Sow the wind; reap the whirlwind

 Negussay Ayele

       As background to the theme of this article, we begin with an international news dispatch from Addis Ababa as well as a brief profile of major happenings in Ethiopia since mid-March 2001.

 Nita Bhalla, the BBC correspondent in Addis Ababa, dispatched a report dated 17 April 2001. Her eyewitness account, headlined “Brutal attack by Addis Ababa police,” was as follows: “Hundreds of Ethiopian riot police armed with batons and riot shields stormed central Addis Ababa today, beating up civilians including women and children. A wing of the Ethiopian police, known as the ‘special forces’ were called in to break up a riot which erupted when a peaceful demonstration turned into a violent protest, The scenes I witnessed in the Arat Kilo area of Addis Ababa can only be described as brutal. The riot police arrived at the scene at 1300 local time (1000 GMT) when a group of about 100 civilians outside the Addis Ababa University campus started throwing rocks and bottles at police. The special forces took charge of the situation, which was beyond the control of the regular police force. They trapped the rioters along a small road before charging at them from all directions. As the rioters dispersed, the special force officers pursued them beating them mercilessly, even as the rioters surrendered and pleaded with them to stop. Many lay motionless on the ground as the police continued to beat and kick them. Some of the officers stormed the homes of civilians living and working in the area, looking for more of the rioters, but finding none, they began beating women and young children. As I tried to record the screams of the women they turned on me and began pushing and shoving me out of the way. They snatched my camera as I tried to take pictures of the atrocities, saying that I should not portray Ethiopia to the world in this way. When I protested, they grabbed the sound recorder and threw it to the ground smashing it to pieces. The rioters, who were not students, say they sympathized with the weeklong boycott of classes by over 3000 university students, (who) have been demanding the removal of armed police from campus.”  (Cf. also her summary report—“Anarchy in Addis”--in the BBC magazine, Focus on Africa, July-September, 2001 issue).

Among the avalanche of news items on Ethiopia flooding the wires since mid-March, were reports of internal splits among the elites of the TPLF regime and the subsequent eviction of the dissidents from their Central and Executive Committee positions within TPLF. Subsequently, several high-ranking TPLF officials and military brass and functionaries of clone parties were not only dismissed but in some cases incarcerated as well. The TPLF regime used the political turmoil within its ranks as a pretext to kill and repress students and virtually wipe out a budding alternative party formation called Ethiopians’ Democratic Party (EDP). The regime even jailed and harassed the  venerable human rights campaigner, Professor Mesfin Woldemariam, as well as an upstanding economist, Dr. Berhanu Nega, on trumped up charges that they incited student riots. Local press also had a bombshell. There were a series of announcements that up and down the ranks of the TPLF, several prominent persons--including one of the top TPLF guerrilla veteran  with six members of his family--were indicted on corruption charges. Dozens of business owners and managers were also apprehended indicating that corruption was endemic in the system. The corruption spree did not start recently, and it is not limited to those rounded up today. Unless the hunt is halted deliberately--as those now in jail are intimating--there will be a lot more culprits all the way to the highest pedestals of the ladder of rampant TPLF corruption. Meanwhile, the regime braced itself to acknowledging Ethiopian casualties of upwards of 100,000 in its two-year war with EPLF, while EPLF owned up to sustaining only a fifth of that figure.

So, at the moment it is a toss-up as to who will exit first—PR Issayass or PM Meles. What is certain, however, is that EPLF/PFDJ and TPLF/EPRDF are now exhausted, beleaguered, bankrupt, vulnerable and moribund. Both are in the same leaking, sinking raft. How did it all come to this?

There was yet another drama with TPLF’s puppet Oromo party called OPDO (Oromo Peoples Democratic Front), which boasts of having one of its own, Dr Negasso Gidada, as the titular President or head of state of the TPLF regime in Ethiopia. At a Central Committee meeting of the EPRDF (Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front), which is the TPLF’s Trojan Horse in Ethiopia, there were sparks between Prime Minister Meles and some OPDO functionaries. The PM is reported to have berated OPDO that ‘if one scratches one of your sides, you are OPDO, and when one scratches the other side, you are OLF (Oromo Liberation Front)--two sides of the same coin.”  One participant is said to have responded: “the bottom line is, we are Oromo.” At that cantankerous meeting, President Negasso is quoted as having told PM Meles that the more he observed his behavior lately, “the more he looked to him like Mengistu Hailemariam.” Those were tough words hurled at the PM. Even the bitter dissident comrades in his own Tigrayan camp have not yet gone that far. Meanwhile, the UN-managed task of sealing the borders between TPLF-Ethiopia and EPLF-Eritrea has been moving slowly with its own hiccups and snarls. As I have said in my last Commentary on the Internet, the UN has a trump card it can use in the form of the advance default (12/12/2000 Algiers) agreement by the parties concerned to accept what it decides on the borders. Either side can then spin the outcome to be in their respective favor. It is safe to say that given the premises and provisions of the TPLF/EPLF compact, the predestined result with regard to any boundary delimitation is to the advantage of EPLF-Eritrea and to the detriment of Ethiopia--although not to TPLF per se. 

As we shall elaborate later on, Eritrean capobanda Issayass Afewerki is also having his own troubles with dissidents in his regime, mirroring what the TPLF/EPRDF autocracy is going through in the rest of Ethiopia. At the moment, his Eritrea, which was touted by some as “miracleland,” remains more of a nightmareland. A number of his once loyal entourage and comrades-in-arms as well as ambassadors, ministers and long-time supporters have abandoned his camp and are calling for fair and democratic elections in the hope that he will go out quietly. So, at the moment it is a toss-up as to who will exit first—PR Issayass or PM Meles. What is certain, however, is that EPLF/PFDJ and TPLF/EPRDF are now exhausted, beleaguered, bankrupt, vulnerable and moribund. Both are in the same leaking, sinking raft. How did it all come to this? To answer this question correctly, it is necessary to examine at least the main contours of the tandem handiwork of EPLF and TPLF in Ethiopia-Eritrea from 1991 to 1998. EPLF and TPLF are together responsible for what happened in TPLF-Ethiopia during this period. By the same token, EPLF-Eritrea would not have survived, let alone thrived, had it not been for its unfettered exploitation (or “pillaging,” as one writer put it), of Ethiopia during those years. The TPLF made this possible by its obsequious facilitation, collaboration, protection, funding and diplomatic courier service for EPLF.

To be sure, until 1998 the EPLF and TPLF were co-rulers of TPLF-Ethiopia, while TPLF itself had no say in how EPLF-Eritrea was run. Its sole function was to loyally service the needs and biddings of EPLF. It is of some significance to note that Mr. Issayass and Mr.  Meles (whose birth name is Legesse), the current rulers of Ethiopia-Eritrea, are of mixed Tigrayan and Eritrean parentage. Serving the interests of EPLF and its claim to the Eritrean region of Ethiopia was always the primary concern of the current TPLF ruler(s). An indication of this is the fact that its 331-page major signature document, published in Ethiopic in 1987, was about The Struggle of the Eritrean People: From Where to Where, not about the ‘Struggle of the Ethiopian people’ at large. In point of fact, as I have noted frequently in my earlier writings on these themes, what we have in the top echelons of EPLF and TPLF is tragically a generation committed to Death to Ethiopia, whereas their forebears were dedicated to the cause of Ethiopia or Death. The ongoing dissentions and defections among the top echelons of TPLF and EPLF may reveal some of the mysteries of why the TPLF was more beholden to EPLF-Eritrean secessionist interests than of Ethiopian national interests. But for now, all are condemned to sustain the consequences of the policies and actions of their rulers. When all is said and done the war and political aftermath swirling in Ethiopia-Eritrea in the last couple of years is, therefore, neither accidental nor coincidental. Rather, it is the direct inexorable consequence or boomerang of the treachery and collusion of EPLF and TPLF perpetrated unconscionably for seven very long on the peoples of Ethiopia-Eritrea.



a) Sowing martial winds

After nearly a decade of unchallenged and unrestrained autocratic rule, the TPLF regime began to sustain chinks in its armor and cracks in its façade. The most fundamental defining characteristic of TPLF hegemony in Ethiopia is its monopoly of lethal force. This was true when it defeated the Derg and assumed power in Addis Ababa in 1991, and it is true today. In a 1997 article, “What Naeft (the gun) Can Do…” I had said that the TPLF and EPLF did not win militarily (in 1991) because their cause was right, but they could assert their cause right because they won militarily. By the same token, the TPLF junta continues to rule in Ethiopia today because of its monopoly of force and its unchallenged capacity to use it with impunity. It is not rule of law, democracy, cultural mores, ethical principles, moral scruples or other civil factors that condition or sustain TPLF tribal hegemony. The regime has no legitimacy, no accountability, no transparency, no mandate or popularity among the vast majority of Ethiopians. It came to power by the barrel of the gun, and it continues to rule over Ethiopia through the gun or Naeft virtually as an occupation army. The foundation of its rule is unmitigated lethal force. All other things are window dressings and propaganda ploys packaged for outside--mostly callous, gullible or gratuitous--audiences. These elements and governments apparently do not have compelling ethical principles or overriding national interests to question or challenge the manifest brutality of TPLF military hegemony in Ethiopia today. In one of its issues, the Amharic magazine, Tobia, had cited the recently martyred surgeon, Professor Asrat Woldeyes, having asked out loud in a speech (paraphrased): 

“ How is it that those Western governments that could find and criticize even pin-sized evil deeds deep inside piles of rubble in pitch darkness during the Derg regime, cannot today see and acknowledge the TPLF’s elephant sized evil deeds on the highway, in broad daylight?”

