ETHIOPIA: Diplomatic Blunders
By: Sophia Tesfamariam
August 6, 2005

It is clear to all in the international community as well as the people of Ethiopia that the shameless, deceptive, flip-flopping, belligerent and erratic Prime Minister of Ethiopia is incapable of abiding with agreements he willingly signs and is a habitual liar who has absolutely no qualms about telling lies, twisting the truth, exaggerating the facts etc. when it suits his narrow purposes. Unfortunately, for whatever reasons, he gets away with it. He knows, other than making toothless calls for him to show an  "an act of statesmanship", that his embarrassed 'development partners' are unwilling to take appropriate punitive actions against him, thus emboldening him to do whatever he wants, murder innocent people, rig votes, detain thousands of people, defy international final and binding agreements and resolutions etc. etc. In the past I have written about the Ethiopia's minority regime's deceptive nature, its lawlessness and its most embarrassing diplomatic blunders. Today, I will concentrate on exposing its most recent most notorious blunders.

              I.      We all know about the much publicized expulsion of the US observer teams from the National Democratic Institute, International Republican Institute, and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, who were given 48 hours to leave Ethiopia on the grounds they were operating illegally and "not invited" and "they did not have a permit to work and were interfering in local matters". Embarrassed by the Tigrayan clique's stupid move, its lobbyists and supporters advised it to invite the Carter Center as a face saving mechanism.

             II.      On 15 May 2005, exactly three weeks before he unleashed his murderous Tigrayan dominated "Agazi" special forces to massacre over 50 innocent and defenseless residents of Addis Ababa, suppressing the legitimate right of the Ethiopian people to hold peaceful demonstration and protest, he declared a 'State of Emergency' by saying, "As of tomorrow (16 May 2005), for the next one month no demonstrations of any sort will be allowed within the city and its environs... the government has decided to bring all the security forces, the police and the local militias, under one command accountable to the prime minister (to me)".  This declaration left him with no escape, and it makes Meles Zenawi personally responsible for the deadly attack on civilians and detention of thousands across Ethiopia.

            III.      On 5 May 2005, in a nationally televised speech the shameless Meles Zenawi said:

"...As the opposition knows they cannot win the elections, they are now preaching anti-peace and anti-harmony among people and (promoting) ethnic hatred... The government is ready to break this tendency by using administrative means... When the Interahamwe of Rwanda preached hatred among people, the end result was, as everyone knows, devastating ..."

He could have avoided this diplomatic blunder had he kept his big mouth shut as the results until the results of the elections were officially announced, because as we all know, he lost the elections. As to the issue of Interahamwe of Rwanda, he is comparing apples to oranges.

Even though they were embarrassed by their foster child's totally wrong analysis and elections predictions, Meles Zenawi's international financiers did not reprimand him for his provocative statements. In fact, emboldened by their inaction, Meles Zenawi ordered the massacre of over 50 people on the streets of Addis Ababa, the detentions of thousands across Ethiopia, intimidation and harassment of the opposition leaders.

        IV.      Many notable individuals and human rights groups have commented on the regime's racist ethnic policies. None embarrassed the international community more than the events that unfolded in July 1998-2000, at the height of the Eritrea Ethiopia border conflict.  Exposing his bigotry and racist attitude, as well as his ignorance of US Japanese history of World War II, Meles Zenawi deported over 80,000 Eritreans and Ethiopians of Eritrean origin from Ethiopia right under the watchful eye of the African Union, UN and EU Ambassadors, and arrogantly and defiantly said:

"The Ethiopian government has the unrestricted right to expel any foreigner from the country for any reason whatsoever. Any foreigner, whether Eritrean, Japanese, etc., lives in Ethiopia because of the goodwill of the government. If the Ethiopian government says 'Go, because we don't like the colour of your eyes,' they have to leave."

That must have been an embarrassing moment for his 'development partners' (Japan in particular) who are lubricating his war and security machineries.

           V.      After publicly claiming to have "won" in court and accepting the Eritrea Ethiopia Border Commission's decision as final and binding and urging the international community to pressure Eritrea for the speedy demarcation of the border, this flip flopping Prime Minister is now defiantly holding the demarcation activities hostage by demanding changes, amendments, revisions etc. of the final and binding decision. In his 19 September 2003 letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan he insulted the distinguished Commissioners and questioned their credibility and qualifications.

The Eritrea Ethiopia Border Commission's (EEBC) decision is a product of the Algiers Agreement that was signed in December 2000 in Algeria by H.E. President Isaias Afwerki for Eritrea and by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi for Ethiopia and witnessed and guaranteed by Secretary General Kofi Annan representing the United Nations, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of the Democratic Republic of Algeria, President Obasanjo of Nigeria, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright representing the United States, Secretary General, Salim Ahmed Salim representing the OAU, and Senator Renato Serri representing the European Union. It is a decision that has been endorsed by the UN Security Council and cannot be amended, changed or appealed; it is Final and Binding.

        VI.      Trying to be smart and being cocky, in a Press Conference held at the National press Club in Washington, DC in September of 2000, Meles Zenawi said:

"...Access to the port of Assab is not an item of negotiations in the peace talks, and we do not intend to make it one. It's true that we are a land-locked country now. It's also true that under international law, we are guaranteed access to the ports.  We have not raised this issue in the context of the peace negotiations for a number of reasons... Eritrea is an internationally recognized member of the OAU and the United Nations... it's a sovereign, independent state. Now, you don't go around snatching territories from independent states. That would be thuggery... For Eritrea, if Ethiopia does not use the port of Assab, the port of Assab will not be a port; as I said once, it will be a watering hole for camels. So it's their choice, not ours. We have the choice, we have the option, we'll shop around..."

Today, holding the peace process hostage and demanding dialogue with Eritrea on bilateral issues including the usage of Assab, the flip flopping, defiant, belligerent Meles Zenawi has forgotten his ill-advised arrogant and boisterous statements made at the National Press Club just a few years back.

The diplomatic blunders of the Tigrayan minority regime in Ethiopia are too numerous to recount in one sitting. I expect to hear more of its mendacities during the 60th UN General Assembly gathering next month and will track the news for more. Until then...

The rule of law must prevail over the law of the jungle!