Archive for the ‘Ethiopian News’ Category

BREAKING NEWS: Africom Commander persuaded TPLF to appoint Hailemariam Dessalgn as prime minister

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

General Carter F. Ham, head of the U.S. Africa Command has persuaded the ruling party in Ethiopia, the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) to appoint Hailemariam Dessalegn as prime minister until the next fake election, according to Ethiopian Review Intelligence Unit sources. The TPLF junta has been resisting Hailemariam’s appointment fearing that power may slip from their hands… This is a developing story. Stay tuned for more updates.

Calling Aba Gebremedhin “His Holiness” is an insult to the people of Ethiopia

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

By Elias Kifle

When the Woyanne junta-installed fake patriarch in Ethiopia, Aba Gebremedhin (formerly Aba Paulos), died this week, some of the opposition media was referring to him as “His Holiness,” “Bitsuh Wokdus Abune Paulos,” etc. I would not be surprised if the Woyanne media address him in such respectful way, because he is their cadre. But for the independent Ethiopian media who have been reporting about Aba Gebremedhin’s crimes, including the cold-blood murder of an Ethiopian monk, and the destruction of Ethiopian historical places, to refer to him as “His Holiness” is a terrible insult to all the victims of the fake patriarch. It is also a lie. Aba Gebremedhin is not a holly man. He is not the patriarch of Ethiopian Orthodox Church. His religious tile has been stripped by the real leaders of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Aba Gebremedhin is a crook, a pimp, and a murderer who should be held in contempt by every one and brought to justice.

Ethiopians hold hunger strike at the White House

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

A group of Ethiopians are currently holding a hunger strike in front of the White House to protest the attack on free press and freedom of speech in Ethiopia, and to demand the release of jailed journalist Reyot Alemu, Woubshet Taye, Eskinder Nega and others.

The group led by young Ethiopian Liyu Genenew has arrived at the White House Lafayette Park on Thursday around midnight to stage the protest and hunger strike, which will continue until tomorrow, Sunday noon.

One American lady who was part of the hunger strike collapsed last night due to exhaustion and had to be taken to a hospital.

Liyu and her friends braved heavy rain yesterday evening and the hot weather during the day. One of the participants told Ethiopian Review that the most difficult part of the hunger strike is the sleep deprivation.

Day 58 since Ethiopia’s dictator Meles Zenawi disappeared

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

Today is the 58th day since Ethiopia’s dictator Meles Zenawi has disappeared.

During Meles Zenawi’s disappearance:

- The TPLF junta first denied the report that he is sick, but later admitted that he is getting medical treatment for exhaustion. The regime’s propaganda chief Bereket Simon said Meles will return to work before Ethiopian New Year, September 11.

- Meles Zenawi’s wife Azeb Mesfin, the mother of corruption, has disappeared from public view for the past 28 days.

- The TPLF-installed fake patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Aba Gebremedhin (formerly Abune Paulos) died from heart attack this past Wednesday.

- The TPLF military chief of staff Gen. Samora Yenus is gravely ill.

- The ruling junta is unable to reach an agreement on who should replace Meles, but during the past few days the U.S. is pressuring them to appoint Hailemariam Desallegn as prime minister, and that the U.S. left them with no choice if they want to receive financial support to save the regime from financial collapse.

- It is expected that the Woyanne junta will run out of foreign currency within the next 3 – 4 weeks.

A capital murder warrant issued for Abey Belete Girma

Friday, August 17th, 2012

A capital murder warrant has been issued for Abey Belette Girma, 37, in the killing of the owners of Desta, an Ethiopian restaurant, at around midnight on Aug. 15. Yayehyirad Lemma and Yenenesh Desta were gunned down on the front porch of their home on Marquita Street after closing the restaurant for the night.

According to CBS Channel 11, the arrest warrant says a co-worker of Abey Belete’s contacted police after the man admitted to following them home from the restaurant and shooting them. Girma showed the witness the gun he used and said he had felt “disrespected” by the couple.

Abey Belete Girma is 5’11” and weighs 208 pounds. If you have any information regarding his whereabouts, call the Dallas Police homicide unit at (214) 671-3661, or leave an anonymous tip with CrimeStoppers at 214-373-TIPS. — Dallas Observer

Dallas murder suspect Abey Belete Girma fled the state

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Abey Belette Girma(THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS) — Dallas police believe a man wanted on an arrest warrant in connection with the shooting deaths of a couple who owned an Ethiopian restaurant has fled the state.

Police continue to look for Abey Belette Girma who is accused of capital murder.

Yayehyirad “Yared” Lemma, 40, and Yenenesh “Yenni” Desta, 31, shot to death about midnight Wednesday in front of their Lower Greenville home, in Dallas, Texas. The couple was returning home from Desta, the Ethiopian restaurant they operated on Greenville Avenue near Forest Lane.

According to an arrest warrant, Girma approached both of them on the front porch and shot them before running away.

A co-worker of Girma’s told police that Girma told him he had killed the couple because they had “disrespected him.” He said Girma told him that he followed them from their restaurant to their home where he confronted Lemma on the front porch of his home.

“Suspect Girma told witness … that the complainant continued to disrespect him so he shot him,” police records state. “Suspect Girma stated he next shot complainant Yenenesh because she had also disrespected him.”

The co-worker told police that Girma showed him a pistol that he used to kill the couple.

He also told police that Girma intimidated him into driving to Goodland, Kansas, where he was able to escape and call the police.

National Bank of Ethiopia suspends foreign currency exchanges

Friday, August 17th, 2012


The Ethiopian government has suspended the provision of foreign currency in a decision that has been linked to the political uncertainties surrounding Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s disappearance.

A notice to this effect has been issued by the regulator, the National Bank of Ethiopia, to the country’s commercial banks as Addis Ababa.

According to Agriculture minister Mitiku Kassa, the number of aid recipients was 3.2 million over the last six months, and have now increased due to the failure of rain in some parts of the country.

The country’s foreign currency reserves are running alarmingly low and can only cover the importation of basic goods such as petroleum, medicine and food.

The measure is likely to lead to a black market boom that would further weaken the country’s import-export trade, observers say.

Banking in the Horn of Africa nation of about 85 million people is highly centrally regulated.

Industry insiders say massive capital flight and illegal transactions are the main reasons for the rapid depletion of forex reserves. One of the fastest growing sub-Saharan Africa countries, Ethiopia’s growth has touched seven per cent annually for the last nine years, according to the IMF.

Big businesses owned by Mr Meles’ ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) play a key role in the daily operation of the economy. The EPRDF owns banks, insurance firms, manufacturing and construction giants, hotel chains and media outlets among the more than 85 companies under the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray.

The EPRDF is a coalition of four largely ethnically-based political parties, with the Tigrayan People Liberation Front (TPLF) — representing Tigrays, who make up less than five per cent of the population — running the show and providing the power base for Meles and his government.

Mr Meles, a Tigray, has been absent from the public eye for two months due to an undisclosed illness, fuelling speculation of an internal power struggle his absence.

Government officials refute this and say the long-serving premier would resume office soon. However, the government has to date failed to provide proof that he is alive.

Ethiopia has lost $11.7 billion to outflows of ill-gotten gains between 2000 and 2009, a recent Global Financial Integrity report says.

“That is a lot of money to lose to corruption for a country that has a per capita GDP of just $365. In 2009, illicit money leaving the country totalled $3.26 billion, doubled the amount in each of the two previous years,” part of the report reads.

About $194 million in cash or 314 metric tonnes of food is needed for the next four months.
Forty-one per cent of the hungry as located in the Ethiopian-Somali region and the rest in Oromiya, Southern and Amhara regional states.

Suspect identified in murder of Ethiopian couple in Dallas

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Yayehyirad and YeneneshDALLAS, TEXAS (FOX) — Dallas police have identified a murder suspect in the shooting deaths of a Dallas couple.

Investigators said Abey Belette Girma followed Yayehyirad Lemma and Yenenesh Desta home from their restaurant, the Desta Ethiopian Restaurant on northern Greenville Avenue, Wednesday night. He allegedly shot them because they had disrespected him.

The couple died on the door step of their M Street home just after midnight.

Neighbors who heard gunfire called police to the home in the 5700 block of Marquita Street. Inside, a relative was caring for the couple’s 1-year-old son.

Earlier on Thursday, Oak Farms Dairy offered $10,000 to whoever had information leading to the arrest and indictment of any suspects.

However, a few hours later, Dallas police announced the reward offer had been retracted and that “detectives are working on potential information.”

The suspect, Abey Belete Girma, has not yet been arrested.

57th day since Ethiopia’s tinpot dictator Meles Zenawi disappeared

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Today is the 57th day since Ethiopia’s khat-addicted zombie dictator Meles Zenawi disappeared. While the regime’s propaganda chief says that Meles will return to work before September 11, Ethiopian New year, very few people within the ruling party TPLF’s hierarchy know even his whereabouts.

Meles Zenawi’s personally appointed gun-totting patriarch, who is actually a TPLF cadre, had suddenly dropped dead yesterday. The cause of his death is said to be a massive heart attack.

Ethiopian Review’s Intelligence Unit is receiving a report from multiple sources now that Meles Zenawi’s military chief of staff Gen. Samora Yenus is gravely sick and has been transported abroad (probably Dubai) for medical treatment early this week. We are trying to confirm the report from additional sources.

Ethiopians in Dallas grieve the loss of Yayehyirad and Yenenesh; Police close to solving the murder

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Police may be close to solving couple’s murder, reward retracted

DALLAS (FOX) — Just a few hours after a local business offered a $10,000 reward to help catch those responsible for a couple’s murder, Dallas police announced the reward offer was retracted, because they had a promising lead.

Earlier on Thursday, Oak Farms Dairy offered $10,000 to whoever has information leading to the arrest and indictment of any suspects in the murders of Yayehyirad Lemma and Yenenesh Desta.

However, a few hours later, Dallas police announced the reward offer had been retracted and that “detectives are working on potential information.”

The couple, who own Desta Ethiopian Restaurant on northern Greenville Avenue, were shot by an unknown assailant as they returned home to their M Street house at just after midnight on Wednesday.

Neighbors heard gunfire and called police to the home in the 5700 block of Marquita Street. Inside, a relative was caring for the couple’s 1-year-old son.

Anyone with further information on these murders is asked to call the DPD Homicide unit at 214-671-3661 or Crime Stoppers at 214-373-TIPS (8477). You can remain anonymous and still be eligible for the reward.

* * * * *
No Motive In Murder Of Restaurant Owners

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – So far police haven’t arrested any suspects in connection with the Wednesday morning murder of a Dallas couple.

Yayehyirad Lemma and Yenenesh Abayneh Desta owned a popular Ethiopian restaurant. Police say they found the couple shot to death on the doorstep of their home.

Investigators told CBS 11 News there was no obvious motive and nothing was taken from either victim — indicating robbery wasn’t the goal.

David Eseke rents an apartment from the couple and was asleep next-door early Wednesday, but said he didn’t hear the gunshots. Eseke thinks weather had something to do with that.

“There was a ton of lightning last night… thunder,” he said.

Grieving family members visited the couple’s home Wednesday and gathered at church to pray.

A friend described the pair as a, “very beautiful, down to earth couple.”

Lemma’s close friends said they have no idea why anyone would kill the pair.

A number restaurants owners near the Desta Ethiopian Restaurant closed Wednesday to honor the couple. Flowers were placed outside the door of the restaurant.

Police say the investigation into the shooting in the 5700 block of Marquita Avenue is ongoing.

* * * * *


DALLAS, TEXAS – A Dallas couple was shot dead on the front porch of their home in the M Streets area in the 5700 block of Marquita Street. Sources tell News 8 it does not appear the couple was shot in a robbery attempt.

