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Fri. Sep 21st, 2018

Ethiopia: The hidden side of Gambella politics

By Obang Kello

November 21, 2007 — When the UN vehicle was attacked on December 13, 2003 the Anyuaks were blamed and massacred in great numbers in one day without thorough investigation. More than 400 Anyuak men, mostly targeted intellectuals, died that day. The killing continued for a long time thereafter increasing the number of dead to close to 2000 excluding the unknown in the countryside. Out of desperation many Anyuak people ran to Pochalla in the Sudan and Kenya for refuge. The EPRDF government told the world that only 56 Anyuak died, first calling it ethnic fighting. Rights groups disputed that figure. It was a repressive terrorism by the government against its citizens. Therefore, Meles’s genocidal regime was deaf to any other explanations. The government did not care to accept that there were other anti-government bodies in the bushes of Gambella and did not care about the imbalance of politics in the region. On the surface the government wanted the oil but have to keep the Anyuak quiet by hard fist. The plight of the Anyuak against marginalization was interpreted as insurgency whereas the Anyuak wanted constitutional rights to govern themselves. Gambella, like other marginalized areas such as Binshanguland Somali regions, is deprived of the rights to determine its future.

On October 22, 2007, the hidden side of politics in Gambella emerged that there were really other anti-peace groups in the bushes of Gambella. The government posted its success story on www.waltainfo.com. To the surprise of the EPRDF authorities it was the dreaded Anyuak that uncovered the plot against the peace by those whom the EPRDF had trusted for a long time by eliminating two terrorists engaged in disrupting peace. The government does not want to call that tribe by name but simply said it was the Shaebiya and its agents, the OLF and the Patriots Front members, implicating Eriteria behind the scene. It is an easy way to diffuse the world attention from this matter.

The Anyuak young man who did his duty took the documents, phones and weapons and handed them to the State government of Gambella. In those documents the names of contact people were written and the plan of action. Those contact people are high-ranking officials of the EPRDF government in Gambella. Some might be in Addis Ababa near Meles Zenawi, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia whose government always divides indigenous people for the sake of political interest. The unfortunate ones are in prison in Gambella pending investigation.

Big questions hang over Gambella. Does the EPRDF still blame the December vehicle attack on the Anyuak? Why did the EPRDF just react by simple arrest of the concerned officials? If it were the Anyuak that did the plot this time around what would have the reaction? Simply no Anyuak would be alive today. Meles himself would have gone on the radio to tell the world that he had proven that the Anyuak were really the attackers of the vehicle in December of 2003. It is sad when a government cannot treat its citizens by the same measure of law. The Government avoided naming the culprits. But the people in prisons are the Nuer. Why cover up? Simply the Ethiopian government is ashamed to do so in the media to avoid questions. It will not be surprising if the prisoners will be set free soon. As we speak the Nuer population is still roaming with guns around the unarmed Anyuak. This sort of treatment is evil and more than marginalization.

Gambella politics is delicate and a mystery to outsiders. Two groups are at odds with the Anyuak. The Highlanders, fear that the Anyuak power in Gambella will chase them away. The Nuer knows that their encroachment into Anyuak territory is hated and loathed by the Anyuak. So the Nuer and the Highlanders are in alliance against the Anyuak. Not because they like themselves so much. The political marriage is for each of them to exist. The biggest advantage, though, is the authorities in Addis Ababa listen and believe reports from the Highlanders making the Anyuak look like the enemy to the government. Hence, the strong and persistent oppression of the Anyuak by the EPRDF government. The slogan is: suppress the Anyuak for oil exploration to succeed. But internally the two allied groups want to be comfortable under government cover. This imbalance of Gambella politics is known and systematically calculated by the authorities in Addis Ababa to bottle up the Anyuak power in the region. This is true in other parts of the country where the regime suppresses one tribe and favor other to keep divide and rule policy ongoing. However, today it is a new day in Gambella. The Nuer plot is in the open. The people who do not care about Ethiopia are exposed with a “smoking gun” documentary proof. Will the EPRDF continue to disbelieve the Anyuak faith in Ethiopia? After all, the Anyuak were part of the EPRDF and fought against the Derg together.

On July 13, 2007, [Sudan Today, Vol. No.V], indicated that about 10,000 Nuer militiamen were being trained at Bilpam to overthrow the SPLM government in Southern Sudan in collaboration with the NCP. This assertion was vigorously and furiously disputed by the SSDF in a press release on July 18, 2007. There seemed to have no winner then. However, there was in fact a training of some sort. Sudan Today did not know the real purpose. It is also difficult to assert that the SSDF was part of it or even knew about it. But it is possible to implicate the SSDF.

