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“todos somos Marcos”

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Subcomandante Marcos, the Zapatista rebel leader, at a press conference, Mexico City, October 1st 2007

Subcomandante Marcos, Mexico’s masked rebel figure who was one of the frontmen  Zapatista uprising in the Mexican state of Chiapas in 1994, is famous for always wearing a black ski mask.

The aim of the mask, allegedly, was anonymity, and an expression of the principle that “todos somos Marcos” — which translates as “we’re all Marcos.” But if it was anonymity he was after, the use of the mask has achieved quite the opposite effect, turning Marcos into a rebel icon for many, at home and abroad.

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Imagine a person who comes from an urban culture. One of the world’s biggest cities, with a university education, accustomed to city life. It’s like landing on another planet. The language, the surroundings are new. You’re seen as an alien from outer space. Everything tells you: “Leave. This is a mistake. You don’t belong in this place.” And it’s said in a foreign tongue. But they let you know, the people, the way they act; the weather, the way it rains; the sunshine; the earth, the way it turns to mud; the diseases; the insects; homesickness. You’re being told. “You don’t belong here.” If that’s not a nightmare, what is?” Marcos

The nickname Marcos is taken from the name of a friend who was killed at a military checkpoint in the road.[1] It is not, as is sometimes presumed, an acrostic combining the names of the communities where the EZLN first rose in arms: Las Margaritas, Amatenango del Valle, La Realidad, Comitán, Ocosingo, and San Cristóbal.

Subcomandante Marcos, also known as Insurgente Marcos and Delegado Cero, is the anonymous spokesperson of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, based in Chiapas, Mexico. The name Subcomandante Marcos is believed to be an acronym that makes reference to some of the first locations where the army started their fight. Subcomandante Marcos has made clear in different occasions that he is not the leader of the Zapatistas, but rather a supporter. The army, consisting mainly of indigenous Mayans, also counts with the support of white rural workers and sympathizers who understand the plight of the locals .

Subcomandante Marcos has never revealed his true identity, but the Mexican government believes his real name is Rafael Sebastián Guillén Vicente. Guillén was an active member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party while he was teaching Philosophy at Metropolitan Autonomous University (UAM) in Mexico City, which would go along with Subcomandante Marcos’s speech that the “Zapatista movement is more about ideas than bullets.”

The Zapatistas believe in non-violent protest, and make active use of peace marches and the Internet to share their message. They oppose globalization and fight for the autonomy of the native population of Mexico. Subcomandante Marcos has also widely campaigned against the World Trade Organization and the economic sanctions imposed by the United States on worldwide markets.

Since 1996, Subcomandante Marcos has written 21 books, some of which have gone on to be printed in numerous editions and translated into several languages. La Historia de los Colores / The Story of Colors, a bilingual edition of one of his most famous books, is actually a retelling of an old Mayan children’s fable that speaks of tolerance and solidarity. Subcomandante Marcos is also an avid correspondent, having written more than 250 stories and essays directed to newspapers and magazines, or used as press releases.

In 2005, Subcomandante Marcos announced a two-part plan called “The Other Campaign.” While the creation of the plan coincided with Mexico’s presidential election the following year, the aim of the Zapatistas is not to back any particular candidates. Instead, they request a new national constitution that emphasizes equality and guarantees that public resources will not be sold to private powers. Since the beginning of “The Other Campaign,” Subcomandante Marcos has been traveling Mexico in search of supporters while addressing the issue of poverty and oppression.

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25 Mexicans: Subcomandante Marcos, spokesman

Of all the Mexicans one might have recognized prior to arriving here, Subcomandante Marcos – or Delegado Cero as he now prefers to be known – is definitely one of them. His image abroad as the mask-wearing, pipe-smoking mestizo who fights for the indigenous cause rivals that of another Latin American icon, Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

That it is hard to nail down the facts about Marcos adds to his enigma. It’s generally accepted that he is (or was) Rafael Sebastián Guillén Vicente, born in Mexico to Spanish immigrants and educated in a Jesuit school in Tampico, Tamaulipas. Marcos denies this.

Guillén, a middle-class academic who graduated from the Metropolitan Autonomous University (UAM), went on to earn a master’s degree in philosophy at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), where he worked briefly as a professor before, allegedly, leaving Mexico City to embrace the indigenous cause.

