Ethiopia powers on with controversial dam project

May 31, 2012 (CNN) – The waters of the Blue Nile have for millennia flowed down from the Ethiopian highlands enriching the countries on its banks.

The rocks that make up its riverbed have been eroded by Ethiopia’s past and now that the construction of Africa’s largest hydro-electric dam has begun, these same rocks are helping to build the country’s future.

The Grand Renaissance Dam project was announced last year by the Ethiopian government, in a unilateral move that is not sitting very well with its upstream neighbors. Egypt and Sudan say Ethiopia is threatening their greatest natural resource.

What’s undisputed though is the sheer size of this undertaking close to Ethiopia’s border with Sudan.

“It’s not very easy to build a project of this magnitude in a remote area,” explains Francesco Verdi, who oversees this project for Salini, the Italian construction firm that has been contracted by the Ethiopians to build the dam.

According to Verdi, 10% of the dam has been completed so far and teams are working day and night to stay on schedule.

“This is one of the largest dams in the world,” Verdi says. “The effort of this country is really, really impressive. They will produce clean energy using natural resources.”

If construction stays on schedule the dam will be complete in six years. Ethiopia says the dam will generate 6,000 mega watts of electricity and it will sell a proportion of that to its neighbors and use the rest to fuel its own growth.

Semegnew Bekele is the Ethiopian engineer in charge of overseeing this mammoth project. He has worked on three other dams in Ethiopia, but this will be his and his country’s first attempt at damming the Blue Nile.

“This Nile river originates from our country and flows without giving any benefit to us so now we are able to utilize this river,” he explains.

Meeting Bekele, it becomes obvious that this project is a source of immense personal and national pride and in Ethiopia at least he has become a bit of a celebrity — he regularly gets stopped in the street by people congratulation him on the dam and asking how it is progressing.

It might be a source of pride for Bekele and Ethiopia, but for Egypt and Sudan this project is deeply contentious.

Egypt with its population time bomb is particularly worried — nearly 85% of its water originates in Ethiopia. Egyptians say they will not be held hostage over water, explains Yarcob Arsarno, who is an expert on hydro-politics at Addis Ababa University.

“Sudan and Egypt have got their concerns. Building a huge project on the water that goes down to Sudan, they would think that water would be controlled by Ethiopia and Ethiopia would be much more powerful in terms of influence in the Nile basin.”

The Nile Treaty that is meant to govern the use of the Blue Nile between the three nations was in fact signed by colonial powers in the region. Ethiopia says it never signed the agreement and the so-called Nile Basin Initiative only provides a framework for the use of the Nile waters.

Egypt and Sudan are particularly worried that this dam will allow Ethiopia to control the flow of water. Ethiopia denies this and says it will use machines to monitor and ensure the flow remains stable.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has dismissed these concerns and warned against what he called “dam extremists.”

Zenawi and his government stress that this dam project could potentially transform Ethiopia’s economy. It is a view shared by some of the diplomatic community in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital. One diplomat told Marketplace Africa that this dam will be “like an ATM of hard currency for Ethiopia”. Many economists also agree on the dam’s economic potential.

“Hydropower is the cheapest electricity you can generate anywhere so Ethiopia has huge advantages for that and Ethiopia will export enough power to make a difference in the economy,” says Henock Assefa, an economist and managing partner of Precise Consult International based in Addis Ababa.

“This is a signal of self-reliance. This is a signal of Ethiopia moving from an aid dependent economy to a can-do economy. We’re going to do this with or without you. The Ethiopian government is issuing bonds and the population, all 85 million of us, are buying bonds in order to chip in to this huge Nile project.”

But will Ethiopia be able to raise enough money to continue to build this dam? Some economists believe the country has only raised 10% of the project’s total cost. There are also reports that civil servants have been forced to contribute one month’s salary towards the project. These are accusations the government denies.

International Rivers, an organization working against destructive riverside projects, says that the Ethiopian government has not allowed an open discussion about the funding and merits of this dam. International Rivers points to the case of an Ethiopian journalist Reeyot Alemu who has been jailed for daring to criticize the government’s centerpiece project. Ethiopian authorities say Alemu is on trial over terror charges.

