In today’s guest column, the Ethiopian Herald presented you one of the top executive officials of the former Patriotic Ginbot 7 movement, among the front line opposition political parties that waged strong struggle against the TPLF led government. Following the regime change in Ethiopia, he returned home together with other party members.
Born in Yirgalem town Ephrem Madebo grew up in Hawassa town of Sidama State. He then moved to Debre Zeit to attend secondary school education in Ethiopia Evangelical Boarding School. While he was there, he had applied for a scholarship and joined the boarding school.
He participated in a government mandated nationwide campaign called “National Literacy Campaign” (Idget-Be-Hibret). While he returned from the campaign, the school was confiscated by the Derg. He tried to search for another school there. But considering the tough situation at the time, his family did not want him to live far away from them. He returned to Hawassa and tried to complete high school education.
Unfortunately, the infamous red terror operation made the time so ardous that he had to study at home to sit for secondary school leaving examination. As he scored excellent results and joined Addis Ababa University where he received his BA degree in economics. In connection with the red star operation, ( Derg’s military operation to wipe out the Eritrean Liberation Fighters in mid 1980s) he was assigned to work in the Plan Secretary Office of the then Eritrea province.
Following the restructure of plan offices, he transferred to Arsi zone and worked for a year. Even if he had got a scholarship opportunity in Australia, for some unknown reason, the authorities divested it. Since then, he questioned the deterioration of living in Ethiopia and finally went to the US after he had been staying in Kenya for a year.
He received another degree in Decision Science and Management Information System from one of the US Universities. He had been hired in the Veraz Company. He holds a second degree in System Engineering. He then changed his profession and joined Federal Aviation and served for five years. The Federal Architecture was another office that helped him to do pentagon projects.
By the end of 2014, the movement carried out in Eritrea had been strengthening than ever before and I had gone to Eritrea subsequent to the arrest of Aandargachew Tsige.
“Following the reform carried out in 2018, I came to Ethiopia together with members of the Patriotic Ginbot 7 staying for 28 years abroad.” He said.
The Ethiopian Herald has had a brief stay with Ephrem to discuss major current issues of the country. Have a nice read
Was the Patriotic Ginbot 7 (PG7) party dissolved hitting its visions or not? Let us start the interview with this question.
The party is now obsolete. We are now organizing another party which strives to hit the vision of PG7. Primarily, the party was established as a movement. When People come, join and/or support your party, they first take the purpose of the movement into consideration. PG7 was a movement established to ensure justice, democracy and unity.
There are no Ethiopians who stand against this as many of the people supported the idea. Since we came to Ethiopia, the political situation of the country has improved. As the goal was to change the new political system, the time required political parties instead of establishing movements.
PG7 did not want to be a political party alone as it had been a party staying out of Ethiopia for long. It rather merged with other eight obsolete political parties which had not been making ineffective political participation locally. Considering that this sort of arrangement is helpful for the Ethiopia Party System, we established The Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice (Ezema).
As a politician who has conducted various struggles for the improvement of the democratization process in this country, how do you understand the current political situation?
Since we returned home, the situation in this country has been changing from time to time. For this to happen, both local and foreign powers have been and are playing their own role. There are foreign powers that have a desire to misguide the country as per their wish.
On the other hand, there are local powers that push the nation in the opposite direction. The move of some local powers is directly or indirectly assisted by foreign political powers.
As a result of that, we never came across or experienced the challenge we had been facing over the past four years. It was an arduous and daunting journey. Other complications emanate from political decisions of some leaders by omission and commission. The outcome of decisions may bring positive or negative changes while politicians do something right or wrong as the situation forced them to do. All in all, political leaders residing everywhere make mistakes.
The political decisions by itself emanate from less readiness of politicians, unable to take nations’ enemies into account are some of the factors which guided us to pass through a very challenging situation. Those situations forced us to engage in war with the TPLF. The political, social and economic influence of the international community apart from the war, GERD and horn of Africa and inflation issues forced us to face this difficult situation.
The situation is still not yet fully addressed. We do not know where it takes us. I guess the capacity of the Ethiopian defense forces is now getting better when compared with the last four years and it may improve the current status of the country. Anyhow, we see what will happen in the coming days.
How do you evaluate TPLF and its enablers?
From the beginning, Herman Cohn and other Americans brought the TPLF to power right after the London agreement. TPLF group had been working for the respect of US interest for the past 27 years. Following the reform, though the US seemed to support the reform government led by PM Abiy Ahmed, the liberal west needed to manipulate the world in its own way.
For their interest, they wish to put puppet leaders who protect their interest. However, PM Abiy appears as nationalist leader with the idea of synergy which they don’t like. Naturally, the nationalist leaders don’t want to have ethnic mentality. So, the foreign powers created a coalition with TPLF and tried to bring it to its former position.
The people and government of Ethiopia have pardoned them for the mistake they committed over the past 30 years. Leaving the golden opportunity given for them, they began to work with some western powers to regain political power. By and large, TPLF is a unique organization in the world that believes to achieve everything through armed struggle. Accordingly, they have been fighting with the rest of Ethiopian people so as to hit the objective. However, they did not have the appetite to engage in peace talks unless it made them 100 percent beneficial.
They are not conducive both for negotiation. Many evil organizations have appeared in the world; no one matches TPLF for it’s cruelty. This behavior of the organization put Ethiopia in a difficult situation.
Some western powers and even the UN agencies have been releasing press statements supporting the stance of TPLF, how do you see it?
Some foreign powers are not directly involved in the affairs of third world countries; they would rather prepare a Trojan Horse like TPLF within. Even if the problem can be resolved through peace talks, the foreign powers will not accept it if it does not protect their interest.