The seductive persona of the jungle-dwelling revolutionary clad in combats and battered brown cap lends itself to the romantic idolatry often favored by Latin America. His abilities as both speechmaker and raconteur are legendary. This verbosity has resulted in stacks of both children’s books and ‘adult’ novels.

In a recent interview with British newspaper The Guardian, Marcos confessed to occasionally letting the fame go to his head. But those who know him say his intelligence and sense of humor keep his ego in check.

Some say his mask is a strategy for anonymity though it has achieved something of the opposite. “Todos Somos Marcos” – the Zapatista slogan – signals the sense of solidarity generated within the movement; behind their masks the Zapatistas are no one and everyone.

But the powerful image may exaggerate Marcos’ relevance, which is a matter of opinion and debate. His importance is rumored to be waning.

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Our Word Is Our Weapon

by Subcomandante Marcos, Juana Ponce de Leon

Our Word Is Our Weapon is the first authoritative compendium of the writings of Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, the masked voice of the indigenous human rights fighters in the South-East Mexican state of Chiapas who has become an icon of the worldwide anti-globalisation movement. The evolution of the work of the Zapatistas and Marcos from its first revolt against the government in 1994, as detailed in this remarkable collection is, as its editor, Juana Ponce de León writes, “a testimony to the power of the word”. These writings have secretly been passed from hand to hand, out from the mountainous Lacandon jungle, across miles, until via the Internet, they have been disseminated to the global village. In depicting the conflict in Chiapas fuelled by the indigenous struggle for human rights, which is portrayed in words and paradoxically through the masked anonymity of its spokesperson as the fight against invisibility, Marcos creates a mirror in which we can recognise “the features of our own concerns” with “neoliberalism”. The three parts of Our Word is Our Weapon respectively cover Marcos’ commentary upon the social, economic, and political situation in Mexico and its implications in “Unveiling Mexico”; “Beneath the Mask” contains the “Sup’s” philosophical reflections on the world as he fashions himself in his isolated jungle hideouts as a servant of the revolution, partly through references and letters to other writers and thinkers such as Fernando Pessoa , Jorge Luis Borges, and John Berger; and, in the final part, “Creating Memory”, Marcos’ playful inventiveness comes to the fore in the folk tales he fashions from the forces that shape the Zapatistas’ revolutionary project. As well as showcasing Marcos’ extraordinary literary and political gifts, Our Word Is Our Weapon opens out another forum for a deeply personal and distinct voice that manages at the same time to be a collective one, in the face of which the Mexican government seems powerless. Our Word Is Our Weapon is an inspirational case in point for those who enjoyed Naomi Klein’s No Logo, and belongs in your cultural revolutionary backpack somewhere between Che Guevara’s manual of Guerilla Warfare and the poetry of Pablo Neruda. —Fiona Buckland

Leftist Noir

By ANDREY SLIVKA
Published: November 19, 2006

This peculiar stunt of a detective novel is a collaboration between the Spanish-born Mexican writer Paco Ignacio Taibo II and, of all people, the Zapatista leader Subcomandante Marcos, that pseudonymous rebel luminary whose rakish pipe juts in photographs from what must be Earth’s most fashionable balaclava.

Eduardo Verdugo/Associated Press

THE UNCOMFORTABLE DEAD

(What’s Missing Is Missing).

By Paco Ignacio Taibo II and Subcomandante Marcos. Translated by Carlos Lopez.

268 pp. Akashic Books. Paper, $15.95.

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Taibo is, among other things, the proprietor of a long-running detective fiction series starring a soulful, one-eyed Mexico City investigator named Héctor Belascoarán Shayne. “The Uncomfortable Dead” is a Belascoarán novel that Taibo and Marcos wrote in alternating chapters, whipsawing the manuscript between, presumably, Mexico City, where Taibo lives, and Marcos’s rather more nebulous Chiapas mountain address.

The book tells two converging stories. In the first, written by Marcos, a Zapatista bumpkin named Elías Contreras travels to Mexico City; he is following up leads about what will turn out to be a plot to privatize and sell off a valuable piece of southern Mexican territory that was seized from its indigenous inhabitants. In the second, written by Taibo, eerie phone messages are left for one of Belascoarán’s clients. They purport to be from a leftist activist who was murdered, supposedly by a government agent, in 1971. Contreras and Belascoarán, a man who likes his cigarettes and Coca-Cola, buddy up in the process of confounding the seizure of land and identifying the killer.

