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Ethiopien - Politik & Civil Ulydighed

Defective Constitution, Rigged Parliament, Sabotaged Negotiation, Illegal Government: No alternative to pursuing the Popular Peaceful-Democratic Struggle!

Network of Ethiopian Scholars (NES) - Scandinavian Chapter
Press Release No. 17,
20. oktober 2005

(Left): A huge opposition rally (1.2 million people) last May 08, 2005 in Addis Ababa in Support of the Opposition, CUD. (Right): Troops ordered by the prime minister to intimidate, arrest, and kill people in June 8, 2005 popular protest. - Caption and photo montage: Ethiomedia, Photo: Courtesy of Andrew Heavens


The constitution is defective and needs radical revision. The parliament is rigged. A rigged parliament elects an illegal government. Those who congratulate this illegality such as Mr. Blair are becoming thorns on the peoples' genuine ambition to achieve democratic transition. Calling off the strike was a mistake despite what noble intentions the opposition and the foreign mediators may have had. Negotiation must always be based on the manifested backing of the people that the opposition continue to enjoy despite all the difficulties. There can be no negotiation behind the back of the people. The struggle for democracy is open. The era of conspiratorial deals must end once and for all for the sake of renewing Ethiopia's deeper soul mangled by successive brutal and lying dictatorships. Unfortunately the regime sabotaged the negotiation. The people and the opposition must unite and continue to struggle for democracy by enlisting the good will of those who stand for human rights, democracy and good government with consistency from the wider world. The Diaspora must continue to deepen its mobilisation the likes of which has never been seen in peacetime before as it is now. This is the time never to surrender to tyranny whatever the cost. NES says that no one can stop an idea whose time has come time. No one can stop the Ethiopian democratic future!

1. Post-election politics in Ethiopia

Stage I of the election process is over with claims of pyrrhic victory by the regime and defiance against electoral theft by the main opposition parties. The country has now entered stage II of the process. It looks this period of post-election politics is going to be even more impenetrable and violent than what has transpired and been experienced in the first pre-election and election phase. Ethiopia has now entered a more uncertain and difficult phase of the struggle where the regime has chosen to continue blackmail, frame opposition leaders with ordinary criminality and wishes to follow a strategy of culling and plucking out one opposition member after another from the political struggle by pretending that they are all ordinary criminals. The regime has always responded with fury and without fail continues to speak with the language of threats and intimidation against political opponents. The regime does not engage in debate, it finds it easier to want to instil fear instead. But the struggle for justice and democracy is enduring and resilient and the people will not be cowed into submission to the plots, framings, deceptions, threats and dictatorship of Meles and his inner core. The regime talks of dishing out yellow cards for warning and red cards for expulsion and jail or death to deal with the opposition. It says it is serving yellow and red cards to warn the opposition with the aim or desire of punishing the players that do not submit to the rules the regime prefers to impose. The rulers obdurately have started to show their red cards and began to spill blood reportedly in the city of Jimma against opposition members. The repression is on as it has been anticipated to be unleashed on a large and brutal scale with reported arrests starting largely in rural Ethiopia. Repression creates even deeper resistance. There is no alternative for the people and the opposition but to struggle peacefully for democracy, human rights and good democratic governance.

2. The Conceptual flaws in the current Constitution

In Ethiopia's history May 15, 2005 is a turning point for democratic renewal. It signals Ethiopia's irreversible entry into a democratic epoch. This means the struggle to bring about a comprehensive democratic transition brooks no retreat. Democracy means opening everything that prevents Ethiopia from creating democratic institutions to build its future. One of the key issues on the democratic agenda is to revise a conceptually defective constitution that has been imposed by the particular politics of the current regime. This inspection is related to ventilating the parliament, to un-rigging its operation and open it for free public debate, public engagement and deliberation.

Generally speaking, constitutions can be crafted either from the desire to inscribe universal human values and establish enduring and resilient institutions to protect social justice and the rights and freedoms of the people of a given country or to embolden the will of a particular dominant political group that has taken political power very often by violent methods in order to secure as dominant privileges it claims as an exclusive self-entitlement. The dominant political group after seizing power considers as a priority the security of its politics first and foremost and nothing else matters to it. This posture renders its relationship to the people a particularistic logic where it patronises the people by assuming the haughty platform of appearing to "grant" the rights and freedom to the people. So the accent is in making sure its own politics prevails, and the rights and freedoms of the people are interesting to the extent that they preserve the dominance of the politics of the ruling regime.

