By Robele Ababya, 31 March 2014
Tribute to Organizers and Participants of the Bahr Dar Demo
It was with great Ethiopian pride and exceeding joy in my heart that I watched the mammoth demonstration by the heroic residents of Bahr Dar. The lady participant in the demo with her child on her back reminded me of the history of the suffering mothers carrying their babies on their backs and playing their part bravely in the resistance to Fascist Italian invaders.
The massive demonstration had no doubt marked the beginning of the end of the TPLF/EPRDF regime!!!
Thank you my fellow Ethiopians residing in Bahr Dar. Thank you the distinguished patriotic leaders of the UDJP, AEUP and Group for Democratic for your exemplary collaboration in this noble undertaking to organize the inspiring demonstration jointly that has torn the wall of fear for good. The success of the Bahr Dar Demo proved to be a nightmare to TPLF tyrants and it will no doubt continue to be so.
Popular anger inevitably spreading across the nation
The Deputy President of the Amhara Kilil, Alemnew Mekonnen, made a colossal mistake detrimental not only to his party but also to his own safety. He will in time be disowned publicly by his colleagues in the ANDM. His fate will be similar to that of Salman Rushdie who had to run for his life and hide in various places in order to escape the death sentence decreed on him by the Grand Ayatollah of Iran for his slur on the Prophet Mohammed in his book titled “Satanic Verses”.
Alemnew Mekonnen exposed the low level mental capacity of himself and his colleagues. His disgraceful rude utterance supported by his likes in the ANDM degrading the valiant Amhara people must be condemned by all Ethiopians until he and his likes are politically dead.
Absence of the word “apology” in the lexicon of his mentors, the TPLF thugs, Alemnew fell into the trap of blaming the opposition with the ridiculous accusation that his words uttered in a meeting of four days of his party were computer-engineered to produce the publicly disseminated speech attributed to him. His shameful denial apparently led to the laughable drama – concocted by the Weyane pathological liars and masters of deception – of the senseless fight between ANDM and OPDO supporters at the recent football match of their respective teams at Bahr Dar
Their low IQ raises the grand question whether the entire ANDM leadership can understand and manage development projects and prioritize their implementation in the Amhara region. For example do they understand the domestic and international implications of the extremely complex Grand Renaissance Dam (GRD) project in the face of multiple issues related to economic benefits, environmental degradation and objection of Egypt to the big size of the Dam? Do they understand that the Blue Nile is an international river governed by moral imperative and international law?
Forward with the victory of Bahr Dar Demo
The success of the mammoth demonstration in Bahr Dar has generated a significant driving momentum to the quest for change across Ethiopia. The heroes and heroines of its success have come up with the creative idea of launching public outcry (vociferation) at major cities to express popular anger at the failure of the TPLF regime to govern the country since it came to power by the barrel of the gun in May 1991.
The planned “vociferation” at major cities across Ethiopia will surely hasten the fall of the misruling TPLF/EPRDF genocidal regime. But extreme care is required not to create a power vacuum and thereby plunge our country into chaos and anarchy. Therefore all the opposition forces, civil societies, youth movement activists, human rights activists, members of national defense and security organs, top officials in the TPLF/EPRDF regime, and the millions of cadres in the EPRDF party have moral and legal responsibility to avert the occurrence of power vacuum leading to anarchy. Internal strength and harmony are indispensable in the face of multiple hot issues with which a new government has to deal with. The issues among others include:-
1. Establishing a transitional government; drafting a new constitution of the people, by the people, for the people
2. Releasing all political prisoners unconditionally
3. Allowing unfettered freedom of expression and all pillars of democracy to function
4. Resolving the economic plight of the Ethiopian people; improving service delivery to the public on the part of the government
5. Implementing private land property to all citizens in general and the peasants in particular
6. Restoring stability in the Horn of Africa
7. Developing sound foreign policy taking mutual interests of concerned parties into accounts
8. Resolving Ethiopia’s hot issues (a) Nile waters with Egypt & Sudan; and (b) land with the Sudan
9. Resolving the plight of Ethiopian migrant workers and refugees in the Middle East and elsewhere including Africa
10. Forging stronger unity between citizens at home and Ethiopians in the Diaspora
Let me throw some light on items No.5 (Implementing private land property to the peasants in particular) and No.8 (Resolving Ethiopia’s hot issues (a) Nile waters with Egypt & Sudan; and (b) land with the Sudan).
Issue N0. 5 has potential as an effective game changer in the fight to dethroning the brutal TPLF/EPRDF regime because private land ownership is what the peasants want; entitlement to private farmland shall provide peasants with effective incentive to rise in unison and get rid of the system of slavery in serfdom. There is no freedom without private property ownership!!!
Issue N0. 8 is essential for regional stability, peace, and prosperity and as such will draw the support of the international community. This one involves a Herculean task in its own right. Why?
In my article titled “Nile and other rivers as key to new policy after TPLF demise” dated 22 April 2011, I wrote: ”A sovereign state has the right to defend its fundamental values, human resources and physical resources by all means at its disposal – diplomatically and militarily as required if the threat to these values comes from external adversaries; retaliation to external threats is best done through an all-inclusive participatory democratic governance and prudent economic management at home in order to unify the people as legitimate owners of their common values. Such right is enshrined in national policies and the constitution of that state.”
At all times and at this time of uncertainty in regional politics particularly, I reiterate my stand that robust defense force and internal harmony are essential to preserve and protect national values; however, the repressive TPLF/EPRDF government in power must change its ethnic-based policy and open the political space for very serious consultations with all political opposition parties, civic organizations, and above all the Ethiopian people as the ultimate and supreme source of power and owners of the country’s resources. I would like to underline that it would be foolhardy to construct the GRD at a location within artillery range from Sudan – a situation that will require credible defense against Egyptian attacks – militarily or otherwise. My hunch is however that Egypt will send a commando force at some critical stage to destroy the Dam, which action would engender political turmoil at home and hefty loss of capital expenditure – a highly probable grave scenario indeed.