This kind of material — evoking the legacy of the Mexican government’s “dirty war” against its leftist opponents — might have generated interesting genre fiction. But “The Uncomfortable Dead” reads like a gimmick. The problem is mostly with Marcos, whose chapters ramble on at almost twice the length of Taibo’s. The subcomandante, who isn’t a first-time author — his other books include some political volumes and a children’s book called “The Story of Colors” — is simply not a talented fiction writer; it’s sometimes hard even to know what his sentences mean. Marcos does manage to write some lyrical and intelligent passages. But his prose, in this translation by Carlos Lopez, can be hyperactive; he’s like a sophomore impressed by his own facility.

This is a shame, because Taibo’s chapters are written with skill and wit. He does his best to evoke what he calls the “jungle” of Mexico City, that polluted sprawl haunted by history’s phantoms. But Marcos, the aggressive politician, takes control of the novel. It’s like watching Thelonious Monk being shoved off the stool by a thumping fellow in a mask.

Taibo should have known better. It’s one thing to write fiction informed by your own supple leftism. It’s another to use the conventions of noir — that morally opaque genre trafficking in an all-pervasive turpitude — in the service of a cut-and-dried worldview. “The Uncomfortable Dead” is thoroughly overdetermined. Of course it was agents of the Mexican establishment who killed the activist in question. A familiarity with Mexican history makes that certain. So does the fact that the novel was partly written by a leftist insurgent. Given the context, who else might have done it? The West German Greens?

Andrey Slivka, a writer based in Kiev, has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine and other publications.

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The slaves of money – and our rebellion

Brothers and sisters of Mexico and the world, who are gathered in Cancun in a mobilisation against neo-liberalism, greetings from the men, women, children and elderly of the Zapatista National Liberation Army. It is an honour for us that, amid your meetings, agreements and mobilisations, you have found time and place to hear our words.The world movement against the globalisation of death and destruction is experiencing one of its brightest moments in Cancun today. Not far from where you are meeting, a handful of slaves to money are negotiating the ways and means of continuing the crime of globalisation.

The difference between them and all of us is not in the pockets of one or the other, although their pockets overflow with money while ours overflow with hope.

No, the difference is not in the wallet, but in the heart. You and we have in our hearts a future to build. They only have the past which they want to repeat eternally. We have hope. They have death. We have liberty. They want to enslave us.

This is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that the people who think themselves the owners of the planet have had to hide behind high walls and their pathetic security forces in order to put their plans in place.

As if at war, the high command of the multinational army that wants to conquer the world in the only way possible, that is to say, to destroy it, meets behind a system of security that is as large as their fear.

Before, the powerful met behind the backs of the world to scheme their future wars and displacements. Today they have to do it in front of thousands in Cancun and millions around the world.

That is what this is all about. It is war. A war against humanity. The globalization of those who are above us is nothing more than a global machine that feeds on blood and defecates in dollars.

In the complex equation that turns death into money, there is a group of humans who command a very low price in the global slaughterhouse. We are the indigenous, the young, the women, the children, the elderly, the homosexuals, the migrants, all those who are different. That is to say, the immense majority of humanity.

This is a world war of the powerful who want to turn the planet into a private club that reserves the right to refuse admission. The exclusive luxury zone where they meet is a microcosm of their project for the planet, a complex of hotels, restaurants, and recreation zones protected by armies and police forces.

All of us are given the option of being inside this zone, but only as servants. Or we can remain outside of the world, outside life. But we have no reason to obey and accept this choice between living as servants or dying. We can build a new path, one where living means life with dignity and freedom. To build this alternative is possible and necessary. It is necessary because on it depends the future of humanity.

This future is up for grabs in every corner of each of the five continents. This alternative is possible because around the world people know that liberty is a word which is often used as an excuse for cynicism.

Brothers and sisters, there is dissent over the projects of globalisation all over the world. Those above, who globalise conformism, cynicism, stupidity, war, destruction and death. And those below who globalise rebellion, hope, creativity, intelligence, imagination, life, memory and the construction of a world that we can all fit in, a world with democracy, liberty and justice.

