June 10, 2005

Friday, June 10

Friday update. If the pace of phone calls is any indication, things seemed to have calmed considerably. On Tuesday and Wednesday, we received and made calls almost hourly to find out what was going on. Today, Friday, has been fairly uneventful, at least from our small corner of Addis Ababa. The taxis are still off the roads, so I’m not really sure what that means; however, there seemed to be significantly more activity on the roads than yesterday.

I honestly have little idea how things are going, but I’d say by the pace of things over the past two days, the clashes are slowing. The police and military have continued to augment their presence, bringing in more and bigger machinery, but we haven’t heard reports of skirmishes like those at Mexico, Megenenya, and Mercato from days past. All in all, it seems to be calm.

If my assessment is, in fact correct, which there’s a good chance it may not be as I’m confined to Bole, then the big question will be what happens next. Many young people died, so I imagine the government’s credibility will be affected. Any non-party loyalists, foreigners, and others who were either uninformed about Ethiopian politics or hoped the government, whatever its actions, was acting out of the best interests of the people, may be skeptical.

What happens with the results will likely have a huge impact. Should official results be expedited and present an accurate representation of voter will, then things may move forward without trouble. As of yet, though, there have been no announcements regarding the election. Almost everything has been focused on the protests and clashes of the past few days, and there’s no indication that the government/NEB is going to make announcements in the coming days. (I may be totally wrong on this due to my inability to comprehend Amharic, Oromiffa, or Tigrinya and hence any of the local news, but I haven’t heard anything about the results.)

Also, the question of the taxis remains unanswered. With the taxis on strike, many shops are closed, possibly out of support for the taxis or because without the taxis, there aren’t many customers. People with private cars and NGOs are circulating, but it’s difficult to say how much of the population that actually represents and how many people are sitting at home, listening to the news and reports from friends, waiting to see what happens. Without the taxis, at a minimum, Addis is half a city, so that has to be resolved.

I do have my first confirmation that the mobile phone card embargo is having an effect. My friend called (on a land-line) to say that he went out to purchase phone cards, but that his usual supplier didn’t have any.

Other than that, we are keeping low-key, working from home, and trying to stay abreast of events. I am amazed how little international news there is about all this. There seems to be one report a day each from BBC, CNN, Reuters, and the AP. It seems that the journalistic pool in Ethiopia is quite small. That’s not to knock local journalists who are out taking risks and busting there butts to keep people informed, but, unfortunately, local journalists don’t always have the ability to express themselves as freely as foreign and particularly, white journalists.

I guess it’s civil-instability related, but I’m amazed that my Amharic professor has maintained our thrice-weekly schedule (actually, he showed up for an unscheduled session yesterday which I was more than happy to accept). Wednesday, he made the long walk from Megenenya area – pretty good for a guy over 60. We drove him home that night. Thursday, though, less anxious about the safety of driving, he arrived at the house in car, as per normal. Unfortunately, nobody in the house heard the knocking at the door and, because the class was unscheduled, we left my professor stranded outside for almost 20 minutes.
I’ll sign off there – keep it smooth.

4 Comments:

Blogger ochialli said...

It's not surprising that US media has virtually no Ethiopia coverage. We're too busy wondering about Mr. & Mrs. Smith coming out this wknd, whether Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are an item, Michael Jackson, Tyson v. McBride, Russell Crowe throwing a telephone, and oh yeah, G8 Countries providing debt relief to the 18 poorest countries, or in the words of GWB and TB, "Help Africa,"
As if it is one country.

Why does it take almost 2 months for the official election results to be published? There has been controversy surrounding many elections in recent years, in the US, Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgystan, and any others that I have missed. Honestly, I think it's actually better to delay the results and get it right, rather than jump the gun. Ken D., do you think the NEBE is in bed with the govt and is part of any election fraud, or do you think they are just trying to get it right (which doesn't exactly seem right with the prelim results they have published). It seems that the court did the right thing by not validating prelim results. If confidence in the government is a little shaky, do you think the people there have more confidence in the judicial system? Do you think that the election will at some point be determined by the court?

10:24 PM  
Blogger ladystroll said...

fun rockin zone!
doesn't sound like your having fun anymore. keep your chin up.

just wondered about your comment that you have little attachment to ethiopia - have you immigrated to ethiopia or how does that work? i just recently moved here from canada and am curious about the process.

thanks.

8:10 PM  
Blogger Couch Potato said...

Help me Dude, I'm lost.

I was searching for Elvis and somehow ended up in your blog, but you know I'm sure I saw Elvis in the supermarket yesterday.

No honest really, he was right there in front of me, next to the steaks singing "Love me Tender".

He said to me (his lip was only slightly curled) "Boy, you need to get yourself a shiny, new plasmatv to go with that blue suede sofa of yours.

But Elvis said I, In the Ghetto nobody has a plasma tv .

Dude I'm All Shook Up said Elvis. I think I'll have me another cheeseburger then I'm gonna go home and ask Michael Jackson to come round and watch that waaaay cool surfing scene in Apocalypse Now on my new plasma tv .

And then he just walked out of the supermarket singing. . .

"You give me love and consolation,
You give me strength to carry on "

Strange day or what? :-)

6:01 PM  
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11:41 PM  

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