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THE COMPANY Y0U KEEP: WHAT IS YOUR POINT, ABIY?
Tecola w Hagos (23 July 2018)
I. In General
I have never been disappointed in a leader to this depth before in my life, not even in Mengistu (I had low expectations to begin with) as I am now with PM Abiy Ahmed. Abiy Ahmed is a totally different case. In a way, it is good that my disappointment happened now than later. I was conflicted about the direction of the evolutionary process of the transition within the EPRDF from leaders to leaders in the highly stratified EPRDF after the death of Meles Zenawi some six years ago. It is obvious that there are political power structures within the overall Membership structures of EPRDF. It is difficult to sense the shifting of power within such complex structure even form within, let alone from a distance.
I was very much impressed with the pronouncements in public addresses of Lemma Megersa long before I noticed that there was also a character that was shadowing Lemma called Dr Abiy Ahmed. I was not impressed with his background, even though his education was formidable. In fact, I was questioning his background as security official during the most traumatic time of the splintering of the TPLF Leadership at the end of the War with Eritrea in 2000. However, once I heard his acceptance speech of the Office of the Prime Minister, I thought in good faith that he might be the new Messiah for the salvation of Ethiopia. With caution, I expressed my support, which quickly evaporated when I heard that he was courting the likes of Kassa Kebede, and he was pardoning criminals for political purpose, including a couple of Mengistu’s high level officials, holdouts at the Italian Embassy under its cover of diplomatic immunity. Those individuals are responsible equally for the murder of the Sixty Officials of Emperor Haile Selassie I and the murder of tens of thousands of innocent Ethiopians during the Red Terror and after. [ For non-partisan evaluation, See Alex de Waal, Evil days: thirty years of war and famine in Ethiopia, New York: HRW, 1991, and other writings; see also Mariam Jacob Wiebel’s recently completed PhD Dissertation on the Ethiopian Red Terror period crimes of Mengistu Hailemariam and associates.]
Read below carefully the list of Officials of the Imperial Government that were brutally butchered without trial at night on November 23, 1974. I was in detention on the same Alembekagn Prison grounds where those Officials were executed. It seems that most of you have shameful amnesia.
Prime Minister Tsehafi Taezaz Aklilu Habtewold
Prime Minister Lij Endalkatchew Makonnen
Lt. General Abiye Abebe
H.H. Prince (Leul Ras) Asrate Kassa
Prince Rear Admiral Iskinder Desta
Ras Mesfin Sileshi
Ato Abebe Retta
Ato Akale Work Haptewold
Lt. Colonel Tamirat Yigezu
Dejazmatch Kifle Irgetu
Lt. General Kebede Gebre
Lt. General Issayas Gebre Igziabiher
Lt. General Asefa Ayana
Ato Mulatu Debebe
Dr. Tesfaye Gebre Igzi
Dejazmatch Workineh Wolde Amanuel
Lt. General Debebe Haile Mariam
Brigadier General Deresse Dubale
Lt. General Asefa Demisse
Dejazmatch Aemero Selassie Abebe
Dejazmatch Solomon Abreha
Dejazmatch Sahelu Difeye
Dejazmatch Worku Inqu Selassie
Dejazmatch Legese Bezu
Colonel Solomon Kedir
Blata Admasu Retta
Ato Nebiye Leul Kifle
Ato Solomon Gebre Mariam
Ato Tegegn Yetashework
Afe Nigus (Lord Chief Justice) Abeje Debalke
Lt. General Haile Baikedagn
Lt. General Abebe Gemeda
Lt. General Yilma Shibeshi
Lt. General Belete Abebe
Dejazmatch Kebede Ali Wele
Major General Gashaw Kebede
Major General Seyoum Gedle Giorgis
Major General Tafesse Lemma
Lij Hailu Desta
Fitawrari Amde Abera
Fitawrari Tadesse Inqu Selassie
Fitawrari Demisse Alamirew
Kegnyazmatch Yilma Aboye
Brigadier General Wendimu Abebe
Brigadier General Girma Yohannes
Brigadier General Mulugeta Wolde Yohannes
Colonel Yigezu Yimene
Colonel Alem Zewd Tessema
Colonel Tassew Mojo
Major Berhane Mecha
On this same day, the following men died fighting the Derg protecting Lt. General Aman Andom who refused to sanction the execution of the Imperial Officials:
Lt. General Aman Mikael Andom
Leutenant Belai Tsegaye
Leutenant Demisse Shiferaw Goshiye
Lance Corporal Bekele Wolde Giorgis
Sub-Corporal Tekle Haile
Lance Corporal Tesfaye Tekle
Junior Aircraftsman Yohannes Fitiwi
His Holiness Patriarch Tewophlos in 1979 and Emperor Haile Selassie I in 1975 were also murdered by Mengistu. No one is claiming that the above named former Officials of the Ethiopian Government were perfect men. Now having lived through the Derg’s brutal and violent Government and the last twenty years of the rule of EPRDF, mostly that of Meles Zenawi, the anti-Ethiopia Leadership, I can say without hesitation that the individuals listed above were far more honorable and civilized men, and some of them were outright great heroes by contrast. It was a tragedy with an aging Emperor and a tired bureaucracy that the least knowledgeable and the least capable members of society, i.e., members of the Military, took over power and committed the worst violence and mass murder in the history of Ethiopia. It had been a downward spiral ever since.