The astounding behavior of those governments that support TPLF and EPLF in the face of all that has been happening against the vast majority of the peoples of Ethiopia-Eritrea, is a subject that needs treatment by itself. Political and economic dimensions of TPLF rule in its Ethiopia, which we shall discuss below, emanate from and are based on its exclusive martial prowess. To miss this point is to confuse the “wax” and the “gold” of realpolitik in Ethiopia-Eritrea today. Outsiders may--even knowingly--miss it, but Ethiopians cannot afford to do so.

Take away its military pillar and the minority TPLF regime, which operates from Addis Ababa as an occupation junta, will instantly crumble like a house of cards. Force is the premise of power in Ethiopia today much as it has been in the past. Others may not appreciate this fundamental point, but the high priests of the regime know exactly what we are talking about here. The problem is, even though they know this undeniable reality, TPLF stalwarts do not acknowledge it. Instead, they keep vending blatant lies to the outside world that unlike previous regimes, the TPLF has brought “democracy” to Ethiopia for the first time; it has put in place an “elected” “civilian” “federal” government; there is “rule of law,” “free press” and “respect for human rights” in the country. The TPLF says nothing about its monopoly of lethal force. However, it has declared that no opposition group should wage armed struggle against its hegemony. In bygone days, some Western governments had enjoined the ANC from waging armed struggle against the bestial apartheid regime in South Africa. In the end, it was a combination of armed struggle and political agitation at home as well as diplomatic pressures and limited economic sanctions abroad that brought about the demise of apartheid. Those same governments also endorse today TPLF’s call for the renunciation of the use of force by everyone else except itself in Ethiopia. In other words, the struggle in the country is to be between armed TPLF (alias EPRDF) and unarmed alternative groups. That is how--as remarked once in Africa Confidential--“the poachers became the gamekeepers” in Ethiopia.

It is to be recalled that the 1991 London Conference relating to political transition in Ethiopia, convened by then US Under-Secretary for African Affairs, Mr. Herman Cohen, set the tone of things to come in Addis Ababa and Asmara. (See his brief rendition of the affair in his Intervening in Africa, 2000). “Negotiations” on the future of Ethiopia were to be confined to EPLF, TPLF, OLF and the PDRE (Peoples Democratic Republic of Ethiopia) because they were all armed groups. Other political bodies and parties that had been carrying on political struggles for varying periods of time were not allowed to participate because they did not have armed presence in the country. Immediately after EPLF and TPLF guerrillas occupied Asmara (May 24) and Addis Ababa (May 28) respectively, their first order of business was to “charter” the secession of EPLF-Eritrea from Ethiopia. To ensure EPLF control of its Eritrea and Tigrayan minority hegemony over the rest of Ethiopia, the TPLF had to have monopoly over arms in the country. Whatever arms and military installations the EPLF and TPLF could not immediately haul to Eritrea and Tigray or otherwise control were destroyed. Most of the choice sophisticated military hardware of Ethiopia, went to EPLF, the senior partner of the cabal. The Ethiopian army, air force, navy and other national security establishments that had taken half a century to build, were completely pillaged and dismantled. Hundreds of thousands of employees of these state structures were killed, interned, exiled, or thrown into the streets penniless with their families.

However, the TPLF and EPLF had considerable difficulty demobilizing the OLF--the junior London partner in the cabal to dismember Ethiopia, and bloody battles took place between their forces. Many thousands of OLF elements and sympathizers were incarcerated. . In fact, the OLF was annoyed at the ELF and TPLF for having exploited its apparent cooperation in London to get what they wanted, and then turn around to block its own call for an “Oromia” state under its own hegemony. Having incarcerated or dismissed without compensation several thousands of civilian and military members of the defunct regime, the TPLF, with advice, consent and, when necessary command of EPLF, then planted its own cadres and cronies in all critical bureaucratic, media, security, financial, judicial, clerical and diplomatic positions of its Ethiopia. There were hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians who had been natural and legal residents in the Eritrean region of Ethiopia for many decades. But in 1991, the EPLF, with TPLF complicity, confiscated the homes, monies and other properties of these Ethiopians, including of siblings of “mixed” marriages (i.e. “Ethiopian” and “Eritrean”), and  summarily evicted them from EPLF-Eritrea. Unarmed rank and file Ethiopians at home and abroad protested these gross violations of human rights by EPLF at the time, but the TPLF regime made no representation on behalf of the dispossessed and forcibly evicted Ethiopians. Regrettably, much of the outside world, including governments, human rights and humanitarian organizations, were also mute about such gross victimization of Ethiopians.

And so, during the first seven years of its hegemony, the TPLF faithfully followed the script worked out with EPLF during the 1970’s and 1980’s to divide, weaken, exploit, impoverish and, in the end, dissolve Ethiopia. During these same years, EPLF was bloated militarily without having to spend anything on armaments. The newly created small state of EPLF-Eritrea was not only well armed with Ethiopian arsenals, aircrafts, boats, tanks, ammunition, etc. This is also buttressed with military/security agreements between the two regimes to the effect that TPLF-Ethiopia will back up EPLF in the event of conflicts it involves itself in. No one knows for sure yet what secret criminal covenants Mr. Issayass and Mr. Meles might have concluded since the mid 1970’s with regard to the politicide of Ethiopia, but recent events betray their cabal is backfiring on them. The EPLF and TPLF have also reached important strategic accords in 1991, and then signed a sweeping 25-item protocol known as Asmara Pact in 1993. No word yet on the identity of others that might have been privy to these deals besides EPLF’s Issayass and TPLF’s Meles. These arrangements denote the strategic unity of the two regimes--or in the very least, the two capobandas--on the Horn. These pacts have not been made public or renounced by either party, even after the 1998-2000 bloody war between them. (For some inkling on this, cf. Tekeste N. and K. Tronvoll, Brothers At War, 2000). Thusly, since 1991,the TPLF and EPLF rendered the Ethiopian people militarily demobilized and politically impotent and hence, vulnerable to total domination and exploitation—at least until the end of 1997.

In this scheme of things, EPLF, the senior culprit in the treachery, could afford to exploit Ethiopia economically through its viceroys in Addis Ababa and to flex its military muscles in the region as well. Thus, tiny Eritrea, largely armed and financed by TPLF-Ethiopia, initiated armed conflicts with Sudan, with Yemen, with Jibouti in the early 1990’s and eventually (in 1998) with the very TPLF that nurtured and protected it all along. There is a saying that thieves who collaborate on stealing often end up being at loggerheads when it comes to dividing up the loot. That in effect is what happened to TPLF and EPLF in 1998. Accomplished thieves that they were EPLF and TPLF went about their mission of exploiting Ethiopia for seven years until they were checked by their individual greed. The ensuing tension on who gets what when and how culminated in armed conflict along their border. All the while, TPLF was declaring from the rooftops in 1991 that the Ethiopia under its (and EPLF’s) rule was henceforth in a state of peace and had no need of a national army, air force or any other military-security establishment. Any group that wishes to entertain armed struggle to reclaim Eritrea can try it on its own--the subliminal message was actually ‘TPLF will not allow it to happen’--but that the TPLF would have no part in such a “chauvenist” (euphemism for Ethiopian nationalists of Amhara vintage) venture. From then on, swords were to be transformed into ploughshares for “peaceful” development. OLF participants in the July 1991 “Charter” Conference had also declared at the time that “Oromo blood will never again be shed in Eritrea.”

b) Sowing political winds

Having grounded themselves firmly in Ethiopia-Eritrea in military terms, EPLF and TPLF then turned their attention to political matters and modalities of control. The first and more important business at hand as of May 1991 was securing the successful secession of EPLF-Eritrea and ensuring that there will be no challenge to that illegitimate act from any quarters in the rest of Ethiopia. The EPLF and TPLF had agreed on plans to actualize their desideratum since mid 1970’s. Accordingly—and with gratuitous facilitation and counseling by external elements and governments--they prepared a draft which eventually surfaced in the July 1991 Conference in Addis Ababa as a Transitional Period “Charter.” The main purpose and mission of the Conference and the “Charter” was actually to bestow a veil of legitimacy for Eritrea’s secession. To reinforce the fiction of “legitimate” secession and to mollify--or better still hoodwink--the international community, it was declared that the EPLF has ‘graciously’ decided to have a “referendum” on its own secession in two years. The real purpose of this arrangement was to give time for caudillo Issayass to rid his Eritrean turf of any possible internal challenges to EPLF rule and to lay the foundations of economic growth with Ethiopian subsidies, infrastructures, raw materials, food, foreign exchange and military materiel. Another was to create and assemble in short order scores of groups, parties and cliques along ethnic-linguistic lines as TPLF’s phony representatives of “self-determination” in Ethiopia. The real motive of this latter ploy by EPLF and TPLF has been to ensure that Ethiopians remain divided and weakened in the short-run and to set in motion the process of disintegration of the country, in the long run.

The participating “delegates” in the July 1991 Conference in Addis Ababa, were self-delegated and/or designated by TPLF (with advice and approval of EPLF behind the scenes), and not elected or even nominated by constituents of the Ethiopian people. In one of his Freudian slip moments of truth, TPLF’s Meles Zenawi, the chairman of that Conference, blurted out the following a stark admission. He reminded the participants that:

“None of us at this (July 1991) Conference are here because of the democratic will of the people but, as in the case of TPLF/EPRDF (and EPLF, he might have added), because of our martial victory over the Derg, and in the case of some of you, because of perceived support for the struggle.”

