Off-term elections were held in Ethiopia over the weekend although they attracted little attention. The elections were a waste of resources since 99.9 percent of the candidates and the voters are members of the ruling party Woyanne. Out of the 10,000 candidates, only 2 were non-Woyanne members, and less than 10 percent of voters went out to vote. More details in the Amharic section here.
Archive for February, 2011
By Teodros Kiros
The defiant citizens of Libya fought against roaring tanks, piercing guns, and fast helicopters intent on destroying the resilient human bodies to silence, to perpetual acquiescence in the culture of tyranny.
Old men and women, boys and girls, even babies, were not spared from the violence of tyranny. A shameless dictator and his family boasted that they were going to fight to the last bullet and that imperialism was going to be taught a lesson. It is not imperialism, which is being taught a lesson, it is dictatorship, which is being shamed, and dictators everywhere are watching their fate, if they do not heed to the people’s demand.
When you anger the people and when Fortuna summons to act, then the people use Virtu and fight in defense of liberty and dignity.
The Libyan people were not going to take any of it. They rose to the barbarism of tyranny and are fighting heroically. The people in combat continue to demonstrate extraordinary military coordination and firepower as they resist the forces of evil. They are resisting tanks, missiles, with anti-aircraft guns, and even dared to display an array of tanks.
The people are repeatedly repulsing the Kaddafi’s Forces outside Tripoli, as they are defending their dignities and respecting their existential rights to live in peace and harmony.
In the heat of a civil war, which began peacefully as a march of liberty, the people quickly learned that dictatorships do not listen to the summons of reason, and they quickly used Virtu, that Machiavellian technique of skillful resistance and took on the challenge, and had to respond to force with counter force, and the result is a stunning military coordination of the streets of democracy.
The stream of the quest for liberty also engulfs the Arab world and soon the African world. The Libyan challenge is not over yet, and there are many days and nights awaiting the combatants on the streets of democracy, and thousands more are going to be sacrificed in defense of liberty, and so is the price of liberty.
Liberty and dignity unlike many other existential rights are priceless and humans are destined to die for their sakes, and this lesson is one of the constants in human history. We always hope that tyranny learns from history and gives up power without bloodshed, which reasonable persons wish, but tyranny never does, and liberty and dignity are forced to resist it.
Alemayehu G. Mariam
Thugogracy in Africa
If democracy is government of the people, by the people and for the people, a thugogracy is a government of thieves, for thieves, by thieves. Simply stated, a thugtatorship is rule by a gang of thieves and robbers (thugs) in designer suits. It is becoming crystal clear that much of Africa today is a thugogracy privately managed and operated for the exclusive benefit of bloodthirsty thugtators.
In a thugtatorship, the purpose of seizing and clinging to political power is solely to accumulate personal wealth for the ruling class by stealing public funds and depriving the broader population scarce resources necessary for basic survival. The English word “thug” comes from the Hindi word “thag” which means “con man”. In India “Thugees”, well-organized criminal gangs, robbed and murdered unsuspecting travelers over a century ago. Africa’s “thugees” today mug, rob, pillage, plunder and rape unsuspecting whole nations and peoples and secrete away their billions in stolen loot in European and American banks.
Today, we see the incredibly extreme lengths Libyan thugtator Muammar Gaddafi is willing to go to preserve his thugocratic empire floating on billions of stolen oil dollars hidden in foreign bank accounts and corporate property holdings. The British Government recently announced that it expects to seize “around £20 billion in liquid assets of the Libyan regime, mostly in London.” The Swiss Government has similarly issued an order for the immediate freeze of assets belonging to Gadhafi and his entourage. The Swiss central bank announced that it will freeze Gaddafi’s 613 million Swiss francs (USD$658 million), with an additional 205 million francs (USD$220 million) in paper or fiduciary operations. In 2008, before a diplomatic incident involving the arrest of one of Gaddafi’s sons for assault in Switzerland, Gadhafi’s Swiss holdings amounted to 5.7 billion in cash and 812 million francs in paper and fiduciary operations. In 2006, the Libyan Sovereign Wealth Fund had investments of $70 billion. The U.S. closed its Embassy in Triopli and slapped a freeze on all Libyan assets described as “substantial.”
To protect his empire of corruption, Gadhafi has ordered his air force to bomb and strafe unarmed civilian demonstrators demanding an end to his 42-year rule. His son Saif al-Islam threatened to dismember the country and plunge it into a civil war that will last for 30 or 40 years. In a televised speech, the young thug promised a bloodbath: “We will fight to the last minute, until the last bullet. I will fight until the last drop of my blood.” The buffoonish al-Islam contemptuously reassured the world: “Plan A is to live and die in Libya. Plan B is to live and die in Libya. Plan C is to live and die in Libya.” For someone who has no official role in government, it was an astonishing statement to make.
Gadhafi himself has vowed to fight on and die “like a martyr” in the service of his thugogracy. He urged his supporters in Green Square to fight back and “defend the nation.” He exhorted, “Retaliate against them, retaliate against them… Dance, sing and prepare. Prepare to defend Libya, to defend the oil, dignity and independence.” Gadhafi promised: “At the suitable time, we will open the arms depot so all Libyans and tribes become armed, so that Libya becomes red with fire.” It is not enough for Gadhafi and his thugs to have bled the Libyan people dry for 42 years, they now want to burn down the whole country to ashes. Apres moi, le deluge! (After me, the flood!)
