In this edition of Efeta, Sisay and his collegue Kassahun search for a political meaning and/or message behind the arrest of Oromo Federalist Congress leader, professor Merere Gudina.
Merera is a politician whose activism stretches back to the years of Ethiopian Students movement which contributed immensely to the downfall of imperial government of Ethiopia and emergence of Ethiopia as a socialist state – a system that rather brought about much havoc to the very existence of Ethiopia. In the political context that era, Merera was a member of All Ethiopian Socialist Movement and was behind bar for nearly seven years.
Perhaps it is that experience, and many politicized Ethiopians seem to understand it that way, that helped Merera become a pragmatic politician with a good measure of wisdom. Although he is dragged to ethno-nationalist politics in the aftermath of the fall of Colonel Mengistu’s military government in 1991, he consistently remind the radicalized ethno-nationalist group about the futility of secessionist agenda. And his interpretation of Ethiopian history, perhaps antecedent, is not black and white where the Oromos are exceptionally painted as if they endured all forms of repression, while it was a shared experience. For that reason, he, at times, endured a good deal of political slurs from the radical ethno-nationalist quarter.
On the other hand, existence of radicalized ethno-nationalist, it does seem to have somewhat religious flavor, did seem to have the impact of making a politician like Merera Gudina acceptable with his ethnic party affiliation among Ethiopians which would otherwise sound unacceptable for people who grew up in a political landscape where ethnic based politics was perceived as, it is still the case, a bump – if not more. In a positive note, some in fact go to the extent of seeing a reconciliation of the past and the present in Merera and they think that he could make a good leader in the post TPLF/EPRDF Ethiopia. Merera is also well known outside of Ethiopia. Before he was arrested this week up on arrival at Bole International Air Port, he attended European Union briefing by invitation from one member of European Parliament, Ana Maria Gomez. Government claimed that Merera is arrested on grounds that he “violated” state of emergency regulation.
That said, why did the regime in power decided to arrest Merera for the first time in its twenty six years of brutal rule? This is the puzzle, as indicated above, that Efeta is trying to untangle in this edition. Is the arrest of Merera a manifestation of the ruling party’s insecurity as Sisay seem to think? Does it have something to do with the fact that Merera revealed information about the identity of the new minister of foreign affairs, Worqneh Gebeyehu (Woldekidan”? Do you agree with one or more of the above these theories or do you see any other motive or meaning in the arrest?
Share your thoughts below.
Written by Dimetros Birku. Could be reached on twitter : @dimetros