My own current saga is quite laughable, for I pleaded mea culpa and reversing myself expressed my support for PM Abiy after looking at the many internet records of the PM visiting Asmara and Issaias Afeworki visiting in Addis, and watching families coming together having been separated for twenty years due to the hostility that existed between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Although the expulsion of Eritreans in principle was justified, the process was flawed. Many of the Eritreans expelled had already voted for the independence of Eritrea even those born in Ethiopia. Most of them had financially supported the EPLF with millions of birr and/or hard currencies for decades from earnings mostly in Ethiopia. Even more harmful to the interest of Ethiopia, many of them were involved in spying and sabotaging the Ethiopian Military. In time of War situation, expulsion is most humane compared to detentions. The reconciliation or Peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea now is a welcome to many Ethiopians and some Eritreans as well, for different reasons though. However, glossing over such historical fact and tangentially blaming the TPLF for such expulsions without any corrective reminder whatsoever by PM Abiy is not acceptable to me in any degrees. Need I remind you that the expulsion of Ethiopians was started in 1991 by Issaias Afeworki long before the Ethiopian Government started expelling Eritreans close to the start of the War of 1998 after Eritrea violated Ethiopian Sovereignty by sending full military battalions into Ethiopia. Nevertheless, even with such serious reservations, I accepted PM Abiy’s leadership reversing my public stand against pardoning Derg officials and other subversive groups and their leaders who have raised arms against Ethiopia. But now, I have changed my mind as to the extent of my trust and support of PM Abiy and his Government because of recent developments and after viewing the interview of Kassa Kebede. I am going to appraise the activities of PM Abiy Ahmed moment by moment, and will challenge him on several of his ideas henceforth.
II. Dangerous game
Human beings are not numerical values, variables, nor symbols. Thus, PM Abiy’s analogy of medemer
(መደመር) is not appropriate. For example, it adds horrible ex-Derg Officials along with members and leaders of Terrorist Organizations into the mix with innocent and upright Ethiopians. Is it wise to mix people in such a way that everyone is of a single color of character when the reality of life tells us otherwise. This is a time we need less corruption and renewal of an organization that had spiraled down to the bottom. Now look what PM Abiy did in his most expensive first choice of contact of what he perceived to be of importance was Kassa Kebede. I watched the interview of Kassa Kebede with Sisay Agena of the visit to Ethiopia and the meeting of the Leaders of the new Ethiopian Government. Although the presentation was well narrated, it does not enlighten us why the choice was made to invite Mengistu’s right-hand man above and over the many outstanding true Patriotic Ethiopians in exile or in Addis.
Kassa Kebede, a pathological liar, asserted that he had heard I was involved in the nationalization of his residential property. I did no such thing. I advocated for the return of residential properties including investment real-estate to the owners, at the time I was in the Transitional Government in 1991-1992. He also boasted that he would have had United States Citizenship if he had wanted. Not in a million years, for the immigration Laws of the United States and the Government policies are strict to granting Citizenship to individuals with backgrounds of membership in political organizations that practiced extra judicial executions, mass detentions, torture et cetera and especially those who were at the highest leadership structure. Remember all those Nazi functionaries deported striped of their US Citizenship.
Coming back to Abiy and Demeke, what is the point of so exorbitant expenses on Kassa Kebede? What are you trying to prove that you are a wealthy nation? What a caustic and insensitive decision. The dirt that you two wanted to collect to undermine TPLF because of the 27 million dollars (that was the amount I was told) being diverted to EFFORT was offered back but was donated to the Party. I recall being asked by Meles Zenawi what to do with the money, and my advice was to give it back and later ask for Israel’s help in other forms, and he agreed. I also remember being told that Kassa had tried to have the money deposited in his personal account–-an account he set up for that purpose, but the people involved refused to go along with his scheme.
