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Ethiopia: The Zenawi-Shawel Handshake – the Anti-Thesis of Liberty & Democracy (Analysis)

Posted: Sadaasa/November 5, 2009 · Finfinne Tribune | Gadaa.com | Comments (13)


By Fayyis Oromia*

Few days back, surprising and “shocking” news came out of the Ethiopian empire, i.e. the handshake of the Weyane Tigrai hegemonist Mr. Meles Zenawi with the Amhara conservative unitarist Mr. Hailu Shawel. What do these two persons have in common? Why did the handshake happen? Why was it surprising to most Ethiopians, in general, and “shocking” to Amharas, in particular? Did the “Oromo factor” play a certain role for the handshake to happen? What is the relation of this handshake to the hitherto attempts made to achieve the necessary compromise between Amhara democratic forces and Oromo federalist movements in the formation of the recent alliance aka Medrek?

Looking back at the history of the empire in the last about 150 years, Amhara and Tigrai elites used to compete on the issue of who should be the empire’s dominating force. Till 1991, Amhara elites were the dominating force whereas Tigrai elites had the junior role of cooperating for the common benefit. Both used to oppress and exploit Oromo people, in particular, and all oppressed nations in the empire, in general. Since 1991, they exchanged their roles so that Tigrai elites became the dominating force, and Amhara elites adapted to play the junior role, and yet both elite groups are prospering at the cost of the oppressed nations.

Now, the struggle of the oppressed nations is slowly getting a momentum, and all nations, including the currently-subjugated Amhara poor, are now trying to come together to challenge the ruling Tigrean elites, and also struggle against the few cooperating Amhara and Oromo elites, who are still benefiting from the system. The main goal of the Oromo nation’s struggle, being led by the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), and that of the struggle of other oppressed nations is to get rid of the Nefxenya system of domination (domination by using Nefx or gun). For the oppressed nations, the 21st-century Tigrean Nefxenya is not different from the 20th-century Amhara Nefxenya.

The 21st-century and modern Nefxenyas have ruled over Ethiopian peoples in the last 18 years, specially by using the divide-and-rule method. They have managed to sow a discord among Amhara democratic forces, which are pro Ethiopian unity, and Oromo freedom fighters, which are pro liberty of nations. These two pro-unity and pro-liberty forces have been fighting each other, thus Weyane has managed to rule without facing any cooperated and coordinated challenge from the two BIG nations.

Thanks to the farsighted OLF leaders and some representatives of Amhara democrats, certain discussions have been going on for the last few years on the issue of how to find a common denominator to forge an alliance and fight against the fascist Weyane. They tried to look at the two virtues (“democracy” and “liberty”) as the strong sides of the two nations. Being pro-unity is the strong side of Amhara democratic forces, and being pro-liberty is the strong side of Oromo liberation fronts. Both tried to reconcile these two important virtues so that it might be possible to achieve both national liberty and regional (Ethiopian) unity. This effort showed good results by forging AFD (the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy) in 2006, and now by forming Medrek (the Forum for Democratic Dialogue – FDD.) The coming together of Amhara democratic forces and Oromo freedom fronts in these alliances has been very shocking news for Weyane fascists.

Now pro-democracy and pro-freedom forces, both at home and in Diaspora, are coming together for a common denominator of struggling for freedom and democracy in the region called Ethiopia. Amhara democrats have started to recognize the God-given right of Oromo nation to self-administration and autonomy; Oromo freedom fighters have started to say: “if there will be no Abesha domination, there will be no necessity of Oromo liberation in a sense of secession.” That is why Medrek was forged as a compromise and good “midpoint” solution based on a predetermination by elites to fix the conflict between Abyssinia and Oromo. Of course, the “endpoint” solution will be the confirmation of Medrek’s position by the self-determination of each concerned nation, which seems to be the position of AFD.

Both the above mentioned solutions (that of Medrek and that of AFD) are the anti-dotes against the 20th-century Nefxenya, for which Ato Hailu Shawel and co. are nostalgically longing for; the Medrek and AFD solutions are also anti-dotes against the 21st-century Nefxenya led by Aite Meles Zenawi. So, the common view of the two Nefxenyas is their anti-democracy and anti-freedom position. Now, we can see that the “shocking” handshake of the two men is a symbol of cooperation of two dictators against the emergence of the very constructive pro-democracy and pro-freedom alliance aka Medrek.

Mederek, with its potential, is the good challenge against Weyane fascists, if the next election becomes really free and fair. It is crystal-clear that Weyane will never allow it to be as such, so that the other option would be the struggle by all means as G-7 and OLF are trying to do. Now, there is a probability for Amhara democrats in Diaspora rallying behind G-7, EPPF and EPRP to forge a new alliance similar to AFD with freedom fighters like OLF, ONLF and SLF — all to be helped by Eritrea against the fascist regime in Finfinne.