It happened just after midnight as Yayehyirad Lemma, 40, and Yenenesh Desta, 31, were getting home from working at their restaurant, Desta.

Sources said someone drove up, got out of the vehicle and shot the couple at close range. The person then fled the scene.

Family members said the couple had an 18-month-old baby who was not hurt in the shooting. The baby was in the house with other family members when the fatal shooting occurred.

Family and friends gathered Wednesday for traditional prayers at the couple’s church in Garland. It is a holy time for many Ethiopians. It’s their Lent.

“I mean there’s only one way, you pray together when this kind of thing happens to you,” said Teddy Tadesse, a family friend.

Tadesse said he has no idea who would want to harm the couple. Their friends and family called them Lemma and Desta.

“He was shy, quiet,” he said. “She was loving, generous, and very beautiful people. It’s a big loss.”

Dallas police are still searching for answers.

“We don’t have a motive at this time,” said Sgt. Joe Garza, Dallas Police Department. “We know the individuals lived at that location and we are trying to follow up on leads we may have.”

Police say they are still looking for surveillance video in the area.

Sources said robbery may not have been the motive. Nothing appears to be missing.

Their restaurant, Desta, is an Ethiopian eatery located on Greenville Avenue near Forest Lane.

While it is Ethiopian tradition to be buried within three days of death, that will not be possible for the couple, since autopsies will need to be done and police continue to investigate.

So the community will pray every day until Lemma and Desta are laid to rest.

WBAI Radio in New York holds discussion on Meles Zenawi’s disappearance

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

የፍትህ ሚኒስቴር አቶ መለስን ለመተካት የሚያስችል የህግ ረቂቅ አዘጋጀ

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Aba Gebremedhin (formerly Abune Paulos) dies

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Abune Paulos

UPDATE: Ethiopian Review spoke with a staff member at Bete Kehenet this morning and was able to confirm that the “patriarch” is dead. Currently the Bete Kehenet compounded is surrounded by police, and several people, including priests and church officials, are going in and out of the compound.

The Bete Kehenet staff member told Ethiopian Review that Aba Gebremedhin was admitted at Balcha Hospital on Tuesday following a heart attack. Yesterday he was completely paralyzed and later on he went into a comma.

* * * * *

Ethiopian Review sources in Addis Ababa reported this morning that the Woyanne-installed fake Patriarch of Ethiopia, Aba Gebremedhin (formerly Abune Paulos), has died this morning at Balcha Hospital.

We called Balcha Hospital and spoke with the secretary who refused to confirm or deny the information and instead advised us to call Aba Gebremedhin’s secretary. The secretary at Balcha Hospital we spoke with sounded agitated and nervous. … more update shortly

Massive capital flight, plea for food aid point to gathering storm in Ethiopia

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Ethiopia suspends forex reserves

The Daily Monitor

August 16, 2012

The Ethiopian government has suspended the provision of foreign currency in a decision that has been linked to the political uncertainties surrounding Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s deteriorating health.

A notice to this effect has been issued by the regulator, the National Bank of Ethiopia, to the country’s commercial banks as Addis Ababa also appealed for food aid.
According to Agriculture minister Mitiku Kassa, the number of aid recipients was 3.2 million over the last six months, and have now increased due to the failure of rain in some parts of the country.

The country’s foreign currency reserves are running alarmingly low and can only cover the importation of basic goods such as petroleum, medicine and food.
The measure is likely to lead to a black market boom that would further weaken the country’s import-export trade, observers say.
Banking in the Horn of Africa nation of about 85 million people is highly centrally regulated.

Industry insiders say massive capital flight and illegal transactions are the main reasons for the rapid depletion of forex reserves. One of the fastest growing sub-Saharan Africa countries, Ethiopia’s growth has touched seven per cent annually for the last nine years, according to the IMF.

Big businesses owned by Mr Meles’ ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) play a key role in the daily operation of the economy. The EPRDF owns banks, insurance firms, manufacturing and construction giants, hotel chains and media outlets among the more than 85 companies under the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray.

The EPRDF is a coalition of four largely ethnically-based political parties, with the Tigrayan People Liberation Front (TPLF) — representing Tigrays, who make up less than five per cent of the population — running the show and providing the power base for Meles and his government.

Mr Meles, a Tigray, has been absent from the public eye for two months due to an undisclosed illness, fuelling speculation of an internal power struggle his absence.
Government officials refute this and say the long-serving premier would resume office soon. However, the government has to date failed to provide proof that he is alive.
Ethiopia has lost $11.7 billion to outflows of ill-gotten gains between 2000 and 2009, a recent Global Financial Integrity report says.

“That is a lot of money to lose to corruption for a country that has a per capita GDP of just $365. In 2009, illicit money leaving the country totalled $3.26 billion, doubled the amount in each of the two previous years,” part of the report reads.

About $194 million in cash or 314 metric tonnes of food is needed for the next four months.
Forty-one per cent of the hungry are located in the Ethiopian-Somali region and the rest in Oromiya, Southern and Amhara regional states.

56th day since Ethiopia’s dictator Meles Zenawi disappeared; his patriarch died today

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Today is the 56th day since Ethiopia’s tin-pot dictator Meles Zenawi disappeared.

The patriarch he installed, Aba Gebremedhin (formerly Abune Paulos) died this morning after being admitted at Balcha Hospital in Addis Ababa on Tuesday.

Today is also the 21st day since Meles Zenawi’s wife, Azeb Mesfin, aka Mother of Corruption, has disappeared.

Owners of Desta Ethiopian Restaurant in Dallas TX found dead in front of their home

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Tragedy struck the Ethiopian community in Dallas this morning when police found Ato Yayehyirad Lemma and Wzr. Yenenesh Desta lying dead in front of their home. The husband and wife were owners of the popular Desta Ethiopian Restaurant in Dallas, Texas.

(NBCDFW) — The shooting happened at a home on the 5700-block of Marquita Drive, near lower Greenville Avenue.

Dallas police told NBC 5 that they found a woman and man, later identified as 31-year-old Yenenesh Desta and 40-year-old Yayehyirad Lemma, lying dead in front of the home.

Police believe the two were coming home from work when they were shot and killed.

A friend of the two victims told NBC 5 that the man and woman were a couple and owned an Ethiopian restaurant at Forest and Greenville.

Police are searching for the shooter(s).

ENTC seeks diplomatic relations with the Government of Sweden

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

12 August 2012

ENTC asks Government of Sweden for diplomatic recognition

The Ethiopian National Transitional Council (ENTC) has sent a communique to Mr. Carl Bildt, Foreign Affairs Minister of Sweden, requesting a diplomatic recognition.
The letter was submitted to the Sweden foreign minister by ENTC’s diplomatic representative in Stockholm, Mr. Aba Biya Ketema Wara Badi.

The letter explains ENTC’s mission, and discusses the worsening political, economic and security crises in Ethiopia, as well as the need for the Sweden government to help with a peaceful transition to democracy.

The Transitional Council was founded at a 3-day conference in Dallas, Texas, that was convened from July 1 – 3, 2012, with the participation of representatives from over 30 cities and countries.

The Transitional Council plans to submit similar requests to several countries through its diplomatic representatives in the coming few weeks.

# # #
For more info:
ENTC Foreign Relations Committee
85 S. Bragg St. Alexandria VA, 22312 USA
Tel: 202-735-4262

Ethiopian dictator’s absence grips nation, fuels speculation (CNN)

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

It took 55 days for CNN to report about the disappearance of Ethiopia’s tin-pot dictator. Even now, the CNN report appeared only on its website. This goes to show how inconsequential Meles Zenawi is to the international community after 21 years in power and turning Ethiopia into a colony of Saudi Arabia, China and India.

Meles Zenawi

By Faith Karimi

(CNN) — Ethiopia’s prime minister is “recovering well,” a spokesman said Wednesday, amid frenzied speculation about the health of the usually visible leader, who has not appeared in public for two months.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, 57, came to power two decades ago and is considered a strong force in the frequently volatile horn of Africa.

He has not appeared in public since June, and the secretive nation has released little information about his whereabouts, prompting rumors and opposition claims that he is dead or facing a life-threatening illness.

After weeks of speculation, the government held a news conference last month and announced he got treatment for an unspecified illness.

Zenawi is “recovering well, resting and performing his duties as prime minister and head of state,” government spokesman Bereket Simon reiterated Wednesday. He declined to give exact details on Zenawi’s whereabouts or the nature of his illness.

His absence has been a hot topic in the nation, with bloggers launching a counter of the number of days he’s been missing. Citizens have taken to social media to discuss his whereabouts and exchange conspiracy theories.

Searches for Zenawi are at their highest since 2004, according to Google trends.

“Ethiopians are a bit confused,” said Endalk Hailemichael, 30, of Addis Ababa. “In Ethiopia, there are traditions of secrecy and hiding the whereabouts of leaders. People are afraid, there is a lot of uncertainty looming. A lot of rumors and unclear information going on.”

Hailemichael said the disappearance has sparked a lot of questions, including who would succeed him in case of a power vacuum. But most people are discussing it with fear of repercussions, he said.
Combating threats in Somalia

CNN reached several people in the nation who expressed their concerns about his whereabouts, but did not want to be quoted for fear of retribution.

“People are afraid to talk about it. This is a police state,” Hailemichael said. “They are talking about it, but they are looking over their shoulders. In bars, in taxis, coffee shops, that’s all people are talking about. But they are afraid.”

His absence was more evident last month when Ethiopia hosted an African Union summit in its capital of Addis Ababa. Zenawi, a key player in talks on the tensions between Sudan and its rival neighbor South Sudan, did not attend.

“Some people are worried, some people are crying,” said Jomanex Kassaye, 30, who lives near Addis Ababa. “While some people are worried about the instability that might occur … others are happy that he may be gone.”

Kassaye said, while he is not a fan of the leader, he wants him to leave through a democratic process.

“I need him to go because there is no democracy, no freedom of speech, no food, no justice, no accountability,” he said. “But not like this. If he leaves like this, we will have another dictator who will take over power and stay for too long.”

Ethiopia, which is a key Western ally often lauded for effective use of aid money, is surrounded by unstable nations such as Somalia and Eritrea. Zenawi has been credited with working toward peace and security in the region.

The Ethiopian army has sent peacekeepers to battle Islamic extremist group Al-Shabaab in Somalia. More recently, the prime minister was working to broker a peace deal in the negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan, which split last year but still have unresolved issues.

In an attempt to quash the rumors, the government censored a newspaper that tried to report information about his health, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“This weekend, the government ordered the state-run printing company not to produce the latest edition of the weekly Feteh, which was to have carried front-page coverage of Zenawi’s condition,” the media advocacy group said on its website.

Zenawi, a former guerrilla leader, is part of a group that toppled dictator Haile Mengustu Mariam in 1991. The shrewd politician is credited with economic progress and maintaining peace in the nation surrounded by volatile countries.

However, human rights groups have accused his government of a heavy hand and a series of abuses, including limiting press freedoms and cracking down on opposition political parties.

Last year, Ethiopia found two Swedish journalists guilty of supporting terrorism and sentenced them to 11 years.