I will name here few Ethiopians to illustrate my point how flawed the ideas of PM Abiy are by showing the true honorable Ethiopians he ignored, such as Eyassu Alemayehu (EPRP) life-long warrior for Ethiopian unity and justice for all; Mersha Yosef (EPRP) another patriot dedicated for the Unity of Ethiopia; Getachew Metaferia (PhD) seasoned with political foresight; Getatchew Haile (PhD) with some arcane views, but a true Patriot whose love for Ethiopia has no equal; Mesfine Woldmariam (Professor) who has exceptional understanding of the people of Ethiopia, similar family background of Gojjam/Wollo as Demeke Mekonnen, but a Christian not a Muslim as Demeke is; Yacob Hailemariam (PhD), an international law expert and a true Patriot, who critique the Derg and no less the EPRDF; Aklilu Habte (PhD) traditional and patriotic, well connected no less than Kassa; Daniel Kendie (PhD), an expert on Djibouti, Somalia, and Sudan, whose work experience and knowledge of the geopolitics of the Horn has no equal, and very many others. And yet PM Abiy settled on Kassa Kebede? What a disgrace, for someone who seems to weep for the poor and the dispossessed and yet would turn around and entertains the one individual who was part and parcel of the blood-soaked Government of Mengistu Haile Mariam who dehumanized, murdered, tortured, imprisoned millions of the very same people Abiy cries about every time he is addressing the Ethiopian Public.
The game plan that is unfolding now in Addis is a sickening return to the days of the Derg and secessionist conglomerates. What Abiy is working for is creating his own power base to insure his election as Prime Minister when this disrupted Term ends in two years. But he is going about that the wrong way by eating into his own powerbase. What we have here is a very self-centered narcistic individual with very limited experience in governance outside army barracks. I find his relentless subtle campaign against TPLF appalling and his constant overgeneralizations and appeal to piety as lack of proper logical and analytical skill. I read a few weeks back an enlightened analytical effort to understand the state of mind of TPLF Leaders by Prof Tekleab Shibru; the piece maybe is the first academic effort to understand such leaders. [See Tekleab Shibru (PhD) Kubler-Ross Model to Understand the Emotional State of TPLF Hardliners and the Old Guards, 6 July ZeHabesha,
http://www.zehabesha.com/kubler-ross-model-to-understand-the-emotional-state-of-tplf-hardliners-and-the-old-guards/#comments. Even though I do not agree with some of his background settings for his article and some of his conclusions, I find some sections very helpful not only understanding the particular leadership, but by extension all those who were involved in leading many of the Ethiopian secessionist movements.
III. Wasting Funds and Time
PM Abiy is wasting our money on propaganda and self-glorification schemes. He is now planning on an expensive visit to the United States even though the United States Government has not invited him formally or informally to come to its shores. Does he realize the millions the cities he is planning to visit have to spend in addition to the expenses of the Federal Government to protect him? That is an imposition on the Government and citizens of the United States. For example, what is the need to travel to Minnesota? For Jawar Mohammad? The Pied-Piper of Egypt and the Arabs. The excuse is that there are Oromos in large number in Minnesota. But there are as many in DC too, the real reason is far more dubious than numbers, a claim of exclusive journey by the PM to see special groups of people.
PM Abiy, in one of his public addresses, had made one of his ill-informed generalizations describing how different minorities fought back discriminations in the United States. In the process of preaching to us, he made a truly ignoramus statement why Black/African Americans failed to pull themselves out of poverty contrasting them to Jews whom he applauded. That was totally inappropriate contrast that confused several complex issues into simplistic formulas of text-book prescriptions of how-tos. Does anyone think the African American notables will be happy with such uneducated statement?
IV. Exposing Ethiopia to Vultures
Edward Gibbon wrote, “Encompassed on all sides by the enemies of their religion, the Aethopians slept near a thousand years, forgetful of the world, by whom they were forgotten. They were awakened by the Portuguese, who, turning the southern promontory of Africa, appeared in India and the Red Sea, as if they had descended through the air from a distant planet.” [Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 2, Chapter 47. Paragraph 37.] I contend that we were better off in our slumber of earlier times than in our waking up in a nightmarish world we live in now. When Gibbon wrote that classic statement, he also set the context to be for self-preservation against the rise of Islam leading to the World dominance of the Ottoman Turks.
None could sneer at our long standing national identity and freedom, nor undermine the value of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the singular institution that was and still is the only force that ensures our continued existence as a free people and an independent nation. With the rising preeminence of Islam in Ethiopia, it is legitimate to ask whether such national protection of Ethiopia possible? Or we are heading towards religious war to the death this time? If no outside interference is involved specially from the Arabs, Ethiopian Christians and Ethiopian Muslims will work out their problems for generations. But with pied-pipers mushrooming now in Ethiopia that may not be possible.
We have real problems with Arabs, let us face facts. The atrocities committed by Arabs on individual Ethiopians is too numerous to narrate individual by individual. In the last three years Saudi Arabia alone has expelled over a quarter million Ethiopians; murdered and tortured tens of thousands. All such dehumanizing of Ethiopians happened due to a single factor: bad, insensitive, and irresponsible Ethiopian Government Leaders following a policy of appeasement of foreign governments and local repressions at home. Suddenly the Arabs have become very kind. What game are they playing now? It must be fully disclosed the types of agreements that the Ethiopian Government has entered with the UAE, that it committed billions of dollars into the Ethiopian banking system and direct investment. What arrangement is being offered to the Saudi Government for getting a year’s worth of fuel with differed payment? I want the detailed Agreement publicly displayed/posted.
