It is obvious BBC wanted to create hype around the addition of Negaso Gidada and Siye Abraha into the ranks of UDJ. So it told us that Negaso Gidada is a popular figure in Ethiopia and that the two former ruling high officials’ inclusion will give the opposition a boost. Yeah, Negasso Gidada is so popular when he was Ethiopia’s President the residents of Addis Ababa used to call him “Ambassador Taxi”.
Comedy aside, there is no question that some in the west have been looking for a cheap substitute for EPRDF. In 2005, they banked on kinijit to deliver the knock out punch, but it fizzled soon after the election. Six months before the next election, Kinijt II is formed and baptized as Medrek. It remains to be seen whether they will succeed this time around. The increasing hype around Medrek and the demonizing of EPRDF by some western media is part of the process. This will last until the next election, and perhaps beyond.
The root cause of the West’s irritation with EPRDF is its close relationship with China. It also didn’t help that the government wanted to assert its sovereignty by denying lords of poverty a.k.a foreign NGOs unlimited power to run amok in the country.
The west has started a subtle cold war with the Asian giant. And it desires Africa to be its battlefield. The problem is Africa by in large doesn’t want to play this familiarly nightmarish game. It wants cordial relationship with both the west and China. It has no interest in choosing its “friend”. More critically, Africans dread to be pawns in another chess game between two big wigs. Regardless of Africans’ weariness, though, the west has found a few opportunists who are willing to dance to its tune as long as it takes them to the throne. The cry of neo-liberal democracy as being heard by some in the opposition is a good example. Even though neo-liberalism has been badly battered in the west, especially since the financial debacle of the last two years, some opposition members have no problem singing its praises.
It is in this context that one has to look at BBC’s comical assertion that Neggaso Gidada is popular in Ethiopia. More outlandish tales will be told in the next 6 months. EPRDF and its supporters better prepare for it.
Dereje M, 11/27/09