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The TPLF/EPRDF’s Political Journey and Current Challenges

by Abel A. Asfaw, Toronto

Many Ethiopians welcomed the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) when it ousted the military junta led by Mengistu Hailemariam and assumed power in 1991 hoping that the new regime would bring democracy, rule of law and more importantly much needed peace that was evidently not present during much of the Derg era. The military dictatorship run a country that was ruined by civil war resulting in a weak economy and a fragile state in which people where fed up with the ongoing war with separatist movements of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in the northern part of the country while tens of thousands of Ethiopians were massacred in major cities all over the country when the Derg unleashed a reign of terror against the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party(EPRP) members calling it “Red Terror”. The Woyane regime must be forced to dismantle its corrupt system and terror network

Young Ethiopians from all walks of life were forced to join the military to fight in the never ending bitter war with secessionists in the north. The nation was in desperate need for peace and stability above all else after seventeen years of iron rule characterized by war and terror. The EPRP, the major opposition to the Derg at the time, was weakened by the regime’s ruthless actions and infighting leaving the rebels the only organized and armed alternative Ethiopians have to overthrow the Mengistu regime. Consequently, the TPLF and EPLF enjoyed massive support from the people as well as western aid as they struggled to advance and control the country. The two rebel groups that started as guerrilla movements seventeen and thirty years ago respectively, emerged as the victors eventually and the EPLF took over Eritrea while the TPLF controlled the rest of the country. In 1993, Eritrea was separated from Ethiopia and became an independent state under the EPLF led by Isaias Afewerki.

The TPLF had to find a way that appeals to the vast majority of Ethiopians besides its Tigrayan origin, which accounts for only six percent of the total population. Therefore, in 1989 a coalition consisting of the TPLF and the Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (EPDM) – that later was forced by the TPLF to change its name to Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) was formed under the name the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). Although EPDM was founded by former EPRP members that came from various ethnics groups in the country, it was not in harmony with the identity politics the TPLF was so adamant about thus it was forced to become an ethnic party claiming to represent the Amhara. As the coalition forces advanced towards Addis Ababa, one other ethnic based political party was created namely the Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization (OPDO), which consisted of captured Derg officers, just before the rebels controlled the nation’s capital. Finally, the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM) was incorporated into the coalition after the EPRDF controlled Addis Ababa. These are puppet organizations that have no meaningful power and are used by the TPLF to run the country in the direction it desires as well as a deception tactic to convey the message that each ethnicity in the country is administered by representatives that belong to that specific ethnic group and that each political organization in the EPRDF has an equal status in the governance of the country. This, of course, is far away from the reality on the ground as the TPLF has an absolute control over all government and even some non-government institutions in the country including the army, security apparatus, police, court system, election board and even religious institutions in order to extend its rule.

The first few years under the new regime led a considerable number of Ethiopians to believe a positive change is taking place in their country although some well informed people were skeptical if not utterly opposed the front because its views and understanding of the Ethiopian state, that was anti-Ethiopian in nature, were propagated in its radio programs during the struggle against the Derg. Nonetheless, the EPRDF took some radical steps to change how the country was governed. For instance, it declared free market economy, allowed a relatively free press and introduced a new constitution that gave the people the power to elect its chosen leaders in a national election that will be held every five years.

The TPLF/EPRDF organized a transitional government while it controlled all government institutions already revealing that the transitional government is just a formality to gain international support until it solidifies its grip on power. Political oppositions, concerned individuals and groups, intellectuals and religious leaders did not have a say in the process. It was all a well orchestrated drama. The ruling party claimed to have won two consecutive national elections that were held after the transitional government period was over in 1995 and 2000 respectively. Ordinary Ethiopians were not interested in politics as much therefore the regime was able stay in power without any serious threat of public anger over rigged elections.

Then, the historic 2005 national election came. The ruling party underestimated the opposition and opened up the political space in a way that has never been attempted before. It allowed live televised debates, political opponents were relatively free to organize themselves and communicate their objectives to the public, journalists and bloggers were able to express their views without fear. All these contributed in increasing the political awareness of ordinary Ethiopians especially the youth. The major opposition at the time was the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) or Kinijit as it is popularly known in Amharic. Its leaders were highly educated, experienced and above all patriotic individuals who were able to win the hearts and minds of millions of Ethiopians. They clearly out-smarted their opponents at the televised debates using their in-depth knowledge and articulation on key issues such as national security, democracy, economic development, foreign policy, urban and rural development and so on. Ethiopians believed that the right leaders the country has been waiting for years have finally arrived. This was evident when millions of Kinjit supporters gathered at Meskel Square in support of the party just before Election Day. As a result, Kinijit convincingly and decisively won the 2005 national election in a landslide.

