"To die for an idea that will live"

By Geresie Bonkie
June 6, 2006


“It is better to die for an idea that will live, than to live for an idea that will die.” - Steve Biko: South African Freedom Fightter

Currently our country, Ethiopia, is run by an illegal government, self-crowned dictator, surrounded by world class criminal gangs who are above the law and using defective constitution as a tool for suppression, to divide and rule. Our people are now at war with an organized criminal group which calls itself a government. We are also the victims of the double standard policy of some western countries.

The corrective action and the cornerstone to promote our nation's struggle should be focused to resolve these burning issues in order to overcome the grave political crises our country is facing.

We agree, in principle, that alliance is one of the best weapons to promote the struggle of our nation and to defeat the unpopular regime in our country, as unity and working together at this moment is also a breakthrough for opposing parties. However, like the rest of the Ethiopian people, those of us in the diaspora are deeply concerned about the way AFD was formed and its confusing document of foundation (Memorandum of Understanding and Statutes of the Alliance).

In recent weeks, so much has been said. Articles have been produced in support of the alliance, opposing and seeking clarification. Ideas were generated to fill the gap which the AFD lacks. Most of the arguments forwarded in most seems genuine and proved how Ethiopians are eager to see the long overdue public outcry insisting political parties to stand together and to lead our peoples struggle for peace and democracy. But it is unfair not to mention also that there were some articles blindly supporting the formation of the alliance, just to save their troubled and mistaken party, without examining the founding document and carefully checking the procedure followed to create AFD.

The complex and delicate political problem of our country and the shortcomings of the opposition’s political parties seem discussed only for three days and declared that AFD is formed. We are wondering, how some parties to the alliance, who previously resisted to work with ethnic based political parties accepting to struggle under the umbrella of one Ethiopia, signed with parties who claims and is still claiming colonized by Ethiopia and are struggling for self determination? What makes them change their position and make a U turn? Although there is not any public notice given officially in written, except the orchestrated May 28, 2005 Washington, D.C meeting, which is portrayed as self serving propaganda (as per information obtained from attending inside sources), what was the core agreement before producing the founding document? Have they made any serious political engagements as to the sovereignty of Ethiopia?

Some of the supporters of the alliance seem to tell us just get blind folded, believe us and take AFD for grant to resolve the political crises in our country. In addition, after declaring the formation of AFD, a week later, when the founders of AFD find it difficult to explain themselves and lost public trust, they attempt to try to change the story, rolling back the wheel, by saying that the UTICRUT, The Netherlands meeting was a preliminary one to forge alliance, where as they have already produced a founding document and formed AFD, endorsed TPLF constitution, even addressed foreign relation issues (good neighbors to only Eritrea?) and many more. Friends, please give me a break, don’t put the cart before the horse, but let us put first thing first.

By any measure, I think transparency and accountability is the right way to democracy. Our people will be able to support AFD or any other alliance or front of any form in the future, when they learn about it in a clear and unambiguous way, when it is not detangled with suspicion and clear from shadow organs.

Trying to take advantage of our positive weakness of loving our country, betrayed by various coalitions and fronts in the past, still our current ambition for a united front to struggle, one shouldn’t exploit the situation to instruct us to accept everything blind folded, as the destiny of our people and country is an important issue to all Ethiopians.

The founding document of AFD ignores the real problems we face as a nation of one who speaks many languages. The aftermath of May 2005 elections, the struggle of journalists, teachers, students and freedom seeking citizens and as a whole the role of civic organizations are completely overlooked. Just to mention at the moment, civic organizations can help the political process to transition as follows:

  • will serve as vehicles for political activity and process;
  • create effective and meaningful participation;
  • help in agenda building and bring new ideas and issues to the process;
  • evaluate and monitor the process to protect the interest of the people;
  • provide and disseminate information;
  • render intellectual, technological, material and moral support and many more. Where is the AFD founding document mention about civic organizations, interest groups and prominent figures of our nation?

It seems that some of the organizers of the formation of AFD, exploring our desperate need for unity are trying to exploit the situation and planning to use the alliance to push their ideology and win at any cost by camouflaging their objective. We all agree that ideology can kill as war itself and that is what TPLF/EPRDF proved to the world. Even after 32 years (17 years as bandits and 15 years as a self-proclaimed government), couldn’t learn their lessons that ethnic based politics is not viable in the 21st century and the new world order is far away from that. Please don’t repeat this ugly experience.

It’s also well known that, at this juncture some of the parties to the alliance became the prisoners and hostage of their own political program and propaganda. They need to free themselves by clearing where they stand and what their objective is as we speak today, comparing their long standing political program with the objective of AFD in the short and long term. The alliance should not be a cover up to their decade’s long objective which is not currently modified or changed and to roll back the interest of our nation and even compromising our country, Ethiopia. It looks as if some organizations have chosen to steal a page out of Herman Chohen's play book of 1991 again. If any questions or doubts remain about this case, it will cast a permanent cloud over the true alliance, diminishing the unity and questioning the integrity of the parties involved.

Our people dream and want a popular government that stands for a united and democratic Ethiopia, where individuals and collective rights of nationalities are respected. We don’t want to see once again separatists and ethnically divisive to hijack the struggle of the people. We have lost at least two times, but not for the third time.

Any type of alliance, unity and form of collective struggle and the process of transition to our dream government should be based on the foundation of Ethiopia as one nation.

Of course, in any democracy, there are competing ideas and different ways of doing things. To engage in a very serious political dialogue we will have to learn to be more tolerant to differences of opinion.

The complex and delicate problem of our country requires a different set of skills: the art of compromise, the popular touch, respect and accountability. But, after examining the founding document of AFD and reviewing from various sources the procedure of the meeting and the shadow parties involved, it has drawn suspicions which need to be cleared and addressed.

At last, in my part, with due respect, this is my suggestion to the parties involved, to the alliance to go back to the drawing board and use the following as a checklist to clear the clouds:

  1. Engage in serious political discussion in the presence of third party who can positively facilitate the preliminary discussion with regard to Ethiopia as a nation and other very important nationality issues;
  2. After the preliminary discussion, based on the findings, generate new ideas which can make a significant difference to address the current issues our country is facing;
  3. Make clear to all concerned parties how it is based on the hope and aspiration of the people;
  4. To tackle the issues, establish objectives which are clear;
  5. Specify the necessary tasks and list down the action steps by priorities and phase;
  6. While trying to be an all inclusive alliance, agree on how to organize what type of national meeting and who to invite (civic organizations, interest groups, prominent figures and etc.);
  7. Timely communicate to the public and concerned parties, the necessary information to get public trust;
  8. Put in place periodic review of progress and revision of objectives and etc.;

Democracy and social justice are promoted and protected through the full exercise of the right of freedom of expression, including access to information and through the means of communication. We have been advocating that we are struggling for democracy and peace. Are we ourselves doing that? Or copying what TPLF is doing? A deceitful political move and marginalizing the people will not lead us anywhere. The result will be some zero. Although there are sharp and smart political minds among us, please do not use these skills to push a narrow ideology and win only your interests at any cost.

It is very important that opposition political parties and others in this front should lay a foundation by setting a good example in becoming transparent and accountable with regard to information affecting Ethiopians. We should be the first to respect what we are demanding from others. At this juncture, we all agree that Ethiopians have the right to get clear information at the right time as to the formation of AFD and clarifications on its founding documents, which affects our country. If AFD fails to do that, I am afraid that we are living for an idea that will die and the fate of AFD is also like its predecessors.

May justice triumph in our country Ethiopia!!!

The writer can be contacted for comments at gb3650@yahoo.com








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