There is no doubt that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s performance at the Q&A with EPDRF’s Head of External Affairs; Ato Sekuture Getachew has dealt a death blow to the opposition’s attempt of portraying EPDRF in general and Meles Zenawi in particular as unpatriotic and as being prepared to oversee the disintegration of Ethiopia. Whosoever came up with the idea of engaging the Chairman of EPDRF answer questions sent from Ethiopians from all walks of life deserves a tap on the back. For far too long EPDRF had resisted the idea of using the media most effectively to promote its very many achievements for fear that it may usher in morally reprehensible personality cult. This eschewing of bragging its achievements had in turn brought untold harm both in terms of losing voters in towns and cities during the 2005 National Elections, and in terms of providing the opposition-at-large with a free reign to hoodwink Ethiopians both at home and abroad.
At the Q & A, which constituted part and parcel of The Party Political Broadcast on behalf of EPDRF, Meles Zenawi was at his elements like never before. A calm and contended Meles was firm but not quarrelsome as he opened up his heart to the peoples of Ethiopia. In his narration on how Eritrea’s drive for secession got underway in the first place, Meles reminded people that the desion by the Imperial Government of Emperor Haile Seassie I to rescind the federation of Eritrea constituted the root cause of Eritrean dissent. One-nation-one-language-one-flag Ethiopian conservatives had wrongly assumed that Ethiopian unity means Ethiopian uniformity. Eritrean highlanders who had accorded a ‘Messiah’s welcome’ to Haile Selassie as he crossed the River Mereb into Eritrea were quick to harbour grudge and resentment against Ethiopia. This was further exasperated by Derg’s “Red Star Campaign” the scorched-earth policy of which had spurred Eritreans to reject the idea of ever returning to Ethiopia. The message is clear: no good crying over spilt milk now, and no good blaming EPDRF for the mistakes of past Ethiopian governments. The lesson is equally clear: those who care for Ethiopian unity should garner the courage and accept that it can only be maintained by the free will of Ethiopia’s peoples nations and nationalities. Therefore, any tampering with the Constitution of FDRE is tantamount to playing with fire.
The other point he dwelt at length was on the pipe-dream of those ‘one-nation-uniformists’ who have the brazen audacity of promising to Ethiopians that if they get elected they would secure the port of Assab diplomatically. Meles was unequivocal in his explanation that one of the major foreign policy initiatives his administration has been pursuing is to secure access to the sea with Ethiopia’s neighbours, including Eritrea that is when the state of belligerency with the State of Eritrea comes to a formal end. Meanwhile, however, EPDRF does not have the desire of getting carried away by the mania for port with the opposition parties.
In answer to why does he consider it wrong for Ethiopian opposition parties to align with Shabia years after the EPDRF itself had formed a military alliance with EPLF to bring down the Derg, Meles administered his coup de grace on all those politically antipodal groups who believe that Shabia will deliver them the key to the Menelik Palace by toppling over EPDRF for them. Forming a holy alliance with the EPLF and with other forces to bring about the downfall of one of Africa’s most brutal dictatorship is not only a commendable act, but it also constitutes a perpetual source of pride to EPDRF. On the contrary, to depart from the democratic route and to align with Shabia which is bent on turn Ethiopia into a bonfire is the worst form of treason a quisling can ever commit against a Motherland.
Ethiopia’s unity – not the conservative kind of one-nation-one-language-one-flag – but an Ethiopian unity where everyone is proud of their identity, of their culture, language and where the tri-colour and emblem of their regions proudly flies alongside the Ethiopian flag is safe and sound under EPDRF.
Verdict: EPDRF is a statement. Medrek, et al is an understatement.