Did Alemnew Mekonen vituperate Amharas? (Dilwenberu Nega)
Did Alemnew Mekonen vituperate Amharas?
If yes, he should face the full weight of the law. If no, the opposition should face the full weight of public opprobrium.
Thousands of residents from the capital city of the Regional State of Amhara, Bahirdar, took to the streets last Sunday to vent their anger at Deputy Administrator of the Regional State of Amhara, Ato Alemnew Mekonen, who is alleged to have vituperated Amharas in a style and manner detrimental to Article 29 of the Constitution.
An audio production by Shabia-funded ESAT is the one and only evidence cited by protesters to incriminate Alemnew, though both UDJ and AEUP have gone a bit further by demanding the leadership of ANDM face charges of defaming one of Ethiopia’s nations, nationalities and peoples. To opposition parties inside Ethiopia as well as to the opposition-at-large abroad, both of whom are known to suffer from setbacks in getting their acts together, ‘Alemnewgate’ is seen as something of a cause celebre. That’s why both sides are hell-bent on over-egging the pudding.
In a televised press conference he gave in Bahirdar, (www.aigaforum.com) Alemnew Mekonnen, categorically denied ever besmirching the good name of Amharas and concludes by saying: “How could I insult my own ethnic group, besides am I not a member of a political party [Amhara National Democratic Movement] that has zero tolerance for chauvinism and narrow-mindedness?”
Public opinion, meanwhile, remains highly divided. On the one hand, given ESAT’s penchant to manufacture tailor-made Breaking News about gloom and doom descending on Ethiopia, people are less ready to digest ESAT’s productions at face value. As a onetime ESAT devotee quipped to me last week, asking Ethiopians to believe ESAT is as preposterous as asking Eritreans to trust Isaias Afewerki. On the other hand, the mere fact that the Regional State and ANDM failed to refute the allegation promptly, as well as the fact that Alemnew’s interview came too late, have allowed the opposition to have a field day.
With election less than a year and a half away, EPRDF can ill afford such an oversight. While it is an exercise in futility for the GoE to respond to each and every accusation levied against it by the higgledy-piggledy section of the Ethiopian diaspora, it is well worth noting that nothing better nips in the bud the chicaneries of anti-peace forces than a prompt and calibrated response.
Who, therefore, should the public believe? Who is the angel or the devil in this episode? Are UDJ and AEUP right in demanding “the leadership of ANDM face justice” while it is their statutory right to sue Alemnew Mekonen? These are burning questions that need to be answered dispassionately. Inaction, on the other hand, just leaves the silent majority of the Ethiopian diaspora at the mercy of snake oil merchants.
As there aren’t speech specialists in Ethiopia able to distinguish a bona-fide voice from that which is doctored, one win-win formula worth considering at this juncture is to air a live ETV panel discussion with Ato Alemnew Mekonen and all those who took part at the workshop. Let it be a free and transparent platform. The aim is to zero in and find out if, as claimed by UDP and AEUP, Alemnew did indeed deride Amharas in a language which is anathema in today’s Ethiopia. If yes, let the full force of the law be applied on him. If found not guilty, let the full weight of public opprobrium be bestowed on UDP and AEUP.