Friday, 30 October 2009

Country's Elections - Another Zero-Sum Game? Alemayehu G. Mariam 29 October 2009

In the first part of our commentary on the madness of Ethiopia's 2010 'elections', we posed the question: 'Is it possible to have a fair and free election in a police state?' In light of the persuasive anecdotal evidence presented by former Ethiopian president Dr Negasso Gidada, which pointed to the complete absence of a level electoral playing field, we concluded that it was not possible.

We were cautiously optimistic that all stakeholders, acting transparently and in good faith, and with robust accountability mechanisms in place, could take a leap of faith into what appears to be a sham election in the offing to vindicate the cause of democracy, rule of law and popular sovereignty. But our optimism and aspirations for a fair and free election in 2010 hinge precariously on whether the following question is answered affirmatively, and without any mental reservations and purpose of evasion: Will the dictatorship agree to and in good faith abide by an election code of conduct that is based on the principle of respect for the rule of law and human rights, and conforms to its own constitution and election laws?

THE PILLARS OF FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS: CO-EQUALITY, EQUITY, CIVILITY, GOOD FAITH, MUTUAL RESPECT AND TOLERANCE

Free and fair elections are best guaranteed if certain basic principles are accepted and fully adhered to in the relationship between the political parties, candidates, their supporters and other stakeholders. The first pillar is the principle of co-equality. In George Orwell's Animal Farm, 'All Animals are created equal but some are more equal than others.' Not so if we are to have free and fair elections in Ethiopia. All parties are presumed to be co-equal under the Ethiopian 'constitution' because fundamentally elections are about equal access and participation in the democratic governance process based on the principle of one person, one vote. This proposition is consistent with Articles 56, 60 and 72 of the Ethiopian 'constitution' which prescribes the rules for the formation of party governance, scope of power during a period when elections are underway and coalition-building to form a government.

In the run-up to the 2010 'election' what we witness is a one-man, one-party dictatorship in which the ruling 'EPDRF' party is astronomically 'more equal' than all of the other opposition parties combined. The leaders of that party serve as prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner in all matters relating to elections. If fair and free elections are to take place, the ruling party and its leaders must accept in principle and in practice that the opposition political parties are their equals in the eyes of the law; and that their complete dominance of the society does not entitle them to harass, mistreat, abuse and persecute the opposition in the electoral process.

There is a huge equity gap between the ruling party and its leaders and the opposition. The rulers enjoy extraordinary legal and political privileges, advantages, benefits and entitlements because they literally own the political system. Their party members and leaders dominate the bureaucracies, the courts, the police forces and the local administrative structures. Most importantly, they own the election commission. It is a necessary precondition for a fair and free election that there be mechanisms in place to ensure all parties and stakeholders have equal opportunities to compete fairly for votes. Equitable principles require that the opposition receive and disseminate information freely, have access to state media on the same terms and conditions as the ruling party, be able to educate and canvass voters, hold meetings, conduct campaigns freely and vigorously engage fellow citizens to exercise their right to vote in an informed manner.

Civility is an attribute of civilised people in the way they relate to each other particularly in controversial matters. Civility is one thing that is abundantly available in Ethiopia. As the 2005 election has demonstrated, political campaigns, debates and discussions were conducted largely focused on the issues and less on leadership personalities. Passionate statements and speeches were given and robust exchanges of views took place in the media; and even in heated debates, the rule was reflective reaction than reflexive counteraction. In 2005, the stakeholders 'disagreed without being unduly disagreeable.' That is civility!

Good faith and fair dealing are two things missing from the ethical satchel of the ruling party. They have used 'bait and switch' tactics as evidenced in their recent attempts to finesse Medrek to sign a prefabricated 'code of election conduct'. They have shown little honesty of intention in what they do or promise to do. They have a long history of bad faith dealing with opposition parties. They have relentlessly sought to outsmart, outfox, outwit, hoodwink and bamboozle the opposition through organised trickery, misrepresentation, duplicity, slyness and other underhanded techniques.

These things will simply not work in 2010. As the old saying goes, 'You can fool some of the people some times, all of the people some of the time; but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.' Everyone in the world knows that the ruling party is at the end of its wits desperately trying to fool all of the people all of the time. It is time they tried a little bit of good faith bargaining, negotiations, compromising and fair dealing with their opposition. They must stop their brinksmanship games and their peculiar diplomacy by ultimatum: 'Our way or the highway!'

Respect and tolerance in the context of free and fair elections mean, first and foremost, respect for the rule of law; and secondly, respect for each other in the electoral process. The ruling party must respect its own constitution and laws and its international treaty obligations which require compliance with basic standards in the conduct of free and fair elections. They must also respect the electoral process and the participants in it, including the voters. The evidence shows that the ruling party has been consistently paternalistic, disdainful and dismissive of the opposition. They have arbitrarily imprisoned major opposition party leaders and their supporters; and Ethiopia's preeminent political prisoner, Birtukan Midekssa, remains jailed without legal cause. She must be released along with the thousands of other political prisoners forthwith.

The ruling party's contempt and disrespect for the opposition has its roots in the party leaders' views that they came to power through the barrel of the gun, and that no one will take that power away from them through the ballot box. That is their fundamental existential problem. The issue of respect, however, goes deeper to the level of respect for the sovereign verdict of the people in a free and fair election. If the ruling party has no respect for opposition parties and their leaders, and is unwilling to show tolerance for competing views, ipso facto, it does not have respect for the citizens who cast their votes or for the choices made by the people. In the context of free and fair elections, respect means 'Respect the Vote!'

CODE OF CONDUCT FOR A LEVEL ELECTORAL PLAYING FIELD
Relevant Links

* East Africa
* Ethiopia

As we have argued on New America Media (NAM), there is really no need for an 'election code of conduct' in 2010. In 2005, without such a code, real opposition parties were able to campaign vigorously. There were free and open debates throughout the society. A free private press challenged those in power and scrutinised the opposition. Civil society leaders worked tirelessly to inform and educate the voters and citizenry about democracy and elections. Voters openly and fearlessly showed their dissatisfaction with the regime in public meetings. On 15 May 2005, voters did something unprecedented in Ethiopia's 3000-year history: They used the ballot box to pass their verdict. That is the best way to conduct the 2010 election - by letting the people pass their sovereign verdict in a fair and free election.

But if an 'election code of conduct' could help facilitate fair and free elections and enable the people to pass their sovereign verdict, it is worth trying, even against overwhelming odds. But there is no need to reinvent such a code; one is readily available from the largest democracy in the world, India. Since 1947, India has successfully conducted thousands of elections at regular intervals as prescribed by its constitution, elections laws and international obligations. There are seven national and 39 state registered parties by the India Election Commission, along with 730 unregistered ones competing for office. There is no doubt that the Indians know a thing or two about conducting free and fair elections.

Ethiopia – Politics - Election 2010

Ethiopian political parties sign “historical” agreement for 2010 elections


APA-Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) The Ethiopian ruling party and the three main opposition parties signed late on Friday in Addis-Ababa a “historical” agreement aimed at conducting the upcoming national election in a peaceful manner.

The Electoral Code of Conduct agreement was signed after two months of negotiation.

The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), All Ethiopian Unity Organization (AEUO), the Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP) and the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) were the parties to the discussion.

Ethiopian PM Meles Zenawi sat for the first time with the opposition parties to sign the agreement, which makes the signing an historical event.

The electoral code of conduct, prepared by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), deals with election campaigning, voting and party symbol guidelines, peaceful acceptance of election results as well as the use of the state media.

The representatives of the parties, including Ethiopian PM Meles Zenawi, vow to peacefully participate in the election.

Ethiopian PM Meles Zenawi of EPRDF, Hailu Shawel of AEUO, Lidetu Ayalew of EDP and Ayele Chamiso of CUD signed the agreement.

The national elections will be held on 15 May 2010.

It should be recalled that the victory of the EPRDF in the 2005 elections was highly controversial.

Terrorizing Aid to Somalia The United States is willfully letting millions of Somalis go hungry in its drive to hunt down terrorists. BY NATALIE PARKE

There is a new humanitarian crisis unfolding in Somalia, and the United States is partly to blame. Despite sending $2 million and 40 tons of arms and ammunition to the country's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) earlier this year, now, the United States is withholding humanitarian aid until relief agencies agree to comply with strict, game-stopping conditions.
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The decision to abruptly halt assistance came following suspicions that U.S. aid might be ending up with Somali "terrorists." The main worry is an al Qaeda-linked group called al-Shabab, the leading Islamic militant group fighting against the feeble but internationally backed government. Al-Shabab controls most of south-central Somalia, while the TFG controls only a few areas of the capital, Mogadishu. The south-central region is home to 2.7 million of the 3.63 million Somalis in need of emergency assistance. So, reaching many of Somalia's people with aid would likely entail operating on al-Shabab's turf and interacting with elements of the group to facilitate logistics.

U.S. Treasury Department sanctions strictly prohibit any financial transactions or dealings with al-Shabab and other Somali groups labeled as "terrorists." Yet clearly the concern is not absolute; the U.S. government seems less concerned that the guns and ammo sent as military assistance, intended to prop up the fragile government and keep control of a country brimming with violence, are allegedly being resold on the streets of Mogadishu.

The halt in humanitarian assistance will cripple the work of relief organizations and, as a consequence, hurt their Somali beneficiaries. U.S. officials justifiably fear that they and their partners could be held responsible, even prosecuted, for supporting terrorists if relief funds ended up in the hands of al-Shabab. At first, the U.S. government reviewed the situation and "delayed" funding. Subsequently, Washington issued conditions with which aid agencies must comply to legally operate in Somalia. But the conditions are so restrictive that it would be virtually impossible for operating agencies to meet them. (To preserve the security of those groups on the ground, specific conditions cannot be stated here.)

The damage is not just temporary. The new, politically charged rules would destroy relief organizations' neutrality in Somalia. Humanitarian aid derives its legitimacy from impartiality -- the notion that aid is provisioned on need alone, rather than politics. In Somalia, where the U.S. government is often viewed unfavorably, political impartiality is a practical consideration as well; it is central to the ability of relief agencies to function safely and effectively. The new U.S. conditions would undermine this core principle by making it nearly impossible for relief agencies to legally operate in al-Shabab-run territory, including many of the most desperate regions of Somalia. The country is already one of the most dangerous for humanitarian workers, so the United States' attempt to bring relief workers under its purview will only increase Somali suspicion toward them and make the environment more precarious.