The Ivory Coast is on the verge of civil war, according to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. In December 2010, Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down after he was decisively defeated in the presidential election. His own Election Commission said his opponent Alassane Ouattara won the election by a nine-point margin. The African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United Nations, the United States, the European Union all said Ouattara is the winner. Gbagbo has turned a deaf ear and is preparing to plunge the Ivory Coast into civil war to protect his empire of corruption. In 2000, Gbagbo imposed a curfew and a state of emergency and ordered security forces to shoot and kill any demonstrators in the streets: “Police, gendarmes and soldiers from all branches of the armed forces are ordered to use all means throughout the country to oppose troublemakers.” Like Gaddafi’s mercenaries today, Gbagbo’s troops back then went on a killing and beating rampage. The European Union, the Swiss and United States Governments have frozen Gbagbo’s assets in their countries.
In May 2010, Meles Zenawi said he won the parliamentary election by 99.6 percent. The European Union Election Observer Team said the election “lacked a level playing field” and “failed to meet international standards”, a well-known code phrase for a “stolen election”. In its 2005 report, the Observer Team said exactly the same thing. Zenawi’s EPDRF party pretty much owns the Ethiopian economy. “According to the World Bank, roughly half of the rest of the national economy is accounted for by companies held by an EPRDF-affiliated business group called the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT). EFFORT’s freight transport, construction, pharmaceutical, and cement firms receive lucrative foreign aid contracts and highly favorable terms on loans from government banks.” The regime’s own anti-corruption agency reported in 2008 that “USD$16 million dollars” worth of gold bars simply walked out of the bank in broad daylight. A couple of weeks ago, in an incredible display of arrogance and total lack of accountability, Zenawi publicly stated that 10,000 tons of coffee earmarked for exports had simply vanished from the warehouses. He called a meeting of commodities traders and in a videotaped statement told them he will forgive them because “we all have our hands in the disappearance of the coffee”. He warned them that if anyone should steal coffee in the future, he would “cut off their hands”.
In 2005, Zenawi demonstrated the extremes he will go to protect his empire of corruption. Zenawi’s own Inquiry Commission documented that troops under Zenawi’s direct command and control mowed down 193 documented unarmed protesters in the streets and severely wounded nearly 800. Another 30,000 suspected opponents were jailed. In a meeting with high level U.S. officials in advance of the May 2010 election, Zenawi told them in plain words what he will do to his opposition if they try to “discredit the election”: “If opposition groups resort to violence in an attempt to discredit the election, we will crush them with our full force; they will all vegetate like Birtukan (Midekssa) in jail forever.” If Zenawi will “crush” those who “attempt to discredit an election”, it does not leave much to the imagination to figure out what he will do when the people ask him peacefully to leave power.
In April 2010, Omar al-Bashir of the Sudan claimed victory by winning nearly 70 percent of the vote. The EU EOM declared the “deficiencies in the legal and electoral framework in the campaign environment led the overall process to fall short of a number of international standards for genuine democratic elections.” Another election stolen in broad daylight; but that is not all Bashir has stolen. According to a Wikileaks cablegram, “International Criminal Court [ICC] Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told [U.S.] Ambassadors Rice and Wolff on March 20  that [Ocampo] would put the figure of Sudanese President Bashir’s stash of money at possibly $9 billion.” After the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, the first warrant of its kind for a sitting head of state, a sneering Bashir flipped his middle finger at the ICC: “They will issue their decision tomorrow, and we are telling them to immerse it in water and drink it“, a common Arabic insult which is the equivalent of “they can shove it up their _ _ _.” Bashir recently he said he will not run for the presidency again. (It is not clear if had decided not to run because he wants to enjoy his stolen billions or because he expects to put on the jail jumpsuit of the ICC.)
In February 2010, a group of soldiers in Niger calling itself the “Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy” stormed Niger’s presidential palace and snatched president Mamadou Tandja and his ministers. In 2009, Tandja had dissolved the National Assembly and set up a “Constitutional Court” to pave the way for him to become president-for-life. Niger’s state auditor reported that “at least 64 billion CFA francs [USD$128-million] were stolen from Niger’s state coffers under the government of former president Mamadou Tandja.” Tandja is sitting in jail in southwestern Niger.
In March 2008, Robert Mugabe declared victory in the presidential election after waging a campaign of violence and intimidation on his opponent Morgan Tsvangirai and his supporters. In 2003, Mugabe boasted, “I am still the Hitler of the time. This Hitler has only one objective: justice for his people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people and their rights over their resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be Hitler tenfold. Ten times, that is what we stand for.” No one would disagree with Mugabe’s self-description. In 2010, Mugabe announced his plan to sell “about $1.7 billion of diamonds in storage” (probably rejects of his diamond-crazed wife Grace). According to a Wikileaks cablegram, “a small group of high-ranking Zimbabwean officials (including Grace Mugabe) have been extracting tremendous diamond profits.” Mugabe is so greedy that he stole outright “£4.5 million from [aid] funds meant to help millions of seriously ill people.”
In December 2007, Mwai Kibaki declared himself winner of the presidential election. In 2002, Kibaki, criticizing his predecessor Daniel Arap Moi regime, urged the people to “Remain calm, even when intimidated or provoked by those who are desperately determined to rig the elections and plunge the country into civil war.” In 2007, Kibaki and his thugees unleashed such violence against the civilian population that 1500 Kenyans were killed and some 600 hundred thousand displaced, almost plunging Kenya into civil war. The Kroll Report revealed that Moi stole billions of dollars using a “web of shell companies, secret trusts and frontmen” and secreted the loot in 30 countries. Kibaki stonewalled further action on the report, including prosecution of Moi.
