Archive for the ‘Ethiopian News’ Category

Hailemariam Desalegn moves to consolidate power

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

Boosted by a call from U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday, the acting prime minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, is taking steps to assert his authority, according to Ethiopian Review sources in Addis Ababa.

The ruling TPLF junta is intending to make Hailemariam a figurehead prime minister. The real power still rests solidly in the hands of Seyoum Mesfin and the TPLF Politburo. However, Hailemariam is encouraged by the U.S and European governments, as well as his own supporters, to start exercising real authority even before the rubber-stamp parliament formally appoints him as prime minister.

Hailemariam’s real challenge to his authority as prime minister comes from none other than the wife of the late dictator Meles Zenawi.

According to Ethiopian Review sources, Azeb Mesfin is organizing discontented TPLF member against the acting prime minister, paving the way for herself to assume that position. It is Azeb who pushed the date when Hailemariam to be formally appointed as prime minister until after the burial of Meles Zenawi on September 2.

Concerned by growing opposition within the TPLF rank, Hailemariam has beefed up security around him, and the U.S. Gov’t has promised to provide him additional security. It is reported on Friday that U.S. security specialists on contract from the Africom have started to provide Hailemariam with intelligence and advise on how to protect against possible coup d’etat.

Hailemariam is also secretly reaching out to Ethiopian opposition groups. His communication with at least two opposition leaders was leaked to the VOA on Friday by a faction in the TPLF that opposes Hailemariam.

Remembering Meles Zenawi – in the words of former TPLF member (video)

Friday, August 24th, 2012

A former member of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) talks about his experience with the late dictator Meles Zenawi, Azeb Mesfin, Samora Yenus and others current senior TPLF junta leaders.

Part I

Part II

Barack Obama hold talks with Hailemariam Desalegn

Friday, August 24th, 2012

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Obama Administration continues to push the TPLF junta to accept Hailemariam Desalegn as the new “prime minister.” President Obama’s call to Hailemariam yesterday was part of the U.S. effort to strengthen Hailemariam’s position. However, the mid- and lower-ranking TPLF members are revolting against the decision to make Hailemariam the new prime minister, fearing that power could slip away from them.

U.S. President hold talks with Ethiopia’s new leader

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — Ethiopia’s new leader Hailemariam Desalegn, expected to assume power following the death of the country’s longtime prime minister dictator, readied for the post Friday after holding talks with US President Barack Obama.

But Hailemariam, 47, a relatively little known politician overshadowed by his mentor Meles Zenawi, who died on Monday, faces tough challenges both internally and across the wider volatile Horn of Africa region.

Obama, who telephoned Hailemariam late Thursday, urged him to “use his leadership to enhance the Ethiopian government’s support for development, democracy, human rights and regional security,” the White House said.

Hailemariam has also met with South Sudan’s foreign minister and his Kenyan counterpart, who were in Addis Ababa on Thursday to pay their respects to Meles, who died aged 57 after a long illness.

Official mourning continues for Meles, with crowds gathering for a third day in the grounds of the National Palace, where photos of the late leader are on display.

Scores of police and army officers alongside ordinary citizens, many weeping loudly, have gathered to pay their respects ever since his body was flown home following his death in a Brussels hospital.

But the political process continues behind doors. Government spokesman Bereket Simon has said Hailemariam is expected to be formally sworn in in a emergency parliament session at “any time.”

In a rare peaceful handover of power in Ethiopian history, former water engineer Hailemariam took over as interim leader on the death of Meles, who had ruled with an iron-fist since toppling dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991.

A close ally of Meles as deputy prime minister and foreign minister since 2010, Hailemariam was elected deputy chair of the ruling coalition Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) after the party’s fourth win, a landslide victory in 2010.

In a country long dominated by the major ethnic groups — most recently the Tigray people, like Meles — Hailemariam notably comes from the minority Wolayta people, from the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region.

He served as president for the region — the most populous of Ethiopia’s nine ethnic regions — for five years.

But within the coalition, some of the most influential figures hail from the northern Tigray region, members of Meles’s ex-rebel turned political party, the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Seen as a figurehead

Analysts have suggested that several others are still jostling for power behind doors in the often secretive leadership, even if in the open they may not take part in the running for the top job.

“Many see him as a figurehead, part of a gesture by Meles and the ethnic Tigrayans to give more prominence to other ethnic groups,” said Jason Mosley of Britain’s Chatham House think-tank.

He is also a Protestant, unlike the majority of Ethiopia’s Christians, who follow Orthodox traditions.

But others less critical warn that while outside the Tigray power base, that could in fact be a strength.

“His ethnicity is considered an advantage, because it is a minority in a multi-ethnic region and, most importantly, not from the numerically dominant Oromo or Amhara,” the International Crisis Group said in a recent report.

Critics also point to his relatively young age, lack of experience and the fact he was not part of the rebel movement which toppled Mengistu, unlike many in the ruling elite.

Instead, Hailemariam, who studied civil engineering in Addis Ababa, was completing his masters degree at Finland’s Tampere University when Mengistu fell.

Hailemariam, while a protege of Meles, is therefore seen as an outsider by some.

“He is a political novice, he has not been part of the old guard, he has not been in the bushes fighting with the rebels,” Berhanu Nega, an exiled opposition leader and former mayor of Addis Ababa, told the BBC.

“He is a Medvedev for a group of Putins in the ruling party with their own internal squabbles,” he added, drawing parallels with Russian political dynamics.

The government however has insisted Hailemariam will remain in the post until elections due in 2015, although he must first be formally chosen as head of the ruling EPRDF party, likely later this year.

“The secession issue has been settled for good,” said spokesman Bereket.

Power struggle among TPLF elite a big threat to stability – Economist

Friday, August 24th, 2012

The Economist

THE death of Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia’s prime minister dictator, on August 20th reveals much about the country he created. Details of his ill health remained a secret until the end. A short broadcast on state television, late by a day, informed Ethiopians that their “visionary leader” of the past 21 years was gone. He died of an unspecified “sudden infection” somewhere abroad. No further information was given. In the two months since the prime minister’s last public appearance the only local Ethiopian newspaper that reported his illness was pulped, its office closed, and its editor arrested. Further details of Mr Meles’s death surfaced only when an EU official confirmed that he died in a Brussels hospital.

A towering figure on Africa’s political scene, he leaves much uncertainty in his wake. Ethiopia, where power has changed hands only three times since the second world war, always by force, now faces a tricky transition period. Mr Meles’s chosen successor is a placeholder at best. Most Ethiopians, whatever they thought of their prime minister the dictator, assumed he would be around to manage the succession. Instead he disappeared as unexpectedly as he had arrived. He was a young medical student in the 1970s when he joined the fight against the Derg, the Marxist junta that then ruled Ethiopia. He went into the bush as Legesse Zenawi and emerged as “Meles”—a nom de guerre he had taken in tribute to a murdered comrade.

Who exactly was he? As leader of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, an ethnic militia from the country’s north, he presented himself to his countrymen as a severe, ruthless revolutionary; yet Westerners who spoke to him in his mountain hideouts found a clever, understated man who laid out, in precise English, plans to reform a feudal state. In 1991, after the fall of the last Derg leader, Mengistu Haile Mariam, the 36-year-old Mr Meles (pictured above) took power, becoming Africa’s youngest leader. He had moral authority as a survivor of various famines. Western governments and publics, who became aware of Ethiopian hunger through the Band Aid and Live Aid charity concerts, gave freely. Mr Meles was often able to dictate terms under which donors could operate in Ethiopia and turned his country into Africa’s biggest aid recipient.

Where others wasted development aid, Ethiopia put it to work. Over the past decade GDP has grown by 10.6% a year, according to the World Bank, double the average in the rest of sub-Saharan Africa [false]. The share of Ethiopians living in extreme poverty—those on less than 60 cents a day—has fallen from 45% when Mr Meles took power to just under 30%. Lacking large-scale natural resources, the government has boosted manufacturing and agriculture. Exports have risen sharply. A string of hydroelectric dams now under construction is expected to give the economy a further boost in the coming years.

The flipside of the Meles record is authoritarianism. Before his departure he ensured that meaningful opposition was “already dead”, says Zerihun Tesfaye, a human-rights activist. The ruling party controls all but one of the seats in parliament, after claiming 99.6% of the vote in the 2010 elections. It abandoned a brief flirtation with more open politics after a vote five years previously, when the opposition did better than expected. The regime subsequently rewired the state from the village up, dismantling independent organisations from teachers’ unions to human-rights groups and binding foreign-financed programmes with tight new rules. Opposition parties were banned and their leaders jailed or driven into exile; the press was muzzled.

Internationally, Mr Meles made friends with America, allowing it to base unarmed armed drones at a remote airfield. He also liked to act as a regional policeman. His troops repeatedly entered neighboring Somalia (they are slowly handing over conquered territory to an African Union peacekeeping force). Hostilities have at times flared along the border with Eritrea. Mr Meles cowed his smaller neighbour and persuaded the world to see it as a rogue state. This in turn helped him restrain nationalists at home. In his absence, hardliners on both sides may reach for arms once again.

The nature of power in Mr Meles’s Ethiopia has remained surprisingly opaque. On the surface, the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front is a broad grouping encompassing all of the country’s ethnic factions. Like the liberal constitution, it is largely a sham. Real power rests with an inner circle of Mr Meles’s comrades. They all come from his home area, Tigray, which accounts for only 7% of Ethiopia’s 82m people. His acting successor is an exception. HaileMariam Desalegn, the foreign minister, is from the south. His prominence raises hopes that the long dominance of the Habesha, the Christian highlanders of the Amhara and Tigray regions, may be diluted. But few think he has enough standing to exert real control.

Power will be wielded by Tigrayans such as Getachew Assefa, the head of the intelligence service; Abay Tsehaye, the director-general of the Ethiopian sugar corporation; and Mr Meles’s widow, Azeb Mesfin. An MP, she heads a sprawling conglomerate known as EFFORT, which began as a reconstruction fund for Tigray but now has a host of investments. It is unclear whether any of the Tigrayans will seek the leadership of the ruling party or be content to wield control from the sidelines. A struggle among this elite would be a big threat to stability.

Confrontation with the late Tagay Gebremedhin’s loyalists in London

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Supporters of the late Tagay Gebremedhin (formerly Abune Paulos) are trying to use the London St.Mary Church to conduct memorial service for the fake patriarch this coming Sunday. This is causing an uproar among followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in London and they are preparing the administrator of St Mary Church, Aba Girma… [read more]

Meles Zenawi died of liver cancer – CPJ

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

* Meles died Monday of liver cancer
* In Ethiopia, Feteh editor jailed during trial

Ethiopian authorities must immediately release Temesghen Desalegn, editor of the leading weekly Feteh, who was ordered jailed today pending his trial on defamation, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

The High Court judge deemed Temesghen a flight risk during his trial, which resumes on September 3, according to local journalists. Police summoned the journalist for questioning on August 1 and told him they were charging him over his articles published in seven editions of the weekly Feteh that were critical of the administration of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, local journalists said. Mastewal Publishing and Advertising PLC, the company that publishes Feteh, has also been charged, the same sources said.

Temesghen is being held at Kality Prison in Addis Ababa, the capital, local journalists said. Feteh has not been published since July 20, when the Ministry of Justice blocked the sale and distribution of 30,000 copies to suppress the paper’s coverage concerning the health of Meles, the sources said. Meles died Monday of liver cancer, according to international news reports… [read more]

የሰሜን ኮርያው ሞዴል?