Weyane is now under immense pressure from Medrek at home, from pro-democracy forces in Diaspora, from famine in Ethiopia, from the international community and, of course, from the Eritrean government. Being under such dire situation, the hegemonist Meles now got a saving handshake from the unitarist Hailu Shawel, who seems to have obsolete mentality. It is a fact that Hailu Shawel does have a support of a lot of Amharas, who are emotionally attached to him, not based on reason, but just based on the false Ethiopian patriotism. I hope they will slowly and surely get the true color of this dictator, and that they will opt for the genuine and lasting solution as pro-democracy Amharas in UDJ and G-7 are trying to do. The only lasting solution is union of all nations in the empire based on self-determination.

To answer the questions I raised at the beginning:

What do these two persons have in common?
– The two dictators have in common the purpose of opposing any movement for freedom and democracy for they know that the realization of these two virtues means an end to both Nefxenya systems.

Why did the handshake happen?
– The handshake happened now in order to save the Abyssinian system of domination, in which both Amhara Nefxenya elites and Tigrai Nefxenya elites used to prey on the oppressed nations, like Oromo. They are on their last attempt of saving the system not to be destroyed by all pro-democracy and pro-freedom forces (including Amhara and Tigrai democrats).


Why was it surprising to most Ethiopians, in general, and “shocking” to Amharas, in particular?
– The handshake was surprising to all Ethiopians because of Mr. Hailu’s and his friends, like Dr. Taye’s, hitherto arrogance and their show not to have any relation with Weyane; it was “shocking” to Amharas for it made them to be seen as boot lickers of Weyane. The picture of Ato Hailu bowing so low to the feet of Aite Meles is very humiliating for the supporters of Ato Hailu, to say the least.

Did the “Oromo factor” play a certain role for the handshake to happen?
– Of course, the “Oromo factor” played an immense role for the handshake. Conservative Amharas like Ato Hailu used to believe and they still believe that “it is better to be ruled by Tigreans for 100 years than to be ruled by Oromo for 1 day.” They know that true democracy and freedom means appropriate share of power for the Oromo people. This group does have more fear from Oromo in power than from Tigrean in power. So, the handshake can be perceived as that of two Nefxenyas taking vows not to leave Oromia free from their exploitation and oppression. It is a symbolical agreement to continue their system of domination, be it Amhara Nefxenya or Tigrai Nefxenya, in the Finfinne palace.

What is the relation of this handshake to the hitherto attempts made to achieve the necessary compromise between Amhara democratic forces and Oromo federalist movements in the formation of the recent alliance aka Medrek?
– The handshake is simply put the anti-thesis of the cooperation of Abesha democratic forces and Oromo freedom fighters in Medrek and in AFD in order to forge a common home in that region based on democracy, equality, freedom and justice. It seems Weyane is trying to lure certain Amhara forces away from forging such an alliance with Oromo fronts. If the handshake succeeds, then Weyane’s divide-and-rule tactics between Amhara forces and Oromo fronts will revive again.

Now, the division of the political camps in the empire is slowly becoming clear: dictators and fascist Nefxenyas on one side, whereas democrats and freedom fighters on the other side. Weyane with its moles, like Lidetu, Ayele and Hailu, being in the first group, while Medrek, with its pro-democracy supporters at home and in Diaspora, in the second group.

What is the implication of the handshake on the Oromo liberation movement. It depends on the definition we do give for the word liberation. If it is “liberation” in the sense of the status quo as OPDO people try to convince us, then the handshake is good to keep it. If “liberation” means self-determination in the form of Oromian autonomy in Ethiopian context, like what Oromo federalists in Medrek want to realize, then the handshake is against it. If we mean “liberation” is self-determination leading to Oromian independence, be it within a union or without a union of nations in the empire/region, the handshake is almost similar to the handshake of Hitler with Mussolini to subjugate the free world. Simply put, the handshake is the anti-thesis of the alliances like Medrek, and it helps Weyane to secure its power further for at least the next 5 years based on its method of divide-and-rule. The only question to be answered is: did Ato Hailu do this intentionally being the “smart Weyane supporter” or did he do the job unintentionally being the “stu*pid anti-Weyane”, who is just naively instrumentalized by the canning fox!

* Fayyis Oromia can be reached at fayyis@yahoo.de.


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  1. Lammii

    Nov 5, 09 at 7:49 am

    Mr. Shawel is confused due to old age. He humiliated himself by bending down to earth in full respect for Mr. Zenawi. This guy is unfit for politics. He even forgot the days he spent in Qaallittti. Actually this is not uncommon among so-called Amhara elites. This means nothing to Oromo. Wayyaanee is trying to make political show to gain election legitimacy. Wayyaanee has won the election already. This is public secret.