We hope the death train of the World Trade Organization will be derailed in Cancun and everywhere else.

Subcomandante Marcos is the leading voice of the Zapatista movement, which fights for the rights of Mexico’s 10 million indigenous people. This is the transcript of a message – Marcos’s first international communiqué for four years – delivered on Wednesday to the anti-globalization conference taking place alongside the WTO global trade negotiations in Cancun

International Brigade against the dictator 74th anniversary (March1936 – March 2010). Least we forget we are more lenient today to dictators like Melese Zenawie…

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Franco &  Hitler supported Mussolini’s  Genocide in Abyssinia

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In August 1936 Harry Pollitt arranged forTom Wintringham to go to Spain to represent the CPGB during the Civil War. While in Barcelona he developed the idea of a volunteer international legion to fight on the side of theRepublican Army. He wrote: “You have to treat the building of an army as a political problem, a question of propaganda, of ideas soaking in.”

On 10th September 1936 Wintringham wrote to Harry Pollitt that he had arranged for Nat Cohen, a Jewish clothing worker from Stepney, to establish “a Tom Mann centuria which will include 10 or 12 English and can accommodate as many likely lads as you can send out… I believe that full political value can only be got from it (and that’s a lot) if its English contingent becomes stronger. 50 is not too many.”

Maurice Thorez, theFrench Communist Party leader, also had the idea of an international force of volunteers to fight for the Republic. Joseph Stalinagreed and in September 1936 theComintern began organising the formation of International Brigades. An internatinal recruiting centre was set up in Paris and a training base at Albacete in Spain.

Battalions estblished included the Abraham Lincoln BattalionBritish BattalionConnolly ColumnDajakovich BattalionDimitrov BattalionMackenzie-Papineau BattalionGeorge Washington BattalionMickiewicz Battalion and Thaelmann Battalion.

A total of 59,380 volunteers from fifty-five countries served during the Spanish Civil War. This included the following: French (10,000), German (5,000), Polish (5,000), Italian (3,350), American (2,800), British (2,000), Canadian (1,000), Yugoslavian (1,500), Czech (1,500), Canadian (1,000), Hungarian (1,000) and Scandinavian (1,000). These men were organized into the 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th of the Mixed Brigades.

Men who fought with the Republican Army included George Orwell, André Marty, Christopher Caudwell, Jack Jones, Len Crome, Oliver Law, Tom Winteringham, Joe Garber, Lou Kenton, Bill Alexander, David Marshall, Alfred Sherman, William Aalto, Hans Amlie, Bill Bailey, Robert Merriman, Fred Copeman, Tom Murray, Steve Nelson, Walter Grant, Alvah Bessie, Joe Dallet, David Doran, John Gates, Harry Haywood, Oliver Law, Edwin Rolfe, Milton Wolff, Hans Beimler, Frank Ryan, Emilo Kléber, Ludwig Renn, Gustav Regler, Ralph Fox, Sam Wild and John Cornford.

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Women were active supporters of the International Brigades. A large number of women volunteered to serve in Medical Units in Spain during the war. This included Annie Murray, Thora Silverthorne, Salaria Kea, Mildred Rackley, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Mary Valentine Ackland, Lillian Urmston and Penny Phelps.

Volunteers came from a variety of left-wing groups but the brigades were always led by Communists. This created problems with other Republican groups such as the Workers Party of Marxist Unification (POUM) and the Anarchists.

The International Brigades played an important role in the defence of Madrid in November 1936. They also suffered heavy losses at Jarama (February 1937), Brunete (July, 1937), Teruel (December 1937) and Ebro (July-August 1938).

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Spanish Civil War.

Introduction:

1936 to 1939: A military rising originating in Morocco, headed by General Francisco Franco, spreads rapidly all over the country, thus starting the Spanish Civil War.

After a number of bloody battles in which fortunes changed from one side to the other, the ‘nacionales’ finally prevailed and made a victorious entry into Madrid (March 28th, 1939).

