Jimma Times, 01 December 2010
The disputed results of the 2010 Ethiopian national election that pushed out the whole opposition from the country’s parliament has provided a major boost to armed rebel groups, according to two prominent Oromo-Ethiopian political analysts. Recent international media reports have revealed the growing activities of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rebels. Meanwhile this week, the Ethiopian government has accused Eritrea of backing another insurgent coalition known as the Unity of Ethiopians for Democratic Change (UEDC). Washington DC based political analyst Jawar Mohammed says, in addition to the high youth unemployment, the 2010 election has re-energized insurgent groups. And according to Oromo political analyst Kemal Abdisa, the UEDC is not a new creation as Zenawi’s administration claimed on Friday.
“What is new is that the Meles regime is starting to feel the increasing public interest in the UEDC, OLF and ONLF rapidly grow since the rigged 2010 election” added the Chicago based independent researcher Kemal Abdisa.
Jawar claims the room for peaceful political engagement in Ethiopia is shrinking. “Meles slam shut the door completely with the 2010 election” said Jawar.
“The incentive and confidence in nonviolent means of achieving political end has almost died out. Predictably this has created a new opportunity for those advocating violent overthrow of the system. The increased and reportedly successful campaigns by the OLF and ONLF are a good indication for this,” declared the Stanford University graduate Jawar Mohammed.
According to Kemal, ONLF is also increasing its activity “to let Ogaden people and the world know Zenawi’s recent peace agreement with another ONLF group is useless,” while the OLF is taking advantage of the elimination of legal Oromo parties OPC and OFDM out of parliament. “The fact that there are no more opposition MPs who can peacefully express dissident voice definitely helps the armed struggle cause” he added.
Following the 2005 election, nearly one-third of Ethiopia’s parliament was occupied by opposition parties. However, in the recent election which European Union (EU) observers said was flawed, the ruling party of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has claimed to win over 99 percent of parliament seats. In a country where the military, election board and judiciary is fully controlled by the prime minister, a legal challenge by Ethiopia’s largest peaceful opposition coalition, the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum (MEDREK), became futile.
There are other factors to explain the rise in insurgent activity in Ethiopia, according to the analysts. “The most obvious is the renewed interest of Egyptians to use rebels to wage a proxy war against Ethiopia, to destabilize the system and weaken its ability to utilize the Nile river,” says Jawar Mohammed. “The Nile issue is a dilemma the opposition faces” according to Kemal. “It is common for skeptical Ethiopians to say Meles is using the external Nile issue to distract us from his domestic problems” states Kemal, “however, Egypt’s support for insurgencies in the horn of Africa has been a reality for decades supported by United Nations Security Council documents.”