The need for soul searching by the opposition camp
my previous posting back in 2009, I informed readers why the extreme opposition
inside and outside of Ethiopia should leave their false hopes aside and honestly
evaluate the history of past US administrations and the new Obama
administration’s relations with the Ethiopian government. Some people were
hoping that the new Obama administration and the Democratic Party will strangle
the EPRDF and the party’s days in power were numbered.
2009 however, what we have witnessed is that, in order to advance its national
interest, the US administration had a very good reason to cooperate with the
Ethiopian government which was and is still considered to be the anchor of peace,
development and stability in the region. Even though EPRDF’s democratic developmental
state policy continues to give a headache to the US neo-liberal camp, the
inner circle of the US administration believes that, EPRDF is a pragmatist,
engaging and far sighted party not only in Ethiopia but in the whole continent.
The US government insiders admit that EPRDF’s developmental state policies are
working for the betterment of the country and are also reducing poverty and American
tax payer’s money is directly reaching the poor. Not only that, the US
government is also aware that EPRDF has publicly said that a dominant party
system(not a single party system) is in place in Ethiopia and will continue for
the foreseeable future and the chance for the existing disgruntled opposition
parties to take power in the near future is impossible. One former high
official of the US administration told me recently in Minnesota that the
opposition parties inside and outside of Ethiopia should now make a soul-searching
in their policies and strategies instead of cursing and blaming the EPRDF for
decades with no tangible result at all.He also said that the opposition parties
should not rely on those international color revolution campaigners like the
National Endowment for Democracy(NED),International Republican
Institute(IRI),Freedom House,etc to bring change in Ethiopia.
gave me an example of the US Republican Party’s recent soul-searching
conferences held to evaluate the GOP itself. As demography changes in the US, he
said, the roles of women, youth and immigration issues are shifting the whole
electorate in the US and the GOP cannot continue to rely on old white
electorate who cannot carry it to the White House.GOP should evaluate its
policies and adjust to the reality of the US electorate. The Ethiopian opposition
parties should engage themselves in soul searching and evaluate their past
policies and if they don’t do that, their relevance in the Ethiopian politics
will be insignificant. He has a good point.
the other side though, he told me that the US administration believes that
EPRDF’s domestic power hegemony in its current form should not continue forever
and should somehow be minimized and some other opposition parties should peacefully
contest and take some seats in the parliament for checks and balances. I did
not disagree with him but I told him that they should work hard to earn it.
does the US government which believes in neo liberal policy prescriptions “trust”
the EPRDF which opposes neoliberal policies in the current Ethiopian context?
Some opposition in the Diaspora and neo-liberal think tanks and advocacy groups
say that the reason for that has to do with convergence of interests in
geopolitics like, anti-terrorism and peace and security in the region. However,
it is not that simple.
is true that the US administration always criticizes the EPRDF on its handling
of human rights, substantiated or not. At the same time though, the US
administration also knows that the current opposition parties and the extremist
Diaspora are much worse than the EPRDF in all forms and contents. The
consensus within the US administration regarding the opposition in Ethiopia is
that most of them are a bunch of Mengistu followers, racists, religious
extremists and hate groups. The Obama administration and the US establishment
do believe that Ethiopia has a responsible government which is a partner to
work with. Even with all the challenges in fighting poverty and the road ahead
in installing democracy, the Republicans and Democrats know that the EPRDF is a
principled Party that is taking Ethiopia out of the woods.
the US, losing Ethiopia which is governed by the EPRDF is like losing the whole
sub-region. Please look at what kind of governments are in the Horn. The
Republic of Sudan and South Sudan are at cross roads. Somalia is improving but
is still not out of the woods. Eritrea, a rogue and a pariah state is on its
way to be a failed state. Therefore, the US administration is very pragmatist
and wants to stick with Ethiopia and the EPRDF whether it likes it or not.
US needs a strong and stable country in the Horn that can take a responsibility
to pacify the region. If one asks the Republican and Democrat gurus in the US
establishment as to which country is qualified to play a stabilizing role,
Ethiopia shines. To be honest with you, Obama and John Kerry may spend about 15
Minutes a month to discuss about the Horn. But when they do, among the Horn
countries, Ethiopia’s role comes first. This is because Ethiopia has a
predictable and a truly committed government for peace and development. Its
pro - poor policies are showing results that cannot be ignored by the West.
This is not propaganda. Ethiopia is now one of the seven fastest growing
economies in the world accompanied with fair distribution of income. To the
surprise of the US administration, Ethiopia’s democratic developmental state
policies have been successful and the future is bright. No negative and
fundamental foreign policy change against Ethiopia will take place in the US because
Ethiopia is too important for the US in the region. There is and will be a
growing non partisan US support for Ethiopia.
according to some diplomats in Addis and Washington, since the 2015 national
election is approaching, the convergence of several domestic and foreign forces
that are highly critical of the EPRDF and who advocate color revolutions will now
come in unison to discredit the EPRDF. Those are the usual suspects like the
disgruntled opposition, the Wahabists, the Eritrean and the Egyptian
governments, HRW, AI, CPJ, Oakland Institute, Freedom House, IRI,NED, etc. Even
though these forces have tried to instigate people to revolt in the last 23
years, particularly in 2005, what makes their current subversive activities
different from the past is that they are now totally frustrated because the
EPRDF has stayed in power for so long against their wishes and they will try to
use their arsenals to create havoc in the country.
at the end of the day, critics of the EPRDF will be very busy lobbying in
Congress and the Whitehouse in the coming 15 months. Fabricated and exaggerated
accusations by the opposition, wahabists and the neoliberal think tanks and
advocacy organizations will be sent to the congress. Law makers in Congress
will ask the EPRDF to address alleged human right abuses. In return, investigative
responses and reports will be sent by the Ethiopian government to the congress.
That is it. Nothing more. Life continues. US-Ethiopia relations will continue
to be healthy based on the two countries national interests.
again, may I kindly ask the extremist opposition to come out of day dreaming
and engage in soul searching so that they can be relevant in the politics of
Ethiopia? If not, they will be marginalized for ever.