አቡነ ጳውሎስ በጠና ታመው ሆስፒታል ገብተዋል

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Aug 15, 2012 (ESAT) — አቡነ ጳውሎስ በጠና ታመው ሆስፒታል መግባታቸውን በኢትዮጲያ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋህዶ ቤ/ን ዙሪያ የሚያጠነጥኑ ዜናዎችን በቅርበት በመዘገብ የሚታወቀው ደጀ ሰላም ድረ-ገጽ ዘገበ። ከፓርያሪክ ረዳቶች አንዱ የሆኑትን አባ እንቁ ባህርይ ግን፤ “የለም አልታመሙም እሳቸው ቤት ነው ያሉት” ብለዋል።

አባ ጳውሎስ ትናንት ምሽት በጠና ታመው ባፋጣኝ ደጃዝማች ባልቻ ሆስፒታል እንደተወሰዱ የሚያትተው ይኸው ዜና ዘገባ፤ ከቅርብ ጊዜ ወዲህ ራሳቸውን ችለው መራመድ አቅቷቸው መኪናቸው ውስጥ ሲገቡና ሲወጡ እንኳን ከግራና ከቀኝ ሌሎች ሰዎች እየደገፏቸው እንደነበር አብራርቷል።

የተያዘውን የፍልሰታ-ለማሪያም ጾም በመንበር ፓትርያርክ ቅድሰተ ቅዱሳን ማሪያም ገዳም ጸሎተ ቅዳሴ ላይ እንደነበሩ የተናገሩት እነዚሁ የደጀ-ሰላም ምንጮች፤ ምንም እንኳን የአባ ጳውሎስን አጣዳፊ ህመም ምንነት ለይተው ባይገልጹም የጤንነታቸው ሁኔታ አስጊ በመሆኑ በሆስፒታሉ ሃኪሞች ከፍተኛ ክትትል ስር መሆናቸውን ጠቅሰዋል።

አባ ጳውሎስ የጤናቸው ሁኔታ እጅግ አሳሳቢ ደረጃ ላይ መድረሱን በተለይም ከጉልበታቸው በታች የሚገኘው የእግራቸው ክፍል መጎዳቱን ዘግቦ የነበረው ይኸው ድረ-ገጽ፤ በዚህም የተነሳ ጤናቸውን ለመከታተል የሚያደርጉት ሳምንታዊ ወጪ ከስድሳ ሺህ ብር በላይ ማሻቀቡን ጠቁሟል።

ይህ በእንዲህ እንዳለ ኢሳት ያነጋገራቸው ከአባ ጳውሎስ ረዳቶች አንዱ አባ እንቁ ባህርይ ባልቻ ሆስፒታል ሰው ሊጠይቁ መሄዳቸውን፤ እሳቸው ግን አለመታመማቸውን ገልጸዋል።

አባ ጳውሎስ በቅርቡ 20ኛ ዓመት በዓለ ሲመታቸውን መጀመሪያ በቤተ ክህነት በማስከተል ከፍተኛ የመንግስት ባለስልጣናት በተጋበዙበት በሸራተን አዲስ ሆቴል፤ እንዲሁም ለሶስተኛ ጊዜ በክራውን ሆቴል በወኪሎቻቸው አማካኝነት ከፍተኛ ገንዘብ ፈሰስ በማድረግ ድል ያለ ድግስ አዘጋጅተው ግብር ማብላታቸው መዘገቡ ይታወሳል።

ቤተክርስቲያኗ፤ በተለይም የዋልድባ ጥንታዊ ገዳም እና በውስጡ የሚገኙት መነኮሳት ህልውና እጅግ አሳሳቢ ደረጃ ላይ በደረሰበት ባሁኑ ወቅት፤ እርሳቸው እንደ ቤተክርስቲያኗ አባትነታቸው ከመነኮሳቱና ከምእመናኑ ጎን በመቆም፤ ይህንን መቃወም ሲጠበቅባቸው በተቃራኒው የመንግስትን አቋም በግልጽ ያራምዳሉ በሚል፤ የሚወቅሱዋቸው ቁጥራቸው እየበዛ ነው።

አቡነ ጳውሎስ ለማነጋገር እንችል ዘንድ ስልካቸውን ከረዳታቸው አባ እንቁ ባህርይ ለመቀበል ያቀረብነው ጥያቄ ባለመሳካቱ፤ ባልቻ ሆስፒታል ወይንም ቤታቸው እንዳሉ ለማረጋገጥ አልቻልንም።

ሆኖም የኢሳትም ሌሎች ምንጮችም አቡነ ጳውሎስ መታመማቸውን አረጋግጠዋል።

HRW demands release of Muslim leaders

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Ethiopia: Prominent Muslims Detained in Crackdown

Security Forces Arrest Hundreds of Peaceful Protesters; Detainees at Risk

Human Rights Watch — August 15, 2012

(Nairobi) – The Ethiopian government should immediately release 17 prominent Muslim leaders arrested as part of a brutal crackdown on peaceful Muslim protesters in Addis Ababa, Human Rights Watch said today. A court is expected to rule during the week of August 13, 2012, on whether to bring charges against the detainees who have been held for almost three weeks in a notorious prison without access to lawyers.

Since July 13, Ethiopian police and security services have harassed, assaulted, and arbitrarily arrested hundreds of Muslims at Addis Ababa’s Awalia and Anwar mosques who were protesting government interference in religious affairs, Human Rights Watch said. Many have been released but at least 17 prominent members of the community arrested between July 19 and 21 remain in detention. A number of protesters who have been released told Human Rights Watch that they were mistreated in custody.

“The Ethiopian government should address the grievances of its Muslim community through dialogue, not violence,” said Ben Rawlence, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The security forces should be upholding the law, not breaking it.”

According to official figures, Muslims make up approximately 30 percent of Ethiopia’s population, the second largest religion in this historically Christian country.

The crackdown followed months of widespread peaceful protests, petitions, and appeals by the Muslim community in response to what they considered to be unconstitutional government interference in Muslim affairs. This included government attempts to determine the makeup of the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs by imposing members of and the teachings of an Islamic sect known as al Ahbash on the community, and seeking to control the operations of Awalia mosque.

The Muslim community created a committee in January to represent it in discussions with the government. The 17 prominent Muslims currently detained include seven of the committee members, along with nine other religious leaders and activists, and at least one journalist. An additional six people, all members of the Awalia Student Council, were arrested the previous week.

The Muslim leaders and student council members are being held in pre-trial detention without charge at the notorious Federal Police Crime Investigation Department, known as Maekelawi prison, in Addis Ababa. They have had no access to legal counsel or, in several cases, their relatives. Their lack of access to lawyers while detained in a prison known for torture heightens concerns about their safety, Human Rights Watch said.

It is unclear what the detainees will be charged with. According to unconfirmed reports, they are under investigation on unspecified charges under the country’s overly broad anti-terrorism law. This week, the 28-day remand period that is stipulated only under the anti-terrorism law expires, and the detainees are therefore expected to appear before the court.

“The arrest of 17 prominent Muslims for exercising their basic rights to free speech is just the latest misuse of Ethiopia’s laws, and notably its anti-terrorism law,” Rawlence said. “All those held should be immediately released unless the government can promptly produce credible evidence of unlawful activity.”

Excessive Use of Force
Several witnesses told Human Rights Watch that on July 13, as hundreds of worshippers gathered at Addis Ababa’s Awalia mosque to prepare for a July 15 awareness-raising event, federal police forcibly entered the mosque, breaking doors and windows, and fired teargas inside. They beat people gathered there, including women and children, and made numerous arrests. A witness said that police beat a disabled woman, forcing her to the ground and then continuing to beat her. One man said teargas was fired directly at him inside the mosque before the police beat him.

People at the mosque sent out an appeal for help, leading scores of people to converge on the mosque in the Gullele financial district. Police forces encircling the mosque and its compound assaulted the people approaching the mosque, beating and arresting many of them.

A witness described seeing blood-soaked victims by the roadside on the way to the mosque. Several witnesses told Human Rights Watch that they saw scores of men and women being loaded into separate trucks. Many appeared to have broken bones and other serious injuries, apparently inflicted by the police, the witnesses said.

On July 21, police broke up a sit-in at the Anwar mosque in response to the arrests of the committee members. The police entered the compound, then beat and arrested large numbers of people, witnesses told Human Rights Watch. One man told Human Rights Watch that he was beaten until he lost consciousness. The government said publicly that the protesters had started throwing stones at the police.

Arbitrary Detention and Mistreatment of Detainees
The Ethiopian government told the media that 74 people were arrested on July 13, though witnesses and members of the Muslim community said that hundreds had been detained.

Those rounded up on July 13 were taken to police stations across Addis Ababa, notably Kolfe Keraneyo and Gullele, and to Maekelawi Prison.

Many released detainees told Human Rights Watch that the police mistreated them.

A witness told Human Rights Watch that in Kolfe Keraneyo, the police forced at least two women to take off their hijab (head covering) and that they spat on one when she refused. The second, a young woman who was detained with her young son, was sexually assaulted by a policeman, who pulled the hijab off and grabbed her breast. Detainees, even some who already had been injured, described being beaten with sticks and the butt of a gun when they arrived at various police stations.

About two dozen of the people initially detained at Maekelawi were subsequently taken to Sendafa police training camp, several kilometers outside of Addis Ababa, where they allege they were mistreated. People who were detained at both Maekelawi and Sendefa described being forced to run barefoot on sharp stones. Two protesters detained at Sendafa for 10 days were beaten and made to carry out harsh physical labor, they told Human Rights Watch.

The majority of those arrested between July 13 and 21 have since been released, in several cases after having been made to sign a document. Some said they were made to sign the document without being allowed to read the content.

Reports that the police and other security services beat and otherwise mistreated the 17 prominent Muslim leaders and others while in custody should be thoroughly and impartially investigated, Human Rights Watch said.

Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that on July 20, police came to the home of Yusuf Getachew, the editor-in-chief of a popular Muslim magazine Yemuslimoch Guday(Muslim Affairs), intimidated his family, looted cash and phones, and arrested Getachew. His relatives were subsequently informed that he was at Maekelawi, but they have been repeatedly refused permission to visit him.

A witness said that Ahmedin Jebel, the spokesman for the Muslim committee, was arrested that evening and badly beaten by police.

In addition to the 17 prominent community members in Maekelawi, other prominent members of the Muslim community have been under house arrest since July 21. The families of two journalists from Yemuslimoch Guday, Akemel Negash and Isaac Eshetu,wereheld under house arrest for at least 10 days. The police reportedly searched the houses of many Muslim leaders, activists, and journalists.

Muslim leaders in Ethiopia have faced ongoing harassment during the last eight months. Ahmedin Jebel and the same two journalists from Yemuslimoch Gudaywere detained for four days at Maekelawi in mid-December. The crackdown on Muslim dissidents has extended beyond the capital. On August 5, three imams were arrested in the town of Gelemesso in East Harerge. And on August 10, according to a credible source, the police used teargas and beat protesters outside the Areb Genda mosque in the north-central town of Dessie.

Since 2011 the Ethiopian government has convicted at least 34 opposition members, journalists, and others on similar offenses under the country’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. Human Rights Watch has strongly criticized the law itself and its use, calling for the release of political prisoners sentenced under the law and for amendments of the law’s most abusive provisions. This includes its broad definition of terrorist acts, which can include peaceful protests that result in the “disruption of any public services,” and its vague provisions that proscribe support or encouragement of terrorism, which can include public reporting on banned terrorist groups.

The anti-terrorism law also contains provisions that violate fundamental due process rights. For instance, the provision on pre-trial detention allows suspects to be held in custody for up to four months without charge, one of the longest periods in anti-terrorism legislation worldwide.

“In the hands of the Ethiopian government, the anti-terrorism law is becoming a multi-purpose tool used against any kind of dissent,” Rawlence said.

55th day since Ethiopia’s dictator Meles Zenawi disappeared

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Today is the 55th day since Ethiopia’s dictator Meles Zenawi has disappeared. The regime’s spokesman Bereket Simon says Meles will return before September 11, which is Ethiopian New Year. But who believes Bereket the pathological liar?

