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Ethiopia: EPRDF’s Anniversary: What is There to Celebrate?

28 May is a ‘National Day’ for some Ethiopians while others consider the day as a celebration of replacement of one oppressive regime with another. 28 May marks the collapse of the oppressive Derg regime, which governed the country from 1974 to 1991 after the ousting of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1975.

The Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Front (EPRDF) has been in power for 21 years. EPRDF is a former rebel group that took power after the fall of the government of Mengistu Haile Mariam.

Netizens have reflected about the day on Ethiopian blogs and Facebook.

Facebook image calling for the release of all political prisoners in Ethiopia. Image courtesy of Ethiopia Mitmita Facebook page.

Bisrat Gebre, a blogger residing in Addis Ababa, urged both Ethiopians and Eritreans to get united. In an open letter, which he wrote on 21st anniversary of the fall of the Derg regime, Bisrat used Kibede Mikael’s famous poem as an anecdote. He wrote [amh]:

…መች ነው የምንገናኝ ከምወዳት እህቴ
አልቆልኝ የማየው የአምሳ ዓመት ናፍቆቴ፡፡

When shall I meet up with my sister, whom I love dearly
When shall I draw a close to my fifty years melancholy

However, Mesfin Negash noted striking similarities between Ethiopia and Eritrean regimes and posted a press release of Ethiopian Foreign Ministry on his Facebook:

The following lines are excerpts from the Ethiopia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs weekly brief. Read and admire how the two regimes are identical twins despite their mutual hatred. MoFA [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] is in delusion to forgot that the entire statement holds true to Ethiopia except the name of the country and the title of the leader.

“Eritrea at 21: still in President Isaias’ unyielding grip” [Really?!]

Eritrea celebrated its 21st independence day yesterday with President Isaias making his address to the nation in a manner that befitted his penchant for conspiracy theories. There had been a number of recent rumours suggesting he was seriously ill after he failed to appear in public for a month.

It is customary for leaders around the world send congratulatory message for Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to mark the fall of the Derg. In this year’s anniversary US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighted the achievements of the Ethiopian government in a press statement.

Befeqadu Z Hailu, a blogger resides in Addis Ababa, does not agree with the content of the press statement. He listed ten disappointments that are visible after the fall of the Derg Regime [amh]:

10ሩ የድኅረ ግንቦት 20 ኪሳራዎች
1. ዴሞክራሲያዊ ተቋማት አለመገንባታቸው
2. ከተፅዕኖ ነፃ የሆነ የፍትህ አካላት አለመገንባታቸው
3. ብሔራዊ ስሜት መናዱ (ኢትዮጵያዊነት መኮሰሱ)
4. የብሔራዊ ጥያቄ ምላሽ አለማግኘቱ
5. ፍትሐዊ ያልሆነ የኢኮኖሚ ተጠቃሚነት መስፈን (corny capitalizm)
6. የሙስና መስፋፋት
7. ስርዓቱን የሚተቹ አካላትን ማፈን
8. ነፃ የሲቪክ ማሕበራት አለመጠናከራቸው
9. የነፃ ፕሬስ – ሐሳብን በነፃ የመግለፅ መብት አለመከበሩ
10. ሀገሪቱ በአንድ ጠቅላይ አምባገነን መሪ ስር መውደቋ
(ነብዩ ኃይሉ – ፍኖተ ነፃነት)

The ten post May 28 disappointments

1. Failure to build independent democratic institution
2. Failure to have free judiciary bodies
3. Collapse of patriotic feeling amongst Ethiopians
4. Failure to answer major national questions
5. Unbalanced economic growth
6. Prevalence of corruption
7. Muffling dissidents
8. Failure to reinforce open civic society
9. Gagging free press and freedom of expression
10. The country remains under strong fist of a one dictatorial prime minster

An exiled satirist Abe Tokichaw wrote [amh]:

እንግዲህ ኢህአዴግ አሁን በደንብ ጎረመሰ ማለት ነው። ይህ ወቅት ጡንቻ የሚፈረጥምበት ጢም የሚቀመቀምበት ከመሆኑም በላይ እግዜር ላልባረከው፤ ልብ የሚነፋበት ጆሮ የሚደፈንበት አስቸጋሪ ወቅት ነው። በዚህ ዕድሜ ላይ ያለ ያልተባረከ ጎረምሳ ኮረዳዎች “ሳመኝ” ሲሉት እንጂ አዋቂዎች “ስማኝ” ሲሉት ጥሪ አይቀበልም። ከላይ ከላይ መናገር እና ከኔ በላይ ላሳር ማለት ልዩ ባህሪያቱ ናቸው። (አይ ጉርምስና!) እናም ኢህሃዴግ አሁን ዋናው የአፍላ ጉርምስና ወቅቱ ላይ ይገኛል። በአራዶች ቋንቋ “ፍንዳታ” ሆነ የሚባለው ማለት ነው። ወደ ጨዋታችን ዘልቀን ከመግባታችን በፊት “ኢህአዴግዬ ጉርምስናውን በቅጡ ያድርግልህ” ብለን እንመርቀዋለን!

EPRDF (the ruling party) has grown up very well now. It has been 21 years since they claimed power. This age is a major landmark of puberty. In our culture this age [puberty] is considered an age that starts out with a calm and peaceful wave that suddenly erupts into a major torrent. It is not an easy age especially if someone does not have a fear of God he won’t pay attention to mature people’s advice but for young ladies physical attraction. Now I congratulate EPRDF on their birthday and offer my blessing to have calm puberty.

Finally, Markos warned Ethiopians in the Diaspora on his Facebook page:

Sorry to say this, but most Ethiopian diasporas lack all the social intelligence on Ethiopia. They are usually full of empty shouts. They feel the only connection they have to Ethiopia is blindly express their hatred to the government, or blindly love it. Every time Ginbot 20 comes, they call the government Devil or using other cheap words which don't have meanings. Democracy requires engagement and acceptance – not hatred

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