Oromsis

A Desperate Attempt to Silence the Opposition – Using the “Law” As a Weapon

In Associated Press story dated  May 26, 2010, Anita Powell, quoted the premier saying, “quite a few people in Washington were more interested in the outcome than the process…If (the U.S.) feels the outcome of the elections are such that we cannot continue our relationship, that’s fine and we can move on.”

By Oromsis Adula*

In Ethiopia, the election theater is over. Life is reverting back to “normal”, whatever that means in a country where tyranny, at its worst, reined for two decades. The only thing remaining is the post-election harangue by the ruling supremacists – the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front. Similar to the well orchestrated victory-speech rally in the nation’s capital on election night, the ruling party and its allied ethnic cohorts are holding “victory” rallies around the country. Indeed a clear and complete victory for the long envisioned De facto one Party-System in Ethiopia. And a significant snag for the democratic progress many thought the country has made.

In a recent history of mankind, never had a ruling party, as ostracized as that of Ethiopia, won a whopping 99.6% margin in a widely contested election. Rigging would be an understatement, for lack of a better word, this is an outright pilfering – open and in public. We would have resolved to call the drama vote rigging, a practice common in most dictatorial countries, had the eighty Political Parties that were registered with the National Electoral Board won at least half their numbers – forty seats.

The outcome of the election and the European Union’s observer team preliminary report drew world-wide criticisms prompting among others the White House to issue a press release, for which Meles Zenawi, the absolute dictator of Ethiopia immediately fired back. In Associated Press story dated  May 26, 2010, Anita Powell, quoted the premier saying, “quite a few people in Washington were more interested in the outcome than the process…If (the U.S.) feels the outcome of the elections are such that we cannot continue our relationship, that’s fine and we can move on.”

In the backdrop of the regime’s decision to jam the Voice of America radio, the premier’s statement sends a clear signal to Washington if someone was listening. As I have previously noted, yet another hint is emerging that Meles Zenawi is set to take the country on the path of the Chinese ignoring the chatter about democracy and focus on “economic development.”


Where Is The Opposition Now?

Lidetu Ayalew’s EDP seems to have conceded or took up an early offer— as expected, given his murky relationship with EPRDF. We are not sure about the position of Medrek but certainly the coalition seem to have headed in the direction of court contest, a futile effort as the court is no more indepedent than the notorious Election Board, whose main function and expertise has been to master the technical side of holding an election and bestowing legitimacy on the outcome without bothering to creata a level playing field and ensuring the integrity of the counting process.

Other opposition leaders are also facing an uncertain future. Having suffered in Qalitti for 2 years, UJP’s Gizachew is more circumspect than usual. So is Siyye having served 6 years under concocted charges of corruption. AEUP’s Hailu Shawel is also uncharacteristically silent. The specter of a “legal” mess hangs over his head owing to allegations of tax evasion and violating the so called election “code of conduct”, which he signed to his demise as it cost him public opinion. Once the tall Hailu had bowed to the diminutive Meles on signing that piece of paper he has been written off by many as a real opponent of the ruling party.

And The Ruling Party?

Keeping the public distracted by the brewing disasters in the Nile basin up north and the threat of ONLF in the south, TPLF’s spying heads are busy tramping up charges to entrap opposition figures. The only vocal opposition figure for the Oromo people remaining in the country, Dr Merera Gudina seems to be the first and front target. The ruling party on defensive as a result of an embarrassing election outcome is on a wild witch hunt. Dr Merera is already facing an allegation over the death of a police officer, now another fishing expedition is underway to link him to the so called “anti peace elements”. Sounds familiar? The OLF is used as a pretext and a scare tactic to send Oromo critical to the government into exile or prison. There is no surprise there. The fate of the doctor could be like those of many other Oromos, who had to wrestle with whether to go into exile or risk being sent to Qalitti.

The real shocker – according to our informant – is the possible incriminating evidence being sought from the era of reign of Red Terror, when he was a young student activist with MEISON. To dig up the Dergue era dirt is an inexpressible desperation on the part of the regime.

The regime’s new masterpiece, Sekoue Toure have been offering all kinds of evidence that the HRW and EU report is baseless as the opposition has signed at one time or another agreeing to work for leveling the playing field.

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* Oromsis Adula is the Editor -In-Chief of Opride.com, a multimedia weblog that aggregates Oromo, Ethiopian and Horn of African news. Oromsis writes regular news commentaries and Op-Eds on current issues that affect the Oromo people in Ethiopia.

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