A latest puzzling development is TPLF founder and former chairman Sebhat Nega’s interview with ESAT yesterday to talk about Meles Zenawi. How did Sebhat agree to be interviewed by ESAT, a media organization that is labeled a ‘terrorist group’ by Meles Zenawi? ESAT’s line of questioning is also disquieting, to say the least. Listen below:

The Meles Mystery – Graham Peebles

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

By Graham Peebles  |

To many Ethiopians the sudden disappearance of Prime Minister Zenawi is a source of joy and excited expectation, for his die-hard supporters apprehension no doubt and concern for their leader. Is he dead they ask, or perhaps critically ill, has he run away, finally overwhelmed by guilt and shame at the way he and his ministerial cronies have treated the people of Ethiopia, since they took power from the communist Derg twenty one years ago. Or is he recovering from illness peacefully on some isolated retreat.

The Prime Minister has not been seen since his last outing at the G20 summit, in Mexico on 19th June, where he looked a wee shadow of his usual Italian suited self. Such prolonged absence is unusual for a man who revels in performing his supporting part upon the international stage of political propaganda.He has failed to appear at a series of high-profile events since June, including the opening of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa in July.

So where is the revolutionary democrat? It has been repeatedly reported that Meles has received treatment in the Saint-Luc hospital in Brusselsfor a stomach complaint, a suitably vague description as to mean nothing.The Washington Post (8/8/2012)  affirms “Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the rebel-turned-technocrat who has led Ethiopia since 1991, is sick.” The Guardian (8/8/2012)  relays “the Egyptian state information service reporting that Meles underwent surgery in Germany.” They continue “It is a mystery what has happened to Meles and not even his own ministers know his fate,” an exiled Ethiopian source said.” According to a ‘government source’, (no name or status is given) speaking to the Guardian, Meles is on holiday, well it is the summer after all, and is recovering from an illness. There is no mention of where he is holidaying or why he has not personally issued a statement, reassured his followers, who are no doubt worried, and silenced the internal tussling within the EPRDF, that is undoubtedly taking place.

Secrecy smoke and mirrors

Ethiopians are notoriously secretive and distrustful, the great Polish journalist Rysard Kapuscinski in his classic work ‘The Emperor’, regarding the reign of the last Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selasie and his inner circle, states “the Ethiopians are deeply distrustful and found it hard to believe in the sincerity of my intentions,” elsewhere he goes further claiming that Ethiopians are the most “secretive people on Earth.” Having lived in Addis Ababa and worked with Ethiopians for a number of years, my experience certainly bears out Kapuscinski’s comments reinforced by René Lefort, author of ‘Ethiopia. An heretical revolution?’ when he states “given the history of Ethiopia, where secrecy is a cardinal virtue”

The Sellasie years were ones shrouded in deceit and extreme secrecy, all discussions and decisions between the Emperor and his ministers took place verbally. There are no documents with Sellasie’s signature, making it possible for him to deny involvement in any policy, to adopt a number of positions on any issue and to change his mind based on political expediency at any point in time. Kapuscinski relates, “Though he ruled for half a century, not even those closest to him knew what his signature looked like.” At meetings the Monty Python sounding ‘Minister of The Pen’, recorded the Emperors orders and instructions, whose words were often muffled and ambiguous, allowing for non-commitment on issues and the creation of fear amongst his ‘court’.

Image and social status is of great importance within Ethiopian society. In 1973, whilst hundreds of thousands starved, Halie Selasie and his government denied that a famine was taking place in the northeast of Ethiopia, known as the ‘Unknown Famine’ and lied to ITV journalist David Dimbleby, who reported the situation in Wollo that Sellasie and his cronies had attempted to cover up. Food was in fact available in the Wollo region, but was transported to the capital Addis Ababa, where it could command higher prices at market, all under the direction of the Sellasie regime. The revelation to the World of the famine hastened his downfall and he was deposed in 1974 by a military junta, led by Mengistu Haile Mariam, who had him suffocated to death a year later.

Another example of the secretive/duplicitous tendency of the Ethiopian people, creating a false or misleading image was the way Emperor Menelik II death in December 1913 was kept quiet. He died and was buried without any public announcements after suffering a stroke and being unable to govern for several years. And this for and of a man regarded by many as the last true Emperor.

The Meles way

There is no freedom of the press in Ethiopia; in fact there is little or no freedom in any area of social or political life. Express dissent at governments policies and face certain imprisonment, write articles critical of Zenawi and his regime and expect to be charged with treason or some such fictitious crime and sentenced as many have been, often in absentia, to life imprisonment. The Economist (7/8/2012)  reports “Dissident or investigative journalists have been jailed or driven into exile. In July a prominent online journalist, Eskinder Nega, was sentenced to 18 years in prison.”  Political opposition is all but banned under the Zenawi administration.

All media is state owned, so too the sole telecommunication company. As well as the major printing press Barhanena Selam, who recently told the weekly newspaper Feteh, who planned to publish a story quoting BBC and others discussing the where about and health of Meles, that the government had ordered that week’s edition (22/7/2012) of the paper, about 30,000 copies, to be blocked on grounds of inciting national insecurity and endangering the government and the public. Such is the degree of media control.

Accurate, uncensored information about anything is therefore impossible to find within the Ethiopian news sources, who are to nobody’s surprise towing the EPRDF party line on the missing premier – ‘Meles is on holiday, recovering from illness.’  ESAT the independent satellite television station based in Holland, have reported various accounts of Meles death (30/7/2012), misquoting it appears the Belgium based International Crisis Group, who denied giving any such information. It is it seems a maze of invisibility cloaks, secrets and deceit, a drama that would one feels not surprise Kapuscinski in the least.

The EPRDF under Meles Zenawi has been in power since 1991, he has been Prime Minister since 1995, after taking the mantle of President the previous four years. Two stolen corrupt elections in 2005 and 2010, in which European observers declared the election unfair. The regime is a dictatorship, trampling on human rights and restricting all freedoms, selling off vast tracks of prime Ethiopian farmland to international corporations for a few dollars, displacing hundreds of thousands of indigenous people in the process, who are corralled into villagization developments. Land sold is cultivated to grow staples not for the needy people of Ethiopia where some 13 million are food insecure, but for the industrial farmers home ‘market’.

Western complacency

The west believes, as it did with Egypt’s President Mubarak, that it has an ally in Prime Minister Zenawi. He allows American drones to be stationed on Ethiopian soil, and acts when ordered to by the imperial master. In 2006 Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia, at the behest of George W. Bush, who sought to subdue the activities of the Al Shabab militia (Islamist group). The deal is clear and predictable: Meles allows Ethiopia to be an outpost of the American military, in exchange for the west turning a blind eye to extensive human rights abuses in the country. As the Financial Times states “western donors and allies have been willing to overlook human rights abuses and a lack of political freedom at home.” Human rights abuses that destroy lives too many to count, but trouble not ‘western donors’, concerned only to extend their reach into all corners of the world.

Around $3 billion a year is given to Ethiopia in development aid by the US, Europe, Britain and The World bank, all of which incidentally is paid to or through government agencies. The EPRDF misuse and politicize the funds, allocating donations based on political affiliation and not need, including emergency humanitarian aid.

For western donor countries the heavy hand of a tyrant, that inhibits and controls, offers stability, or so those fearful of freedom will say, as the Financial Times (9/08/2012)  comments, “Strongmen in power can be useful allies. They make decisions fast and can impose their wills.” Not withstanding the impact on the people of their hasty ideologically driven decisions and shortsighted actions.

Time for change

If Zenawi is unable to continue in office, and according to Rene Lefort in Open Democracy (8/8/2012) “the widespread conviction shared by most diplomats and experts is that, whether Meles is dead or alive, he is no longer in charge and never will be again, so the candidacy for his succession is open.” should the constitution be respected, parliament would pick a successor. Would his passing make any difference, ushering in change in the way the EPRDF rules Ethiopia, for in the absence of any credible, well-organized, coherent opposition they are sure to continue in power. Will freedom social justice and democracy flow into the country unrestricted, gently healing the deep wounds of the past 20 years, or will another in the mould of the repressive, brutal Zenawi step forward to continue his legacy of suppression and human rights abuse. One suspects the latter would take place, sadly Ethiopia has lacked good governance for generations.

The ERDF and its leader Meles Zenawi, whilst publically espousing democratic values and signing all manner of human rights laws into their constitution and federal code – to be summarily ignored, are idealists, adhering firmly to a version of ‘Revolutionary Democracy’. At the core of which is a centralized controlling dogma, that believes in social uniformity and the abolition of independent thought. Human Rights Watch (HRW) in their report on Ethiopia ‘Development without Freedom,’  quote Meles describing his version of the ideology, “individuals will start to think alike and all persons will cease having their own independent outlook. In this order, individual thinking becomes simply part of collective thinking because the individual will not be in a position to reflect on concepts that have not been prescribed by Revolutionary Democracy.”

Time for freedom and justice

Perhaps Meles Zenawi is dead or and one feels this more likely, recuperating on holiday. Alive or not, his passing is long overdue, should a man who holds such divisive inhibiting ideals, disregards human rights laws and indeed Ethiopian domestic laws, and seems to care little for the people of Ethiopia hold political office at all. It is time for change within Ethiopia. The current regime locked as they are into a repressive narrow ideology show no signs of relaxing the controls exerted upon the people, in fact since 2009 State repression has intensified.

It is Prime Minister Meles Zenawi that leads the EPRDF government and dictates policy. Governance is highly centralized, The Economist (7/7/2012) states “power has still rested with a clutch of Mr. Meles’s comrades from his home area of Tigray in northern Ethiopia,” and according to a former American ambassador to Ethiopia, David Shinn cited in The Economist, “this hard core, including the army’s chief of staff, General Samora Younis, retains a “paranoid and secretive leadership style.” Echoes of Sellasie perhaps and further support for Kapuscinski’s view.

The people’s time

One doubts a man like Meles Zenawiwould be a greatlose,either to the African continent or to the people of Ethiopia.On the contrary the majority of Ethiopians would rejoice, for under his leadership they are controlled andsuffer, have no voice and cry out to be heard, are entrapped and yearn to be free: freeto express themselves, to gather and speak openly, free to build a just and opensociety. Free to be.

Graham is Director of The Create Trust, a UK registered charity, supporting fundamental social change and the human rights of individuals in acute need.


Standing up with our Muslim citizens

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

By Yilma Bekele

The TPLF regime is the kind that believes in a proactive stance in their approach to ward off unwanted happenings. They learned that during the war with the Derg. It is said that upon taking over a village their first act was to gather the village heads and kill those that don’t agree with them, humiliate a few to teach the rest a lesson and recruit the weak to use and abuse. That system sharpened and enhanced has served them to stay in power.

If you notice closely the main task of their propaganda department has been to use any and all means to saw dissent in the opposition by looking for little faults, weaknesses or minor contradictions and maximizing that until the unit disintegrates. It is a very difficult task to guard against such consorted attempt by a government body with unlimited resources hell bent on destruction. Sooner or later the targeted party or association will end up finishing up the dirty work started by the TPLF. No one can survive such scientifically designed attack.

The TPLF uses agents planted within the associations, the power of their vast media empire, their agents in neighborhoods and their hired sycophants among the Diaspora to carry out their mission. They never come out as members or admirers of the ethnic based regime but always qualify their poisonous message with well meaning words. They might utter such garbage as the regime is not tolerant and undemocratic but you have to admire the buildings and roads. Freedom and honor is exchanged for condominiums and paved road.

How the multitude responds to such abuse by the single ethnic based regime is a fascinating subject of study. Our reaction is based on our ancient culture of viewing all with suspicion, accepting authority without question and our capacity to suffer in silence. All this traits work against us. Today we have gone a step further and added educational title as another layer of what should be viewed as final authority. If you notice some of our intellectuals or learned brethren use their degrees as a calling card to be heard over others. The TPLF regime is aware of all this weakness in our psychological makeup. Ato Meles and company’s first order of business was to enroll in correspondence school to secure a title for their letterhead. They did not find being Prime Minster or heads of department as a proud achievement without the piece of paper to give them added legitimacy.

