The End of Thugtatorship and Rise of the Rule of Law in Ethiopia

Posted in Al Mariam’s Commentaries By almariam On November 19, 2018
“Remember that all through history, there have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they seem invincible. But in the end, they always fall. Always.” –Mahatma Gandhi

“Brigadier General” Kinfe Dagnew


In the end, they always fall…

I don’t know how many times I have quoted Gandhi over the past 13 years to prophesy the end of the rule of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). “All through history, there have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they seem invincible. But in the end, they always fall. Always.”

The first time I warned the TPLF of their impending doom was in 2007.

The TPLF leaders and supporters laughed at me. They boasted they will rule for 100 years!

In my February 2011 blog on the Huffington Post, I coined a new word to describe the regime of the TPLF as a “thugtatorship”, a “thugocracy” and its leaders a gang of “thugtators”.

I argued if democracy is government of the people, by the people and for the people, a thugocracy is a government of thieves, for thieves, by thieves. Simply stated, a thugtatorship is rule by a gang of thieves and robbers (thugs) in designer suits, and military uniforms as we have come to find out.

Kinfe Dagnew “Godfather of METEC”

I declared, “Ethiopia is a thugocracy privately managed and operated for the exclusive benefit of bloodthirsty thugtators.”

Since I wrote that blog, I have always used the phrase, “the thugtatorship of the Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front”.

Last week, TPLF thugs and others were being rounded up and lassoed like wild horses in California to be brought to the bar of justice.

In January 2012, I warned the TPLF thugs to beware and change their evil ways. “Justice will also arrive like a slow, chugging and delayed train for those who have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes in Ethiopia.”

In November 2018, the long-delayed Justice Train finally arrived in Ethiopia.

How the mighty TPLF leaders and cronies have fallen!

I have always known the TPLF was a Beast With Feet of Clay.

When gazed upon, the T-TPLF appears awesome, formidable and infinitely powerful. It has guns, tanks, rockets, planes and bombs. Though the T-TPLF has legs of iron, its feet are made of clay.

We are witnessing today the TPLF’s feet dissolve into muck.

I lectured the TPLF with Churchillian contempt. “You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police … yet in their hearts there is unspoken fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts: words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home — all the more powerful because forbidden — terrify them. A little mouse of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic.

In February 2016, I told the TPLF, “mass civil disobedience and peaceful resistance can defeat the Beast.”

In November 2018, the TPLF is DEFEATED!

I know our Prime Minister H.E. Dr. Abiy Ahmed does not believe in “victors” and “vanquished”, “winners” and “losers”.

I believe he says that because he does not believe Ethiopia can be a house divided between winners and losers and victors and the vanquished.

PM Abiy does not believe in an Ethiopia that is half winners and half losers.

He believes Ethiopian can be a nation of winners OR a nation of losers, but not both.

I believe Ethiopia is a Land of Winners.

So, when I say the TPLF is defeated, I mean kleptocracy (government of thieves) is defeated. Thugtatorship is defeated. Dictatorship of command post regime is defeated. Ethnic apartheid is defeated.

The victor is none other than the RULE OF LAW.

PM Abiy has defended the rule of law on numerous occasions.

In May 2018, PM Abiy said:

The law is not something those of us with power and guns use to force our will on others. The law is something to be used to judge those who administer as well as those who are administered. It applies equally to the weak and powerful and both the powerful and the weak should equally believe in the [fairness] of the law. That is the way it should be. All are to be treated equally before the law.

If the powerful are using the law to buy their way, it will not work. Citizens should have confidence in the fairness of the law to the point that when they do wrong and commit an offense, they can say, ‘I have done an offense and must be held accountable’. The  law must be something that will hold us all equally accountable. I am confident the kilil administrators will do what is necessary to ensure this… No one can use his power to abuse others. It is best to show that the law is both for the weak and the strong. The kilil governments must demonstrate [in action] the supremacy of the rule of law.

PM Abiy has often criticized abuse of power and disregard for the rule of law by those sworn to uphold the law. He says it is a national problem.

PM Abiy has repeatedly underscored the need to institutionalize the rule of law through education and enhanced professional training for those in law enforcement. He has promoted the establishment of a new culture of respect for the rule of law in his speeches and public statements as a precondition for Ethiopia’s successful transition to democratic rule.

My views on the rule of law are identical to PM Abiy’s.

I have long argued that the rule of law will take deep root in Ethiopia when those in government learn always to fear their citizens and citizens acquire the courage never to fear their government.

When I was a kid, we used to sing a folk song: “Hang down your head, Tom Dooley/Hang down your head and cry…”

Hang down your head Yared Zerihun…

I would sing that same song now, “Hang down your head, Yared Zerihun… Hang down your head in shame. Poor boy, you’re going to jail…”

Underboss Yared Zerihun

Last week, METEC Boss Kinfe Dagnew was captured as he tried to make a run for the border with suitcase in hand. Kinfe was the head of a Mafiosi-type military-run industrial conglomerate called Metal and Engineering Corporation (METEC).