The story of corruption, theft, embezzlement and brazen transfer of the national wealth of African peoples to European and African banks and corporate institutions is repeated elsewhere in the continent. Ex-Nigerian President Sani Abacha, who was judicially determined to be a member of a criminal organization by a Swiss court, stole $500 million. Ben Ali of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt also have their stolen assets in the hundreds of millions of dollars frozen in Switzerland and elsewhere. Other African thugtators who have robbed their people blind (and pretty much have gotten away with it) include Nigeria’s Ibrahim Babangida, Guniea’s Lansana Conte, Togo’s Gnassingbe Eyadema, Gabon’s Omar Bongo, Equatorial Guniea’s Obiang Nguema, Burkina Faso’s Blaise Campore and Congo’s (Brazaville) Denis Sassou Nguesso, among others.
Godfathers and African Thugogracies
In previous commentaries, I have argued that the business of African governments is corruption. African thugtators cling to power to operate sophisticated criminal business enterprises to loot their national treasuries and resources. These African “leaders” are actually “godfathers” or heads of criminal families. Just like any organized criminal enterprise, African thugtators use their party apparatuses, bureaucracies, military and police forces to maintain and perpetuate their corrupt financial empires.
When the U.S. first announced its “kleptocracy asset recovery program” to the world in July 2010, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder delivered the message, not at some international anti-corruption forum, but at the African Union Summit in Kampala, Uganda. Holder told the gathered African thugtators:
Today, I’m pleased to announce that the U.S. Department of Justice is launching a new Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative aimed at combating large-scale foreign official corruption and recovering public funds for their intended – and proper – use: for the people of our nations. We’re assembling a team of prosecutors who will focus exclusively on this work and build upon efforts already underway to deter corruption, hold offenders accountable, and protect public resources.
Holder’s announcement was nothing short of breathtaking. It was as though he was addressing the national convention of the “Commissione” of all the Mafia families from New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Miami, Atlantic City, Las Vegas, St. Louis, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. In Kampala, Holder was talking directly to the African equivalents of the Godfathers of the Bonnano, Columbo, Gambino, Genovese and Lucchese crime families in one place. Absolutely surreal!
The Political Economy of Thugtatorships
Thugtatorships in Africa thrive in the political economy of kleptocracy. Widespread corruption permeates every corner of society. Oil revenues, diamonds, gold bars, coffee and other commodities and foreign aid are stolen outright and pocketed by the thugtators and their army of thugocrats. Public funds are embezzled and misused and state property misappropriated and converted to private use. Publicly-owned assets are virtually given away to supporters in “privatization programs” or secretly held in illegal transactions. Bank loans are given out to front enterprises owned secretly by the thugtators or their supporters without sufficient or proper collateral. Businessmen must pay huge bribes or kickbacks to participate in public contracting and procurement. Those involved in the import/export business are victimized in shakedowns by thugocrats. The judiciary is thoroughly corrupted through political interference and manipulation.
Armageddon: Thugtators’ Nuclear Option
One of the common tricks used by thugtators to cling to power is to terrorize the people with warnings of an impending Armageddon. They say that if they are removed from power, even after 42 years, the sky will fall and the earth will open up and swallow the people. Thugtators sow fear, uncertainty and doubt in the population and use misinformation and disinformation to psychologically defeat, disorient and neutralize the people. Gaddafi thuggish son warned Libya will “spiral into civil war for the next 30 to 40 years and the country’s infrastructure ruined” without the Gadhafi dynasty. He said Libya will be awash in “rivers of blood”. Gadhafi urged his supporters: “This is an opposition movement, a separatist movement which threatens the unity of Libya. We will take up arms… we will fight to the last bullet. We will destroy seditious elements. If everybody is armed, it is civil war, we will kill each other.”
Zenawi has been talking about “genocide” for years. The 2005 European Union Election Observer Mission in its Final Mission Report strongly chastised Zenawi and his associates for morbid genocide rhetoric:
The end of the campaign became more heated, with parties accusing each other of numerous violations of campaign rules. Campaign rhetoric became insulting. The most extreme example of this came from the Deputy Prime Minister, Addisu Legesse, who, in a public debate on 15 April, compared the opposition parties with the Interhamwe militia, which perpetrated the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The Prime Minister made the same comparison on 5 May in relation to the CUD [Coalition for Unity and Democracy]. The EPRDF [Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front] made the same associations during its free slots on radio and TV… Such rhetoric is unacceptable in a democratic election.
Zenawi “is quick to talk up threats to his country, whether from malcontents in the army or disgruntled ethnic groups among Ethiopia’s mosaic of peoples. Radical Oromos, a southern group that makes up about a third of Ethiopia’s people, often fall under suspicion.” Last year, he compared Voice of America radio broadcasts to Ethiopia with broadcasts of Radio Mille Collines which directed the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.
If Africa’s thugtators plan to use the “nuclear option” and bring Armageddon on their societies, they would be wise to know who is destined to win the final battle between good and evil. Gadhafi’s fate now dangles between what he wants to do to bring this unspeakable tragedy to a swift conclusion, the will of the Libyan people once they vanquish his mercenaries and the International Criminal Court to whom the U.N. Security Council has voted unanimously to refer Moammar Gadhafi and members of his government in Libya for investigation and prosecution for crimes against humanity and war crimes. Like al-Bashir of the Sudan, Gadhafi and members of his thugocratic empire will not escape the long arms of justice. The days of massacring unarmed demonstrators, strafing and bombing civilians and detention of innocent people by the tens of thousands with impunity are gone. Justice may be delayed but when the people open the floodgates of freedom, “justice (not blood) will run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream” and wash out the wreckage of thugtatorship into the sea.