The first type makes the will of the peoples, the rights and freedoms of citizens as the primary source for erecting a constitutional order. The second variant makes the will of the dominant political player and its particular politics the guiding principle for the making of a constitution. The examples of the first type are the American constitution and the universal declaration of human rights that humanity won thanks to the intellectual, political and moral inspiration of the French Revolution.

The second type of constitution is mainly a consequence of the particular type of politics of any ascendant ruling group that is fearful to let the people frame freely with open debate with communicative rationality, dialogue and discussion the kind of constitution they wish to see with which their own nation can be guided. In 1991 Ethiopia had yet another opportunity, as indeed it had also in 1974, to frame a constitution of the people, by the people and for the people with open debate and freedom. Unfortunately the imperatives of comprehensive control of the society, economy, politics and force of the ascendant ruling group that was not sure of its rule over majorities that did not welcome it influenced the very construction of the constitution. Its own fear of losing control has infused the spirit and letter of the key provisions of the constitution especially in relation to the separation of powers and the stress to anchor the constitution with overlapping powers that crystallise and bestow dictatorial authoritarian power to the ruling party and its chiefs. What was inscribed in the constitution is therefore the dominance of a ruling group's political power fearful of the people it imposed itself upon by violence to rule including their ideas of rights, their understanding and their misconceptions of governance.

At a conceptual level, we cannot say that the coming to power in 1991 of the current regime has produced a constitution that has been a consequence of the politics achieved through peaceful and non-violent democratic transitions. It is not a constitution that has been crafted with all the legal and moral care of inscribing the will of the people by building the foundation of democratic institutions by creating strict separation of powers amongst the legislature, executive and judiciary. It is a constitution still contaminated with the politics of an ethnic based movement from a minority community to rule over majority communities by interlocking with intricate hedging the rights and liberties of citizens.

This constitution is thus particularistic and not universal built on the basis of the will and deliberation of the people. Its foundations are built from a partisan political base and not a universal or meta-based principle of rights, democracy and governance. What is yet to come is the constitution of the people based on their will and free debate and deliberation. We think a democratic transition that is at the same time peaceful and non-violent is a necessary condition for the Ethiopian people to write an enduring and resilient constitution that can inscribe a system of rights, justice and freedom in building and forging new institutions and capacities for the people to self-govern by working in in-built corrective mechanisms through a vibrant parliament. The people make their constitution; they do not need any political group that forced itself upon them to sell them a constitution. They people have experienced a regime that has put in its constitution the Universal Declaration of Human Rights whilst routinely violating their human rights and continuing to do so for the last fourteen years. It has not stopped even now. Every time, the people try to use the rights put in this constitution from the Declaration of universal Human Rights such as the right to assembly and association, the regime threatens the people for inciting 'insurrection and committing treason'. Why put these rights in the first place only to misuse and abuse them when people invoke them to express their dissatisfaction or dissent. You cannot put the right to dissent and prevent those who are compelled by the injustices around them when they invoked their duly recognised right to dissent. One can only surmise that the rights are not there for people to use them to protect themselves, but more probably they are there to make the rulers appear that they subscribe to universal standards. It is the rulers playing hypocrisy with human rights, democracy and the forging of democratic institutions and governance.

3. Ethiopia yearns for a constitution that consolidates democratic institutions

Let us state the obvious: Ethiopia is not new to constitutions. In the modern period Ethiopia had a constitution under the emperor. It had a constitution under the Derg. It has now a constitution under the current incumbent. What is shared and common amongst the constitutions from these dictatorial regimes is that they reflect the dominant politics of each of the major ruling group that arrogates the right and power to define what is good for the people. We had an imperial constitution under the emperor, a military top down constitution under the military regime and an equally democratic seeming but 'authoritarian-dictatorship' legitimising constitution under the current regime. The reason why the regime frequently invokes the constitution is because it has articles that fully backs and legitimises its ambition to retain power and continue to do so indefinitely. In the perspectives of the regime, anti-democratic features are rendered un-harmful because they have been given a face-lift with constitutional airs and graces by the craftiness of the way those who helped frame this constitution for the regime did it. Once an anti-democratic measure is protected with a constitutional force, any opposition to it is likely to incur the wrath of the would-be 'protector' of the constitution. The strange spectacle of Meles and others insisting on the protection of the constitution and the rule of law go to the extent of ordering to kill innocent and unarmed civilians. They have been chanting and raving accusing the people and the opposition who choose to exercise the right of association and assembly by strikes and stay-away as preparing 'insurrection' and committing 'treason' against the constitution and the rule of law. They behave as if they are the constitution and the rule of law. They are 'right', others are wrong. They are 'innocent, others are 'power-hungry'. They are the 'patriots,' others are accused of 'treason'.