What is not up for debate is how determined Ethiopia is to fulfill its aspiration as the “battery of East Africa.”

All over Addis Ababa, new buildings are rising. According the African Development Bank, Ethiopia’s economy last year grew by 7.5% and although inflation also rose to 31.5% the country has successful grown its average income by 50% over the past decade.

The International Monetary Fund, though, is ringing alarm bells. Given this region’s history of drought, the IMF is recommending that governments avoid dependency on hydropower as an engine of growth.

As they dig into ancient bedrock for their futuristic dam, it seems the Ethiopians believe this is a risk worth taking.

– CNN

Oromo Communities in Europe: Letter to the President of the European Parliament

Open letter to:
His Excellency Mr. Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament
His Excellency Mr. José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission
His Excellency Mr. Van Rompuy, President of the European Council
1049 Brussels, Belgium

25 April 2012

Dear President,

We, the members of Oromo Community Organizations in Europe and citizens of the European Union would like to bring to your attention the escalating violations of human rights being committed by the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, a Tigrayan minority regime against the Oromo and other peoples in Ethiopia. The Oromo country, Oromia, was conquered and colonized by Abyssinian kings during the European scramble for Africa in the late nineteenth century. During the last 130 years the rulers of the Ethiopian state have been oppressing the Oromo people and exploiting the rich natural resources of Oromia. The excessive exploitation of their resources and the oppressive policies of Ethiopian rulers have successively reduced the Oromo to one of the most impoverished and terrorized indigenous African peoples. We would like to point out that military, financial and diplomatic assistance from Western countries has been crucial in maintaining the Ethiopian rulers’ domination over the Oromo people. Regrettably, this trend has continued even under the present Ethiopian regime.

Violation of human rights under the present Ethiopian government
The government of Meles Zenawi started its rule by imprisoning thousands of Oromos introducing large concentration camps for the first time in Ethiopian history. In 1993, it incarcerated over 40,000 men, women and children in overcrowded camps where many died from maltreatment by the regime’s security forces, contagious diseases and malaria. International human rights organizations have reported routinely the regime’s gross violation of human rights since the 1990s. Amnesty International has documented thousands of Oromo prisoners of conscience during the last twenty years. Extra-judicial killings and “disappearances” (hidden assassinations) of political activists perpetrated by the brutal administration of Meles Zenawi surpass those which occurred under the previous Ethiopian regimes. These atrocities are affecting the Oromo more than any other group in the country because the regime fears the potential political power of the Oromo people; they constitute the single largest population group in Ethiopia. According to reports by local and international humanitarian organizations, the Ethiopian security forces have, in recent years, intensified mass arrests, abductions and imprisonments of Oromo students, and members and leaders of civic organizations. Consequently, thousands of Oromo students have been expelled from various colleges and universities and many have been imprisoned, tortured and killed.

–Full document

Almost forgotten has been the case of more than 100 Oromo political activists

(Oromedia, 30/05/2012) – Ethiopian Govt Spokesperson Says Oromo Political Prisoners Shouldn’t Be Called “Oromo”.

Referring to the the case of more than 100 forgotten Oromo political prisoners in Oromiyaa, VOA’s Peter Heinlein reports on his May 17, 2012 coverage that  “in Ethiopia, a series of high-profile trials is being closely watched as a test of recently-enacted anti-terrorism legislation.”

A three-judge federal panel is hearing the trials of as many as 150 people arrested on terrorism-related charges last year, including prominent politicians and journalists.Almost every week for the past few months, a small group of journalists and diplomats has  gathered at Addis Ababa’s Lideta federal court complex to attend terrorism trials.

The most high-profile is the case of journalist Eskinder Nega, recent winner of the PEN America “Freedom to Write” Award, and Andualem Arage, who had been one of the rising stars in Ethiopia’s political opposition.  They are accused of collaborating with the outlawed Ginbot Seven (May 15th) political party to carry out terrorist attacks.

U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Donald Booth was in the courtroom last week when a verdict in the case was due, but the judges postponed the announcement till mid-June, saying they needed more time.

