Open Letter to PM Meles Zenawi
May 21, 2005
As you know our country is in a state of unprecedented period of political transformation and one of the most exiting at that. For the first time in our history our people have believed in themselves to make a difference in their lives by owning their government. I think they have found some way of saying enough is enough. And I must thank you for being a part of the process that gave our people an opportunity to express themselves. Now you and your party, the EPRDF, are up for a real test of your repeatedly professed commitment to democracy.
Dear PM Meles,
History is unusually generous in giving you multiple opportunities to do the right thing. You passed a few of them including the one you got soon after the demise of the dergue. You have another one now and I hope you are not going to miss it. For many such chances are very rare. Perhaps this is the last chance you may have and I urge you and your colleagues in the EPDRF to cease it. Believe it or not, the winner in this election is not a party or parties as many people want to believe. The winners are the Ethiopian people. In my opinion you and your organization, the EPRDF, deserve a lot of credit for helping the coming of this day. It is inconceivable to think that you can go out to spoil your own magnificent achievement by being against it. Make the right and honorable decision by giving the people what is theirs and taking what is yours. Give the people their choice and take your honor and respect.
All patterns of the results so far show that the people have chosen your opposition. We may differ on the detailed interpretations of the results of this election even at this preliminary stage, but we can agree on one thing. The Ethiopian people have just said that the status quo as represented by your leadership and the EPRDF is unacceptable. They can't say this any louder. The complete wipe out of your party from Addis Ababa, which is the microcosm of the country, speaks volumes if you listen carefully. Add to this the humiliating defeat of all your important ministers. For anybody with little common sense the fact that the people have rejected your party is clear. It is hard to imagine that you can sit in the middle of a sea of people that rejected you with such overwhelming vote and rule the country in peace. The right thing for you to do now is to congratulate the winners, the Ethiopian people and, of course, the opposition that found their voices and be a part of the celebration. The people just made a referendum on the fourteen years of your rule. It is too late to make any corrections now. You must be familiar with a famous saying in Ethiopia, birilie keneqa Ayhonim iqa.
Defeat can only be painful on people who want to make it one. Ethiopians don't like sour losers. In my view you may not lose as much as you may think if you accept your loss with dignity and grace. The way you handled the pre election process is very commendable and I think you need to pursue that line through the end. By the way, thanks a million that you did not stop those debates in the middle when it was even apparent that you were running out of ideas and dwarfed by the ideas of the opposition. Had I been advising you, I would have told you to run on the very things you were doing, like the opening you made for the very debate itself, instead of that despicable Rwandan interhamwe comparison. I am told this made a lot of people angry. As far as I know, the citing of what the Rwandan beasts did to one another is nauseating for most Ethiopians. But it is a mystery for me why you always think there will be an Armageddon in Ethiopia whenever you are confronted with a challenge. Do you know that some of us are afraid of a self fulfilling prophesy?
The Ethiopian people now smell their true power. Nobody will be better served by your backtracking at this stage of the election. Believe me, you and your party the EPRDF, will be the least to benefit from such actions. There is already a tremor from down inside the crust of the Ethiopian earth which you may not have detected. Nobody can stop the resulting tsunami that is coming your way now. The laughable accusation that the opposition committed fraud on the election, and shameless after the fact changing of the vote counts need to stop. Mr. Prime Minister please also spare us of the insult to our intelligence.
Dear Mr. Meles Zenawi,
From where things stand now, it is not difficult to see that there are only two options for you to take. You can choose to go down in history as Ethiopia's Jefferson for helping your country come to where it finds itself now by accepting the decision made by the people, or go against this tide and face the fate of many leaders who ended up in less than glamorous places. I hope you prefer the former. Don?t forget how many times you accused your opponents and political enemies of being anti-people and anti-democratic. It is more than a huge embarrassment to become one yourself. Please Mr. Prime Minister, don't take away a shining achievement in our history by backsliding on the results of this election as you seem you are trying to do now.
I am told you and your colleagues and cadres are trying to make bizarre explanations for your losses in the election. There is no way you can explain your dramatic losses other than your mistaken economic and social policies. Many of us who went out to help you by being your genuine critics have seen this a long time ago. Long before CUD was formed four months ago.
There are a few things that you may have to seriously look to help you make the right decision now. The first thing to see in the data of the reported election results is the geography of the votes. You lost the urban vote in large numbers including an amazing cleaning out from Addis Ababa. The kind of loss you had in Addis is perhaps the only of its kind in history. I am sure you and your party would tell us that you have a lot of the rural vote to be proud of. But even there the pattern is not one that goes without a serious question. How can rural peasants elect the opposition in large numbers in cases where they were accessible for relatively heavy monitoring and scrutiny, as compared to the more remote and less scrutinized woredas where you are claiming you won the election? That doesn't smell good at all.
Dear Ato Meles,
As you are well aware, the election reports that came from Tigrai are an aberrations rather than a national pattern. We know all along that the people of Tigrai are in a state of political stranglehold by your party; at least that is what our many Tigrean friends tell us when you are not listening. I am sure all Ethiopians would see it that way rather than consider it a block ethnic vote for you. You know the people of Tigrai more than me. They are one of the most judicious people on the planet and would have told you their true feeling if you had given them the opportunity. If I were you I will not be proud of parading this vote around.
Dear MP Meles,
I urge you to go deep down into your soul and examine the right thing to do. Believe me that sea of a people who came out to demonstrate in support of CUD would applaud you and respect you if you come out now and announce that you have resigned and wish them good luck. The biggest mistake any politician can make is to misread the intent of an entire people and to listen to the deafening sounds of political power rather than real voices. A case in point is the claims you made on the "pro EPRDF demonstration" in Addis Ababa. I am sure you believed you were going to win Addis Ababa by looking at the number of demonstrators that you addressed on April 30. Your cadres were telling themselves and everybody that those demonstrators were the real voters who registered to vote and those that came out like a tsunami the next days were the hooligans, the unemployed and the not so well dressed, who have no voting cards. Your people and cadres also believed their own propaganda and repeated it until it almost seemed believable. When we finally saw the results the reality looked unreal as unreality could get. I am sure you have a hard time believing it. Believe it or not this reminded me of May 1991, where, just days before you were going to take over Addis Ababa, some of Mengistu's Ministers and generals were laying foundations to construct new villas. As a man of my generation, I want to be a little prouder of you than the leaders of the dergue who are now in the dustbins of history.
If you don't respect the will of the people and go against their wishes, there is one more serious error you would be committing. The EPRDF would never revive to become a significant force in Ethiopia's political future. That means you would deprive all of us of the diversity of ideas we badly need in our politics.
Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
Don't forget that there are cycles in society as in the rest of nature where, all of a sudden, people rise in quest of newer ways of doing their things and changing their lives. It is like you and I had our Yekatit in 1973. This generation is having its Yekatit now. Believe me it is not good to stand against the Yekatit of another generation. Give their Yekatit to them in ways different than your predecessors gave it to us. When history is written at last let it say our generation knew better.
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