4. Many constitutions, but no democracy yet!

The Chinese saying we live in interesting times is apt for what Ethiopia has been going through and is likely to go through. The nation has been through many elections, but there has never been a non-violent and peaceful democratic transition. The nation has had many constitutions, but there is no democracy yet. The nation had different parliaments; but there is no democracy yet. What the nation has arrived at, in our view, is the time to have democracy first, and build its institutions such as the legislature, the judiciary, the executive and the constitution that clearly delineates and elaborates the separation of power to empower the people.

The Ethiopian people have voted to bring about a democratic transition through a non-violent and peaceful road for the first time in living memory. May 15,2005 signifies on the one hand, a great opportunity and a historic achievement of the expression of the people's collective will to taking their own destiny in their own hands; on the other hand, it signalled a sinister danger considering the various conniving schemes and plots by the regime and its explicit and behind the scene supporters to neutralise this historic expression and determination by the people to be the central dramatis, the authors and primary architects of Ethiopia's national democratic renewal. It is easy to see the people are right to manifest the will to democratic renewal and to realise it as the new historical fact and direction for the country. It is equally easy to find the regime and its supporters are wrong in trying to oppose this historical current and dynamic. The people are right both in their historical action and historic sense to launch a new democratic political evolution. They are right in their recognition that it is high time that the nation undergoes such a peaceful transition. Meanwhile the regime invokes the current constitution to prolong the authoritarian dictatorship of the current ruling clique.

5. Some key actual flaws of the current constitution

Let us take a few of the current provisions of the constitution that make it attractive for the ruling group to keep invoking it to blackmail opponents and charge them falsely with 'insurrection', and with 'treason.' For example, the limited tenure of the power of the president vs. the unlimited tenure of the power of the prime minister is a serious flaw in the current constitution. The power of the president is largely ceremonial. The power of the sitting prime minister is unlimited, multiple and big. Capping the power of the powerless and putting no limit to the power of the powerful is an indirect formula for perpetuating authoritarian dictatorship pure and simple.

In principle tenure is made limited in order to discourage the autocratic temptation of the executive power. In the Ethiopian case, the tenure of the powerful executive such as the prime minister has been made infinite whereas tenure limit was made on the non-executive, non-powerful and very ceremonial president. The constitution should have been crafted to do exactly the opposite. In Africa we have the spectacle of dictators who defy limits to their terms of rule and wish to be lifetime presidents. In Ethiopia the constitution has been drafted to make sure that the prime minister has constitutionally validated life- time tenure as long as his centrally controlled Stalinist party keeps selecting him for the job every five years.

In Ethiopia, the power of the prime minister is unprecedented compared to other prime ministers in parliamentarian systems. He controls the armed force, the cabinet is accountable to him and he is accountable to nobody since his party is the majority in the parliament, and he is the leader of the majority party. The constitution (Article 74.7) gives him a power to select and recommend to the parliament an appointment of Commissioners, the President and Vice-President of the Federal Supreme Court, members of the election board and the Auditor General. This in turn gives power to the prime minister that he has to control the judiciary and other important institutions that could be key structures for building checks and balances in the country's political system. His power is all pervasive that it violates what should be a central objective of constitutions to protect the rights and freedom of citizens by fostering the creation of enduring democratic institutions.

The president of the federal Supreme Court and the vice-president of the federal Supreme Court serve as a president and vice-president respectively of the Council of Constitutional Inquiry (Article 82) that have powers to investigate constitutional disputes (Article 84), the Prime minister also has a big influence to interfere or intervene with constitutional disputes. This makes the power of the prime minister in Ethiopia uncontrolled and unchecked by the legislative and other federal or regional institutions. For instance, recently, in May 2005, Meles declared an unconstitutional emergency law, but no federal institution has tried to intervene to challenge him, as there is no such constitutional power delegated to other federal or regional institutions. When the opposition party brought the case into court, the issue was decided in favour of the prime minister. The system is already rigged in favour of the prime minister and not justice! It is rigged to abort rather than enhance the proper functioning of properly constituted democratic institutions.