Thugtators and Their Business Partners in Africorruption, Inc.
Africa’s thugtatorships have longstanding and profitable partnerships with the West. Through aid and trade, the West has enabled these thugocracies to flourish in Africa and repress Africans. To cover up their hypocrisy and hoodwink the people, the West is now lined up to “freeze” the assets of the thugtators. It is a drama they have perfected since the early days of African independence. The fact of the matter is that the West is interested only in “stability” in Africa. That simply means, in any African country, they want a “guy they can do business with.” The business they want to do in Africa is the oil business, the (blood) diamond business, the arms sales business, the coffee and cocoa export business, the tourism business, the luxury goods export business and the war on terrorism business. They are not interested in the African peoples’ business, the human rights business, the rule of law business, the accountability and transparency business and the fair and free elections business.
Today, the West is witnessing a special kind of revolution it has never seen: A youth-led popular nonviolent revolution against thugtatorships in Africa and the Middle East. Neither the West nor the thugtators know what to do with this kind of revolution or the revolutionaries leading it. President Obama said, “History will end up recording that at every juncture in the situation in Egypt, that we were on the right side of history.” Well, what is good for Egypt is good enough for Ethiopia, Libya, Tunisia, the Sudan, Algeria, Kenya, Bahrain, Djbouti, Somalia…, and Zimbabwe. The decisive question in world history today is: Are we on the right side of history with the victims of oppression, or are we on the wrong side with thugtators destined to the dustbin of history?
Power to Youths in Africa and the Middle East!
The wind of change that is sweeping the Middle East and North Africa has reached at the doorsteps of Ethiopia. Ethiopians through out the country and in the diaspora have resolved to embrace the change, and through a sustained and determined peaceful struggle, will remove Meles Zenawi’s dictatorship that has been misruling Ethiopia for the past 20 years. Hence, the moment of truth has come to every Ethiopian.
The Meles regime is once again preparing to escape change by further dividing the Tigregna speaking community from the rest of Ethiopians. It is clear to all Ethiopians that Meles Zenawi’s Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) has escalated ethnic tensions during the last 20 years. The purpose of this statement therefore is to alert all Ethiopians to be extra vigilant in separating agents of the Meles regime from the people of Tigray who are part and parcel of the Ethiopian pro-democracy movement.
Since Meles Zenawi assumed power in 1991, lacking any semblance of legitimacy, he has ruled Ethiopia with an iron fist. Without the consent of the people, it has divided the country along ethnic lines, and encouraged ethnic based politics in order to fragment and weaken Ethiopia.
Life is becoming unbearable for millions of Ethiopians who are being deprived of their lands, of their resources and of their rights. Small businesses that are not affiliated with TPLF-linked businesses are closing down in large number. While the few privileged ruling party members wallows in luxury, millions of Ethiopians live in abject poverty. To add insult to injury, the Meles regime is issuing thousands of commercial farm licenses to foreign investors from India, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and China. Today, hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians are either being evicted from their ancestral lands or turned into day laborers to foreign government-backed mega investors. Meles promotes neo-colonialism in a country that successfully defeated colonial invaders.
Since the Meles regime is looting and plundering Ethiopia in the name of Tigray, it is incumbent upon our Tigrean brothers and sisters to tell the regime: “Not in Our Name.” Ethiopians are longing for their Tigrean sisters and brothers to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the fight against the Meles regime. Actions are needed now before it is too late.
The choice is clear. It is either to stand on the side of the Meles regime that traces its orgin to Tigray, or to be part of the popular pro-democracy movement
(The above statement is released by Worldwide Ethiopian Civic Action Group, a gathering of activists who are working to bring about the end of dictatorship in Ethiopia. For more information: email@example.com)
Feb. 28, 2011
(Al Jazeera) — Former Libyan justice minister Mustafa Mohamed Abdel Jalil – who resigned from Gaddafi’s cabinet on Monday in protest at the killing of protesters – earlier told Al Jazeera he had led the formation of an interim government based in Benghazi, Libya’s second city, in the eastern part of the country now largely free of Gaddafi’s control.
He said the transitional government “has military and civilian personalities”.
“It will lead for no more than three months – and then there will be fair elections and the people will choose their leader,” he said.
Ali Aujali, Libya’s ambassador to the U.S., has said that he supports the interim government being formed in Benghazi by the country’s former minister of justice.
Aujali said on Saturday the caretaker administration, which announced it would lead the country for three months to prepare for elections, was “the government for the whole of Libya”.
“We want to support this government as the caretaker government until the liberation of all of Libya, which I hope will happen very soon,” he said.
Libya’s deputy UN ambassador, Ibrahim Dabbashi, also said on Saturday that his delegation supported Abud Ajleil’s caretaker government.
“In principle we support this government,” Dabbashi, one of the first Libyan diplomats to denounce Gaddafi, told Reuters. “We are seeking more information about it, but yes, I think we support it.”
Aujali, a veteran Libyan diplomat, praised Abdel Jalil.
“He is a very honest man. He was in charge of the justice issue in the eastern part of Libya when the regime asked him to hang an innocent Libyan citizen and he refused,” Aujali said.
“I am sure he will gain support of all Libyans and of the international community,” he added.