So, it was that kind of unelected, unmandated, unrecognized and hence, unpopular gathering under EPLF and TPLF auspices, that made momentous—indeed, fatal--political decisions affecting the lives and destinies of millions of Ethiopians, the secession of part of the country including its peoples, its seashores and its resources. At least one of the participants--the not-so-late Professor Asrat Woldeyes--had tried to remind the participants that the gathering was not authorized, mandated or expected by the people of Ethiopia to make such critical national decisions like sanctioning the severing of the country. Ethiopiand were not even allowed by EPLF and TPLF to peacefully demonstrate protesting the illegitimate and treasonous manner of formalizing the secession of Eritrea.

When in April 1993, a group of students in Addis Ababa University tried to peacefully demonstrate to express their opposition to the local and international charade to “legitimize” Eritrean secession, with the connivance of then UN Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali. TPLF goons shot and killed several of those demonstrating unarmed students. Forty-two capable Ethiopian University professors and lecturers in the prime of their careers were then summarily dismissed from their jobs, because of their expressed or assumed Ethiopian nationalist sentiments. One of the forty-two was the renowned surgeon, Professor Asrat Weldeyes, who died in May 1999 as a political prisoner, after nearly five years of suffering from deliberate maltreatment. (See the interview Professor Asrat gave in May 1998 to Wendy Belcher, published in Ethiopian Review (April/June 1998); cf also my piece, “The Current Ethiopia-Eritrea Crisis and Professor Asrat Woldeyes,” in the same periodical (July/August 1998). Back in 1993, on the eve of the “referendum in EPLF-Eritrea, Professor Asrat had issued the following prophetic statement:

“…The referendum in Eritrea is not binding on the Ethiopian people. The Ethiopian people have not been consulted… The whole thing is a big tragi-comedy show, whose end and implications have not been fully appreciated. The show has not ended; it has only begun. The consequences are grave and far reaching.” 

Another prisoner of conscience still in TPLF gaol, despite worldwide appeal for his release, is Dr. Taye Wolde Semayat, President of Ethiopian Teachers Association. In accordance with their longstanding strategic aims, the new EPLF/TPLF centurions in Ethiopia then moved quickly to redraw unilateraly the internal territorial borders of Ethiopia (minus Eritrea) into nine “ethnic” (euphemism for tribal) killils or bantustans. TPLF’s own Tigrai region was expanded by annexation of agriculturally productive territories of Gonder and Wello regions. Furthermore, the predominantly Amhara inhabited Ethiopian regions of Gonder and Gojjam that hitherto bordered the Sudan to the West, are now bordering the “national states” of Tigrai and Benishangul. “Is this done border the Sudan--just in case of guerrilla struggles by Amharas?” Other ethnic divisions are Oromia, Amhara, Benishangul, Gambela, Southern region, Afar and Somali plus a few more enclaves. Interestingly, the map was first leaked to a foreign periodical, and when some questions were raised about its provenance without any study or popular deliberation, the regime reacted by saying that it was drafted only for preliminary discussions and should not be taken as official. Well, that very map of killil borders and nomenclatures--very likely drawn very early on by the TPLF and EPLF guerrilla movements--has remained in place to this day without any deliberation or popular sanction by the Ethiopian people. This is not the first time that occupation forces have redrawn the map of Ethiopia and the Horn. The model or precedent that serves EPLF/TPLF in dividing up Ethiopia seems to be that of Fascist Italy in the 1930’s. In his essay “Pax Italica and Ethiopia’s Enemies, 1936-1940,” Dr Tekeste Negash notes that “during the Graziani period, the Muslims and the Galla were expected to cooperate with the Italians against the ‘ruthless Amhara oppressors’ …and “it was considered that the fewer Amharas alive, the better.” He adds that “the policy of ethnic partition was pursued in Harer and Galla Sidama. The Amhara in Harer were asked to leave, selling their property either to the Muslims or to the state.” (See his No Medicine for the Bite of a White Snake…(1986). Therefore, anyone with intelligence and integrity who has observed what has transpired in Ethiopia since May 1991 should recognize that history has repeated itself, with minor variations, a half century later in the new Pax EPLF/TPLF era.

            Pursuant to their ultimate aim of making Ethiopians disarmed, divided and vulnerable even as Tigray and Eritrea wax strong, secure, and prosperous, the EPLF and TPLF culpritswent beyond cutting up the country along ethnic lines. They also saw to it that one region, one locality, even one neighborhood is isolated from another. Teachers, students, merchants, civil servants and professionals who were in place in various parts of the country were evicted at the whims of the rulers and their local cronies to “their own” ethnic killils. This policy has spawned extreme forms of ethnic cleansing in some areas. The glaring exception to this policy was that it did not apply to Tigrayans and Eritreans. The two ethnics roamed all over Ethiopia as they wished and no one could ask them to go to their own killils like everyone else, because they are the martial rulers. Furthermore, in the case of TPLF, it has its Tigrayan cadres entrenched in every part of the country to see to it that everything is under its firm control. At the same time, Ethiopians from other parts of the country have no presence or function in Tigray. And, needless to say, there was no Ethiopian presence or involvement in EPLF-Eritrea even during the period 1991-1993 to represent Ethiopian interest in connection with the preparations for the “referendum.”

It is interesting that there was so much hue and cry about Eritreans being evicted from Addis Ababa to their new state of Eritrea in the wake of the 1998 war, when the same forced traumatic displacement of millions of Ethiopians, has been taking place over the past decade in TPLF-Ethiopia. It is apropos to footnote here that especially after 1993, it was becoming fashionable for some Eritreans to voluntarily exhume the horizontal remains of their kith and kin in parts of Ethiopia--which they now characterized as a “stinking country,” for reburial in Eritrea--their new “Sing-a-poor,” as someone spoofed it. But they protested vehemently when they were asked to leave the “stinking country” upright. In formal state ministries or in local branches of the regime, any TPLF Tigrayan flunkey planted somewhere in the bureaucracy has more decision making power than the formal minister or head of the establishment. Today, even in Addis Ababa and other relatively cosmopolitan towns, Ethiopians are experiencing acute tensions and frictions along ethnic lines in schools, work places and other fora.      

It is also in TPLF’s master plan to alienate town from country in Ethiopia. This is especially true of Addis Ababa vis-à-vis rural areas. These mechanics of alienation know that Addis Ababa is an international capital where multitudes of foreign diplomatic and other personnel reside or shuttle to and fro. Thus, all token gestures and media ploys are concentrated there for the consumption of foreign “observers.” In reality, much of what appear in Addis Ababa, for instance in print media--that are not the direct products of the TPLF tribal dictatorship--do not reach the rest of the country unless it be by illicit means. What is often lost on the casual observer is how countless journalists have been incarcerated or exiled over the years. In effect, by design or by accident, the “free press” slogan has served as bait to attract waves after waves of able, gifted and literate writers who are then hounded and done away with in perpetual cycles. The Ethiopian Human Rights Council, International Committee to Protect Journalists and numerous other global human rights organizations have repeatedly protested against the shoddy treatment of “free press” journalists in Ethiopia. Another windfall function of the “free press” has been as a new source of funds for the regime. Besides the ever increasing printing costs and spiraling taxes sustained by the non-governmental press, the TPLF exacts exorbitant cash fines from journalists (and others) for bogus charges of “infringement” of its “laws,” to replenish its coffers. Unlike the official mouthpieces of the regime, the “free press” does not even enjoy the public right to know as it is blocked from participating in formal press conferences by the Prime Minister or from going to war fronts to offer the public its own report. Though the Prime Minister himself said at one time that he does not even glance at the non-governmental press because he considers it unworthy, he never tires of telling outsiders to look at the number of “free press” newspapers in Addis Ababa to appreciate how much things have changed in TPLF-Ethiopia.

            In addition to all these sinister operations, the TPLF has refined the job of dividing the Ethiopian people to the point of splitting ethnic groups from within. Accordingly, the TPLF has formed political organizations that serve TPLF’s interests exclusively as mechanisms for challenging, thwarting, dwarfing and ultimately eliminating any independent homegrown political organizations in the killils that try to resist its centralized control. It is through such surrogate organizations that the TPLF macro manages its economic exploitation and political domination of Ethiopia at large. These include components of TPLF’s Trojan Horse known as EPRDF like the Oromo Peoples Democratic Organization (OPDO), formed to counter the older Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), in the Oromo killil. In the Amhara killil, the regime has its puppet grouping known as Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) opposite the organization called All-Amhara Peoples Organization (AAPO) formed by the not-so-late Professor Asrat Woldeyes. The TPLF has chiseled its own SEPDF (South Ethiopia Peoples Democratic Front) to counter the resistant SEPDC (Southern Ethiopian Peoples Democratic Coalition). The same pattern obtains among the Afar, Gurage, Somali, etc. So, the TPLF has not only been sowing its political winds of deliberately dividing up the Ethiopian people along ethnic lines but also within ethnic units. On the other hand, there are no such artificial divisions fomented within Eritrea and Tigray. Nevertheless, a number of older Eritrean and Tigrayan dissident factions or parties in opposition to the ruling EPLF and TPLF still survive in the Diaspora, and a few more have also sprung up there in recent years.