More broadly, the Ethiopian federal project suffers from absence of an independent constitutional interpretation procedure because the president and the vice-president of the federal Supreme Court become a president and vice-president of the Council respectively. The Prime minister has tremendous influence in the appointment of the president and vice-president of the federal Supreme Court. Thus the prime minister has direct influence in the operation of the Council of Constitutional Inquiry that could certainly limit its independence and non-partisanship. The judiciary is totally controlled by the prime minister in view of the fact that a majority party in the parliament always belongs to the prime minister and therefore expected to endorse the prime minister's selection of the president and the vice-president of the Federal Supreme Court. As articles 78 and 80 of the constitution declare "Supreme Federal judicial authority is vested in the Federal Supreme Court; the Federal Supreme Court shall have the highest and final judicial power over Federal matters and; the Federal Supreme Court has a power of cassation over any final court decision containing a basic error of law" (1994 Constitution). In addition, though the constitution declares that judges should exercise their functions in full independence and should be directed solely by the law, the Judicial Administration Council, which has a power to remove judges due to violation of disciplinary rules or on grounds of gross incompetence or inefficiency, is accountable to the parliament since its decision to remove a judge should be approved by a majority vote in the parliament. The parliament that is controlled by the majority of the prime minister's party means that the prime minister can remove judges that may act independently of policies favoured by him.

These flaws are deliberately put in the constitution to facilitate in turn the control of the constitution by Meles as the prime minister. It demonstrates that Meles was more interested to use the constitution to control than to inscribe the institutional separation of powers, balances and checks so sorely needed to habituate, embed and sustain in Ethiopia's long quest to create democratic institutions. This arrogation of power passed through the drafting and endorsing process of the constitution unchallenged because those who were entrusted to draft the constitution were more loyal to the ruling regime's tenure of power than to the production of institutions that protect justice, rights and enduring democratic freedoms. We have the anomaly in Ethiopia of a constitutionally legitimised authoritarian prime minister who is keener to spread the pretence of democracy whilst concentrating dictatorial power on and to himself.

This is a clear illustration when the interest of a dominant party politics frames the constitution and not universal values of justice, human rights, governance and the enshrinements and ensuring of enduring citizens' freedoms. It is this conceptually and empirically flawed constitution- as we have tried to demonstrate here- that has been imposed on the Ethiopian people. Lo and behold, the Ethiopian people are expected to obey this flawed constitution, and if they raise questions that the constitution requires radical revision both conceptually and in the affairs of practical politics, the regime's top brass and their acolytes cry foul accusing citizens of committing 'treason' and violating the rule of law. Let them know that pointing out the anti-democratic features that has been inscribed in the constitution has nothing to do with committing 'treason' or preparing an 'insurrection'. Democracy means, amongst other things, the right to revise the constitution and institutionalise the separation of powers and limit the tenure of the prime minister who is now threatening to rule for 20 years largely on votes denounced as illegally and deceptively gotten by independent observers!

6. What does entering the 'constitutional and parliamentary process' mean?

When foreign forces advise the opposition to follow "constitutional and parliamentary process," we wonder whether they are fully aware that the constitution is defective and the parliament has been rigged. If the opposition parties join parliament, one of the key tasks for them is to make sure that the constitution is amended to create the separation of powers which do not exist now in reality despite the jargon the regime uses to confuse all and sundry. There is a need to re-examine the constitution with a view to institutionalise democracy in Ethiopia. The 1995 Constitution is flawed in relation to the primary issue of facilitating a peaceful and non-violent, non-fraudulent and non-deceptive democratic transition that has eluded Ethiopia for generations.

The 1995 Constitution suffers and blocks a clear way of bringing about democratic transition. It is as dictatorial (notwithstanding its democratic rhetoric) as the other constitutions have been in Ethiopia. It is even worse than the others because of its pretensions in being sold to the outside world as a democratic constitution despite its degrading and fudging cardinal principle of the separation of powers. The reason why the popular resistance against dictatorship cannot be stopped is precisely to make sure that Ethiopia enters into a period of democratic transition and leave firmly behind the authoritarian politics of the authoritarian politicians such as the likes of the very crafty and devious Meles. Ethiopia suffers from so much deception, and it seems this regime generates more deception than all its predecessors and seems to do it remarkably with a complete moral and intellectual abandon.

