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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Embarrassed Again? Further Notes on The Trial

Also in the news: Falling In and out of favor: Politics in Addis, 3,000 Ethiopian troops near central Somalia border, October 10, 2005: A Sad Day to Remember: Enset and more of today's top stories!

Falling In and out of favor: Politics in Addis

(ETP - Sintayehu Tefera) Last Ethiopian year, leaders of the UEDF (Ethiopia), OFDM and EPRDF signed a memorandum of understanding "to respect and operate within the bounds of law".

The implication of this was not clear. Many were left wondering if this meant that before the signing of this memorandum of understanding these parties were operating outside the boundaries of the rule of law; Or, were UEDF (Ethiopia) and OFDM just trying to sponsor EPRDF’s claim that some opposition party members did engage in illegal activities, tacitly condemning CUD leaders currently in prison.

The timing of this “signing” was also suspect. It was done right after news of a new alliance between the major opposition parties in the diaspora, namely the AFD - reached Addis.

So it came as no surprise when critics of the government scoffed at the signing of this so-called memorandum of understanding in Addis, which they belived was organized purely for theatrical purposes in the wake of the AFD alliance, which left many in the Ethiopian government uncomfortable.

Whatever the case maybe; UEDF (Ethiopia), OFDM and EPRDF joined by EUDP-Medihn were supposed to continue the negotiations into the new-year. Now at the start of the new Ethiopian year; UEDF (Ethiopia) and OFDM find themselves out in the cold. While EUDP-Medihn and EPRDF continue the “negotiations”, the other two have managed to get themselves uninvited.

OFDM’s president ato Bulcha Demeksa, has been very vocal, criticizing the EPRDF government for the violence in the Oromia region. On many occasions, ato Bulcha has complained of harassment targeting him and his party’s members. Some believe this may have played a role on his expulsion from the meetings. On the other hand, Except for some minor criticism regarding the nonexistent monetary support of the government to opposition parties, as guaranteed in the constitution - UEDF (Ethiopia) has been unusually quiet these days. Hence, the reason for UEDF’s fall from favor is not clear.

In any case, EUDP-Medhin is turning out to be EPRDF’s favorite “opposition” party. This may be because EUDP-Medhin’s chief, Ato Lidetu, is in contention to becoming the most unpopular politician in Addis alongside ato Berket and Prime Minister Meles. And, the more unpopular EUDP- Medhin’s leader gets the more attractive he looks to the EPRDF. Thus, EUDP-Medhin is currently the only one invited to the dance, the rest are left feeling cheap and used.

Embarrassed Again? Further Notes on The Trial

Donald N.Levine

I. Almost Duped Once

In 1992 I joined dozens of Ethiopia's friends to monitor the "first democratic election" in the history of Ethiopia. Never mind that democratic elections for Parliament had been held in 1957; in 1963; and in 1967. (In 1967, incidentally, one Ato Zenawi of Adwa and others were disputing the ballot counts in their local election.)

No matter. Full of good will, we Americans and Europeans had come to celebrate a new era of political democracy following the Derg dictatorship. We were excited that the new regime wanted to demonstrate commitment to an open political process and a pluralistic democracy, and honored to be part of it. My fellow monitors included a Congressman Donald Payne of new Jersey and Professor Edmond Keller of UCLA. My monitoring companion was first political officer at the Russian Embassy-a pairing unthinkable only a few year before

On arrival I told the taxi driver that I had come to support Ethiopia's new experiment in democracy. All he said was: "Wushet Demokrasee." His phrase became a logo for what my companions and I experienced during our brief tour. We found opposition candidates and parties hamstrung by restrictions.(More..)

3,000 Ethiopian troops near central Somalia border

Witnesses have confirmed that more than 3,000 well armed Ethiopian troops have reached Feerfeer, a frontier town adjacent to Hiran region in central Somalia.

Reports said the Ethiopian soldiers conducted military exercises at Sariiraale hills in the outskirts of Feerfeer town and residents were worried about the new military maneuvers in the area.

Hiran region is under the control of the Mogadishu-based Islamic Courts movement and regional Islamists have sworn to fight Ethiopian soldiers if they violated Somalia's territorial integrity.(More...)

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