ETHIOPIAN PEOPLES REVOLUTIONARY PARTY Democratic (EPRP D] – POLITICAL PROGRAM
The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party (EPRP) held its 4th Congress in April 2006 and adopted the program contained herein. This program was amended in January 2008 following the separate emergence of EPRP (democratic). The program reflects the main tenets of the EPRP [D].
The EPRP, formed in April 1972 to respond to the needs of people’s struggle for a political organization, as fought for more than three decades for the right of the Ethiopian people to be masters of their own destiny. The EPRP[D] is continuing with this lofty and historic struggle because, at present as in the past, the Ethiopian people are deprived of their basic and inalienable human and democratic rights.
The EPRP was formed at a time when an autocracy had exhausted its tenure in power by refusing to respond to the popular demand for change in the system. Land to the Tiller, Education for All, Equality of all Nationalities and other popular demands bearing on the sovereignty of the people and the country were ignored by the rulers. The 1974 popular revolution swept away the autocratic regime and paved the path towards a better and democratic future. It was indeed a revolution in which a majority of Ethiopians, irrespective of class or nationality, gender or religion, participated and paid the necessary sacrifice to achieve their objectives.
During this period, the EPRP was as yet not strong enough to play a determinant role in such a way as to block or avert the impending danger of a coup d’etat and the usurpation of the revolution by the army. The army, led by officers and NCOs later to be called the Derg, assumed power and blocked the triumph of the revolution. Draconian and repressive laws and edicts were proclaimed to counter the people’s demands for power, democracy and meaningful change. The ancient regime was swept away and yet, in a way, reborn in the dictatorial Dirg.
The struggle for democracy continued and it is in this period that the EPRP emerged clearly as the organization of the vast majority of the people. Organizing itself clandestinely all over the country, it mobilized the people for the political struggle and peacefully challenged the ruling military. The call for the formation of a broad based provisional and popular government, for a multi-party system, for the peaceful resolution of the Eritrean war, for fair and free elections went unheeded. These and other stands of the EPRP were that of the people and as such garnered massive support. As the military regime, led by Mengistu Hailemariam, resorted to violent repression of the peaceful struggle, the EPRP, which had stated in its 1975 program that it would struggle peacefully so long as there was the possibility to do so, was forced to resort to self defense. The military regime declared the EPRP “Public Enemy Number 1” and unleashed a campaign of repression against it. In the urban areas, this led to massive killing sprees, to the infamous “Red Terror” and the massacre of a generation by blood thirsty officers backed by the Soviet superpower. EPRP’s self defense was no match for the brutal military regime, and the party has made a genuine self-criticism of its lengthy self defense when it should have quickly folded its urban counter-operations.
In the rural areas, the military regime ‘s anti-EPRP repression was equally savage. Furthermore, the EPRP was attacked by the narrow nationalist duo of the Tigrai People’s Liberation Front (the TPLF) and the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (the EPLF). The EPRP was forced to withdraw from Tigrai into Begemidr (Gondar). The combined onslaught by the military regime, the TPLKF and the EPLF did lead to the weakening of the EPRP but did not result, as its foes had anticipated, in its total disappearance.
The EPRP supported the right of nationalities to self determination and fought for democracy and equality long before the TPLF saw the light of day as an EPLF-sponsored organization. In fact, many EPRP members lost their lives demonstrating in support of a peaceful and democratic resolution of the Eritrean war. However, the EPRP did not adopt the baseless and false contention that Ethiopia isa colonial power, that Eritrea is a “colony”, that Eritrea “was a sovereign state even in the past…” etc. EPRP’s position did not sit well with the EPLF which labeled the EPRP as “chauvinist” and groomed the TPLF against the EPRP. Subsequently the TPLF on its part, refused to heed the EPRP’s call for cooperation and coordination or tolerance of difference, and instead decided to go along with the EPLF to “destroy” the EPRP so as to have uncontested field in Tigrai and elsewhere. Set on this devious goal, the TPLF and EPLF in the late 1970s up to the early 1990s, waged war against the EPRP in Tigrai, which was followed by the TPLF crossing into Gondar (Wolkait region) and launching another attack against the EPRP. The war campaign was accompanied by a concerted anti-EPRP propaganda campaign by the EPLF and the TPLF.