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

ከብስራት ኢብሳ

Image

በተፈጥሮዬ ለሁለት ነገር አልታደልኩም ፡፡ የመጀመርያው ፣ በንግግር ሃሳቤን መግለጽና ፣ ሁለተኛው ድምጽ እያሰሙ የእውነትም ሆነ የውሸት ማልቀስ አልችልም ፡፡ ጨካኝ ሰው ነኝ ብዬ እንዳልደመድም ፣ አንዳንዴ አሳዛኝ መጽሃፍም ሆነ ፊልም ሳይ እንባዬ ይቀራል ፡፡ አንዳንዴም ሕዝብ የአንባ ገነን ገዢዎቻቸውን ታግለው አሸንፈው፣ በደስታ ሲፈነጥዙ ሳይ ፣ እኔም ስለሃገሬ መንፈሳዊ ቅናት ያድርብኝና ፣ ድንገት ስሜታዊ ሆኜ ፣ ሲቃ ይዞኝ ፣እንባዬ ዱብ ዱብ የሚልበት ወቅት ስላለ ጨካኝ ነኝ ለማለት ይቸግረኛል፡፡ ሟች የቅርብ ዘመዴም ቢሆን፣ የሆነ የሚያስተሳስረን፣ ወይ አብረን ያሳለፍነው የማስታውሰው ነገር ከሌለ ፣ ስሜቴ ላይ ለውጥ አያመጣም፡፡ እንደ ፊልሙና ፣ መጽሃፉ ከሆነ ስሜት ጋር ሲያያዝ ብቻ እንጂ ፣ በተለይ ጮክ ብዬ ላልቅስ ብዬ እራሴን ባስገደድኩኝ ቁጥር ፣ የኮረኮሩት ያህል ነው ሳቄን የሚያመጣው ፡፡

በጎልማሳ ዘመኔ አንድ የቅርብ ዘመዴ ከዚህ ዓለም በሞት ተለይተው ለቅሶዋቸውን ሳልሰማ ስለሰነበትኩኝ እናቴ ለሰልስቱ አብሬያት እንድሄድ ትጠይቀኛለች ፡፡ እኔም ጮሆ ማልቀስ ስለማልችል ይቅርብኝ እላታላሁ ፡፡ እናቴም ነገሩን ቀለል አድርጋ ፣ “ ችግር የለውም ፣ ግቢው ውስጥ ስንገባ ፣ እኔ እጀምርልሃለሁኝ ፣ ከዛ አብረን እናለቅሳለን “ ትለኛለች፡፡ ችግሬን ለማሳመን ብዙ ከሞከርኩኝ ቦኋላ ስላልተሳካልኝ ፣ “መሄዱን እሺ ግን አላለቅስም “ አልኳት ፡፡ እናቴ ልታስለቅሰኝ ቆርጣ ስለተነሳች ፣ “ልጄ ዘመድህ ሞቶ ፣ ያውም በጉራጌ ባህል ፣ ኡ ኡ ኡ ብለህ ካልገባህ ፣ የመርካቶ ዘመዶቻችን ቀርቶ ሳር ቅጠሉ ይታዘበናል .“ .ብላ ስላስቸገረችኝ፣ “እንሂድ የሚሆነውን እናያለን“ ፣ ብያት ታክሲ
ተሳፈርን ፡፡

እንደፈራሁኝ ከታክሲ ወርደን ወደ ድንኳኑ ስንገባ ፣ እናቴ በል በርታ ብላ ለቅሶዋን ጀመረችልኝ ፡፡ እናቴን ማሳፈር አልፈለኩም ፣ ማልቀሱም አልሆነልኝም፣ በመጨረሻ በዚህ ጭንቀት መሃል ፣ ያበጠ ይፈንዳ ብዬ ፣ ጮኬ ማልቀስ ስጀምር ፣ ፍራሽ ላይ ተሰብስበው የተቀመጡት ፣ የሟች ልጆችና ፣ ሌሎች የዘመድ ልጆች መሳቅ ይጀምራሉ ፡፡ ምክንያቱም ጮኬ ማልቀስ ስጀምር ፣ ድምጼ በሚያስገርም ሁኔታ ፣ አንዴ እንደ በሬ ፣ ሌላ ጊዜ እንደ ድመት …. የማይሆን አይነት ያልተለመደ ድምጽ ይወጣኝ ስለነበር ፣ የመርካቶ አራዶች ዘመዶቼ ፣ ቲያትር መሆኑ ገብቷቸው ኖርዋል ፣ አንደኛዋ ሴት ልጃቸው ፣ ስሜን ጠርታ ፣ “ ና እባክህ እኛ ዘንድ ተቀምጠህ ተጫወት ፣ ይቺ አባዬ ናት
አልቅስ ብላ የምታስቸግርህ“ ብላ ጠራችኝ ፡፡

እኔም እንዳልተሳካልኝ ስለገባኝ ፣ ጩኅቴን አቁሜ “ ተይ ይቅርብኝ ብያት ነበር አልሰማ አለችኝ “ ስላቸው እናቴ ሰምታ ፣ “ይሄ ሞኝ ፣ ደግሞ አፍ አለኝ ብሎ ይናገራል ብላ ፣“ ለቅሶዋን ትታ ፣ ቀና ብላ አይታኝ ፣ ገረምኳት መሰለኝ እሷም ሳቅዋን ጀምራ ፣ ድንኳን ውስጥ ጉዳዩን በቅርብ የሚከታተሉት በሙሉ ፣ ሳቅ በሳቅ ሆኑ ፡፡ በታክሲ ወደቤታችን ስንመለስ ፣ ወቀሳዋን ከመጀመሯ በፊት ፣ ቀደም ብዬ እራሴን ለመከላከል “ ሰውን ማጽናናት ማለት እውነቱን ተናግሮ ማሳቅ እንጂ ፣ የውሸት አልቅሶ የእውነት ማሳዘን አይደለም“ ብያት ፣ ከዚህ ጊዜ ቦኋላ ፣ እንኳን አልቅስ ብላ ልታስቸግረኝ ፣ የተገላቢጦሽ ፣ “ እሱ ይጨነቃል ለቅሶ አትንገሩት“ እያለች ትከላከልልኝ ነበር ፡፡

በዚህ ድክመቴ የተነሳ ፣ ምናልባት የሚያለቅሱ ሰዎችን ልምድ ብጠይቅ ፣ የተሻለ ያለቃቀስ ዘዴ እማር ይሆናል በሚል ፣ ማልቀስ የሚችሉ ሰዎችን ፣ እንዴት ማልቀስ እንደሚሆንላቸው መጠየቅና ፣ መረዳት አለብኝ ብዬ ወሰንኩኝ፡፡ መጀመርያ የጠየኩት ፣ የቅርብ ጓደኝዬን ነበር ፡፡ አንዴ የቤተሰቦቼን ደህንነት ለመስማት ወደ ሃገር ቤት ስልክ ደውዬ ፣ አንድ የማላውቀው ዘመዴ ሞቶ በሙሉ ለቅሶ ሄደዋል ብለው ቤት ጠባቂዎች ነግረውኝ ፣ ሳላገኛቸው ቀረሁ ብዬ ለስደት ጓደኛዬ ደውዬ እነግረዋለሁኝ፡፡

ጓደኛዬም ግማሽ ሰዓት ባልሞላ ጊዜ ውስጥ ቤቴ ለቅሶ ሊደርስ መጥቶ ፣ እንባውን እንደጎርፍ ያፈሰው ጀመር፣ ተደናግጬ እኔው አጽናኚ ሆንኩኝ ፡፡ ለቅሶ የተቀመጥኩኝ መስሎት ወደየሰው ስልክ እንዳይደውል ስለሰጋሁኝ ፣ በስልክ ስነግረው ፣ እግረ መንገዴን አነሳሁት እንጂ አዝኜ ወይም ለቅሶ ለመቀመጥ ፈልጌ እንዳልሆነ አስረግጬ ላስረዳው ሞከርኩኝ ፡፡ ማልቀሱ ትንሽ ይቀንስ እንጂ አልፎ አልፎ መንሰቅሰቁን አላቆመም ፡፡ እኔም ባኮ ሙሉ የወረቀት መሃረብ ፊቱ ከምሬ ፣ አንዱ ሲረጥብ ሌላውን አቀብለው ጀመር፡፡

ታዲያ እንደምንም አረጋግቼው ፣ እህል ወሃ ከቀማመስን ቦኋላ ፣ በጨዋታ መሃል በማልቀስ እንዴት የታደለ እንደሆነና ፣ እኔንም እንዲያስተምረኝ እጠይቀዋለሁኝ፡፡ እሱም ቀለል አድርጎ ፣ “ እኔ እኮ ለቅሶ ስሄድ የማለቅሰው ፣ የራሴን የሞቱብኝን ሰዎች እያስታወስኩኝ እንጂ ፣ አብደሃል እንዴ ፣ አንተ እራስህ ለማታውቃቸው ዘመድህ እኔ የማለቅሰው “ ብሎ እውነቱ ነገረኝ ፡፡ አንዳንዴ በደብዳቤ ለሚያረዱት ዘመዶቹ ፣ በደንብ የሚያለቅሰው በዚህ አጋጣሚ መሆኑን አልደበቀኝም ፡፡

መልሱ በጣም ስለገረመኝ ፣ "ታዲያ ዛሬ ለየትኛው ዘመድህ ነው ዛሬ ያለቀስከው ? እውነቱን ንገረኝ“ አልኩት ፡፡ ቆፍጠን ብሎ ፣ “ዛሬ ያለቀስኩት ለኔና ላንተ ነው " ብሎኝ አረፈ ፡፡ ጆሮዬን ስላላመንኩት ፣ “ ሙተናል እንዴ ?“ ብዬ ስጠይቀው ፣ እጁን በእጁ እያሻሸ ፣ እንደመሳቅም ፣ እንደ መሽኮርመምም አድርጎት ፣ ከኪሱ ከአንድ ቀን በፊት ፣ ከዘመዶቹ ፣ እናቱ በጠና ስለታመሙ ፣“ ብር ባስቸኳይ ለህክምና ላክ ፣ ይህንን ሳታደርግ እናትህ ብትሞና ብታለቅስ ዋጋ የለውም“ ብለው የጻፉለት ደብዳቤ ነበር፡፡ “ታዲያ እኔ እናትህ ነኝ ወይ ?“ ብዬ ጠይቄው ፣ “ጠዋት በስልክ ስለ ዘመድህ ስትነግረኝ ፣ የኔንም ደብዳቤ አንብበህ እንደምትቸገርልኝ ስለማውቅ ፣ በሃዘንህ ላይ ሌላ ችግር ስፈጥርብህ አሳዝነኅኝ ነው ያለቀስኩት ፡፡ ለራሴ ደግሞ የማለቅሰው ፣ እናቴ ዘጠኝ ወር በሆድዋ ተሸክማ ፣ አብልታ ፤ አጠጥታኝ፣ ለፍታ አሳድጋ ለወግ ማዕረግ አድርሳኝ ፣ በዚህ አስችጋሪ በመጨረሻ ጊዜዋ ፣ እናቴን ልረዳ የማልችል ምስኪን ፍጡር በመሆኔ ፣ ሳዝን ሁሌ አለቅሳለሁ ፡፡“ ብሎኝ ፣ እንደገና የውሸት አልቅሶ ፣ እግረ መንገዱን ፣ ከለቅሶው ጀርባ የሚፈልገውን መልዕክት አስተላልፎ ፣ የውነት አሳዝኖኝ ሊያስለቅሰኝ ነበር ፡፡

በሃገራችንም ይሁን በዓለም ፣ ለቅሶ በተለያየ ባህላዊ መልክ ይገለጻል፡፡ ሰው ሲያለቅስ ሁልጊዜ ለሃዘን ብቻ አይደለም፡፡ ሳቅ ሲበዛ ያስለቅሳል፡፡ ደስታ ያስለቅሳል፡፡ ፍርሃት ያስለቅሳል፡፡ ሕጻናት አንዳንዴ ሲዋሹ ያለቅሳሉ፡፡ እርካታ ያስለቅሳል፡፡ ህመም ያስለቅሳል፡፡ ማቸነፍ ፣ መቸነፍ ሁሉ ያስለቅሳል፡፡ እንዲህ እያልን ብዙ አስለቃሽ ነገሮች ማሰብ እንችላለን፡፡

በሃገራችን ለቅሶ ይከበራል፡፡ ለቀስተኛ ፣ እሬሳ ይዘው ወደ ቀብር ሲሄዱ ፣ የሞተውን ባናቀውም ፣ ወሬያችንን አቁመን ፣ እጃችንን ለክብሩ ወደ ኋላ አድርገን እንደ እምነታችን እናማትባለን ፡፡ ዝቅ ብለን እጅ እንነሳለን፡፡ የሞተው ጠላት እንኳን ቢሆን ፣ ንፍሮውንና ቡናውን አንቀምስም እንጂ ፣ ለቅሶ ይደረሳል፡፡

ወደ መጨረሻው ቤቱ ስለሄደ ጠላትም ቢሆን ፣“ነብስ ይማር“ ተብሎ አፈር ጉድጓድ ውስጥ ይበተናል ፣ ሌላም ሌላም ብዙ የምንኮራባቸው የራሳችን ባህሎች አሉን ፡፡ በሃገራችን ብዙ ሰዎች በተፈጥሮዋቸው ሩህሩህ ከመሆናቸው በላይ ፣ ለማንም ለማያቁት ሰው ለቅሶ መድረስ የተለመደ ነው ፡፡ ሲሞት ያለቅሳሉ ፡፡ ሟቹን ሳያውቁት ደርት እየመቱ ያዙኝ ልቀቁኝ ብለው ሲወድቁ ፣ እራሳቸውን ሲጎዱ ቆይተው ፣ የሟችን ስም የሚጠይቁ ፣ ወንድ ይሁን ሴት ? በአደጋ ይሁን በተፈጥሮ እንዴት እንደሞተ ለማጣራት የሚሞክሩ ብዙ ሰዎች እንዳሉ ይታወቃል ፡፡ ሞት ሁሉም ቤት በተራ ስለሚደርስ ፣ የቋሚውን ሃዘን ነው የምንካፈለው ፡፡