On top of this policy disaster, money for relief in Somalia is running out. The U.N. World Food Program estimates that its coffers will be empty within the next few weeks. Even if more funds were pledged today, it could require as many as four months for the money to reach beneficiaries on the ground. There will be an inevitable gap in assistance to Somalis.

The timing could not be worse. The country's already catastrophic humanitarian crisis is being compounded by a drought that has struck much of the Horn of Africa. Nearly half the population is estimated to urgently need aid -- some 3.63 million people.

The U.S. government is holding the Somalia relief enterprise and its beneficiaries hostage to its counterterrorism policy. Agencies have resolutely upheld their commitment to humanitarian impartiality and refused to be shut down by unreasonable conditions. Unfortunately, that precludes them from accepting U.S. funds -- normally half of all aid to Somalia. Until Washington lets agencies fulfill their mission unhindered, the U.S. mission to win "hearts and minds" in Somalia, a feared up-and-coming stronghold of terrorism, will be completely undermined. Knowingly allowing millions of people to suffer is no way to win friends.

Uganda: Somalis rush to register

By Patrick Jaramogi

HUNDREDS of Somali nationals yesterday flocked Kisenyi, a Kampala suburb, for registration.

The registration, being conducted by the Somali community association in Uganda and security agencies, will ensure that all Somali nationals residing in Uganda get new identity cards.

“The number of Somalis who have responded to the call for registration is overwhelming. We have been busy since morning,” Roble Abdulayi, the community vice-chairperson, said.

The nationals are each required to present two passport photos, indicate their jobs, the number of dependants they have, their area of residence and landlords details.

The registration comes at a time when al Shabaab insurgents in Somalia issued threats to attack Kampala and Bujumbura, Burundi, in revenge for rocket attacks that killed at least 30 people in Mogadishu on Thursday.

Since the terror threats, security has been beefed up in Kisenyi and most parts of Kampala city.

The New Vision yesterday established that following the rampant attacks by Islamists in Somala’s capital Mogadishu, the number of Somalis migrating to Uganda is at least 300 every week.

“I have been at the airport to receive some Somalis. We get about three flights from Mogadishu via Nairobi every week and each flight brings between 40-50 Somalis,” said Hussein Hassan, Somali chairperson.

He said between 20-30 Somalis enter Uganda through the various border points at Malaba, Busia, Sofia and Lwakaka.

President Yoweri Museveni last week warned the Islamist rebels against attacking Uganda.

“I would advise them to concentrate on solving their own problems. If they decide to attack us, they will pay heavily,” he told journalists at the end of the African Union summit in Kampala.

He warned that Ugandan peacekeepers in Somalia would attack the rebels if they acted on their threat.

The rebel group, which wants to topple the Somalia government and impose its own strict version of Islamic law, is accused of being al Qaeda’s proxy.

Burundi and Uganda have about 4,300 peacekeepers in Mogadishu as part of the African Union peace-keeping force, dubbed AMISOM.

Several African nations had agreed to send troops for AMISOM but have so far failed to do so, some saying they have been put off by the violence.

Yemeni security arrested Somalis suspected of being al-Qaeda members

Friday, October 30, 2009

Security authorities arrested six Somalis suspected of being members of al-Qaeda. The Ministry of Interior announced that they arrested the six suspects in the coastal directorate of Mocha, in the Taiz governorate, 300 kilometers southwest of Sana’a.

A Somali national named Noor Omer was arrested along with five others. Noor is considered to be a wanted member of al-Qaeda, the Interior Ministry said.
The Yemeni media said that the suspect was arrested when a security patrol in Mocha was inspecting a dead body of a man from the Horn of Africa discovered by the people in Jabal al-Nar.

The media disclosed that a laptop was found on the suspect, in addition to a seal from the Manhal Charitable Society in Mogadishu.
The Mocha security authorities are investigating the six Somalis who were caught inside the Fatima Mosque, which include the al-Qaeda suspect, Omer.

The arrests mark the Yemeni authorities' efforts to tighten their security measures to prevent the flow of Somali extremists into Yemen. A difficult task as refugees arrive almost daily to the coasts of Yemen.

Source: Yemen Observer, Oct 30, 2009

Somali pirates demand £4.2 million for release of British couple

Somali pirates who kidnapped a retired British couple from their yacht have demanded a £4.2 million ransom for their release.

Paul Chandler and his wife Rachel: Somali pirates allow kidnapped couple to phone home
Paul Chandler and his wife Rachel: Mr Chandler said the couple were forced to sail towards Somalia after their boat was captured by pirates . Photo: AFP
Timeline of the Chandlers' capture by pirates
Timeline of the Chandlers' capture by pirates

Paul Chandler, 59, and his wife Rachel, 55, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, were captured in the early hours of October 23 when armed men woke them at gunpoint as they sailed in the Indian Ocean.

Last night one of their pirate captors telephoned the BBC to make their first ransom demand for $7 million, the equivalent of £4.2 million.

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Rescued French yacht captain Florent Lemacon may have died in friendly fire

He said: "If they do not harm us, we will not harm them. We only need a little amount of $7 million."

He said the couple had been captured by "our brothers who patrol the coast".

Explaining the decision to set the ransom, the caller said: "Nato operations had a lot of negative impact here.

"They have destroyed a lot of equipment belonging to the poor local fishermen.

"They arrest fishermen and destroy their equipment.

"In defiance to our local administrations, they illegally transfer the fishermen to their own prisons and prisons of other countries.

"So when you consider the damage and all the people affected we say the amount is not big."

Earlier on Friday Mrs Chandler was allowed to make a phone call to her family, which was broadcast on ITV news.

She fought tears as she urged her family not to worry, saying she and husband Paul were ''safe'' and described their captors as ''very hospitable people''.

But the strain of being held at gunpoint showed as Mrs Chandler eventually broke down during a conversation with her brother Stephen Collett.

Mr Chandler, 59, also sounded stressed during the phone call.

He spoke slowly and gave little away, in contrast to his calm demeanour when he made first contact with the outside world via the broadcaster yesterday.

Mrs Chandler told her brother: ''Please don't worry about us, we're managing.''

She added: ''I'm bearing up. Thank you for everything you're doing.''

Mrs Chandler reassured her brother that she was being well cared for and managed to compose herself to continue the conversation.

''We're safe,'' she said.

''If we want anything they will provide it in terms of food and water.

''They are very hospitable people.

''Physically we're fine, physically we're healthy.''

Mrs Chandler, 55, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, was unable to say where the couple were being held.

British Government officials have held urgent talks on their plight at the Cobra emergency briefing room.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: ''There is a team working across government on this kidnap issue.''

The spokesman said it was providing consular support to the Chandlers' family and ''a broad range of experts'' were contributing to the Government's response.

However, it was not a full Cobra meeting and no ministers attended.

The couple were taken hostage as they sailed from the Seychelles towards Tanzania.

They were forced to sail towards Somalia before being moved onto a container ship, the Kota Wajar, which was seized by the pirates earlier this month.

Mr Chandler told ITV News that he was aboard the Kota Wajar during yesterday's call.

On Friday his wife said they had been moved from the ship but was not able to say where they were being held.

A man named Abdinor who claimed to speak for the Somali kidnappers said the couple spent last night in the coastal town of Harardhere, a pirate stronghold.

They are thought to have been moved to a ship anchored off the eastern coast of Somalia today as the pirates try to stay one step ahead of the authorities.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has urged the pirates to release the couple, describing hostage-taking as ''unacceptable''.

Mr Chandler, a quantity surveyor, and his economist wife, took early retirement about three years ago.

They have spent several six-month spells at sea, returning home for brief visits

Somalia to 'purge piracy by 2011'

Somalia's prime minister has said his government will eradicate piracy off its coast within the next two years.

On a visit to the UK, Omar Sharmarke told the BBC that his war-torn country lacked enough resources to tackle the problem but was seeking help abroad.

Analysts say to date the government has had minimal influence on the fate of those kidnapped by pirates, who tend to be released unharmed for hefty ransoms.

At least seven vessels are being held with about 179 crew members.

Mr Sharmarke also told the BBC World Service that his government would do everything it could to find a missing British couple hijacked by pirates days ago.

"The pattern has been that they don't harm the captives, these pirates, because they want money.


We have to understand that the cost of doing nothing is far greater than the cost of doing something
Omar Sharmarke
Somali prime minister

"But I want to assure the family that we will not rest until until we see the freedom of this couple," he said about Paul and Rachel Chandler.

Mr Sharmarke rejected the suggestion that as his transitional government has limited reach across Somalia, it is powerless to tackle piracy.

He said he would eradicate piracy through a civil affairs and information campaign, backed by military force.

"We're not powerless but the capacity to handle this issue is not all there. And that's why we're seeking assistance and investors.

"We have to understand that the cost of doing nothing is far greater than the cost of doing something."

Given that the government only controls a few districts of the capital, Mogadishu, it is difficult to imagine how it will deal with the pirates, who operate in areas outside government control, reports the BBC's Mary Harper.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Somali road trip to Islamist heartland

The BBC's Mohamed Dore reports on a rare road trip out of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, into territory run by Islamist militants.
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

The first thing I notice when I head out of Mogadishu is the number of roadblocks.

Most of war-ravaged central and southern Somalia is now controlled by al-Shabab, an Islamist group which the US believes has links to al-Qaeda.



The chewing of khat leaves, a popular pastime, is banned by al-Shabab
Yet their fighters are not completely in control; I see roadblocks run by three different groups as I head to Agfoye, a town 29km (18 miles) north-west of Mogadishu.

Despite intense and bloody battles, the government is still in charge of parts of the capital and they run the first checkpoint where passengers have to pay them money to carry desperately needed goods in and out of the city.

Then just a little further along I come across the first checkpoint manned by al-Shabab, the very secretive but well-organised militia at the centre of the conflict in Somalia.

They do not collect money but they check goods and search people.

Not far from this checkpoint is another run by al-Shabab's supposed allies, Hizbul-Islam.

Earlier this month, the two groups fell out over the southern port of Kismayo - and Hizbul-Islam was driven out of the city.


Men who have fringes have their heads shaved by al-Shabab members

But this appears to be an isolated incident and Hizbul-Islam fighters still control this stretch of road up to Agfoye district.

It includes Elesha Biyaha, an area occupied by the largest proportion of Mogadishu's huge number of displaced people.

Hizbul-Islam militias also check and search people, and do not demand money from passengers.

Mobile phones searched

Heading beyond Agfoye in the direction of the coastal town of Merka, there are more checkpoints.



It is clear this area is in the firm control of al-Shabab.

At Laanta Buur, I am surprised to see that people can travel safely without fear of being ambushed.

While travelling on this road, I see al-Shabab militias patrolling along the roads to secure peace in the area.