If you watch things carefully, whatever they do is directly related to TPLF. They put pressure on the Ethiopian government to stop the war. They asked the Ethiopian government to evacuate from western parts of Tigray (Wolkait Tegede), without even using a diplomatic language. However, they do not care about the evil acts of the TPLF. Wolkayit and Tegede are places found in Ethiopia’s sovereignty and how could the Ethiopian defense forces be requested to leave sovereign places of their country? They don’t even know why they ask such questions. They put pressure on the Ethiopian government instead of exposing the crimes of TPLF.
What we have observed in areas free from TPLF forces, it is TPLF that makes people die as a result of drought and war. It is this cruel party which makes the people of Tigray cannon fodders. The humanitarian assistance provided for the people by WFP are found in military camps. The vehicles which transported the food were not returned. They do not want to talk about TPLF’s negative. If you observe the facts on the ground, these vehicles help TPLF transport its forces to the war front. The western powers do not want to speak about this reality.
Recently the Ethiopian government allowed humanitarian agencies to provide food support in Shire town. The international community had been shouting at the Ethiopian government even if the level was not as worse as last week. If western powers are ready to provide humanitarian assistance to the Tigray people, now is the time to do so. These powers had abused the road open for humanitarian provision, misusing the opportunity to bring armaments of different kinds for TPLF. Now, the door is open for food assistance and we will see what they would do. So far, they are talking about unfettered humanitarian support and let us see them when they provide unfettered assistance. So far, it is known who obstructs the humanitarian assistance process. They give deaf ears to the government of Ethiopia at times when they want to listen to the voice of TPLF alone.
If the conflict gets its end, what is expected from the Ethiopian government?
The war should end only when TPLF is rendered unable to revive and pose a threat to Ethiopia. There is no reason for the Ethiopian poor people to die while fighting against this group. Even if I have no pertinent information about war, we can simply guess that many Ethiopian youths have paid sacrifice, got injured, died and got disabled. The people do not want this to continue. The time should come for Ethiopian people to be relieved from the TPLF. The war should get its end when T-TPLF reaches to the level it cannot engage in a war again. Until it forcefully comes to the negotiation table, the Ethiopian government has to continue in punishing TPLF.
How do you see the planned peace talks between the Ethiopian government and TPLF? Do you think it would be successful?
I believe that negotiation is preferable to resolving differences in war even if the TPLF is not trusted to do so. If TPLF wants to disarm in a visible way and if they prefer peace talk as a lonely option, if they accept the fact that some of them will be accountable by the law of the land, I am not bothered about the peace talks. The negotiation however is good but it should not serve as an opportunity for TPLF so as to reorganize themselves for another war.
Ethiopia has planned to conduct national dialogue as of the coming November? Would you comment on that?
It is a question that has been raised since I was young. The question is now getting responses as the PM Abiy has established a commission that facilitates the national dialogue. It is a process that can solve national issues. It gives us time and opportunity for all Ethiopian people including me to rectify our mistake that we made over the past 50 years.
I believe that we should not waste this golden opportunity. While we conduct the dialogue, some problems may be faced but it should not be a reason to stop us. We can solve differences in order to sustain the dialogue. The most important thing in this process is, the commission has established and started jobs.
The question that should be raised here is, will the commission discharge its mandate without the direct influence of anybody including the government and other political parties? If the commission acts free from any sort of influence, I believe that it would solve our problems. For this to happen every Ethiopian people has to contribute its own share. The only hope that we have now is – the national dialogue.
Over the past four years, the nation has been applying national reform. As a senior politician who knows the political situation in Ethiopia, what do you think?
In Ethiopia, we observe various reform activities. Here, it is mentioned as the rebuilding of various institutions. We can see the building of various institutions in and out of Addis Ababa. I think they are really positive for me even if we have to know.
However, of the institutions that are reformed, I for instance have the chance to visit Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation. In order to say media reform, the media institutions should devise their own editorial policy and work free from the influence of any party. I don’t want to accept media reform as a reform.
In the process of democratization, there is a big weakness in the media. The media still needs reform.
If you want to convey a message to foreign powers, the floor is open for you?
Ethiopia is a sovereign nation that has full authority to make a decision in its own territory. Americans had created a coalition when they went to Iraq which is very far away from their territory. When we take the case of ours, the problem has been created within Ethiopia’s territory, no one prohibits us to create a coalition in order to defend the national sovereignty of our country. Where is the mistake here? Foreign powers, such as the US, UN, and some EU countries have to know that Ethiopia is a sovereign nation which has a right to resolve its internal problems on its own. TPLF is a threat to the horn of Africa. How many times does it attack Eritrea? Why do they prefer to keep silent in this case? Ethiopia and Eritrea have to be more concerned than the US and EU and the former can create a coalition and stand against TPLF.
Foreign powers have to understand this. They could not stop us while we exert effort to survive from this.
If you want to add any more points, the floor is open for you?
When I came here, I wanted to contribute to the building of democratization, especially the media. So far I did not want to comment with regard to the media as the situation in Ethiopia is more than that. Now, the national dialogue is coming to be a reality. In this regard, the media should play an irreplaceable role. However, the coverage that Ethiopian media had given for the national dialogue is minimal. The people of Ethiopia are owners of the national dialogue but have not known about the matter. If you conduct research, the public is more likely to know the peace talk than the national dialogue. This has happened because of the weakness of Ethiopian media. The media are weak as the government controls them. It is impossible to build democracy in a country where the government controls the media.
BY GIRMACHEW GASHAW
The Ethiopian Herald October 22/2022