A few years back, I advocated fighting poverty with poverty even though a paradox. I am using here such previous writings of mine that did not seem to have traction with most readers. Fighting “poverty with poverty” is an approach that will preserve us and help us weed out the poisonous seeds of tremendous moral decay, blunt our expectations that is far beyond our means, remove enclaves of exploitative wealth, and throw out murderous governments. This is the paradox of the heap of sand. Each act may be as insignificant as a particle of sand, but cumulatively it does create formidable structure. We need no masters, nor slaves, nor experts, nor foreign aid, but each other. Thus, we need to get rid of all ideation or political and economic programs based on greed and private acquisition that is being shoved down our starving throat by foreign national governments and international financial organizations. In short, we have to start from zero, and take appropriate baby-steps for some distance, not some giant strides that collapses with its own corruption in a few steps.
Within the paradigm of humanistic-poverty there are few core principles we need to follow. Rather than working from grandiose ideological systems or economic theories, we need to adhere to simple and humble objectives built around few core principles of virtue. Some of the virtues such as compassion for our fellow Ethiopians, sharing rather than hording, courage in the face of overwhelming adversity, sense of outrage against injustice, and the keen observance of human rights and human dignity need be our guiding principles. Above all fighting against sexual promiscuity, is a must with our overwhelming population explosion. In this approach we will not be reinventing the wheel, but simply living within social and economic structures that we can make equitable.
The problem with ideologies and economic theories is the fact that sooner than later they become delaminated from the reality that they were supposed to improve and in time become their own justification. Whereas, the virtues remain as guiding principles under all circumstances fully grounded in the reality of our existence. It is impossible to address the humble needs of Ethiopians while driving expensive imported cars, sipping imported Cognac and Champaign, building four-star Hilton and Sheraton hotels et cetera. Those are the things that poisoned our psych and distorted our priorities. They are all symbols of exploitation and corruption, symbols of all that is wrong with us. Such flashy progress is paradoxically counter to the developmental state ideas relentlessly pursued for the last fifteen years by Ethiopian leaders. The focus should have been on the exploding population, on containing the population and changing social norms to control it effectively.
Conclusion – What Next?
The little international play of “the peace treaty” between Ethiopia and Eritrea is just a side show that effectively diverted our attention from the major long-term threat/plans of the Arabs/Egypt against Ethiopian Sovereignty and national life. Why all these sudden generosities of Arabs when they have murdered, tortured, and dehumanized tens of thousands of Ethiopians for decades. No amount of money could compensate us for all the atrocities they committed against our brothers and sisters and for the humiliation that we still suffer. What is monumental is how this new Ethiopian Government has exposed Ethiopia to new dangers, and how far it has become complicit to the wishes of old enemies who will not hesitate a second to destroy Ethiopia, the single stronghold of black pride throughout human history. Due to this narcistic Leader, Ethiopia is now poised to kiss dust in not too distant a future unless we wake up to this real danger and contain the conspiracy and the new Ethiopian Leaders
I find the exaggerated love and respect of the general Ethiopian population by PM Abiy Ahmed as cheap populism and condescending as well. I find it very ironic how one can love the amorphous often ill-mannered blob to the determent of the individual real human personhood. Do not get me wrong here that I am not afraid of the Blob, but contemptuous of its tendency for violence and irrational acts. And what is all these hugging? It was much overplayed with Issaias Afeworki. It is obscene. Please, cut down on that and act as dignified a leader as possible. What I want PM Abiy to do is to hanker down and produce real workable policies to solve real problems of deprivations, illiteracy, unemployment, shortage of food, and the devastating overpopulation problems, rather than traveling and making feel-good speeches all over the country and in foreign lands. He has not presented us with a single policy-based program addressing such pressing needs so far.
By all means, do attend all the meetings that are arranged for PM Abiy to meet Diaspora Patricians and Diaspora Plebeians, but as protesters. As a matter of your patriotic duties, organize protest demonstrations and counter the ongoing ex-Derg leaders and their descendants campaign to recapture their lost power and prestige, challenge hateful narrow ethnicists of any kind from any enclaves. There can be only a single nation with administrative provinces, no kilils or States within that single Nation of Ethiopia. Demonstrate for a new Constitution drafting process to be established that is not based on ethnicity. Promote Ethiopiawinet and respect for the individual’s rights and personhood irrespective of his or her ethnic identity.
Tecola W Hagos
23 July 2018
Copyright © Tecola W Hagos 2018