Kinfe and his cohorts are accused of embezzling and misappropriating 24 billion Ethiopian birr ($863 million) from a government  contract. “Only 266 million birrs was found in the METEC bank account. The rest of the money had vanished.”

Last week, Kinfe was talking trash and apparently taking a jab at PM Abiy.  “Anyone who says METEC is a failed business is himself a failure.”

Today, Kinfe is begging to have the court appoint a lawyer for him because he is too poor to pay for one.

What a villainous joker!

I have been writing about TPLF corruption for years.

In 2013, I issued a multipart series on TPLF corruption beginning with my commentary entitled, the TPLF Corruption Game.

In my June 2013 commentary “Ethiopian Telecom Corporation or Tele-corruporation?”, I coined a new word to describe TPLF leaders and cronies as “corruptoids” (vampires who suck on the country’s economic blood).

On November 12, 2018, Ethiopia’s Attorney General Berhanu Tsegaye announced some 63 intelligence officials, military personnel and businesspeople are in custody on allegations of rights violations and corruption.

AG Berhanu stated that the accused suspects committed a variety of crimes against humanity including use of electric shock on detainees, severe beatings by suspending victims, pulling the private parts of victims with pincers, hanging victims on trees and beating them, keeping detainees in dark dungeons for a prolonged period, stuffing ball point pens in victims’ noses, forcing victims to walk in the forest naked, gang rape of women and sodomy on men.

Amnesty International stated, “Many of these officials were at the helm of government agencies infamous for perpetrating gross human rights violations, such as torture and the arbitrary detention of people including in secret facilities.”

The rule of law shall prevail: The accused will get a fair trial

In 2013, when the TPLF accused some of its own members of corruption, I defended the right of fair trial of those accused.

declared, “If we don’t believe in a fair trial for those we despise as corrupt, then we do not believe in fair trial at all.

I restate what I wrote in May 2013 today in November 2018 with respect to the current suspects:

I believe in fairness and justice. I do not believe in revenge or retribution. I take no position on the factual guilt or innocence of those accused of “corruption”. If they did the crime, they have to do the time. However, I believe they have a constitutional right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a fair trial. In other words, I make no exceptions or compromises when it comes to taking a position in defending the principle and practice of due process of law and respect for fundamental human rights. Those accused of “corruption” now (and those who will certainly face accusations of crimes against humanity and other crimes in the future) are entitled to full due process of law, which includes not only the  presumption of innocence and the right against self-incrimination but also the rights to counsel, adequate notice of charges, an impartial and neutral fact-finder, speedy trial and adjudication by the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt.

I have no doubts the accused will have a public trial open to all and will be guaranteed the opportunity to present a full defense.

The court will render a judgment according to the law of the land and international standards of justice.

My ultimate wish is for the accused suspects to get a fair trial they denied so many innocent Ethiopians.

I want the world to witness that Ethiopians believe in the rule of law even for those who committed heinous crimes.

As I explained in my November 2017 commentary, I believe in “Ethiopian exceptionalism”.

By this phrase, I simply aim to convey the idea that Ethiopia has certain unique and positive qualities that make it different (but in no way better or superior to any others) from other nations in the world.

Ethiopians have the rule of law imprinted on their genes.

In 2012, I expounded on my belief about the rule of law in Ethiopia:

The rule of law in Ethiopia, I believe, is an ancient ideal. Ordinary Ethiopians used to invoke the “divine power of the law” (ye heg amlak) against wrong-doers and abusers of power. That was when they could see the faint and distant image of justice painted on a canvas of autocratic rule. But it must also be pointed out that the Ethiopian civic culture has tolerated an insidious exception to the rule of law which persists to the present day. An old Ethiopia adage says, “One cannot plough (farm) the sky nor hold a king to account in court” (semai aye-tares, negus aye-keses). “Negus” Zenawi is the personification of that adage today. In the transition from dictatorship to democracy, Ethiopians will have an opportunity to choose between alternative conceptions of the rule of law.

My view is that rule of law is a quintessential principle of good democratic governance. It is a vital part of statecraft (the art of leading a country). It is a fundamental element in nation-building, state-building, peace-building, democracy-building, justice-building and truth and reconciliation. I do not equate the rule of law with democracy, but I believe it makes genuine multiparty democracy possible through institutional arrangements for conducting clean, free and fair elections. I do not think the rule of law by itself guarantees justice, but it will serve to facilitate the delivery of justice to citizens through an independent and transparent judicial process. It will not guarantee equality, human rights and the rest of it, but without the rule of law there can be no equality or human dignity. I believe respect for human rights is the single important manifestation of the prevalence of the rule of law in any society and the most persuasive evidence of good governance.

Judgment Day has arrived

The Good Book says, “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” It also says, “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” and warns of “visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

Scripture also teaches that “He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.”

In 2013, I warned, “Meles and his worshippers have profoundly troubled the Ethiopian house and they shall inherit the wind!”

We are blessed to have a leader who is “wise of heart”.

Behold one and all the unfolding of prophesy in Ethiopia today!