The EPRP’s unwavering decision of not bowing to any foreign master also led to some foreign forces joining in the anti-EPRP campaign. Yet, the EPRP was able to overcome its internal difficulties and to defeat the external attacks. In 1984, it was able to hold its second party congress in its own operation zone (Quarra, Gondar). At this congress, EPRP assessed and examined its past history and activities, and corrected its errors. It adopted a political program which clearly stipulated that pluralism and a democratic system that is characterized by the full respect of the rights of the people, multi-partyism, respect of private ownership (in land, etc..) and decentralization of power so as to effectively empower the vast majority of the people, the respect of the rights of nationalities to equality and self administration…are the panacea for the ills of the Ethiopian society. It was at this 2nd congress that Marxism-Leninism was dropped as the party’s ideology. Subsequently, EPRP(D) reformed its party structures and instituted a policy of transparency and accountability within the party and aspires to make these democratic goals part of the Ethiopian political fabric.
At present, the EPRP(D) continues with its tradition of struggling for the respect of the democratic and human rights which have been basically denied by the ethnic-based government of the TPLF/EPRDF. The EPRP(D) continues to stand with the civic society calling for the respect of the rights of trade unions and associations to exist and function legally without being forced to be appendages of the government. The EPRP(D) continues to call for the unity of the people and the country on the basis of democracy and equality, for the respect of the economic rights of the people, for the establishment of an independent judiciary, for an armed and police force that is multi-ethnic in the composition of its officer corps and the rank and file, and non-partisan.
For the EPRP(D), the struggle continues because not much has changed fundamentally. The TPLF/EPRDF not only launched another war campaign against it in Gondar and Gojjam regions, but it refused to answer the party’s call for the right to peacefully and legally struggle inside Ethiopia. The EPRP is outlawed along with other major independent organizations while the TPLF/EPRDF cloned itself with many fake parties and fronts so as to create and maintain the illusion of multi-partyism. The TPLF/EPRDF continues with its repressive acts against the EPRP and all independently organized opposition forces as it strives to impose totalitarian and absolute control over political power.
The present Ethiopian reality is characterized by the rule of an ethnic chauvinist group (the TPLF/EPRDF) whose ethnic politics has divided and weakened the country. The ruling group plays the democratic game to satisfy donors while it has instituted what amounts to a dictatorship based on the notion of the primacy of one organization (TPLF/EPRDF) over all others. As in the past, the prisons are full of political prisoners, many dissenters disappear, the state owns all the land, it monopolizes the media, it controls the judiciary. The army and police are (re)organized in such a way as to make them totally loyal politically and ethnically to the ruling group.
Luckily, our people have been able to see through TPLF’s trickery. In the 2005 national elections, TPKLF/EPRDF was soundly beaten at the ballot box, completely losing the Addis Abeba City Council by its admission, but according to independent observers, losing the national election. However, true to its form, it resorted to what it knows best in dealing with uncomfortable truths: using brute force and reversing its massive election losses.
The EPRP (D), which is part of a coalition of political forces, civic society members and individuals known as SHENGO, strives with other opposition forces to struggle peacefully. The Paris Conference for Peace and Reconciliation, the Addis Abeba Conference which followed up on this and set up the Council of Alternative and Democratic Forces (CAFPDE), and the various negotiations, and efforts undertaken to seek peaceful solutions, etc. had all the full support and active participation of the EPRP. The TPLF/EPRDF , however, has not been willing to lend its ears to the wisdom of such peace initiatives and calls. Relying on brute force, confident that its absolute control on political power would last, it has resorted to provoking the opposition, daring it to “fight it out”:, to “die for its beliefs”.
This political program was adopted following the 6th party congress held in July 2011. It defines the party, its aims, and objectives, the reasons for its continuing struggle against forces of division and tyranny. The struggle for a pluralist and democratic Ethiopia, for a country united on the basis of equality, for progress that cherishes the welfare and dignity of the majority, for a peace that assures security and well-being of the citizens continues. And the EPRP(D) political program shows that the organization is standing with the Ethiopian people and Ethiopia to fight for the noble aims of the ongoing popular struggle for democracy and the rule of law.
OUR STRUGGLE WILL CONTINUE!
VICTORY TO OUR STRUGGLING PEOPLE
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