Ethiopia: EDP’s Spectacular Comeback
Kinijit was instrumental to pull together the two main party’s resources and successfully mobilized the Ethiopian people behind it.
Although the Ethiopian people’s election victory was short lived mainly as a result of untimely and unnecessary power struggle with in the leadership, Kinijit made history by demystifying EPRDF’s mystification of ethnicity. In short, to the delight of pan-Ethiopianists and dismay of secessionists, not only EPRDF but its ethnic-centered policy was defeated by the Ethiopian people through the ballot box.
To the horror of the Ethiopian people, what started as a bright coalition faced an insurmountable obstacle and started cracking at the leadership level when few in the leadership prematurely conspired to vigorously pursue to change the coalition into a complete merge of the four constituent parties primarily to put the two larger parties into total submission. At the time, because of the on-going animosities between AEUP and UEDP-Medhin, AEUP leadership failed to see this grand conspiracy at the time. UEDP-Medhin leadership did.
Fearing their conspiracy would be untimely aborted by the bright, smart and young leadership of UEDP-Medhin, those few in leadership of Kinijit who were relentlessly working hard behind the curtain to control Kinijit chose to ‘eliminate’ UEDP-Medhin swiftly and once and for all. Thus UEDP-Medhin party in general and its young leadership in particular became a victim of a well sustained and orchestrated campaign simply because it expressed its strategic difference with the then CUD and tried to stop the impending crisis which was unfolding.
This decision was considered as a political suicide by many political pundits and many predicted that EDP would not see the day light again if it disagrees with few of Kinjit’s leadership prescriptive political strategy. Now looking from the benefit of hindsight, the decision that was taken by the party not to succumb into the spinned crowd mentality by standing firm to its belief against all odds, was not only right but also a far sighted strategy that saved the party, the struggle for better days. Credit to the principled stand of EDP, we have now witnessed the residence of Addis Ababa flocking to the meeting hall at ELPA to endorse the big price the party had paid.
EDP now as a party stands on its own feet. The hard work, patience and belief in sense of justice of the Ethiopian people is paying dividend.
This is also a big blow to short term political strategy of the Ethiopian leftist revolutionary culture. The party has now broken out of the traditional Ethiopian leftist political culture to advocate the third way and liberal democratic policies.
From its inception, EDP was unique in many ways from the other parties. After being disillusioned by the ineffectiveness of the opposition parties, when the young leaders of EDP chose to form their own party as they think fit, nobody wanted to take them seriously. EDP was written off from the beginning.
When EDP advocated the importance of a multi ethnic party when at the time forming parties based on ethnicity was an escapable trend, some laughed at EDP. Not only that, when EDP made passionately a case for peaceful struggle as the only means of braking the vicious cycle of violence in a country where gun is worshiped, it was branded as political naivety by some.
However, after a short period of its formation, when EDP started rallying many people behind the party by advocating peaceful struggle and multi nationalism, many parties started copying EDP. Hence, EDP was taken seriously through hard work, patience and farsightedness. Put simply, EDP led and others followed. The premature underestimation of EDP effectively stopped.
That was then. Even now, there are lots of things that the Ethiopian opposition forces need to learn from the success of EDP. First, short term political opportunism, alliance and chasing the populist view have not delivered any victory in the last 40 years and it will not. Second, there are times one has to pay price for one’s principle it stands for but eventually it is one’s own conviction that provides strength, not populist inducement. Third, life is not black and white, enemy or friends, victory or defeat. This extreme and polarised political culture has been the source of suffering and a cause of senseless death of many thousands in the last 40 years.
It is time that all involved in the last 40 years stop and adopt a rational and pragmatic political strategy to reduce the agony and unnecessary scarifies of the Ethiopian people. The drive needs to be the creation of a better future and not the liquidation of people who
Happen to disagree with us.
We have to remember that nothing has been solved and it is time to call it a day for such senseless and ego driven political culture. It may unfortunately take some time but the Ethiopian people, see, listen and make judgment. That is why we are witnessing once again the people of Addis Ababa flocking to the ELPA meeting hall to show their support to EDP. As usual, EDP has shown the way forward. We expect others to follow as before. This is what we call farsighted and pragmatic politics.
- Speech by Lidetu Ayalew, President of Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP) pdf file