           Let us wind up our bird’s eye view of TPLF/EPLF sowing political winds in Ethiopia-Eritrea by considering the dimensions of democracy and human rights. The most tortured word in the political vocabulary in TPLF-Ethiopia during the past decade, and more recently in EPLF-Eritrea in the post-1998 period, is democracy. It turns out that none other than Harvard University’s Samuel P. Huntington--more recently of The Clash of Civilizations  and the Remaking of World Order (1996) fame--was at least one of Mr. Meles Zenawi’s gurus on the theory of democracy. The pupil tells his tutor in 1993 in Addis Ababa that he had read his 1991 work on democratization in the late twentieth century, entitled The Third Wave. Professor Huntington, has divined in that book that the “Third Wave of Democratization began, implausibly and unwittingly, at twenty-five minutes after midnight, Thursday, April 25, 1974, in Lisbon, Portugal, when a radio station played the song ”Grandola Vila Morena.” Interestingly enough, on the back cover of The Third Wave, Zbigniew Brezezinski has written: “Though Huntington would disclaim the distinction, it (the book) does stamp him as a democratic Machiavelli.” This prescient characterization was born out in Huntington’s consultation/ workshop stint in Ethiopia in 1993, where he tailored a ‘dominant-party democracy fashion suit’ for Mr. Meles Zenawi to don. Huntington explicated various scenarios and options of democratization and then opined that a peasant-based “dominant-party system” would have “several advantages for a country such as Ethiopia.” Such a party “would be an extension of the EPRDF with a solid base among the peasantry and some appeal to elements within most of the major ethnic groups….” He added that “its electoral strength and hence assured control of the government would provide the continuity desirable for economic development and to attract foreign investment.” Emphasis added. (See his Political Development in Ethiopia: A Peasant-Based Dominant-Party Democracy? Report to USAID, 17 May, 1993.). It appears that Huntington’s ideas in 1993 seem to head forward to the past of the 1960’s when his main concern was “political order” rather than democratization per se. In  Democratization? Ethiopia (1991-1994) A Personal View (1995), Tecola W. Hagos has written an incisive critique of both Huntington’s paternalistic notions and Mr. Meles’s disastrous experimentation with them in Ethiopia.

            It appears that Mr. Meles and his select TPLF operatives perceived the notions purveyed by Huntington as a confirmation of the democratic centralism (now christened “dominant”) party system they have been used to and has served them well all along. In fact, Mr. Meles, Professor Huntington’s pupil, has even been one up on his instructor by posing as an expert on democracy. Professor Marina Ottaway notes in her Africa’s New Leaders…(1999), that according to Mr. Meles, democracy is “the participation of the people at the grassroots level” (and that) “this is not the democracy expected by the United States …because that country lacks broad participation by the people.” So, the guerrilla tyrant who rules Ethiopia by the gun calls his regime a higher form of “democracy” than that of the United States. In point of fact, all the outlandish propaganda or protestation of TPLF cadres, foreign interlopers and apologists to the contrary, TPLF-Ethiopia is not democratic and TPLF had or has no intention to submit itself to govern or be governed by democratic principles. In the early 1990’s, an expatriate journalist was doing a man-on-the-street interview of Russians about Yeltsin-style “democracy.” One of the interviewees did not mince words when he said that what they had there was not democracy but ‘shitocracy.’ One wonders what equivalent phrase would be an appropriate characterization of the nature of TPLF rule in Ethiopia today. Tecola Hagos did his part in his book to probe for an apt nomenclature for the TPLF regime. He has come up with “Ye elfegne (boardroom) democracy” which he expounds as follows: “The Amharic word ‘ye elfegne’ conveys the idea of autocracy, rigidity and formality. It also connects the present Ethiopian pretence of modernity, with Ethiopia’s past and present feudalism and relentlessly oppressive (stifling) social structure. Thus, according to the lexicon the current government of Ethiopia may be characterized as a government of ‘boardroom democracy.’…Of course, such a system is familiar to most of us by its pre-Cold War name of Stalinism or democratic centralism.” It is only fair to point out that those who follow events in Ethiopia-Eritrea by reading only materials written in non-Ethiopic languages, such as in English, are likely to miss perhaps seventy to eighty per cent of coverage. With that caveat, for more on “democracy” in TPLF-Ethiopia, see also Theodore Vestal, Ethiopia: A Post-Cold War State (1999); EHRCO, Democracy, Rule of Law And Human Rights in Ethiopia: Rhetoric and Practice (1995); “Is Ethiopia Democratic?” Journal of Democracy (October 1998). And, over the years several commentaries have been written in Ethiopian periodicals and websites on the subject. 

Another much maligned notion bandied about in TPLF-Ethiopia today is “human rights.” The most appropriate way to open and close discussion on “human rights” in TPLF-Ethiopia would have been this: “What human rights in Ethiopia?” But that would be unconventional to some and unorthodox to others. After all, TPLF does secure human rights for its own partisan minority (although some of them even deny that) and for a few crumb consuming cronies from other ethnic groups. But, the vast majority of the unarmed Ethiopian people, their lot in the past decade has been sustaining gross violations of their human rights including repression, torture, “extra judicial” killings, exile, incarceration, denial of their right to land ownership, intimidation, injustice, deprivation, impoverishment, angst, malign neglect, internecine conflicts and the like. For a long time, the TPLF rebuffed any challenges to its abysmal “human rights,” records by saying that it was better than the Derg. But, as former US Congressman Harry Johnston, chairing a Congressional Hearing on Ethiopia in July 1994 put it:

“Politically motivated detention of opponents, 0delays in bringing prisoners to trial, harassment of journalists and editors, and interference in the judicial process have risen in recent months. In fact, Ethiopia may have the largest number of political prisoners in the Horn of Africa. Although some people may choose to compare human rights conditions to that of the Mengistu era, I strongly believe that the Transitional Government should be judged on its own publicly stated commitment to human rights.”

It is quite telling that today, in 2001--fully seven years after those words were recorded--the people who would be the first to confirm the verity of Mr. Johnston’s stark conclusion are none other than TPLF dissident elites who are being subjected to at least some of their own (TPLF) abuses of human rights visited for a decade on the Ethiopian people.

The TPLF’s perennial divisive and repressive policy in Ethiopia also extends to labor unions, professional associations as well. It has disbanded the long-standing Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions (CETU) and its leader, Mr. Dawi Ibrahim has barely escaped into exile. An even worse fate has befallen the Ethiopian Teachers Association (ETA) with 120,000 members. The President of the Association, Dr Taye Weldesemayat has been in jail under harsh conditions on, as usual, trumped up charges. He has become recipient of numerous professional and honorary citations and accolades while in TPLF prison. International teachers associations and other human rights organizations have declared him a prisoner of conscience and repeatedly called for his release. But, the TPLF despots seem intent on seeing Dr Taye and many thousands of other political prisoners die in jail--as happened to Professor Asrat Weldeyes. TPLF gendarmes gunned down Dr Taye’s deputy, Mr. Assefa Maru, in cold blood in Addis Ababa in May 1997. The Secretary-General of ETA, Mr. Gemoraw Kassa, is also exiled. As usual, the TPLF just goes on creating its own puppet organizations in place of the genuine ones. Since its formation in October 1991 by Professor Mesfin Weldemariam, the Ethiopian Human Rights Council has issued more than fifty Regular and Special Reports on the Human Rights situation in TPLF-Ethiopia. For anyone seriously interested in pursuing the matter, can peruse the following reports (and including the one cited earlier). Cf. also U.S. Department of State, Country Report on Human Rights Practices, Ethiopia (2000), released Feb.2001; Julie Mayfield, “The Prosecution of War Crimes and Respect for Human Rights: Ethiopia’s Balancing Act” Emory International Law Review, Fall 1995. One can also scan the pages of reports by Amnesty International and other Human Rights agencies.


c) Sowing Economic Winds

The Ethiopian Economic Association’s 1999/2000 publication, Annual Report on the Ethiopian Economy (Vol. I) edited by Drs. Befekadu Degefe and Berhanu Nega, opens the 429-page volume with this stark statement:

Ranked at 210th out of a total of 210 countries in GNP per capita terms and 208th in terms of per capita measured at Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) by the most recent World Bank, World Development Report, Ethiopia is, by any measure, one of the poorest countries in the world. This standing of the country among the community of nations is confirmed by the Human Development Report of the UNDP, which locates it at 172nd out of 174 countries.

 TPLF claims and disclaimers to the contrary notwithstanding, this is the evident reality of TPLF-Ethiopia today. The only thing to quibble about the above citation is whether the international graders and classifiers should characterize Ethiopia as the “poorest” or as the “most impoverished” country, the distinction of which is more than semantic. Ethiopia is a rich country in people and resources, but it has been impoverished deliberately by EPLF and TPLF in the past decade, as we shall see below. The question that jumps out is: “How did this happen after ten years of “peace,” “democracy” and “development” under the total control of TPLF (and for most of this period, of EPLF as well)?”

