Sunday, December 23, 2007

Washington sponsors the moderate opposition

Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1228 17/12/2007
Speaking in an interview in the Amharic language on Dinq TV, a television channel in Calgary (Canada) owned by Ethiopian nationals, Debebe Eshetu, the head of public relations for the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP, opposition), gave some details about the aid the US government has promised to the moderate opposition in Ethiopia. According to him, Washington has offered the CUDP $20 million provided it accepts to participate in elections in 2010. For Debebe Eshetu, there is no doubt that the CUDP, which he represents, will indeed accept the deal.

Debebe Eshetu, a professional actor, had in the past been a member of the party led by former President Haile Mariam Mengistu. He is now a member of the CUDP central committee and is loyal to the faction of this party formed around Berhanu Nega and Ms Birtukan Mediksa.

However, this faction is not getting everything its own way in Addis Ababa. Last week the partisans of their rival Hailu Shawel prevented Birtukan Mediksa and her friends from entering the CUDP premises. Then on 14 December, the police prevented them from holding a press conference; it considered that their group was not legally recognised.

Hence, while Washington holds the “financial carrot” under the opposition’s nose, the Ethiopian government is still wielding the stick.