However, as expected, the ruling ethnic junta was not willing to accept the will of the Ethiopian people and step down. Instead, it rigged the election and declared itself as the victor using state-owned media. This in turn angered millions of Kinjit supporters and forced them to go out on the streets all over the country and protest the result. Meles Zenawi, ordered the army to use live ammunition over the protesters and over two hundred peaceful demonstrators were killed by security forces. This has been confirmed by a committee that was organized by the late PM himself to carry out an investigation over the use of excessive force by security forces during the public demonstration. Tens of thousands of Kinjit supporters were hunted down and jailed in which inhumane treatment and torture awaited them. The regime also rounded up all of the top leadership of Kinijit to kill the momentum for change. The hope of peaceful transition of power and instituting democracy was dashed and instead fear, terror and uncertainty reigned in the country. Even though Kinijit was not able to achieve its final objective which was to take over power and democratize the country in time, it was successful in showing the international community the brutal nature of the TPLF/EPRDF and revealing that there is no democracy in the country but only what political scientists call pseudo-democracy in which the ruling party calls itself democratic without allowing any meaningful opposition activity and free and fair election.

The next two general elections held in 2010 and 2015 were just a formality mainly to sustain western diplomatic and financial support. The ruling party won 99.6% in the former and it went on to improve its result to a 100% in the latter one. The idea of a 100% election victory was so absurd that even Susan Rice, US National Security Advisor to Obama, burst out laughing at a press conference when a journalist asked her if the president thinks it was a democratic election. Since the 2005 general election, the ruling party has intensified its repression over political parties especially on those that advocate Ethiopian nationalism, journalists, bloggers and practically anyone considered to be a threat to its power. The dictatorial regime introduced Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation in August 2009 that is used as a tool to silence any political dissent against the ruling party in the name of fighting terrorism. A number of rights groups have condemned this law saying that it is utilized to stifle opposition voice including journalists, bloggers and activists instead of its stated purpose. The Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJ) and the All Ethiopian Unity Party (AEUP) were both dismantled by the Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), which is another institution to attack opposition parties, in January 2015 saying that the leadership of both parties was illegal. However, it is clear that these parties were dismantled because they were advocating Ethiopian nationalism which the TPLF/EPRDF is determined to eliminate from its inception, actively engaging the public, well organized with strong and effective leadership and had massive support from Ethiopians which painted a target at their back eventually leading to their demise.

This in a nutshell was the political landscape of Ethiopia since the ruling ethnic junta took over the country from the military dictatorship in 1991. It seems that the peaceful struggle at home has reached a dead end with several members of various opposition parties that follow a non violent form of struggle joining armed groups. The root cause of all the problems in Ethiopia is the TPLF/EPRDF’s complete inability to allow any meaningful democratic change in the country and this emanates from the ruling party’s politics of ethnic identity that views any opposition directed at the regime as enemy. The ethnic division in the country purposely instigated by the ruling ethnic junta for the past twenty fours has seriously threatened the unity and territorial integrity of the country. Rising cost of living that is going from bad to worse every year is making the lives of ordinary Ethiopians harder by the day. The rampant corruption is destroying the country causing an unimaginable difference in wealth between the rich and the poor. All these are factors that can lead to a public uprising leading to unintended consequences.

The key to avert imminent danger in the country is still in the hands of the ruling party. All what is needed is a genuine will to organize a national reconciliation process that includes all stakeholders to find a common ground and arrange to hold a free and fair election. This is the ideal alternative to solve the extremely complicated problem our country is facing. However, if the regime decides to keep the status quo, there will be, without a doubt, a third revolution in our country’s history. Therefore, the question that will shape Ethiopia’s political future is that will the TPLF/EPRDF choose fire or water? This will be answered in the actions of the ruling party in the near future.

For comments  check: http://ecadforum.com/2015/09/08/the-tplfeprdfs-political-journey-and-current-challenges/

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One thought on “The TPLF/EPRDF’s Political Journey and Current Challenges