Today the Apartheid party TPLF is using all weapons in its arsenal to divide us, undermine us, create suspicion between us, or turn some off from the political arena. This is nowhere visible as in the current struggle of our Muslim citizens to assert their independence and ward off the government thus the TPLF party in getting involved in their religion. The party in power is trying to define the question of independence in its own distorted vision and accusing the victims of wrongdoing.

First of all the issue is not as complicated and as conspiratorial in nature as presented to our citizens by the ruling party. It is by no means connected to any Jihadist international organization or ideology or led and supported by outsiders. The regime has not presented any compelling evidence to prove its accusations. What is presented until now is wild theories and the usual disinformation that tries to fit a square peg in a round hole al la TPLF style. They want us to believe it because they said so. Sometimes it is necessary to state the obvious to refute their bombastic lie that is told over and over again.

Let us start by the simple statement that our country is populated by Christians, Muslims and people that worship their own indigenous creator. No one group should be seen as having any more legitimacy over others. The issue raised by the Muslim community is to be left alone to choose their leaders without interference by any outside body be it government or other authority. The problem reared its head when the ongoing Arab Spring movement in our vicinity unnerved the TPLF regime. The regime decided to be proactive and in its usual way and attempted to put its operatives as leaders. This did not go well with our Muslim citizens. The TPLF party of course escalated this very simple issue into the political arena in order to draw others into a fight it started.

How exactly is the regime using this movement for freedom of religion? The government is doing all it can to tell us that the Muslims are trying to take over and make our country into an Islamic republic. They have paraded many elderly Muslim leaders, elderly cadres pretending to be Muslim leaders and ordinary citizens to condemn the movement as sinister attempt by outsiders to stir trouble. They are using their mass media to plant doubt in out head, to destroy the legitimacy of elected and beloved Muslim leaders and scare the rest of us into supporting them out of fear and ignorance.

How do the rest of us view the situation? Most of us go along with the theory as presented by the regime. Some of us are unable to erase the doubt they carefully planted in our conscience regarding the motive of the Muslim community. I agree it is a very difficult situation when religion is used as weapon to confuse and undermine. It is more so when it is applied in a very conservative and not really educated society as ours. The issue of looking at others with different religion, thinking or looks than us with suspicion plays into the hands of the regime that knows how to exploit such cultural bias. Of course amnesia is our number one enemy.

What the TPLF party is trying to do to the Muslim community is what they have successfully accomplished in the Christian Church. TPLF has managed to politicize the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo church and shape it in its own image. The reigning Abune was illegally pushed out of the way and a new one was chosen based on his ethnic affiliation. The last twenty years has been a time of trial and tribulations for the Church and there is no question it has weakened it considerably.

The current Abune is not viewed favorably by the vast number of the Christian community and like the political system the church has managed to divide and saw dissent. The Christian community has relied on silent prayer to fight this cancer in their body religion. They have not shown a concerted effort to fight and assert their right to be independent and run their Church. Prayer without action is faith without sacrifice. God help those who help themselves has never been truer than in our case. The TPLF party has been successful in creating confusion; cultivating hatred and using divide and rule tactics. Even in the Diaspora there is no Church that has not seen splits and fights among the parishioners.

The current stand taken by the Muslim community is to avoid the same fate that has befallen the Orthodox Church. They have taken the lesson to heart. It is a gallant fight that should inspire all Ethiopians and a call to resist servitude to any outside power. It is not an attempt to take state power but a legitimate fight to protect their house of worship and religion from outside influence. It is a question of independence in its purest form.

The issue raised by the Muslim community is our issue as well. Injustice to one is injustice to all. We as a nation cannot be free if any of our citizens are targeted to be harmed or undermined. Despite what the TPLF says we should raise our voice and stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters and echo their call to be left to decide their affairs by themselves. Standing with them is a selfless act because we cannot be free while they are oppressed. The leadership Our Orthodox Church in exile is correct when it supported the cry of the Muslim community in their fight against the illegal regime. It is the right and honorable thing to do. This attempt by the TPLF ethnic based minority regime to divide us using religion, ethnicity and regional differences is toxic and not good for building a strong and united Ethiopia. Recognizing that fact is laudable. Getting involved to stop those that preach and practice such act is loving Ethiopia in a practical way.

Aba Paulos, aka Aba Dabilos, hospitalized, critically ill

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012 … l?spref=fb

TPLF federal police savagely attack civilians (video)

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

The ruling party security forces in Ethiopia brutally attack peaceful Muslim civilians – 10 August 2012

Sebhat Nega interview on ESAT (audio)

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Founder and former chairman of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (Woyanne) talks to ESAT about Meles Zenawi’s condition and who is going to replace him. Listen below.

Day 54 since Ethiopia’s dictator disappeared

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Today is the 54th day since Ethiopia’s dictator Meles Zenawi has disappeared. The Woyanne regime’s propaganda chief Bereket Simon told Australian reporter over the weekend that Meles will return from his ‘vacation’ before Ethiopian New Year on Sept. 11.

Ethiopian dictator’s absence draws attention, speculation

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

By Ioannis Gatsiounis | The Washington Times

Where in the world is Ethiopia’s prime minister?

The question is not a geographical brain teaser but a concerned query about the well-being of Prime Minister Dictator Meles Zenawi, who has not been seen in public for two months, and about Ethiopia’s commitment to U.S. counterterrorism efforts in neighboring Somalia.

Ethiopian officials say Mr. Meles, 57, is recovering from an undisclosed illness, but he has not been seen or heard from since he attended the Group of 20 summit in Mexico in mid-June.

In his absence, the government has continued to brook little dissent from the media, activists and members of opposition parties. It also has announced that Ethiopian troops will remain in Somalia to help defeat al-Shabab, the al Qaeda-linked Islamist militant group that has ruled large areas of the Horn of Africa nation.

What’s more, government insiders say Mr. Meles has been grooming his deputy, Foreign Affairs Minister Hailemariam Desalegne, to succeed him.

But no succession plan has been announced publicly, and Mr. Meles’ hold on power has been near absolute, with little in the way of institutional capacity to accommodate a transfer of power.

In addition, Mr. Meles’ minority Tigray ethnic group dominates the government’s ruling coalition, which has stoked deep ethnic resentments and heightened the risk of a scramble for power if the prime minister is no longer in charge.

“Ethiopia is a very traumatized society, and people could use this window of uncertainty as a chance to rise up,” said Obang Metho, executive director of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Arlington.

Such a scenario, observers say, could dramatically shift government attention and resources toward domestic issues and hamper Western- and African Union-led efforts to stabilize Somalia.

Mr. Meles’ government sent hundreds of Ethiopian troops into Somalia in November to fight al-Shabab. They have helped wrestle away towns in central Somalia, train local militia and prevent spillover along Ethiopia’s long border with Somalia, which has allowed AU troops to advance toward other al-Shabab strongholds.

Ethiopia invaded Somalia in 2006 to fight Islamists, but that move was unpopular among Somalis and gave rise to al-Shabab. This time, Ethiopia’s presence in Somalia has been more welcome, given the ruthless governance of al-Shabab militants.

Ethiopia also has attacked militant bases in Eritrea, which has been accused of supporting al-Shabab.

Ethiopia is home to a U.S. drone base operating from a small civilian airport in the southern town of Arba Minch. Mr. Meles’ regime receives billions of dollars in U.S. assistance.

Economic growth has averaged more than 10 percent over the past eight years, spurred by low taxes, improvements to infrastructure and strong foreign investment.

But economic inequality remains stubbornly high, with per capita income at about $1,000 a year and youth unemployment at 25 percent, according to the CIA World Factbook 2012.

Meanwhile, the government has cracked down on Muslim protesters and forced thousands of people from their land in Gambella and South Omo to make room for commercial agricultural projects.

An aide to a U.S. senator involved in African affairs described Mr. Meles’ absence as unsustainable and said it’s anybody’s guess how the country might unravel.

David Shinn, a former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia, said domestic unrest is unlikely to have much impact on Ethiopia’s policy in Somalia because self-interest is guiding the government’s involvement there.

“Any government in [Ethiopia's capital] Addis Ababa will link unrest in Somalia to potential or actual unrest in Ethiopia’s Odaden region,” Mr. Shinn said, referring to the Ethiopian territory that borders Somalia.

The Ethiopian government likely sees itself benefiting from the U.S. drone operation in terms of security and intelligence-sharing with the West.

A spokesman in the U.S. Bureau of African Affairs said the United States has been in contact with several Ethiopian officials since Mr. Meles’ disappearance but would not speculate on what changes might occur should the prime minister not return to his duties.

Mr. Meles took power after the fall of the communist Haile Mariam Mengistu government in 1991 and was re-elected amid accusations of voting fraud in 2005.

Could Susan Rice lead his foreign-policy team next? Should she?

Monday, August 13th, 2012

The Point Guard
Susan Rice calls the plays for Barack Obama at the United Nations. Could she lead his foreign-policy team next? Should she?

Throughout the second week of March 2011, the vastly outgunned rebel forces in Libya fell back before an onslaught by troops loyal to Muammar al-Qaddafi. In the United Nations Security Council, Britain and France lobbied desperately for a resolution authorizing the establishment of a no-fly zone. But U.S. President Barack Obama, intent on withdrawing from the two Middle Eastern wars he had inherited, seemed loath to act, and his U.N. ambassador, the blunt and outspoken Susan Rice, stayed uncharacteristically quiet on the sidelines, sending her deputy to key council meetings and questioning whether a no-fly zone would ever work. "She was blocking, blocking, blocking, standing on the brakes on Libya," one Security Council diplomat recalls.

As an official at the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton, Rice had lived through the horrendous American failure to stop the genocide in Rwanda, and later, as a fellow at the Brookings Institution, she had called for military intervention to stop atrocities in Darfur. But senior Obama administration officials, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Thomas Donilon, the national security advisor, were insisting that Libya was not strategically vital and advised the president to steer clear of another war. Despite their opposition and her own public stance, Rice agitated with the White House in favor of intervention in Libya, several aides told me. She also privately instructed her staff in New York to ready a resolution authorizing tough new sanctions and the use of force. She told neither fellow diplomats nor officials in Washington about the draft.

On Saturday, March 12, the Arab League called for military action, as Rice had been warning her colleagues it would. But it was obvious that a no-fly zone, by itself, would not stop Qaddafi’s troops. When Obama gathered his principals for a decisive meeting that Tuesday night, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, having spoken to Arab allies, was able to promise that some Arab countries would join a more robust campaign to bomb Libyan targets. Rice, on speakerphone in New York, said she thought she could move such a resolution through the council. The way Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security advisor, recalls it, Rice said that "she was going to call people’s bluff" by proposing much more powerful military action than even France and Britain had sought. Just before the meeting, Rice had called key ambassadors to say the United States would not endorse a no-fly zone. But three hours later she called again to say the United States would push for a bombing campaign. Some of America’s allies were so bewildered by the abrupt turnaround that they were half-convinced Washington was issuing impossible demands in order to cover its unwillingness to act.

The next morning, Rice took her resolution out of the drawer and introduced it at the Security Council. "I confess," she told me recently, "that I made something of a dramatic presentation." Rice normally shuns theatricality. Now, however, she told the council that Libya presented "as imminent and urgent a situation as this council has ever faced." Rice was brutally explicit. "I don’t want to hear six months from now that we did a [deleted] on you people," she said. "It’s airstrikes; it’s aggressive use of air power." The presentation, a council diplomat recalled, produced stunned silence; it was itself a sort of aerial assault. And it worked. The next day, March 17, the Security Council voted 10-0, with five abstentions, to take "all necessary measures" to protect Libyan civilians.