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Significant Events:

1936: The tragic death of Calvo Sotelo had the effect of accelerating a military coup that had been under preparation for a long time. Actually, the conspirators had been awaiting General Franco’s decision to begin the uprising. On July 18th it spread to other garrisons in metropolitan Spain and the following day Franco took command of the army in Morocco. The rising was succesful in Seville (directed by General Queipo de Llano), the Balearic Islands (General Goded), the Canary Islands and Morocco (Franco), Navarra (Mola), Burgos and Saragossa. General Yague advanced through Extremadura and Mola took Irun. By the end of 1936 the Nationalist troops controlled the greater part of Andalucia, Extremadura, Toledo, Avila, Segovia, Valladolid, Burgos, Leon, Galicia, a part of Asturias, Vitoria, San Sebastian, Navarra and Aragon, as well as the Canary and Balearic Islands with the exception of Menorca. Castilla la Nueva, Catalunya, Valencia, Murcia, Almeria, Gijon and Bilbao remained in Republican hands.

The Republican government formed a coalition Cabinet headed by Giralt which was succeeded by another one under Largo Caballero. It brought the CNT (Confederacion Nacional de Trabajo, the anarcho-syndicalist union) into the Cabinet and moved to Valencia. On September 29, the Junta de Defensa Nacional named Franco head of the government and commander of the armed forces. To offset these circumstances, the Republican government created a Popular army and militarized the militia. Both sides were soon receiving aid from abroad: the International Brigades were supporting Republican Spain and Italian and German troops, Nationalist Spain.

Jarama, Brunete, Quinto, Belchite, Fuentes de Ebro, Teruel, The Retreats and The Ebro are the battlegrounds of the Spanish Civil War in which over twelve hundred Canadian soldiers supporting Republican Spain took part. These men created the most unique military unit in the history of Canada: the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion of the XVth International Brigade of the Spanish Republican Army: ‘the Mac-Paps.’

1937: The year 1937 was characterized by fighting in the north of the country: Guernica was bombed in April, Bilbao taken in June, Santander in August, and Gijon in October. The reaction of the Republicans was to open fronts in Guadalajara (March),Brunete (July), and Belchite (August). The Battle of Teruel was launched at the end of the year.

1938: The Nationalist transferred their efforts to Aragon, recovered Teruel and divided the Republican zone in two parts after entering Castellon in July 1938. The government replied with the so-called Battle of the Ebro (July-November 1938) which ended with a Republican defeat and 70,000 casualties.

1939: Once government resistance was exhausted, the Republican exile began with many Spaniards fleeing accross the border into France. Catalunya fell on February 10, 1939. Madrid was the only city still resisting, and the proposals of peace made by its Junta de Defensa (headed by Casado and Besteiro) were useless. Nationalist forces occupied the capital on March 28, 1939, and on April 1, General Franco officially ended the war.

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Time Line

1936 February Popular Front won national elections and Azana was appointed president of Spain. March The right wing Falange Party was banned. March to May Street riots; strikes and general anarchy in some parts of Spain. July Military uprisings in Spanish Morocco and some parts of mainland Spain. The government dissolves the regular army. July 19th, Franco arrives to take command of the army in Morocco.

Hitler agreed to help out the Nationalists. Stalin agreed to help the Republicans. German and Italian planes airlift Franco’s army to the Spanish mainland. August First International Brigade volunteers arrived in Spain. September A military junta named Franco as head of state and c-in-c of the armed forces of Spain. October The first aid from Russia arrives for the Republicans November Germany and Italy recognise Franco as head of Spain’s government. 1937 February Nationalists started a major offensive against Madrid. International Brigade played an important part in resisting this offensive. March Battle of Guadalajara. Italian “volunteers” defeated. This led to Franco abandoning any attempt to take Madrid. April Guernica destroyed by aerial bombing. May Republican groups in Barcelona fell out causing serious weaknesses in the city. June The strategic city of Bilboa fell to the Nationalists. August The Vatican recognised Franco’s regime. 1938 April Republican Spain was split in two by the Nationalists. May Franco declared that the Republicans had to unconditionally surrender. July Start of the collapse of the Republican army after the Battle of the Ebro. October International Brigade left Spain. 1939 January Barcelona fell to Franco February Britain and France recognised the legitimacy of Franco’s government. March Madrid surrendered to Franco April Republicans surrendered unconditionally to Franco.

