On January 21/2016, members of the European Parliament (EP) gathered in Strasbourg for their usual Thursday plenary session were discussed three resolutions on India, Ethiopia and North Korea. The resolution on Ethiopia, sponsored by a decade long “friend” of Ethiopia, MEP Ana Maria Gomez, was presented based on Rule 135of the rules and procedures of the European Parliament: cases of breaches of Human Rights, democracy and the rule of law. Under this rule, any political party, any committee or at least 40 members of the Parliament can demand a debate on an urgent issue with regard to cases of breaches of Human Rights, democracy and rule of law.
The debate on the 19- point resolution on Ethiopia was discussed, voted and adopted by the presence of only 41 MEPs. Any resolution presented under this rule is given insignificant or no value by the members of Parliaments themselves and by the EU institutions at large. The fact that only 41 out of 751 members of Parliament attended the debate is a clear indication of the minimal value attached to it.It is also a clear manifestation that the resolution is politically motivated agenda aimed at defaming the government of Ethiopia.
The resolution is meant to condemn the Ethiopian Government for “using excessive force” during the recent protest in some parts of Oromia and Amhara regions. During the discussion, MEP Ana Gomez has gone back to 2005 and repeated the same old allegations she has been raising since.In 2005, she was leading an EU election observation mission to Ethiopia, and had a stiff conflict with the Ethiopian authorities because of her interference in the internal politics of a sovereign countryandher categorical side to the opposition. Her breach of the code of conduct the EU signed with the government of Ethiopia, her interference and unwarranted promise she gave to the then leader of Coalition for Unity and Democracy party-CUD, Dr. Berhanu Nega lead him to boycott the election results and the subsequent conflict instigated after the election. Her behavior and action resulted in the street violence and led to the death of tens of civilians &police and she should have been held responsible.
On the other hand, EU Commissioner for International Development cooperation,Neven Mimica underlined during the discussion at the European Parliament that the EU’s support to Ethiopia is used to implement pro poor projects, and that Ethiopia is, and will remain a strategic partner of the Union.
The European Parliament, as diverse and as critical as it is, has issued several resolutions in the past and will continue to issue in the future on different issues; on different countries. But it is our firm believe that the respected institution and its members would not dare to endorse resolutions condemning countries/ Governments simply because certain politically motivated members of the Parliament have come up with a resolution. That is what happened with the resolution on Ethiopia. It is hard for me to assume that all the co-sponsors have properly read and digested the points lined up to condemn the Ethiopian Government. Let’s see some of these points.
From the very beginning, MEP Ana Gomes has mobilized to draft a resolution to condemn the Ethiopian Government for its “use of excessive force” during the protest against the Addis Ababa- Oromia integrated master plan; a plan solely intended to benefit the suburbs of Addis Ababa from the development of the capital. Article ‘D’ of the resolution reads as follows, “whereas on 14 January 2016 the Government decided to cancel the disputed large-scale urban development plan; whereas if implemented, the plan would expand the city’s boundary 20-fold…..” The EU at large and the EP in particular, I believe, have their respective sources of information, but the EP, as a largest democratic institution of the Union has the obligation to check and double check information received by any of its sources, the extremist opposition elements in this regard, before moving for action. The integrated masterplan document is a public document, it has been discussed by the Addis Ababa and Oromia Councils and with the respective residents at different levels. The EU delegation and Embassies of the EU member States in Addis Ababa are in one way or another in possession of the document. In any part of the document, one can hardly find a phrase stating that the plan has intended to expand the capital’s boundary by 2 or 20 fold. It is hard to believe that a respected institution like the EP has adopted a resolution based on hearsay or allegation. I understand that,as the sponsor of the resolution, MEP Ana Gomez has an inbuilt, yet unreasonable hate towards the Ethiopian Government, I wouldn’t expect her to try to verify this information from the Ethiopian authorities, but she could have asked her country men and women; or any diplomat from the EU member States in Addis. Or at least the other co-sponsors of the resolution could have done so just to save the credibility of the respected institution-the EP.
The other issue worth discussing here is why are MEP A. Gomez and her likes opposing the integrated master plan? Do they know exactly what they are opposing to? By opposing it, they are suggesting to the residents of Ambo, one of the townsincluded in the masterplan, to use a donkey as a means of transportation while there is a possibility to expand the tram way from Addis. Think of Brussels and its surrounding districts- (Leuven, Gent, Antwerp, etc.)and imagine if the residents of these districts were opposing the integrated network of train, energy, road, communication, sewerage etc. that Brussels is enjoying; and that surprisingly, the European Parliament, fooled by a certain MEP A. Gomez would accuse the Belgian Government for its efforts to ameliorate the lives of residents in Leuven by integrating Leuven’s system with that of Brussels! It’s funny no? That is what has happened in the EP, that is the whole history of the integrated Addis Ababa- Oromia master plan.
