By Engidu Woldie,
Ethiopia’s top diplomat, Tedros Adhanom, gave a lengthy interview to the Voice of America’s Tizita Belachew of the Amharic service in which he once again brought shame on himself and his TPLF comrades. We will revisit here some of the ridiculous remarks he made while he was answering, or rather, evading questions by the VOA broadcaster as well as pertinent questions by listeners of the VOA, thereby unmasking who the individuals claiming to rule Ethiopia really are.
The malaria expert turned Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister (anything is possible under the rule of the TPLF – with all due respects to malaria scientists out there – and any person with close ethnic ties to the powers that be can assume government positions; merit has no place) was full of a hodge-podge of nonsensical ideas. Indeed unbecoming of a diplomat.
He started by saying that there were fewer proportion of people who needed food aid in the current drought than the 1984 famine. Tedros brought in a mathematical argument, that only 8.2 million, out of the 96 million, needed food aid this time; and according to this math genius, the proportion of people who needed food aid this year is far less than that of the 1984 famine in which 500,000 out of the 32 million were affected.
“It is only 8.2 million, of the 96 million; the 88 million is ok!” he hammered at his point and gave credit to his own government for bringing the proportion of the starving people far lower than the proportions in the previous regimes. Mathematical argument aside, it is extremely depressing to hear that the 8.2 million starving population (although UN estimates 15 million by the turn of the coming year) were mere mathematical figures and proportions to this diplomat. Not to mention his remark that “no person has lost his life this time, but only cattle were dying.” He also used the now well-liked argument by Ethiopian oligarchs in defending their failures and covering up their mess: “there is drought in California too,” trying in vain to draw a parallel between two countries: the richest country on earth and…., well, you got the idea.
It is evident that the small-time diplomat and his gang of criminals at the helm of the TPLF did not take any lesson from past regimes who commit colossal mistake in covering up the 1974 and 1984 famines, that resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands, which human rights defenders say amounts to crimes against humanity.
And here is Teddy’s classic: Andargachew Tsige, Ethiopia’s true son and torch bearer of freedom, who was kidnapped in Yemen almost two years ago, now held incommunicado by the ruthless regime, “has finished writing a book on his lap top provided by the government.” Andargachew, according to this joke of the year, “was shown around the various development projects underway in the country,” and it is possible that “he could be pardoned if he repents his mistakes.”
The Honorable Foreign Minister has not heard the news months ago that Andargachew has spoken to the British Ambassador to Ethiopia, Greg Dorey, about his condition in solitary confinement. Andargachew told the Ambassador, who was allowed to visit him three times since his abduction, that he was held in the most inhuman way unimaginable with no access to lawyers and medical treatment; and that he actually didn’t know what his charges were. Andy, as he was called affectionately by his followers and admirers, had actually told the ambassador that he did not see the point of being alive anymore and that he would prefer being put to death. “Seriously, I am happy to go – it would be preferable and more humane,” Andy told the ambassador as reported by Al Jazeera.
The ne’er-do-well diplomat however want us to believe that his government, that sentenced Andy to death in absentia on trumped up charges, had provided him with a fancy laptop to write a book and talk to his family via Skype from his cell; and that he had been shown around the city to see the glass and cement sky scrapers, proof of the so-called economic progress in Ethiopia. It is also worth mentioning here that the diplomat has said in the interview that the struggle launched to free Ethiopia of the cancerous TPLF was a “foolish endeavor” and the leader of the struggle, Andy, was “a fool” for struggling to bring democracy to his country.
Faced with the question why elections were not free and fair in Ethiopia, and when the country will see democracy, the diplomat without an integrity but a veneer of a smooth operator, resorted to the usual mumbo jumbo that dictators at the helm of electoral authoritarianism resort to – that “democracy is a process” and “blacks were not allowed to vote in the US fifty years ago.” Instead of comparing apples and oranges, he should have looked at Ghana and others, in our own continent. Ghana has become a vibrant democracy in shorter years than his TPLF/EPRDF, which came to power 25 years ago.
What has been unfolding in Ethiopia could be characterized, and so called “process” that Tedros brought as a cover up is not as a process of progression on the democratic trajectory from infancy to maturity as a political system with its own rules of the game but a total regression to an electoral authoritarianism, a police state, and worse since, in particular, the 2005 national election. Electoral Authoritarianism is state that orchestrates the semblance of having periodic elections, displays other superficial facets of the democratic process, but in actuality and substance it is an authoritarian state not amenable to a genuine, open, and accountable process and procedures of a democratic political order , to be worthy of its name, that includes holding free and fair elections that meets internationally accepted standards, a vibrant independent press, an independent electoral board, and an independent judiciary that is not subservient to political manipulations and interferences.
Such substantive and basic conditions for Tedros’ democratic “process” do not exist in TPLF/EPRDF’s Ethiopia especially since 2005. But for Tedors comparing Ethiopia and Ghana or discussing the theories and practice of democracy as a system or as a drama /show , which is the hallmark of the system instituted by the TPLF/EPRDF in Ethiopia, would be tantamount to opening the Pandora’s box which Tedros , who has neither the integrity nor more than a superficial and cadre like knowledge about such matters as to pontificate what is democracy, what are the pillars of such a political system, what are the fundamental liberties and rights of citizens under a democracy, what are the basic mechanisms of checks and balances that limit state power (the basic and foundational thesis of a democratic and liberal political order) and protect the fundamental rights of the citizens, the role of civil societies, and that of a vibrant independent press that serves as watch dog and speaks truth to power; what constitutes the rule of law and how it is upheld , functions, and protected from the political and executive machinery of the state; and how the judiciary has real power that makes it immune from the executive branch, etc, etc.