  1. “Nigatina titart iyader new indilu”, this article enlightens on the description of the political model TPLF/eprdf, where tplf in small caps represent the teletafi parties, here EPDM initially representing “Ethiopian Nationalism”, was forced to join as representing the Amhara region, as part of ethnic coalition, with ethnic rather than national agenda and yet led by other ethnic leadership with TPLF in the back seat. This administrative structure and process was going on, while the Amhara ethnic group is undergoing genocide, marginalization, demoralization and lately ethnic cleansing along with human trafficking for slave labor in the Near East for the most part. To this effect more than ever the Amhara ethnic group of both the teletafi party as well the Amhara Organization from the outside should reinforce its struggle to maintain its national identity and Ethiopian Nationalism along with the others in the same line of struggle with the goals for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignty of Ethiopia and Ethiopians, where the last item refers to individual rights to super cede ethnic and secessionist rights to overcome “ethnic federalism, secessionism and totalitarianism and/or state capitalism, the hall of the TPLF/eprdf regime, that denies the individual free market capitalism at least in terms of ownership of land anywhere in Ethiopia, freedom of the individual as the basis for democracy, and the freedom to be ruled by the consent of the governed, but not by ethnic dictatorship of minority or majority ethnic rule.

    . This ideology of Ethnic federalism and secessionism as a political model and totalitarianism, as a carry over from the Derg Military regime and State capitalism in East Asian style as an economic model is built into the constitution. Ethnic federalism represents a division of Ethiopian land mass by major languages as well lumping of smaller ethnic groups, which served as a prelude to ethnic secessionism, ethnic cleansing and present and future boundary conflicts as well as annexation of parts of certain districts from one into another province/killil as well as changing individuals outlook of Ethiopiawinet first and ones ethnicity second, ones loyalty to the silent majority ahed of ones self interest and ones loyalty to ones party with ethnic and/or secessionist agenda that amounted to a confrontation between two ideologies that of Ethiopian Nationalism and Ethnic federalism, secessionism and totalitarianism and or state capitalism supported by crony capitalism by TPLF Political, TPLF?EFFORT, TPLF affiliated enterprises and foreign corporation, giving it the appearance of ex-apartheid South Africa by the Dutch Boers supported by its security forces, which is ever modified and reinforced, federal police forces, and military forces with an imbalance of power of the branches of government and non-independent election board and party alignments along ethnic agenda rather than national agenda, anticipating to underscore a democratic process for fair and free election and implement a fair trial and incarceration for political dissent is “anything but democratic”.

    ”Many Ethiopians welcomed the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) when it ousted the military junta led by Mengistu Hailemariam and assumed power in 1991 ”
    Wrong : Many Ethiopians didn´t welcomed TPLF/EPLF. THey fought until they passed Ambo and Gefersa.
    ” The first few years under the new regime led a considerable number of Ethiopians to believe a positive change is taking place in their country although some well informed people were skeptical if not utterly opposed the front because its views and understanding of the Ethiopian state, that was anti-Ethiopian in nature, were propagated in its radio programs during the struggle against the Derg. Nonetheless, the EPRDF took some radical steps to change how the country was governed. For instance, it declared free market economy, allowed a relatively free press and introduced a new constitution that gave the people the power to elect its chosen leaders in a national election that will be held every five years.”
    Wrong again : Ethiopians were skeptical and against ethnic based government from day one. That is a lie No 2.
    ” This in turn angered millions of Kinjit supporters and forced them to go out on the streets all over the country and protest the result ”
    That is wrong to : millions of kinijit supporters didn´t come out on the street. You should write thousands. That would be acceptable, other wise it will be the third lie.
    Abel : When you write next time, please don´t exaggerate.

    Abel A. Asfaw, Toronto, September, 2015 said “Therefore, the question that will shape Ethiopia’s political future is that will the TPLF/EPRDF choose fire or water? This will be answered in the actions of the ruling party in the near future.”

    Many know TPLF/EPRDF officials chose fire for the majority of Ethiopians and water for themselves. The future of fire and water you talk about is Past and present reality in Ethiopia.

    The cannibal-TPLF is selling food forcing Ethiopians to spend their whole year income on New year’s holiday.
    A family of three holiday costs is equal to an average Ethiopian person’s’s one year salary .

    The outrageous 2015 new year holiday prices ferenj Onion 21 upto 22 birrs per kilo

    Abesha Onion 17-18 birrs per kilo
    Mid seize Sheep upto 2,500 birrs
    Kilo beef 170 birrs per kilo
    Sheep Meat 90 – 140 birrs per kilo

    Food Butter 270 – 290 per kilo
    Likuanda Raw beef ready to eat can be upto 250 birrs per kilo.

    Chicken 180 – 300 birrs
    1 egg 3.75 – 3.85 birrs

    Under the government’s failed state kilo food is going to be expensive than kilo gold in Ethiopia .

    [[.. This ideology of Ethnic federalism and secessionism as a political model and totalitarianism, as a carry over from the Derg Military regime..]]