Among the other trials before the court was the case of two Swedish journalists captured in the restive Ogaden region in the company of members of the outlawed Ogaden National Liberation Front, or ONLF.  The journalists were convicted of supporting terrorism, and given 11-year prison terms.

In another case, the deputy editor of a now-defunct independent newspaper and a columnist for another paper were convicted of plotting terrorist acts.  Both received long sentences.

Then there is the case of a senior United Nations security official who played a key role last year in negotiating the release of two World Food Program employees abducted in the Ogaden.  Shortly after the release, the U.N. officer was arrested and charged with having ties to the ONLF.

–Full Document Oromedia

Ethiopia: ‘Special Police’ Execute 10

May 28, 2012, Nairobi (Human Rights Watch) – An Ethiopian government-backed paramilitary force summarily executed 10 men during a March 2012 operation in Ethiopia’s eastern Somali region. Detailed information on the killings and other abuses by the force known as the “Liyu police” only came to light after a Human Rights Watch fact-finding mission to neighboring Somaliland in April.   On March 16 a Liyu police member fatally shot a resident of Raqda village, in the Gashaamo district of Somali region, who was trying to protect a fellow villager. That day, men from Raqda retaliated by killing seven Liyu police members, prompting a reprisal operation by dozens of Liyu police in four villages on March 16 and 17. During this operation the Liyu police force summarily executed at least 10 men who were in their custody, killed at least 9 residents in ensuing gunfights, abducted at least 24 men, and looted dozens of shops and houses.   “The killing of several Liyu police members doesn’t justify the force’s brutal retaliation against the local population,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The Liyu police abuses in Somali region show the urgent need for the Ethiopian government to rein in this lawless force.”

Refugee women and children in Somaliland who fled their homes in Ethiopia as a result of a “Liyu police” operation, April 2012   The Ethiopian government should hold those responsible for the killings and other abuses to account and prevent future abuses by the force.   Ethiopian authorities created the Liyu (“special” in Amharic) police in the Somali region in 2007 when an armed conflict between the insurgent Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and the government escalated. By 2008 the Liyu police became a prominent counterinsurgency force recruited and led by the regional security chief at that time, Abdi Mohammed Omar (known as “Abdi Illey”), who is now the president of Somali Regional State.   The Liyu police have been implicated in numerous serious abuses against civilians throughout the Somali region in the context of counterinsurgency operations. The legal status of the force is unclear, but credible sources have informed Human Rights Watch that members have received training, uniforms, arms, and salaries from the Ethiopian government via the regional authorities.   Human Rights Watch spoke to 30 victims, relatives of victims, and witnesses to the March incidents from four villages who had fled across the border to Somaliland and who gave detailed accounts of the events.   Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that on the evening of March 16 the Liyu police returned to Raqda following the clashes with the community earlier in the day that left seven police force members dead. The next morning, March 17, the Liyu police rounded up 23 men in Raqda and put them into a truck heading towards Galka, a neighboringvillage. Along the way the Liyu police stopped the truck, ordered five randomly selected men to descend, and shot them by the roadside. “It was three police who shot them,” a detainee told Human Rights Watch. “They shot them in the forehead and shoulder: three bullets per person.”   Also on March 17, at about 6 a.m., Liyu police in two vehicles opened an assault on the nearby village of Adaada. Survivors of the attack and victims’ relatives described Liyu police members going house to house searching for firearms and dragging men from their homes. The Liyu police also started shooting in the air. Local residents with arms and the Liyu police began fighting and at least four villagers were killed. Many civilians fled the village.   After several hours the Liyu police left but later returned when villagers came back to the village to bury those killed earlier that day. Fighting resumed in the afternoon and at least another five villagers were killed. The Liyu police took another four men from their homes and summarily executed them. A woman whose brother was a veterinarian told Human Rights Watch: “They caught my brother and took him outside. They shot him in the head and then slit his throat.”   For five days Liyu police also deployed outside Langeita, another village in the district, and restricted people’s movement. The Liyu police carried out widespread looting of shops and houses in at least two of the villages, residents said.   Human Rights Watch received an unconfirmed report that following the incidents local authorities arrested three Liyu police members. However it is unclear whether the members have been charged or whether further investigations have taken place.   The Ethiopian government’s response to reports of abuses in the Somali region has been to severely restrict or control access for journalists, aid organizations, human rights groups, and other independent monitors. Ethiopia’s regional and federal government should urgently facilitate access for independent investigations of the events by independent media and human rights investigators, including the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial and summary executions.   “For years the Ethiopian government has jailed and deported journalists for reporting on the Somali region,” Lefkow said. “Donor countries should call on Ethiopia to allow access to the media and rights groups so abuses can’t be hidden away.”   Liyu Police Abuses, March 2012   Summary Executions and Killings

