Ethiopia: The Declared State of Emergency of 2018 isn’t the needed remedy, but a hostile TPLF takeover of the provinces!

After yesterdays abrupt resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and the release of several prominent political prisoners, as even more were released today. The thoughts that the State and the Ethiopian People’s Democratic Revolutionary Force (EPRDF) and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) would counter the demonstrations with draconian laws seemed a bit foolish. This after three days of shutdown and off open in the streets demonstrations. Still, the TPLF, was already in the inner-works working on changes and making sure they can continue to muster force against dissidents.

That is why earlier today, this was reported:

The Tigray Central Committee has today announced a 43rd anniversary of the Battle of the Tigers. As a result of the weakness of the declaration of the TPLF leadership, we will renew our commitment to create a state of complete restoration of the problems and inconvenience of the people of the region. In a letter to a sister organization, he said: “We must jointly condemn enemy attacks on our organization and our country with the sole purpose of resolving the problem.” In a message sent to Ethiopians, the current wave of destruction against our people and our people will be eliminated in the EPRDF Rule” (Addis Gazetta, 16.02.2018).

So for the ones saying it was possible for a State of Emergency being reissued seemed likely after the TCC, as they wanted to send a message. Which would be stronger to take away again all sorts of ordinary activity, stop meetings and demonstrations, stop funerals and close shops. Because that is what the previous State of Emergency did to the public. They stopped people in roadblocks and made check-points, militarized Amhara and Oromia region. Clearly, the Tigray plans to do that again. Even as the demonstrations and the people are tired of being muffled with.

There it is with sadness, the Ethiopian Broadcasting Company (EBC) said this:

The state broadcaster said the Council declared the #StateofEmergency because it has become impossible to control violence including ethnic-related and lawlessness that is spreading wide throughout the country in various forms. But nothing is mentioned how for long” (Addis Standard, 16.02.2018).

Clearly, they are thinking of the actions done by the citizens in Oromo and Amhara, where the people have seen their relatives die on the streets or being detained in the thousands. This has been done on a scale that was insane during the previous State of Emergency. Proves that another one isn’t to create peace or genuine leadership. Its just for the TPLF to continue to control.

The State Controlled Media House Fana Broadcasting Company said this:

Addis Ababa, February 16, 2018 (FBC) –The Council of Ministers has declared a state of emergency effective from Friday, 16 February 2018 by adopting the decree providing for the emergency ruling. The Council of Ministers said the emergency rule is aimed at protecting the constitution and constitutional order, as well as ensuring security and stability of the country. Protecting freedom of movement and the rights of citizens to live wherever they choose as well as build assets, are also among the motives for the ruling. The Council in its press briefing noted that the violence that have been going on in some areas are undermining the security and stability of the country as well as the value of the people that promote peaceful coexistence. The violent activities have also led to ethnic based attacks which led to the displacement, death and injury of people, damage on property, and hindered investment. These violent activities are hurting the economy and put the peaceful and free movement of citizens under question. The Council said it is important to adopt the decree, as the public has requested the government for protection and the dangerous activities have continued to expand and extend in time” (Fana BC – ‘Ethiopia Declares State of Emergency’ 16.02.2018).

So the FANA is using the same rhetoric as the Tigray, the seemingly problematic affairs of the demonstrations, as they are blocking key roads and also shutting down business. This is hurting the economy and the life-line of the regime. That is why the definitions of them are practically the same. The TPLF and EPRDF thinks they can subdue and silence them through force, by either detaining even more now or use the military like last time. Occupy and destroy in 2018, like they did in parts of 2016 and 2017. It is not like they have stopped killing and not stopped arresting civilians who demonstrate against them. That is why there are numbers up to about 20,000 political prisoners from the previous State of Emergency. That is common folk and not the prestigious ones, which has been released during this week.

