Following the provisional outcome of the 2010 national and regional elections, opposition parties and their supporters were understandably disappointed and frustrated. This was particularly devastating to the leadership of the parties who, with no exception, lost their federal parliamentarian seats. As would be expected, they resorted to all kinds of allegations, excuses and gimmicks. They accused the government and the EPRDF for their own failures. This short piece presents some examples of the oppositions’ and their supporters’ allegations and complaints.
The so-called 99.6% electoral margin in favor of EPRDF is being repeated countless times by oppositions and their supporters as well as by foreign media and others, such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Voice of America (VOA). This figure—echoed by Diaspora Ethiopians at the recent demonstration in Washington DC—does not reflect the true state of affairs. Those who quote it ad infinitum know very well it is incorrect. They know that it includes parliamentarian seats that belong to regional parties in Afar (8), Benishangul Gumuz (9), Gambela (3), Harari (1) and Somali (24) states that do not form part of the EPRDF coalition. According to the official final results announced by the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) on June 21st, the proper figure that can be attributed to the EPRDF, based on a high voter turnout of 93.4%, is 91.2% (499 out of 547 seats) and nothing else. In Addis Ababa where the voters are well informed and enlightened, the EPRDF garnered 95.6% of the parliamentarian seats (22 out of 23), the exact reverse of the 2005 elections. This is a clear indication that the outcome of the 2010 elections is a true reflection of the wish of the electorate.
Addis Ababa University Student Protests over Election Fraud
The above is one of the titles of videos that appear when clicking Ethiomedia on Vimeo on the home page of ethiomedia.com. A look at the other videos shows that they are of recent origin, two months old at the most. According to the website they constitute the “newest” videos on ethiomedia.com.
The one under discussion – university student protesting – is the exception. The caption under it reads “1 month ago”. However, this video refers to the 2005 election. It was purposely inserted there to deceive readers. As all who have been following the elections’ news know, university students did not protest the 2010 elections. What a blunder!
Worrying about Ethiopian unity
Some may consider this section unrelated to the title of this write-up. It is a repeat of the strategies used pre-, during and post-elections.
PART III of Quo Vadis Ethiopia? by Ayal-Sew Dessye posted in ethiomedia.com (June 7, 2010) is part of the usual litany of all and every thing that the writer and his likes accuse and demonize the EPRDF, particularly the TPLF. His focus and worry is the disintegration of Ethiopia as a result of the ethnic-based federal system. He is so obsessed that he uses the words “worry, worries” eight times in the first four paragraphs. He tells us that Ethiopians “above all they worry about the unity of their country.” If this were true then why did the Ethiopians elect EPRDF, the architect and implementer of the ethnic federal structure?
He and his likes day in day out remind us of the imminent danger lurking behind the federal structure. How can this be when the nations and nationalities are administering themselves using their own languages and savoring all the social, cultural, etc. amenities? Federalism has, at the stroke of the pen, solved their grievances that lasted for over a century. They have, therefore, no reason to even dream of seceding from Ethiopia. Have there been new liberation fronts since the constitution came in effect? None. The existing ones were there in one form or another before the adoption of the constitution. In fact, some have ceased operation. With increasing consolidation of the federal structure and the dwindling external support for carrying on war of so-called liberation in the 21st century, the fatal fate of separatists is increasingly becoming a reality.
On the contrary, it is the inciting rhetoric that he and his likes persistently spew out that could be the cause for disintegration. Fortunately, however, that this could happen is very unlikely as the nations and nationalities will definitely not allow it. Centralized form of government is finished. There is no going back. This is the 21st century.
Others hollow and outrageous allegations
There are so many of them. As readers have read and heard about them, I will refer to a couple of them to save readers from contiuing with endless boredom. Intimidation, harassment and isolated violent incidents are among those often repeated ad nauseam. However, that the EPRDF has paid voters to vote for it is a brand new allegation unique to the 2010 elections.
In a traditionally complex society as in Ethiopia, one cannot rule out the possibility of the afforementioned happening. At the kebele level where there is greater intimate interaction between officials and the public, there could be individuals who, unknowingly or overzealously or for a number of selfish reasons, could or may take wrong actions against oppositions. Unfortunately, however, the oppositions exagerate a few isolated incidents as if these were the results of rampant systemic policies and actions. It should be noted that the majority of the complaints were found untrue by the complaints hearing committees that handled the complaints pre- and during elections. In any case, the few isolated incidents would not have materially changed the landslide victory of the EPRDF. In regard to EPRDF’s paying for votes or protest against HRW, the oppositions have not found a single person paid for such a purpose. Had there been one we would have surely heard him/her on the media. The parties concerned would not have missed this golden opportunity.
In closing, I would like to remind oppositions and supporters that it is thanks to sacrifices made by the EPRDF that they are able to make all the noises, mostly deceitful, misinformation, exaggerations, spinning, smearing, character assassination, etc. Most of them had run away from the atrocities of the Derg to save their lives. They were going to school and accumulating wealth while EPRDF fighters were struggling to get rid of the Derg. Many of their high-ranking officials were members of the Derg. The Ethiopian people know this. The electorate know that the EPRDF is as dedicated to development and good governance as it was to fighting during the liberation struggle. They know there is no alternative to EPRDF. These are among the reasons* why they elected EPRDF with a landslide victory. Five years hence they will congratulate themselves for their wise and realistic decisions.
* Ethiopia is one of the 20 Countries “Making Most Progress on Millennium Development Goals,” according to the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the United Nations Millennium Campaign. As the list is not in alphabetical order it appears that Ethiopia is third in the ranking.
Ken Ohashi, WB’s Country Representative to Ethiopia, said that “Ethiopia had an impressive performance, with economic growth accelerating sharply on a sustained basis since about 2003, despite the global economic crisis. Since 2000…Ethiopia had recorded the second-fastest improvement in human development in the world, according to the UNDP Human Development Report 2009. This measure related to more Ethiopians living a longer and healthier life, being better educated, and having a decent quality of life.”
The above reinforce the reasons why the Ethiopians overwhelmingly elected EPRDF.