Limelight on Ana Gomez versus Ethiopia’s Politics in between 2005 and 2013

Limelight on Ana Gomez versus Ethiopia’s Politics in between 2005 and 2013


Habtamu Alebachew 12/08/13

      ‘No problem can be solved from the same levels of consciousness that created it.’

                                                                                           Albert Enestine




I do not remember under what circumstances the earthly genius, Albert Enestine, said the above words. Undeniably, the immense powers of the words always fascinate me particularly whenever I deal with the study of political conflicts and peace building. Suddenly, that Ana Gomez reappeared on the political landscape after nine years caused my mind to clique and recall these famous words back into light. Without the slightest exaggeration, the words prove more than hundred times relevant to the political personality—psychology and skills---of Ana Gomez, and those of thousands of concerned compatriots, in side and outside, including other major actors like the ruling party-EPRDF, its government and the leaders, Oppositions, the private press as well as foreign observers of Ethiopia .


Frankly speaking, I did not have in mind any drops of intents to write and speak of Anna Gomez and the political meanings of her second arrival in Addis. My interest revives, in explicit terms, because the second advent of the woman is an opportunity for a researcher more as a mirror and a rarely found laboratory case in the study of politics. It helps,  of course,  in order to gauge the current stage in the evolution of Ethiopia’s politics, and no more. The woman caused many Ethiopians to react someway with an estimate of 1,500 comments and responses from my assessments of only 3 websites. It is methodologically secondary that these reflections vividly represent personal tastes, for or against, and the degrees in affiliations into or distances from the existing regime and the resultant inner pressures of political partisanship, emotions, and so on. It is also in track with the very nature of political dialogue that the opinions might suffer such limitations like lack of empirical data or the necessary skill, still in clear ‘for or against’ political ethos.


 More important than these constraints is the fact that the most of the opinions agreeably qualify to be pronouncements with diverse, well articulated, and clearly communicated political arguments. They surely demonstrate impressive growth in political concern as    reflections, and commentaries, still along ‘for or against’ poles. As such, they have been adequate indictors for the recognizable fact that the overall political culture and spectrum of Ethiopia is undergoing some kind of unprecedented tempo of change in the previous decade.


Despite my primary interest with the investigation of this hypothesis, time shortages and scientific methodology severely constrained my freedom and tempted me adrift to focus on rediscovering Ana Gomez and her political personality in direct relations with Ethiopia’s politics before reviewing anything else, which I postponed for some other time.           


1. Rediscovering Ana Gomez in Ethiopia 


At her first arrival in Ethiopia in 2005, no one, even Ana Gomez herself, might expect that she would easily evolve into a stage of ‘political prominence’ in both pre-and-post-election days as far as Ethiopia was and is concerned. There are a dozen of legal, procedural, moral, diplomatic, and contractual justifications for a researcher to entertain this line of argument as plausibly acceptable. 


Legally, Ana Gomez was and is an outsider with no formal or informal rights to claim for unbounded concern and interventions in Ethiopia’s politics, which was and is a right reserved only for citizens. Procedurally, while the EU-Ethiopia protocol and state practice limited her mission only to observe, for example, whether there was free access to media by all parties and their candidates or not, she never had had the right to compare and contrast contents of political programs, ethnic and religious backgrounds of opposite candidates, their political personalities, and skills and so on. Ironically, after nine years, today, Ana Gomez exposed that she grossly violated this procedural and diplomatic parcel when she compared and judged among the then candidates in her interview with Reporter.  