I am told they were chasing groups suspected of committing acts of banditry.



But they also enforce strict Islamic codes.

At Laanta Buur checkpoint, al-Shabab militia members search men one at a time, while leaving women in the cars.

Men and women are not allowed to sit together when using public transport.

The militia also search mobile phones, to make sure there is no indecent audio or video-like songs recorded on them, as music is banned by the group.

Men who have fringes have their heads shaved by al-Shabab members.

People in the districts of Shalanbood, Golweyn and Buula Mareer tell me they are not allowed to chew the mild stimulant khat, or smoke cigarettes in public.

Businesses are forbidden from being open during prayers, and I am told this happens in all areas controlled by al-Shabab.

Business booming

Some regions of the Lower Shabelle Province are very arid, hot and humid and there is little sign of life.


The only armed men I see are those from al-Shabab ordering people to close their businesses and go to the mosques at prayer time

In other areas cattle and goats are grazing on fresh grass and there is rain water.

Many of the hundreds of thousands of people who have fled the brutal battles between forces loyal to the government and Islamist militias in Mogadishu have now settled in Buula Mareer.

Here business is booming, and the area seems safe.

The town has grown dramatically in recent years as the conflict has intensified.

The area is awash with business people who come from surrounding villages to buy and sell produce.



Aid agencies estimate that half the population needs food assistance
This season farmers are harvesting sesame, corn and watermelons, and I see many lorries unloading these products in warehouses.

Aid agencies say some four million people in Somalia - or about half the population - need food aid.

But in this part of the country people are getting ready for the second cultivation period this year.

I do not hear a single gunshot in Buula Mareer, nor do I see armed men roaming out and about in the streets, like I would do in Mogadishu.

The only armed men I see are those from al-Shabab ordering people to close their businesses and go to the mosques at prayer time.

Peace and security appears to prevail in the Lower Shabelle region.

However, many believe that it is peaceful only for those who are accepted by al-Shabab.

Somali man, '112', weds girl, 17

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hundreds of people have attended a wedding in central Somalia between a man who says he is 112 years old, and his teenage wife.

Ahmed Muhamed Dore - who already has 13 children by five wives - said he would like to have more with his new wife, Safia Abdulleh, who is 17 years old.

"Today God helped me realise my dream," Mr Dore said, after the wedding in the region of Galguduud.

The bride's family said she was "happy with her new husband".

Mr Dore said he and his bride - who is young enough to be his great-great-grand-daughter - were from the same village in Somalia and that he had waited for her to grow up to propose.

"I didn't force her, but used my experience to convince her of my love; and then we agreed to marry," the groom said.

Goat-skin documents



The BBC's Mohammed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says the marriage, in the town of Guriceel, is being described by Somali historians as the first of its kind in the Horn of Africa nation for more than a century.



Our reporter says reaction to news of the marriage has been mixed.

Some people said while it was allowed under Islamic law, they were concerned about the age gap, but others were happy that age was not a barrier to love.

Mr Dore told the BBC he was born in Dhusamareeb in central Somalia in 1897 - and has a traditional birth certificate, written on goat skin by his father.

Our correspondent says he has an interesting history - in 1941 he joined the British colonial forces as a soldier for 10 years and then served as a police officer after Somalia won independence in 1960.

Altogether, Mr Dore has 114 children and grandchildren. His oldest son is 80 years old and three of his wives have died.

He says he hopes his new bride will give him more children.

"It is a blessing to have someone you love to take care of you," he said.

Somalia: The Struggle for Kismayo and Clan-Based Islamist Warlordism

Garowe Online on Facebook By: Dr. Michael A. Weinstein

Intelligence:

A closed source on the ground in south-central Somalia reports on the financial dimension and motivation of the current conflict in Somalia's far sourthern Jubba regions between Harakat al-Shabaab Mujihideen (H.S.M.) and Hizbul Islam (H.I.), the two major armed Islamist opposition groups to the internationally recognized and ineffective Transitional Federal Government (T.F.G.) that control and have set up administrations in those regions.

The source centers the conflict in a dispute over revenues from the port of Kismayo, south-central Somalia's second largest city and the economic and political hub of the deep southern regions. The source says that revenues are currently running at US$1 million per month, of which H.S.M. has been taking ninety percent, driving H.I. to try to force H.S.M. to alter the proportions.
The source goes on to say that the antagonists are currently playing a waiting game to find out "who gets money in first." H.I., says the source, now has a faction that is ready to join the T.F.G. if the latter receives sufficient infusions of foreign aid. Meanwhile, the source reports, H.S.M. has been leading in the contest for donations from Somali businessmen in Nairobi.
Significance

The significance of the intelligence resides in its diagnosing the conflict as a case of economic motivation. Independent monitoring confirms that neither H.S.M. nor H.I. has raised any ideological or strategic issues in the conflict. There has been no controversy over H.S.M.'s transnational Islamism and H.I.'s Islamist nationalism, and H.S.M.'s severe interpretation of Shari'a law and H.I.'s presumably less punitive take on Shari'a. There has been no controversy about contrasting strategies for achieving the Islamic emirate/state that they both claim is their goal. Instead, the conflict has been over control of the administration of Kismayo pure and simple - who gets what - and has been increasingly fought on a sub-clan basdis.

The conflict began last August when H.S.M. refused to honor an agreeement with H.I. that it would turn the administration over to the latter, according to a schedule of rotation among the coalition partners. By late September, H.S.M. had succeeded in ousting H.I. from Kismayo and announced that it was forming an administration of its own, excluding all other factions, and was linking that administration to the wider H.S.M. administration of the Jubba regions. Since then, H.S.M. and H.I. have fought a series of indecisive skirmishes in towns around Kismayo, with H.I. maintaining its stronghold in Afmadow. With H.S.M. holding Kismayo, fissures have surfaced in H.I.

As the conflict over Kismayo has proceeded, its clan dimension has become conspicuous. Vulnerability to sub-clan rivalries was built into H.I., which is an amalgam of Islamist resistance groups that is represented in the Jubba regions by Harakat Ras Kamboni (H.R.K.) and Anole, both of which are rooted in southern sub-clans of the Darod clan family. H.S.M., which proclaims itself to be trans-clan was forced to rely on other Darod sub-clans when H.I. challenged it. On October 8, Sh. Hassan al-Turki, the leader of R.K.B., said that the conflict had "become tribal."
Local media were quick to see parallels between the current conflict and the naked southern Darod sub-clan struggle over Kismayo between warlords Barre Hirale of the Marehan and Gen Morgan leading the others that occurred before the 2006 Islamic Courts revolution. At present, by relying on the Marehan, H.S.M is playing Hirale's role and H.I. Gen. Morgan's. Hirale himself is reportedly mobilizing his militias in Kenya, with the aim of restoring his pre-Courts Jubba Valley Alliance.

Clan-Based Islamist Warlordism

Putting together the source's report that the conflict in the Jubba regions is primarily financially motivated, the absence in the conflict of appeals to ideology and strategy, and the sub-clan character of the conflict, a picture emerges of an incipient clan-based Islamist warlordism.

Warlordism is familiar to Somalia observers as the dominant form of political organization in the south-central regions after the fall of dictator Siad Barre in the early 1990s. As it developed in Somalia, warlordism became a practice of economic predation carried out by a strongman with local and sometimes regional ambitions whose base of support was sub-clan militieas and their members' dependents, and intimidated or favored businessmen. This conventional warlordism was particularistic (based on clan and personalistic identification rather than commitment to program or principle) and played out as a struggle over spoils and extortion or protection rackets. Its administrations were self-dealing and its justice, if one could call it that, was arbitrary and biassed; it was gangsterism in the name of sub-clan protection - the last social refuge in a disintegrated political community. Always a balance between public function and private interest, politics - in the form of warlordism - tips the balance overwhelmingly in favor of the latter. Where warlordism is pervasive, the population is beholden to it, because the dynamics of fear and mistrust have cut so deeply that they are nearly impossible to overcome - social entropy ensues.

The conventional warlordism of the post-Barre period was broken by the 2006 Islamic Courts revolution, which proposed to unify Somalia according to a political formula based on the creation of an Islamic national state based on the practice of Shari'a law and governed by clerics. When the Courts were dispersed by the Ethiopian invasion and occupation of south-central Somalia at the end of 2006, Islamist resistance to the occupation, which dislodged the Ethiopians two years later, differentiated into the armed opposition groups to the T.F.G. that are present today and that held uneasily to tactical cooperation until that was shattered by the Kismayo conflict, which appears to be ushering in a new Islamist warlordism.

Like conventional warlordism, the Islamist variety is clan-based, local and oriented toward economic gain. It adds, however, an Islamist ideology or at least identity to the conventional type, as an overlay. The Courts revolution had the formula of Islam+clan; the new warlordism has the formula Clan+Islam. This is not to say that the Islamist overlay is merely rhetorical or simply an after-thought; when Shari'a courts are operative, as they are throughout the regions controlled by the Islamists, they provide at least a semblance of legal order, whereas that cannot be said for conventional warlords.

Clan-based Islamist warlordism presents the prospect of localized power centers dominated by military leaders with clerical claims who preside over Shari'a courts in the name of sub-clan identification. The conflict in Kismayo, regardless of the eventual balance of power that results from it, portends that outcome. The same tendency has appeared in most of the other south-central regions without the same level of violent conflict, perhaps because the prize is not as great elsewhere. It is plausible to judge that the energy of an Islamist political formula for Somalia has been spent, and that the entropy of defensive sub-clan identity has set in.
Conclusion

Expanding on the source's report to produce a picture of an incipient clan-based Islamist warlordism helps to explain why the extreme scenarios presented in the media and by domestic political actors have not materialized. On one side, fueled by statements to that effect from H.I., there were predictions of all-out war between H.S.M. and H.I. On the other, fueled by the hopes of the T.F.G. and its ally of convenience, the armed Sufi Ahlu Sunna Wal-Jama'a (A.S.W.J.) movement, there were predictions that the Islamists would self-destruct, leaving the path open to the T.F.G. to exert control over the south-central regions. Neither scenario has eventuated; instead, the Kismayo conflict has remained localized, as have the conflicts in the central and southwestern regions, indicating an assimilation of Islamism into sub-clan - neither explosion nor implosion, but a form of social grafting. Indeed, the Islamic Courts originated within sub-clans and for a brief period seemed to transcend them.