A question that jumps out is: “How come corruption became an issue only a few months ago, when it has been going on for nearly a decade up and down the ladder of TPLF rule in its Ethiopia?” The answer, it seems to me points to the direction of a not unanticipated struggle for the helm of power that must have been simmering underneath for some time

Although for the most part, the international community either did not seek them out or ignored them as being products of partisan or disgruntled Amhara “chauvinists” opposed to the EPLF/TPLF hegemony in Ethiopia-Eritrea, numerous writers, both from the southern and the northern sides of the Mereb river, have been writing all along in Ethiopic and extra-Ethiopic languages, on the lopsided ‘elephantitis’ economic pattern in the country. Just as in the martial and the political realms, as we saw in preceding pages, the EPLF and TPLF also sowed economic winds in Ethiopia-Eritrea. With martial might to assert, charter, consitutionalize and impose their will and agenda in Ethiopia-Eritrea, EPLF and TPLF launched processes and institutions of economic exploitation in Ethiopia. One of the first writers to cry out in the wilderness was Dr Assefa Negash. After coming out with articles on the systematic looting and plundering of Ethiopia between 1991 and 1995 by EPLF at first, followed quickly by TPLF. He published The Pillage of Ethiopia by Eritreans and their Tigrean Surrogates in 1996, in which he meticulously documented the variety of ways by which EPLF and TPLF systematically dismantled developmental structures and hauled resources, machinery and other assets from the rest of Ethiopia to Eritrea and Tigray. He also narrates how thousands of Ethiopians were dismissed from their workplaces and then replaced by Eritreans and Tigrayans during this period to facilitate wholesale plundering of Ethiopia. Many Ethiopian papers and periodicals have been reporting the same phenomena.

       As we scan the patterns of sowing economic winds in Ethiopia by EPLF and TPLF, the reader needs to understand that especially until 1993, EPLF-Eritrea which was “independent” politically but fully dependent on Ethiopia economically. So, with TPLF sanction and protection EPLF figuratively and literally sapped Ethiopia dry to build industrial infrastructures for Eritrea. Even financial outlays that were earmarked for Ethiopia were siphoned to Eritrea. The Eritreans trucked food items, agricultural products, lumber, coffee and anything they wanted at will and without regard to shortages in Ethiopia. To the extent that they had to pay for some of these goods, money was no problem. They had confiscated banks, businesses and all sources of money when they entered Asmera in 1991. And then, the TPLF regime officially subsidized EPLF. In Eritrea and abroad, the EPLF was also openly engaged in illicit Ethiopian ‘Birr’ to US Dollar exchanges as another source of amassing birr or dollar currencies. In addition to all of the above, the adept EPLF-Eritrean mafia–like crooks also printed counterfeit money which they often dumped on unsuspecting trusting Ethiopian farmers or merchants. Some of the items they absconded from Ethiopia like (coffee, for instance) were re-exported to get hard currency at Ethiopia’s expense, with TPLF looking on. EPLF and TPLF pilfered Ethiopian money and resources and then recycled the same to “create” Eritrean and Tigrayan wealth at the expense of all other Ethiopians.

As if all that was not enough, EPLF-Eritreans “borrowed” millions of dollars from Ethiopian banks to buy goods outside either for their own direct consumption within Eritrea or to carry on illicit trade by selling these items in Ethiopia thereby undercutting local businessmen. EPLF-Eritreans very often paid little or no taxes and they were exempt from tariffs during these early years. It is by sapping Ethiopia in these and many other ways that EPLF-Eritreans became “legitimate” entrepreneurs and amassed untold “Eritrean” wealth. For the most part, they recycled fraudulently obtained Ethiopian money to build mansions and businesses in Ethiopia-Eritrea. Before 1991 items that originated from the Eritrean region to the rest of Ethiopia were spaghetti, salt, safety matches, some beer and shoes that were not significant in the overall economic picture in monetary terms. But, according to the World Bank, United States Embassy reports from Asmera and other media reports, by 1996, EPLF-Eritrea’s “exports” of mostly manufactured goods to Ethiopia amounted to some 70% of its total trade, while its imports from Ethiopia was less than 6% of its overall exports. So, clearly EPLF-Eritrea’s vision of becoming the new industrial African Singapore or Taiwan was premised on Ethiopia being its perpetual unfailing provider of raw materials, markets and transient labor to build its industrial power. Apparently, EPLF had no anxiety or doubt that this process would be jeopardized as long as its surrogate TPLF ruler (s) were ensconced in Addis Ababa. Many of the monetary and business requirements and obligations that applied to average Ethiopians or even to other foreign businessmen did not apply to them. Besides all these ways of exploiting and pillaging Ethiopia, the EPLF also used the Asseb port and the oil refinery there as additional sources to gouge Ethiopia of more of its foreign exchange earnings. They demanded and got exorbitant fees in hard currency for Ethiopia’s use of the port. And then the notorious servile TPLF regime even agreed to have Ethiopian Airlines to transit land in Asmera even when its flight routes did not call for it. The reason was to pay EPLF-Eritrea hundreds of thousands of dollars as landing fees daily. Much of this was going on right through 1997, when EPLF-Eritrea issued a new currency called nakfa in place of Ethiopian birr. (For more on these matters see also, for instance, Sebhatu Woldeyes, “Eritrea… how long should it be carried on Ethiopia’s back?” in Amharic in Tobia, October 1997; Mankelkelot Haile Selassie  “Yes, Ethiopia is a Colony of Eritrea,” Moresh September, 1986.)

One recalls how agitated EPLF-Eritreans and their sycophants were over the eviction of Eritreans from Ethiopia after the 1998 debacle, which exposed both EPLF and TPLF. One of the issues concerned the charge that millions of dollars and properties were confiscated from Eritreans by TPLF and that they will sue to recover the same. Well, TPLF can answer for itself on the issue of the modality of the evictions. The Commission which has been set up to look into claims of liabilities will have to go into what has just been outlined above. In addition to that, Ethiopians will have to demand compensation for decades of industrial, educational, defense and other expenses in Eritrea and on Eritreans by Ethiopia for at least fifty years since the 1950’s. Any just assessment of claims by EPLF-Eritrea has to take into account the un-recovered investments of Ethiopia on Eritreans and the untold millions of dollars illegally acquired by EPLF-Eritrea with the connivance of TPLF from 1991 to 1998. As we move now to the other (TPLF) dimension of brazen plunder, it is instructive to cite a passage here from Brothers at War, on the premises and expectations of unabated exploitation of Ethiopia by EPLF. In their discussion of Economic Relations in Ethiopia-Eritrea in the context of the still secret series of 25 protocols signed between EPLF and TPLF in Asmera, the authors refer to “minutes of joint ministerial commission meetings” (between 1993 and 1997). “…The Eritrean government did not shy away from expressing their position, as well as their vision of the nature of economic relations. They rejected outright the Ethiopian trade proposal on hard currency and warned the Ethiopian government that such arrangement would not work. …. One can argue indeed that when the Ethiopian government proceeded to implement its new trade policy, the Eritrean government considered this to be a declaration of war.” It is difficult to underestimate or forget the level and intensity of EPLF-Eritrean plunder of Ethiopia from 1991 to 1998. It is even more incredible that a regime sitting in Addis Ababa made all that possible by working more for another state than for the one it was supposed to represent. EPLF could not have done more or better on its own behalf if warlord Issayass had run matters himself directly from Addis Ababa instead of from Asmera. We know about officials or other individuals within a state committing or being accused of treason such as spying for some foreign government for monetary or ideological reasons. But until 1991, history has not recorded a case in which a whole regime (TPLF) that rules in one country doing everything possible to benefit another state (Eritrea) at the absolute detriment of the state (Ethiopia) it rules.

EPLF’s impoverishment of Ethiopia is but half the story. It did not take very long for the TPLF to apprentice in the techniques of pillaging Ethiopia. There was enough wealth in the country for both EPLF and TPLF to plunder. In fact, the TPLF disciples quickly outpaced their EPLF gurus in building their Tigray “national state” Their monopoly of arms and more direct political control of the country was a decided advantage. Their early vehicle of economic activity was TDA (Tigray Development Association) established in Washington, D.C. in 1989, patterned after EPLF’s ERA (Eritrean Relief Association). These were cast as humanitarian NGOs for tax exemption purposes abroad. After 1991, EPLF transformed its ERA into a business enterprise called Red Sea Corporation under the direct control of EPLF/PFD--in reality under President Issayass himself. The TPLF still kept its TDA as an exclusive channel for funds into Tigray from the Diaspora, and it was quietly casting a well-crafted net of exploitation in Ethiopia. Even as it was issuing an edict (1994) to the effect that “a political party, which has attained legal personality, may not directly or indirectly engage in commercial and industrial activity,” the TPLF had already launched its conglomerate in its Ethiopia. TPLF had created scores of businesses quietly since the early 1990’s, whose “shares” it “sold” to more than 50 trusted TPLF cadres, who in effect, “fronted” for the party as “private entrepreneurs.” Its next move (1995) was to create TPLF’s own version of Red Sea Corporation, called EFFORT (Endowment Fund for Rehabilitation of Tigray). As of 1996, the TPLF had all those fronting ‘philanthropist’ to “donate” the shares to the Endowment (EFFORT). This way, the TPLF could say that it did not contravene its own “laws” strictly applied to others. As incredible as it may be to fathom, EFFORT--TPLF’s colossal business empire--is registered not as a business conglomerate but as a “humanitarian” NGO exempt from taxation or public accountability. Accordingly, the TPLF operatives who now run EFFORT’s business empire are supposed to be merely custodians of a self-help ‘endowment’ or foundation. Furthermore, while the tentacles of its exploitation reach out all over TPLF-Ethiopia inhabited by nearly 60 million people, the assets and benefits obtained accrue to the rehabilitation of only one region called Tigray with a population of less than 4 millions. What makes this all the more astounding is when one keeps in focus the fact that TPLF is the party that rules not just Tigray “national state” but the country as a whole--minus Eritrea.

