A few points on Professor Mesfin’s interview with the DW Radio

October 18, 2007

Professor Mesfin brought all the problems surrounding Kinijit leadership before to the public domain with a view of nipping the problem at the bud rather than resign from Kinijit Council. Had he done so, may be, we might have not been where we are today!

Surely, something serious and fundamental must have gone wrong within Kinijit leadership in the eyes of the good professor that led him to resign from Kinijit Council. We all know Professor Mesfin’s wisdom, neutrality, moral authority and central role in bringing the four parties together to form Kinijit. After all, is he not the spiritual father of Kinijit? Thus, if we all are serious in finding nothing but the whole truth and genuinely care about Kinijit, it would be a grave mistake to take Professor Mesfin’s account lightly.

It is with the intention to critically analyze Kinijit leadership’s crisis and to pinpoint the way forward that I would like to highlight the following points from Professor Mesfin’s interview:

1. The very cause of the crisis within Kinijit leadership

According to Professor Mesfin, the crisis within Kinijit leadership is not a new phenomenon. The crisis did not start when the leadership was in detention; it did not start after the leadership was released from prison; it did not start during the leadership tour of the US and Europe but it started before the historical May/2005 election. Put simply, the crisis started right after the formation of Kinijt!

If that is the case, why was the crisis kept as a top secret from Kinijit members, supporters and the very stakeholders who voted for Kinijit? In Professor Mesfin’s view, the only reason why the crisis within Kinijit leadership was not in the public domain was that we have a very bad culture of covering up (Meshefafen) things fearing the worst. I believe, had Professor Mesfin come to the open the moment the crisis started with in Kinijit leadership by breaking this bad tradition, it may have been possible at least to mitigate this unnecessary and unwarranted leadership crisis.

Again, according to Professor Mesfin’s observation, the crisis within Kinijit is neither the problem of the Ethiopian people nor that of Kinijit but it is essentially the problem of few of the individuals within Kinijit leadership. Period!

2. Reasons for Professor Mesfin’s resignation from Kinijit Council

Professor Mesfin cited two valid reasons for him to resign from the Kinijit Council a few months before the historical May/2005 election. They are, first, few individuals within the leadership have unlimited and insatiable appetite for power to control Kinijit rather than promoting the interest of Kinijit. Second, few individuals within the leadership have been busy in forming their own clique (buden) and recruiting supporters for their buden rather than promoting the collective interests of Kinijit and Ethiopia. Hence, the current crisis within Kinijit leadership was long over due and has nothing to do at all with promoting the interests of Ethiopia and Kinijit supporters other than being a war among few individuals to control and run Kinijit single handedly.

My inference and conclusion on the matter: It is more likely that few individuals from Kestedemena party (most probably headed by Dr Birhanu) were behind this buden formation to satisfy their power hunger than Engineer Hailu. I say this because, unlike people like Dr Birhanu from Kestedemena, Engineer Hailu is already the leader of Kinijit; thus, he does not need to be a party to this desperate leadership struggle at all. What more can Engineer Hailu aspire for other than being a leader of the CUD. To cut a long story short, Engineer Hailu has already got the highest job in Kinijit. In addition, Engineer Hailu has the solid mass base from the largest party which constituted Kinijit i.e. AEUP. Hence, Engineer Hailu did not need to form a buden to continue being a leader of Kinijit as he can simply get what he wanted by using a majority vote in accordance with party democracy from his AEUP supporters. By the way, I think, it is prudent to see the suspension of Ato Lidetu Ayalew and Ato Mushe Semu from Kinijit from this angle. Were these two people victims of this power struggle and buden formation by Kestedemena?

3. The priority

According to Professor Mesfin, guaranteeing the continuity of the very existence of Kinijit party and the release of Kinijit supporters should have been accorded the highest priority by Kinijit leadership rather than indulging into a tour to the US and Europe. I can not agree more with the good professor. It is also good to note that this was also the view of Engineer Hailu and one of his main disagreement with the other delegates who left for the US and Europe. We also need to give credit to Engineer Hailu for his attempt to reach families in person who lost their loved ones in connection with Kinijit and for giving a token of financial support for the families immediately before the Ethiopian Millennium.

Leaving prioritizing Kinijit’s discourse for the moment, even the decision to tour Europe and the US is illegal. It is illegal since it is against Kinijit’s bye-law as quorum was not even present leave alone being endorsed by a majority decision as argued by the touring delegates.

4. On claims of “paying the ultimate sacrifice” and the support from the public

Of all the things said, one thing that touched the bottom of my heart is that Professor Mesfin’s bold but correct assertion that the ultimate sacrifices is paid not by the leaders who were detained but by the very people who lost their irreplaceable life, who were maimed, who were fired from their job and who were uprooted from their villages at the vengeful hands of the EPDRF regime. By doing so, I believe, Professor Mesfin brought the struggle once again to the grass root level and flagged up the ultimate sacrifices paid by the people that seems being sidelined at the moment. The current extravagant hiring of Limousines to escort the leaders in the US and Europe and red carpet partying appears to cash on the sacrifices paid by the people at the grass root level.

He kindly reminded the released leaders that there is no sound basis either to feel special or feel brave about being detained as if the detained had volunteered to go to prison on behalf of the people. As Professor Mesfin eloquently put it “imprisonment can not and should not be taken as a medal of honour”. He criticized those detained leaders not to look down at their colleagues who were not detained as if the detained had volunteered to go to prison and the others had refused. It is simply the regime that took some to prison and left the others at large and it has absolutely nothing to do with individual choice. He also reminded the Kinijit leaders that the unconditional support and respect they are getting from the Ethiopian people is solely to the party and not for the individual leaders per se. It is very reassuring to see this long time Human Rights and Democracy advocate humbling himself and acting as the conscious of Kinijit once again.

5. On the divisive approach of the leadership

Professor Mesfin stressed the madness and the subsequent danger of creating division within Kinijit leadership along those who joined Parliament and those who did not and most importantly, those who were detained and those who were not. Judging in light of this remark, it was wrong on the part of Mrs Birtukan Mideksa to send back home those Kinijit Council members who were not detained by excluding them from Kinijit meetings and decisions. The question we need to ask Mrs Birtukan Mideksa is that where does she get the power to do so? Did Mrs Birtukan act lawfully according to Kinijit bye-laws in this regard or did she act in breach of Kinijit-bye laws?


It is very imperative to take the crucial issues flagged up by Professor Mesfin in relation to the crisis within Kinijit leadership seriously. If we want to get a solution to the crisis, no stone should be left unturned to get to the truth. Hence, listening and re-listening Professor Mesfin’s interview may be a starter in the long journey to get to the truth of the crisis within Kinijit leadership.