Should the current pattern persist, clan-based and personalistic factional splits are likely to continue to occur within armed opposition groups. There have been reports that officials of H.S.M. from the Hawiye clan family have distanced themselves from or quit the group because they do not want to be part of an intra-Darod fight. There is greater evidence that H.I. has split into factions supporting Sh. Adan Madobe's militant stance on taking Kismayo by force and factions seeking conciliation or, as the source reports, ready to go over to the T.F.G. if the deal is sweet enough. Another reported split in H.I. is between its chair, Sh. Hasan Dahir Aweys, and its former chair, Dr. Omar Iman, whom Aweys has supposedly accused of leaning too far toward H.S.M. and who is reportedly trying to mediate between H.S.M. and H.I. On October 14, Sh. Abdirahman Odawa, H.I.'s military commander in Elasha Biyaha - Aweys' base in the Lower Shabelle region just south of Mogadishu - defected to the T.F.G. with some of his fighters because he was dissatisfied with H.I.'s investigation of the assassination of his brother Ahmad Talibani. None of these tensions, of course, spells self-destruction, but only fragmentation and realignment along the lines of calculations of positional advantage by the myriad actors. One must remember that the T.F.G. is also seriously split, as it has been from its beginning in 2004, by factions allied with its president, now Sh. Sharif Sh. Ahmad from the Hawiye, and its prime minister, now Omar Abdirahman Ali Sharmarke from the Darod, who are currently contesting the composition of a new cabinet that Sharmarke is expected to name under pressure from donor powers.

In the Jubba regions, the waiting game to see who gets the money if it comes, when they get it, how much they get and with whom they are ready to share it remains in play. That is what one would expect from warlords. Sub-clan loyalties are hard to break when conflict feeds on itself.

Report Drafted By: Dr. Michael A. Weinstein, Professor of Political Science, Purdue University weinstem@purdue.edu

] Somalis get first-ever debit card

A money-transfer company has made a piece of banking history in Somalia - introducing the first-ever debit card in the breakaway region of Somaliland.


The firm, Dahabshiil, hopes eventually to roll the system out to all Somali-speaking areas from Djibouti to Kenya.



They say large shops and hotels in areas with good internet connection and electricity can sign up to the service.



The card was launched in Somaliland's capital Hargeisa because of insecurity elsewhere in the region.



'Cashless society'



Somaliland declared itself independent from Somalia in 1991, when the country's central government collapsed.



Since then, Somaliland has forged a relatively stable state, despite its lack of international recognition.



Most of the rest of Somalia has been wracked by violence and Islamist insurgencies while



Dahabshiil boss Abdul Rashid Mohamed Said told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme he regretted that people overseas hear only bad news from Somalia.



"We believe Somalis here have the same needs as people in the UK or America and that's why the debit card will make their lives easier," he said.



He said he hoped to create a "cashless society" by encouraging customers to link their accounts directly to their cards.



The BBC's Jamal Abdi says people he spoke to on the streets of Hargeisa hope the new cards will reduce the long queues outside money-transfer agencies.



Dahabshiil has made its name by handling cash transferred by Somalis living overseas to their relatives back home.



Some estimates say as much as $1bn (£610m) is sent into Somalia from the emigrants.

Militants can’t attack Uganda – Somalia envoy.

The Somali ambassador, Sayid Ahmed Sheikh Dahir, yesterday dismissed threats by Somali militants to attack Kampala, saying they lacked the capacity to execute such a mission.

Addressing journalists and the Somali community at his residence in Kampala, Dahir said the threats were aimed at stirring mistrust among the Somali community and straining relations between Uganda and the transitional government in Mogadishu.

“They do not have the capacity to carry out such attacks,” he said.

Dahir was accompanied by Somalia state minister for defence Mohamed Yusuf Siad and former defence minister Gen. Haji Mohammed Omar.

Siad, who was a few weeks ago arrested and briefly detained by security operatives in Uganda, is in the country to receive medical treatment.

Recently, the Islamist rebel group, al-Shabab, vowed to bomb the capitals of Uganda and Burundi.

Soldiers from the two countries make up the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia.

The troops are mandated to support the transitional governmental, implement a national security plan, train the Somali security forces and to assist in creating a secure environment for the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Dahir, however, said despite the lack of capacity of the militants, Uganda and Burundi were not taking the threat lightly

“When someone threatens you, you take care,” he said.

Dahir criticised the Somalia media, saying it was misinformationing the public that security operatives in Uganda had began targeting the Somali community.

“Security forces have the mandate of keeping security in the country and there are no cases of Somalis being targeted,” he said.
October 27th, 2009 | | 6 Comments

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following report by the BBC is one more evidence that the IMF and World Bank are corrupted organizations that are causing havoc in 3rd world countries such as Ethiopia by fueling brutal dictatorships with hundreds of millions of dollars.

Senegal admits IMF 'money gift'

(BBC) — Senegal has confirmed it gave money to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) official earlier this month, after previously denying the allegations.

Alex Segura was given almost $200,000 (£122,000) at the end of his three-year posting – money which the IMF says was paid back as quickly as it could be.

Prime Minister Souleymane Ndene Ndiaye said it was a goodbye present — part of an African tradition.

But opposition activists have condemned what they regard as a corrupt payment.

The fund said in a statement Mr Segura was given the present after a dinner with President Abdoulaye Wade, but did not realise the gift was money until he was about to leave the country for Barcelona.

"With Mr Segura worried about missing his flight, and concerned that there was no place to leave the money safely in Senegal, he decided to take the money aboard the plane," Reuters quoted the IMF as saying.

The cash was handed over to Senegal's ambassador in Spain.

Government 'exposed'

The BBC's Hamadou Tidiane Sy, in Dakar, says the affair has sparked anger and outrage in Senegal.

He says Senegalese want to know why an IMF official was allowed to leave the country with so much money, and they also want to see whether anyone will be punished.

Anti-corruption campaigner Mamadou Mbodj said the case should be referred to the country's High Court of Justice.

"It is unacceptable in a poor country like ours to use the taxpayers' money to reward international civil servants who are already highly paid for their jobs", he told the BBC.

Aissata Tall Sall, spokeswoman for the Socialist Party, said the government had "exposed its true nature to the rest of the world".

She called for international sanctions and said it was unacceptable for the IMF and government to consider the issue closed.

The president has not commented on the affair, but Mr Ndiaye admitted the gift was given, while denying corruption.

"We in Africa have a tradition – when someone visits you, you give him a gift at departure," he told local media.

Hailu Shawel, Lidetu Ayalew agree to fake election rules

October 29th, 2009 |

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Some groups who claim to be opposition parties in Ethiopia and the ruling tribal junta, Woyanne, have agreed to new rules for June 2010 sham elections.

The new electoral laws reportedly outline campaigning, voting and party symbol guidelines and how to deal with intimidation and violence and call for the establishment of a panel to handle election disputes.

"The agreement was reached on consensus by all participants after two months of negotiations," said Ayalew Chamiso, head of the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy party (CUD).

Ayalew Chamiso is a Woyanne puppet who has been installed by Meles Zenawi as chairman of the now defunct CUD, popularly known as Kinijit, that won the 2005 elections.

"The agreement enables the elections to be carried out in a peaceful, fair and free manner," added Ayalew.

The All Ethiopian Unity Party (AAUP) led by Hailu Shawel and the Ethiopia Democratic Party (EDP) led by Lidetu Ayalew also agreed to the rules, according to the state television.

On the other hand, the Forum for Democratic Dialogue in Ethiopia (Medrek), a coalition of 8 parties, which had said key elements on security and freedom of expression and movement were not included in the code, has not signed on.

Berhanu Nega, a former leader of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) and now a leader of the Ginbot 7 said Ethiopia is not a conducive country for democracy.

“All the issues that make a democratic election do not exist in Ethiopia at this time, starting from the independence of the election board, the independence of the military and the police, judiciary all are in the pocket of the ruling class. And in the absence of a fair and leveled playing ground there is no meaning in an election,” he said.

Nega said the 2010 election will most likely be similar to the 2008 local election when he said Meles Zenawi’s ruling party won 99.9 percent of the vote.

He said two of the opposition parties that reportedly agreed on the new rules for next year’s election were created by the government.

“You know there are three parties who participated in this. Two of them are the parties created by the ruling party. So these are not serious parties. This is just simply to show to the gullible international community that there is some election taking place. But nobody in Ethiopia is taking it seriously at all,” he said.

Nega said his party would not take part in what he described as a sham election in 2010 election.

“I think by now Africans are aware what actually is going on in the name of elections. Elections are supposed to be mechanisms through which popular will would be reflected. But in our continent in most countries, especially in Ethiopia, it has become an exercise in futility,” he said.

Nega was elected mayor of Addis Ababa in the 2005 election, but he and other opposition leaders were later jail after the government charged them with genocide and treason.

He said since 2005 Ethiopia has turned into a totalitarian state and that the only option for most Ethiopians is to remove the government.

“Even by African standards, this is a suffocating dictatorship that has completely the life out of Ethiopian politics and for most Ethiopians now the only way out of this political quagmire is to get rid of this government by one means or another,” he said.

Nega concord his comments would be interpreted as seeking the overthrow of the Meles Zenawi government.

“I am very, very clear and ardent than this. Unless otherwise people are free they cannot solve their basic economic problems…we have a very unpopular government, despotic government. Unless otherwise people start to take responsibility for their lives, I don’t think you’re going to make significant change in the economic wellbeing of the people,” Nega said.

He said the recent famine in Ethiopia is the result of the Meles Zenawi government being much more interested in staying in power rather than developing the country and saving the people.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Misunderstanding nationalism in Ethiopia

By Jawar Siraj Mohammed

A Rejoinder to Messay Kebede’s Response

Although this debate began because Professor Messay claimed the ideology of self determination is to be blamed for OLF's lack of success in the past two decades, he has not shown any evidence to back up his assertion. He has not provided us with a single case where the “right”ideology resulted in success and “bad” ideology led to the failure of insurgency, nor does he explain how exactly advocating for the right to self determination weakened the OLF. Even though I have shown cases where organizations advocating similar ideology produced different results, he refuses to accept that organizational efficiency is primarily a result of strategy and committed leadership. Instead his two articles focused on pointing out the deficiency of self determination as an ideology and he seems to be attempting to drag me into this ideological debate. I refused to engage in such a debate because my article which he reacted to took no side on the ongoing ideological debate. I concluded thatideology was not among the major factors that hindered the organization’s performance.

Reading through Professor Messay’s two essays I have come to realize that the various points he discussed arise from his distaste for “ethnic politics” in general and for the OLF in particular. I believe it is unhelpful to assess organizational performance based on our ideological preferences as doing so would take away our objectivity. Failure or success of an organization should be evaluated based on stated objectives not using what the analyst thinks is a right objective. In my views it is this lack of objectivity that leads many individuals and groups to underestimate, misunderstand and mishandle nationalist movements. In this essay I would like to briefly discuss this issue.

