When Dr. Berhanu Nega and friends announced a couple of years back that they had formed a movement called Ginbot 7 with the sole mission of helping the democratization process of today’s Ethiopia, there were some who were hopeful, some who were apprehensive, and others who were profoundly amused as they were familiar of Dr Birhanu’s previous endeavors.
Ginbot 7’s first move however was offering the current Ethiopian regime an ultimatum to either give up power and negotiate with all opposition parties including Ginbot 7 or face a coup. Many Ethiopians were perplexed by these outrageous demands; some wondered if they were backed by the US government, while many placed their bet on the EU , as they thought this kind of demand could only be made if Ginbot 7 had a force to be reckoned with by their side. A couple of months later came a hint as to who their backer was, when one of their leader was seen roaming the streets of Asmara. Ginbot 7 had decided their best bet for removing EPRDF from power was to start an alliance with the neighborhood bully. The unholy alliance with an archenemy of Ethiopia however angered many, including some of Ginbot 7’s ardent supporters who fancied themselves marching down the streets of Addis with Ginbot 7 comrades.
This Déjà vu move has been tried by different armed groups in the last decade or so, only for them to operate, to this day from Asmara hotels with imaginary soldiers somewhere in the Eritrean deserts and with no tangible results. As witnessed by Solomon Tekalign, an Ethiopian artist who was once the de facto spokesperson of an armed group stationed in Asmara calling themselves EPPF (Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front), upon his travels to Asmara; Mr Tekalign found the so called EPPF army not to be more than fifteen in number and the rest were actually Eritrean government army personnel who had previously been seen in pictures and videos for fund raising purposes from the diaspora. Between the years of 2005 and2009 milking the extremist diaspora in the name of overthrowing the Ethiopian government was a thriving business, and Ginbot 7 had decided to be part of it too.
Ginbot 7 pledged to overthrow the Ethiopian government within six months as the latter failed to meet their demands for negotiations. Apparently the Ethiopian government was busy fighting poverty and concentrating more on making economic strides than meeting Dr Berhanu’s demands. Ginbot 7 claimed they would be spending the following Easter in Addis if only patriotic Ethiopians would cough up five hundred dollars each. Some extremists in the diaspora apparently fell for this trick yet again and gave five hundred dollars each, others made the contribution to help them win their asylum case claiming that they have been persecuted by the Ethiopian Government but many couldn’t help but wonder why Ginbot 7 leaders chose this dead end route.
After the funds were collected several Easters have come and gone with Dr Birhanu and his friends still roaring from the mountains of US and Europe. As the empty promises of overthrowing the Ethiopian government within six months didn’t materialize Ginbot 7 leaders were facing mounting questions about their operations. Then this month came the announcement that they have formed a Ginbot 7 army.
The first group to mock and ridicule this publicity stunt was a group called Ginbot 7 Democratic, a fraction group of Ginbot 7 that had split a couple of months ago citing the dictator nature of Ginbot 7 leaders and their shady operations. It looks like the Ethiopian Opposition News outlets have learnt their lesson too, as almost none of them picked up this farce of a story; they normally would have jumped to plaster their pages with such announcements.
It has been a couple of years since Ginbot 7 has been the laughing stock of Ethiopian politics with their outrageous demands and their unrealistic promises. No one can predict what Ginbot 7’s next move or “big announcement” would be, but no one doubts it won’t be entertaining nevertheless.
Please check the archives for more on the issues raised above.
* This interview is part of the “Post-Meles 2012″ Special Edition of this blog.