By Ezana sehay[firstname.lastname@example.org]
There is no denying for democracy to flourish there must be forces competing freely to assume the responsibility governing.
‘The safety of a great republic requires the contest between factors or interests ---they would help guarantee liberty by checking, balancing and restraining each other.’
It is in this spirit that I long for a fully developed democratic society in Ethiopia.
It has been almost 19 years since the initial march toward that ultimate goal. Yes, the progress that has been achieved since is promising as the seeds of democracy keep on flourishing. However, it has also been shown that the road to rights-based democracy in Ethiopia can some times be daunting.
As we all know the main actors in democracy building are the political parties on both sides of the fence [the governing party and the opposition] and civic society groups. In the case of Ethiopia, in the absence of strong and independent social organizations the task of democratization has been left to political groups which we have plenty of them.
Never the less, what has been observed in Ethiopia in the last 19 years, is that the role played by these political groups is unlike what has been witnessed in other young democracies. That is, In Ethiopia it is the ruling party that is genuinely working to bring about a democratic order. While the opposition groups use the concept of democracy to further their ambition of power grab or exert influence.
And so the focus of this article is the role played or is being played by the opposition parties or groups in the democratisation process in particular and in national security in general.
The Ethiopian opposition is much polarized grouping with different some times contradicting policies. It is way further from being one big happy family, rather it is a fragile grouping of different some times hostile political tribes which in the name of ‘electoral conviction ’have sometimes managed to forge an uneasy alliance. It’s dysfunctional hamstrung by partisan wrangling obsessed with narrow issues at the expense of national vision.
The biggest short comings of the opposition groups is their seemingly disinterest in developing fresh policy content and luck of broad-based platform. Policy development has been constantly relegated to tomorrow’s’ work. Those of us looking for the opposition to emerge as Ethiopia’s other mainstream party [parties] alternative to the revolutionary democrats[EPRDF] are hopping that tomorrow starts today .unfortunately, the opposition have failed us time after time.
As I stated earlier, the Ethiopian opposition is a much polarized groupings. The only thing they have in common is their disdain of the ruling party. There for it is important to distinguish between these groups or parties based on the role they are playing in the country’s politics. Before I precede let me make the distinction between a political opposition and a political foe. The prier implies opposition or criticism of other’s politics and seeking to replace them in a legal and peaceful manner,. The later however implies hatefulness of not only ideas but the people who promote them. This is very important because it is what defines the different groups or parties in the opposition camp.
The loyal opposition
In this group are all registered and legally operating political parties in the country. These parties are still struggling to define themselves and unfortunately in doing so, some of them, often take the path of confrontation, using overheated rhetoric sure to produce rousing cheers from their hard-line supporters, but unlikely to attract support anywhere within hailing distance of mainstream thought.
Nevertheless, even though the EDP, AEUP, CUD, OFDM, FJDD…may fight like cats, I understand all these groups are trying, what ever their delusions and ambitions are, to serve the interest of Ethiopia.
While struggling to unseat the ruling party, they [opposition] are willing to work with it if they think that serves the interest of the nation, as demonstrated recently by the negotiation, ratification and promotion of the electoral cod of conduct.
The recent engagement among the contestant parties to the upcoming national election very encouraging. The level of political maturity and responsibility demonstrated by the parties is a testament that the democratization process in the country has entered a new phase.
Yes, our democracy is still fragile, but these opposition parties should not be seen as part of the problem, rather as partners in the struggle to achieve a common goal—mature democracy.
No doubt the ruling party has many shortcomings. The question is will these opposition parties be in a potion to take advantage and present Ethiopians with a viable, positive and optimistic alternative. In other words, can the opposition convince us there is a better way to build our nation?
The political foes
All of these groups reside [operate from] out side the country. They have no regard for the constitution or institutions of the state and are willing to ally with any body to achieve their goal.
This group can further be divided in to two camps.
1. The secessionist’s camp.
Except in the jungle and hills of the opposition blogosphere the only active separatist groups are OLF and ONLF. Such groups exist to advance the course of separation. Therefore they are a one trick pony. These groups don’t give a dime about the Ethiopia we love and cherish. In fact their success is dependent upon the destruction of the country’s unity. So it’s not surprising for these groups to form alliances with the country’s mortal enemies.
Fortunately thanks to our gallant defence forces all these groups can manage is a merger existence. They have been severely degraded in terms of their military capability. As a result their ideological significance has waned; their influence even among the people they claim to represent is diminishing day by day.
