Ethiopia – Real difference between CUDP and TPLF

14 mins read

By Amoraw Wubneh*

April 15, 2006 — This article assesses the real difference between two of the major political forces in Ethiopia today – the [opposition] Kinijit (Collation for Unity and Democracy Party – CUDP) and [the ruling] (Tigray People’s Liberation Front – TPLF). In part the author of this article tries to shade some light where the article posted by Dhugaa Baasuu on April 12, 2006 entitled “Ethiopia- Differences between CUD and TPLF” falls short of explaining the facts on the ground. The author of this article has lived through both the Derg military regime and currently the Woyane (TPLF) regime. As such this testimony is based on the author’s real life experience in Ethiopia corroborated by documented evidence.

What are the major dividing lines between Kinijit (CUDP) and Woyane (TPLF)? To come up with a meaningful conclusion let’s see the following features one by one.

- Political programme
- Vision
- Leadership
- Track record

1. Political Program

Kinijit (CUDP)

The political programme of Kinijit1 (CUDP) is based on liberal democracy of the western world. This party recognizes as its core values: Individual freedom, collective and group rights, responsibility, openness, accountability, responsiveness to the requests and demands of the people, honesty (uprightness), unity in diversity, liberal democracy, participatory and inclusive atmosphere, mutual benefits, compassion, exemplary humanity, equality and the rule of law. In addition KINIJIT’s manifesto states that private land ownership is the necessary and essential right of citizens while not completely excluding communal and government ownership of land.

Woyane (TPLF)

Woyane’s or Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) ideology is based on the paradigm of ?revolutionary democracy’. The concept of this ideology is based on a hybrid of ?African style Nazism’, Leninism (Stalinism), Maoism, and Enver Hoxa’s Albanian Communism. In the words of Aregawi Berhe2, a one time chairman of the Front,

“The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) at its inception, was grounded in an ethno-nationalist consciousness generated by the cumulative grievances of Tigrayans against successive central governments of Ethiopia. An association of Tigrayan elites, the urban-based Tigrayan National Organization (TNO), prepared the groundwork for the formation of the TPLF. The TPLF, for its part, utilized class and ethno-nationalist ideologies to mobilize Tigrayans until it ousted the Mengistu government in 1991….”

For instance in an interview given by the Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, he himself has claimed that he feels proud to emanate from the “the people of Tigray who have been tasted by fire like gold”. While he mentions the remaining citizens of Ethiopia mere “cherke” – which literally means as weak as a piece of cloth.

After taking power in May 1991 Woyane (TPLF) tried to make some cover up of its original ideology by claiming that it has accepted western democracy. However as Kostas Loukeris observed:

“TPLF/EPRDF, during the period of its transformation from a regional revolutionary movement into a country-wide power holder, also managed to adapt its political vocabulary to the fashionable lingo of democracy and free-markets. At the same time though it never abandoned either its organizational structure of a Marxist-Leninist party or its fundamentally anti-imperialist orientation and state-led economic practice….”

The ownership of land, according to the Article 40 of the constitution is government-owned.

Article 40 : The Right to Property

3. The right to ownership of rural and urban land, as well as of all natural resources, is exclusively vested in the State and in the peoples of Ethiopia. Land is a common property of the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia and shall not be subject to sale or to other means of exchange.

2. Vision

Kinijit (CUDP)

The official website of KINIJIT states the vision of the organization as:

“ KINIJIT’s vision: is to see a country in which, its people are united on the basis of equality and mutual respect; in which the people work together to extricate themselves from poverty and backwardness; to see Ethiopia as a country in which the human and democratic rights of its citizens are fully respected; to see Ethiopia having a leadership that works in a spirit of responsibility, accountability and on the basis of fulfilling the demands of the people; to see a country endowed with good governance that operates at all levels in a system of openness and democracy. ”

Woyane (TPLF)

Woyane (TPLF) has a vision of creating an independent Tigray Republic that is separate from Ethiopia right from its inception in 1975. Though Woyane (TPLF) tried to play down its original claim when it gained strength, Woyane (TPLF) never abandoned this vision as it is engraved it in no other document than the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Article 39 of this document states that:

Article 39: Rights of Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples

Every Nation, Nationality and People in Ethiopia has an unconditional right to self-determination, including the right to secession.

Based on this article of the Constitution and the official stand of Woyane (TPLF) about the history of Ethiopia, which Woyane (TPLF) claims to be 100 years, it is imperative to look into what number of nations, nationalities and peoples will emerge in this period. Considering 100 years to encompass three consecutive generations, taking only two nations/nationalities/peoples as a sample, and a taking a person’s genealogy from both a father and a mother, let us project how many separate entities will emerge. Based on Woyane’s pure-race policy and applying the principles of combinatorics, after the first 30 years 3 separate entities will emerge, after 60 years 15 separate entities will emerge, by the 90th year 105 distinct nations/nationalities/peoples will emerge. When such numerical calculations are applied to more realistic figures about the different nations/nationalities/peoples in Ethiopia it gives hitherto unseen figures.