በሃገራችን ሰው ሲሞት ብዙ አይነት ያለቃቀስ አይነቶች አሉ ፡፡ ከጉራጌ “ዓለም ገፈረም በዋሻ“ (ዓለምን ትቶ ዋሻ ውስጥ መኖር መረጠ)፣ የዳንስ አይነት ውዝዋዜ ፣ እስከ የዶርዜ የዝላይ የመገለባበጥ ትዕይንት፣ ጸጉር ከመንጨት ፣እስከ ሰውነትን ማድማት የመሳሰሉት ሁሉ አይነት፣ ሃዘንን የመግለጫ መንገዶች አሉ፡፡ ለእንደኔ አይነት ማልቀስ ለማይችል፣ ልበ ደረቅም አማራጭ ፈጥረውለት አስለቃሽ፣ አስረጋጅ ፣ አስተዛዛኝ፣ ማማረጥ ይቻላል እንደውም እዚህ የሰለጠነ ዓለም፣ ለብዙ ዓመታት ማልቀስ ወይም መሳቅ ለተቸገሩ ሰዎች የሚሰጥ ኮርስ (ቴራፒ) እንዳለ ሰምቻለሁኝ ፡፡ እነዚህ የሃገራችንን አስለቃሾችን ጠጋ ብላችሁ አይናቸውን ብታዩት ፣ ግጥም እየደረደሩ ያን ሁሉ ሕዝብ በእንባ ሲያራጩት ከዓይናቸው አንዲት ጠብታ እንባ አትወጣም ፡፡ ለእነሱ እንደ ሙያ እንጂ ፣ ስሜት የሚለውን ነገር ከውስጣቸው አውጥተውታል ፡፡ ስለዚህ የውሸት እያለቀሱ የውነት የሚያስለቅሱት እንጀራቸው ስለሆነ ነው ፣ ያን ካላደረጉ ነገ የሚቀምሱት የላቸውም፡፡

ዛሬ ለቅሶ እንደ ድሮ ፣ በፈረስ ፣ በባቡር ፣ በግር እየተሄደ የሚደረሰው ያው ሃገራችን እንጂ ፣ በተለይ ቴክኒዎሎጂው በሰለጠነበት ዘመን ብዙ መጓዝ እየቀረ ነው ፡፡ በስልክ መላቀስ ፣ በሞባይልና በትዊተር መርዶ ማርዳት ፣ በእስካይፒ እና በፓልቶክ ለቅሶ መድረስ ….እይተለመደ ነው ፡፡ ለቅሶ ፣ተዝካር ፣ የሃውልት ምራቃት …ወዘተ አንድ ሰው ካልተመቸው ፣ ወይም ያለበት ቦታ እንዲያዝን ፣ እንደ ሰርግ ፣ በፊዲዮ ተቀርጾ ይላካል፡፡የሕዝቡ ብዛት ፣ የምግቡ አይነት ፣ የታረደው የሰንጋ ብዛት ፣ ይስጋው ጮማነት ..ሁሉ እየተደነቀ ወደ ድግስነት እየተጠጋ ነው፡፡

ለቅሶ በምዕራቡ ዓለምና በምስራቁ ዓለም የሚጫወተው ራሱን የቻለ ፖለቲካዊ ገጽታ አለው ፡፡ በተለይ የኮሚኒስቱ ሃገር መሪዎች ፣ ምዕራቡ በአንባ ገነንነት የሚከሷቸውን ስሞታ መሰረት ለማሳጣት ፣ ለመሪዎቻቸው ቀብር በሚወጣው ሕዝብ ብዛት ፣ ለሕዝባቸው ተወዳጅ እንደነበሩ ለማሳየት ፣ ለቀብር የሚያሰልፉት ትዕይንተ ሕዝብ ፣ ብቻ ሳይሆን ፣ ትዕይንተ ለቅሶ ፣ ከማስገረም አልፎ ያስፈራል ፡፡

በሚሊዮን የሚቆጠር ሕዝብ ፣ እንደ አንድ ቤተሰብ ፣ በተመሳሳይ ሁኔታ ፣ ካሜራው ቀረብ ሲልና ፣ ሲርቅ ፣ የለቀስተኛው ድምጽ የሚጨምርና ፣ የሚቀንስ ከሆነ ? ተአሚነቱን ይቀንሰዋል ፡፡ ለመጀመርያ ጊዜ የኅብር ለቅሶ ያየሁት በ1976 በሊቀመንበር የቀብር ሥነ ሥርዓት ላይ ሲሆን ፣ የመጨረሻውን ያየሁት ፣ ከዓመት በፊት የሰሜን ኮርያውን የኪም ዮንግ ሁለተኛውን ነው ፡፡

የሁለቱንም ቀብር ይህንን ጽሁፍ ላዘጋጅ ስል ፣ ጉግል ላያና ፣ ዊኪ ፒዲያ ውስጥ ገብቼ ከነ ምስሉ ስመለከት ፣ አንድ በደንብ የገባኝ ነገር ፣ ያ ሁሉ ሚሊዮን ሕዝብ የሚያለቅሰው ልዩ ጥቅም ተሰጥቶት ወይም ተገዶ ሳይሆን ፣ ለመሪው እንዲያለቅስ አሳምነውት ነው፡፡ በስሜት ተነሳስቶ፣ ከውስጥ በተቀሰቀሰ ስሜት ማልቀስና፣ እንዲያለቅስ አሳምነውት ማልቀስ ይለያያል ፡፡

በእርግጥ በዛ ሥራዓት የተጠቀመ ፣ ከመንገድ አንስተውት የሾሙት ፣ ህልውናው ከዛ ሥርዓት ጋር የተያያዘ፣ ያለአግባብ የበለጸገ ፣ ለሰራው ወንጀል ፍርሃት ያለበት ለሚቀጥለው የስልጣን ሽግሽግ ጎልቶ ለመታየት የሚፈልግ፣ ብዙ ብዙ ከኋላ የተደበቁ አጀንዳዎች ከለቅሶው ጀርባ አሉ፡፡

በእንደዚህ አይነት የኮሚኒስት ሃገር ፣ መሪው ያንን ሃገር ሊያስተዳድር ከአንድ ትልቅ ሊታይ ሊዳሰስ የማይችል ሃይል ተመርጦ እንደሆነ አድርገው እንዲያምኑ ፣ ለአመታት አዕምሮዋቸውን በማጠብ በውስጣቸው የተገነባ ዕምነት ነው፡፡ ይህ መሪ አልፎ አልፎ በአደባባይ በሚያሳየው ጠንካራ የጦር ሰራዊቱንና ፣ ዘመናዊ ያጦር መድፎቹን ፣ ሃያ አራት ስዓት ሙሉ ፣ ብቸኛ ከሆነው አንድ ቴሌቪዥና የራርዲዮ መስመር፣ ሕዝባቸውን ታላቁ መሪያቸው እንዴት ከኢንፔርያሊስቶች እንደጠበቋቸው …በመሳሰሉት፣ ፕሮፓጋንዳ እንዲያምኑ የተደረጉ ፍጥረቶች ናቸው ፡፡ በዚህም ላይ ጠንከራ የስለላ መረብ የእያንዳንዱን ቤት የሚሰልል እንዳለ ስለሚያውቁና ፣ አንዳንዴ የራሳቸውን ህሊና ተጠቅመው፣ የፓርቲውን መስመር የማይከተሉ “እንቢተኞች“ ፣ ሕዝብ በተሰበሰበበት፣ በአደባባይ አንገታቸውን ስለሚቆረጡ ፣ እያንዳንዱ የሃገሪቷ ነዋሪ ፣ እኔም ከዚህ መስመር ብወጣ ፣ ይሄ ይደርስብኛል ብሎ ፈርቶ አንገቱን ደፍቶ ፣ የእውነት ለቅሶ ተምሮ ፣ ህይወቱን ለማሰንበት ያለቅሳል፡፡

እንደዚህ አይነት ሕብረተሰብ ፣ አለቃቸው ፣ ካሁን ቦኋላ መኖር አያስፈልጋችሁም ፣ እራሳችሁን በመርዝ ግደሉ፣ በስለት ቆራርጡ ፣ ከገደል ዘላችሁ ሙቱ ፣ ብሎ ቢነግራቸው፣ የታዘዙትን ያደርጋሉ፡፡ ለዚህም የነ ጂም ጆንስ አሳዛኝ የእልቂት ታሪክ በሳባዎቹ ዓመታትና ፣ በተለያዩ ሃገራት የተደረጉትን ፣ አሰቃቂ ታሪኮች መለስ ብሎ ማስታወሱ ጠቃሚ ነው፡፡

ይህ የሰሜን ኮርያ ሞዴል፣ እንደ ግል ማሰብ ፣ መመዘን፣ መቃወም … አይነት ተፈጥሮ የቸረን ስጦታ ተደምስሶ፣ በመሪዎች ጭንቅላትና በፓርቲ መስመር እንደ ሴክት እንድናስብ እዕምሮን ማጠብ የበሽታ አዝማምያ ወደ ሃገራችንም እየቀረበ ስለሆነ፣ ካሁኑ ይህንን አስፈሪና፣ አደገኛ አዝማሚያ ሳይቃጠል በቅጠል ልንለው ይገባል፡፡ በቅርቡ በአቡነ ጳውሎስ እና በጠቅላይ ሚኒስቴር መለስ ዜናዊ ከዚህ ዓለም በሞት መለየት ምክንያት፣ በአንድ በኩል ከላይ ከጠቀስኩት ባህላችን ውጪ፣ ለሞተ ሰው ሊሰጥ የሚገባውን ተዘንግቶ፣ ከመስመር ውጪ ተኪዶ አላስፈላጊ ሊያስገምቱን የሚችሉ ቃላቶች መጠቀምና፣ አላስፈላጊ ድርጊቶች መፈጸም ቀርቶ ፣ በሌላውም አንጻርም፣ ማንም ሰው ያለ ማዘን መብት እንዳለው ዘንግተው ፣ እኛ ስናለቅስ እናንተ ለምን ደረት አልመታችሁም፣ ብለው፣ የሰሜን ኮርያን አይነት ሞዴል፣ በአፍሪካ እንደ የጎጡ ፖለቲካ ሊጭኑብን ለሚሹት ነቅተን ልናሳፍራቸው ይገባል፡፡ ኢትዮጵያን እግዚአብሔር ይጠብቃታል!

ብስራት ኢብሳ


Giving Hailemariam Dessalegn the benefit of the doubt

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012


I’m getting good vibes about Hailemariam Dessalegne. There is a divine reason for his rise to power. God works in mysterious ways. The Ethiopian people have suffered long and hard, God intervened in the nick of time. I know the country’s financial, political, military and media institutions are under strict control of the TPLF tribal minority junta to make his work more difficult, but I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and wait and see if he can offer something different from his disgraced predecessor and lead the country through the critical transition period. I don’t expect him to work miracles, but he could at least put the house in order by neutralizing, if not eradicating, the remnants of the corrupt Meles regime. His demeanor strikes me as someone who is incorruptible. But don’t hold me to it.
8)

P.S. I am in no way endorsing Hailemariam Dessalege, nor am I offered to go out on a date with his beautiful and intelligent daughter in exchange for my candid appraisal of him.


The convening of parliament postponed because of TPLF internal revolt

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Meles Zenawi tries to cling to power after death
The rubber-stamp parliament in Ethiopia was scheduled to meet today to formally appoint Hailemariam Dessalegn as prime minister, but Ethiopian Review sources in Addis Ababa reported this afternoon that the meeting was abruptly canceled yesterday after Meles Zenawi’s wife Azeb Mesfin refused to leave the prime minister’s house. The mother of corruption dared any one to even suggest that she vacates “her house” until her husband is buried on September 2.

On top of that, it is reported that mid-ranking TPLF members have been confronting Seyoum Mesfin and other senior TPLF leaders since Tuesday over the selection of Hailemariam. Their complaint is that a position as critical as the prime minister should be reserved for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. Our sources are reporting that Azeb Mesfin is behind the simmering revolt in the TPLF rank. A deadly clash among the various TPLF factions is becoming a real possibility.