Underestimating Nationalism: OLF’s Ideology, Success beyond Expectation or Bankruptcy?

I challenge Professor Messay’s repeated declaration that OLF’s ideology is bankrupt. I think such an assumption is quite far from reality. Assuming that the ideology he is referring to is the “nationalist agenda”, neither me nor the professor would have been interested in debating this issue had Oromonationalism not been the most powerful political mobilizing force that is likely to determine the future of the Ethiopian state. Had the OLFideology failed, there would not exist a land known as Oromia in country where once it was shameful to identify yourself as an Oromo. Had thisideology bankrupted, some 20 million children would not be studying in Afan Oromo, in a place where it was taboo and a sign of backwardness to speak this language.

It’s my understanding that a political ideology is said to be bankrupted when it fails to attract supporters. Yet when we look at OLF’s “nationalist agenda”, it enjoys an incredible level of support across all sectors of the Oromo people despite the very poor performance of the organization. In fact, one can rightly argue that OLF’s biggest accomplishment("s") since its inception is artfully articulating and developing Oromonationalism . The evidence for this is the fact that, although they differ on ways and means of achieving the goal, all Oromo political forces share a unanimous rejection anddetermination to fight cultural domination, political repression, social alienation and economic exploitation. That is why Oromo nationalists remain the number one threat to the current regime for the last two decades and as a result they make up over 95% of political prisoners as testified by several Ethiopians. This fact will continue to be the case as long as identity based injustice remains the rule of the game.

Hence, unless one kid himself/herself for the sake of the argument, OLF’s ideology has been a success beyond expectation. What led to success of this ideology is clear, it is incredible level of cultural, economic and social repressions by successive tyrants that backfired and broadenedalienation of the Oromo and strengthened the spreading of nationalism.

Anyone interested in making practical influence on Ethiopian politics knows that it has long become impossible either to maintain or change the status quo without taking this force into consideration. That is why forces who oppose the demands of Oromonationalism , both the ruling party and opposition groups, continue to make gradual concession to soften the nationalist position and win their alliances. Cornered with ever increasing uprising, the regime has been instituting reforms such as increasing local autonomy in Oromia and allowing expansion of Afaan Oromo both in academia and in the media. It is to be remembered that hundreds of students were killed in the last decade for these demands to be met. On the other side, opposition groups who in 2005 used the excuse of “no ethnicpolitics ” either to ignore the issue or rally against the gains of the Oromo movement, now have made a U-turn by embracing the reality as it is shown with their swift acceptance of Afaan Oromo as a national language.Remembering that a few years back, some of those individuals organized a rally in Washington DC opposing the extension of time for Afaan Oromo on the VOA, their current move is an encouraging step that should be embraced by Oromo nationalists.

I encourage people to take off their vale of fear for the rising tide of Oromo and acknowledge the many positive contribution this movement had brought for Ethiopians as a whole. Its the awakening of the giant that forced successive regimes to remove state sponsored cultural and linguistic genocidal policy against the South. Without the awakening of the giant, oppressed minorities of the South would still be called “bariya” , “Shanqilla”, “Walamo” and so on by the state media who degrades them while relying on their wealth for financing.

When we speak of Oromo nationalism and its demands, the ‘self-mutilation’ the Professor wants to discuss also has to be analyzed historically. The Oromo are only a demographic majority but has always been a political and social minority. Just 35 years ago a majority of “Ethiopians” never acknowledged that a people called the “Oromo” lived in the greater part of Ethiopia, and that it constitutes of humans with certain dignities and inalienable rights. Thanks to the Oromo nationalists and the Ethiopian student movement, and as well as the sacrifices made by the Left, now the “Gimatam Galla” is accepted as a dignified “Oromo”. There are still remnants of the old, including the Woyane security, who push for an anti-Oromo stand-up comedy in Finfine, but their days are closing. Now, in the third millennia, after notable achievements by the struggle, if Ethiopians demand that Oromo nationalists move to the center and take leadership of democratizing and strengthening unity of the country, that is an understandable quest. But this demand for 'taking the leadership' will not echo as genuine, if one purports to demean and destroy Oromonationalism which brought the movement to the respected position it finds itself now. Oromo nationalist will heed the call for "move to the center" if and only if that 'call' is supported by empathy and understanding the sacrifices they made up to this point. Otherwise it sounds like an "Arada"call that lacks genuinety.

That is also why Professor Messays’ call for unity while accusing me of an Amhara hater, without any evidence whatsoever, is a wrong approach. In the typical paternalistic fashion of elites of the dominant culture, he advises me saying “what keeps you in chains is the diatribe against Amhara, Abyssinians and the correlated discourse on the Ethiopian colonization of the Oromo.” Since the Professor is willing to sacrifice facts and along the way his honor, to defend his own ‘ideology', he seems to have been forced to misrepresent me, while I am alive. I have no diatribe against the Amhara, nor a hang-up on a colonial theory, these are just mind creations of the Professor to appear as the ultimate defender of Ethiopia’s unity. One thing I want to say, however is that, Ethiopia is an unfinished project. All of us have a role in its final shape. But for this to happen the minimum code of conduct is to listen to each other, to feel each other’s pain, and to represent the facts as they are without misrepresenting them. The tactics and machinations which foiled the Ethiopian Student Movement and all the political movements that came in its wake are outmoded and tested by our joint failure to advance mutual understanding. We should try a new way, a new beginning.

Misunderstanding Sources of Nationalism: Elite Manipulation or Manifestation of Grievances?

Highly dismissive of the real cause of nationalism – which is identity based injustice – Professor Messay repetitively accuses “ethnic” elites for manipulating their people. Speaking of Oromo nationalism he asserts that “… what Jawar presents as a fact is not yet a fact; it is an elitist manipulation that uses past mistreatment to justify partition.” What I do not understand is how about the state backed, institutionalized and often violent “counter manipulation” orchestrated by those who oppose these “ethnic” elites? Wasn’t the entire field of academia and state institution exclusively controlled by the “unity or death” group for most part of the 20th century? Has the professor ever thought why a bunch of young college kids were able to convert peasant grievance into nationalism fueled revolutionary force and topple the guys with the “right” idea and the finest army? Why did “ethnic” movements outlive class struggle? It is too easy to dismiss nationalism as “elite manipulation” but we know that such approach has not helped in the past forty years. What those who advocate “unity-at-all-cost” fail to understand are that their violent, disrespectful and often chauvinistic approach to quell ethnic discontent helps fuel nationalism rather than defuse it.

I argued that, it’s not some abstract ideological aspiration that gave birth to ethnic based rebellion, but rather it was identity based political repression, economic exploitation and cultural subjugation. Thus, Eritreans, Tigreans, Oromos and others supported their perspective liberation front’s not because their elites were so effective in making the peasants study Stalin's work, but because the people were yearning for an end to repression by any means necessary.

It’s this misunderstanding of the source of nationalism which leads the professor to give too much credit to Stalin on the raise of nationalism. For instance he says “According to the Stalinist vision, the liberation of the ethnic group has precedence over the consideration of unity with other groups” I am not a student of Stalin, but I never came across any research that puts Stalin as a good friend of nationalists. On the contrary, Stalin is well known for persecuting his own “Georgian” nationalists, because he ardently believed that the class solidarity of the workers takes precedence over the nationalist interest of the bourgeoisie. As an old student of Stalin, how could the Professor miss this fact? When fact and logic are thrown out the window, it seems there is no turning back but misrepresenting others is also acceptable because it serves a ‘higher purpose’ that of ‘maintaining unity at all costs’. But when trust is sacrificed to win, we will make ourselves the second Meles Zenawi of a different brand.

In connection to this, another issue which the professor keeps bringing up, but fails to substantiate with evidence, is the correlation between leftist ideology, nationalism, secessionism and armed struggle. He asserts that leftist ideology is responsible for growth of “ethnic” nationalism, secessionist demand, and armed struggle. This theoretical argument could have been persuasive four decades ago when the debate was based on assumptions, but now all those assumptions and theories have been tested and we have the benefit seeing real case studies that have made constructing imagined theories unnecessary. The world has been full of secessionist movements that do not advocate Leninist politics. There have been leftist movements who are not secessionist. There have been several secessionist struggles that are not armed. Here are some of the examples that debunk the said correlation.

* The Tibetan movement is a secessionist one but it is neither Leninist nor armed, the same is true for Quebecois secessionist movement in Canada.
* The Farc in Columbia is a leftist armed group but it is not secessionist, the same is true for the Moist in Nepal
* The BJP in India is an ultra-right wing Hindu nationalist movement which is neither armed nor leftist.
* Far left movements have taken power in several Latin American countries without armed struggle.
* At home front, EDU was a feudal party engaged in armed struggle opposing socialism, while EPRP was a leftist armed movement but it was not “ethnic” nationalist.

Many more of such cases can be listed. Therefore the reality is that movements, be it secessionists or those who want to reform an existing state, pick up guns when they think that all other venues and means of advancing their cause are no longer on the table or they avoid armed struggle when they do not see comparative strategic advantage in violent uprising. Hence, Professor Messay is making a very wild conclusion.

The issue of armed struggle leading to subordination has not been the rule as well. The Zimbabweans and South Africans were trained by Ethiopia, but never made them Ethiopia’s satellite. The EPLF was assisted by the West, but it never succumbed to their interest. Maoist China was assisted by Stalin’s Soviet Union, but it didn’t lead to China’s subordination as well. Hence Professor Messay’s argument that getting assistance from foreigners during the armed struggle will necessarily lead to subordination is not supported by life and experience. It’s worth noting here that my criticism of OLF's relation with Eritrea is based on the nature of the relationship whereby there is neither strategic benefit due to distance from the battlefront, nor has there been tangible financial and logistical support. Worse, being in Eritrea, the leadership insulated itself from pressure and also became a hostage that cannot make independent strategic and institutional decisions.

Mishandling Nationalism: Redress or Repress Grievance

Nationalism is like boiling water, the pot is the repressive system, the heat is repression and grievance is its steam. The solution to such a problem depends at what stage the movement is or how hot the pot is. At an early stage, for instance, you defuse the tension by reducing the heat so you can prevent stream formation. If you miss the first stage and steam has formed, then you must use a combination of strategies which might include reducing the heat, adding cold water and loosening the cover. If it passes that stage, you have no control over the situation as either the pot will explode or the cover could be blown off.