Human Rights Watch interviewed witnesses and relatives of the victims who described witnessing at least 10 summary executions by the Liyu police on March 16 and 17. The actual number may be higher.   On March 16 in Raqda, a Liyu police member shot dead Abdiqani Abdillahi Abdi after he intervened to stop the paramilitary from harassing and beating another villager. Several villagers heard the Liyu police member saying to Abdiqani, “What can you do for him?” and then heard the shot.   The shooting ignited a confrontation between the Liyu police and the local community. The nine Liyu police who were deployed in Raqda then left via the road to the neighboring village of Adaada. A number of Raqda residents, including members of Abdiqani’s family, took their weapons, went after the Liyu police, and reportedly killed seven of them in a confrontation that followed.   The next morning, on March 17 at around 11 a.m., the Liyu police selected five men from a group of 23 men they had detained in Raqda and were taking towards Galka village in a truck. The Liyu police forced the five men to sit by the roadside and then shot them. Another detainee described what happened:

In between Galka and Raqda they stopped the truck. There were four other Liyu police vehicles accompanying the truck. This was around 11 a.m. They told five of us to get out of the lorry. They [randomly] ordered five out – none in particular. The man standing near the lorry ordered them to “Kill them, shoot them.” It was three police who shot them. They shot them in the forehead and shoulder: three bullets per person.   Another detainee saw the five being shot in the head and said the Liyu police threatened the remaining detainees, saying, “We will kill you all like this.”   The same day the Liyu police summarily executed four men in Adaada, where they had carried out house-to-house searches that morning. In all four cases multiple witnesses described the victims as unarmed and in custody when they were shot, either in the neck or head, shortly after having been dragged from their homes.   Witnesses described the summary execution of a veterinarian. The Liyu police dragged him from his home and shot him in the head, but when they realized that he was not dead, they slit his throat. The veterinarian’s middle-aged sister told Human Rights Watch:

They entered the home and asked where the man responsible for the home was. There were seven of them. They caught my brother and took him outside. They shot him in the head and then slit his throat. After killing him, they asked my niece where her father’s rifle was, but she could not find the keys and they hit her on the back of the shoulder with the butt of a gun.   Witnesses also told Human Rights Watch that a teenage boy was dragged from his uncle’s home, taken nearby, momentarily interrogated, and then shot. One witness heard him reciting a prayer before being killed. His body was left on the ground near a trash dump. A third victim, an elderly man, was taken from outside his home, interrogated for a short time, and then shot while standing. Several witnesses heard him pleading with the police to spare his life. The fourth victim was also taken from his home and shot shortly after.   At least nine other men were killed by the Liyu police in Adaada, but the circumstances of their deaths are unclear. There was armed resistance to the Liyu police attack, and some of the nine may have been armed. However, according to witnesses, the Liyu police shot several men, in the upper body and head, who were trying to escape. Two men fleeing were reportedly run over by Liyu police vehicles.   Abductions, Torture, and Ill-Treatment  During the house searches in Adaada, the Liyu police abducted a number of village men and tortured and mistreated several people, including at least three women.   An Adaada resident, one of the first to be taken from his home on the morning of March 17, described to Human Rights Watch his treatment by the Liyu police:

They entered and told my wife to shut up. Four men entered the house with four waiting outside. They came over to me and took me. They also took the gun from my house. They hit me with the butt of a gun and took me to a small river near my home. They tied a belt around my neck. I lost consciousness. They threw me in a berket [small water hole] that was 15 meters deep and then they threw branches over me. There was mud in the berket. I managed to climb up when I woke up.   The Liyu police seriously beat at least three women during house searches in Adaada. A young woman said that Liyu police members who had entered her home beat her after she told them that her husband was absent: “They said I was lying, they kicked me and crushed my head with the back of the gun. I had some injuries in my kidney. I lost a tooth.”   Three men who had been abducted in Raqda on March 17 told Human Rights Watch they were each detained for nine days. During the first 24 hours they were without water. For four days the Liyu police drove them around in an open truck between villages and towns in an apparent attempt to hide them from local residents, and possibly also from federal authorities.   During the first four days of their detention they were beaten by the police with sticks and gun butts. On at least two occasions the paramilitaries guarding them threatened to execute them. However, disagreements among the Liyu police on how to proceed apparently saved the men’s lives. One former detainee told Human Rights Watch:

We were driving around different villages and some of the police said they should release us because the federal government will give them problems, they will discipline us, as we have committed a crime. Others said, “Let us kill all 24.” There were different ideas among the police.   After four days in the truck they were detained for at least another four days out in the sun near the village of Langeita, where they received only minimal food and water. After that the Liyu police took them to Gashaamo, where they were released on March 25 as a result of negotiations between the regional government and clan elders.   Looting  Residents of Adaada and Langeita described widespread looting of property, food, and money from shops and houses by the Liyu police. Six villagers who spoke to Human Rights Watch said that their own houses, belongings, and property had been looted on March 17.   A 45-year-old woman from Langeita said that the Liyu police moved around the village in groups of five to seven and entered 10 stores. Two or three would enter a shop and steal shoes, clothes, drinks, and food. Two women said they could not return to their villages because they had lost all their property.   Reports from local authorities in neighbouring Somaliland suggest that discussions have taken place between clan elders from the affected villages and the regional authorities to negotiate a solution to the situation. None of the local residents who spoke with Human Rights Watch had current plans to return to their homes.   Background  Ethiopia’s Somali region has been the site of a low-level insurgency by the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) for more than a decade. The ONLF, an ethnic Somali armed movement largely supported by members of the Ogaden clan, has sought greater political autonomy for the region. Following the ONLF’s April 2007 attack on the oil installation in Obole, which resulted in the deaths of 70 civilians and the capture of several Chinese oil workers, the Ethiopian government carried out a major counterinsurgency campaign in the five zones of the region primarily affected by the conflict.   Human Rights Watch’s June 2008 report of its investigation into abuses in the conflict found that the Ethiopian National Defense Force and the ONLF had committed war crimes between mid-2007 and early 2008, and that the Ethiopian armed forces could be responsible for crimes against humanity based on the patterns of executions, torture, rape, and forced displacement.   These abuses have never been independently investigated. Ethiopia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry initiated an inquiry in late 2008 in response to the Human Rights Watch report, but that inquiry failed to meet the basic requirements of independence, timeliness, and confidentiality that credible investigations require. The government has repeatedly ignored calls for an independent inquiry into the abuses in the region.   Since the escalation of fighting in 2007 the Ethiopian government has imposed tight controls on access to Somali region for independent journalists and human rights monitors. In July 2011 two Swedish journalists who entered the region to report on the conflict were arrested, convicted, and sentenced to 11 years in prison under Ethiopia’s vague and overbroad anti-terrorism law.   Gashaamo district, where the March 2012 events took place, is in Dhagabhur zone, one of the five affected by the conflict. However, it was not an area directly affected by fighting in previous years, and is largely populated by members of the ethnic Somali Isaaq clan, who are not generally perceived to be a source of support for the ONLF.   –Human Rights Watch

VOA Correspondent in Ethiopia Released From Custody, Charges Dropped

Note: This another humiliation for Meles

Veteran correspondent Peter Heinlein

May 26, 2012 (VOA News) – A VOA correspondent and his translator are safe at home with their families Saturday after being detained overnight by Ethiopian police on a charge of “illegal reporting.”

Veteran correspondent Peter Heinlein and translator Simegineh Yekoye were arrested Friday as they were leaving a mosque on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. Heinlein told VOA editors Saturday he was questioned at length about the purposes of his reporting.