የፍትሕ ጋዜጣ ዋና አዘጋጅ ተመስገን ደሳለኝ ታሰረ

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

The Reporter

ሐምሌ 13 ቀን 2004 ዓ.ም. በገበያ ላይ እንዳይውልና እንዳይሠራጭ በፍርድ ቤት ትዕዛዝ የታገደው፣ እስካሁንም ምክንያቱ ግልጽ ባልሆነ ሁኔታ ሕትመቱ የተቋረጠው የፍትሕ ጋዜጣ ዋና አዘጋጅ ጋዜጠኛ ተመስገን ደሳለኝ ዛሬ ታሰረ፡፡

ጋዜጠኛ ተመስገን እንዲታሰር ትዕዛዝ የሰጠው የፌዴራል ከፍተኛ ፍርድ ቤት 16ኛ ወንጀል ችሎት ሲሆን፣ ምክንያቱ ደግሞ ዋና አዘጋጁ በፍትሕ ጋዜጣ ላይ፣ ነሐሴ 23 ቀን 2003 ዓ.ም.፣ የካቲት 23 ቀን 2004 ዓ.ም.፣ ሐምሌ 22 ቀን 2003 ዓ.ም. እና መጋቢት 7 ቀን 2004 ዓ.ም. የተዘገቡ መጣጥፎችን ተከትሎ የፌዴራል ከፍተኛ ዓቃቤ ሕግ በመሠረተበት ሦስት ክሶች ዋስትና በመከልከሉ ነው፡፡

ፍርድ ቤቱ ክሱን ለማየት ቀጠሮ ሰጥቶ የነበረው ለነሐሴ 9 ቀን 2003 ዓ.ም. የነበረ ቢሆንም፣ ዳኛው ባለመገኘታቸው በጽሕፈት ቤት ሠራተኞች አማካይነት ለዛሬ ተላልፎ ነበር፡፡ ዛሬ በቀጠሮው መሠረት ፍርድ ቤት ተሰይሞ ክሱን ለችሎቱና ለተከሳሹ ካሰማ በኋላ፣ በክሱ ላይ ዋና አዘጋጁ አስተያየቱን እንዲሰጥ ሲጠየቅ፣ በጠበቃው አማካይነት የዋስትና መብቱ እንዲጠበቅለት ጠይቆ ነበር፡፡ ዓቃቤ ሕግ ግን ባቀረበው መቃወሚያ ተከሳሹ የተመሠረተበት ክስ ከፍተኛ የሆነ ተጠያቂነትን የሚያስከትልበት መሆኑን በመጥቀስ፣ ከአገር ሊወጣ እንደሚችልና ሊቀርብ እንደማይችል በመናገር ዋስትናውን ተቃውሟል፡፡

ፍርድ ቤቱ የሁለቱንም አስተያየት ካደመጠ በኋላ የጋዜጠኛ ተመስገንን የዋስትና ጥያቄ ውድቅ በማድረግ፣ በማረሚያ ቤት ቆይቶ ነሐሴ 28 ቀን 2004 ዓ.ም. ለውሳኔ ቀጥሮታል፡፡ በጋዜጣው አሳታሚ ድርጅት ላይ ስለቀረበው ክስ ፍርድ ቤቱ ያለው ነገር የለም፡፡


CNN’s Erin Burnett blasts U.S. foreign policy on Ethiopia

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Erin Burnett of CNN’s Outfront seems to be one of the few Western journalists who have not received DLA Piper’s talking about about Meles Zenawi. In her commentator last night she blasted the U.S. anti-human rights policy in Ethiopia. Thank you, Erin, for speaking the truth. Watch below.

Meles ‘fooled only those who wanted to be fooled’ – Ana Gomes

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

After the death of Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi, S&D Group spokeswoman for foreign affairs Ana Gomes today made the following statement:

“Meles Zenawi was a dictator. His rhetoric on development, democracy and combatting terrorism only convinced those in the EU and the USA who wanted to be fooled. His words were clearly at odds with the cruel repression of his people and his actions in banning human rights and development organisations and jailing opposition members and journalists – Ethiopian and foreign.

“Two Swedish journalists are today still languishing in Meles Zenawi’s prisons, together with hundreds of brave Ethiopians who dared to work for freedom and democracy for their people, including Pen Prize winner Eskinder Nega.

“The EU must immediately demand the Ethiopian caretaker authorities ensure their prompt release. It must call for an immediate and inclusive dialogue involving all opposition parties – including the armed groups – to ensure a peaceful transition until democratic elections can be organised to determine the future of governance in Ethiopia.”

The West’s dramatic hypocrisy in praising Ethiopian tyrant – Forbes

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

By Thor Halvorssen and Alex Gladstein | Forbes

With the dust beginning to settle on yesterday’s death of Meles Zenawi—ruler of Ethiopia since 1991—Western leaders have been quick to lavish praise on his legacy. A darling of the national security and international development industries, Zenawi was applauded for cooperating with the U.S. government on counter-terrorism and for spurring economic growth in Ethiopia—an impoverished, land-locked African nation of 85 million people. In truth, democratic leaders who praise Zenawi do a huge injustice to the struggle for human rights and individual dignity in Ethiopia.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said Zenawi “leaves behind an indelible legacy of major contributions to Ethiopia, Africa, and the world.” Gordon Brown called Zenawi’s demise “a tragedy for the Ethiopian people,” while David Cameron remembered him as an “inspirational spokesman for Africa.” Bill Gates tweeted that he “was a visionary leader who brought real benefits to Ethiopia’s poor.” Abdul Mohammed and Alex de Waal took to the New York Times op-ed pages today in perhaps the most unspeakably sycophantic eulogy of Zenawi, declaring that the dictator’s death “deprives Ethiopia — and Africa as a whole — of an exceptional leader.”

For years, the diminutive Zenawi had been a fixture on the Davos circuit, charming Western leaders with statistics of human development and business expansion. Under his control, Ethiopia’s average annual GDP growth rate more than doubled to a gaudy 8.8 percent over the past decade, and trade and investment with the West boomed. He worked with the U.S. to capture terrorists—even invading Somalia to help oust an Islamist government—in return netting roughly a billion dollars a year in American aid. Ethiopia had been to hell and back in the 1970s and 1980s with famine, war, and genocide. For someone who came to power as a freedom fighter and liberator, who gave one of the poorest countries on earth China-esque economic growth, and who became a key ally of the U.S., what was not to like?

First off, many of the rosy development statistics given out by the Ethiopian government are simply fraudulent; independent sources still rank Ethiopia at the very bottom of poverty indexes. Second, what genuine economic and public health transformations Zenawi did bring to Ethiopia were achieved with a top-down model that mirrored the statist command he implemented over all other aspects of Ethiopian life.

Zenawi built a totalitarian state, guided by Marxist-Leninism, complete with a cult of personality and zero tolerance for dissent. Like Saddam Hussein or Bashar al-Assad, he filled the country’s top political and economic positions with men from his own Tigaray ethnicity. When elections did occur, he won them with Saddam-like numbers, most recently, 99 percent of the vote. Civil society organizations were harassed into submission or banned. His government only allowed one television station, one radio station, one internet-service provider, one telecom, one national daily, and one English daily—all churning out government propaganda. Zenawi used this information hegemony to heavily censor news available to Ethiopians, taking special delight in preventing them from hearing news from exile groups outside the country.

Zenawi’s critics were jailed, killed or chased out of the country: in fact, more journalists were exiled from Ethiopia in the last decade than any other country on earth. Let’s restate that: Zenawi kicked out more journalists than any other tyrant on the planet, thereby monopolizing control over information. His favorite tactic was labeling dissidents as terrorists. Journalists risked up to 20 years in prison if they even reported about opposition groups classified by the government as terrorists. The most emblematic case is that of Eskinder Nega, a PEN-award-winning author sentenced to 18 years in prison this July for questioning the government’s new anti-terrorism laws.

Many in the West like to credit Zenawi with “keeping Ethiopia together” despite ethnic differences, war, famine and regional instability. Dissidents, however, maintain that Zenawi was always at war with his own people. When towns and villages rose up against Zenawi’s military regime, they were put down brutally. There was, and still is, a climate of fear. With 85 million Ethiopians suffering under his thrall, Meles Zenawi constructed one of history’s most depraved states in terms of numerical human suffering.

So why is this monster being celebrated? Some, like Bill Gates and Ambassador Rice, choose to remain blind to Zenawi’s systemic human rights abuses. He was, undoubtedly, charming. Others, perhaps more worryingly, excuse his tyranny for his development and economic acumen. Foreign Policy’s managing editor illustrated this point of view while tweeting that “Meles Zenawi was a dictator but was better for his country than many democratically elected leaders.”

This kind of mentality is a dangerous one. There is no such thing as a benign dictator. Only those with a fascist mindset—who want to cut corners, who complain how messy and inefficient democracy can be, and who overlook two thousand years of political history—can believe in this chimera. From Cuba to Kazakhstan, the story is the same.

For instance, Pinochet took Chile from being a run-of-the-mill right-wing statist dictatorship to an economic success story with the same liberalization principles that the Chinese tyranny has employed to transform itself into a world power. Is the Pinochet-Beijing model of a police state with economic freedom, attempted by Zenawi for Ethiopia, an acceptable one in this day and age? The New York Review of Books reminds us that this sort of ideology brought Ethiopia “appalling cruelty in the name of social progress.” Anyone stating that they “like” the economic results from the Pinochet-Beijing model must accept thousands of tortured and disappeared in Chile and tens of millions dead in China (and 8 million political prisoners languishing in the Laogai as of today). Perhaps those admiring a strongman can accept such a condition with a John Rawls-type veil of ignorance without knowing what it is like to live under a dictatorship. It is easy to tolerate torture and disappearances if it isn’t happening to your daughter, your brother, your mother, or you.

Those in the West heaping praise on Zenawi—all living in societies that suffered so much to achieve individual liberty—are engaging in dramatic hypocrisy by praising this thug. Would Bill Gates live in a country that denies people basic political freedoms? Whose government arrests and kills its critics en masse? Would he trade places with an Ethiopian university student who believes in free expression and whose stance will lead to certain prison and possible execution?

Any arguments that Zenawi was mellowing (after 21 years in power!) are false. The past few years saw new sweeping “anti-terrorism” laws and stronger Internet censorship. In 2005, Ethiopia even saw its own Tiananmen Square. That year, Zenawi decided to hold freer elections, but the opposition won a record number of parliamentary seats, including all those in the capital, Addis Ababa. Throngs took to the streets to celebrate. In response, Zenawi lashed out brutally, arresting the opposition’s entire leadership and sentencing them to life in prison for treason; shuttering five newspapers and imprisoning their editors; murdering 193 protestors, injuring 800, and arbitrarily jailing 40,000 other men, women, and teenagers in a show of raw tyranny. According to The Telegraph’s David Blair, who was reporting from the scene, “a crackdown on this scale has not been seen in Africa for 20 years and the repression exceeds anything by President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe for the past decade at least. Apartheid-era South Africa’s onslaught against the black townships in the 1980s provides the only recent comparison.”

It is startling that so many consider Zenawi an “intellectual” leader, when he needed such bloody policy to enforce his rule. When Western leaders consider this dictator—who rapaciously treated Africa’s second-largest nation as his personal property—worthy of not just condolences, but pure adulation, something is very wrong with their value systems.

One politician, the Norwegian foreign minister, made a slight nod toward individual rights in his obligatory comments about Zenawi’s passing: “Norway and Ethiopia have an open and frank dialogue on political and social issues, including areas, such as human rights, where we have diverging views.”

Amen!

(ThorHalvorssen is the founder and president of the New York–based Human Rights Foundation. Alex Gladstein is HRF’s Director of Institutional Affairs.)

Do these Ethiopians mourn Meles?

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Azeb, we mourn this Ethiopians you and your husband have terrorized and made to die a horrible death.

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Competition to succeed Meles Zenawi may fracture TPLF – Bloomberg

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

By William Davison (Bloomberg)

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s death may cause a succession battle that could test the stability of one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies and a key ally in the U.S.’s war against al-Qaeda.

The 57-year-old premier died Aug. 20 from an infection after recuperating at a hospital in an undisclosed location from an unspecified illness. Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn is serving as acting prime minister.

Competition to succeed Meles may fracture the unity of the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front and embolden opposition groups frustrated by years of government suppression, said analysts including Jennifer Cooke, director of the Africa Program at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. That may jeopardize a state-driven program that generated average economic growth of 11 percent over the past seven years, while placing at risk Ethiopia’s role as a peacekeeper in the Horn of Africa region.

“Meles has played such an outsized role in the country’s leadership that there’s no obvious successor or power broker within the EPRDF who will now take firm charge,” Cooke said in an e-mailed response to questions yesterday.

Meles’s administration mixed government spending on infrastructure like roads and hydropower plants with investment by companies including Amsterdam-based Heineken NV (HEIA), the world’s third-biggest brewer, and those owned by Saudi billionaire Mohamed al-Amoudi to spur the economy. Growth in Africa’s biggest coffee-producing nation may slow to 6.5 percent in 2013 from 7 percent this year amid the global economic slowdown, according to theInternational Monetary Fund.

Western Ally

Ethiopia under Meles also benefited economically from its partnership with Western allies on security issues. It’s helped fight insurgencies in Somalia, where Meles sent troops for the second time in December to help drive out al-Qaeda-linked militants, and its forces patrol Abyei, which is claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan. In 2011, the country was Africa’s biggest recipient of foreign aid, totaling $3.53 billion, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Meles came to power after building a coalition of rebel groups to overthrow Mengistu Haile Mariam’s Marxist military junta in 1991. Since then he has consolidated power by purging potential rivals and promoting those loyal to him. He also strengthened the authority of the ruling party by cracking down on opposition parties and using counter-terrorism legislation to jail reporters and dissenters.