Another interesting issue is mentioned in article ‘E’ of the resolution:“whereas Ethiopia is a highly diverse country in terms of religious and cultures; whereas some of the largest ethnic communities, particularly the Oromo and the Somali (Ogaden), have been marginalized in favor of the Amhara and the Tigray, with little participation in political representation.” I am sure there is no confusion on the meaning of political representation, and I am confident that the EP has no other definition than the universal one. To avoid confusion between largest ethnic and “greater Somalia” (there are Ogaden communities in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia,) I deliberately have kept aside the Somali issue and try to see the reality regarding the largest ethnic community -the Oromo. As far as my knowledge is concerned, a political representation can’t insure best than administering one’s own region and affairs by one’s own self; representing in the House of Peoples Representatives, represented in the Ministerial portfolio of the Federal Government and assuming the majority in the house of the federation. In this regard, the Oromia regional State is administered by the Oromos; the Oromia region have 178 seats out of the 547 total seats in the Ethiopian Parliament (which constitutes 32.5%); Tigray and Amhara have 38 and 138 seats respectively; were, the total of the two constitutes 32%. The Federal Ministerial portfolio witnesses more than 1/3 of Oromos, the Oromo have majority seats in the House of Federation. Needless to mention the Head of State post and many other higher responsibilities assumed by our Oromo brothers and Sisters in different Federal institutions; this being the reality, the respected institution-EP has condemned the Ethiopian Government for underrepresenting the Oromos. Really! Honestly, I would like to hear the EP’s advice to make the Oromos more represented in Ethiopia and as a concerned Ethiopian, I expect the EP to come up with concrete arguments on this issue. That patronizing attitude is just an unacceptable to the proud people of Ethiopia in general and to the two communities in particular.
Another issue which strike my mind is that the sponsor of a resolution on Ethiopia seemed not to care about the sovereignty of Ethiopia. Those who drafted the resolution on India, one of the resolutions discussed and adopted on the same date, haveindicated the limits of the EP by mentioning that the EU “respects the sovereignty of India” MEP Ana Gomes could have get lesson from her compatriots by at least mentioning that the EU respects the right of the Ethiopian Government to install peace and stability in the country. She didn’t; she didn’t not because she doesn’t know it, but it is because she has no respect for the peoples of Ethiopia, Ethiopian constitution and it institutions.On her view, the police and security personnel should have looked their arms folded to some of the armed and aggressive protestors committed to destroy private and public properties; and shoot to kill the police. The saddest thing is that neither of the EP members attended the debate raise this issue. Kind of double standard no? understood!
I have also observed a kind of change in discourse in the resolution. Traditionally, the so called opposition and of course MEP Ana Gomez, almost a member of the die-hard oppositions herself(it is hard to make a distinction whether she is representing a community in Portugal or the die-hard Ethiopian oppositions living outside Ethiopia), used to preach us that the Ethiopian Government is dominated by WOYANE or the Tigrians. This time, however; they seem to change their discourse to AMHARA and TIGRAY. It took them very long though, to understand that Ethiopia is not dominated by one ethnic group, and at least they realizedthis time around that they were wrong to assume that the Ethiopian Government was dominated by WOYANE. But some other thing is smelling out there. The extremist Jawar MOHAMED has come up with something which seems to be dangerous not only to Ethiopia but also to the Horn of Africa at large. His preach revolves around the “bigness” of the Oromo community, its resources, its areal territory and most importantly its Religion-Islam. As this is a reality, no one would opt to contest it. The issue of concern however is that at the very center of Jawar’s vision, this big community, big religion, big resource and big territory should create a big Islamic State in the Horn of Africa. Taking in to account the existing reality of Ethiopia, we know, Jawar knows, Dr. Berhanu and MEP A. Gomez knows as well that an Islamic State will not get materialized in Ethiopia. But, why not trying it? For the last twenty something years, Dr. Berhanu and his supporters including MEP A. Gomez didn’t succeed to assume power via the usual discourse- WOYANE domination, so why not trying Jawar as a Trojan horse? If they succeed, fine, Jawar will be appeased with some sort of portfolio or possibly money; or they can purge him. If not succeeded, again fine, because, they will collect money from the honest and uninformed diaspora in the name of organizing protests like the one in some parts of Oromia and Amhara.
As the resolution is issued on the name of EP, regrettably, the EP has dragged to get involved in this business by its own member. The funniest thing is that immediately after the conclusion of the session in Strasbourg, MEP A. Gomez made a phone call to ESAT, a media owned and run by Dr. Berhanu Nega to sow hate and disintegration among Ethiopians. She went on give interview to VOA Amharic service(Apparently, she become a constant source of information to ESAT and VOA Amharic service - a mouth piece of the extremists),and told the media’s adventurously that she had managed to adopt a resolution to condemn the Ethiopian Government. That was her ultimate purpose, just making news and scoring points on the Ethiopian Government led by EPRDF! Of course, it would also give a very good opportunity for the hate-majored media’s like ESAT to further confuse and disunite the Ethiopian Diaspora, but nothing more.
In general, though I have a deep concern towards the resolutions adopted especially under Rule 135 that there is a very huge possibility that MEPs such as A. Gomez could fool other colleagues to sign a document not commensurate the standard of a respected institution, I still believe that the resolution adopted on Ethiopia doesn’t represent the EP, but only the personal interests of few individuals like Mrs. Ana Gomez.
As the reader might know, Ethiopia and the EU have a very wide area of cooperation and partnership which ranges from peace and security to fighting terrorism to migration to climate change. It is my firm conviction that EU institutions will not risk to endanger the ever increasing cooperation and relationship in favor of such unpopular and politically motivated resolutions. Ethiopia needs the EU and the EU needs Ethiopia! The future is full of hope to further strengthen the relationship between Ethiopia and the EU even to a higher and greater levels.
Your comments are welcome!