2. The any thing but EPRDF ideologues
In this camp are political groups, bloggers and operators of other media outlets. Most of the people involved in this camp are those nostalgic of the Dreg regime and EPRP supporters, who want Ethiopia to fail so that they can prove EPRDF is wrong. Further more these are the people who hold grudges against the ruling party for obvious reason [because it kicked their behind].
When one looks deeper in to this camp one can hardly find new generation politicians [under the age of 35]. Therefore those who promote this philosophy are grouchy old men [literally].
EPRP supporters; Believe or not, although the party has been in a vegetative state for quite some time there are people who idolize and romanticize it.
ESPa [Ethiopia workers party] supporters; this was the Dreg regime’s political party. Members of this party are ashamed of their past for obvious reason. Therefore they don’t call themselves ESPas but they are more active than EPRP supporters. They change their form and morph in to a legitimate opposition group or create one. Remember CUD [kinijit], the mastermind of CUD was mostly Dreg politicians.
To their credit EPRP supporters tried to play the same game.pre-2005 election they facilitated and encouraged the formation of UEDF [a coalition of 13 parties. But they were much less successful than the ESPas.
Evidently both groups have failed to have any kind of influence inside the country .They have tried to hide their true intention of power grab by disguising as activists of democracy. But the people have shown them that it is smarter than they thought.
In to time their true color was exposed. Did you get it?
It’s because they were proponents of color revolution. A little humour.
Any way let me digressed – The good news for Ethiopia and bad news for these groups is that even their surrogates [their supporters inside Ethiopia] have began to reject them.
The politics of the extreme Diaspora
The world of the Ethiopian extreme Diaspora is awash in conspiracy theories lacking even the most flimsy evidentiary basis. Such toxic obsession has become the leading form of psychosis of the extremists.
I have no problem with any kind of substantive criticism of the ruling party. There is plenty of legitimate criticism of the EPRDF government to make. But if the opposition keep on their current path of histrionics, they will most likely produce an edition of no-hope than a juggernaut.
Politics aside, haw is that, they fail to appreciate the positive developments that are accruing in the country?
Few months a go, I accidentally come across the answer to the above question. It seems members of the extreme Diaspora are suffering a form of mental disorder known as Anhedontia. According to the Modern Journal of Molecular Psychiatry—it’s a symptom
Of depression or the in ability to enjoy, because the rejoin of the brain responsible for pleasure happens to be missing or damaged.
Now that makes sense, no wonder they are unreasonably cynical, bitter, cranky…
These groups and their media outlets have created a poisonous political environment in the Diaspora community. Their cocktail of political and tribalism trends have converged and re-named as “struggle for democracy”.
But all is not bright in the land of dystopia. As manifested by the myriad problems beseeching the camp, the extreme opposition’s death spiral in to irrelevancy have just begun.
The new kid on the block
Ideas are like viruses; they spread in waves, retreat, mutate and return. The latest proof is the emergence of Dr. Berhanu Nega as the political consciousness of the extreme Diaspora in the form of G7.
This from a man who few years a go swore by peaceful and legal means of struggle and preached against armed resistance.
The G7’s lack of reason d’etre is much more telling than any lack of detailed policy platform. It doesn’t have a message that resonates with the public. As a result it has evolved in to being one of those Eritrean regime sponsored agents.
The group’s mantra, according to its leaders is the disposition of the incumbent government what ever the consequences might be .But of course the G7 is not a security threats just a contemptible crank.
This group’s quality of hatred, exaggeration, suspiciousness and computational fantasy is beyond comprehension. Now, this mindset is not to be confused with healthy dissent or alternative political perspective. It’s deep-seated emotional and irrational conviction.
There is a difference between concern your country is on the wrong path and insistence that the ruling party of an alien origin. What a ridiculous pre-occupation. How can one explain the group’s leader’s weepy monologue about haw there is some thing wrong about Ethiopia or their funambulist posturing about them vs. us?
It’s understandable that in a nation which is rebuilding after century of suffering at the yoke of feudalism, intractable class system and fascist dictatorship, the average citizen won be a minuteman for more freedom. But to be in a permanent state of panic about nefarious plots, conspiracies… represent a state of mind that can only be described as a form of pathology.
The good news is that everyone of the extreme Diaspora’s paranoiac pendulum had preceded a crucial meltdown. Remember CUD, AFD, and UEDF.
It’s too early to predict when this latest cycle will end. For the time being with ascent of Berhanu Nega and Andargachew Tsege, the extremist’s temple has been left to mad prophets, self-promoting mercenaries and intellectual pigmies.
Make no mistake; no matter haw much peddling and financial oxygen is pumped in to all these groups of day dreamers, it is oxygen flowing to a corps.
God bless the motherland!