‘Significant Tensions’

“The current government’s suppression of any kind of democratic process or debate means that there are significant tensions and resentments within the country that have had no outlet or expression,” Cooke said. “If the ruling coalition is distracted or weakened by infighting, opposition parties will see an opportunity to press their case.”

Potential successors in addition to Hailemariam include the State Minister for Foreign Affairs Berhane Gebrekristos from Meles’s Tigray People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF; Amhara Regional State President Ayalew Gobeze; and Health Minister Tewodros Adhanom Gebreyesus, who is a TPLF executive committee member, said Terrence Lyons, associate professor of conflict resolution at George Mason University in Virginia.

The TPLF forms the core of the EPRDF coalition, which in 1994 ushered in a constitution that divided Ethiopia into nine ethnically based federal regions and two autonomous cities. Besides the TPLF, the Oromo and Amhara communities and a grouping of smaller ethnic communities from the country’s south each have parties in the coalition. The Oromo make up 35 percent of Ethiopia’s population, the Amhara 27 percent and the Tigray 6 percent, according to the U.S. State Department.

Chosen One

Hailemariam was Meles’s chosen successor, Seeye Abraha, a former executive committee member of the TPLF, turned political opponent, said in an e-mailed response to questions. Hailemariam is deputy chairman of the EPRDF that along with its allies controls all but two of the seats in the nation’s 547-seat parliament. He is a Wolayta, one of three main ethnic groups in the politically fragmented southern region.

Hailemariam may not “wield much power” because officials from the TPLF will retain control of the security services and key ministries, said Michael Woldemariam, an assistant professor in the Department of International Relations at Boston University in Massachusetts.

Seeye, who served as defense minister from 1991 to 1995, was one of 12 individuals purged from the TPLF leadership in 2001 after criticizing Meles for perceived weaknesses in his handling of a two-year border war with Eritrea that ended in 2000 and cost 70,000 lives.

‘Smart Politics’

The next leader will “have to come from outside the TPLF” because of Tigrayans’ minority status, former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia David Shinn said in an e-mailed response to questions. “It is simply smart politics for the EPRDF to share the top spot.”

“Instability may occur if new splits emerge within the TPLF,” Woldemariam said in an e-mailed response to questions yesterday. “If the TPLF can retain its unity and integrity, then I think a slide into instability is unlikely. A split in its upper echelons would likely infect the EPRDF’s other coalition partners as TPLF factions vie for support.”

A rupture in the Tigrayan group may also cause unrest in the security services it controls, he said.

Several insurgent groups operate in Ethiopia, including the banned Oromo Liberation Front, which withdrew from the government in 1993, and the Ogaden National Liberation Front that fights for more autonomy for the ethnic-Somali Ogadeni people.

Muslim Protests

Over the past 10 months, the government has also faced demonstrations by Muslims against government interference in their community in Addis Ababa and other towns. About a third of Ethiopia’s 94 million people are Muslim, according to the CIA World Factbook.

The regional importance of Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous nation, in fighting al-Qaeda makes the U.S. “deeply concerned at the prospect of a destabilizing or uncertain transition in Ethiopia,” Cooke said.

Ethiopia received $6.23 billion in assistance from the U.S. between 2000 and 2011, according to the State Department.


TPLF will grow more repressive to maintain power: ICG

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Ethiopia After Meles

By the International Crisis Group (ICG) | Africa Briefing N°89 22 Aug 2012

OVERVIEW

The death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who had not been seen in public for several months, was announced on 20 August 2012 by Ethiopian state television. The passing of the man who has been Ethiopia’s epicentre for 21 years will have profound national and regional consequences. Meles engineered one-party rule in effect for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and his Tigrayan inner circle, with the complicity of other ethnic elites that were co-opted into the ruling alliance, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). The Front promised freedom, democracy and ethnic devolution but is highly centralised, tightly controls the economy and suppresses political, social, ethnic and religious liberties. In recent years, Meles had relied ever more on repression to quell growing dissent. His successor will lead a weaker regime that struggles to manage increasing unrest unless it truly implements ethnic federalism and institutes fundamental governance reform. The international community should seek to influence the transition actively because it has a major interest in the country’s stability.

Despite his authoritarianism and poor human rights records, Meles became an important asset to the international community, a staunch Western ally in counter-terrorism efforts in the region and a valued development partner for Western and emerging powers. In consequence, Ethiopia has become the biggest aid recipient in Africa, though Meles’s government was only able to partially stabilise either the country or region.

Ethiopia’s political system and society have grown increasingly unstable largely because the TPLF has become increasingly repressive, while failing to implement the policy of ethnic federalism it devised over twenty years ago to accommodate the land’s varied ethnic identities. The result has been greater political centralisation, with concomitant ethnicisation of grievances. The closure of political space has removed any legitimate means for people to channel those grievances. The government has encroached on social expression and curbed journalists, non-gov­ern­men­tal organisations and religious freedoms. The cumulative effect is growing popular discontent, as well as radicalisation along religious and ethnic lines. Meles adroitly navigated a number of internal crises and kept TPLF factions under his tight control. Without him, however, the weaknesses of the regime he built will be more starkly exposed.

The transition will likely be an all-TPLF affair, even if masked beneath the constitution, the umbrella of the EPRDF and the prompt elevation of the deputy prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, to acting head of government. Given the opacity of the inner workings of the government and army, it is impossible to say exactly what it will look like and who will end up in charge. Nonetheless, any likely outcome suggests a much weaker government, a more influential security apparatus and endangered internal stability. The political opposition, largely forced into exile by Meles, will remain too fragmented and feeble to play a considerable role, unless brought on board in an internationally-brokered process. The weakened Tigrayan elite, confronted with the nation’s ethnic and religious cleavages, will be forced to rely on greater repression if it is to maintain power and control over other ethnic elites. Ethno-religious divisions and social unrest are likely to present genuine threats to the state’s long-term stability and cohesion.

The regional implications will be enormous. Increasing internal instability could threaten the viability of Ethiopia’s military interventions in Somalia and Sudan, exacerbate tensions with Eritrea, and, more broadly, put in question its role as the West’s key regional counter-terrorism ally. Should religious or ethnic radicalisation grow, it could well spill across borders and link with other armed radical Islamic groups.

The international community, particularly Ethiopia’s core allies, the U.S., UK and European Union (EU), should accordingly seek to play a significant role in preparing for and shaping the transition, by:

  • tying political, military and development assistance to the opening of political space and an end to repressive measures;
  • encouraging the post-Meles leadership to produce a clear roadmap, including transparent mechanisms within the TPLF and the EPRDF for apportioning the party and Front power Meles held and within parliament to lead to an all-inclusive, peaceful transition, resulting in free and fair elections within a fixed time; and
  • helping to revive the political opposition’s ability to represent its constituencies, in both Ethiopia and the diaspora.

Nairobi/Brussels, 22 August 2012

ENTC calls for the formation of transitional government

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Ethiopian National Transitional Council (ENTC) has called for the establishment of a transitional government that will exist for a period of 2 years until a free and fair election is held in Ethiopia.

The transitional government is proposed to include all stakeholders who will convene a founding conference, according to ENTC’s statement that is released on Tuesday. Read the ENTC statement here [pdf, Amharic]

Mr. Obang Metho Calls for Calm, Caution and Dialogue

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

A Letter to Ethiopians

Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE)

 

August 21, 2012

Dear fellow Ethiopians,

As the Executive Director of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE), I want to call on the Ethiopian people to remain calm and cautious during this time of unknown certainty.

 

Meles Zenawi, prime minister of Ethiopia—the darling of the West, but a ruthless strongman to his own people—has passed away. After two months of rumors and speculation about his death or incapacitation, the government of Ethiopia finally announced his death. No one expected, even two months ago, that Meles’ 21-year long, iron-fisted control over the one-party government of the Tigrayan Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF)—which controlled the coalition government of the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF)—would come to such an abrupt end. Meles’ absence will challenge the entire system and we must be ready, but patient.

 

For years, opposition groups, as well as key stakeholders within and outside of Ethiopia, recognized the ability of this one man to either hinder or advance agendas of others to his own benefit, whether in Ethiopia or in the region. Now that he is gone, the TPLF/EPRDF system that maintained him and dominated every sector of society in Ethiopia, although still in place, may have taken a deadly hit. The future is uncertain as the new regime faces new challenges from inner TPLF power struggles, splits between Tigrayans, the renewed vigor from opposition groups and now, new demands from religious groups, both Muslims and Christians, for freedom from government interference in their religious affairs.   

 

As our dictator has been taken out of the game, Ethiopians may suddenly have a unique opportunity to win their struggle for a healthier, more inclusive and more prosperous Ethiopia. Today is a new day. We are not going to celebrate the death of somebody but must still carefully appraise the real obstacles ahead that may not have been clearly revealed to outsiders or understood by us.

 

Meles had two faces—one for outsiders and one among Ethiopians. To outsiders, like within the African Union, Meles was perceived to be a “uniter” but to Ethiopians, he maintained his power through fomenting division. He was the architect of the Ethiopian system of ethnic federalism, which discouraged a national identity as it accentuated ethnicity; all used as a divide and conquer tactic to maintain control of the majority by a minority group comprised of only 6% of the population. As a result, we all know that the Ethiopia of today is more divided by ethnicity than ever before.  

 

To state players concerned about global security, Meles played a role in the War on Terror and in sending troops to Somalia; but to his own people, Meles was our home-grown terrorist who most threatened our lives and futures and radicalized neighboring Somalia.  

 

Development assistance from outside nations and organizations flowed into the country and Meles was seen as a “new breed of African leaders,” but to the people, especially outside of Meles’ own region, outside of Addis and outside of special project areas; development monies were often linked to political views or lost to corruption.

 

Repeatedly, outsiders have given Meles an unchallenged legacy for bringing millions out of poverty; but on the ground, the money has not trickled down to the people. Global Financial Integrity instead gave recent documentation of billions of USD dollars leaving the country in illicit capital leakage—$11.3 billion from 2000 to 2009— money from economic growth confiscated by cronyism rather than inclusive capitalism. Yes, Meles has secured large amounts of foreign investment, especially in agricultural land and resources, but millions of Ethiopians have or eventually will be forced off their land; with no say, no compensation and no provisions for starting a new life. These small farmers are now becoming dependent on foreign aid for the first time.

 

 

These are great challenges for the future for any leader. The newly appointed transitional Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, will have a critical role to play. Whether he will take the side of the people or will attempt to continue the status quo, is unknown; however, if he rises to the challenge of advancing the interests of the people, it will require undoing the machinery of suppression so carefully put into place by this regime—like the Anti-terrorism law that has imprisoned democratic voices and the Charities and Societies Proclamation that has eliminated civic institutions, replacing them with pseudo organizations controlled by the regime.

 

It will require implementing broad reforms: creating an independent judiciary system, freeing the media, advancing the Internet, forming an independent election board and initiating all those key parts of any well- functioning democratic state. He must also release thousands of political prisoners who are only imprisoned because they became enemies of the regime simply for living out their consciences.

 

As we face these next, uncertain days and weeks ahead, if we are to succeed as a people and avoid violence and revenge after years of simmering tensions, anger and frustration among us, we Ethiopians must see each other as one people—the Ethiopian people—and part of our family of humanity. This is not a time for vengeance or destruction, but is a time to start reconciling with each other for the sake of the whole country. This is the beginning of reform.

 

We are calling for dialogue among Ethiopians. We are also calling on those western state players, who supported Meles, to now support the organizations who are working to establish democracy, to preserve the territorial integrity of the country, to build institutions and to reject appeals of ethnic-based violence. We know that Meles received that support, despite his many human rights abuses and the repression of his people, because of the perceived greater interest in global security and stability in a geo-politically strategic region; but now it is time to reassess who will be the best long-term partners. It is the Ethiopian people. The man that charmed the west is now gone. It is a critical time to support genuine reforms and the people and opposition groups working for broad-based and meaningful change that can galvanize the people and serve their interests while enhancing the mutually shared interests of global partners and foreign investors.

 

From the beginning, the SMNE was established as a non-violent, non-political social justice movement to bring the diverse people of Ethiopia together; creating security, stability and greater prosperity through the restoration of justice, built on the principles of putting “humanity before ethnicity” and caring about “others” within Ethiopia and beyond because “no one is free until all are free.”  The SMNE was also created to strengthen institutions which would promote truth, freedom, democracy, equality, civility, accountability and transparency in order to bring about a more robust society that could move from its dependency on others for its basic daily needs to greater independence. Ethiopia is a rich nation in people and resources. Good governance, democratic values, ethical practice, industry and inclusive capitalism can transform Ethiopia from its image of starvation, misery and suffering to a country that can contribute to the well being of others. Ethiopians want to seize this opportunity now.

