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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08ADDISABABA852 2008-03-31 10:13:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Addis Ababa
Cable title:  

ELECTION HERALD 6: ANRDF DISENCHANTED WITH

Tags:   PGOV PHUM KDEM ET 
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INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ADDIS ABABA 000852 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/29/2028
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM ET
SUBJECT: ELECTION HERALD 6: ANRDF DISENCHANTED WITH
ELECTORAL PROCESS

REF: ADDIS ABABA 783 AND PREVIOUS

Classified By: CDA Deborah Malac. Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

Summary
-------



1. (C) Afar National Revolutionary Democratic Front (ANRDF)
Chairman Salih Ali Hodele alleged that hundreds of ANRDF
candidates for local elections have been dropped from
registration sheets by National Electoral Board (NEB)
personnel who belong to the ruling Ethiopian People's
Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) or affiliated parties.
Salih said that he led an ANRDF delegation to Addis Ababa to
express his constituents' concerns to the NEB and other
Ethiopian government officials but must now return to Afar
disenchanted and "without justice." Describing the Afar
Region governor as "a little dictator" who seeks to stifle
the "aspirations of the people," Salih offered a litany of
incidents of EPRDF harassment against ANRDF candidates and
supporters. Salih said he will report his experiences with
the NEB to Afar elders, who will then help determine whether
and how the ANRDF will continue to participate in Ethiopia's
electoral processes. End Summary.

ANRDF History


--------------------------





2. (C) ANRDF Chairman Salih and ANRDF executive members
Abdella Mohammed Abdella and Ali Aden Keleita met with
Emboffs on March 26 to voice their disenchantment with
electoral process in advance of April's local elections.
Providing context, Chairman Salih recounted the ANRDF's
thirty-year history as a rebel and dissident movement in the
sparsely-populated Baracle District of Zone 2 the Afar
Region, including the ANRDF's opposition to the Derg regime
and off-and-on conflicts variously with the Ethiopian,
Eritrean and Djiboutian governments, culminating in the
ANRDF's 2005 decision to (re)join the Ethiopian political
process as a registered party. "Even though we had problems
with the Ethiopian government in the past," Salih explained,
"we decided to return to civilian life and fulfill all our
obligations in the interests of bettering our community and
livelihoods."

A Little Dictator?


--------------------------





3. (C) However, since rejoining the political process the
ANRDF has found that the EPRDF Afar Region governor is "a
brute, a little dictator who does not respect the rule of law
and runs the region like his own kingdom...(and is) killing
the aspirations of the people," Salih said. Specifically,
Salih charged that regional officials are corrupt, selling
portions of safety net wheat for personal gain and falsifying
budget reports to pocket ill-gotten gains. According to
Salih, the federal government tolerates the misbehavior of
the regional officials because it needs them. Afaris are
not, however, subject to arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial
killings or other harrassment because, Salih explains, "We
(Afaris) are armed."

EPRDF Pre-Election Manipulation Alleged


--------------------------





4. (C) Salih said there are 31 woredas in Zone 2 and each
woreda has approximately ten kebeles. The ANRDF registered
candidates for both woreda and kebele elections with local
branches of the National Electoral Board (NEB) and was able
to field candidates for 15 of the 31 woredas When
registration data was transmitted to the NEB in Addis Ababa,
Salih alleged, hundreds of ANRDF names were dropped so that
ANRDF candidates are only recognized for four woredas. In
response, the ANRDF filed a complaint with the Afar Region
NEB offices, but received no response. All members of the
Afar Region NEB, Salih said, are "fee-paying members" of the
Afar National Democratic Party (ANDP), the EPRDF's Afar
Region affiliate. Salih said he and the executive members
came to Addis Ababa to plead their case with the NEB but
found similar indifference.

ANRDF: "They Treated Us Like Dirt"


--------------------------



ADDIS ABAB 00000852 002 OF 002





5. (C) "We received no justice from the regional NEB or the
federal NEB - they talk the same language," Salih said,
adding that "(W)e are poor people who live in a desert
environment and we believed the government would respect us
when they asked us to join the democratic process. We had to
sell our camels to arrange transport to come to Addis Ababa.
We went from the lowest officials to the highest officials to
make sure we passed our message, and they treated us like
dirt." Salih said that his only purpose in coming to Addis
Ababa was to express his constituents' concerns and that he
would now return home to report to elders and the community
as a whole that "we could not get justice."

Options Include Armed Struggle


--------------------------





6. (C) Salih said he does not know what the response from the
elders will be, but he speculated that it would take one of
three forms. First, they could take a long view and accept
current injustices as part of an evolution of democracy,
choosing to stand whatever candidates they can an accept the
results. Second, they could accept the results of the local
elections as a foregone conclusion, not further challenge the
EPRDF/ANDP and focus their energies on 2010. Or, third, they
could reject the political process and resume armed struggle
against the Ethiopian government. Salih said he could not
prejudge the response and that the ANRDF would "follow what
the people tell us." However, Salih underscored, "What
(Ethiopia's) leaders are broadcasting on the airwaves is only
hot air, not truth. There is no justice - and we have been
supportive of this government." Emboffs stressed to the
ANRDF leaders that armed conflict is not a good idea. The
United States supports and will continue to advocate for, as
it has consistently, greater openness in Ethiopia's political
process, Emboffs added.
MALAC