Diplomatically, Ana Gomez arrived in Ethiopia to observe (and never to monitor and arbiter conflicts) the conduct of Election 2005 just on behalf of the European Union. Her entire mandate as an observer delegate sprung from the delegations of EU and never vice versa. Morally, the EU election tradition and the statements of her mission required her of remaining loyal to political neutrality and, as a foreigner, to a dependable degree of objectivity. One can contrarily see how Ana Gomez progressed to replace Ethiopian politicians, the right owners of the affair, and dared passing judgments once the legal and procedural chapters of the election were closed down. No civilized diplomatic code of ethics restrained her to equate the death of the former PM, Meles Zenawi, with the beginning of a new democratic era, stability and peace for Ethiopia, which is unusual, even, hostile, to Ethiopian sensibilities.  


Overall, for Ana Gomez, the Ethiopian people are not lucky to share with the generous benefits of European democracy, human rights, and freedom of all kind and national development. The irony, which she gravely failed to realize was and is that she talked a lot about the Ethiopian people but shockingly ended up with mentioning individuals as examples of government oppressions. I could agree with her if the imprisonments of these Ethiopians were a secret measure by the state destined to win their silent mouths, which the government recognizes as a right paradoxically for her, too, despite a foreigner. However, these individual Ethiopians are the ones who have had all legal, professional, material, and technical capacities to defend themselves against any transgression by the government against their rights as citizens. By these biased views, Ana Gomez, as a self-appointed politician to inspect Ethiopian political behaviors, fell victim to the intricacies of elite politics in Addis and across European major cities.


I very well know Ana Gomez did never pay a visit even to nearby vicinities of Addis Ababa and have had scarcely any acquaintances with rural Ethiopia. This limitation however never set a restraint on her bold accusation of state behavior as dangerously dreadful for the entire country. She was arrogantly confident that Ethiopians everywhere were and are ready to render a heroine reception for her probably except Tigray simply because Mêlés came of that nation. She never doubted that she would please the majority of Ethiopians when she talked of Tigraian domination in Ethiopia’s politics, forgetting even the fact that one of the newspapers she was speaking to belongs to a Tigrian.  


The key matter of interest here is not, for me, whether all what Ana Gomez stated was true or false, or not whether she had the right to say so or not.. My focus here is what political and psychological factors lay at the backgrounds of her arguments in that she acted as an Ethiopian more than an Ethiopian does. What permissive conditions did cultivate her political personality that she demonstrated an extreme obsession of Ethiopia and Ethiopian politics far above the usual excess? In short, what and who gave birth for Ana Gomez of this extended proportion to the extents of saying ‘congratulations’ for the death of an Ethiopian Prime Minister? Why has this woman refused to disengage from matters of Ethiopia nine years after the incidents of election 2005? Well, one may add many more questions of confusion and curiosity. The totality of questions ultimately leads me, on my part, in turn, to the rediscovery of the above quote by Albert Enestine.


2. Ana Gomez: a product of crisis               


One traditional Ethiopian saying holds that social turbulence would reign when June 1 coincides Monday. This metaphor reminds me of the years, which precede and follow election 2005, as the coincidence between EPRDF’s weakness in good governance and other spheres with the anomic but dramatic rise of the opposition parties. In the words of the American political philosopher, John Rawls, ‘veil of ignorance’, perhaps, affected EPRDF and its Chair Mêlés. Apparently, EPRDF and its leadership suffered from serious shortages of correct understanding about what the urban voter people of Ethiopia actually thought and felt about the impacts of their leadership. No body, of course, could be sure whether this misunderstanding was the causative agent for the free conduct of the election or not. For me, the substantively unique nature of election 2005 until voting day must have been an outcome of a felt-need loyalty to democratic principles by way of knocking at the ears of EPRDF leadership and membership for a renewed mobilization.


In any case, this event left behind it a pile of lessons for all parties to the process and the violent conflict. Following the violence, Mêlés openly admitted organizational weaknesses and rigorously embarked on untold proportions of reform through what he called his ‘exit strategy’. To my knowledge, most disappointed voters in major urban centers responded to most remedial measures of Mêlés still suspiciously as ‘victories’ gained from the pressures of the their alliance with Kinjit party.       