 

We in the SMNE call for calm among the people and restraint for the defense forces. Meles had a choice to be loved by the people when he ousted Mengistu in 1991, but he did not take it. We must be careful now to not create ingredients for fighting against each other either now or in the future. Ethiopian Defense troops and security forces with guns should not use them against the people. The taking of one life is too many.

 

We Ethiopians have already shed too many tears; we have already spilled too much blood; we have already lived with too much pain and sorrow; we have already felt too much desperation; and, we have already lost too many of our people to death, abuse or hardship while trying to find a better life outside of Ethiopia. It is time to reclaim, rebuild and transform Ethiopia into a New Ethiopia where people want to stay. It will require all of us working together by each doing our share. 

 

In conclusion, everyone knows how Meles favored his own ethnic group, the Tigrayan, and his own region, Tigray, and even more his own birthplace of Adwa, but the Tigray should not be afraid. If you have not committed crimes, you have nothing to fear. You are part of us and will be part of the New Ethiopia. As we have said before, the SMNE stands to defend and to protect the well being of each and every Ethiopian individuals and groups. You are part of that. We cannot build a New Ethiopia without you. Our enemy is the system, not an ethnicity, a region, a town or a religion. You do not have to hold back. You are our brothers and sisters. With God’s help, we can find healing for the past, reconciliation for the present and hope for the future. May God bless Ethiopia!

 

Your brother in our struggle for a New Ethiopia,

 

Obang Metho, Executive Director of the SMNE

Email: Obang@solidaritymovement.org.

Website: www.solidaritymovement.org

In Meles’ death, as in life, a penchant for secrecy, control

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

By Mohammed Keitha | CPJ Africa Policy Coordinator

August 21, 2012

Ethiopians awakened this morning to state media reports that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, 57, the country’s leader for 21 years, had died late Monday in an over

The late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, shown here in 2010. (AFP/Simon Maina)

seas hospital of an undisclosed disease. Within seconds, Ethiopians spread the news on social media; within minutes, international news media were issuing bulletins. Finally, after weeks of government silence and obfuscation over Meles’ health, there was clarity for Ethiopians anxious for word about their leader. Still, it was left to unnamed sources to fill in even the basic details. Meles died in a Brussels hospital of liver cancer, these sources told international news organizations, and he had been ill for many months.

“Death of yet another African leader highlights secrecy & lack of transparency when it comes to ailing leaders,” CNN’s Faith Karimi noted on Twitter, where the hashtag #MelesZenawi was trending globally.

After Meles failed to appear at July’s African Union summit in his own capital, Addis Ababa, spokesman Bereket Simon was forced to acknowledge that the prime minister was ill. Still, he asserted that Meles would be back to work soon, a claim does not seem to have been credible. The government went on to consistently play down reports that Meles had a life-threatening condition, even as it refused to disclose his exact whereabouts or the nature of his illness. Authorities blocked distribution of the one local newspaper, Feteh, that tried to publish more detailed information about Meles.

The government’s handling of Meles’ health situation reflects its culture of secrecy, as Bereket acknowledged last month, along with its heavy-handed tactics to control news and information. Yet for all its efforts, the government could not control the public’s hunger for information. The official secrecy merely fueled rampant public speculation and fears about the country’s future.

The government’s tactics are a product of its long-time leader. The paradox of Meles is that he was a formidable politician who nonetheless feared criticism in the Ethiopian press.

To the world, Meles projected the image of an engaging intellectual, a bespectacled bureaucrat who championed development and fought climate change. Meles had the “ability to understand what foreigners wanted to hear. He spoke their language,” said Ethiopian journalist Mohammed Ademo, referring to Meles’ mastery of the politics of aid, poverty, and the global fight against terrorism. “In English, he was soft-spoken and appeared to be willing to consider and tolerate and debate all arguments freely,” said another Ethiopian journalist who spoke on condition of anonymity.

But Meles adopted a very different tone domestically. He continued the Mengistu regime’s censorship of famine and drought coverage, and he ruthlessly stamped out dissent. “He was often arrogant and rude when speaking to Ethiopians. Threatening in parliament,” said Mohammed. In one of his last speeches, Meles lashed out at critics, real and imagined, and accused independent journalists of being “terrorists.”

The new prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, has an opportunity to break with this fear and embrace openness to the press. He can start with the unconditional release of at least eight journalists now behind bars, among them the independent blogger Eskinder Nega, who is serving an 18-year term on baseless terrorism charges.

Azeb Mesfin takes part in Bereket Simon’s drama at Bole Airport (video)

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

When her husband Meles Zenawi was fighting for his life in a Brussels ICU, she was not next to him. Now that he is dead, she cries a river at a staged event orchestrated by the lie factory Bereket Simon. Azeb, aka the mother of corruption, has no place in her heart to feel sad for any one. Otherwise, she would have tried to stop her husband’s 21-year murder spree. Because of her and her husband’s actions, tears was flowing like a river in Ethiopia for the past 2 decades.

Ethiopian dictator Meles Zenawi’s body left Brussels (video)

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

It is a staged event orchestrated by the TPLF’s junta’s propaganda machinery. The truth is that Meles Zenawi’s body arrived in Addis Ababa over 3 weeks ago and had been kept in a freezer at Bole Airport, according to an eyewitness at the airport.

Meles Zenawi’s body “arrives” at Bole Airport this evening

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

The TPLF junta is organizing a ceremony for 9 PM (local time) tonight to receive Meles Zenawi’s body. Although they claim that he is being flown from overseas, Ethiopian Review sources report that he has been kept in a freezer at the Bole Airport for over 3 weeks. Propaganda chief Bereket Simon, the pathological liar, is staging a big televised show tonight for his late boss.

9:00 PM (Addis Ababa time) – Bereket Simon’s propaganda machine is going into overdrive. Watching ETV feels like the North Korean leader has died. The TPLF junta is forcing musicians, businessmen, athletes, and others to cry on camera. The funniest of all is Haile Gebreselassie. He was squeezing his eyes hard to get a drop of tears out. Bad acting. He should stick to running.

7:40 PM (Addis Ababa time) – Troops and military vehicles are pouring into Addis Ababa this evening. The road to Bole Airport looks like a military parade.

7:30 PM (Addis Ababa time) – A large heavily armed military force with hundreds of armored vehicles under the command of Lt. Gen. Seare Mekonnen has been deployed in the town of Fiche, 60km from Addis Ababa, Ethiopian Review sources in the area are now reporting. In the absence of Gen. Samora Yenus, Seare is in charge of the armed forces. Samora currently is in Germany receiving treatment for AIDS-related sickness.

7:15 PM (Addis Ababa time) – Meles Zenawi’s wife Azeb Mesfin and daughter Semhal have been observed going to Bole Airport to receive the late dictator. Today is the first public appearance she would be making in over a month.

7:00 PM (Addis Ababa time) – Several TPLF officials and members are heading toward Bole Airport right now. The city is under a security clampdown. Tens of thousands of soldiers who are wearing Federal Police uniform roam the city. Addis Ababa security is being supervised by Hassan Shifa.

A chance to build a new Ethiopia

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

By Yilma Bekele

The Ethiopian TPLF Prime Minister Meles Zenawi died three weeks ago. He died at St-Luke University Hospital in Brussels, Belgium. His Party kept him in the freezer while trying to determine what to do regarding the rules of succession, which the leader deliberately kept vague. For three weeks his Party made a mockery of the Ethiopian people by issuing conflicting press releases and unconfirmed reports. The death of the TPLF patriarch Aba Gebremedhin seems to have given them the opportunity to unthaw or defreeze his stiff body and prepare for a state burial in tandem with the wayward priest.

De mortuis nihil nisi bonum (“Of the dead, nothing unless good”). Is this maxim appropriate under the circumstances? I would say normally yes. The dead are not able to defend themselves. Is this always true? Not really, a few speak for many years after they are gone. They leave a legacy of evil behind. The living uses the negative experience to avoid future mistakes.

The same Ethiopian TPLF regime that was lying to us regarding the health of the tyrant has already began revising history and started the manufacture of fairy tales and Holly Wood style fiction. No adjective will be spared to build the resume of Legese Zenawi. Our airwaves will be inundated by lies, false testimonials and Mamo kilo stories. No one will be allowed to breath any truth in the land of the Abeshas. The TPLF controlled TV, Radio, Internet will be playing 24/7 how lucky we were to have such a visionary lead us and how difficult it would be to replace a giant of a leader that ever existed in human history.

It is important we the victims set this story in proper context and use this occasion as a teachable moment. No one relishes speaking ill of the dead. But the situation goes beyond saying a few bad words about the dead when the dead is still speaking thru the work he left behind. That is the work we would like to talk about because the death of the evil gives us the opportunity to undo the harm. We learn from the history of those that were confronted by that kind of situation and see how they dealt with it.

The best example I can think of the ill famous Adolph Hitler and the legacy he left behind. If you notice no one dares speak good of the Furher. He has become the personification of evil. It is possible to say a few good things about the Furher but the problem is his negatives outweigh his good deeds. One can speak of the economic miracles of Germany under the Nazis. At the end of World War I and the imposition of the Versailles treaty on Germany the country was in ruins. One can say Hitler and his Nazi Party united the Germans and built an economic juggernaut the dominated all of Europe. Germany’s prosperity was the envy of the world.

You don’t judge a book by the cover alone. There was the dark side of Hitler. That is all that is left of his legacy today. Today the German people use that period to teach their children the danger of demagoguery and blind allegiance to a person or a cause. They cannot undo the crime but they will keep reminding their people and the world the danger of what a single individual with a false vision can do to a people.

That is how Ethiopia can learn from the crimes of Legese/Meles Zenawi. He came into the picture with our country weakened from years of civil war, our economy in shambles and our moral compass out of balance. He used our confusion and lack of direction to take us on a road that has brought us nothing but misery. No matter how much some try to build the non-existent accomplishment of the TPLF party the reality will never confirm any of that assertion.

The World Bank, The Economist Magazine, the IMF, the US State Department and all foreign who is who will be telling us the double digit growth under the leadership of Ashebari. They will bring out pictures and graphs to prove to us how well off we are. The TPLF lie machine will repeat this to our people using all available media. Even a few of our own will be echoing the good virtue of Ashebari and the wonderful Ethiopia under his tutelage.

But we know better. We the victims tell a different story. There are over eighty five million Ethiopians. Why are they telling us about less than a hundred thousand of us? Does eating more than three times a day by the few substitute for the not eating of the three to four million who live on less than a 100 calories a day? They tell us double-digit growth but why are our children dying in Tanzania, Malawi, Uganda and the coast of Yemen? Why are our daughters committing suicide all over the Gulf and Lebanon? Why are more standing in line to change their names and go to where they know danger awaits them? Isn’t it hopelessness, the feeling of dejection and no tomorrow that is permeating our society?

Ato Meles Zenawi ruled our country for over twenty years. How do you think he will answer if asked what do you have to show for twenty years of absolute rule? It is a fair question that requires a real answer not some made up excuse. There was starvation when he came he left with starvation still the norm. He came in times of civil war he left with his people watching each other with suspicion and his Federal Police everywhere abusing, killing and feared. He came with the economy in ruins he left with his country loaded with debt, our land leased to foreigners and our central bank printing money like there is no tomorrow. He came when there was no political order and no rules of governance and he left with a Constitution not worth the paper it is written on, a parliament that can not read and write, a judiciary that is the laughing stock of the nation and a country serving one ethnic group.

Those that are in the process of inheriting his style of leadership seem to have learned no lesson from his debacle. They still lie, still show no respect and still play the same old game of fear, divide and rule and behind the scene deal making. They have written a new amendment to Constitution that they will make the Parliament approve and put the hapless Deputy in charge. He does not have a party, he does not have a constituent to fall back on and he does not have authority over the military or security services. He is what is called a figurehead. He cannot even give order to the TPLF guard outside his office. That is the reality of the situation no matter how we deny it.

It is time we start assessing the legacy of Meles Zenawi based on reality. It is time we stop repeating made up statistics by foreigners that tell a story based on their self-interest. There is no denying he sold land to the highest bidder and the facilitated the construction of condominiums. There is no denying he borrowed money in our name and built shoddy roads while scamming most of the money. There is no denying he established Universities in every Kilil but forgot to train competent teachers or well-equipped libraries. It is fair to say Meles was into appearance but not into essence. Let us use this occasion to repair what is broken, change what is not working and open a new chapter of building a fair society that embraces all the children of Ethiopia. We are given another chance to right what is wrong. Let us seize the opportunity and start anew.

