EPRDF is a communist party which masquarades as democratic by virtue of the existence of opposition parties and the often harassed not-so-free press as long as its grip on power is not threatened. If you remember, the communist party claimed to know what is best for the people without considering what the people really wanted. This is the story of EPRDF's leadership through the last fourteen years. Narrowly focused and arrogantly confident in its 'all-knowing' power, it has no room for the views of others. Compromise is considered as defeat and surrender in the eyes of the EPRDF leadership regardless of its benefits for citizens.
Even though EPRDF pretends to be confident of the rightness of its ideas and policies, its insecurity is evident by the brutal actions it takes against Ethiopian citizens with every little challenge of its ideas and policies. That is the only way to explain the killing, jailing and harrassment of journalists, opposition party leaders and citizens alike.
Yesterday, I happen to watch BBC World news program and they showed government videotape of the rock throwing incident that supposedly ignited the government crackdown. This government, with all its military machinery, was so threatened by rock throwing youth, it turned the guns meant for securing the borders of the country on its own citizens. This government is so insecure, it drags opposition party leaders to court, claiming that they tried to overthrow the government. One would ask by what means are they trying to overthrow the government, with their bare hands? Now, it has charged them with treason and boasts that it has evidence supporting this outrageous charge. The only thing this show trial proves is that EPRDF can not handle fair competition, so it has to silence the challengers.
On the same program, the Prime Minister was asked if he still believed that Ethiopia's democracy is still a model for Africa. His response was, "We are not trying to be role models but are trying to do what is right for our country." This reminds me of some famous basketball player, who said "I am not a role model", when he failed to live up to the public expectation. The Prime Minister is a leader of a party that has failed to recognize doing the right thing for the country requires listening to the people of the country. What is a country without its people? How can a party, which is impermeable to the idea of others, be expected to do what is right to Ethiopia and the people of Ethiopia? The honest answer is it can not without significant change in its vision for the country.
Ethiopia needs leaders
- who recognize that the government is to serve the people not the other way around.
- who understand that people regardless of their status in life have inherent worth and value just because they are God's creation.
- who have a vision and are able to rally the support of the people rather than ram their vision at gun point.
- who can work with opposition members and citizens so that the best ideas and policies are implemented with the long-term interest of the people and of the country in mind.
- who know how to use the diversity to bring out the best in all its citizens.
The EPRDF government is pressed from within, despite the facade of calm, and from without. It can continue on its current path which leads to further alienation or it can reverse course by releasing all political prisoners without condition and sit down and discuss the future of the country in good faith. We hope for the best with our eyes open.