By 1996, the TPLF not only caught up but also actually surpassed the EPLF in structuring and managing the business of pillaging and fleecing Ethiopia for tribal gain. The Board of Directors of EFFORT, chaired by Mr. Seye Abraha (currently detained under charges of corruption), had five major branches, headed by top lieutenants of TPLF. These were Industry (Abadi Zemo), Mining (Tedros Hagos), Finance and Trade (Sebhat Nega), Construction and Transport (Arkebe Equbay) and Agriculture (Tsegaye Taemyallew). It then organized the numerous businesses set up earlier by TPLF under the above categories. Other trusted cadres were also placed in managerial positions and in branch boards. Accordingly, a glance at twenty high profile TPLF businesses within the EFFORT umbrella shows how party hierarchy and business management and control are intertwined. Businesses so established include Wegagen Bank, Almeda Textile Management, Mesfin Engineering, Africa Insurance, Sur Construction, Hiwot Agricultural Mechanization, Selam Bus Line, Addis Pharmaceutical, Mega Media, Dilet Brewery, Dedebit Credit and Savings with capital outlays amounting from as high as $180 million birr (Almeida Textiles) to as low as $1 million birr (Selam Bus Line) headquartered in Mekele or in Addis Ababa. The total paid-up capital is said to be over a billion birr at the time of its being set up. The controlling shareholder of these countrywide businesses with a minimum of 51% of the shares is EFFORT. In fact, in the view of Amha Yilma commenting in the Amharic edition of the Reporter, Sep. 1993 (Eth. Cal.), the rate and ferocity with which TPLF businesses were fanning out in TPLF-Ethiopia gobbling up or trampling over small-scale private businesses:

“Unless we are limited by our finite knowledge about everything that goes on in the country, perhaps the only area the (TPLF) business may not has gone into, is the level of to selling green and ground red pepper, split and ground peas…at roadsides…”

The TPLF cadre controlled boards of these businesses as well as their managements are interlocked. (For details on the subject see the 1997 report, Ethiopian Non-Governmental Business: Companies Controlled by or Associated with EPRDF (read TPLF since EPRDF is only an alias at best) member Organizations, Addis Ababa; Cf. also Awualom Aynekulu “The Emerging Monopolies of the TPLF,” Ethiopian Register, July 1996.

In 1999, TDA celebrated 10 years of development in Tigray under its aegis. It issued a very colorful anniversary tabloid to commemorate the occasion of its successes in “implementing 1176 projects in 806 villages benefiting 1.7 million people. One of those who presided on the occasion was none other than Mr. Gebru Asrat, TPLF’s President of the National State of Tigray since 1991 who lauded TDA’s contribution that made “a tremendous impact in our region.” In his glory days, Mr. Gebru Asrat at times spoke of the two neighboring states of “Tigray and Ethiopia.” Two years after such pomp and ceremony in his “National State,” Mr. Gebru has been stripped from his Presidency and dismissed from the TPLF hierarchy. So, ostensibly, TDA still manages monies transferred from Diaspora Tigrayans while EFFORT sucks dry the Ethiopian cow at home to develop one unit of the “federation.”

For Ethiopians who have been deafened for decades by the big EPLF Lie of Eritrea being “colonized” by Ethiopia to justify their secessionist struggle, we have now another round of lies emanating in TPLF-Tigray. What is sad, however, is not the lie itself but from whom it comes. In the TDA tabloid mentioned above, the new Big Lie comes out of the mouth of Dr Solomon Inquai, an Ethiopian educator, long-time Extension program administrator at Addis Ababa University and well-known among his peers. He says, in part, the following: “Successive rulers from Menelik to Mengistu made it their mission to see that the area (Tigray) did not progress. In fact, negative measures such as the closing of schools and trying to forcefully resettle people elsewhere, were instituted to ensure a lack of development. Even though Tigrai was visited by frequent droughts, no steps to combat their effects were taken.” So, once this premise is adopted what follows is not hard to figure out. We have scanned it in foregoing pages. It is an amalgam of self-righteousness, sense of vengeance, missionary zeal, military ruthlessness and blind injustice, all of which have characterize TPLF behavior towards Ethiopians under its carabignieri boots.

            We wind up our discussion of EPLF-TPLF sowing economic winds in Ethiopia-Eritrea with a few points on party/regime symbiosis in TPLF rule in Ethiopia. The fundamental point is that there is no distinction in TPLF-Ethiopia or, for that matter in EPLF-Eritrea today, between party (TPLF) and state (FDRE) in political and economic matters. The TPLF controls everything by force and fraud. Key positions and even low-level functions are handled by Tigrayans or manageable and disposable others. Administrators, managers, security personnel, customs officials, bankers, accountants, “judges” mass organization bosses, ecclesiastical persons, merchants, brokers, contractors, inspectors, peasant handlers and so on are virtually all Tigrayans (and until recently, Eritreans also). Nothing and no one so far has restrained, slowed or stopped EPLF-TPLF plunder and exploitation of Ethiopia—thanks to its monopoly of arms. What the TPLF cannot control, like Addis Ababa University, ETA, Trade Unions etc., it destroys. What is comical about current discussions of corruption in certain quarters is: “Why not, who are they afraid of, and who do they have to account for?” And, “how come a few of them have been named so late in the day?” These few sacrificial lambs may have been caught with their fingers in small jars. But, “Who is going to catch the big boys at the summit who have been committing political and economic corruption on the Ethiopian people for the last ten years.” By depriving Ethiopians of their natural right to own and dispose of their land, the TPLF coerces peasants in rural areas to toe the line in support of the regime, on pain of losing part or all of the land they may be using to eke out subsistence. There are also other forms of manipulation and control involving fertilizers, loans, seeds, machinery etc… it can give or deny peasants depending on their manifest loyalty to the regime as attested by loyal cronies in the regions. As Awualom Aynekulu pointed out,

“Diversifying the forms of its plunder, the TPLF/EPRDF now deploys its cadres to collect money from farmers, civil servants and the business community in the name of ‘voluntary’ contributions...The TPLF has created an atmosphere of fear and insecurity that has destroyed the people’s confidence in the law and that has made the people vulnerable to manipulation and exploitation by TPLF-organized political thugs.”.

In urban areas, especially in Addis Ababa the TPLF has shown that it can do things more cleverly. Cognizant of the presence of a large number of foreigners, it sees to it that the comfort of foreigners is attended to in terms of availability of consumer items and basic amenities and services, which net the TPLF considerable hard currency. It appears that many foreigners can and do go about their business in Addis Ababa in the midst of appalling poverty among the people as long as there are roads to drive on and there is caviar and entertainment in the Sheraton and, of course, their own security is intact. The TPLF also carefully lets a few entrepreneurs from abroad to run around, to bid for this or for that business attracted by TPLF propaganda about “free enterprise.” More often than not, however, most aspiring entrepreneurs return penniless to where they came from. (For more on the economy, see also Ejigou Demissie (Amharic) “TPLF Administration and the State of Ethiopia’s Economy” in two parts, Ethiopian Register, Aug./Sep. 1996).

It is telling to read the newly launched Addis Ababa Fortune magazine online on ww.Ethioguide.com, which tracks such ventures and their blues. Perusing the pages of the publication periodically reminds one of how Rehabenna Tegab (roughly translated as affluence and destitution) still coexist in Ethiopia. The EPLF-TPLF mission of scraping Ethiopia to the bone continues unabated. To undercut small businessmen in Ethiopia who try to produce consumer items such as flour, vegetable oil, soap, etc, the TPLF through its EFFORT imports such items and floods the market. In so doing they are intentionally impoverishing the people, who could have found some employment with these local businesses. When two businessmen (one Tigrean or one who gives a hefty bribe on the one hand, and one not) purchase the same items, the former can get it past customs for little or no duty so that he can sell it for cheaper and undercut the business of the non-Tigrayan or non-favored one by the regime--such as not being within the purview of EFFORT. If all else fails, there is the proverbial corruption joker in the business world known as the BRIBE, which comes into play readily. Such acts are perpetrated against Ethiopians. We started out this section of “sowing economic winds with a citation about Ethiopia being “by any measure, Ethiopia is the poorest nation on earth…

Is there any wonder why Ethiopia is the most impoverished country in the world in 2000/2001! It is hoped that reading of the whole article sheds light as to why, tragically, this is so. Ethiopia has been deliberately plundered and impoverished by EPLF and TPLF. Even after the lull following their internecine conflict in 1998, the situation has not fundamentally changed. To be sure, autocrat Meles Zenawi and his TPLF henchmen know exactly what they have been doing during their colonizing tenure –from 1991 to the present--in Ethiopia. Speaking at Harvard University (5 September 2000) autocrat Meles spoke of how African economies are characterized as zero-sum game “rent-seeking economies…” He ought to know what he is talking about. He and his TPLF have been the architects of “rent-seeking economy” in Ethiopia, rendering everything in the country subject to lease, rent or confiscation. Obviously, the resultant zero-sum game of this is that Ethiopians have been losing everything and EPLF/TPLF have been gaining everything.


The peoples of Ethiopia-Eritrea and EPLF/TPLF reap the whirlwind: 1998-


Let me add a word about “reaping the whirlwind.” It is essential for all concerned to recognize that the acts of ‘sowing the wind’ and of ‘reaping the whirlwind’ in Ethiopia-Eritrea are ongoing processes. In temporal terms, the whirlwind phenomena can be marked as of 1998 when war was spawned involving not only EPLF and TPLF, but also hundreds of thousands of people in Ethiopia-Eritrea. It has not yet been possible to stop the wind-whirlwind cycle. But it has to be pointed out that while it has been EPLF and TPLF that have been sowing, as we have seen, their martial, political and economic winds in Ethiopia-Eritrea since 1991, it is both them and the peoples of Ethiopia-Eritrea who are reaping the whirlwind. The whirlwinds sustained by the peoples at large in the past ten years have been described and are being described by many honest observers and competent commentators at home and abroad. What has been in the pages of this article is a modest reflection of that. However, what is new since 1998 is that, for the first time, the ruling parties in Ethiopia-Eritrea namely, TPLF/EPRDF and EPLF/PFDJ, have begun to reap what they have been sowing all along. What is interesting here, as mentioned earlier, is how the same fallout is being witnessed in both regions--and the beat goes on!