Meles Zenawi’s crimes (in photos)

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

The crimes of Meles Zenawi and his TPLF junta

Prof. Asrat Woldeyes languished 6 years in jail deprived of medical treatment until it was too late
Prof. Asrat Woldeyes

14-year-old Meseret Tadesse gunned down by Meles Zenawi’s soldiers
Meseret Tadesse

AAU students

A satellite image of an Ogaden village burned down by Meles Zenawi’s forces
Ogaden

Ethiopian student shot in the head by Meles Zenawi’s snippers – Nov. 2005, Addis Ababa
Meles Zenawi

Addis Ababa University students shot by Meles Zenawi’s soldiers
Meles Zenawi

Ethiopian mother mourns the killing of her teenage son by Meles Zenawi
Meles Zenawi

A mother whose son gunned down by Meles Zenawi’s soldiers cries
Meles Zenawi

Shibre Dessalegn gunned down by Meles Zenawi’s Agazi troops
Meles Zenawi

Meles Zenawi

Meles Zenawi’s police prepare to attack students
Meles Zenawi

Ten-year old boy gunned down by Meles Zenawi’s special forces
killed by Meles Zenawi

Families of students massacred by Meles Zenawi’s soldiers
AAU students

Student in Addis Ababa shot to death by Meles Zenawi’s soldiers
Meles Zenawi

Ethiopian mothers cry
Meles Zenawi

Some of the 78,000 Ethiopians who are kicked out of southern Ethiopia just because they are from the Amhara ethnic group
Meles Zenawi

Hailemariam Dessalegn is appointed as prime minister – ETV

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Following the announcement of Meles Zenawi’s death this morning, the state-controlled ETV reported that Hailemariam Dessalegn has been appointed as acting prime minister of Ethiopia, confirming Ethiopian review’s breaking news Saturday, August 18.

The ruling TPLF junta reached an agreement on Hailemariam’s appointment early last week at the urging of Gen. Carter F. Ham, head of the U.S. Africa Command (Africom).

On Monday, Africom issued a statement denying Ethiopian Review’s report.

The TPLF junta was ready to announce Meles’s death on Friday, but decided to postpone it until this morning because of the anticipated massive protest rally by Ethiopian Muslims on the Eid al-Fitr holiday, Sunday.

The TPLF junta is currently being led by Seyoum Mesfin. Hailemariam will be a figurehead prime minister, the same as Girma Woldegiorgis is a fake president. The real power will be controlled by Seyoum Mesfin, who is currently chairing the TPLF, according to Ethiopian Review Intelligence Unit sources.

A day of joy for Ethiopians; the blood-sucking terrorist tyrant is dead!

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012


Today is a day of joy for most Ethiopians and all freedom loving people around the world. The ruling Woyanne tribal junta has finally admitted this morning that Meles Zenawi, the genocidal tyrant who has been terrorizing the people of Ethiopia for the past 4 decades, is dead.

The state-controlled ETV reported that Meles Zenawi has died yesterday, but the fact is that he died in the early morning of Sunday, July 15, as first announced by the Ethiopian National Transitional Council (ENTC).

Meles suddenly disappeared from the public view 61 days ago on June 20. On July 11, he went into a coma and was flown to Belgium, according to an eyewitness who is working for Ethiopian Airlines. After the doctors at St. Luc Hospital tried to revive him for the next 4 days, he took his last breath on July 15.

Ethiopia’s dictator Meles Zenawi is dead – ETV (video)

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

The state-controlled Ethiopian Television (ETV) has reported that Ethiopia’s dictator Meles Zenawi has died at the age of 57.

After announcing Meles Zenawi’s death, the ETV started showing various photos of the dictator with music on the bacground.

The TPLF junta has been claiming that Meles was recovering for a minor illness and that he would return to his job before September 11, Ethiopian New Year. However, multiple sources have been informing Ethiopian Review and other media that Meles has died several weeks ago. Finally, the regime has admitted this morning (Ethiopian local time) that he is dead.

Obviously, it has been a while since Meles has died. It took this long for the ruling TPLF junta to announce his death because they couldn’t agree on his replacement.

Toward the end of last week, as reported by Ethiopian Review, the U.S. Africa Command led by Gen. Carter F. Ham persuaded the minority tribal junta to appoint Hailemariam Dessalegn as acting prime minister.

Ethiopian woman helped police to arrest Dallas murder suspect Abey Belete Girma

Monday, August 20th, 2012

According to EMF, the suspected killer of an Ethiopian couple in Dallas was caught with a hit list, 15 guns and $20,000 before an Ethiopian woman in Colorado helped police to arrest him Saturday night.

(DALLAS MORNING NEWS) — Late last night we learned that Abey Girma, the fugitive suspected of gunning down a Lower Greenville husband and wife on their front porch, had been arrested in Colorado.

Now we know how that went down, and it looks like police can thank an alert news reader at tight-knit Ethiopian church.

Short background: Police believe Girma, a customer at Yared Lemma and Yenni Desta’s Ethiopian restaurant, felt disrespected by the couple for some reason Wednesday night. So he allegedly followed them home and shot them to death, then forced a coworker to help him flee the state.

The next day in Aurora, Colo., a woman worshiping at St. Mary Ethiopian Orthodox Church spots a strange man hanging around. According to Aurora police, he calls himself Abey.

Abey asks the woman for her phone number, police say. She refuses.

The next day the woman sees Girma at the church again. And that night, police say, he comes knocking at her door and window. She doesn’t answer.

Now, the Ethiopians in Aurora are well aware of the Dallas slaying. It’s big news in a small community. So the woman does some some Googling, find’s Girma’s mugshot and immediately recognizes him as her stalker.

She calls police right away, and about an hour later officers find his vehicle in the church parking lot. He’s arrested at a traffic stop without incident, and is now reportedly awaiting extradition to Dallas.

Police found 15 guns and $20,000 in Abey Girma’s 2011 Nissan when he was caught in Colorado

Monday, August 20th, 2012

This is shocking. The guy had with him a list of individuals he was preparing to kill or already might have killed. The authorities in Texas and Colorado are investigating.

(EMF) በዳላስ የደስታ ሬስቶራንት ባለቤት የሆኑትን አቶ ያየህይራድ እና የኒን በማታ ተከትሎ የገደላቸው ኢትዮጵያዊ ዴንቨር ከሚገኘው ዳግማዊት ግሸን ማርያም አጠገብ ከሚገኘው ትምህርት ቤት የ2011 ኒሳን መኪናውን እንዳቆመ ነው በፖሊስ የተደረሰበት። አብይ ግርማ ይባላል። ከዚህ በፊት ዴንቨር ነዋሪ ነበር። አትላንታ ከተማም መምጣትን ያዘወትራል። ዳላስ ከተማ ውስጥ ደግሞ በሊሞዚን መኪና ሹፌርነት ይሰራል። ከዚህ በፊት ዳላስ በሚገኘው ደስታ ሬስቶራንት ውስጥ ከሰዎች ጋር ተጣልቶ ስለተፈነከተ፤ የጉዳት ካሳ በመጠየቅ ጉዳዩ ፍርድ ቤት ድረስ ሄዷል።

(ከላይ የጠቀስናቸው ጉዳዮች ሰፊ ትንታኔ የሚያስፈልጋቸው ስለሆኑ፤ ያንን ለጊዜው ትተን ዴንቨር ውስጥ በተያዘበት ወቅት የነበረውን ሁኔታ በጥቂቱ እንግለጽላችሁ)

የዴንቨር ፖሊስ ወደ አብይ መኪና በማምራት እንዲከፍትለት ሲጠይቀው፤ ልጁ መኪናውን አስነስቶ ለማምለጥ ቢሞክርም… የዴንቨር ፖሊስ ቀደም ብሎ ተዘጋጅቶ እየጠበቀ ስለነበር ከትንሽ የመኪና ማሯሯጥ በኋላ በቁጥጥር ስር አውሎታል። ከዚያም መኪናው ሲፈተሽ ያልተጠበቀ ነገር ተገኘ። 15 ሽጉጦችን ፖሊስ አገኘበት። ይህ ብቻ አይደለም… ሊገድል ያሰባቸው ናቸው የተባሉ የ15 ሰዎች ዝርዝር አብሮ አለ። ከዚህም በተጨማሪ 20 ሺህ ዶላር በጥሬው በመኪናው ውስጥ ይዞ ነው የተገኘው።

እነዚያ ሊገድላቸው ዝርዝራቸውን ይዞ የነበረው የ 15 ሰዎች ስም በፖሊስ ይፋ አልሆነም። ነገር ግን ይህ ከታወቀ ጊዜ አንስቶ የዴንቨር ነዋሪዎች በተለይም ድሮ አብይ ግርማን ያውቁት የነበሩት ሰዎች በጣም ተረብሸዋል። የዴንቨር ፖሊስ በአብይ ግርማ ላይ ጥብቅ የሆነ ምርመራ እያካሄደ ነው። ምናልባት ከዚህ በፊት የገደላቸው ሰዎች ካሉ፤ በመስቀለኛ ጥያቄዎች እያፋጠጡት ሊሆን እንደሚችል ግምት አለ። በሌላ በኩል ደግሞ የዳላስ ፖሊስ ይህንን ግለሰብ እየፈለገው ነው። ወደ ዳላስ እንዲላክለትም ፈልጓል። የዴንቨር ፖሊስ በበኩሉ ገና የማጣራው ነገር አለ በማለት ጉዳዩን እንደያዘው ይገኛል።

ይህ በ እንዲህ እንዳለ፤ የደስታ ባለቤቶች የአቶ ያየህይራድ እና የወ/ሮ የኔነሽ የቀብር ስነ ስርዓት በከፍተኛ ድምቀት በትላንትናው እለት በዳላስ ከተማ ተፈጽሟል።


U.S. Africa Command denies it is meddling in Ethiopian politics

Monday, August 20th, 2012

US Africa CommandThe United States Africa Command has issued the following brief statement denying Ethiopian Review’s report that it is pressuring the ruling TPLF junta in Ethiopia to appoint Dessaelgn Hailemariam as a replacement to the disappeared dictator Meles Zenawi:

STUTTGART, Germany, Aug 20, 2012 — Allegations that General Carter F. Ham, Commander of United States Africa Command, influenced Ethiopian politics in any way are false. The mission of U.S. Africa Command is to work with African nations to strengthen their defense capabilities in order to deter and defeat transnational threats and to provide a security environment conducive to good governance and development. Command leaders and staff members do not meddle in the domestic affairs of African nations.
- U.S. AFRICOM Public Affairs

Ethiopian Review stands by its report. The truth will come out sooner or later and we will see who is making false claims. The fact that Africom is training the TPLF regime’s special forces itself is meddling in Ethiopian politics, knowing full-well that the army in Ethiopia is under complete control of the ruling minority junta. Also, instead of issuing a brief statement, Gen. Ham is well-advised to present himself to the independent Ethiopian media and answer questions regarding Africom’s involvement in Ethiopia, and particularly its military assistance to Meles Zenawi’s genocidal regime. By supporting the corrupt, brutal dictatorship in Ethiopia, the Pentagon and Africom are doing a disservice to the long-term interest of both the United States and Ethiopia.

Africom in Ethiopia
CAPTION: A U.S. officer mentors Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) TPLF officers in Tolay, Ethiopia, July 2009. The program is part of a 12-week course coordinated by soldiers with CJTF-HOA to assist Ethiopian TPLF NCOs in becoming sergeants major. Sergeants Major from U.S. Army Africa and U.S. Africa Command also participated as mentors in this program.

Why is Ethiopian Airlines overcharging passengers?

Monday, August 20th, 2012


Ethiopian Airlines (EAL) is consistently proving to be a bad financial deal for travelers to and from Ethiopia. EAL used to tout itself as the most affordable way to travel back home. But our research finds that at least nowadays, that is most certainly not the case. For the three-week time period beginning on September 1, we randomly searched on Expedia.com for round-trip flights from locations where many Ethiopians live abroad, to Addis Ababa. What we find is that EAL always turns out to be more expensive than the best deal, sometimes by many hundreds of dollars. See the results further below for trips to Addis from DC, Atlanta, London, and Rome, for example.

Why is EAL overcharging passengers? Two factors appear to play a role.

(1) Extracting foreign exchange from the diaspora. Even before the Meles-disappearance fiasco, the regime had been in a bind, running dangerously low on foreign exchange reserves. But now things are going from bad to worse: Woyanne elites and others with political connections
are bringing their hard currency reserves into safety, i.e. out of the country, as reported here. The past and ongoing Forex crunch of the TPLF regime is likely to create pressure for companies under TPLF control that get their primary business from the diaspora and foreigners — such as EAL — to do their best to extract as much hard currency money from their customers. After all, hard currency from the diaspora is now needed more urgently than ever, to keep senior military officials rich and happy so that they don’t turn on the TPLF elite.

(2) EAL mismanagement. Since a competent chief executive of EAL had been removed and the airline put into the hands of TPLF insider Tewolde Gebremariam, EAL has been undertaking bizarre moves, such as forcing airline staff to take wage cuts shortly after announcing sterling profit growth (read here). So it shouldn’t surprise if flights become as expensive as they have become.