    Its origin is the 1960′s of the Ethiopian Student Movement (ESM) that included ESUNA here; who introduced Marxisim Leninsim. So the national question of EPRDF is the kind USSR and Yugoslavia experimented; political pluralism with the right of secession. So there is no surprise such a system needs a continuous improvement or it shall fail.

    Compared to the Derg, the ESM vision of a federalism as implemented by EPRDF was a progress. There is less armed conflict now than before. Now it is maybe showing its age as recognized by EPRDF and others; improving it to meet the existing challenges is what is called for.

    Some has suggested to redesign the federal states into more manageable administrative units. I am sure there are more ideas out there. Ideas are a dime a dozen but, being able to put them to work is a different matter altogether.

    I will add a few points to what jibrill said,
    ”Many Ethiopians welcomed the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) when it ousted the military junta led by Mengistu Hailemariam and assumed power in 1991 ”
    Wrong : Many Ethiopians didn´t welcomed TPLF/EPLF. THey fought until they passed Ambo and Gefersa.
    When the Ethiopian soldiers on the front line saw Tplf lowering Ethiopian flag at Fiche, and replaced it with the flag of Tigre people liberation front, they fought harder and killed many Tplf tegadaly, but there was no reinforcement to support Ethiopian troops, and everything has had what looked like a domino effect.
    Tigre p liberation front captured many of the soldiers and civilians and massacred them in cold blood by lining them up blind folded against a wall.

    This is the reality. Tigre people liberation front marched to Addis abeba and got more than what they bargained for. they set out to create a tigre republic but just by pure chance they found themselves in Addis Abeba.

    the Ethiopian people never knew who these tigre p liberation front were when they got to Addis Abeba and the people of the capital were totally scared of them. tplf were themselves scared of the people. the first thing tplf did as soon as they controlled Menelik’s palace was to blow up the arms depot and arms factory in /near addis Abeba. the smoke from this lasted for over a week hanging all over the skyline in Addis.
    the Ethiopian soldiers who fought for flag and country at Fiche and all over Ethiopia will one day be found, we will know who they were and they will be honoured.

    .

    Ctd from #2, I followed your anecdote, up to the 2010 and 2015 elections, which puts matters into perspective and coincides with my assessment, where you underscored the fact that, “Since the 2005 general election, the ruling party has intensified its repression over political parties especially on those that advocate Ethiopian Nationalism …..”, while keeping in check of its mirror image party(ies), not to gain ground, I might add. This also highlights the fact that the confrontation in Ethiopia is between Ethiopian Nationalism versus Ethnic Federalism, Secessionism and Totalitarianism and/or State Capitalism, supported by crony capitalism of TPLF/Political, TPLF affiliated enterprises, and foreign corporation engaged in exploitation of the natural resources and political and economic strangle hold of the silent majority of Ethiopians. Having said that I tend to disagree with your concluding remark about “reconciliation”, in the middle of struggle between two diametrically opposed forces, where those under Ethiopian Nationalism are engaged in non-violent and/or armed struggle, I presume for economic and political freedom of the individual from the TPLF/eprdf regime followed by the ratification of the constitution, I also presume

    .

    [[.. I followed your anecdote, up to the 2010 and 2015 elections, which puts matters into perspective and coincides with my assessment, where you underscored the fact that, “Since the 2005 general election, the ruling party has intensified its repression over political parties especially on those that advocate Ethiopian Nationalism …..”, while keeping in check of its mirror image party(ies), not to gain ground, I might add…]]

    How we define “Ethiopian Nationalism” needs to be looked at; some consider taking us back to something similar to the unitary military Derg or HIM as “nationalism”; many Ethiopians don’t.

    You can lump all such folks [many in the opposition] as those who don’t give any credit to the relative improvement Federalism of today has brought.

    So one should’t be shocked when EPRDF keeps its competitions the mirror image type parties in check while giving the others a hostile stare.

    One way to guage the present Federalism as an improvement is when we see folks like Jawar Mohammed defending it. I don’t think such individuals are considered by “opposition” as “Ethiopian Nationalists” nor mirror image party advocates.
    If the TPLF/eprdf regime is a coalition of the liberation fronts, known as teletafi parties with two tiers at best according to Prof. Tecola Hagos, which fought the previous regimes against oppression of nations and nationalities is the product of ESM led by TPLF and EPLF does not include ESM, which fought the previous regimes for class struggle in terms of land reform and workers rights of all Ethiopians as well as Military dictatorship of the Derg regime albeit under Ethiopian Nationalism, the hall mark for individual freedom and democracy.

    Like

    Posted by Fitih | September 12, 2015, 5:51 pm

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