If you didn’t know, but now you do, as they proven time and time again. That the Tigray deserves more and has more say than the rest. There was even sources saying that this the parties of Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization (OPDO) and the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), who are members of the EPRDF. Where against the move of State of Emergency, not that it mattered. The TPLF had the final say and they we’re terrified of the surge of demonstrations and possible blockades of Addis Ababa. They cannot manage the possible resistance and movements on the rise, who are not fearing the Central Government, but actually and openly standing against it.

So if the EPRDF and TPLF are wise, they would do it differently, try another approach and actually listen to the grievances and actually patch the wounds. Instead they are pouring more salt in the wounds and hoping the citizens will give in. They are actually doing an unnecessary move and will trigger more of the dissidents to act upon the unwillingness of the state. It is like it cannot learn and understand the efforts being made to matter and to get their voice heard. Addis Ababa has acted provincial for so long and acted with colonization of the regions. That is why they are tired of being muffled with.

Now they have seen that the demonstrations has resulted in getting their leaders back. Their voices too, that is why the State should reconcile, not go back to the barricades; however that seems like the only thing they know how to do. Peace.

Ethiopia: Possible Ways Forward – “New State of Emergency VS National Reconciliation”

There is expected to be conflicting views and different ones, since there are many people and groups who feels left out. That is especially expected since the total control of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Defence Force (EPRDF) are well-known. So the Central Government and the Addis Ababa has used all sort of tricks of oppression against the Oromo and Amhara regions. This has been done during the years of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, that is well-known, not that he had the power or be the mouthpiece of the oppression. So we can expect that the next few days and weeks will be rocky. There is talk by Addis Standard that there is a new order of State of Emergency in the works. Last time it created curfew and stopped most of all movement in the regions. It was a real draconian law in 2016 and it really showed the levels of oppression possible, as the arrests and detaining of opposition persisted. Even as several high-ranking individuals are released, there are still thousands of political prisoners who are kept by the government.

Therefore, these ideas that are out from Tigrai and Jawar, are important. Take a look.

The idea of TPLF:

The federal government keeps doing the same thing, putting out fire following the ruinous movements. The government never took any proactive actions to prevent these devastating actions from happening. When the state of emergency was in place the country was becoming peaceful, then the government lifted the state of emergency prematurely and we are back to square one. If the government is serious about maintaining peace and security in Ethiopia, they should reinstate the state of emergency throughout the country for three years. Meanwhile they should work to address all the issues raised by citizens and implement the so called deep renewal ideas announced after the meeting” (Tigrai Online, 2018).

The President’s view:

Short-note on Roadmap for Transition in Ethiopia

– Appoint Lemma Megersa Chairman of EPRDF and ( acting) PM immediately – Lemma should start immediately, I mean within days, negotiation with opposition groups i to establish agreeable roadmap and timetable towards election. While negotiation could take place behind close doors, regular updates should be given to public to boost moral and avoid further bloodshed. The roadmap and time table should include ways of bringing about national reconciliation and developing rules of the game for free, fair and competitive election. In this process avoid dealing with the usual fake opposition, religious and cultural leaders. Work with real and independent leaders with authentic support in their constituency. This negotiation and roadmap paving should be done alongside taking positive action that builds public confidence on seriousness of the process such us releasing all political prisoners. – This crisis presents with great opportunity and greater danger. While maintaining pressure on the regime every one of us in the public should exercise maximum constraint in our approach not to blow this thing up” (Jawar Mohammed, 15.02.2018).

I will say that Tigrai seems like a defense and apologetic for the dictatorship. They are more thinking of their values, than seeing the suffering of the regions they are occupying. That is an occupation when you send in the army and Aghazi squad to assassinate demonstrators and also try to kill the demonstrations. They haven’t been able to it, when the Oromo and Amhara opposition groups has gone together to silence their regions and put up roadblocks. That has hurt the economy and also been able to block the delivery of produce and products to Addis Ababa and Tigray.