Unfortunately, those who oppose nationalism often increase the pressure instead of systematically defusing such tension. At every stage they increase the heat by stepping repression which helps spreading resentment and galvanizing the oppressed. This often happens because of the gross underestimation of the potential force of grievance. By the time rulers realize their backers the real nature of the problem, they are no longer in the position to influence the outcome.

For instance so much resource and sacrifice was paid to keep Eritrea as part of Ethiopia but the effort was fruitless. Every attempt to crush the movement backfired, strengthening the rebels and further radicalizing their determination. To defuse the Eritrean nationalism and maintain the integrity of the country, Mengistu Hailemariam and his “Abiyotawi Ethiopia or Death” supporters could have negotiated for “Federation”, well before the political will for such consideration became null. And such an outcome wouldn’t have become considered a ‘defeat’ as the Professor suggested. It would have been a win-win situation. In fact, in 1981 EPLF had made the proposal for such negotiation, but was not accepted by the Dergue because it was believed EPLF was initiating a “referendum” talk because it was weakened militarily. The Professor should have learnt from his own experience from the Dergue years, that 'politics is the art of compromise' and not a place to shine with high sounding slogans.

The Way A Head

One might dislike the OLF or another might wish that Oromo nationalism never came to surface. These are good wishes given we add that the repressive systems that gave birth to the movement should have never existed at the first place. Now we have to deal with the reality. Oromo nationalism is a reality and we better come to terms with it and develop a strategy so that it can be channeled towards the common good. I believe that Oromo nationalism, properly understood, effectively organized and led by committed and visionary leadership, could be the greatest force, in cooperation with other movements, that can uplift the country and the wider region from the never ending crisis.

Towards this I propose that opponents and proponents of the movement understand the situation for what it is: Oromo Nationalism is borne out of identity-based injustice by successive regimes that culturally subjugated and ridiculed the Oromo reducing them to subhuman condition on their own land. It’s also a manifestation of grievance from economic marginalization of these people by forces who exploit their resources. Thus, opponents of this movement should understand that such social dynamics cannot fade away under repression or by condescending slogans such as extremism, tribalism or cover up of historical injustice. If those Ethiopians who genuinely lose their sleep over the balkanization of their country, love it earnestly and wish for a better future, they must embrace reality and work towards bringing a democratic, fair and integrated country. In short a justice based on fairness. Oromo nationalists should also know that the objective of the movement is not to “defeat” the oppressor, but to uplift our people. As such we need to overcome our bitterness that was caused by fresh scars of a century long process of dehumanization. As Paulo Freire nicely put it “the great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed is to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well". It is not enough to blame others for all the wrongs and expect difference; we must take leadership to bring about mutual understanding. I hope to say more on this in my upcoming essays.

(The writer can be reached at jawarmd@gmail.com)


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17 Responses to “Misunderstanding nationalism in Ethiopia”

1. Johannes says:

After reading this article, one is just left speechless and baffled by the writer's knowledge of Ethiopia's history, or lack there of. First of all there has never been a time in Ethiopia's history where it was a shame to be Oromo. Second of all there is no land called Oromia in Ethiopian (maybe a state). These are just inaccuracies in the first few paragraphs. Ethnic politics are useless, ineffective, and have no place in the world today. It is energy wasted that brings no results. If we are so against ethnic politics with the current regime, why attempt to do the same. Does it really matter if the is comprised of Oromos, Tigres, Gurages, or Amharas???? NO it does not what matters is having qualified Ethiopians in power that have Ethiopia's best interest at heart not their own ethnic agenda. Until that happens Ethiopia will be no different than Somalia, Rwanda, Sudan, or any other insignificant African country. Let's keep Ethiopia strong and moving forward as one nation of Ethiopians. Ethiopia has always been ahead of most of Africa, so let us not regress back hundreds of years with ethnic politics.

October 22nd, 2009 at 10:06 am
2. Kebede Seyoum says:

Mr. Jawar's piece is a masterpiece! I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Line by line, paragraph by paragraph, he states the reason why we are unable to form unity for as long as we persist to hold tightly onto our hubris. The old Amhara Neftegnas have truly damaged the soul of Ethiopia, and now their children, like Messay, are making it impossible for any sincere dialogue or truce to materialize. Why doesn't Messay go out and meet the various people of the south and see for himself their mutilated hearts?
He will be surprised to find the debris in the hearts of men and women, debris left by his ancestors.

Thanks.

October 22nd, 2009 at 11:44 am
3. Aba Biya Aba Gobbu says:

Hellow My Fellow country Folk and Friends.

My big Questions about nationalism, Oromos, etc. etc. Who decides for the Oromos? The people Orom are not asked about their determination. No organization on this poor Earth can decide for the Oromos.The Oromos and the othe r Ethiopians have the right to decide about their destiny. NO liberation or non liberation organizations.

Ethiopia prevails.

October 22nd, 2009 at 12:58 pm
4. TadesseH says:

"The great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed is to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well".

While this is a great saying, I want to point that it is not particularly about the oppressed and the oppressor but it has been about the blind leading another blind. In order to get out of this hollow pit that is not advancing the region's objectives, massive education of the people as a whole is necessary without pointing fingers. I believe it has started and we need to catch up with the speed.

Thanks for sharing your view that I feel sounds refreshing.

October 22nd, 2009 at 5:30 pm
5. Hailu Sinay says:

Great response, Mr. Jawar.

October 22nd, 2009 at 6:35 pm
6. Assta B. Gettu says:

Forget Oromo’s Nationalism!

Discussing on, or arguing about, a dead issue and at that an exclusive one – the Oromo nationalism – never brings to life the Oromo movement after it has been dead and berried unceremoniously in an unmarked grave somewhere in the southern Ethiopian desert.

Professor Messay will not be accountable for the untimely death of this poorly planned Muslim movement – the Oromo nationalism, and it has never been, in the first place, skillfully executed in Oromia where the majority of Muslims live because its political leaders such as Jawan Siraj Mohammed and his likes abroad and inside Ethiopia lack skills and the art of leading an ordinary, unsophisticated, and an overlooked organization – the Oromo nationalism.

Mr. Mohammed asserts “…neither me nor the Professor would have been interested in debating this issue had Oromo nationalism not been the most powerful mobilizing force that is likely to determine the future of the Ethiopian state.”

Far from being powerful and a mobilizing force, the Oromo Islamic movement has been the most dormant and lifeless entity that no one can think about any more except the separatist Muslim, Mr. Mohammed, who may have something to benefit by disintegrating the Oromo Muslims from the rest of the other Ethiopian Christians and Ethiopian Arab Muslims, and such a dead movement will not determine the future of Ethiopia.

To avoid shame and inferiority, the name Oromo was invented according to Mr. Mohammed’s understanding of the term Oromo because the original name Galla, Mr. Mohammed thinks, has been a shameful identity and the purpose of the creation of the Oromo movement is simply to remove the stigma, the name Galla, and to have no connection with the original name Galla.

It may be easy to change a name or an identity but one never changes the inherited inferiority of the Oromo Arab Muslims: money cannot change it; guerrilla warfare cannot change it; belief in Islam cannot change it, and fame cannot change it; therefore, Mr. Mohammed is just crying in the wilderness to give a new name, a new spirit, and a new ideology to the Galla or Oromo movement by blindly supporting the ill-fated Oromo nationalism.

Those 20 million Muslim children who are learning their lessons in Afan Oromo instead of in the national language – Amharic – are not going to change the backwardness or primitiveness of the Oromo nationalism and its Islamic faith as the millions of the Pakistani Muslim children who have been learning their Madrasses have never brought any change to their country by later joining the Jihadists, and the language of Oromia still remains as a taboo and as an afterbirth thing.

It is totally absurd and disingenuous to claim that all the Oromo people support the Oromo nationalism that has never produced any tangible results except denouncing the Amhara dominance and the Amhara culture, religion and language.

As a strong Muslim adherent, Mr. Mohammed is probably very sad deep inside by the total fiasco of the Oromo nationalism without reaching its goals – to demonize the Amhara noble culture, true faith, long history, and deep-rooted civilization.

Mr. Mohammed talks boldly about the success of the Oromo nationalism, but he has failed to produce any single evidence demonstrated by the Oromo organization except that the organization per se has been a big threat to the people of Oromia by burning their houses and kidnapping their sons and daughters and training them to be another big threat to their own family.

No one has purposely alienated the Oromo people even though the Oromo movement has tried to isolate them and use them as a means against the Amhara people; however, Mr. Mohammed asserts that the other opposition forces have met the demands of the Oromo nationalism and “continue to make gradual concession to soften the nationalist position and win their alliance.” This is totally absurd statement for no other opposition party has ever accepted the demands of the Oromo nationalism.

First of all, what are the Oromo demands? As far as any one knows the OLF demands are separation from the Amhara people, declaration of independence, reclaiming Addis Ababa as the capital city of Oromia with the name “Finfinne,” demoting the Amharic language, and driving out all the Amharas from any Oromia regions.

In reality, has any one of these demands ever been achieved by this diffident political organizers of the Oromo movement? Not a single one of them! And Oromia is still one of the Ethiopian provinces and its people are subjects of the Woyanne government.

Further, Mr. Mohammed talks about the many contributions of the Oromo people to Ethiopia but he cannot support such empty claims unless it is as an auxiliary one to the main contributions of the Amhara people to the Ethiopian nation.

When some of the Oromo Arab-Muslim organizers try to secede from Ethiopia, they incur the old name callings such as “baria,” “shanqilla,” “galla,” and “walamo,” and many other such degrading names. In fact, the Oromos have never been enslaved, but their aloofness from the rest of the other Ethiopian people renders them as the slaves of the Amhara people.

The Oromo movement is still in the backburner, never moved to the center, and no one knows it exists any more in the other Ethiopian organizations.

Mr. Mohammed, don’t mix up the Eritreans with the Oromos; the Eritreans have been colonized by different foreign powers, but Oromia has never been colonized, thanks to the Amhara people’s stamina and love of country; therefore, the Oromos are not qualified for self-determination, and they are incapable of governing themselves.

Some of the political movements of other countries Mr. Mohammed listed may have been legitimate ones, but the Oromo movement is a self-destructive one that involves the total destructions of the Ethiopian people.

Mr. Mohamed’s nationalism’s analogy of boiling water, pot, heat, and steam has nothing to do with the unsubstantiated grievances of the Oromo people.

How can boiling water represent nationalism, pot repressive system, heat repression, and grievance steam? Nationalism does not always originate from oppressed people only; some people, like the OLF organizers, prefer to be nationalists for their own selfish motives. In such cases, no boiling water, pat, and steam represent the OLF nationalism: their grievances and oppressions are not different from the other Ethiopians’ grievances and oppressions.