As they are presently constituted both the parliamentary and constitutional process in Ethiopia would not serve as the appropriate route for democratic transition. What we have is a conceptually and practically defective constitution that is tailored to perpetuate authoritarian not democratic transition, and however sad to admit it, a rigged parliament that has imposed theft demanding that the people and the opposition surrender to it and live with it. What the constitutional and parliamentary process produce as they are would not be democratic transition now or even for a long time. They have not been constructed to bring democratic transition but legitimise as democratic the authoritarian power of authoritarian politicians that wish to use any means they can conjure up to have a parliamentary majority to perpetuate themselves in power. That is why the regime forces resorted to using all kinds of unsavoury means and tactics to re-fill the parliament with their majority. They even went to the extent of bribing people by writing taxes off in order to create a majority by hook or crook. It is truly a shame that outsiders who should know better have continued to insist and advise the opposition to accept a defective constitution and a rigged parliament. It is to the great credit of the opposition leadership that they saw through this and refused to enter parliament without first securing the freedom to discuss all issues without any preconditions. Unless the regime accepts all the demands put to open up debate and parliament, the only other available route for democratic transition in Ethiopia will continue to be peaceful popular resistance until democracy prevails. The popular resistance is needed to redress these two gross inequities: one, the non-existence of separation of power between the legislative, the executive and the judiciary since the majority party in the legislative always exclusively assumes the executive. This is indeed inappropriate in a multiethnic society and the design of democratic federal structures, which facilitate the fair distribution of power arrangement between various levels. Two, the parliamentary system decreed in the constitution that mimics largely and inappropriately the Westminster type of government that entails the winner takes all kind of arrangement would not provide a viable parliamentary model to Ethiopia. It will not fit in the context of Ethiopia, which has very complex variations in political development, tradition of statehood, cultural assortments and ethnic and language configurations.

7. The democratic momentum must accelerate

The real issue in Ethiopia is to make sure that the democratic momentum is redoubled. This should not be interpreted to enter a parliament that has been deliberately rigged to legitimise and extend the tenure of the existing ruling group. The major opposition has put forward highly reasonable demands in order to take their seats in parliament. The regime has ignored the opposition demand and went straight to behave as if the situation is 'normal'. Meles got himself reconfirmed as a prime minster by the rigged parliament. This setback did not reduce the people's fury and the opposition's resolve to continue the protest by using every possible arena to see justice done. It appears people like Mr. Blair who should know better are encouraging Meles on his wrong path. The Ethiopian people and those who consistently stand for democracy, human rights and good governance would find the behaviour of Mr. Blair deplorable. What is Meles doing after reconfirming illegally his role as prime minister? He has started to continue his threats and intimidation. He instigated a motion to deprive legal immunity to those who are trying to enter parliament provided the parliament is prepared to operate and function as parliament. The opposition showed a huge good will and stopped two calls for a strike in order to open genuine dialogue. Meles was not interested in dialogue. He has now begun to accuse the main opposition leader, Engineer Hailu Shawel for protesting his assumption to power through illegal means as if he committed 'treason." The least Mr. Blair and the international community should do is not to position themselves in Ethiopian politics to abet repression, but to do all they can to encourage dialogue and stop the impending repression. They should heed Fanon's warning quoted at the start of this release and learn to stand on the side of democracy, human rights and good government and not dictatorship, repression and deception.

8. Why the negotiation process mediated by the ambassadors faltered?

Meles shrewdly used the Ambassadors in Ethiopia to negotiate with the opposition to side-step and escape the three-day strike in order to confuse and disorganise the opposition and the Ethiopian people. Having sabotaged the strike, he proceeded to mount concerted attacks that he began earlier against the opposition especially in the rural areas. His aim was evident in the early days of the illegal parliament that stripped the opposition their immunity in order to frighten them to refrain from calling any democratic resistance against his tyranny. Meles is now ready to imprison the opposition leaders if they make any call for the Ethiopian people for peaceful demonstration, assembly and any other form of peaceful democratic resistances.

In the first place, though it was commendable for the ambassadors to open a window for negotiation and also commendable for the opposition leaders to agree for negotiation, a big error was made to agree on Meles's precondition to call-off the three-day strike without demanding any reciprocal precondition from Meles. Meles used this sincere effort from the opposition and the ambassadors for his own insincere aim in closing the opportunity for negotiation.