Two U.S. senators call for no-fly zone
(Fox News) — Senators Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and John McCain, R-Ariz., both expressed disappointment Sunday that President Obama has not responded more forcefully against the violence spreading in Libya and called for the arming of rebel forces in that country. Speaking to CNN’s Candy Crowley from Cairo, Egypt, McCain said though U.S. officials had expressed concern for the safety of Americans in Libya as reason for holding back on further action and stronger rhetoric, that was not good enough.
“The British prime minister, the French president, and others were not hesitant, and they have citizens in that country. Look, America leads,” McCain said. “The president should reverse the terrible decision he made in 2009 to not support the demonstrators in Tehran. Stand up for democracy in Iran, and tell those people we are with them.”
The president did say Saturday that the Libyan president should go “now.” Still, Lieberman said, “I wish we had spoken out much more clearly and early against the Qaddafi regime…The fact is, now is the time for action.”
Lieberman said of the recent UN sanctions imposed on Libyan Leader Muammar Qaddafi and his regime that he was “glad pressure is finally being applied,” but the senator said, “Honestly, I think the world has to do more.”
The Connecticut Independent, who some have recommended to be the next Secretary of Defense, called for the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya to ensure Qaddafi cannot continue to attack his own people from military planes and fly in armed mercenaries from Africa. The senator said the U.S. “should recognize the opposition government as the legitimate government of Libya and that we ought to give that government, certainly, humanitarian assistance and military arms.”
By Teodros Kiros
The great Machiavelli, the architect of political thinking spoke convincingly about virtu and Fortuna. Virtu is skill, the ability to be skillful and flexible, when time requires it; Fortuna on the other hand, is the tuning of one’s senses to the language of the right time. We must carefully listen to Fortuna as it directs us, to seize the moment, and act courageously and to the right degree and at the right time.
The Ethiopian world is now ready for action, except that the people might be weary, or simply waiting for a spark. The question then is not, “Are the people ready?” but rather, “Who is going is going to be the catalyst for the uprising, who is going to start the political action?
These are two separate questions, and they demand separate answers. The people are ready, but they are waiting for starters. Nor should the uprising be organized in order to start; it must start first and organization will follow. Leadership qualities are born and mature in the hands of action, of doing, of living practice. Once the uprising begins, the people will know what to do, or as I put it before:
In the people’s revolution, everyone is a leader and a follower. Sovereignty is concrete. It is expressed as lived power. The people learn for the first time they will learn leading and following, managing and obeying, directing and being directed.
The qualities of sovereignty are internalized through practice. The essential attributes of citizenship: obligation, responsibility, duty and order are learned directly by doing. These qualities are not imposed from high on as in monarchies and tyrannies. They emerged directly out of the living movement of action, the people’s action as they fight for their life and defend the lives of others.
These political qualities are practices of the self as they mature on streets, the streets of living democracy.
The people become powerful by practicing power on the streets of living democracy. The people’s revolution is an arena of practice. The streets are the nerve centers, and the practices are the engines of cultural and political transformation.
At the people’s agora, the future of the revolution is organized slowly. There the people originate power and seek to organize it-patiently and decently.
The people very much like rulers, for whom the distinctions were drawn and the advise of acting swiftly and intelligently were given, this shrewd advise also applies to the Ethiopian people.
I firmly advise the Ethiopian people to use Virtu, when real time needs it, and listen to Fortuna when it is gently blowing in the people’s ears. Wise are those, who listen to languages, the language of Virtue, which demands flexibility and the language of Fortuna, which requires stillness.
Fortuna is a woman argued the architect of politics, because woman admires heroes, those who overcome her by calculated force, when the time requires it, so is the Ethiopian real time demanding that we Ethiopians act now or never, for Fortuna is moody, its changes its mind quickly, unless we listen to its directions in the stillness of political action.
I have written a series of articles which appeared in the Ethiopian and all our other websites with concrete recommendations of what we must do to stage a civilized uprising not by the masses but by the Ethiopian people from all walks of life, in defense of dignity and liberty, the pillars of revolt and revolution.
Virtu and Fortuna are awaiting us to respond to their summons and act NOW, or NEVER. We have tried all other permutations, including waiting.
As I argued in “We cannot wait,” we have waited enough, and the more we wait both our existential rights and political rights are going to be abused.
(The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Finally the Obama Administration starts to take action against Gaddafi today, albeit in a timid manner. What the people of Libya need is a no-fly zone so that Gaddafi will not be able to bomb them from the air and use chemical weapons against them.
(Al Arabiya) — U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday imposed personal sanctions on Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and several members of his family, in a clear attempt to further weaken his teetering regime and punish brutal assaults against his people.
Obama wielded presidential power in an executive order to seize the assets of Gaddafi and named family members in the United States and globally within the auspices of U.S. financial institutions, saying the “human dignity” of Libyans “cannot be denied.”
Washington also shuttered its Tripoli embassy, warned its spies were seeking evidence of “atrocities” in Libya and said that Gaddafi had lost the confidence of his people, in an apparent broad hint that Washington wanted him gone.
Officials said the U.S. sanctions were a direct attempt to prevent any looting of Libya’s assets and sovereign wealth by Gaddafi and his sons amid turmoil which reports said has killed over 1,000 people and split the country.
Privately, sources said, Washington hoped the measures would encourage defections from the regime.
The move also came on the eve of a U.N. Security Council meeting to consider multilateral sanctions on the Gaddafi government, and after the Libyan strongman warned of a looming battle in Tripoli to protect his four-decades-old regime.
“By any measure, Muammar Gaddafi’s government has violated international norms and common decency and must be held accountable,” Obama said in a statement.
“These sanctions therefore target the Gaddafi government, while protecting the assets that belong to the people of Libya.”