    Nov 5, 09 at 12:51 pm

    I strongly agree with some of your observations as regards the possible rationals on the agreement of the two political feagures. But I dont see any correlation between the fact that Ato Hailu is an Amhara so that he prefered to be ruled by a Tigrean. Thi so called “Oromo factor” seems so far fethced and too emotional with out any substantial evidence and could use only to create a wrong impression that all Amharas are fond of Tigreans and despise the great people of the Oromo

  3. Arda Biyyaa

    Nov 5, 09 at 11:58 am

    Hei ! Mr. Fayssa !!

    I remember your article about MEDREK and my comment on it. I insist to my holdings by then. I do not think the “Oromo ” elits can win over the long aged mischief, shrudity, and conspiration of the Amharas and Tigrean elites, unless ofcourse the Oromos unit their forces.

    I am not surprise by the shaking of hands beteew Meles and Shawl. That is what they suppose to do when they are on the verg of loosing thir controll over Oromia and the other states. They do not fight each other on their constituency, they always fight over who has to controll the other states. They are minorities, on real democratic platform, they are the loosers. The only way they can stay on powwer and subjucate the others is by conspiring, cheating and lying, as they did during til Kinijiit, AFD and more recently MEDREK. I am affraid they alle have now run out of such triks. The time is on Oroms side, if we are wise enough to unite our forces.

    Hei ! Oromos, do not expect the conditions to be perfect for you to unity, because conditions will never be perfect. ” action without delay is witnes”, take som actions now so tha you will never regret in the future because of your did today.

    We shal prevail, the truth shal prevail

  4. Kuulani

    Nov 6, 09 at 3:39 pm

    I am a fan of the modern Oromo poleticians, who just said: “both national liberty and regional unity are achievable!”

    The main conflict between different groups in the empire is the conflict between the virtues called Liberty and Unity. Oromos and other oppressed nations emphasize National Liberty, whereas Abyssinians stress Regional Unity. Now moderate Oromos being led by Ob Daud Ibsa seem to reconcile these two virtues. For such Oromos, Liberty of Oromia is national issue and Unity of Ethiopia is regional issue for they consider Ethiopia as a region for many nations.

    The only enemies of the needed national Liberty and regional Unity are Weyane lead by Aite Zenawi and the very few Unitarist Amharas lead by Ato Shawel, who want to see only amharanized Ethiopia they dream for. So, even we need to fight for national Libetrty of Abyssinian nations like Tigrai and Amhara as well for the Regional Unity of the region, Ethiopia or the Horn.

    I already recommended this concept of National Liberty with Regional Unity as a common denominator for the “legal” parties like OFC and UDJ as well for parties who are active under ground like G7M, OLF and others in order to forge a strong front against the Sewu-bella fascist aka Weyane!!

    Obbo Chemeda,
    If the handshake is not motivated by “Oromo factor”, how do you explain the current love of the very conservative Amharas like Ato Hailu, Prof. Mesfin and Dr. Taye for Weyane, whom they used to demonize and despise in the last 18 years?!

  5. ayub

    Nov 7, 09 at 12:46 am

    I agree in most of your analysis, but i am astounded you used the term to describe Weyayne as facists and oromo as freedom fronts.Please next time be a bit wiser.

  6. ayub

    Nov 7, 09 at 1:48 am

    Sorry, there was no need of of you presenting the doctored picture of “Ato Hailu bowing so low to the feet of Aita Meles…” please keep up your standard as profesional and i believe you could do more without. and please be fair in your comparsion. So we could count on you as a responsible and informative indvidual.

  7. Labsa

    Nov 7, 09 at 1:10 pm

    The flow of the continuous articles seem journies through the unknoun territories. Some scratch on genuine Oromo demands. Others are knee-deep distortions that probably have been set up as a super-plan of inculcating warranted disinformation into our minds from some occult forces. As vigorous articulation of Oromo issues is a necessity, fact distortions are not ours. Democratic Amhara Forces? Menelik Chala? Admiration of AFD, Medrek, & Imagined Alliance with Ginbot 7? Pro-Democracy & Pro-Liberty Forces? ———.

    Numerous questions of the likes have pressed my conscience to post this comment. The contents of the articles need to be scrutinized. The forces behind need to be explored. This should be done for the sake of searching for the truth. Morally, it is our duty to speak out and write about the truth. We must be inspired with full confidence in the power of truth in the contexts at hand. This passionate position has been the guiding principles of generations of thinkers.