Therefore, the Tigray page is really in defense mode, while Jawar who is the President. Shows more character and wish for change. The vitality of if the EPRDF and TPLF are putting forward a puppet Prime Minister and also a State of Emergency. Expect nationwide demonstrations. Expect that the people will access it as final blow to their acts impunity and injustice towards them.

The TPLF and EPRDF are really showing their blatant misunderstanding of the people, if they are trying to force themselves again. Like they did with the previous State of Emergency. If you think that will make it better, meaning that you are earning fortunes on the state paranoia and the total control of the public. The government who owns the people and they just have to submit to the orders of the state. That is how the Ethiopian government and Central Regime has acted for ages. Therefore, people has grown tired of that and the little group owning it all.

Let it be known, that it matters that Bekele Gerba and all the other big names who was freed this week after years in prison after fraudulent charges made by the state. That Jawar speaks of Lemma Mergesha can be different look, but will it be enough? I don’t know, but there been also speculated about Demeke Mekonnen Hassen and Michael-Gerbe Debretson, especially Demeke that he could be the next PM. That is since he is the Deputy today and if the TPLF would pick him. Then its a sign of another stooge, another mouthpiece and not strong leader to embrace all parts of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

I am not sure, but if the TPLF and EPRDF are putting forward a State of Emergency and appointing a puppet. Know that the shutdowns, the demonstrations will escalate and re-arresting the big-names will fire the people more up. Jawar and Gerba will ignite the Oromia even more, the Amhara will be a blaze. The Tigray will regret doing it, since they will shoot themselves in the foot. Instead of trying to fix the troubles they have created and the lingering injustice they have made.

The state can act wise, but also foolish. Their next move will be revealing. If they will listen to the minds of Jawar and try to reconcile… if they listen to Tigray, the state and the TPLF will loose it all. So we have to see if they are trying to go draconian or if they will try to give way for the demonstrators and actually listening to the people. Peace.

Reference:

Tigrai Online – ‘EPRDF has no choice but to declare state of emergency in Ethiopia’ (14.02.2018) link: http://www.tigraionline.com/articles/ethiopia-going-downhill.html

Ethiopia: The sudden resignation of PM Hailemariam Desalegn, opens up the question for – “Who becomes the next PM?”

Just as the Zone 9, journalist Esikinder Nega and Oromo Federal Congress leader Bekele Gerba has finally been released from prison. Just as this is happening and the three day shutdown of Oromia. As the dozens of political prisoners are still lingering in jail and the TPLF infused government under Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned on national TV today.

We can wonder what is happening and what is the motivation for the change, since the TPLF and the EPRDF under Meles Zenawi was relentless and oppressive, it has been so under this PM too. No denying that and therefore, the civil unrest, that even led to the State of Emergency last year. With all the arrests, detentions and illegal activity from the state to control the regions, where the people are rising up against the minority government in Addis Ababa.

That the Aghazi Squad and the military offensive in the regions hasn’t hurt the drive to demonstrate. Shows the encouragement and the tiredness of the Central Government. That they have taken it too far over time and not been servicing the area. Which is why the roadblocks and closing the delivery of produce to Addis Ababa has hurt the bottom-line for the regime.

I am starting to wonder who will follow the PM and get both his position, but also the chairmanship of TPLF. Because both are important leadership roles in Ethiopia. We can wonder what sort of negotiations and ambition, which is within the Executive Committee of the EPRDF and TPLF. Also, who wants to come from the Central Committee as well.

Seyoum Mesfin might have his ideas, but the bridges are burning, while the Oromo and Amhara protests are bearing fruits. They are hurting the Central Government and their leverage. They cannot just punish and pursuit violence to silence them. The protests and closing of business, the roadblocks and the University uprisings shows the government who are in charge. This is something they cannot deny.

However, I wonder who will take charge and become the next leader. Since PM Hailemariam Desalegn has now suddenly stepped down. We can wonder who pulls the strings and why it happens now after three excessive days of demonstrations and big political prisoners freed. This is all good news, but how good. What is the next move and when will the thousands of prisoners become free from the shacles they are in?

