December 9, 2008
Leaders of the opposition Andinet presiding over a public meeting in Addis
A cloud of despair has been hanging over the country since the 2005 elections were stolen by the ruling party in power. You call home and ask how is it going? The answer is pretty much about the same: nothing has changed much. You ask why? They have a long answer for that. The regime is intensifying the atrocities. You don’t dare speak, you don’t dare think. Well you think but you don’t share it. The Economy is going South, prices are hiking, inflation is record high, there are no jobs, there is no good news. To stick it in the wound the leaders of Kinijit were divided. These are the same leaders that were incarcerated, that we fought for their release, that we sacrificed time, energy and other resources. Most of all, these are the same leaders that the people trusted. We put our hope on their leadership. We were lodging for their release so they could be free to lead again, to lead us to freedom. For a while there was no good news.
Hence, some of them were compelled to regroup. They formed Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJ). They claim, rightly so, to be the moral and legal successor of Kinijit. It is based on liberal democracy principles and non-violent peaceful struggle. At the inception, many including their close comrades were hesitant. It was explained to us, and to an extent it is still being explained to us, that they are up to a task impossible. “Meles has closed all doors for peaceful struggle, it is simply not a viable way , they are just a political show for the regime” are the arguments we are hearing. UDJ/Andinet, while still paying attention to the skeptics, put their bet on the will and power of the people, the people of Ethiopia. Yes Meles has closed all doors, yes it is getting tougher and will get even tougher, and yes they are playing in the danger zone. Yet, when you have the mass at your side, you will laugh at the face of danger.
They waged that struggle at home and they are making progress. It started with baby steps, puting things here and there together. And then they were able to get legal accreditation. They announced an annual plan, and they acted up on it. Right now there are 35 offices up and running at all corners of the country. These are good news.
Over the weekend, yet another good news broke to us. UDJ was able to hold its First Town Hall Meeting at Addis Ababa. IT WAS A SUCCESS INDEED. It was held at the EELPA Hall which has a capacity of 3500. Around 5000 showed up. They had to stay outside, but there was a huge MIC so they didn’t miss anything. Woizerit Birtukan, Eng. Gizachew, Dr. Hailu, Ato Temesgen, you name it; all the big shots were there. In addition, there were guests like Dr. Negaso, Dr. Beyene, Ato Siye who all made short speeches. But most importantly, the attendees, the people of Addis Ababa were very active; they asked all kind of questions, they gave all kind of suggestions. The message is loud and clear. The Spirit is Alive. We have to put our hands, minds and hearts together; and get back to work. There is no time to despair.