The Libya resolution was a major achievement for Rice and a vindication of the Obama administration’s commitment to multilateral institutions, above all the United Nations. Obama had concluded that stopping the violence was not a matter of core national security interests and had instructed Rice to tell the Security Council that the United States would not act at all absent council authorization. "It’s up to you to decide," Rice told her colleagues. This reticence would later be stigmatized as "leading from behind," but perhaps it’s better understood as leading without wishing to be seen as taking the lead — a new model of multilateralism suitable to a post-hegemonic era. And because the intervention ultimately succeeded, it offered hope that the U.N. might finally become the authorizing agency for the "responsibility to protect," the doctrine stipulating that states have a duty to prevent or halt mass atrocities even outside their borders.

The multilateralist euphoria lasted all of a few weeks. By Oct. 4, Russia and China blocked even a mild resolution criticizing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who was brutalizing his own citizens as grossly as Qaddafi had. That was about 17,000 fatalities ago. The council’s paralysis on Syria soon made Obama’s strategic deference look like timidity, especially as months of ineffective Security Council diplomacy dragged on; this time, there would be no Susan Rice maneuver to break the logjam. Richard Williamson, one of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s chief foreign-policy advisors, has accused the president of "subcontracting" U.S. policy to former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, whose U.N.-backed peace plan dissolved amid a whirlwind of violence. The feeble half-measures on Syria offer a reminder of the inherent limitations of the Security Council, where the great powers have a veto and are prepared to wield it. They also demonstrate one of the organization’s unspoken purposes: If you don’t want to act or you don’t know how to act, you can always blame it on the Security Council. Libya, as Rice herself would put it, was a "data point," not a "trend."

DURING THE 2008 presidential campaign, Obama sometimes said, "I want to stand in front of the U.N. and say, ‘America is back!’" He meant not only that under a President Obama the United States would take the United Nations seriously again, but that the United Nations would be the right place from which to proclaim a new policy of "engagement" with institutions, with adversaries, and even with allies after eight years of what Obama saw as George W. Bush’s unilateral high-handedness, not least his failure to secure Security Council approval for the Iraq war. Obama argued that transnational problems — climate change, nuclear proliferation, epidemic disease — could only be solved in multilateral bodies. He also thought that healing the breach at the U.N. and elsewhere had become a national security imperative. "The image of the U.S. was always our most important export," he told me in the summer of 2007, "and underwrote a lot of our security." Obama made, in effect, a hard-nosed case for what might otherwise be seen as a dangerously soft-nosed policy.

Bush had sent a message to the U.N. in 2005 when he appointed as ambassador John Bolton, who had publicly argued that the United States should not be bound by international law and had famously said that the U.N. could lose 10 floors of its 38-story headquarters without consequence. Obama sent a different kind of message with Rice, who had written her doctoral dissertation on U.N. peacekeeping, worked with the U.N. in the Clinton administration, and strongly advocated Security Council action in a range of conflict areas. Rice was as stubborn a figure as Bolton, but with a radically different set of beliefs.

Rice, however, had not wanted to be U.N. ambassador. She had taken a huge risk with a promising career when she decided in 2007 to support Obama over his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. Rice had served all eight years of Bill Clinton’s presidency, first on the National Security Council staff and then as assistant secretary of state for African affairs. But when Obama decided to seek the presidency, Rice threw in her lot with him because, unlike Hillary Clinton, he had opposed the war in Iraq. What’s more, as she told me at the time, she thought that Obama (and not Clinton) had a "21st-century view of the world." Rice became a leader of Obama’s foreign-policy team and his most important surrogate on foreign affairs; early in the campaign, they emailed and spoke constantly. When Obama won, Rice hoped to be national security advisor, or at least deputy. But Obama was a young black man with no foreign-policy experience; in Gen. James Jones, his first national security advisor, he chose an older, tall, and craggy white man with many stars on his shoulders. Rice got the United Nations.

Rice now has, in effect, two separate jobs: As U.N. ambassador, she reports to the secretary of state and works with the State Department’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs; as a member of the cabinet she reports to the president. In the Obama administration, foreign policy is made by the White House and carried out by the State Department, and Rice has hitched herself almost wholly to the former. This has contributed to her cool, if perfectly correct, relationship with Secretary Clinton, as has her primal act of rebellion in 2007. A "black belt in bureaucracy," as an admiring White House official says, Rice has constituted her office as a kind of shadow cabinet department. She often dispatches mid-level officials to the State Department to convey her wishes on subjects remote from her portfolio. One former administration official told me, "Susan’s complete insistence on making the U.S. [mission to the] U.N. her own thing" has, unsurprisingly, led to friction with the State Department.

Rice was a prodigy; she had become an assistant secretary of state at the tender age of 32, and she has the semisocialized quality of many people who have known nothing but success. She had a "fearsome reputation" as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University, says Elizabeth Cousens, who roomed with her then and later served as Rice’s chief policy advisor at the United Nations. Cousens says that people who could only see Rice’s argumentativeness and single-minded passion, rather than her kindness and intense loyalty, were baffled at their close friendship. Cousens was also awestruck by her friend’s methodical intelligence: To write her dissertation, Rice placed hundreds of index cards on the floor and simply picked up each card as she wrote her way through.

As a very young official in the Clinton administration, Rice’s confrontations were legend. She and Richard Holbrooke, who had the job she holds now in 1999 and 2000, squared off over policy toward Africa, and Rice is said to have told Holbrooke to screw himself, but in less gentle language, in the White House Situation Room. When I made the mistake of interrupting her once, she cried, "Let me finish!" And when, toward the end of one of our interviews, her assistant entered and silently handed her a card, Rice glanced at it and said, "I know what time it is. Thank you."

Washington is full of people who are very self-confident and very impatient, people who seem to be clad in sandpaper. Almost all, however, are white men; Rice is one of the few black women who belong to this particular club, and her membership can be seen as a sign that, at least in the elite world she has always occupied, neither race nor gender need be defining. Rice’s father, the son of a South Carolina preacher, got a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California/Berkeley, taught at Cornell University, and moved to Washington before becoming a governor of the Federal Reserve. Rice’s mother graduated from Radcliffe College and worked as an education researcher. Rice’s father played tennis on Sundays with Joseph Albright, the husband of future Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and then the families would have lunch together. The young Susan went to National Cathedral School, where she was valedictorian, school president, and, at 5’3", point guard on the basketball team. Then she went to Stanford University and Oxford. Her story somehow mingles the self-confidence of the insider with the relentless drive, the sharp edge, even the distrustfulness, of the outsider. People born into privilege often have the gift of putting people at ease; Rice does not.

You might think that such an abrupt person would be ill-suited to diplomacy, but U.S. diplomats are expected to be blunt, and the position of power they occupy allows them to be. In fact, most of the diplomats with whom I spoke profess to like Rice. Hardeep Singh Puri, the U.N. ambassador from India, says, "Susan is easy to work with; there’s no ambiguity. Most work around here gets done in informal conversation, and her style is well suited to that." What diplomats want most from a U.S. ambassador is the power to deliver what he or she promises. Here Rice is in a special category of her own, in no small part because of her close relationship to Obama. "When he sees her" outside the Oval Office, says a senior administration official, "he lights up." Several people suggested to me that she and the president share the experience of being black people who rose to the top of virtually all-white institutions, but Rice herself pooh-poohed the idea. What binds them, she told me, is age and a shared worldview. They also both love basketball and have children of about the same ages. (Rice’s are 15 and 9.) Whatever the case, Obama clearly takes Rice’s advice seriously. She was one of the few cabinet officers to be asked for input on his June 2009 speech in Cairo, and she is expected to weigh in on subjects far outside her ambit, like Afghanistan. Obama allows Rice a longer leash than most U.N. ambassadors — a latitude that Rice has used to much effect.

WHEN RICE TOOK OVER as ambassador after eight years of Bush, the United Nations was in dire need of attention. The bitter feelings provoked by the debate over Iraq had faded, and the era of provocation had largely ended with Bolton’s departure in late 2006. But Bush hadn’t been terribly interested in using the institution, and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had proved to be an almost soporific figure. The U.N. felt increasingly marginal. So Rice and the administration ushered in a new era with a bang when Obama took office by vowing to pay the United Nations $1 billion in back dues, which it did by the fall.

Next, they tackled the confounding question of whether to join the U.N. Human Rights Council, something the Bush administration had refused to do. A number of senior officials at the State Department and the White House considered the organization incorrigible and worried that joining would make Obama look naive. The council was, as Tom Malinowski, Washington director for Human Rights Watch, puts it, "a place where good causes were delegitimized." Cuba and other serial human rights violators largely controlled the institution and blocked all attempts to censure any country save Israel.

But Rice and Clinton believed strongly that the new policy of engagement should not be, as Rice says, "a la carte." They argued that the United States could make the council better by participating. In March 2009, the White House agreed. And the risk has paid off. By taking part, the United States prevented Iran from also joining the council and even persuaded its members to appoint a special rapporteur to investigate the country’s human rights record; the council has passed resolutions condemning violence in Libya and Syria, and it demanded an investigation into abuses allegedly committed by Sri Lanka in the 2009 war against Tamil rebels. As Malinowski says, "There’s still a disproportionate focus on Israel, but it’s also bashing a lot of countries that previously felt completely protected."

Then, at the annual meeting of the U.N. General Assembly in September 2009, Obama spent three days in New York to highlight America’s renewed commitment to the institution — seen as proof of Rice’s capacity to "deliver" the president. He even agreed to chair a session of the Security Council, which no U.S. president had done before.

Rice and the White House used the session to advance the president’s goal of moving toward a world without nuclear weapons, which he had articulated in Prague that year. After tough negotiations, Russia endorsed a text that called for strict controls on the export of nuclear materials and committed council members to treaties outlawing nuclear tests and the production of fissile material for weapons. Other states then fell into line. "Basically," says Brooke Anderson, Rice’s former chief of staff, "we got the rest of the P5" — the five permanent members of the Security Council (Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States) — "to raise their hands and endorse the Prague agenda." That agreement helped U.S. diplomats make headway at the five-year review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty the following spring, and the U.S. willingness to take its own arms control obligations seriously helped Rice and the White House persuade reluctant countries to punish Iran for its illicit nuclear activities.

Rice spent the first six months of 2010 carrying out tense, tedious, and protracted negotiations on a resolution imposing harsh sanctions on Iran, which had been clandestinely building nuclear-enrichment facilities in violation of nonproliferation rules. Russia, with its deep ties to Iran, was reluctant to toughen existing sanctions. China would not talk at all. Brazil and Turkey, says Rice, were conducting their own diplomatic bid to resolve the dispute (which the United States had not encouraged). Rice’s aides say that she got down in the weeds of the resolution, battering her fellow diplomats with details of how Iran used foreign banks to obscure nuclear-related transactions. She was prepared to conduct her own foreign policy when necessary. When a fellow diplomat challenged her on a red-line issue, saying that Jones, the national security advisor, had laid out the administration’s policy differently, Rice retorted, "I outrank General Jones." I asked the diplomat who recalled this tale whether he had been shocked. Not at all, he said. "It made us smile."

But issues as crucial to global security as Iran’s nuclear program are ultimately settled well over an ambassador’s head. China, for example, only joined the discussion after Obama pressed Chinese President Hu Jintao. Clinton also lobbied a range of foreign capitals. In late spring, the P5 plus Germany finally agreed on a resolution and presented it to the other members of the Security Council. In June 2010, the council passed Resolution 1929, imposing sanctions on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, banning the sale to Iran of certain heavy weapons, and requiring states to inspect ships or planes heading to or from Iran if they suspected banned cargo was aboard.