Unquestionably, Ana Gomez was and is the exact creation of this particular turbulent event in Ethiopia’s political history. Otherwise, she was not an Angel descending from the blue sky to produce some kind of controversial popularity within months. In clear terms, political crisis surrogated the political personality of Ana Gomez, and Ana Gomez is nobody in times without crisis. Midst the heated conflict, the relatively dominant urban majority of Ethiopians at the time behind the Opposition found her at the middle of the road when it was searching for any available means to get rid of EPRDF out of power. Reciprocally, Ana Gomez found this disappointed mass as sky-sent hot cake to satisfy the commonplace Anglo-Saxon appetite for fame and visibility, which she could unlikely attain in Europe. As a reward for her role in the conflict, she earned her Amharic name. She attracted the invitations of hundreds of Ethiopian refugee fora outside. Several websites posted her name as a ‘heroine of democracy’ and champion of human rights.


According to political psychologists, such coincidences by their very nature, as populist chores of allegiance, gradually cultivate strong temptations among emotional politicians toward making self-redefinitions fitting them. Unfortunately, Ana Gomez, as a foreigner, has had no whatsoever control over Ethiopia’s politics in the ensuing years or any sustained venue to maintain her crisis time popularity among Ethiopians, who once generously granted her. Most of these Ethiopians were busy keenly following up the breadth and continuity chances of Mêlés’s post-crisis package of drastic corrective measures. These Ethiopians slowly raised their eyebrows to recognize the consistency level and the resultant fruits of Mêlés’s measures positively.


To the acceptance of opposition leaders, the corrective steps undeniably induced dramatic shifts and realignment in the configuration of social and political forces midst the acutely sensitive urban people of Ethiopia. The parallel inner-party bankruptcy and unexpectedly sudden fragmentation of Kinjit and other Oppositions just from within consolidated further the new political map as a lasting and enduring construct. Even top most opposition leaders did not deny that the internal political carnage among themselves pushed the march of the opposition block toward prominence over EPRDF into a permanent and strategic retreat.


3. Ana Gomez: biologically alive, politically dead  


Back to our poor Ana Gomez, psychologists argue, once a person’s mind grew acute ‘fantasies of a glorious past’, chronic memory takes over the role extending to the time horizons of today and now. She, now delinked physically from the actual post election political process in Ethiopia, remained a poor prisoner of the imaginative persistence of the old image beyond the temporal borders of present events. Ana Gomez, as a victim to this misguided growth of political psychology refused to admit the fact that the golden days of post-2005 election crisis underwent the unavoidable morphosis of change to fade away with the passage of time. As the historian J. Hobswam writes, such strong memoires at group level are the repositories of ‘modern nationalism’ while they are causes for the growth of ‘nostalgic authoritarianism’ and ‘self-worship’ dispositions at the individual level.


Ana Gomez is a perfect showcase of a politician immersed in the spirit of the ‘lame duck’ worshiping her image of the post-2005 election politics. In her bid to compare and associate her name with Mêles, Ana Gomez repeatedly tried to place him under her mentor type of supervision privileges lecturing him about the ABC’s of elective democracy. Convinced that whatever she did was ‘a best and refined experience of the modern European politics, she expressed her surprise when Mêles turned against her and made it personal. For her, this was not only African vulgar contempt against the ‘flawless human gift of European democracy’ but also unexpected of a leaner from the periphery to treat a European master that way. The underlined tone of her argument appeared to mean: Mêlés was accountable to EU on matters of modern democracy, and not to Ethiopians, and by this, he betrayed the benevolent love of Europe. 


From the standpoints of political science, it is wonderful why Ana Gomez failed to ask how Mêlés managed to restore order effectively after election 2005 until his sudden death in 2012. There is no any need for further investigation that she actually heard that Mêlés at his death was substantially and massively different from Mêlés Ana Gomez knew before nine years. The change in his level of consciousness went to the extents of causing by his sacrifice weeks-long national grief. She also surely got the information that Meles left stable and peaceful Ethiopia behind him in direct negation of pessimistic predictions by many about imminent havocs. She, however, denied this to argue that power struggle and political divisions have racked his followers.. What could be the possible explanations for all these logical shortcomings dominating her arguments?       


