EDP’S NEXT MEETING IN MEKELE
To be honest, EDP had been enjoying a tremendous goodwill and sympathy from Tigrigna speaking Ethiopians from day one, but its trip to Mekele was a landmark in the memory of the party’s history and the people. What happened in the meeting hall is on the record and there is no need to repeat it. However, the experience of EDP delegates who travelled to Mekele was very touching and transformational.
We had a chance to listen to the experiences of some of the delegates who travelled to Mekele. The Mekele 2002 meeting happened against the backdrop of the 2001 arrest of EDP leadership. So, most of them were anxious when they took the flight to Mekele due to EPRDF’s political campaigns against the party, the arrest of the party’s leadership in 2001 and the occasional branding of all opposition parties as anti-Tigreans. But when the Ethiopian Airlines plane touched the ground in Mekele, the experience of the delegates was entirely different and transformational.
From a taxi driver that picked them from Airport to the hotel they stayed in, the restaurants and bars that they had visited, the leadership was made to feel welcomed. They were left amazed by the degree of affection and hospitality they enjoyed, most of the time without charge. As it was a landmark meeting to the people, it was also deeply touching to the party and its leadership. It is these small day to day contacts and the bigger shared vision that made the party to have faith in sense of justice and fairness of the Ethiopian people and stick to its core principle and sometimes pay the price. The party did not come to life with dogmatic adherence to foreign ideology, its library and resource material is the people feeling, desire, hopes and aspirations. It is these small but day to day understanding of the people feeling that made the party to make a clear distinction between the people and the political parties and to work hard to tackle broad generalisation and stereotyping or avoid the temptation of pigeonholing people according to class, religion, ethnicity or other factors.
Probably this is also the reason why the party has been seen differently from most other parties and enjoy a tremendous amount of trust and goodwill from a poor man in the street to the grandson of the king himself. This is one thing that is often overlooked in many political debates and rhetoric. EDP did not only capture the attention of ordinary people in the street but also confidence of Ras Mengesha Seyoum. His Excellency Ras Mengesha Seyoum’s decision to merge EDU with EDP to create UEDP and become an honorary patron of UEDP is often overlooked, but for the young leadership this was a big vote of confidence and encouragement.
These kind of big decisions and small feedbacks like that of Ato Mersea Kidane suggest that EDP has already captured the attention of the people in Tigray but it cannot take it for granted. It needs to work hard to listen attentively to the feeling, desire and aspiration of the people to be a partner in their struggle to create a better future for all.
In short I agree with Mersea’s article that there is a lot of goodwill and support for EDP in Tigray. In fact, in the last 3 years, there has been also sympathy and goodwill from the elite that has been traditionally supporters of EPRDF. The sympathy was expressed in providing platforms for EDP’s version of the story to be heard, when the party becomes a victim of the old revolutionaries tactics of “Abeyot Ligwan Tebelalech” through defamation campaigns.
The good thing is that EDP as a party has survived the slaughter by the opposition parties. The experience is not lost at all. It made the party to reflect and assess itself and returns to its original values to tackle undemocratic practises not only from the people in power but also in the opposition and the wider population. These are monumental task facing a young party but with renewed partnership with the public, we all believe it is achievable.
When EDP was struggling to keep its office open in Mekele and everywhere due to negative campaigns and lack of resource, members of EDP in Mekele have done everything possible to survive on shoestring and keep the candle burning. Now there is no doubt EDP will head back to Mekele, not to lecture its visions and goals but to listen to the advices of the people as it did in Awassa and Addis Ababa.
Having said this, I have to stress that the only problem that is paralysing the party is lack of money. To have a meeting these days costs up to 30,000 and more. Meeting halls do not come cheap, broadcasting meeting time and venue over the Radio and TV costs an arm and leg. Transportation, hotel, printing materials are expensive. As everyone knows the Diaspora used to support EDP, but most of UEDP members have been swept away by the tide of rumour and we have to accept it as fact of life. Of course, the help also used to come with a string attached which finally led to the derailment of its core values.
The party is now more pragmatist than ever. It has to live by it means, while doing everything possible to weave the fabric of unity, democracy and bright future among the Ethiopians, day by day and brick by brick. To achieve this goal, going to Baherdar, Mekele and other regions and listening to what the people would say will set a new foundation for the partnership. Whatever problem the party may face, EDP will hopefully be in Mekele soon to listen and discuss issues that are relevant to individuals, groups and local or to the country.
Related: የኢዴፓ የመቀሌ ጉዞ (በመርስኤ ኪዳን)