Birtukan Medeksa saved by the Bell or still Smarting?


Zeru Hagos Dec 28 2008


Birtukan Medeksa as a lawyer and politician has answered the call by the authorities for her to clarify her position whether she asked a pardon or not. As a lawyer she has said she never denied about asking “forgiveness” for her involvement in criminal activity. As a politician she has told us that “pardon” was consummated after a lengthy discussion with the EPRDF govt and that the process was finished before the court sentencing date.


If Birtukan has the audacity to stand by her original claim in Sweden- that she never ask a pardon and not knowing the pardon board and that she has told the Pardon Board she never asked to be pardoned, she would not have answered the current ultimatum. Be that as it may, the question for the public and media personalities is what is Birtukan talking about the June 11 and June 15 documents?


 She says she has signed the June 11 document! Was the actual legally binding document the one that was written on June 11 or June 15? And what is the significance of these dates as far as the law is considered?


If what she signed is some document she and her handler’s shimagles (elders) have concocted and not the one the government has in file then she needs an explanation or the government needs to explain.


In order to harden our fledgling democracy in to full-blown democracy the constitution must be respected. PM Meles on many occasion is quoted to have said only the constitution is the guarantor for any one. Birtukan may be massaging her own ego by putting words in her current clarification paper but Birtukan should know the public is not interested to know if her ego or that of PM ego is going to be tarnished by this incident. What the public wants to know is if the Pardon process has been useful and if both opponents and proponents are upholding the constitution.


Birtukan cannot escape such glaring mock of the constitution and the pardon process. Not as a public figure and political figure and not as a law abiding citizen.


The government has the power to enforce the law. The government told the world and Ethiopians that it has pardoned the convicts primarily because they have asked to be pardon and secondarily to promote “mechachal” and move forward. Kinijit leaders were after all political leaders whether one likes them or not. Although there were some skeptics that questioned the govt wisdom to pardon these folks there were many others that saw an opportunity to heal the wounds the country incurred after election 2005.


What Birtukan is now doing and what DR Berhanu did after he signed on the dotted line is encouraging those that questioned the merits of their release. And that in my mind cannot be a good thing for any aspiring politician to do.


 Birtukan cannot say she is for peaceful struggle and undermine the constitution. If she thinks her release was not constitutional she should have been the first one to educate the public that the government is not upholding the constitution. However for over a year she said nothing about the constitutionality of her pardon. Does she realize she is alleging that “her pardon was a farce and the govt has lied to the public about the whole process”?


The government has a legal document with Birtukan signature on it. I see no need for the government to lie at all. However if there was good will on the government side to accommodate shimagles to play a role, I am afraid Birtukan’s latest statement has diminished the gesture to be nothing.


 When the government engaged the shimglena process it was to mend fences. Birtukan and company with the help of a white paper from Negede Gobeze tried tarnishing the government’s image. The talk of the town before Kinjit fell apart was that “mano asnekanchew” meaning Kinjit has successfully tarnished EPRDF image as democratic with the riot of election 2005. Yet, the government tried to bend back ward one more time to meet the shimagles. Thanks to Birtukan and the likes the government effort has not been returned in kind.


What is left is for the government to strictly enforce the law of the land. Would Birtukan latest public statement be sufficient for the law enforcement agency to stop its investigation?