Instead and as expected, he tried to bring the attention of listeners to the 2005 election, the election in which the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), a.k.a Kinijit, won in a landslide victory. He was referring to the very election that his regime reversed the results through the barrel of a gun, massacring 200 innocent citizens who took to the streets demanding their vote to be respected and incarcerated tens of thousands under inhuman conditions. He accused the now leader of the armed resistance, Prof. Berhanu Nega, of refusing to take the mantle of the city mayor, when we all know that Tedros’ master, Meles Zenawi, the Prime Minister at the time, brought all the major departments of the city and even the armed forces under his command at the stroke a pen, relegating the mayoral position to that of a clerical duty and handed to the outsider Mr. Berhane Deressa, the person mentioned by Tedros as well.
Tedros denied the presence of hidden dungeons in Ethiopia where dissenters of the regime have been held incommunicado without due process of law, subjected to the cruelest treatment and torture, usually by TPLF Tigrayans who dominate the security and intelligence apparatus of the regime and run all the secret safe houses where torturing political prisoners are routine practices in Addis Ababa and elsewhere in Ethiopia. This, ladies and gentlemen, is not to mention the genocide perpetrated by the regime against the people of the Ogaden, the Gambella, the persecution of Oromos, and the persecution of the Amaharas in various parts of Ethiopia, as well documented by international human rights groups and organizations, including by US State Department’s Bureau of Human Rights and Labor annual reports on the Human Rights conditions in Ethiopia. To the public’s surprise and dismay, there is no single TPLF official that faced justice and made to account to all the gross violations of rights and crimes against humanity committed in all these years against tens of thousands of Ethiopians in many parts of the country.
He also dodged the question why it was seen unlawful by his government when Ginbot 7 and other even peaceful and legal opposition groups, whose huge supporters were not represented in the government, and who tried all peaceful means to come to power democratically, have resorted to armed struggle because his regime has made all conditions to struggle peacefully and bring about a democratic change almost impossible in Ethiopia. He also reiterated his government’s trade mark cliché that “there are no political prisoners in Ethiopia.”
His other laughable remark was that he and his comrades were in a way responsible for the death of Meles Zenawi, because as Tedros said, they have “forced him to stay at his party and government position and work under enormous stress,” against his will; a reference also used by the late dictator every time he was asked why he was in power for over 20 years and if he would resign. Tedros is so delusional that he thinks they would have spared Meles’ life if he and his comrades “did not force him to stay in power and work under stress.”
One of the Foreign Minister’s outright denials came when he was asked if he admits the fact that Ethiopia at the moment is a rule by oligarchy; and Tigrians control the intelligence and security, military and even the major business conglomerates in the nation. The reason why almost all of the army generals and top officers were from Tigray, according to Tedros, was because the government “had to take merit into consideration.” To Tedros, the skilled army generals and officers, who were tested in the battlefield, but who happen to belong to another ethnic group, have no merit at all.
Does Foreign Minister Tedors know that in 25 years, a captain in the armed forces could reach a rank of General if the system is merit based? How many non-Tigrayans are in the leadership positions of the Defense forces in Ethiopia? In terms of percentage and distribution of the major ethnic groups including the Oromo and Amharas, how many of them have reached the rank of a general? Why does Tedors think that he can hoodwink the Ethiopian people, when in fact, according to recent studies, 90% of the generals and commanders commanding cores, divisions, and regiments are Tigrayans, who represent only 4% of the Ethiopian population?
It is a well-known fact that the overwhelming majority of these TPLF Tigrayan generals and high ranking officers at the apex of the command , control and communications of the armed forces of the Ethiopian Defense Forces, have no academic background beyond 8th and 9th grade to even understand Military Science, a hallmark of a military professional, leave alone, educational base that allows them to master the science and arts of commanding and coordinating conventional armed forces – ground, air force, airborne, mechanized, etc. – that requires real and adequate theoretical and practical education, training, and experience in the profession. Here we are not referring to a guerrilla army, due to its own logic which does not require much by way of an education in the science and art of the military profession, from which these TPLF generals and high ranking officers hail from, by far distinguishable from conventional armed forces that require another set of education, norms, institutional system of promotion, reward, and discipline, and with its own set of scientific body of knowledge for the military professional developed since the days of the German general staff in the 19th century as well as other aspects of running and managing a vital edifice such as a country’s defense infrastructure and institutions.
It is sickening to see that such a man lacking an iota of honesty, integrity, and depth of knowledge, is sitting on the desk of Prime Minister Aklilu Habtewold, diplomat par-excellence and a tough negotiator in the international diplomatic stage, when it comes to the country’s interest, in the heydays of Ethiopia as a key player and harbinger of African independence.
So much about Teddy Adhanom, considered by cronies and benefactors of the ethnocentric regime, as one of the best and competent individuals who could fill the big shoes of Meles Zenawi, the butcher of Ethiopia (as the title of the butcher of Addis Ababa has already been bestowed upon his predecessor, Mengistu Hailemariam), who kicked the bucket a couple of years ago.
Aklilu Habtewold must be turning in his grave.