After profusely praising the OLF that has failed to bring to the Oromos freedom from the Amhara nation, Mr. Mohammed concludes his article, by saying: “Oromo Nationalism is borne out of identity-based injustice by successive regimes that culturally subjugated and ridiculed the Oromo reducing them to subhuman condition on their own land.”

First of all, no government has purposely ever mistreated the Oromo people until they have become subhuman since the Oromos and the Amharas have been under the Oromos and the Amharas rulers for many, many centuries. They both may have equally suffered and mistreated by their own rulers. To claim that the Oromos are the only Ethiopian people that have been victimized by various Ethiopian rulers disqualifies Mr. Mohammed’s grievances about the oppressions of his Oromo’s Arab-Muslim population.

October 22nd, 2009 at 9:59 pm
7. think says:

This is an excellent article that every body should read, well written, to the point. There has to be discussion, there has to be exchange of idea. The elites purposely continue to manipulates the agenda so no logical discussion can take place so we won't recognize our common denominator. There are many Ahmars that have died with OLF, and other freedom loving groups as well. It should also be noted even the northern have been fighting for autonomy from the central government, Gojjam but the northern elites have silenced them, so the land of Nile goes thirsty.
Thanks to OLF today Democracy is household word where monarchs and kings were the ion that Ethiopia prides itself, what OLF has done is that it has raised the consciousness of all Ethiopian people, without democracy there is no peace, without peace there is no Ethiopia. So Jawar we encourage you to continue the dialog, uplift not only Oromos but all Ethiopians for Ethiopia is our land our home.
thanks

October 23rd, 2009 at 12:46 am
8. tezibt says:

Good article but as an Ethiopian hard for me to swallow all the stuff. I hope I am right in believing that the Oromo elite like the rest of Ethiopian elites, does fail to understand the real issue. The real issue here is there is no issue other that the fact that you all elites have an ego issue and most involved elites do seem to be well educated people who failed to make money or name in their fields. It really is a curse that may continue to the future generations.

October 23rd, 2009 at 7:03 am
9. Menelik says:

I have some appreciations for Mohamed's views; more than its absurdity it has some values, from his point of view, to mislead but may be very few narrow minds. At one point he even says, "…we will make ourselves the second Meles Zenawi of a diffent brand". I don't think he knows for sure who and for what purpose the Ethiopian people are fighting against.

October 23rd, 2009 at 8:31 pm
10. Menelik says:

I read a lot of articles written by so-called Ethiopian intellectuals. To my utter astonishment many of these articles lack coherence but fortunately Jewar is a breath of fresh air in that regard. He is articulate and well reasoned and yet better he supports his arguments with evidence but the same can’t be said about Professor Mesay. I would have enjoyed this debate better if Jewar had met his match but unfortunately the good professor substitutes demagoguery for well thought of argument.

October 23rd, 2009 at 8:34 pm
11. asheber necho says:

Mr. Gettu

You belief system is the very reason why we need strong ethnic and religious organizations in Ethiopia. I am afraid there are many Ethiopians who have similar thoughts as you do about other non-Amhara Ethiopians and Mr. Jawar is making his case that we need strong organizations to challenge that. You have insulted the Oromos, the Muslims and the rest of the minorities in Ethiopia in one swoop and that is the mindset that almost everyone is up against right now. In a vain attempt, Mr. Messay tried to hair split and dance around the issues that you have expressed clearly and unambiguously.
But there is no other way to put the fire of extreme hatred people like you hold towards other non-Amharas except to organize and fight all the way through.

Although you and your mentor Mr. Messay would like to tell us otherwise, it is a matter of public record that the Oromos and other ethnic minorities in Ethiopia have gained tremendously since the overthrow of the Haile Selassie regime. The Oromos and other nationalities in Ethiopia have gained the respect of their heritage and history and now have the right to self-administer their regions using their own language. In spite of Mr. Messay’s attempt to dismiss the struggle and achievement of the Oromos and other minorities as a token gift from the TPLF, the fact remains unchallenged that the OLF spearheaded this movement from the beginning although the outcome took a decidedly different turn. Even though all the legal Oromo parties working in and outside of the government are fighting over each other as the true representatives of the Oromo people, no one in his right mind disputes the achievements of the Oromo people so far is the result of the work headed by the OLF.

Mr. Gettu, the Ethiopia that you are dreaming about is just that, a dream. I wish I could say sweet dream but you are dreaming about splintering the nation into many entities. I wish I could dismiss your lengthy writing as none sense from the distant past, but I am afraid you are not alone in you wishful thinking. The Ethiopia you are longing for is gone forever; the Ethiopia that was known as Christian island populated by Amharas is just a footnote in the history books. Very few people like you might look on the rear view mirror and feel nostalgic about the days of the feudal lords, but the vast majority of the Ethiopian people have already said good-riddance to that era. If you really want to contribute to the struggle of the nation you claim to love dearly, I suggest that you shed you chauvinistic garb and try to treat and respect everyone equally.

October 24th, 2009 at 12:52 pm
12. Ejerssa Bayissa says:

Mr. Jawar Siraj Mohammed, don't think that every secessionist element succeeds. Let me give you the most current example of the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE). You can check out this http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1899160,00.html

October 24th, 2009 at 9:56 pm
13. Assta B. Gettu says:

Ato asheber necho,

For your information and understanding of genuine history, there are no such things as “non-Amhara Ethiopians.” All Ethiopians are Amharas who have lived for centuries under their own system of governance – the Amharas’ leadership and have worshiped God in that glorious Church, the Amhara Church, spoken the Amharic language, and tilled, protected and enjoyed the same land, and buried in the same soil until the enemies – the dissenters, like you and your Muslim friend, Jawar Siraj Mohammed, saw their Muslim number increasing faster than the number of the Ethiopian Christians finally realized the time has come for them to break the unity of Ethiopia, dismantle the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church that has been the symbol of peace, unity, and pride of all the Ethiopian people in time of peace and war.

You want to fight, then let us fight, but remember as we fight we are prolonging the evil leadership of Meles Seitanawi (Zenawi) instead of strengthening the unity of the Ethiopian Christian dome and accepting the supremacy of the Amharas.

From your writing, it is clear the Woyanne government has been a blessing to the Oromo Arab Muslims but a curse to the indigenous Ethiopian Christians, and that is why a large majority of the Ethiopian Arab Muslims voted for Meles Seitanawi in the 2005 Election Day, and no doubt in anyone’s mind that they are ready to vote for him during this coming election, because the Ethiopian Arab Muslims, especially the Oromos abhor the Amharas without any substantial reason.

In fact, you have vividly told us in your comment that you and the other Muslims are the only beneficiaries of the existing Woyanne oppressive regime when you emphatically stated: “…it is a matter of public record that the Oromos and other ethnic minorities in Ethiopia have gained tremendously since the overthrow of Haile Selassie regime.”

Yes, Meles Seitanawi fears and hates the Amharas and wants the Ethiopian Arab Muslims to rise up against this mighty and graceful race – the Amhara tribe.

You wrote: “The Oromos and other nationalities in Ethiopia have gained the respect of their heritage and history and now have the right to self-administer their regions using their own language.”

By the way, who gave the Oromos the right to self-administration? Isn’t it Meles Seitanawi who gave the Oromo this right so that he could get the votes of over 30 million Ethiopian Arab Muslims? It is not the Oromo movement that gave the Oromos the right to self-determination, and since you have gained all these rights, thanks to Meles Seitanawi, you are then part of, and loyal to, the Woyanne regime, but on the surface you claim you are against the Meles regime to win favor from the Amharas.

You declare: “the Oromos…have gained the respect of their heritage and history….” Can you tell me what kind of history and heritage the Oromos have had aside the history and heritage of the Amhara people? Can you mention just one heritage and one piece of history achieved exclusively by the Oromos Arab Muslims?

You and your Oromo Arab Muslims still think Christianity in Ethiopia does not exist anymore; the only religion that exists in Ethiopia is Islam, and, you believe, that very soon the Caliphate will be established in Finfinne, the future capital city of Oromia, and the Amhara people will be gone forever, and they never come back. When you think such absurd thoughts, you are simply hallucinating: the Amhara Christian kingdom is still in power, and it has never lost power, and you and your Ethiopian Arab Muslims are subservient to this Christian Kingdom and have no right to establish your own government. Come May, 2010, go and cast your ballot for your friend, Meles Seitanawi so that he might declare Islam as a state religion, and that is what the Oromo Arab Muslims are heading to.

October 25th, 2009 at 5:15 pm
14. peace says:

Ato Assta,

Your closed mindedness is scary. Most Amaras don't talk like this. You are following the steps of tribalists TPLF. Did you say all Ethiopians are Amaras? Really? What of Tigres, gurages, oromos for that matter, are you saying the above tribes are Ethiopians because of Amara? Are you saying what makes Ethiopia is Ethiopia is Amara? You must be joking. Of course there is no denying they have ruled for 100 year and they did oppress other ethnic groups no denying although I don't claim their oppression should lead to the break up of Ethiopia, which I totally disagree in that. However, I don't like the blame game and in that case, I can now blame all this head ache we are facing now then I can say is due to Amara's dominance. Shouldn't this be fair of your bluffing how Amara did this and did that. Please also, becareful generalization of Ethiopia's muslims as this and that, Arabs, etc. There are many Muslims who are proud of being Ethiopians but they don't have to Amaras also. There are Muslims of Ethiopia from all ethnic tribes do you get it? Although I do have a feeling and which I disagree also that there are muslims are now being extremeists such as SOME Oromo Muslims who are following the Arab mentality to weaken Christianity in Ethiopia. They follow people like Professor Shamsaddin of Egypt who is calling for dismantling of Ethiopia? Now why does this Egyptian care? Of course great deal because of the Nile and spread Islam in Ethiopia. Some naive Oromo Muslims who are blindingly supporting this which is dangerous for Ethiopia. It is true Ethiopia has always been a Christian nation for centuries. Islam came to Ethiopia but not the other way around. So, indeed there are extremist muslims who are collobrating with Weyane and Middle East country to destroy Ethiopia and christianity and they should also thank Meles for this. However you have be careful including every Ethiopian muslim as outsiders ok or as if Amara is the only important entity. I thought you are fighting Meles because of pro ethnicity. If you have other agenda as those extremist OLFs then it is time also to disagree with extremist Amara like you. Ethiopia belongs to all ethnicity, language and religion and that is how it has to be.