As a sudden product of crisis, trying to make any critical advance in her level of consciousness shaped by conflict would mean for Ana Gomez an automatic political suicide in peacetime. Logically speaking, if the political personality of Ana Gomez is a product of crisis, then, order is its immediate inhibition. Consequently, flatly dismissing any possibility that Mêlés grew successfully a newer and higher level of consciousness from that of post-2005 crisis, which enabled him to change the reality on the ground therefore stood as the quick option for Ana Gomez. She can never examine 2013 from a different level of consciousness by keeping in tune with the dialectics of political conflict across time. Why? Because this would amount to her total loss of the sweet memories of her heroine days.


This undoubtedly places Mêlés and Ana Gomez on opposite planes of political judgment. Ana Gomez is politically dead, but biologically alive; Mêlés is biologically dead but politically alive. This justifies the decision of the Ethiopian government to issue a visa for her for the least controversial diplomatic logic that a politically dead personality deserves no fear and threat at all.        


4. Ana Gomez: innocent, ignorant or arrogant?  


Sometimes, as I was reading her interview, I took minutes amazed at many of her points and asked whether the woman was serious, innocent, arrogant, or ignorant. More often than not, she appeared for me an innocent mother narrating a nighttime tale for her children by way of leading them to their sleep. At other points, she soon became like a role actor in a theatre or movie when she was telling us comparatively about the personal qualities, capacities, popularities, and the level of their honesty of Ethiopian opposition politicians of the election period. Let me say, ‘ok’, this is innocence. But she soon dropped the innocence mark and changed her feathers to be ignorant about Ethiopia’s moral codes and current political developments when she said that she was happy over Mêlés’s death.


Then, she did not take time to grow extremely immature and unsophisticated political personality again when she tried to sow seeds of suspicion among her readers about AbaDula Gemeda’s political loyalty to the government. She said: I met Aba Dual but I do not want to express the themes of our discussion. At another paragraph, however,  Ana Gomez said: public officials told me privately that they needed change and the post-Mêlés EPRDF was internally fragmented to the point of crisscross political eliminations. Her ignorance became complete when she reasoned out why she was exceptionally worried about Ethiopia. She said: her grand parents died on the soils of Ethiopia. To my wonder, even those parents of her before five hundred years, who were better armed than Ethiopians of the time, never infringed upon Ethiopia’s autonomy as much as she was attempting. They never regarded Ethiopia as a barbarian, hopeless and wild ‘brothel house’ without a protector and a zealous guardian of her own from inside as much as she was thinking.  


The overall manners she made her arguments are also full of childish level constructs where she was swimming in the ocean of contradictions


Ana Gomez obviously showed little regard and respect for the complex strips of ethno-linguistic identities across Ethiopia when she marked Tigrain identity as a social basis of political dominance for Mêlés, but an unfortunate encounter for Hailemariam Desalign, Meles’s substitute, who is not a Tigrian. However, she soon resorted to optimism because there was no Mêlés there that change might come sooner or latter. She went on listing security crisis in all parts of Ethiopia as evidence for the post-Mêlés persistence of human rights violations that Mêlés once fueled in the past. The recent Muslim arousal expressed in largely peaceful demonstrations in the streets was her case in point. Contrarily, she pressed for open democratic venues so that discontented Ethiopians may express their inner feelings. For her, Muslims’ coming to the streets in demonstration of disappointment over government behavior, in open self-contradiction,  is more of a crisis than the exercise of a democratic right.   