The training took place at the folly of the Ethioian government which always thought the Anyuak were the bad “guys”. The Nuer were very clever to discover this Ethiopian weakness. Thowaaath Pal of the Patriot Front, one of the Colonel Mengistu’s regime representatives in Gambella, made arrangements through the Nuer officials in Gambella. The officials convinced the government that the local Nuer must be trained and get prepared against any further Anyuak insurgency or attack against the Highlanders or government institutions. Bilpam is the proper place because it is far from Anyuak eyes. The EPRDF took the bait and swallowed it whole. It was a much hidden secret. With the Anyuak making the cloud, Thowaath Pal, whose hand is full of the Anyauk blood, trained his soldiers with supplies from Eriteria and the EPRDF itself. Thowaath got Nuer soldiers from the SSDF rogue elements who sat in the villages and those who ran away during the Malakal fight earlier. Otherwise, Thowaath Pal Chai has nowhere to get soldiers.

The Nuer section at Lare, however, does not agree in part with Thowaath Pal Chai. They are enjoying their local government just the way the Anyuak had wanted the EPRDF to do to limit or avoid tribal fighting all together. So Thowaath had to get soldiers from SSDF elements. This connection implicates the SSDF which was functional with the NCP. The Sudan Today, in this regard, is right. These soldiers can any time be used against the SPLA/M as required. Since most of the soldiers were already fighters, Thowaath wanted to show to the Eriterians that he has an army strong enough to stage horror against the EPRDF. Thowaath had lacked an army for a long time. The Anyuak refused to join him even at the bad time. Thowaath was a corrupt Derg man who spoiled Gambella. The Anyuak know him well and will never cooperate with him. Thowaath soldiers included the Nuer Eriteria war veterans who were roaming in Gambella. The name of one of them is in the documents taken from the lost two terrorists.

The game against the Ethiopian government by the Nuer is clever but makes the EPRDF in Addis Ababa and Gambella foolish and easy pray to cheap politics. The Nuer are the winners. They tricked both the highlanders in Gambella and the Meles Zenawi in Addis Ababa. The EPRDF trained insurgency against itself. It was paying salaries to hidden insurgents in Gambella parliament and cabinet with advisors in Addis Ababa near Meles, the Prime Minister. What a theater!

Are the soldiers still at Bilpam now? The Nuer are not foolish. They have melted into thin air when their contacts fell asleep and continued to sleep till forever. The EPRDF had no way to get them. Once the contact was lost with the two men and heard of arrests in town, why would they wait to be caught by the foolish EPRDF? They are now roaming around Naisr or just around the lawless borders. Such is the fate of the highlanders in Gambella and the entire Ethiopian government that came with making dubious marriages with people who change colors all the time. Today they are in Khartoum with Bashir. Tomorrow they are in Gambella telling the highlanders how bad the Anyuak are putting the highlanders into much frustration to generate more hatred against the Anyuak. The Addis Ababa government does not want to believe that the Nuer are seasonal tribe or nomadic tribe who do not have trust in any government. A Nuer kills a person in Gambella and runs to Sudan. He kills another person in the Sudan, and returns to Ethiopia. They also evade taxation in the same way. No matter how Meles appoints them as ambassadors or ministers their conspiracy will continue.

Now the Gods of Gambella have worked through this young man, Ibrahim Abulla, who did not want to sell Gambella and Ethiopia to unworthy people. He looked at the soil that created his ancestors and all the trees on it. He found no reason to double-deal with the Nuer insurgents. He did not intend to get awards or to get praises from anyone. He did it for the sake of his land that the Nuer have abused for a long time. If this is anything to the EPRDF it should be a strong message that it has harmed the Anyuak for nothing. It should be a message also to the highlanders in Gambella that the political marriage between them and the Nuer was not real. It has faltered badly. They must know now that the Nuer were not working to protect them from the Anyuak but to lull them to sleep and then to take them by storm. The Gambella people were lucky. The Anyuak poor boy bailed them out of danger. The storm was to come during the millennium celebrations to have more people on target unaware. It would have been devastating. However, the highlanders and the Nuer can now enjoy their political marriage.

* The author is an Ethiopian living in the Sudan. He can be reached at obangkello@yahoo.com

Credit – http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article24857    ምስል ዝግጅት ክፍል

ይህ ጽሁፍ ነጻ አስተያየት ነው። የዛጎል አቋም አይደለም

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