Here in danger is the future credibility of the role of the ambassadors and the public motivation for further negotiation. We know that negotiation needs patience and time, but for Meles negotiation is a Machiavellian tactic to be used to destroy the opposition and the popular resistance. This situation would make future negotiations very difficult. It tests and shakes people's tolerance. Negotiation without keeping a promise does bring a dangerous consequence. It is not good to show negligence to such crucial matter of public decency and tolerance. Disregard could breed mistrust and unfaithfulness that could emasculate any negotiation capacity in the critical future.

9. Engineer Hailu Shawel and Meles

Meles accuses Hailu Shawel of 'treason' in opposing his illegal and illegitimate government. However, Hailu Shawel argues that it is Meles who is in breach of his own constitution by holding state power by force and theft. The people protect Hailu Shawel; Meles is protected by his unaccountable security machine. Hailu Shawel freely meets the people, and is not afraid of the people. When he travels he does not protect himself from the people. Meles literally brings Addis Ababa to a standstill every time he travels with a retinue of personnel and security marshals and black limousines lined up for miles to the airport. It is a nightmare for citizens to see such a frightened and caged fellow. In South Africa, the democratic president is so modest he hardly uses the type of massive security like Meles commands at his disposal. If Meles is such a democrat why does he need so much security to ring and cage himself in? One can only wonder.

Hailu Shawel came abroad and conducted open meetings with the people in the Diaspora. For Hailu Shawel the threat is Meles, his security forces and cadres, not the people. However for Meles by the way he behaves towards the people, what he regards as threat are the people. Meles seems to have lost touch and contact if ever he had real contact with the people in Ethiopia. He never seemed to have met the Ethiopian people, care to feel and understand their real and true concerns. Meles assumes the people hate him and that is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy sadly for him. Meles has not shown courage to meet people in his own constituency with out the presence of massive security protection. It does not look that Meles does trust his own constituency. Hailu Shawel is elected by his constituency in a free and fair way; Hailu Shawel meets his constituency without security protection. Why does Meles need heavy security protection to meet even his own constituency that are said to have voted for him 100%? Meles was elected from the constituency he has never lived for the last 30 years; Hailu Shawl is elected in a constituency where he is living and where he knows the people. During the seventeen years before he came to Addis Ababa, Meles lived in Somalia and moved around in the region to many places that have gone to war against Ethiopia.

Countless reports on conditions of human and democratic rights in Ethiopia for the last 14 years from international organisations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, International Federation of Journalists, Committee to Protect Journalists, International Labour Organisation, International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and other independent human rights organisations have written credible and unbiased numerous reports showing how Meles has consistency breached even his own defective constitution repeatedly, fanatically and shamelessly. In doing so, Meles accuses other individuals like Hailu Shawel who have the backing of millions of people, who move without protection amongst unarmed people and who show no fear and in fact enjoy meeting ordinary citizens of 'treason. How outrageous is this accusation. It is beyond the pale.

Meles must not get away with such accusations as 'treason' and 'insurrection' and continues to breach his own constitution that included universal human right declaration for the last 10 years by arbitrary arrest of citizens, journalists, opposition leaders; killing of unarmed students and protesters. We understand treason as committing acts against the interest of the people. Hailu Shawel stands for protection of human rights, for democracy and the protection of the interests of the people. Hailu Shawel and treason are like oil and water. They have no relationship at all.

Mandela was accused of treason and imprisoned by the South African government for decades, but he fought all the time for a non-racial democracy. Hailu Shawel fights for a non-racial, non-ethnicist and non-discriminatory democracy. Would Meles call Africa's icon of liberation, Nelson Mandela also committing treason for rebelling against racial dictatorship? By attacking an elected democrat Hailu Shawel one who has come to mean a lot to ordinary millions of people in Ethiopia by his courage and decisive action, Meles risks developing his case more fitting the logic of the defunct apartheid regime in South Africa, and not the popular liberation movement headed by Mandela. No! Meles is pathetic in accusing Hailu Shawel of 'treason'. Hailu Shawel has full right to call his people not to submit to tyranny. All those who wish a thriving Ethiopian democracy should support his call and not tolerate the notorious attack of false charges of treason against Hailu Shawel.

