not sure how long we can continue on this path of defamation and take comfort by sordid news coming out of that country and wait for another “Turn/Change” by “any means” available.)

In the USA, the gavel in the senate and house changed many hands; many of us have seen Democratic and a Republican presidency… and if you have looked deeper, beyond "current headlines" or sound bites, it is been pretty much the same for you and me-except the varying amount of free cheese and milk on the food stamps.( Don’t get me wrong, USA is a great nation, probably the best system the world has ever seen so far. Why?- They all put their country above all the psychobabble/emotional talks of being "Wrong or Wright".)

You can be "smart" about everything and be WRIGHT all day long, but the main point is to be prepared and think a little harder for an argument which dares to prove 4+4=44, specialy if it helps the main cause. There is always a possibility of that equation to be TRUE!

As the saying goes... " The Art of Being Wise is ...Knowing what to overlook." Don’t you think so?

Well my friends, before I leave you to ponder about that “math", I want to call upon, again, the parliament members of Ethiopia to authorize the establishment of a commission which would convene on issues of finding the truth sifting through historical facts and current realities to lead us into a reconciliation.

I would like also to renew my calls to all the opposition parties to make amendments within themselves and actively demand such convention of truth and reconciliation and pave the way of becoming an active participant within the frame work of current realities.

It is also my wish that we would soon witness formations of new political parties, which would project fresh visions into shaping our destiny as a united nations, through careful considerations to current realities and historical facts.

Indeed- the worst reconciliation is better than any bloody revolution!

Thank you!

Getachew T.A
getachewta@hotmail.com

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