CUD and UEDF Should Respect the Wish of the Voters who Voted for Them
Published: August 15, 2005
It is now abundantly clear that CUD and UEDF had - despite the advice of many Ethiopian political commentators and their supporters - committed a monumental blunder in agreeing to let the EPRDF-appointed NEBE (National Election Board of Ethiopia) be the ultimate judge in determining the validity of the more than 299 contested election results.
Coming out of the May 15th election, CUD and UEDF had enjoyed a moral higher ground and upper hand that the Ethiopian voters had handed to them. When the EPRDF panicked after its complete electoral annihilation in the city of Addis Ababa and all major urban areas in the country, the opposition had the uncontested moral higher ground. When PM Meles brought his Agaazi militia to the city of Addis Ababa and gunned down more than 40 innocent young men and women in close range on June 8th, 2005, the opposition had the moral upper hand. When PM Meles went in front of the camera in an interview with a BBC journalist and looked at complete loss for words and the whole world witnessed that his democratic credentials were in the same league as Mr. Mugabe of Zimbabwe, the opposition still had the upper hand.
Against this backdrop of political advantage, one would have expected that the opposition forces which were convinced that they had the backing of the majority of the country's voters would have been more assertive in their political confrontation with the TPLF-led government of Mr. Meles. Tragically, as the government was hunting down the opposition members in the provincial cities and arresting more than 8000 of their supporters, CUD and UEDF seemed to yield to the pressure of the EU and the Donors. Despite their political advantage, the opposition entered into a binding agreement effectively throwing away their most important political assets. Starting with the most visible displeasure of one of its charismatic leaders, Ato Lidetu Ayalew who appeared sidelined, a number of prominent political commentators and almost all the country's local newspapers joined hands in admonishing the opposition leadership that a real political currency emanates from the tens of millions of votes that they had received on May 15, 2005 and not in the arm-twisting and empty promises from EU and Donors.
As expected NEBE which was appointed by the PM himself threw out the vast majority of the challenges presented by CUD and UEDF and handed over a vote tally that favored the TPLF led government. This was not a surprise and could not have been a surprise in thousand years. Now, exactly 3 months after voters went to the polls in millions and overwhelmingly expressed their distrust of the EPRDF government but willingness to trust CUD and UEDF for a better tomorrow, the voters find themselves asking tough questions. "Is this why we gave you our votes?" seems to be the question that is begging for an answer in Ethiopia of August of 2005.
Going forward, despite the loss of precious time and priceless political momentum, the opposition parties are still morally and ethically responsible to respond to this call from their supporters and the millions who waited in line for 18 hours and more to cast their votes of hope and change. Is this why we gave you our votes?