Consider the following samples of events of the last two years:

Full scale war between the two and indecisive cessation and  “peace” deal

Dissension in the higher ranks of the ruling parties,

Evictions of nationals from both sides of the Mereb

Killing or jailing students and closing universities

Intensive opposition to the two warlords (Issayass and Meles); Defections and denunciations by erstwhile loyalists

Revelations of corruption in high places

Continuing detention of dissidents and opponents

Banning publications and activities

Each side training and sponsoring opposition elements against the other side

Both Issayass and Meles have been declared dictators by their own bosom comrades

The list can expand and more is added everyday, but the foregoing 11 examples should suffice to illustrate the point. The two dictators are being whipped by the whirlwinds of their own making. As they say in English, ‘the chickens have come home to roost” (or whatever chickens like to do) on their heads. The question that remains is: “Are the peoples of Ethiopia-Eritrea ready to take back to restore their rights in a civil and democratic way and ensure that this time, history does not again repeat itself in ways all too vivid in the region’s recent past?”

On the TPLF-Ethiopia side of the equation, people have been somewhat worked up over a couple of recent developments. One of these is the dissension among the top echelons of TPLF in March-April of this year. The impression or illusion among some has been that one side (the dissidents) was more “nationalist” vis-à-vis EPLF than the other ”palace” side, as it were. My own comment is, looking at this or any other conundrum as Ethiopians, we should not confuse the wax for the gold, and we should not be distracted by decoy signs on the roadsides. Perhaps, one side may sound more ‘nationalistic’ than the other side, but the collective chauvinist nationalism of both sides is Tigray uber alles, and not Ethiopian patriotism. The supporters or opponents of one side or the other are more concerned about the repercussions of the division on continued Tigrayan hegemony in their Ethiopia, than about the current or ultimate threat from the Tigray-Tigrign north of the Mereb. At the very least, TPLF collective behavior from 1991 to 2001 validates this proposition. On the other hand, it may very well be that the TPLF dissidents might have gotten wind of incriminating corruption evidence against them, and they might have thought they could quash it by an MLLT (Marxist-Leninist League of Tigray) cadre coup against Meles. But it backfired on them.

One should not lose sight of the fact that up until the recent split, all of them--MLLT Bolsheviks and Mensheviks--designed and executed all the policies of TPLF since 1991, including the secession of Eritrea and subsequent financial and other support, and altogether they prosecuted not one but several battles on the Eritrean-Tigrean fronts. None of them said anything publicly in opposition to the 12/12/00 sham “peace” deal in Algiers at the time with all that that implied after the loss of more than 100,000 Ethiopian lives. Instead, they all celebrated their “victory”--whatever was meant by that. One cannot redeem in camera party meeting records of division of opinion on this or that issue and decide retroactively that so and so tried to do something good or bad. They all know very well that their party operates on the dictates of democratic centralism in which the losing side in voting is subordinate to the majority. So, on this score as far as Ethiopians are concerned it is the old case of not wanting to choose “a prettier one among monkeys.”

Another development has to do with corruption scandals and incarcerations. A question that jumps out is: “How come corruption became an issue only a few months ago, when it has been going on for nearly a decade up and down the ladder of TPLF rule in its Ethiopia?” The answer, it seems to me points to the direction of a not unanticipated struggle for the helm of power that must have been simmering underneath for some time. War or battle always changes the chemistry of relations in ways that are not always predictable. Perhaps some among the dissidents might have felt that a decade was long enough for Mr. Meles to continue as the top dog of TPLF in Addis Ababa. They too are young and deserving to have a shot at being a caudillo in this land of 13 months of sunshine, milk and honey called Ethiopia. It appears that this scenario was not lost on Mr. Meles and, to say the least, he was not amused. Like all dictators, he keeps tab on everybody around him through his informants. Since ultimately the corruption buck stops at his doorstep, he could and should have checked the endemic and rampant corruption up and down the aisles of his TPLF/EFFORT regime and all the way to his own domestic quarters long ago. But now in March 2001, Sene and Segno (the rough Ethiopian version of Friday the 13th ) presented itself, and he made his preemptive stike or palace counter-coup on the aspiring but hapless claimants to his power by pulling out the corruption tag from his bag.

One positive result from this internecine infighting within TPLF is actually hearing some of the prisoners—especially Mr. Seye Abraha—saying out loud how unjust and intolerable the TPLF “juridical” and prison systems are, etc., and that they are neither corrupt nor criminals but political prisoners. Did they hear when the martyr, Professor Asrat Woldeyes was saying that for five years and died, and that’s what is happening to Dr Taye Weldesmayat and thousands of others. “Would anyone have imagined this to happen to the likes of those TPLF bulwarks who did so much to put Mr. Meles in power, to secure Eritrean secession and then to wage wars with the same EPLF they helped, would end up this way?” Ethiopians tend to call such phenomena as ‘God’s just desert’ for them, and in the English speaking world they call it something like ‘poetic justice.’ Another ember of light that may generate a degree of hope is that lately, some Tigrayans in the Diaspora--and no doubt a lot more in Tigray itself had they not been muzzled—are showing tentative signs of coming out of the closet of Tigrayan chauvinism, so to say, and reassert their Ethiopianity and bonding with their fellow Ethiopians at large. Recently, there have been reports that in certain localities Tigrayans refused to conduct meetings in Tigrigna vernacular with TPLF troubleshooters from Mekele or Addis by themselves in Tigrigna, but with other fellow Ethiopians and in a language they can all understand. Elsewhere, Ethiopian alternative groups, such as the Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP), are propounding programs of national reconciliation. It remains to be seen if it gains momentum to the point where the haughty, snobbish and tribalist TPLF naftegna regime in Addis Ababa responds positively, for a change. 


By way of winding down this article on a yet inconclusive subject, an Open Letter is hereby attached that, at least in part, represents the views of a number of Ethiopians. The Letter consists of a series of questions pertaining to certain simple but vital issues. The questions are addressed to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, TPLF’s  “revolutionary democratic” ruler in Addis Ababa.

01 --When was the last or the first time in the past ten years that you, as the President and then Prime Minister in Ethiopia visited different parts of your “Federation?” Which region(s) of your “federal” empire did you actually visit in the last ten years? Don’t you yearn to see, touch and talk to your subjects in person? Don’t you take some fresh air every now and then in your sprawling colony? Mr. Prime Minister/President, aside from video or audio cameo appearances, you are virtually as invisible live in TPLF-Ethiopia as Sheikh Omar of the Taliban is in Afghanistan.

 02-- When was the last or the first time you were seen mingling among your colonial subjects with all your praetorian guards or seen live in public functions and ceremonies like graduations, in different parts of the Ethiopia that you rule? Are you afraid of the Ethiopian people or is it a question of them being people of the “rag” (as you referred to the Ethiopian flag once) unworthy of your personal attention?

 03-- When was the last or the first time you spontaneously showed up somewhere at a school, visited the sick or ventured to a farm in the killils of FDRE other than in Tigray national state? Compare these matters with the frequency of your visits and public functions in Mekele and Asmera, the land of people of “gold” (your description of Tigrayans/Eritreans).

 04-- Why is it that every time you go to and from Addis Ababa airport, everything in your path is virtually frozen, no other vehicles move and people face the walls with your TPLF guards aiming their guns at and menacing everyone that happens to be there? Are you not popular in Addis Ababa and the rest of Ethiopia or, are you acknowledging that your regime is an occupation force in Ethiopia?

05-- Why is it that every time you come to the United States, you are met with increasing hostility by Ethiopians—including some Tigreans in the Diaspora at the moment--thanks to the whirlwinds spawned by the internal struggle for power within TPLF?”

06-- Why is it that, of all people, you as the Prime Minister in Ethiopia, have expended so much of your energy, “prestige” and “reputation” to be the spokesperson for EPLF-Eritrea’s rights and privileges, its occupation of Ethiopia’s people and land in Asseb more than EPLF’s Issayass himself did?

07-- Inasmuch as your guerrilla movement mushroomed in the crucible of the Ethiopian student movement with the clarion call of “Land To The Tiller” which ushered the Revolution in 1974, why is it that when you perched in Addis Ababa, you proscribed ownership of their own land by the Ethiopian people? You have been quoted as saying, “nobody has manufactured land;” ergo, nobody is entitled to it. Neither did the TPLF manufacture Ethiopian land from which it exacts exorbitant tithes and fees to finance its diabolical operations against the very dispossessed Ethiopian people. Why, Mr. Prime Minister?  

08-- After presiding over Ethiopian casualties of over 100,000 in the border war between TPLF and EPLF along the Tigrayan border since 1998, what was achieved for Ethiopia that impelled you to eagerly sign the 12/12/00 Algiers deal with President Issayass? Do you concern yourself about the judgment of history aquatting on a historic land? Or, are you a true believer in your patron, Issayass Afewerki who said in 1991: “Forget history; man makes history and we have made an independent Eritrea.” Is that what you emulate?

