On the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has tied the hands of the Ethiopian government by signing the Algiers agreement and by agreeing to abide by the result of the court of arbitration. Eritrea knows Ethiopia has a losing hand in this game and it will push hard. Meles had a chance to argue for the long-term interests of Ethiopia during the arbitration. Unfortunately, he neither took the opportunity to advocate for the return of the port of Assab nor did he argue that Eritrea does not have the facts to her claim to Badme (see Dagmawi's website for detailed facts and arguments ). Now, the UN and the US are pushing hard to end the standoff between Ethiopia and Eritrea. My gut feeling tells me that the demarcation will go forward as Ethiopia has lost its bargaining position in Algiers and the court of arbitration. I don't believe Eritrea will be inclined to make any adjustments as requested by Meles Zenawi. Meles Zenawi knows he has lost it for Ethiopia and now wants a face saving gesture from Eritrea which will not happen. Regardless, we will not see another round of sensless war but I have learned not to count the leaders of the two respective countries out when it comes to fighting. I will close this topic with a quote from Enset blog article No Senseless war which makes a very good point regarding the future of this conflict.
... there cannot be any real peace between the states of Ethiopia and Eritrea until both countries have representative governments that can negotiate a real peace agreement on behalf of their respective people. Furthermore, even if the belligerent parties somehow manage to avoid going to war this time around and settle their differences by ratifying the Algiers agreement and demarcating the border, any peace agreement that is reached by the current holders of state power in Addis Ababa and Asmara will not be considered complete by the Ethiopian people if the agreement fails to address Ethiopia’s unencumbered access to the sea through the port of Assab.
On the travesty of justice
It is a sad spectacle to see those who advocate for peaceful struggle against the tyranny of EPRDF continue thier fruitless trek from prison to the court. They are accused of very serious crimes such as treason and genocide. The strange part is that those who ordered and committed the killing of innocent citizens are not in prison. Those who ordered the mass arrest and terror of citizens are not in prison. The argument of the government is that these people who are in prison made us do it. They say that, if it were not for the opposition party leaders calling for peaceful civil disobedience, all the killing and arrest would have been avoided. But the EPRDF led government ordered the killing, arrest and terrorizing of innocent citizens and it continues to do so. They should be facing prosecution instead of the opposition leaders. No one should be above the law.
On the future of politics based on ethnicity
Politics based on ethnic affiliation (if you can clearly fall into one of many groups and of course, you have no choice in the matter: you belong to one, the other or to none) has been in place for the past fourteen years. Moreover, Ethiopia is now a federation of ethnic based regions. Ethnic based politics assumes that everyone in the ethnic group views the world (should view) the same way. There is little room for movement for those who may not view the issues in ethnically-correct way. So, if you don't agree with what representatives of your ethnic group are advancing, how do you 'unbelong'?. You can't.
We know even for a family, not all memebers of a family think the same way in a matter let alone a whole group. I am of the view that for a united Ethiopia to come out of this, political parties should cease to be organized along ethnic or religious lines. Parties should organize themselves on ideas that apply to all citizens. How about Democratic/ Republican/ Independent/ Green etc... party of Oromia/ Tigray/Amhara/ Southern Peoples/ Ogaden/ Somali regions? These associations do not require belonging to one ethnic group or another just agreement on the ideas and principles the parties stand for. If you don't like the idea of one political party, you are free to choose another that fits your principles better.
Some may ask, how do we safeguard the freedom and interest of each ethnic group? I would say by safeguarding the freedom and interest of the individual and by allowing the rule of law to be supreme. As for regional interest, that should be the work of the elected representatives from the region to advance the needs and interests of their constituents. The biggest challenge, I believe, is balancing the need to maintain and develop ethnic and cultural heritage while participating in non-ethnic non-religion based democratic multi-party system. Is this possible? I believe so. Is it easy? Absolutely not.
I may have simplified some things but everybody should share ideas on how the various ethnic groups can prosper together in a united Ethiopia. My view is just that my view. I am open to persuasion on what works and how to go about it.
Happy New Year to All!