10. Concluding Remark

Unless one deliberately does not wish to see, in today's Ethiopia, the constitution is defective and conceptually flawed with overlapping powers that produce the dominance of an authoritarian prime minister; the parliament is rigged with un-clarified and tainted counting that have not cleared gross theft of vote and suppression of voice; and the negotiation that has been mediated by foreign ambassadors from the UK and USA has been sabotaged. There is no way given these conditions a peaceful and democratic transition can be expected through the current parliament. The only guarantee of peaceful democratic transition will come if and only if there is no cold water poured over the peaceful popular struggle for human rights, democracy and good government. The peoples struggle must continue, and their right to dissent must not be tampered with, by threats from the regime. The people must achieve the democratic transition that they voted for to bring peacefully.

Now Meles has organised his illegal government with the approval of his parliament to impose on the Ethiopian people a kind of the "legality of the illegal and the rigged" and with an authoritarian style rule of law. For that matter, Derg also had a government with a constitution, parliament and court. Meles's government is no better than the Derg's one. It is illegal and non-legitimate. It does not have a legal binding on the Ethiopian people.

The Ethiopian people know that the election victory of EPRDF is a travesty. For the Ethiopian people the ruling party has formed an illegal government in Ethiopia that assumed power through theft and force. The ruling party has breached even its own constitution and tries to accuse others of breaching it. Therefore, the struggle should continue to create a legal and democratic government that is accountable to the vote and voices of the Ethiopian people.

We appreciate the courage and consistency of the EU Observation Mission, and the EU parliamentarians in speaking the truth to power by siding with the Ethiopian peoples striving in bringing about hopefully Ethiopia's first ever-democratic transition. We are alarmed; however, why to date the EU-EOM full report has not been issued. It was meant to come out on September 23, 2005. Nearly a month has come since then. The EU-EOM owes it to democracy and their own credibility to come clean and release the report. We call on the international community to refrain from rushing to support the illegal assumption of power by Meles and his party and support the just aspiration of the Ethiopian people to bring about a sustainable and just democratic transition. We call upon those who have rushed to recognise the illegal regime of Meles Zenawi to refrain from their ant-democratic, unjust and unhelpful actions. They must know that they are abetting a repressive dictatorship that has come to power through vote rigging and manipulation. We call upon the numerous nations in the world that have not rushed to recognise the illegal regime to put pressure on it to enter into dialogue with the opposition and clear up the electoral mess it alone is responsible for creating and confusing the world with. We admire the enduring resiliency of the Ethiopian peoples struggle and effort for justice, truth and democratic transition. No alternative to accelerate the peoples struggle comprehensively inside and outside Ethiopia. Only then can what the people did together on May 2005 can have meaning and full and lasting historical consequences.

© Press Release No. 17 by the Network of Ethiopian Scholars (NES) - Scandinavian Chapter 20. oktober 2005.
Professor Mammo Muchie, Chair of NES-Scandinavian Chapter
Berhanu G. Balcha, Vice- Chair of NES-Scandinavian Chapter
Tekola Worku, Secretary of NES-Scandinavian Chapter
Contact address:
Fibigerstraede 2, 9220 Aalborg East, Denmark
Tel. +45 96 359 813 or +45 96 358 331, Fax + 45 98 153 298, mobil: +45 3112 5507
mammo@ihis.aau.dk or berhanu@ihis.aau.dk or tekola.worku@bromma.stockholm.se




Ethiopean style !

"Only free men can negotiate; prisoners cannot enter into contracts. Your freedom and mine cannot be separated."
Nelson Mandela, June 1961

"Defying unprecedented intimidation by the State, trailed and hounded by Special Branch, denied the right to hold meetings, operating in areas heavily patrolled by government and municipal police and teeming with spies and informers, they stood firm as a rock and spread the stay-at-home message to millions of people throughout the country".
Nelson Mandela June 1961

"All the elements of a solution to the great problems of humanity have, at different times, existed in European thought. But Europeans have not carried out in practice the mission that fell to them."
Frantz Fanon: "The Wretched of the Earth", 1962

"I am surprised by the Ethiopian governments decision to lift immunity from opposition members. Without the "human right" of parliamentarians to dissent or enjoy freedom of assembly, it's unlikely there will be human rights for average person".
Anders Johnsson, the secretary-general of the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union, 19 October 2005

"Many sub-Saharan countries, including Benin, have already enjoyed a prerequisite of political pluralism: the alternation of power between the opposition and ruling party".
Anders Johnsson, the secretary-general of the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union, 19 October 2005


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Opdateret d. 26.12.2005