09-- Why has TPLF under your watch systematically targeted Ethiopian educational institutions, especially Addis Ababa University for demonization and destruction? Your regime has been repeatedly killing, maiming, incarcerating, torturing or exiling patriotic Ethiopian students, teachers, union leaders, monks, journalists  and thousands of rank and file Ethiopians, dismissing competent Ethiopian academics, dismantling bona fide Teachers Associations and decimating their elected leaders or jailing them, denuding the universities in Ethiopia of their resources and assets and, for all intents and purposes, closing them down?

10--Why is it that the TPLF has become the biggest commercial enterprise with the instrumentality of its EFFORT network which controls much of the economy of Ethiopia. As a political party of only one region, TPLF has more financial assets and liquidity than the entire “federal” establishment. How come? Don’t you have “laws” against parties being in business in the books? Or, don’t those “laws” apply to TPLF and its crumbs-worthy clones in EPRDF?

11—How is it that in the last ten years of your tenure as ruler of Ethiopia, the Ethiopian economic base has been good enough to produce a handful of millionaires (mostly Tigrayans/Eritreans) who excel in excess and opulence while the vast majority of Ethiopians are impoverished? By any international standards, Ethiopia is today at the very bottom rung as one of the poorest countries in the world. One would not get that from reading materials issued by the TPLF regime. More and more people become beggars, children become homeless and women become prostitutes at alarming rates in Ethiopia. Whose vision is all this, Mr. Prime Minister?

12—Granted the TPLF came to power in Ethiopia in 1991 by killing and dying along the way. You have rounded up and jailed thousands of people for ten years now to insure the security of the regime and to charge them with political crimes. While most of these people are still in jail your goons keep killing, maiming, jailing or forcing into exile thousands and thousands of people including students. Your mighty naeftegna regime has arrogated to itself the “right” to administer “justice” to others while its hands are drenched with fresh blood everyday. And who will administer justice to your regime, Mr. Prime Minister?

13-- Given all the talk of rampant corruption in TPLF-Ethiopia today and token indictments of sacrificial lambs, where does and should the buck stop regarding economic and political corruption in your regime when all is said and done, Mr. Prime Minister?

14-- Why is it that fires are being stoked and tensions are increasing in TPLF-Ethiopia’s relations with neighboring countries? Relations have deteriorated with (whatever is left of) Somalia, strained with Jibouti, cold with Kenya, unpredictable day-to-day syndrome with Sudan, and the mother of it all, a two-year bloody war with EPLF-Eritrea--TPLF’s own Frankenstein?

15-- You have said repeatedly that you do not want Asseb as Ethiopia’s natural port and Djibouti is no longer as amenable as before. Your regime is taking steps to rent port facilities in Port Sudan--more than twice farther for Addis Ababa or even for Mekele (your favorite capital) than was Asseb or Djibouti, for that matter? This choice by your regime or even its consideration reminds one of the dimwit who puts his right foot on a chair to tie his shoe on his left foot that is on the ground.

16— Why do you loathe meeting with representatives of Ethiopian alternative parties and alternative press when you readily meet and hobnob with Eritrean parties and give interviews to international and Eritrean press?

17—When you were invited to Harvard University last year to help the audience know more about Ethiopia, you did not mention Ethiopia at all in your entire formal speech. Don’t you think that is odd for one who heads a regime in a country and not say a word about it—at least something like ‘I bring you greetings from my fiefdom called Ethiopia’? Did you think that Harvard savants wanted you to enlighten them on “Foday Sankho or South Korea?” Are you ashamed of Ethiopia or was that a reflection of your contempt for the colony and its people? Please go back and read your speech, which you can download from Walta website archives.

18-- Why is it that you have not respected and responded positively to a single civil peaceful plea by unarmed Ethiopians at home and abroad in the past decade, regarding so many vital matters such as the following:

--To cease and desist dismantling Ethiopia’s national defense, infrastructural, educational, industrial, etc. establishments and shipping much of Ethiopia’s assets to EPLF-Eritrea and to TPLF’s home base.

--Not to facilitate the secession of Eritrea rendering Ethiopia landlocked. (When EPLF committed aggression in 1998, you were urged to redeem Ethiopia’s people and seacoasts severed in 1991.)

--To stop the unjust incarceration and inhuman treatment of all prisoners and to free all political prisoners forthwith

--To stop making Ethiopians tenants instead of owners of their own Ethiopian land.

--To release Professor Asrat Weldeyes instead of expediting his suffering and untimely death, and currently to release Dr Taye Woldesemayat and all other political prisoners.

--To stop harassing and repressing unarmed Ethiopian students, nationalists, alternative party leaders, journalists, labor and professional organizers.

--To stop pillaging the rest of Ethiopia for the benefit of EPLF-Eritrea and Tigray.

--To stop the division of Ethiopia into killils which are clearly designed to kill Ethiopia as Ethiopia in the long run, and to give breathing and teething space for EPLF-Eritrea primarily, and perhaps also for TPLF-Tigray, in the short-run?”

Mr. Prime Minister, the above items are only a minute portion of tons of questions and issues one could raise to show you, your flunkeys and others who support you abroad that you never really stood for Ethiopia and Ethiopians in the last ten years you have ruled the country. As a matter of fact, one gets the uncomfortable feeling, Mr. Prime Minister, that your ears are trained to get only messages that are delivered through the barrel of the gun. It appears that to you no matter their numbers, the justice of their causes or the frequency of their civil pleas, unarmed Ethiopians are, as the Ethiopian saying goes, telba binchacha band muqecha--like ‘noisy bunch of linseed which can be pummeled by a single pounder.’ It has to be recognized that de facto you are in Ethiopia by force of arms. Although the related issue of whether you are of Ethiopia is well known among Ethiopians, we leave it up to you to grapple with. If it might help you find the answer to that problematic, we can share something with you that you know very, very well. As profiled in the foregoing pages and documented in volumes and volumes of commentaries you, Mr. Prime Minister, have not lived, worked or struggled for Ethiopia and for the vast majority of Ethiopians. Does this mean you have been working against Ethiopia? Why don’t we let you sort out that rhetorical question also!

Concluding Remarks

Nowadays, many Eritreans who strongly feel that their would-be “Miracleland” has become a virtual Nightmareland under EPLF strongman Issayass Afewerki and are waging an intensive political struggle to get rid of him peacefully akin to what is happening in Ethiopia. Tberth O.E., is one of those who have been writing incisive pieces in the Internet and elsewhere. In a recent article entitled “With Brutes Like Isaias, Colonialism Looks Bloody Fine.” she said the following: “Injustice is injustice regardless of whether it gets administered by a colonial power or an evil dictator of our own flesh and blood…” Is this what Eritreans and ‘tegadelty’ invested their aspirations and precious lives for? To bring about another ruthless colonial regime?” (On the EPLF-Eritrean side see also, for instance, the online publications of Tesfatsion Medhanie, Saleh Younis, Amb. Hebret Berhe, Dr Alazar Gebre Yesus). Indigenous writers on Ethiopia-Eritrea should only read and learn from each other’s quandaries and tribulations in dealing with dictators. Besides the potentially cathartic and educative effect of such cross reading, there is always the possibility that a new generation of intellectuals may forge a common front to deal with a common malaise and angst.

Prime Minister/President Meles probably feels sorry for Mr. Issayass, his comrade-in-arms of long-standing with whom he shared diabolical dreams as well as “wounds” inflicted in the course of the struggles against adversaries in Ethiopia. The two were as inseparable as Siamese twins when they were sowing their winds in Ethiopia till 1998. By a stroke of historic fate, the two are in the same leaking, sinking boat right now at the whirlwind end game of their exposed conspiracy. They sowed the same ill winds in Ethiopia-Eritrea and are now being shaken by the whirlwinds of their own making, which is an instance of poetic justice. To be sure, both are dictators in the generic sense of the word. However, Mr. Issayass’ dictatorship is primarily personal; he does not have a tribal or parochial baggage behind him. One can fight to remove him from the scene and perhaps a few of his personal and his power machine, and if successful, start all over again in the same Eritrean entity. On the other hand, the dictatorship of Mr. Meles is not merely personal but also tribal with all that that implies. 

Mr. Issayass at least did not chop up his Eritrea into nine killils thereby planting the seeds of its ultimate disintegration. Mr. Meles and his TPLF machine (with EPLF bidding) has imposed a bantustans type of killil system, alienating and then pitting the peoples of Ethiopia against one another with a deliberate aim of obliterating its name, history and integrity. And, of course, he and his comrades have already helped sever a portion of Ethiopian people and territory including its natural seacoasts for the creation of EPLF-Eritrea, for whose cause they have struggled for the last quarter century. TPLF-Tigray “national state” is virtually on the same track as that of EPLF Eritrea. So, Mr. Meles is a more treasonous dictator. He and his TPLF have dragged their whole Tigrayan tribe to be in conflict with the Ethiopian masses. What was cited above about Mr. Issayass--an evil dictator of our own flesh and blood--pales in comparison with what could be said about Mr. Meles--in fact, is being said nowadays by Tigrayans in the Diaspora. The least that can be said about TPLF’s Meles is that he is a treacherous tyrant in what is left of Ethiopia.

12 October  2001

Professor Negussay currently teaches at UCLA in Los Angeles, California.

Copyright © 2000 Negussay Ayele -MediaETHIOPIA. Readers may redistribute this article for noncommercial use as long as the text and this notice remain intact. This article may not be sold, reprinted, translated or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author and MediaETHIOPIA.