“The Libyan government’s continued violation of human rights, brutalization of its people, and outrageous threats have rightly drawn the strong and broad condemnation of the international community,” Obama said.
“We will stand steadfastly with the Libyan people in their demand for universal rights, and a government that is responsive to their aspirations. Their human dignity cannot be denied.”
U.S. Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey told reporters on a conference call that Obama had taken “decisive steps” to hold the Gaddafi regime accountable.
The sanctions contained an annex specifically naming Gaddafi and four sons, but did not single out any other Libyan officials, a sign Washington was hoping to peel off key members of the ruling elite in Tripoli.
The administration did retain the power under the executive order to name other Libyan officials who could be targeted.
And a U.S. official told AFP on condition of anonymity that the measures were specifically crafted to encourage defections.
Fear for safety of Americans
Washington announced the sanctions move — along with the closing of its embassy and withdrawal of U.S. diplomats — after a chartered ferry and a plane carrying Americans and other evacuees left Libya earlier on Friday.
The Obama administration had been criticized for its relatively restrained response so far to the turmoil. But U.S. officials said fears for the safety of the Americans had tempered Washington’s response.
“(Gaddafi) is overseeing the brutal treatment of his people … and his legitimacy has been reduced to zero in the eyes of his people,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said after Libyan security forces shot protesters in the streets of Tripoli on Friday.
The U.S. embassy in Tripoli, which was only opened in 2006, during a tentative rapprochement in U.S.-Libya ties, was shuttered for security reasons and all diplomatic personnel withdrawn, Carney and the State Department said.
The White House also fleshed out its attempts to hold Gaddafi “accountable” in addition to the new sanctions regime.
It warned that it would use the full extent of its “intelligence capabilities to monitor the Gaddafi regime’s actions” and would particularly seek evidence of violence or atrocities committed against the Libyan people.
Carney, however, would not go as far as to say that the White House backed calls for Gaddafi and his lieutenants to eventually face some kind of formal justice, perhaps at the International Criminal Court.
On the financial front, the U.S. Treasury warned U.S. banks to watch out for transfers linked to Libya’s political leaders.
The department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network told banks to be aware of “the potential increased movement of assets that may be related to the situation in Libya,” in a statement released Friday.
Libya and its leaders are suspected of holding billions of dollars in foreign bank accounts, cash largely gleaned from the country’s vast oil wealth.
According to a 2010 message from the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, obtained by WikiLeaks, Libya’s sovereign wealth fund holds $32 billion in cash and “several American banks are each managing $300-500 million.”
Clinton to drum up support
With the Libyan crisis also being taken up at the United Nations, European Union governments agreed on the idea of imposing an arms embargo, asset freezes and a travel ban on the oil-producing North African nation, with diplomats saying a formal decision would be taken early next week.
The Obama administration said earlier this week it was studying a wide range of options, including the freezing of assets, a travel ban on members of Gaddafi’s government, a “no-fly” zone over Libya and military action.
In a first step, the U.S. Treasury has told American banks to closely monitor transactions that may be related to unrest in Libya for possible signs that state assets were being misappropriated.
Several U.S. energy companies in Libya — including Marathon, Hess and Occidental — have continued working through the crisis as other foreign firms have curtailed or suspended operations.
If sanctions gain traction internationally, Libya’s oil output could be restricted.
“Although Libya is not a big supplier to the U.S., any sanctions imposed by the U.S. — particularly on doing business with that country — means the U.S. or other countries affected will still have to tap other suppliers,” said Peter Beutel, president of trading consultants Cameron Hanover.
In New York, the U.N. Security Council was considering a French-British draft proposal for an arms embargo, financial sanctions and a request to the International Criminal Court to indict Libyan leaders for crimes against humanity.
The White House did not express direct support for the proposal but said it was discussing it with members of the Security Council, including the other four permanent members — China, Russia, Britain and France.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will push for unity against Gaddafi on Monday at the U.N. Human Rights Council.
The United States resumed diplomatic ties with Libya in 2004 after Gaddafi agreed to abandon his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.
U.S. economic sanctions were progressively removed after Libya agreed to accept civil responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland in 1988.
Libya’s envoy to the United Nations, Mohammed Shalgham, a childhood friend of Gaddafi, became the latest official to abandon him, with a diplomat saying he had joined his deputy Ibrahim Dabbashi in defecting.
“Please, the United Nations, save Libya. Let there be no bloodshed, no killing of innocents. We want a decisive, rapid and courageous resolution from you,” Shalgham told the Security Council.
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon on Friday demanded decisive action by the Security Council against Gaddafi’s bloody crackdown, warning that any delay would add to the growing death toll which he said now came to over 1,000.
Ban’s call and an emotional speech by the Libyan ambassador to the United Nations — in which he raised the specter of Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot — jolted the council into ordering a special meeting on Saturday to consider a sanctions resolution against Kadhafi.
In Ankara, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said “Mr. Gaddafi must go,” becoming the first world leader to demand the ouster of the former army colonel who seized power in a 1969 coup.
In a rooftop address on Friday, Gaddafi urged his partisans in the square below to “defend Libya.” “If needs be, we will open all the arsenals.
“We will fight them and we will beat them,” he said as frenzied supporters raised his portrait and waved the country’s green flag.
Almost the entire east of the oil-rich North African nation has slipped from Gaddafi’s control since a popular uprising began with protests in the port city of Benghazi on February 15, inspired by revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia.
