Birtukan Medeksa Smarting but at her own peril!


Zeru Hagos Dec 30 2008


The quest to be democratic while the Ethiopian people are mired in abject poverty is becoming a daunting task. Worst, add the inept and infantile political opposition leaders, which are making it hard for the EPRDF government to go one step forward and you will appreciate the tenacity of the current Ethiopian government to navigate the muddy waters of the democratization process.


Birtukan Medeksa may be “smart” and beautiful, but she is not Mandela, Ato Minga!


Ato Minga in response to my article did paint a rosy picture about Birtukan Medeksa ( being a smart person. He also wrote I was confusing the difference between the constitution, politics and pardon. If I delve into an argument whether Ethiopian politics is a reflection of the constitution and that the pardon is one tool the constitution created for citizens to use it will be inviting readers to miss the point of my article and to allow other writer’s to go tangential, which is a well too known problem with Diaspora politics.I will differ such argument for later day.


My commentary was if Birtukan was sincere enough in her apology with her “Qale” statement to the media and if the authorities will be satisfied. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say, and with what has transpired since 12/28/08, we all know the bell did not save Birtukan, perhaps -it is big perhaps,she was smarting after all!


Ato Minga thinks Birtukan is smart. Let us see if she is. A smart person will naturally use his/her ability to navigate life and avoid pitfalls. A smart person will use his/her talent and be productive in life. Birtukan as a lawyer left her carrier long time ago and as a lawyer and judge she has not been productive. All I see in Birtukan is one confused person who missed the chance to excel in the halls of justice in Ethiopia ending up in the halls of extremist in Diaspora for notoriety! I cannot wait for Ato Minga to tell me how Birtukan the lawyer has been productive at all to be called smart.


 The Ethiopia government has been engaged in capacity building in all aspects of the country’s institutions. The judicial branch being one of the institutions that needs improvement, Birtukan as a lawyer and judge would have been more productive had she stayed to be active lawyer and judge than becoming an ill equipped politician.


As a politician Birtukan has become a laughing stock even to her colleagues. When CUD leaders were released on pardon or what Birtukan calls “shimglena”, it was well known to supporters and distracters she was escaping lengthy jail sentence. No one that I know believed CUD leaders were remorseful. In this case the State was willing to take the CUD leaders contrition at face value and allow Prof Efrem the rest of Shimagiles to play a role.


 A good politician would have exploited such opening in a different way but Birtukan was so naïve she did the unthinkable. She went straight and attacked the State’s argument for their release. She as a politician thought she was bigger than the State! How could one assume such move was a smart move at all? She denied ever asking pardon to the pardon board. As politician she should have known sitting in jail was not a productive thing to do.


 The last stint she has in Kality should have been a lesson. On the heels of CUD leaders release from prison, CUD disintegrated in to five pieces. She was even quoted to have said she was going to quit politics. Birtukan is no smart politician if you ask me Ato Migna!


Ato Minga mentioned that CUD leaders were released because of third party negotiations. Does it matter who convinced the CUD leaders to ask pardon or to say sorry? Does it matter if Birtukan was released because Pastor Daniel convinced her to ask for pardon or if pastor Daniel took the signed letter to PM Meles?


 The issue here is that PM Meles -talk about smart person, read the pardon letter and passed it to the appropriate authority to look in to it. Which the pardon board was able to consummate the process by going to Kality and after asking CUD leaders if the pardon letter was willingly signed! Granted few of the CUD leaders were unhappy the board was involved at all but in the end all of them approved and told the board “kalachin nuw”, yes we approved. Where do you see Birtukan’s wisdom in this saga Ato Minga?


The Ethiopian constitution is a well thought out drafted and approved document. Birtukan has all the right to question the constitution. We all know her organization is hell bent to rewrite the constitution. We know that, I know that! What many are saying is, from now on the constitution will be respected and if change is necessary it must be done within the constitutional means. Birtukan though swearing in the name of peaceful struggle she is failing to understand what peaceful struggle means. Peaceful struggle is not a blank check to undermine authorities and to sleep with extremist and anti constitution elements in Sweden and Belgium.


The constitution allows the court to have the final say if some one’s right is respected or not. In this case, Birtukan has one choice to remain useful in Ethiopia’s politics: sue the authorities if she truly believes the authorities have violated her right when they put her back in jail alleging she has failed to uphold her pardon vows.


 No amount of noise from her supporters in Diaspora will do her good; nor will the argument the police did not do this and that. Her release was conditional and the pardon board agreed she indeed has violated her oath thus the ground for her pardon to be revoked. Birtukan with out the pardon is a convicted person. Law enforcement has no other alternative except to put her in jail to serve her sentence. 


With every passing day I am loosing hope the current opposition forces will ever become useful to promote democracy in Ethiopia. An opposition that dwells on issue that are ancient by any one's standard and one that does not appreciate the opportunity given to play a significant role ought to be relegated to the dustbin. Ethiopians are better off to look for new opposition forces or join the governing party to bring change. Ato Minga ,Eritrea became a country after the independence referendum. How long must we argue such argument? How did you jump from Birtukan case to that of Port issue any way?


Last but not least although the scavengers of bad news have now started to cover the story, it is pity they did not pick the story much earlier and ask Birtukan if she made mistakes. Why do independent media in Ethiopia appear to cover dead stories?  Why didn't they interview her before she went to jail? The story was there!