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Monday, 5 April 2010

Who is afraid of the D.C. conference and Why ?

Tedla Asfaw

I followed  this past Saturday, Andnet Radio hosted by Ato Yoseph. This was by accident but worth listening it. The debate between two Ethiopians about the coming three day conference in D.C., April 9-11. Dr. Kasa one of the organizers and Dr. Kefyalew /washera a regular writer on TPLF Aiga website who characterized the conference as "Awde Tifat" ,"conference of evil".

Last week Aiga Editor, Zeru Hagos,wrote a  piece, "conference of Hodgepodges", why the Horn of Africa Conference should be rejected. It went further and accused the co-sponsors of the conference, Trans Africa Forum and Africa Action. I  read also a piece posted on ethiolion  from anti-TPLF quarter  calling for  boycott this conference. The main reason is the use of "Horn of Africa" than the name Ethiopia  to appease the OLF and ONLF secessionist movements.

The debate between the two Doctors, however,was evolving around the substance of the conference. Is it "Awde Tinat"/Educational or "Awde Tifat" /evil . Dr. Kasa argued that in Ethiopia under TPLF where democratic rights are non existent, organizing such conference one time in two decades is  not we should be proud of in fact such conferences should have been frequent to charter the future of our country by analyzing all the developments in the Horn of Africa that is evolving as we speak.

Dr. Kefyalew however accused the organizers as fringes whose goal is to destroy the "legal" government in Ethiopia. He argued, it is only conference that is organized on what has been achieved under TPLF/EPRDF is a  conference he will support and participate.

The host Ato Yoseph tried to moderate the debate which sometimes looked like a high school debate. Name calling and insulting remind us our revolutionary days back home. Both knowledgeable people hammered their position and no one gave ground on his position.

I did not read Dr. Kefyalew/Washera piece posted on his objection of the conference. His whole argument, however, here is that the only way to be heard or influence Ethiopian politics is by working like the opposition parities who are now running for May 23 "election". He challenged Dr. Kasa how could they organize anti-TPLF conference and at the same time support some group in Ethiopia for the coming election ? This however was not answered.

This conference is not about the coming election, it is about Ethiopia under TPLF in particular and the messy region  which is known as Horn of Africa in  general. As I learned on other programs from organizers, speakers were invited to present their paper on this conference and Dr. Kefyalew was invited on the spot  to participate on the conference by paying $15 which is an entrance fee for three days conference. Dr. Kefylewa was surprised to learn that and declined the invitation.

This is the first conference organized in a long time that included many Ethiopians from North America, Europe, Africa including some from Ethiopia, foreign experts and NGOs. Dr. Kefyalew reminded us also there is one person from Eritrea.

I am the believer in debate. I do not support those who are calling to boycott this conference like Dr. Kefyalew for  not including TPLF officials and their supporters and others who denounce the conference by its title.Yes it is the Horn of Africa, home of Ethiopians, Eritreans, Sudanese, Kenyans and Ugandans. True, most if  not all of the debate is about Ethiopia. Until and otherwise there is stable Ethiopia which is run by the will of the people there will not be peace in the Horn of Africa.