According to different studies there are about 80 to 90 nations/nationalities/peoples in Ethiopia. So considering that a person’s genealogy is the person’s heritage and right that cannot be denied, the exact number of nations/nationalities/peoples will be a minimum of 3160 after a single generation (30 years), and after 60 years it will be 4 991 220, and after 90 years it will emerge to be more than twelve billion (12 456 136 048 590) – actually an incredible figure. So the idea of self determination based on the concept of Woyane’s pure-race policy will have to encompass all these realities. If somebody was born from an Oromo mother and a Tigriyan father no body can deny this person to have a separate identity from both his mother’s side and his father’s side. In addition the delineation of the federal states is said to be based on language as a milestone. There are more than 80 languages spoken in Ethiopia today, but there are only 9 federal states – what a joke.

3. Leadership

Kinijit (CUDP)

The leadership of Kinijit (CUDP) is composed of a broad representation across all walks of life, gender, religious affiliation, age, and ethnicity. The executive members of the party are as follows:

Kinijit Senior Executives:

- 1. Chairman: Mr. Hailu Shawel, age 70, Amhara/Oromo, Engineer, Consultancy company owner.
- 2. First Vice Chairwoman: Miss Birtukan Mideksa , Oromo, Lawyer,
3. Secretary: Mr. Muluneh Eyuel, Kembata/Hadiya, Economist, Consultant for UNICEF

Executive Staff:

1. Mr. Abayneh Birhanu (Amhara) 2. Mr. Akalu Gergrie

3. Dr. Hailu Araya (Tigrawi) 4. Dr. Befikadu Degifie (Oromo/Gurage)

5. Mr. Dereje Amensisa 6. Mr. Elala Tezera

7. Major Getachew Mengistu 8. Mr. Gizachew Shiferaw

9. Mrs. Leniesil Asfaw 10. Dr. Mulalem Tarekegn

11. Mr. Seleshi Tena 12. Shimels Tekletsdik

13. Dr. Yakob Hailemariam (Gurage)

PS: What details remain is due to the author’s lack of information.

Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (TPLF)

The leadership of (TPLF) is composed entirely of Tigriyans, mostly from the town and locality of Adwa. Current members of the Polit Bureau are:

- Mr. Meles Zenawi, Chairman
- Mr. Seyoum Mesfin, Vice Chairman
- Mr. Arkebe Equbay, polit bureau member
- Mr. Abay Tsehaye, polit bureau member
- Mr. Abadi Zemo, polit bureau member
- Mr. Abay Woldu, polit bureau member
- Mr. Haleka Tsegay Berhe, polit bureau member
- Mr. Sibhat Nega, polit bureau member

While the exact number of all central committee members is a secret, the official figure indicates that there are 36 listed members.

4. Track Record

Kinijit (CUDP)

Kinijit was formed in October 2004 first as a collation of four parties: All Ethiopia Unity Party (AEUP), United Ethiopian Democratic Party – Medhin (UEDP-Medhin), Ethiopian Democratic League (EDL), and RAINBOW Ethiopia: Movement for Democracy and Social Justice. Its primary form was a collation of semi-independent parties and their immediate objective was to forge a common electoral front for the May 2005 National Elections in Ethiopia. After Kinijit (CUDP) got the impressive electoral gains that was marred by electoral fraud by the ruling EPRDF, Kinijit (CUDP) found itself at cross-roads for its very survival. Kinijit leaders formally united their collation into a single party in September 2005, but till this date its leaders are in prison for fabricated charges of “genocide, treason and fomenting to overthrow the Woyane/TPLF regime by force” and the party has been banned by the Woyane (TPLF) government as illegal.

Woyane (TPLF)

Woyane (TPLF) has tried to create a collation with parties that have been created by itself during the armed struggle. This umbrella organization is known as the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) that was established in 1987. Members of the front are: Woyane or the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the Amhara Nation Democratic Movement (ANDM), the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), and the Southern Ethiopia People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM). The chairman of EPRDF is no other than Mr. Meles Zenawi himself.

Woyane’s (TPLF) policy towards political plurality in Ethiopia is characterized by deception, creating fictitious opposition parties on opposition parties that pose real challenge for Woyane (TPLF), and divisive approaches in handling conflicts with political opponents of any kind.


Kinijit (CUDP) and Woyane (TPLF) define the two extremes of the contemporary political landscape in Ethiopia. Given the current trends of the political momentum in the country, it is apparent that Ethiopia could either enter into an era of democratization or into a complete anarchy or political abyss. While the fate of the country is ultimately determined by the people of Ethiopia, this development in part depends on the foreign policies of the western countries. In addition neighbouring countries like the Sudan, Eritrea, and Kenya could play their own coercive or positive roles. In fact these neighbouring countries will either benefit from the fruits of the successful democratization process in Ethiopia or will have to embrace themselves from an over flooding instability.

* Amoraw Wubneh is IT specialist, he can be reached at

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