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INTERNATIONAL CRISIS Condemns Ethiopia Woyan’s ETHNIC FEDERALISM Africa Raport N° 153 09/09/09/

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Ethiopia’s known over 80 Ethnio linguistic  distribution and the existing  over 200 dialects  are living  sources of Woyane’s plan of Balkanization. And  its means of  legitimacy  in power for years to come. Prof. Muse

International Crisis Group

visit www.crisisgroup.org


Africa Report N°153 4 September 2009

ETHIOPIA: ETHNIC

FEDERALISM

AND ITS DISCONTENTS



Executive summary

The Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), led by its chairman and prime minister, Meles Zenawi, has radically reformed Ethiopia’s political system. The regime transformed the hitherto centralised state into the Federal Democratic Republic and also redefined citizenship, politics and identity on ethnic grounds. The intent was to create a more prosperous, just and representative state for all its people. Yet, despite continued economic growth and promised democratisation, there is growing discontent with the EPRDF’s ethnically defined state and rigid grip on power and fears of continued inter-ethnic conflict. The international community should take Ethiopia’s governance problems much more seriously and adopt a more principled position towards the government. Without genuine multi-party democracy, the tensions and pressures in Ethiopia’s polities will only grow, greatly increasing the possibility of a violent eruption that would destabilise the country and region.

The endeavour to transform Ethiopia into a federal state is led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which has dominated the coalition of ethno-nationalist parties that is the EPRDF since the removal in 1991 of the Derg, the security services committee that overthrew Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974. The EPRDF quickly institutionalised the TPLF’s policy of people’s rights to self-determination and self-rule. The federal constitution ratified in 1994 defined the country’s structure as a multicultural federation based on ethno-national representation.

The government has created nine ethnic-based regional states and two federally administered city-states. The result is an asymmetrical federation that combines populous regional states like Oromiya and Amhara in the central highlands with sparsely populated and underdeveloped ones like Gambella and Somali. Although the constitution vests all powers not attributed to the federal government in them, the regional states are in fact weak.

The constitution was applauded for its commitment to liberal democracy and respect for political freedoms and human rights. But while the EPRDF promises democracy, it has not accepted that the opposition is qualified to take power via the ballot box and tends to regard the expression of differing views and interests as a form of betrayal. Before 2005, its electoral superiority was ensured by the limited national appeal and outreach of the predominantly ethnically based opposition parties. Divided and disorganised, the reach of those parties rarely went beyond Addis Ababa. When the opposition was able to challenge at local, regional or federal levels, it faced threats, harassment and arrest. With the opportunity in 2005 to take over the Addis Ababa city council in what would have been the first democratic change of a major administration in the country’s history, the opposition withdrew from the political process to protest flaws in the overall election.

The EPRDF did not feel threatened until the 2005 federal and regional elections. The crackdown that year on the opposition demonstrated the extent to which the regime is willing to ignore popular protest and foreign criticism to hold on to power. The 2008 local and by-elections went much more smoothly, in large part because the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) was absorbed with internal and legal squabbles, and several other parties withdrew after their candidates experienced severe registration problems. The next federal and regional elections, scheduled for June 2010, most probably will be much more contentious, as numerous opposition parties are preparing to challenge the EPRDF, which is likely to continue to use its political machine to retain its position.

Despite the EPRDF’s authoritarianism and reluctance to accept genuine multi-party competition, political positions and parties have proliferated in recent years. This process, however, is not driven by democratisation or the inclusion of opposition parties in representative institutions. Rather it is the result of a continuous polarisation of national politics that has sharpened tensions between and within parties and ethnic groups since the mid-1990s. The EPRDF’s ethnic federalism has not dampened conflict, but rather increased competition among groups that vie over land and natural resources, as well as administrative boundaries and government budgets.

Furthermore, ethnic federalism has failed to resolve the “national question”. The EPRDF’s ethnic policy has empowered some groups but has not been accompanied by dialogue and reconciliation. For Amhara and national elites, ethnic federalism impedes a strong, unitary nation-state. For ethno-national rebel groups like the ONLF (Ogaden National Liberation Front; Somalis in the Ogaden) and OLF (Oromo Liberation Front; the Oromo), ethnic federalism remains artificial. While the concept has failed to accommodate grievances, it has powerfully promoted ethnic self-awareness among all groups. The international community has ignored or downplayed all these problems. Some donors appear to consider food security more important than democracy in Ethiopia, but they neglect the increased ethnic awareness and tensions created by the regionalisation policy and their potentially explosive consequences.

Nairobi/Brussels, 4 September 2009