“We were interrogated by a police officer who told us that we had engaged in illegal reporting. They say that this is a problem area that we had gone into, and that reporters had no business going in there. We had a lengthy interrogation and gave a long statement in which he grilled us quite extensively about reporting, and about why, how we had gone to this mosque and what our motives were.”

Heinlein said he and Simegineh were released and all charges were dropped after an official from the U.S. Embassy’s consular section appeared at the prison Saturday morning. He said computer and recording equipment that were confiscated upon his arrest were returned and that he and Simegineh are in good health.

Voice of America issued a statement from its headquarters in Washington saying it is relieved by Heinlein’s release.

It said Heinlein is “a professional and highly respected journalist whose only aim is to provide accurate and balanced coverage of events in Ethiopia. We are concerned about a pattern of harassment of journalists like Mr. Heinlein, and urge the government to allow them to perform their duties without fear of interference.”

Tom Rhodes, East Africa spokesman for the Committee to Protect Journalists, told VOA Saturday that his organization is frustrated at what seems to be a shrinking tolerance of foreign journalists by the Ethiopian government.

“You know, at CPJ we’re incredibly relieved that they have released Peter Heinlein today and that it hasn’t become a long, trumped-up process. But we’re also very upset that he was arrested in the first place, because it appears to be that, at least in the earlier reporting we’ve done, that they simply couldn’t find a genuine reason for his arrest.”

Heinlein said the arrest appeared to be connected to his reporting on a dispute between Ethiopia’s Muslim minority and the government over the leadership of the nation’s Muslim community.

He said he and Simegineh appeared to have inadvertently crossed police lines aimed at keeping reporters away from a meeting after Friday prayers at the mosque where the dispute was being discussed.

He said police stopped his car as he and the translator were leaving the mosque, and later took the two of them to a local police station. From there, they were transferred to the city’s main police station for questioning.

He said Simegineh had been permitted to return home overnight because there was not a suitable place to keep her in the prison and ordered to return Saturday morning.

Heinlein, an east Africa correspondent based in Addis Ababa, has worked for VOA since 1988.

VOA News

Meles’ recycled old tactics being rendered obsolete by a new and shrewd adversary

by Jawar Mohammed | May 25, 2012

Someone who knows Meles Zenawi  since childhood  once told me that  “Meles never concedes defeat. Neither does he compromise because he considers it a personal humiliation.  And he never keeps promise even to the most important people in his life.”

In his relentless fight  to  capture state power and   then  prolong his rein, Meles has played  numerous tricks, repeatedly,  on almost all segments of the society that by  now his subjects can see which card he has in his pocket before he pulls them out. Faced with a determined opposition from the Muslim community, Meles has apparently removed  the dreaded Mejlis leaders and promised to hold election in June. Here is the trick. He wants the new Mejlis leaders to be elected by delegates chosen by kebeles. Note that kebele is the lowest level of the state’s administrative structure. The ruling party’s organization further  divides the kebele into   ‘got’ and gare’ substructures  composed of few households that have been established to help the authoritarian system closely and directly  monitor and control each citizen. For instance during the 2010 election, these gare and got structures were utilized for the so called 1 for 5 strategy whereby one ruling party member was assigned for every   five voters. The one member was required to pursued  and empowered to   coerce  his assigned electorate and personally ensure that they vote, for the ruling party, on the election day. It was in this way that  Meles won a whopping 99.6%.

For the Muslim community the mosque is the lowest structural unit that should be electing delegates  that choose Mejlis  leaders at national level.  Meles prefer the kebele over the mosques because in that way the party structure at kebele level select loyalists who will ensure that the Mejlis is filled by a new set of puppets. That could not happen if the election takes place through the mosques  not only because sheiks  are less inclined to cheat in  Allah’s house, but also because, as I  noted before, mosques and their imams are organized in such way that makes it hard to control and manipulate their functions.