  8. Ogina

    Nov 7, 09 at 6:14 pm

    Obbo Labsa,
    being mistrustfull is some times action of wisdom and of course some times a symptom of a trauma one already suffered! Which one is yours? Instead of sowing such cheap mistrust, why don’t you try to challenge the issues you raised? Just tell us directly if you are against the assertions like “democratic Amhara forces”, ” the truth or assumption about Minilik Caala”, “the merit of AFD, Medrek, possible alliance with G-7”, “pro-democracy and pro-liberty forces”…etc. Instead of trying the method of fault-finding to disqualify some body’s opinion, show us your version of the solution on the issued raised in “the flow of continous articles”! Or does your sowing of the mistrust got its own purpose of discouraging such writers?

  9. Labsa

    Nov 8, 09 at 2:08 pm

    Obbo Ogina,

    Neither is mine. I am compiling points on the contents of the articles posted up to now, and vigilantly waiting for others that will be posted in the future. When it is the right time, I will come up with my argument.

    It seems that you share the ideas of the writer, for instance the point that Minilik is the son of Caalaa (by name an Oromo). To me this is the absurdity of an extreme kind. I am of the opinion that no one with normal mind expects me to encourage such an absurdity. Anyways, wait and see my response.

  10. Ogina

    Nov 8, 09 at 11:46 pm

    Obbo Labsa,
    I am eagerly waiting for your take on the articles written by Fayyis. I hope you will not be only fault finder, but a constructive analyst and criticizer!! Galatoomi!!!

  11. Lewux

    Nov 9, 09 at 6:21 pm

    Aite Labsa,
    if you are “an Oromo” being disturbed as such by the articles of Fayyis, I am also very eager to read you as soon as possible. Please don’t delay to come out with your opinion.

  12. AFDist

    Nov 15, 09 at 11:49 am

    The main effect of the Meles-Hailu-handshake is a division of Amhara polity in to two. The activity of G-7/UDJ made many Amharas to look at Asmara as the focus of the struggle against Weyane. Because of this move many Amharas including the two generals (Tefera and Asaminew) are suffering under prison and torture (Asaminew lost his left eye under torture). Now Ingineer Hailu Shawel moved to Meqele as a supporter of Weyane instead of going to Asmara, taking his supporters with him. Amharas rallying behind G-7/UDJ percieve this as a major betrayal, whereas Amharas supporting Aite Hailu still sing the obsolete song of unitarist and amharanized Ethiopia. Specially it is very interesting to observe the very conservative Amharas like Prof. Mesfin and Dr. Taye, who used to despise and insult Weyane, now changed their view and started the “good job” of submission to Meles. We Oromo people know the main thing which made them to bend over for Meles is the struggle of Oromo people to liberate Oromia from the domination system of both Nefxenyas (the obsolete 20th-century AAPO-Nefxenya and the “modern” 21st-century Weyane-Nefxenya). Because of the division made by Weyane canning fox, EPRP and AAPO have no more the love they enjoyed to one an other in the last few years. Debtra Getachew Reda is at last exposed (he is not with EPRP, but “with AAPO”) as the under ground Weyane agent camouflaged as Amhara conservative fighting specially against OLF!!!

    Actually Weyane’s devide and rule method is running specially in three areas:
    – polarization of Amhara democratic forces and Oromo liberation fronts
    – disintegration of the Amhara forces
    – disenfranchisement of the Oromo fronts

    In the last few years, both the democratic forces and the liberation fronts did a good job to counter act this devide and rule game of Weyane. Unfortunately now Weyane got one fool in the name Ingineer Hailu and did its further divsion work among Amharas!!

  13. Obssan

    Nov 15, 09 at 4:35 pm

    I think both Eritrea-factor and Oromo-factor played big role. In the year 2005 he and his party aka CUD failed just because of his position on Eritrea (not accepting the independence and wanting to have Asseb back by any means) and on Oromia (rejecting kilil-federation and planning to dismantle Oromia in to 10 pieces). Now Medrek, which respects Eritrean independence (claims Aseb in only legal and peaceful way) and accepts Oromian autonomy, came out as a major opposition force. According to the view of the conservative unitarist AAPO-Amharas like Injera Hailu Shawid and Kihdetu Afyalew, keeping the status of the fake-federation of Weyane is better than to see in their life time an autonomous Oromia. So they chose to sleep with Weyane by rejecting Medrek!!

    Now we do have in the empire only two blocs with their respective supporters:
    I, Weyane bloc which includes TPLF, ANDM, OPDO, SEDM, AEUP, EDP…etc
    II, Medrek bloc including ATSD, EDUM, OFC, SDFC, UDJ, UEDF…etc

    Aite Hailom Shawid now thinks Weyane is the “lesser evil” as far as his mantra of unitarist and amharanized Ethiopia is concerned. He is against Medrek, for he thought that Medrek will give more autonomy to Oromia than what Weyane did give!!