Ana Gomeze never had the slightest doubt when she underlined that American diplomatic influence worked good and better than that of EU in getting unfairly imprisoned Ethiopians out of jail. However, she immediately contradicted herself arguing that Mêlés misled American and European donors on a number of issues. She criticized Mêlés for flowery words as a package of promises to satisfy Euro-American demands for democracy but, a few sentences before this, argued that Mêlés showed his ‘dictatorship’ by repressing the free press and civil societies, which Mêlés himself created. Through paying a lip service, she remembered that the Swedish government secured through negotiations the release of its convicted nationals regrettably for her leaving Ethiopians behind the bar. However, she chose silence about the words of the prisoners who assured that they got their freedom as a sequel to procedural demands for pardon, without which their freedom would have been least likely. 


In the past nine years, the hard political puzzle is that Ana Gomez was not with the people of Ethiopia while her number one opponent Mêlés Zenawi continued in leadership as a Prime Minister. This puzzle becomes more evident and confusing when one learns from the interviews of the woman herself that Meles fast grew to win the hearts of her own senior bosses at the apex of power relations while she earned the same degree of hostility by them. In the last nine years, she herself admitted that none of her attempts could bear fruits to influence the Ethiopian politics in any meaningful way. In Ana Gomez’s words, Europe cares nothing for Ethiopia’s democracy and development.  But equally, she contradicted herself when she said EU stands as rather one of the most generous providers of development assistance to the pre-and-post-Mêlés regime.


Arrogantly, she concluded that even though she was an ordinary Portuguese representative at EU, she was just and right that EU and Mêlés were wrong on Ethiopia’s politics. Poor Ana Gomez, by thus, failed to realize that EU-Mêlés relation was a Summit-level meeting, which knew no other sovereign powers in its proceedings and decisions, leave alone her. For me, this is a naked but moron political calculus in international relations of the present modern age when a low profile Union diplomat dares substituting a sovereign Head of Government, amazingly on Mêlés Zenawi’s proportion two times—internally and externally.  


Worse than this, the current government of Ethiopia never worried to issue her a visa if she wanted to visit Addis Ababa. Worst of all this again, Ana Gomez did not experience any form of restrictions in her freedom of speaking her mind as she wanted and saw fit. Unfortunately, her words fainted to provoke the kind of post-2005 election arousal, which she attributed to the continued legacy of ‘Mêlés’s dictatorship’. She criticized the authoritarian traditions of the government but argued that there was no an outlet for open criticism; she spoke to the free press but soon denied that there was any press freedom. She libeled the results of election 2010 as ‘ridiculous’ because, she justified it numerically, that only one opposition member won a seat as a matter of ‘rigged election’. She swerved to describe the post-2005 election crisis as caused by ‘rigged election results’ while she remained silent why the same results failed to provoke similar turbulences in 2010.




In winding up reviews over Ana Gomez, let us raise one technical question again. Based on the statements of her mission accountable to the EU, why did she remain obstinately rigid to get Ethiopia out of European embrace to the extent of targeting EU itself?   An average diplomatic experience and common sense could answer the question clearly that the woman is living in a naïve world of political hallucinations, innocently or ignorantly and surely maddened by a one-time hurricane-brought popularity.   


In political communication, the ‘principle of representation’ compels speakers and listeners, journalists and commentators whether the speeches accurately meet the representation criterion as a matter of legitimate border. Otherwise, political communication becomes a hallow chatter, meaningless and aimless.


I saw a dozen of comments that knowingly or unknowingly ignored this principle including the Addis Standard journalist. Not only Ana Gomez, we Ethiopians also can never express ideas for public consumption without adequate and, at least, conventionally agreed communication codes. On the part of commentators, I could not read any comment particularly in support of Ana Gomez, which raised the question ‘whom the woman legitimately represents in all her arguments and views’. Most accepted her as a free representative of Ethiopians and Ethiopia’s opposition politics, which Ana Gomez arrogantly or ignorantly manipulated to cross clear borders of social representations.



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