Saturday, June 30, 2007

Considerable reluctance to pardon

Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1217 30/06/2007

The discreet negotiations last week would seem to have convinced the imprisoned leaders of the Coalition for Unity and Democraty (CUD, opposition) to sign a document in return for being freed. Now the reluctance to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s strategy is on the government’s side. One of the historical leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF, ruling party), Sebhat Nega, had already denounced this policy a few weeks ago, feeling that negotiations were looming on the horizon. Speaking in an interview broadcast by the radio station Dimtse owned by the TPLF (ION 1216) on 28 May, he was very harsh about the opposition. He excluded any idea of reconciliation and stated that the imprisoned opponents “should beg for our forgiveness”. Meanwhile the Minister for Information Bereket Simeon last week constantly denied the very existence of talks with the imprisoned CUD leaders. And yet the latter have been discussing among themselves since mid June about the terms of the document they were being asked to sign to gain their freedom. The terms “fault” and “guilt” originally contained in the text were replaced by “mistake”. Hence the imprisoned leaders must now admit having “made mistakes” after the 2005 election and recognise that they shoulder the responsibility of part of the consequences of these “mistakes”, including the violent events in October 2005 ( Email alert sent to subscribers on 22.06.2007). However, now that they are beginning to accept the idea of signing such a document in order to be set free, members of the Ethiopian government are beginning to set new conditions. They want the debate planned by the US Congress on the Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007 to be cancelled.