The Iran resolution raised Rice’s stock in the White House. "She got it done," says Michael McFaul, a National Security Council official who worked closely with her and now serves as ambassador to Russia. "That was giant, big, historic." Russia had agreed to measures it never would have accepted outside the U.N. framework. European allies were prepared to adopt tough sanctions of their own, including the embargo on purchases of Iranian oil that went into effect this July, because they were built on the legitimacy of council action. The measure also showed how the administration’s multilateralism policy operated within its larger framework of "engagement": Russia was more inclined to work with the United States because of the administration’s effort to "reset" relations (even if the reset wouldn’t survive much beyond the Iran resolution). Other states came along in part because Obama, unlike Bush, had shown a willingness to work with Tehran.

Of course, for all the subtle diplomacy, Obama has not yet been any more successful than Bush was in actually stopping Iran’s uranium-enrichment program. Multilateralism is a means to reduce friction among states, not a miracle cure — a point that would be made painfully clear in Syria.

EVEN AS NATO PLANES roared over Libya in the spring of 2011, the Security Council struggled to respond when Assad’s forces opened fire on peaceful protesters in Syria. Starting in May, the United States, France, and Britain pressed for a statement condemning the violence. Russia and China resisted. Then, as the death toll mounted into the thousands, the Western countries sought to craft a resolution threatening sanctions against the Assad regime. To ease passage, Britain and France watered down the resolution to the point where, Rice says, "It had become an embarrassment." Nevertheless, Russia and China vetoed the measure, and Lebanon and the big emerging states on the council — Brazil, India, and South Africa — voted against it.

What had happened? The Russians, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, complained that they had been betrayed on the Libya resolution, which had authorized force only to enforce a cease-fire — not to overthrow Qaddafi’s regime. This charge infuriates U.S. officials, who think that they could not have been more transparent. On the floor of the council, a visibly angry Rice declared, "This is not about Libya. That is a cheap ruse by those who would rather sell arms to the Syrian regime than stand with the Syrian people." Russia, of course, is Syria’s chief arms supplier. One senior U.N. official, however, points out that Brazil, India, and South Africa have also complained of being misled on Libya and concludes that the institution is "paying the price in spades on Syria." India’s Ambassador Puri has said bluntly that "the Libyan experience" turned many council members against coercive measures.

In January, the Arab League drew up a plan to ease Assad from power. The Obama administration sought the council’s blessing for the plan, as a year earlier it had leveraged Arab opinion to gain support for the bombing campaign against Libya. In the first days of February, Russia’s ambassador to the U.N., Vitaly Churkin, with whom Rice has a kind of cheerful frenemy relationship, seemed prepared to accept the resolution, but after a meeting with Clinton, Lavrov complained that the document "left the door open to military intervention." Russia and China exercised their veto once again.

Annan briefly saved the international community from its humiliating inaction by proposing a peace plan that did not require Assad’s departure and that Russia could thus embrace. In March, the council endorsed the Annan plan and agreed in April to send unarmed observers to Syria. Rice wasn’t terribly enthusiastic but thought it was better than nothing, saying, "There is a risk it ends in more violence, which is why the last peaceful game in town is one worth pursuing, even if it’s a low-probability game, which we readily admit it is." Annan himself conceded by early July that his low-probability gambit had failed. The United States, Britain, and France then submitted yet another resolution threatening sanctions if Syria did not comply with the terms of the Annan plan, and Russia and China vetoed that one too. Rice finally unloaded in front of the council’s 15 members. "The Security Council has failed utterly in its most important task on its agenda this year. This is another dark day in Turtle Bay," she said. "The first two vetoes were very destructive. This veto is even more dangerous and deplorable."

Syria has arguably become the U.N.’s Waterloo, or at least its bridge too far. Russia has used the institution to protect a favored dictator. Countries like South Africa have peeked over the cliff of intervention and recoiled in dismay. No U.N. approval, so no action.

But in this case, the U.N. is more the scapegoat than the problem. After all, even if Russia and China endorsed a resolution threatening sanctions, Assad would be unlikely to call back his troops and relinquish power. Obama first called for Assad to step down fully a year ago but seems unwilling or unable to do more. And it seems doubtful that will change. Few if any senior officials inside the Obama administration favor the kind of military measures that might tip the balance between Assad and his opponents; a Libya-style assault against Syria could provoke sectarian warfare across the region. At a lunch for journalists I attended in May, Rice made it clear that she opposed airstrikes, humanitarian corridors, safe zones, or any of the other military fixes under discussion. Yet nothing short of such measures may dislodge Assad, at least not until after he has killed thousands more Syrians. This is a paradox that someone who believes strongly in the moral use of force might find tragic. But Rice does not resonate at such metaphysical frequencies. She is, she reminded me, a "pragmatist" and accepts the fact that what worked in Kosovo and Libya will not work in Syria.

OBAMA IS NO LONGER treated as the second coming, in the United States or anywhere else. He has not closed the Guantánamo Bay prison or ended many of his predecessor’s more onerous counterterrorism policies. He has defended Israel almost as single-mindedly as Bush did. Obama is much less like a European social democrat than his global audience once thought: From the perspective of U.N. diplomats, he looks more like a pragmatic calculator of American national interests in the mold of the elder George Bush, and, when asked to name his favorite statesmen, Obama usually chooses "realists" like Brent Scowcroft and James Baker. Of course, that still puts him a long way from Mitt Romney, who at times has courted the folks who think the U.N. is coming to get them in black helicopters, as when he recently declared that he would not condone "turning to the United Nations to tell us how to raise our kids, or whether we can have the Second Amendment rights that our Constitution gave us."

What is true of Obama might be said even more explicitly of Rice. The U.N. ambassador has her boss’s pragmatism without his gift of vision; she is a creature wholly of prose. "Susan is not about game-changing diplomacy," says a former administration official. "She approached the U.N. without much idealism, with a sort of reserve." Rice herself might not disagree. When I said that, like the president, she seemed to be an idealistic thinker with a highly practical streak, she shook her head. "’Idealistic’ to me connotes believing in things or wanting things that are not achievable," she said. She prefers the word "principled."

Rice is held in high esteem in the place where it matters: the White House. One former administration official told me that at the outset of the administration, "the boys" — deputy national security advisor Denis McDonough, an Obama confidant, and other senior officials — "wanted her out of the White House — out, out, out." If that was ever true, a current senior official insists ("Susan was one of the boys right from the beginning"), it almost certainly isn’t now. With the exception of Syria, she has won every major battle she has fought at the U.N., not just Iran and Libya, but resolutions imposing sanctions on North Korea, sending a robust peacekeeping force into Ivory Coast when it was torn by post-election conflict, and warding off, at least for the moment, a full-scale war between Sudan and the breakaway state of South Sudan. National Security Council senior staffer Samantha Power, a baseball fan, compares her to Mariano Rivera, the Yankee great who turns every close game into a win. When I told Rhodes that I had heard he was one of the early skeptics of Rice, he put me right. "I would walk through fire for Susan Rice," he said. "She may not be cuddly, but she’s incredibly faithful and loyal and passionate on behalf of her friends and the people she’s been through fights with."

In the entertaining parlor game of "Who would be secretary of state in a hypothetical Obama second term?" Rice is now considered the leader, or perhaps tied with Donilon, though questions about his possible role in the recent disclosure of sensitive national security information to the New York Times could threaten his confirmability. (Handicappers now place both in front of Sen. John Kerry.) It’s unclear that she’d be good at a job like that, though; her smile may be just a trifle too forced, her patience a bit too thin. A State Department official who has known her since the Clinton days says that though Rice is hard-driving, diligent, and effective, "There is a disconnect between that and wisdom." The president, a shrewd judge of character, may know this about her, but the fact that he trusts her may matter more.

Susan Rice is not to be denied. She has never faltered along the steep upward trajectory of her career. Some high-powered women have dropped out of the administration to tend to their families, and Rice says she is sympathetic to their plight; she just doesn’t share it. At one point I asked Rice whether she had ever experienced a serious failure. She thought about it. No, she hadn’t. "Some have tried to take me on," she murmured. Presumably, they lived to regret it. … ?page=full

“What if Mr. Meles Goes for Good?”

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Alemayehu G Mariam

Last week, The Economist Magazine rhetorically inquired, “What if Mr. Meles goes for good?” Shouldn’t the question be, “Is it not good for Ethiopia if Mr. Meles goes for good?”

Those who know where Mr. Meles has gone are not talking; and those who are talking don’t know where he has gone. But everyone knows dictator Meles Zenawi has completely vanished from public view. He was last seen at the G20 meeting in Mexico on June 19. He looked gaunt and debilitated. On July 18, an Agence France Press report citing “several diplomatic sources” reported that Zenawi is a goner “in a critical state” at a hospital in Belgium and he “might not survive”. Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT), citing an anonymous source at the International Crisis Group (ICG), reported that Zenawi is dead and gone. ICG issued an opaque denial stating that it had “no direct knowledge” of Zenawi’s “health” or death. In a staged interview with party-controlled media on August 1, Zenawi’s spinmesiter and “communication minister”, Bereket Simon, declared “the prime minister’s health is in very good condition.” Last week, Simon said Zenawi will be back before the Ethiopian New Year which is usually celebrated on September 11.  In my last commentary, I argued that Zenawi should be declared AWOL and formally removed because he has been gone absent from office without constitutional leave.

It is ironic that absolute silence should be the ultimate fate of the man The Economist described as “‘the voice of Africa’”. For over two decades, the garrulous and bombastic Zenawi used words like a surgical knife to filet, slice, dice and shred his opponents and critics. He tongue-lashed his parliamentarians like a bully at a children’s reformatory school.  But the “voice of Africa” has now become voiceless himself just like the  90 million Ethiopians he had rendered voiceless. Pitiful party hacks have become his mouthpieces.  They say he will be back in a jiffy. Why doesn’t Zenawi show his face if he is in “very good condition”? How come there is no photo or video of him in “very good condition”? If he cannot be seen, can’t he release a 30-second audio tape sayin’ he awright? Out of sight, out of mind?

The evidence that “Mr. Meles is gone for good” is compelling and unrefuted.  Other than empty assurances by Zenawi’s spinmeisters, substantial evidence is lacking to prove Zenawi is alive or sentient. Rene Lefort in a recent article noted, “The widespread conviction shared by most diplomats and experts is that, whether Meles is dead or alive, he is no longer in charge and never will be again, so the candidacy for his succession is open.” For all practical purposes, Mr. Meles is gone or he is just as good as gone!

But so “What if Mr. Meles goes for good?” Or comes back? Or stays? Or whatever? Tin pot dictators come and go in Africa and the Middle East like the plague. Over the past year and half, people have been asking, “What if Gadhafi, Ben Ali, Mubarak, Ali Saleh, Gbagbo… are gone for good?” Well, they are all gone for good and life has gotten better every day they have been gone. What if Bashar al-Assad, Robert Mugabe… are gone for good? What happened after Charles Taylor, Mobutu Sese Seko, Jean-Bedel Bokassa, Idi Amin, Mengistu Hailemariam … were gone?”

“What if Mr. Meles is Gone for Good?”

For some time now, I have been wrestling with the question, “What if African dictator X is gone?” In January 2011, in a commentary entitled, “After the Fall of African Dictatorships”, I noted that I did not know what happens the day African dictators are gone, but was reasonably sure what happens the day after they are gone: “The fact is that the morning after the fall of Africa’s dictators, the people will be stuck with a ransacked economy, emptied national banks, empty store shelves, torture chambers full of political prisoners and dithering and power-hungry opposition leaders jockeying for position in the middle of political chaos.” This past April I cautioned, “The chaos that occurs on the transitional bridge from dictatorship to democracy [in Ethiopia] creates the ideal conditions for the hijacking of political power, theft of democracy and the reinstitution of dictatorship in the name of democracy.”