By Messay Kebede
While events of historic proportions are occurring in the Arab world, the question that haunts Ethiopians is whether similar uprisings are possible in present-day Ethiopia, that is, whether the inspiring impact of events in Arab countries would be strong enough to provoke unrests and demonstrations in Ethiopia. Since the occurrence of the French Revolution, scholars of revolution are familiar with the outcomes of demonstration effects, some going to the extent of counting as one powerful cause of revolution its tendency to spread to other countries by the sheer effect of its inspirational appeal.
That an increasing number of Ethiopians argue that decisive lessons to topple the Meles regime can be drawn from events in the Arab world is a promising evolution. In an article titled “Way Forward for Ethiopia’s Opposition” posted on various websites (June 2010), I contended that the results of the last election showed clearly that the strategy of changing the Woyane regime by winning parliamentary elections is no longer tenable. I suggested that opposition groups should design a new strategy, which is “to work toward the gathering of conditions favoring a popular outburst with a political organization and a program ready to step in.” In other words, in light of the failure of the electoralist strategy and the little chance of creating in the near future an armed movement capable of threatening the regime, the only option left was to help build up the conditions of a popular uprising and be ready to take up its leadership. Thanks to the events in the Arab world, most Ethiopians now consider a popular uprising in Ethiopia as a very likely possibility and call for opposition groups to be ready for such an event. Of course, the main question is to know whether their expectation is realistic or simply a wishful thinking.
Let me begin by saying that events in Tunisia and Egypt, impressive and mutational as they are, are not yet revolutions. The latter require the overthrow of existing states and the implementation of a new social order. The fact that the two ruling dictators were removed does not necessarily entail a drastic social change in Egypt and Tunisia unless the removal is soon followed by the initiation of profound changes. All we can say now is that the removal is just a first step in the right direction, and that it is too early to speak of revolution.
Even so, the fact that the uprisings remained mostly nonviolent (with the exception of Libya) strongly renews the conviction that nonviolent form of struggle is the best method to remove dictatorial regimes. Nonviolence means here essentially active defiance and noncooperation. So understood, nonviolence is indeed, as one of the apostles of nonviolence, Gene Sharp, puts it, “the most powerful means available to those struggling for freedom” (From Dictatorship to Democracy, p. 13). There is no doubt that protests in Egypt and Tunisia prevented the early intervention of the army essentially because they remained largely nonviolent.
What is most striking about the events in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere is the metamorphosis of ordinary people. These people had so thoroughly submitted to the dictatorships that any prediction just a month ago of impeding protests would have sounded foolish. The uprisings came as a surprise to everybody. Most of all, all these protests were spontaneous in that they were not initiated by any organized opposition.
Spontaneity is undoubtedly one of the strong aspects of the movements. The dictatorships could not stop them because they could not find leaders they could put in jail or kill. People were driven by their own frustration, not by the appeal of a party or a leader. They were now in charge of their own destiny and, more importantly, free of the fear that paralyzed them for so long. How did this metamorphosis become possible?
It is a truism to say that dictatorships rule by fear and collapse the very day that they fail to inspire fear. This issue of fear is the key to the question of knowing whether similar uprisings are possible in Ethiopia. I am not impressed by the argument of those who discard the possibility of uprisings in Ethiopia on the ground that, unlike the Arab countries, Ethiopia does not have a large educated class and a vast means of internet access. Without denying the effective role of internet communications, the argument overlooks that popular uprisings have occurred before the invention of the internet, not to mention the fact that Ethiopians carried out a successful uprising in 1974 that toppled the entrenched imperial regime. Be it noted that the uprising against the imperial regime was successful because it was not initiated by an established leadership.
Another issue is to know whether the Ethiopian army can behave in a way similar to the behavior of the Egyptian army. Most Ethiopians are inclined to say the opposite owing to their belief that Ethiopia has no longer a national army per se, but a TPLF dominated mercenary army exclusively committed to protecting the interests of the ruling clique. The question is indeed a serious one, but there is no way of knowing the answer unless the uprising starts and shows some resilience. The 2005 violent crackdown on protesters cannot be taken as evidence, since except for taxi drivers and protesting young people, no massive movement of protest took place. In fact, the confined nature of the protest may have led to the belief that it could be easily suppressed. We cannot tell how the police and the army would react in the face of a determined massive protest all over the country. We should move the discussion from what the military will do to what a massive uprising can compel them to understand.
What this means is that the crucial issue is indeed the question of fear. Are Ethiopians any less fearful of the Meles regime? Stated otherwise, the possibility of uprising solely hinges on our ability to ascertain that Ethiopians are today angrier than ever before. For anger alone can dissolve fear. More than the availability of internet communications, what explains events in Arab countries is the increasing fury of ordinary people, especially of unemployed young people. When anger grips the human mind, nothing else matters, including the likelihood of death. Anger is force and defiance because it mobilizes the power of emotion. People defy bloody regimes, not because they become suddenly courageous, but because the overwhelming power of rage made them do things that they would not otherwise have done.
I know that many Ethiopians see unity as an essential condition for the occurrence of a massive uprising. In effect, people begin to protest when they see a fair chance of success, and no chance of success can be expected if ethnic divisions prevail over unity. For an uprising to succeed, it must be massive, and it cannot be massive unless ethnic alignments are put aside. What else is this requirement of unity but another facet of the same question of anger? Are Ethiopians angry enough to overcome their divisions so as to rise together against their common enemy? The overwhelming nature of anger unites more than any rational discourse in favor of unity.
