Thursday, May 26, 2005

Electioneering For Personal Profit

President George W. Bush welcomes President Daniel arap Moi of Kenya, left, and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia to the Oval Office Dec. 5. "We welcome two strong friends of America here; two leaders of countries which have joined us in the -- to fight the global war on terror; two steadfast allies, two people that the American people can count on when it comes to winning the first war of the 21st century," said President Bush during their meeting in the Cabinet Room. White House photo by Eric Draper
Photo Courtesy: whitehouse.gov
President Bush in 2002, meeting with leaders of Kenya and Ethiopia

Electioneering For Personal Profit

The above quote provides an on the scene recording and a perfect opening for an article whose intention is to shed some light on the phenomena of electioneering for personal profit in Ethiopia. This phenomena is exercised by a privileged view led by Meles Zenawi of TPLF and most of the outside world only hears about it once every three to four years. May be you have heard it by an other name; may be you did not as you may have been blinded by the skeletal pictures of famine victims news emanating from Ethiopia; or worse you may still be wondering whether all the electioneering money could be better spent on rehabilitating those affected by the famine. However it is imperative that we look in depth as to what happens in the name of ‘Democracy’ in Ethiopia once every four years.

As the above quote from a peasant who relies solely on food-for-work programmes for sustenance in Mekele, Zenawi’s hometown, demonstrates there are no elections in Ethiopia. There are exercises created and run to perfection by Zenawi and his cronies in Addis Ababa. These exercises are titled ‘elections’ however there is neither personal choice for whether one wants to run as a candidate or not, nor any resemblance of an election as those to be elected have already been nominated in secret and are to be acclaimed in public once the general populace implements Zenawi’s futile ‘election’ exercises. Any sane individual will be shocked if they saw their name on a ballot as a candidate when they have not even given any thought as to whether to run or not in an election. For those in the outside world and the West in particular, the aforementioned scenario of seeing oneself on the ballot when one have not given any thought is considered only as a hearsay and unimaginable. Even if it happens such a process will be deemed a fraud and farce. However for many in Ethiopia in general and in Ogadenia in particular such a scenario is real. Researchers at the NIHR, Norwegian Institute of Human Rights, who wrote the book Ethiopia since the DERG, report one such scenario where in Wukro constituency, for example, in the 2000 election one of the candidates was surprised to see her name in the list of TPLF candidates when she has neither been asked nor informed about her candidacy. In both the 1995 and 2000 elections and most probably in this year’s upcoming electioneering exercises in Ogadenia all candidates have been pre-ordained from Addis Ababa. There are documented cases where candidates have been barred from running by the head of the TPLF militia in many constituencies in Ogaden.

Any exercise where would be candidates are preordained by an elite few is not an election but a public fraud. Any ‘election’ where candidates are secretly confirmed of their place in a supposedly elected parliament even before the public has a chance to make their selections known is not an election but a farcical process. Any process where a militia head has the authority to bar a candidate from running in a supposedly free election is not an election but an electioneering for personal profit to prolong the status enjoyed by an elite few. This is what happens, is happening and will happen in Ethiopia and in Ogadenia for years to come if the outside world in general and the West in particular does not bring Zenawi’s electioneering exercises to an end. The money spent on this exercises will be better spent in preventing the manmade famines that are becoming a yearly fixture in Ethiopia in general and in Ogadenia in particular.

Ogaden Online Editorial
Jan 31, 2005


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am not an ethiopian. I would like to say that the posting is very insightful and on point. What is happening in Ethiopia is what has happened for years and years in American History. The so-called two parties are but one singularity, and sustain their position of power by creating an illusion of rivlary. But the truth of the matter is, that it would not hold any other way. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi knows it, you know it, bush administration knows it, everybody knows in the back of their minds that the commoners like you and me, let alone the starving bastards in ethiopia who can't even feed themselves, can never ever succeed in the position of power than those who presently occupy.