Over the past two decades, Zenawi accumulated power by fermenting a toxic brew of ethnic politics, corruption and repression. He transformed an oligarchic authoritarian system (so-called collective leadership) into a ruthless neopatrimonial personal dictatorship (those directly hooked into Zenawi’s power grid) by continuously and systematically purging those he suspected of disloyalty and opposition. He cunningly wiped out many of his comrades-in-arms who did the heavy lifting and bush fighting to bring him to power. He surrounded himself with new allies, friends, business partners and party members who made it possible for him to survive and prevail without much internal or external challenge. At the time of his disappearance, Zenawi had become invincible, Il Duce Supremo (“The Supreme Leader”).

But like all dictators, Zenawi never thought he would be “gone”. He likely believed he would rule with an iron fist for one-half century like Fidel Castro or at least 30 plus years like Mugabe. If he had to go, he likely believed he would go on his own time, terms and in grand style. From time to time, he titillated the public by hinting he might step down (in 2015 if his party lets him), but he fully expected to be the grand puppet master behind the throne pulling the strings for decades to come. If the hubristic Zenawi ever thought he would be gone from office, it was likely that he believed the cause would a mass uprising. Little did he understand one of the fundamental laws of dictatorships: When dictators go, they go pretty damn quick. Ben Ali of Tunisia was gone in days. Hosni Mubarak in weeks. Gadhafi in months. A whole slew of African dictators over the past six years were gone in a flash from a variety of illnesses.

Zenawi never considered grooming a successor and risk being upstaged. No dictator worth his salt would groom his replacement and unloose his rivals and opponents. Designating a successor is the most dangerous thing any dictator could do because doing so could stir the pot and agitate the beehive. But it is the very absence of an heir apparent or a successor that has plunged Zenawi’s ruling party in a jam now. The shadowy power brokers are in deep political turmoil today as they try to choose Zenawi’s replacement. But regardless of whether Zenawi goes or stays, his neopatrimonial system is crumbling and doomed. As a result, his friends, cronies, party leaders and members, supporters, bureaucrats and generals are in a state of panic and high anxiety.

“What if…?”

Zenawi (does not) returns? Those who know where Zenawi has gone are not talking; and those who are talking don’t know. Seeye Abraha, former defense minister and co-founder of  the liberation front that brought Zenawi to power recently implied Zenawi is gone for good when he noted that Zenawi “will be leaving very big boots that cannot be filled by anyone else.” Seeye is right. In a 2009 weekly commentary, I described Zenawi as “a dictator with a thousand faces”. No one in the ruling party has Zenawi’s combination of Machiavellian cunning and craftiness, defiant willpower, stony cold-bloodedness or bottomless capacity for intrigue and chicanery. As the old saying goes, one has to give the devil his due. No one in Zenawi’s party can match his intelligence, intellectual agility, shrewdness or plain street smarts. Zenawi stayed in power for 21 years by outwitting, outfoxing, outsmarting, outmaneuvering, outpoliticking, outtricking, outfinessing and outplaying not only every one of his opponents but also rivals in his own party. But he had his own contradictions. He had sharp intellect but lacked insight; he had ideas but lacked vision; he was smart but not judicious; he was shrewd but not perceptive; he was single-minded in his goals but pursued them obtusely. He was driven but lacked conscience or compassion. He pursued politics with depraved indifference. He was a man of many vices and few virtues. He suffered the character flaws of those malignant and vengeful Shakespearean characters “consumed with venomous malice”, addicted to  “unmitigated villainy” and deaf-mute  to every appeal of humanity.

The fact remains that it really does not matter if Zenawi is gone for good (or for bad), comes back temporarily or whatever. Zenawi has been “gone” for good since May 18 at the G8 Food Security Conference in Washington D.C. That day, with his head bowed and his spirit totally crushed, the last ounce of fight left in Zenawi left him. If he should return, he will be merely a shell of the former Zenawi. The old cocky, self-absorbed and snarly Zenawi is gone forever. The recycled Zenawi, if there is one, will be a defeated, defanged, declawed, debeaked and decrowned version of the old Zenawi. That is just a fact. Zenawi’s handlers may fool themselves into believing that “absence makes the heart grow fonder”; but in Zenawi’s case, absence has made him irrelevant. Any fantasies about his return to power with his former glory is ludicrous, pointless, senseless and mindless. The odds are Zenawi ain’t never coming back! He is gone for good!

The “status quo” continues. Spinmeister Simon in his last press statement said, “The status quo is maintained – there is no change and there will be no change in the near future.” Simon talks much but says nothing. It was not clear what he meant by “status quo” but the current situation is murky: There is an AWOL “prime minster”. The “deputy prime minister” is invisible. There is a shadowy group of power brokers scheming behind the scenes to find Zenaiw’s replacement. The power and leadership vacuum is manifest. There is total confusion and cynicism in the country about who is minding the store. The only silver lining in the dark cloud shrouding Zenawi’s disappearance is the public euphoria that the two decade-old one-man, one-party dictatorship nightmare could have ended with Zenwai gone.  As the charade of “collective leadership” is played out in Zenawi’s circle of power, the “status quo” continues.

In February 2010, Eskinder Nega (my friend and personal hero), the ultimate symbol of press freedom in Ethiopia, using as a backdrop the May 2010 “election” in which Zenawi’s party won by 99.6 percent, crystal-balled the inevitable implosion of the ruling “EPDRF” party and sketched out the qualifications of the motley crew of droll characters standing in line as Zenawi’s heirs-apparent to the throne (I strongly recommend Eskinder’s article [Click here]  to anyone interested in grasping the current palace intrigue in Ethiopia; last month Zenawi jailed Eskinder, winner of the prestigious PEN America Freedom to Write Award for 2012, and arguably the most outstanding journalist of his generation, for 18 years):

Scratch beyond the surface and the EPRDF is really not the monolithic dinosaur as it is most commonly stereotyped. If what defines an organization is the unique amalgam of its history, quality of leadership, cohesion, grass root presence, vision, and perhaps even its luck, then the EPRDF, fast approaching its twentieth year, has evolved in to a coalition of four distinct phenomenon: the increasing confusion of the dominant TPLF; the acute cynicism of the ANDM; the desperate nihilism of the OPDO and the inevitable irrelevance of the incongruent SEPM…

A nasty, but so far bloodless, backstage interplay of these dynamics in what is now a battle to succeed Meles Zenawi has inaudibly developed in to a real threat to the cohesion of the EPRDF, arguably more dangerous than the electoral threat posed by its opponents. We now know that disaster was only averted this year with the extension of Meles’ term in office—-something he had always counted on, according to diplomats—-but this has yet to result in the much anticipated—-or rather, hoped for—ceasefire between two bickering claimants to the throne—OPDO and ANDM….

By contrast, the EPRDF is clearly a hierarchal organization with a singular power at the top in Meles Zenawi and subsequent levels of delegated power beneath him. Though collective leadership is formally acknowledged, it has no relevance in practice…

But the question remains if the prestige and power of EPRDF’s chairperson will endure after Meles. Both the OPDO and the ANDM are betting on it, but none of the EPRDF’s four constituent members have been able to come up with a political heavyweight remotely capable of ensuring a seamless transition…

Bereket Simon, whose support is generally deemed critical to the eventual successor, was instrumental in marshaling pressure for Meles’ term extension, but his considerable influence is expected to wane once Meles eventually leaves the limelight. His health notwithstanding, Bereket is still, along with Meles, EPRDF’s dynamo, his clear genius for intrigue a cause of much resentment both inside and outside the EPRDF…

The enigma of this drama is the role of Sebhat Nega, the king maker two of decades ago whose backing was vital for Meles’ accession to the helm of the TPLF. The side he chose at the climax of the fallout between Meles and Seye Abraha et al was no less crucial for the final outcome. Sebaht has chosen to leave TPLF’s politburo but remains a member of the CC. But both count for much less since the departure of Seye Abraha et al, his continued influence has more to do with his access and the propensity of Meles to listen to him. Most pundits are puzzled about his stance on the succession issue, but almost all agree that the side he chooses will be considerably emboldened..

An apparatchik or party hack is installed as “prime minister”. It is likely that the palace intriguists could broker a deal and install a relatively benign party hack who could serve, defend and protect their interests. The names of the party apparatchiks that have been leaked as part of a trial balloon are pitiful. They all lack political experience, professional competence, charisma and leadership qualities and are unlikely to appeal to members in their own party let alone have  national  appeal. Regardless, if a replacement for Zenawi is chosen from the ranks of the inner closed circle of the ruling party, that person will be selected for his unquestioning loyalty to the shadowy power brokers, and not for his competence or leadership qualities. But such dilemma is a common and inherent problem in all dictatorships. The pattern of leadership recruitment in dictatorships overemphasizes loyalty over competence which makes transition and succession difficult and chaotic.

An emergency is contrived and martial law declared. As the internal structure of the ruling party inevitably fractures, it will likely create ideal conditions for mass resistance and uprisings. The evidence so far shows that the regime is aggressively using its police and paramilitary forces to crush citizens demanding an end to state interference in religious affairs. As the regime faces more organized and defiant and potentially violent opposition, it will use the military to deal with such threats. The power brokers could just as easily trigger a war with a neighboring country to consolidate power. But use of the military could ultimately prove to be a double-edged sword. Dependence on a multiethnic, multi-religious army could backfire. The very military that enables a dictatorial regime to suppress its opposition could easily turn against the dictatorship itself.

The current “deputy prime minister” is elected  as “prime minster” (PM).  As I have demonstrated in a previous commentary, under Article 75 of the Ethiopian Constitution, the deputy prime minister is a political puppet of the  PM. The DPM cannot constitutionally succeed the PM temporarily or permanently. The best bet for the power brokers is to orchestrate the “election” of the current “DPM” as “PM” because it’s only through him that they have any hope of maintaining their  chokehold on power. The current DPM  simply does not have a sufficient support base in the party structure, bureaucracy, military, civic society, economic structure, etc. to be able to act independently. He is the only viable lifeline the scheming power brokers and palace intriguists have to power.

Begin a national dialogue for power sharing and transition to democracyIn one of my commentaries in April, I predicted the foreseeable end of dictatorship and the beginning of a democratic transition in Ethiopia (though I did not expect Zenawi to be “gone” so quickly) and called for an immediate national dialogue on specific issues:

We need to plan for the inevitable, inescapable and unstoppable transition of Ethiopia from dictatorship to democracy. Dictatorship will end in Ethiopia. It is only a matter of when. Democracy will also rise in Ethiopia. It is a matter of how and what type. The point is that it necessary to begin a purposeful dialogue and plan ahead about theprerequisites for an effective and smooth transition to democratic governance now, not when the dictatorship falls. I believe dialogue needs to begin now on at least four major issue areas: 1) how to engage and increase the capacity of key stakeholders in identifying potential triggers of violence during political transitions and preventing them; 2) identifying and devising strategies and opportunities for reducing ethnic, religious and communal tension and conflict in anticipation of a transition; 3) enhancing the role of civil society institutions in facilitating public engagement and interaction during the transitional period, and 4) anticipating critical constitutional issues that could significantly impair the transitional process.

Ultimately, the question should be not be, “What if Mr. Meles goes for good?” but rather, “Is it not good — just great —  for Ethiopia if Mr. Meles is gone for good?” But the best question is, “How can we make Ethiopia better after Mr. Meles is gone for good?”

Amharic translations of recent commentaries by the author may be found at: and

Previous commentaries by the author are available at:  and