We have to ask and wonder. It is important and proves the power of the Oromia province and Amhara, as they have used their protest to show Addis that they matter. In addition, they do. No one can say otherwise. Demeke Mekonnen Hassen are expected to follow him, but that is surely depending on the CC and EC decisions in the coming days. Also, Michael-Gerbe Debretson, who also possible take his place, even if the odds are bigger on Demeke, then on Michael-Gebre.

So who knows, it is just speculations, but there will be changes and we can wonder how different the new leadership will be compared to the old. Will it be positive reforms or even more oppressive? Will the TPLF listen to other voices or will they be behind the barricades throwing grenades?

We can wonder, but we do know that the PM is important for how the leadership will act towards its citizens. We have seen the change from Zenawi to Hailemariam. It hasn’t been the same, therefore, the next one will be vital for either more protest or more reforms. Peace.

Press Freedom in the East African nations with ratings of the environment in 2014 (+ reports that the Ugandan regime turned off the transmitter of the Radio Baba in Jinja yesterday)

Dr. Kizza Besigye Jinja Iganga-Jinja Rallies 21.07.2015

Yesterday on the 21.07.2015 the NRM regime cut off the radio transmitter for the “Baba Radio” or as it’s really named 87.7 Basogo Baino FM in Jinja after Dr. Kizza Besigye had a great rally earlier in the day in Iganga and Jinja. Therefore it made me go through the report on ‘Press Freedom in 2014 – Harsh Laws and Violence Drive Global Decline’ that is coming from the NGO Freedom house. Today on 22.07.2015 Mr. Innocent Anyole is sacked from his job after trying to interview Dr. Kizza Besigye this sacking happen by Radio Director Hon. Moses Grace Balyeku, the NRM Chairman of Jinja and MP for Jinja West Constituency. He sure followed party line and broke the wing of the man who introduced FDC man Dr. Kizza Besigye. Well, let me introduce the Press Freedom in East Africa according to the global rankings of the Freedom House and their report on how it was in 2014.

This report has three important levels of how the media is and which place in society it has:

  1. Free
  2. Partly Free
  3. Not Free

The difference between them comes to how great power the countries government controls the media or let them be. How the laws and treatment of journalist and media institutions is and how the events surrounding them have been in the recent year.

I will focus on the East African Countries and those in the “area” around how the quote and place this countries in the report. Because I write about the South Sudan, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda. These are the countries that will be taken. Not the whole world but the basic places that I usually cover in my blog somehow. So it shouldn’t be surprise to anyone.

Before addressing the numbers and rankings of the nations, let me take the quotes on some of the nations from the report as well:

“Ethiopian authorities stepped up arrests of independent journalists, including the Zone 9 bloggers, leading more than 30 to flee the country during the year, according to CPJ” (…) “In Kenya contained several vaguely worded clauses curtailing press freedom, including the threat of three years in prison for journalists who fail to obtain police permission before reporting on terrorism investigations or operations, or for coverage “likely to cause public alarm, incitement to violence, or disturb public peace” (…) “Somalia’s score improved from 82 to 79 due to the increased ability of private actors to open media outlets and the greater distribution of media, especially radio, throughout the south-central part of the country” (…) “South Sudan’s score declined from 62 to 68 due to the government’s near-complete disregard for constitutional and legal protections for freedom of the press in 2014, as well as the lack of such protections in rebel-held areas; a marked increase in restrictions imposed on journalists by the security forces; and heightened censorship, self-censorship, and retaliatory attacks on journalists”.

From here I will address the rankings of the East African nations coming when it comes to press freedom and the numbers that they have gotten from the expert committees that gone through reports and the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX). The stories this numbers are telling and the situation that the media has on the ground is staggering. Therefore it’s a story that has to be told. Now will explain the criteria of the global ranking that is made of scoring process, the value of the levels and what they mean for each country and last the main groups of questions that the researchers and analyst in cooperation with IFEX. That has crunched the numbers with the questions and reports from sources from the whole world.