Although it is true that the mobilization of emotion explains the power of popular uprisings, it is also true that rage can only be a trigger. It cannot sustain itself over an extended period of time, especially if the regime in place uses deadly means to suppress the uprising. Very quickly, organization and smart politics must take the lead. Notably, anger must be controlled in such a way that it does not burst into an orgy of violence, which will end up by giving the upper hand to the dictator. Everything must be done to minimize the intervention of the army, and the best way to do so is to keep the movement nonviolent. In other words, nonviolent movement is nothing but the control of anger, more exactly, its transformation into a force of internal resistance that wears out the repressive power of the dictatorial state. Nonviolence does not generate anger; it sublimates it by reorienting its compulsion for outward furious expressions toward the buildup of an internal force of defiance.
In sum, the possibility of popular uprising in Ethiopia wholly depends on the psychological state of the masses. No doubt, events in the Arab world can be inspirational, but they are not enough to cause revolts unless the masses are going through the state of anger. Inspiration can strengthen confidence, but it cannot generate the emotional state of anger. What is more, it is not possible to know in advance what drives people to the tipping point of anger. We can definitely say that most Ethiopians are unhappy with the regime, that they even hate it. But dislike and hate are not yet anger. While hate is a contained or differed emotion, anger is in need of immediate reaction or lashing out. You get to live with hatred, not with rage, which, as an impulsive need for outward expressions, explodes.
(Messay Kebede, Ph.D., can be reached at Messay.Kebede@notes.udayton.edu)
By Albert Michael
Today Africa, especially its North region, is in a storm. People of the region are experiencing the momentum of the storm by physical taking part in it. People outside the region have been feeling the flame and shocked with the happenings. This phenomenal time in the history of Africa is a wow time for dictators and all the despots. Knowing that their turn is not far away, African dictators presumably taking unconscious steps in a way that can sustain them in power. Their heart is melting. Their mind is blowing. But the fact is, as some one has said that the idea whose time has come is powerful than artillery, when change begins to spark in its due time no power can hold it back . The change occurring in Africa has two fold outcome: on one hand toppling off tyrants from their comfort seats where they have been sacking the sweat and blood of their own citizen and on the other hand reforming and transforming the whole systems which have been hosting injustice. Both of the outcomes privilege the people to become source of power in Africa. Time is a perfect judge!!
The recent change geared by the people of North Africa nations, for most analysts and observers, is a point of prediction for what would happen next in the other African countries specifically countries stack in the valley of poverty and where the thugs of the ruling class are living their luxurious life. On December 17, 2010 determination of a man to express his feeling in an unusual way by setting himself on fire resulted in the massive people’s movement first in Tunisia and then spread to neighbouring countries. This a historic convergence and its effects which time and change gave birth, through the mighty power of people’s movement never ceased in North Africa but spilled over to the Middle east countries and other parts of Africa. Who thought that Ben of Tunisia, Mubarak of Egypt and most probably Gadhafi of Libya would stand before the court where the people judge in the history of Africa. That was only known by the fact of time. No one can reverse this change. When time carries change that is a real change. Time. Time. Time. A good judge
In the history of human ages, historic convergences and transitional tides have occurred at significant points. Major events befallen in different times of past have heralded socio-economic and political changes. The world we lived so far shaped by the nature of these events. The death of colonialism, the end of the two World Wars, the closure Cold War and globalization are the results of cumulative events of mini reactions occurred in the time frame of our history.
The reality we see in North Africa is not different except it should be taken as part of the foundations laid for a large scale change awaiting for the whole Africa. I am saying that all the major events of change in our history started some where in a corridor in specific places and spread to the vicinities. This reminds me what happened in the history of colonialism in Africa. The process which led to the demise of European exploitations systems started earlier in 1890s. In those early times, Chief Bambatha of Zulu and Maji Maji revolt were some of the popular uprisings which had initiated the massive anti-colonialism movement in Africa. The then factors pushed people to revolt were the colonialists wrong measures against the local people. The people became subjects of the colonial masters. When the yoke of the burden was unbearable to the local people individuals such as Bambantha took the courage to rally for liberation. That was the point to set the remaining pace of the journey to freedom. After four to five decades, colonialism became a history.
In a similar analogy my conviction is that the current phenomenon in the north part of Africa is a riddle of wave which could move the whole continent. In the coming few years Africa will be free of dictators and the will of people shall dominate in the most countries of the continent.
My prediction is based on the fact that, the factors initiated the mass movements in North Africa are similar or even worst in other parts of the continent. In countries like Ethiopia where the unemployment rate is beyond imagination, ethnic divisions is intentionally installed, economic inequalities is fostered through ill-intended policies, anti-free press laws muzzled citizens right expression , institutionalized corruption is widely practiced and one man has become the whole country and every thing in the country unless it is a matter of time popular uprising is foreseeable. In general injustices ingrained into the structure of governance and administrations of majority of countries in Africa make change intrinsic and inescapable. Time is a perfect judge!! People of Africa are fade up of living in darkness of home made slavery, poverty, oppression, and hunger. Time has come. Darkness never endures before light. Tyranny and dictatorial ship is a work of darkness. It will never be established in the land of Africa in the coming years. The next wave of people’s movement will strike East Africa and Horn of Africa, central Africa and Some West and South East African countries. Because the bell of change rung and even felt in the North is already heard in whole Africa and even in other parts of the world. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
Time is ticking at the doors of dictators. They have only two choices: Either to open their heart to accommodate the questions of the people and start genuine reform in the interest of people after asking apology or to get ready for undignified exit by the peoples’ powerful movement. The arrow of change is sharply indicating the doors which would be bumped by the tide of change in the next round. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!