As the old adage goes, “A house divided against it cannot stand”. It is long overdue time that Ethiopians set aside ethnic and other petty difference and act in in unison to defend, preserve and protect vital national interests and cultural values.
Paradigm shift in Ethiopia-Egypt-Sudan relations
Emperor Menilik First of the Axumite Kingdom during his reign more than 3000 years ago threatened to divert the course of the Blue Nile River (BNR) and let it flow to the Red Sea. Obviously this threat was provoked by the acts of overt and covert subversion by the Egyptian rulers against vital interests of Ethiopia in order to weaken and control the source of the River. Egypt has relentlessly hatched and pursued its policy of undermining fundamental values of Ethiopia diplomatically at international fora and militarily through repeated attempts to invade our country through the port of Massawa where it was dealt a heavy blow by the illustrious Ethiopian leaders Ras Alula Aba Nega hailing from the Tigray region.
The resolution of the longstanding BNR issue needs paradigm shift in the mindset of policy-makers of Ethiopia-Egypt-Sudan relations in the rest of 21st century and beyond. The trio must appreciate that the BNR is an international river whether they like it or not. Quintessential moral law, international law and state constitutions directly or indirectly stipulate the judicious share of life sustaining natural flow of water across the boundaries of states regardless of their form of governance – democratic or undemocratic; but relationships among the former provide a peaceful fertile ground for resolving contentious issues amicably.
The 1959 agreement to which Ethiopia is not a party allots 55.5 billion cubic meters to Egypt and 18.5 cubic meters to Sudan. Egyptian experts argue that only 5% of the Nile waters reach Egypt and that the rest 95% (1.52 trillion cubic meters) is lost mainly due to seepage and evaporation. It is also true that the Nile River is the only one Egypt has got and on which its 84 million populations depend. On the other hand the fertile soil of Ethiopia, the waters of the BNR, and networks of its tributaries (mainly from the Amhara, Oromia and Gambella regions) are indispensable natural resources on which 91 million Ethiopians depend.
BNR contributes 85% of the waters to the Sudan and Egypt. Therefore, cooperative and collaborative effort should be an overriding factor governing amicable relations underpinned by techno-scientifically minimizing the loss of water. Paradigm shift in Ethiopia-Egypt-Sudan relations is quintessential in the 21st century. The trio can be a formidable regional power under the umbrella of the African Union as I have been advocating for about the last four decades. Expenditure on defense can be drastically reduced thus allocating resources to socio-economic development.
In the worst case scenario, as a citadel of the source of the BNR from which 85% of the water flows to the Sudan and Egypt, Ethiopia has to be the one to control the River and use it as ultimate weapon of last resort in self-defense. To that effect, Ethiopians must ensure the existence of internal peace and robust strength – economically, politically, and militarily.
Diminishing per capita quota of Nile water
The table below is reproduced from my article titled “Likely war over the Blue Nile water”, dated 09 November 2012. It provides a frightening data of rapidly diminishing quota per capita of water available to riparian states for the period 1995 to 2025 vindicating the predicted fear that future wars would be over water more than anything else. Water is life!
It can be deduced from the table below that nine of the ten riparian states of the Nile for which data is available are victims of frightening data of rapidly diminishing quota per capita of water available to them. This is a stern warning that the states must work together to minimize the colossal loss of the Nile waters estimated at 1.292 trillion cubic meters according to Egyptian experts. This situation calls for cooperation and collaboration – not beating war drums.
It can be argued that Ethiopia as provider of the lion’s portion of the Nile is entitled to have veto power in any bilateral or multilateral agreement. It would be best if Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan enter into a viable single agreement and forge a regional community emulating the countries of the Great Lake Region.
Population 1995 (millions)
Population 2025 (millions)
GNP per capita 1996 (US $)
Population below the poverty line (1US$/day) (PPP) (%)
Per capita water availability 1990 (m³)
Per capita water availability 2025 (m³)
Source: Water politics in the Nile Basin: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, (December 2007)
Some three decades ago in an informal friendly discussion with Egyptian experts at the reception held at their Embassy in Addis Ababa I recommended that genuine cooperation and collaboration would open the door for regional economic block involving Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia, arguing that it would be a powerful regional block in bolstering and expediting the African Union to realize continental integration. Moreover, the saving of resources from such arrangement would be enormous; the present generation has the moral duty to ensure that the future generations will not be victims of mutually destructive interminable clashes militarily and politically.
The illustrious leaders of UDJP and AEUP including their associate national political parties deserve deep gratitude for their noble role in the exemplary success of the massive Bahr Dar Demo that had torn down the curtain of fear and opened the way forward to a peaceful dethroning the TPLF warlords who had completely lost the trust of the Ethiopian people
Petty differences must be set aside between and among all opposition political entities and civic organization for the sake of the suffering people of Ethiopia en masse; blame game must be avoided on grounds of method of struggle for freedom
It is of paramount importance to avert perilous relations affecting Ethiopia, Egypt & Sudan. To that end: – Ethiopia should scale down the size of the GRD; land-rich Sudan should renounce its greedy claim on Ethiopia’s legitimate land; Egypt should reward Ethiopia, in kind or monetarily, for consenting to reduce the size of her GRD. The trio should work towards the noble undertaking of forming a prosperous, democratic, and powerful regional block amenable to security and stability in the Horn of Africa under the AU umbrella
The ball is in the quarters of TPLF top echelon to usher in a bloodless transfer of power to an all-inclusive transitional government of Ethiopia.
LONG LIVE ETHIOPIA!!!