Criteria:

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers”

Scoring Process:

“The research and scoring process involves more than 90 analysts—including outside consultants and members of the core research team headquartered in New York—who prepare the draft ratings and country reports” (…) “the other members of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) network for providing detailed and timely analyses of press freedom violations in a variety of countries worldwide, on which we rely to make our judgments”.

Scale Point for the levels:

“A country’s final score (from 0 to 100) represents the total of the scores allotted for each question. A total score of 0 to 30 results in a press freedom status of Free; 31 to 60 a status of Partly Free; and 61 to 100 a status of Not Free”.

Questions that makes the score:

The scores are put into three categories: Legal Environment (0-30points), Political Environment (0-40points) and Economical Environment (0-30points).

daily-nation-east-african-newspapers

Placing of the East African nations: 

Rank Country Score Status
164 Burundi 74 Not Free
172 Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) 79 Not Free
180 Ethiopia 83 Not Free
124 Kenya 57 Partly Free
172 Rwanda 79 Not Free
172 Somalia* 79 Not Free
152 South Sudan 68 Not Free
115 Tanzania 54 Partly Free
123 Uganda 56 Partly Free

*Somaliland got ranked 115 – Score of 54 and was set to be ‘Partly Free’

What this means:

This tells something about the environment that the press in the East African nations goes through. Of the eight nations three is ‘Partly Free’: Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. This means that certain levels of freedom is on the media, but has certain levels of strings on the press. It’s worse in the rest of the nations because they are on the level of ‘Not Free’: Burundi, DRC, Rwanda, Somalia and South Sudan. And they did make Somalialand as a separate territory as a ‘Party Free’ whiles the country as a whole is set as ‘Not Free’. Therefore in that setting certain areas of Somalia federation has more freedom then the rest.

What that is shocking for me is how low scores countries of Uganda has compared to Ethiopia. Ethiopia has been strict on media and journalist. Especially to those who are abiding opposition in the country. Uganda has many outlets, still the big ones has over time been disorganized by the regime like the Daily Monitor. That has not happen with similar media in Kenya. Though the laws for media there is isn’t similar reports on shut downs of radio station and papers when the regime disagrees. Rwanda I am sure that the government is strict on the media, because the news from there is usually in the mood of the regime. Burundi if it wasn’t for protests and deflectors, there would be less news and information on the regime of Pierre Nkuruziza. DRC and Kabila haven’t put this into motions after all the issues that have been in the last decades. The regime has control and want to be sure of the information that is put out. Therefore when you hear something negative it’s from the UN bodies or MONUSCO but not the press of the DRC or journalists. Tanzania has its freedom but also strangles on the media. The party has been running the country since independence so the feelings is that their intertwined and feel like they are together, instead of actually being critical of the politicians and society. But it should be worried that the different countries and how big the difference between the top and bottom of the scale in the East African. From Tanzania who got 54 points and the worst was Ethiopia got 83 points – the close competition was Rwanda, Somalia and Democratic Republic of Congo got all 79 points on the scale. 60 Points scale is the max for the ‘Partly Fee’ media nations. So that the environment is on a far level from partly and even longer way to being free. The thing that is worrying is that it’s less than 5 points from ‘Partly Free’ to ‘Not Free’ with Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. It’s just small tweaks and harassment of the media and in 2016 report will degrade this nations and how the media has a place in these countries. Though it doesn’t look to good, but hopefully I and others can be surprised. Until then let hope that the media get into a place where they can actually monitor their areas and speak their minds without fear or legal repercussions. Peace.

Reference:

Dunham, Jennifer, Nelson, Bret & Ahekyan, Elen – ‘Press Freedom in 2014 – Harsh Laws and Violence Drive Global Decline’ – April 2015 – Freedom House