“Every mosque and religious leader functions as an autonomous entity and agency. Mosques are usually constructed by each community; imams are members of the local population – who volunteer their service and rarely draw salary. Muslim clerics are rarely centrally ordained or appointed. The religious teachers (who might not necessarily be the same person as the imams) attract students based on their intellectual fame, and their centers are sustained through local support. Therefore, there is minimal networking among mosques, little outside and top-down control over the content of what religious scholars teach, what imams preach or how a specific mosque functions.”

Therefore, Meles who is allergic to free and fair elections, knows that neither cooptation nor intimidation can get him  the kind of results he would like to see  if the elections take place at the mosques. By trying to organize the election by kebeles he is trying to get away with such obviously slanderous moves.  He has used similar tricks on national elections (delaying results, appointing party members as election chiefs, appointing the same person to lead the electoral board and also the Supreme Court—where decision of board should be appealed to etc).  Aside from the fact that he is attempting to deceive the protesters with such overused maneuvers, his current tricks are already detailed in the government’s  initial  strategy papers  1 & 2  that were leaked to the activists.For the regime’s  strategy  at lower level see the detailed implementation plan for East Hararghe zone. The protesters knew the regime’s strategic motives even before the concessions were floated, hence unanimously rejected them.

–Full Document Dhummuugaa

Meles’ recycled old tactics being rendered obsolete by a new and shrewd adversary

by Jawar Mohammed | May 25, 2012   Someone who knows Meles Zenawi  since childhood  once told me that  “Meles never concedes defeat. Neither does he compromise because he considers it a personal humiliation.  And he never keeps promise even to the most important people in his life.”   In his relentless fight  to  capture state power and   then  prolong his rein, Meles has played  numerous tricks, repeatedly,  on almost all segments of the society that by  now his subjects can see which card he has in his pocket before he pulls them out. Faced with a determined opposition from the Muslim community, Meles has apparently removed  the dreaded Mejlis leaders and promised to hold election in June. Here is the trick. He wants the new Mejlis leaders to be elected by delegates chosen by kebeles. Note that kebele is the lowest level of the state’s administrative structure. The ruling party’s organization further  divides the kebele into   ‘got’ and gare’ substructures  composed of few households that have been established to help the authoritarian system closely and directly  monitor and control each citizen. For instance during the 2010 election, these gare and got structures were utilized for the so called 1 for 5 strategy whereby one ruling party member was assigned for every   five voters. The one member was required to pursued  and empowered to   coerce  his assigned electorate and personally ensure that they vote, for the ruling party, on the election day. It was in this way that  Meles won a whopping 99.6%.   For the Muslim community the mosque is the lowest structural unit that should be electing delegates  that choose Mejlis  leaders at national level.  Meles prefer the kebele over the mosques because in that way the party structure at kebele level select loyalists who will ensure that the Mejlis is filled by a new set of puppets. That could not happen if the election takes place through the mosques  not only because sheiks  are less inclined to cheat in  Allah’s house, but also because, as I  noted before, mosques and their imams are organized in such way that makes it hard to control and manipulate their functions.

“Every mosque and religious leader functions as an autonomous entity and agency. Mosques are usually constructed by each community; imams are members of the local population – who volunteer their service and rarely draw salary. Muslim clerics are rarely centrally ordained or appointed. The religious teachers (who might not necessarily be the same person as the imams) attract students based on their intellectual fame, and their centers are sustained through local support. Therefore, there is minimal networking among mosques, little outside and top-down control over the content of what religious scholars teach, what imams preach or how a specific mosque functions.”   Therefore, Meles who is allergic to free and fair elections, knows that neither cooptation nor intimidation can get him  the kind of results he would like to see  if the elections take place at the mosques. By trying to organize the election by kebeles he is trying to get away with such obviously slanderous moves.  He has used similar tricks on national elections (delaying results, appointing party members as election chiefs, appointing the same person to lead the electoral board and also the Supreme Court—where decision of board should be appealed to etc).  Aside from the fact that he is attempting to deceive the protesters with such overused maneuvers, his current tricks are already detailed in the government’s  initial  strategy papers  1 & 2  that were leaked to the activists.For the regime’s  strategy  at lower level see the detailed implementation plan for East Hararghe zone. The protesters knew the regime’s strategic motives even before the concessions were floated, hence unanimously rejected them.   –Full Document Dhummuugaa