Are you joking when you said what Oromos have contributed in Ethiopia? Who fought and died during Italy's attempt to colonize Ethiopia? What about Balcha Aba Nefso, Bekele Weya, and many many more, what about my grandfather who died in 1945 by Italians? It is laughable to say Oromos didn't sacrifice their lives to protect their country. It is true, if you wnat democratic country then it is not Amara in fact Oromos are the majority doesn't it make sense it is high time Oromos lead the country. I have a feeling peace will come after Oromos took over because they have fair and balanced policy. They are known in history giving proper law, adapting children, etc.. learn from them. What does Amara do these days, prostituting that is what they are good at anyways, that is why they are good in diplomacy because they are good in manipulating things to get what they want. Amaras are the one who have been also degrading other ethnic groups such as Oromo is a fool, Gurage loves money etc,. what should I say Amara is good in prostitution? So stop this extreme thinking.

October 26th, 2009 at 3:41 pm
15. Yaho says:

This was the most intellegent way that the "Oromo Cause" has been explained to me…I am by birth Oromo and Amhara, however, I never understood such a radicalism to creat a monoethnic "Oromian" naton.

I have a question for Ato Jewar:

Why do most Oromo elites refuse to deal with Pan-Ethiopian rebel groups if the purpose is not to "defeat" the opressors and impose the OLD ideology??

Why are the OLF leaders running away from making a solidarity coalition with, lets say, Ginbot 7 or EPPF, to destroy the TPLF so that we can establish a harmonious nation??

I believe that the OLF elites are allergic to the Unity ideas as most Ethiopians are to the secationist ideology.

Mr. Jewar, I wish you and your fellow Oromo elites preach the same idea and thinking to the Oromos in Mennesota who HATE anything Ethiopian! They must have learned to hate…right? It's funny to be an Oromo and be hated by other Oromos, because I refuse to hate the nation that gave birth to my heritage.

Mr. Jewar, please answer me these questions.
Thank you.

October 26th, 2009 at 3:57 pm
16. Tulu says:

Can this guy explain the Arbaggugu massacre of Amharic-speaking people?? Who else committed this crime other than the OLF??? I hate these elites who use beautiful words on paper and have an ugly and poisoned mentality when it comes to action.

The OLF would like to be another ethnocentric mercinary group like the TPLF in power if given the chance.

October 26th, 2009 at 4:02 pm
17. Assta B. Gettu says:

Peace,

Mr. Peace, nothing is scary, dangerous, worrisome, and unproductive other than the spread of Islam through many Ethiopian Fatimas that breed like wild cats, and I’m certain most Amharas have no patience any more to accommodate the multiplicities of unwanted births of the Ethiopian Arab Muslims in this holy land of the Christian Kingdom.

For example, if an Ethiopian Christian Dinkinesh gives birth to ten children, she would not be able to raise all ten of them, but if an Ethiopian Fatima gives birth to twenty children, she could be able to raise all of them without any problem at all because of the charity money she could be receiving from Saudi Arabia; all Ethiopian Arab Muslims are encouraged by the Arab-Muslim world to have more children and to populate Ethiopia with Muslim children, and that is what happening now in Ethiopia if you are aware of it.

Yes, I have said all Ethiopians are Amharas, and I will say it again and again, and if you understand logic, and I believe you do, I will say it this way:

All Ethiopians are Amharas.
Tigryans, Gurages, and Gallas are Ethiopians.
Therefore, Tigryans, Gurages, and Gallas are Amharas.

The Amhara tribe represents all the other Ethiopian tribes; all the other tribes are in the Amhara tribes. It is like the saying of Jesus: “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?” (John 14:10) Any Oromo, or Tigre, or Gurage can say: “Don’t you believe that I am in the Amhara, and that the Amhara is in me?”

And I am not joking when I’m expressing the reality that when the Amharas go down, with them all the other tribes go down, and when the Amharas prosper, all the other tribes also prosper. It is like the economy of our time; when the American economy breaks down, the economy of the rest of the world breaks down.

You cannot understand the natures of the Ethiopian Arab Muslims who destroyed Ethiopia under the leadership of Gragn Muhammad, and you don’t understand what is going on in the minds of all the Ethiopian Arab Muslims, especially in the minds of the Oromo Arab Muslims: they are waiting and waiting until they pick up a Muslim leader that would destroy the Amharas’ Christian Kingdom. The Turks, the Iranians, the Egyptians, the Saudis, and the Sudanese are pushing hard the Ethiopian Arab Muslim, particularly the Oromo Arab Muslims, to rise up and take the Ethiopian Christian Kingdom, and that is why some of these foreign Arab Muslims are buying a lot of Ethiopian lands and trading with Ethiopia all year around.

In some ways, you seem to understand the mischievous activities of some of the Egyptian clerics whose daily prayers to their moon-god allah are nothing else but for the downfall of the Ethiopian Christian dome. If you believe Islam is a fake religion that teaches violence, enhances adultery, oppresses women, and spreads Sharia all over the world, then you have to hate all the Jihadists who are burning the Christian Churches on a daily basis in the Oromia regions and in other countries.

Those gentle Ethiopian Arab Muslims have already been radicalized by the Saudi Arab Muslim extremists, and it is very risky to live with them or work with them or have them as one’s good neighbors.

My agenda is simple, clear and pure: Ethiopia has one religion, Christianity; one language, Amharic; one culture, the Amhara culture; and one leader, a Christian one, bad or good.

Any contributions the Oromos have made, if there are any, are contributions well planned and executed under the smart leadership of the Amhara people. When an army general defeats his enemy in a battle field, it is the general who is praised and awarded medals of bravery, not each soldier that fought the battle under his/her general.

You want the Oromos to take control of Ethiopia, and you know that Oromos are Muslims, and most Muslims are Jihadists who believe in Sharia and in killing the non Muslims – the Christians – so that they could easily go to paradise and have sex with the Muhammad’s Paradise virgin girls.

After the destruction of my Churches, my holy Monasteries, and my valuable documents by a Muslim leader – Gragn Muhammad – I don’t want to see my Christian country fall into the hands of the pugnacious Ethiopian Arab Muslims. Not any more!

You wrote: “Amharas are…degrading…Oromo….” If, indeed, the Amharas are purposely disparaging the Oromos, then the Amharas are belittling themselves because the Oromos are in Amharas and the Amharas are in Oromos as I have explained earlier.

I will never understand though why you said: “…Amhara is good in prostitution?”

You must be running a prostitution business somewhere in the Oromia region and you may know very well who your customers are, and I’m sure the Amharas are not your regular customers; the Amharas are too busy in planning to bring a democratic leader and in protecting the country. Prostitution is for the Oromo Arab Muslims, not for the Amhara holy race. The real definition of prostitution here is to try to disintegrate Ethiopia and the real definition of holiness is to keep Ethiopia united; therefore, the Oromo Arab Muslims are the real prostitutes, and the Amharas are the true holy ones; however, the prostitute Oromo Arab Muslims can be sanctified through the holiness of the Amhara blessed race.

October 26th, 2009 at 9:57 pm
18. Abdikarim Buh says:

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Thanks to Mr, Jawar Siraj Mohamed and Professor Messay Kebede’s debate because through the debate a common understanding may most likely develop as time goes by – understanding based on mutual respect for each other. Ethiopia is a unique country with a unique history and with undeniably unique state formation and which is rightly going through a unique objective course to establish itself in a new and a final unclear setting.
Mr, Messay is a believer of democratic Ethiopia and equally I believe Mr. Jawar is not divorced from the same thesis but is more realistic by shedding light on the OROMO nationalism which is symbolic for most of the oppressed, colonised and dehumanised southern people. Ahmara people are far from supper race who love Ethiopia because they are the one who created this chaos after more then one century in power and I find offensive and extremism of the highest order that Muslims in Eritrea and Ethiopia are classed as foreigners in their own ancestral land. Abyssinia was confined to the highlands and was predominately Christian but when with the help of the sponsors of Berlin partition powers Abyssinia stretched it self to engulf and colonise other nationalities is that when “Christian Ethiopia” faded away – Oromos, Somalis, Afars and etc were Muslims as early as the 7th century.
It is not the Muslims who went out to colonise the Christian Highlanders, it is not the Muslims who imposed their language and culture on the other nations and certainly it was not Muslim regimes who delivered this failure. The oppressed nations have every right to liberate themselves from oppression and in doing so the struggle will be distasteful to the sons, Assta B. Gettu, of the Generals the feudal system favoured for so long. Mr. Assta B. Gettu and his likes are doing a favour for the Ethiopian discourse because his contribution although disdainful puts on the spot light the narrow mindedness of some of our people – ultra Amharic Christian fundamentalists.
We all should aim to be objective and realistic when addressing the question of Ethiopia as it stands at this juncture and we must not in any way deny the history but on the contrary learn from it. Mr. Mele Zenawi didn’t introduce Kilils but was imposed on him because when the TPLF took power major ethnicities were in full control of the areas they dominate; the TPLF to become legitimate to rule had no choice but accept the reality on the ground. The same can be said about the DERGU – to be seen legitimate they have to address the land question.
The DERGU regime moved the country from the abhorrent reactionary feudalism to republic although it was not bloodless revolution and the TPLF moved the power from centre to the regional states although this process is not done according to the satisfaction of the federal regions. At this point in time the social and political situation of the country needs to take the third step – fully fledging democratic federal state of Ethiopia in which Christian and Muslims enjoy the same right or nine separate African states.
The clouds of despair and destruction are gathering in the horizon because the TPLF failed to produce an all inclusive federal government and because we see among the many, ethnic based OLF and ONLF, are fighting against the same TPLF they were fighting side by side two decades ago and this signifies that the transition to genuine federal democratic Ethiopia is becoming difficult to achieve unless the TPLF regime sacrifices its love for power for the good of Ethiopia which seems very unlikely in light of the TPLF’s preparation for war before the 2010 election.
The debate to be meaningful we shouldn’t loose the plot – how we can save Ethiopia is the question and going back to yesteryears is no remedy at all. The forty year old Oromo or Somali has no recollection of how imperial Ethiopia conducted its business, how its flag look like, Amharic language, the Ethiopian student movement or whether EPRP ever existed – simply all that was the game of the centre which is seen by the rest as some thing which was happening as far away as china.
To some my opinion could appear as dooms day whistle blower but I would say life is not about holding good cards but playing a poor hand well. We are looking at a very precarious situation which calls for all concerned to pool our thoughts in saving over eighty million Ethiopians from the likes of my good friend Mr. Assta B. Gettu – ultra Amharic Christian fundamentalist which can be rightly called as Al -Shabab’s Ethiopian version

October 27th, 2009 at 8:43 pm

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