Click on the image to enlarge

Cheetahs, Hippos and Saving Ethiopia

Monday, August 20th, 2012

By Alemayehu G Mariam

chGeorge Ayittey, one of the foremost African public global intellectuals, metaphorically suggests that Africa’s destiny will be determined by the promise of the “Cheetah Generation” or the paralysis of the “Hippo Generation”. As he explains,

The Cheetah Generation refers to the new and angry generation of young African graduates and professionals, who look at African issues and problems from a totally different and unique perspective. They are dynamic, intellectually agile, and pragmatic. They may be the ‘restless generation’ but they are Africa’s new hope. They brook no nonsense about corruption, inefficiency, ineptitude, incompetence, or buffoonery. They understand and stress transparency, accountability, human rights, and good governance. They also know that many of their current leaders are hopelessly corrupt and that their governments are contumaciously dysfunctional and commit flagitious human rights violations. The Cheetahs do not look for excuses for government failure by wailing over the legacies of the slave trade, Western colonialism, imperialism, the World Bank or an unjust international economic system. To the Cheetahs, this ‘colonialism-imperialism’ paradigm, in which every African problem is analyzed, is obsolete and kaput. Unencumbered by the old shibboleths, Cheetahs can analyze issues with remarkable clarity and objectivity. The outlook and perspectives of the Cheetahs are refreshingly different from those of many African leaders, intellectuals, or elites, whose mental faculties are so foggy and their reasoning or logic so befuddled that they cannot distinguish between right and wrong. They blame everybody else for Africa’s problems except themselves.

On the other hand, the “Hippo Generation” is

intellectually astigmatic and stuck in their muddy colonialist pedagogical patch. They can see with eagle-eyed clarity the injustices perpetrated by whites against blacks, but they are hopelessly blind to the more heinous injustices they perpetrate against their own black people. They are stodgy, pudgy, and wedded to the old “colonialism-imperialism” paradigm with an abiding faith in the potency of the state. They lack vision and sit tight in their air-conditioned government offices, comfortable in their belief that the state can solve all of Africa’s problems. All the state needs is more power and more foreign aid. And they would ferociously defend their territory since that is what provides [us] with [our] wealth. (Hippos kill more people in Africa than any other animal.) They care less if the whole country collapses around them, but are content as long as their pond is secure… But now is not the time for the cheetahs to take over. They will be ripped up by the ornery and nasty Hippos. Rather, they should build up on their skills, strength and accumulate knowledge and wealth — in the private sector — while methodically draining the swamp of the Hippos. Soon, the [Hippos] will find themselves ‘homeless’ and then the Cheetahs can take over.

The youth are the most dynamic segment in any society. Two of history’s evil men understood the importance of controlling and “owning” youth. Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the totalitarian Soviet state promised, “Give me just one generation of youth, and I’ll transform the whole world.” His counterpart in the Third Reich proclaimed, “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.” Both used their nations’ youths as cannon fodder to realize their warped vision of world domination. For the past decade, Ethiopia’s dictators have sought to buy the loyalty and allegiance of the country’s best and brightest. Most of the country’s university graduates have been held hostage to dictator Meles Zenawi’s corrupt neopatrimonial system. Zenawi has used various means to recruit, control, politicize and depoliticize the country’s youth. He has made economic survival impossible for the youth of the country except through membership in a syndicate palmed off as a political party.

Now is the Time for Ethiopia’s Cheetah Generation to Lead the Way to National Reconciliation

It is now time for Ethiopia’s cheetahs to take a leading role in the national dialogue to transition Ethiopia from dictatorship to democracy. Such a prescriptive declarationmight be surprising to some coming from a card-carrying member of the “Loyal Order of African (Ethiopian) Hippos”. But over the years, I have learned to appreciate the sacrifices of Ethiopia’s cheetahs and have been awed by their transformative potential. In numerous weekly commentaries, I have despaired over their plight under Zenawi’s dictatorship but nevertheless insisted that they must be the tip of the spear in bringing about democratic change in Ethiopia. In June 2010, I reflected over what could happen if the rage bottled up in Ethiopia’s youth suddenly exploded:

The wretched conditions of Ethiopia’s youth point to the fact that they are a ticking demographic time bomb. The evidence of youth frustration, discontent, disillusionment and discouragement by the protracted economic crisis, lack of economic opportunities and political repression is manifest, overwhelming and irrefutable. The yearning of youth for freedom and change is self-evident. The only question is whether the country’s youth will seek change through increased militancy or by other peaceful means….

This past April, in my ongoing series on “Ethiopia’s transition from dictatorship to democracy”, I argued against the “conventional wisdom [that] says the important task of managing the transition from dictatorship to democracy should be left to the elites—the politicians, party leaders, bureaucrats, academics and other institutional leaders.” I insisted that “for there to be a truly a… durable democracy in [Ethiopia], the dialogue base must be expanded to broadly include… women and the youth…”

Ethiopian Youth Must Lead a National Dialogue in Search of a Path to Peaceful Change

Ethiopia today is a country without a head of state or a functioning government. The “prime minster” has literally gone AWOL. Apparently, no one knows where he is or even if he is alive. He has not been seen or heard of in public for the past two months. The “deputy prime minster” is as invisible as a ghost. The “president” is… Is there a president? The opposition is as silent as the gravestone. Who can save Ethiopia?

Since the beginning of 2012, I have been talking and writing about Ethiopia’s inevitable transition from dictatorship to democracy. More recently, I called for a national dialogue in the spirit of President Nelson Mandela. I now call upon and appeal to all of Ethiopia’s youth to lead the transitional national dialogue because I believe Ethiopia’s salvation and destiny rests not in the hardened jaws of the hippos but in the soft paws of the cheetahs.

Why MUST Ethiopia’s cheetahs lead the national dialogue for a peaceful transition from dictatorship to democracy? First, if the cheetahs do not initiate the dialogue, who will? Who can? The hippos have been dialoguing for decades using the language of finger pointing, mudslinging, hatemongering and grudge holding. Second, the future belongs to the cheetahs (an estimated 67 percent of Ethiopia’s population is said to be under the age of 35) and not the hippos who continue to wallow in the muddy politics of ethnicity and sectarianism. Third, Ethiopia’s cheetahs are already doing much of the heavy lifting. They have been paying the price for democracy, freedom and human rights in blood, sweat and tears. The best and the brightest have been persecuted, prosecuted, brutalized and silenced by dictator Meles Zenawi. At the top of the list are Birtukan Midekssa, Eskinder Nega, Andualem Aragie, Bekele Gerba, Olbana Lelisa, Reeyot Alemu, Abebe Gellaw, Temesgen Desalegn, Yenesew Gebre, the hundreds of victims of the 2005 massacres and so many others. Fifth, Ethiopia’s cheetah’s are paying the full price for the stupidity, narrow mindedness and incompetence of the hippos. Sixth, unlike the hippos, Ethiopia’s cheetahs have the best chance of leading a successful transition because they are focused on the future and not the past. Current violations of human rights are more important to Ethiopia’s cheetah’s than historic grievances. They would rather seek justice today than remain paralyzed talking about the injustices of yesterday. Ethiopia’s cheetahs would rather steer the Ethiopian ship of state looking through the windshield than looking in the rear view mirror.

Beginning the Dialogue on National Reconciliation

The dialogue on national reconciliation in Ethiopia must begin within Ethiopia’s youth communities. Ethiopia’s cheetah’s must empower themselves, create their own political and social space, set their own agendas and begin multifaceted dialogues on their country’s transition from dictatorship to democracy. They must develop their own awareness campaigns and facilitate vital conversations among youth communities cutting across language, religion, ethnicity region and so on. Their dialogues must be based on the principles of openness, truth and commitment to democracy, freedom and human rights. They must dialogue without fear or loathing. Above all, the cheetahs must “own” the dialogue process. At a gathering of cheetahs, hippos should be seen and not heard; tolerated but not involved. The cheetahs must keep a sharp eye on the hippos who are very skillful in political intrigues and expert at finding ways of getting involved to take over and manipulate the youth.

Informal dialogues among activist youth. For a variety of reasons, it is most practical for Ethiopia’s cheetahs to begin dialogue on national reconciliation at the informal level. For instance, such dialogues could initially take place among like-minded activist youth at the neighborhood level. Activist youth could undertake an assessment of their capabilities, potentials, opportunities and obstacles in setting up and managing a community-based informal reconciliation youth dialogues. Youth activist should focus on creating broader youth awareness and involvement in the dialogue process and utilization of existing organizations, institutions, associations, forums, etc., for national reconciliation dialogue. These dialogues should begin by focusing on certain key questions: Who are Ethiopia’s cheetahs and how committed are they in shaping the democratic destiny of their country? Are these cheetahs committed to nonviolent political change? Are they willing to commit to national dialogue as brothers and sisters?

Cheetahs should rely on themselves (and not expect much help from hippos) in beginning informal dialogues. In the past, Ethiopia’s cheetahs have looked up to the hippos for political guidance and direction. But hippos in and out of power have sought to marginalize the cheetahs.In the aftermath of the 2005 election, the hippos in power understood the power of the cheetahs and took active measures to blunt their impact by organizing them to support the regime and avoid involvement in opposition politics. They tried to control the cheetahs by creating and inducting millions of them into mass organizations and indoctrinating them in the bogus and mindless ideology of “revolutionary democracy”, bribing them with educational and job opportunities and threatening them with a variety of legal and extra-legal sanctions. By co-opting the most dynamic segment of the youth, the hippos in power were able to prevent large-scale youth engagement on the issues of human rights and democracy. Regrettably, the cheetahs were abandoned by the hippos out of power after the 2005 election. Ethiopia’s cheetahs must begin to develop self-reliance in transitioning their country from dictatorship to democracy.

Learning from and supporting each other and learning from the mistakes of the hippos and other youths. Ethiopia’s cheetahs have much to learn from each other, from the mistakes of the hippo generation and youths from other nations. Dialogue involves not only talking but also listening to each other. Youth from Ethiopia’s multiethnic society have much to learn from each other and build upon the strengths of the diverse youth communities. Much can be learned from the mistakes of the hippo generation. For starters, the cheetahs should learn that to disagree on issues does not mean becoming mortal enemies. It is possible to disagree without being disagreeable. Civility in dialogue, though lacking among hippos, is essential for cheetahs .Ethiopia’s cheetahs must also learn from the mistakes of other youth movements. Youth power was the catalyzing force in Tunisia and Egypt. They creatively used mobile technology to mobilize the youth population, but in the end they were marginalized.

Ethiopia’s Destiny Hangs in the Balance

Many societies face generational gaps as the youth rebel against tradition and societal norms. In Ethiopia today, there are two different generations. The cheetah generation wants freedom, human rights and democracy now. The hippo generation wallows in a mucky swamp of corruption, nepotism, cronyism, criminality and inhumanity. The cheetah generation wants to drain the swamp. The hippo generation is hopelessly trapped in the bog of ethnic politics and revenge politics.

Africans know all too well that hippos (including their metaphorical human counterparts) are dangerous animals that are fiercely territorial and attack anything that comes into their turf. Every year more people are killed by hippos (both the real and metaphorical ones) in Africa than lions or elephants. Cheetahs are known to be the fastest animals, but their weakness is that they give up the chase easily if they fail to make a catch quickly or surrender the prey they have caught when challenged by other predators including hyenas. A group of hippos is known as a crash. A group of cheetahs is called a “coalition”. Only a coalition of cheetahs organized across ethnic, religious, linguistic and regional lines can crash a crash of hippos and a cackle of hyenas and save Ethiopia.

Amharic translations of recent commentaries by the author may be found at: http://www.ethiopianreview.com/amharic/?author=57

Previous commentaries by the author are available at: http://open.salon.com/blog/almariam/ and www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam/

Liar, Liar, Liar: thousands confront ETV

Monday, August 20th, 2012

ADDIS ABABA — In an unprecedented peaceful march, thousands of Ethiopian Muslims marched on the headquarters of the lie factory known as Ethiopian Television (ETV).  ETV is the monopoly and official mouthpiece of Ethiopia’s minority-run regime of the Tigrai People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

The protests took place on Sunday August 19, in Addis Ababa, following the end of Ramadan prayers.  The protestors shouted “liar, liar, liar.”  They also demanded that their voices be heard and the truth be reported.

ETV has been at the forefront of the minority regime’s propaganda war against Muslims and other Ethiopians.  ETV has labeled the millions of Muslims demanding their rights “extremists and terrorists.” Government lies, propaganda and psychological war have further infuriated the population, leading to even larger demonstrations.

 

 

Day 60 of Ethiopian dictator Meles Zenawi’s disappearance

Monday, August 20th, 2012

It’s now been full 2 months since Ethiopia’s khat-addicted tinpot dictator Meles Zenawi disappeared. It has also been 30 days since his wife Azeb Mesfin, the mother of corruption, has disappeared.

The Woyanne junta is currently facing a critical shortage of foreign exchange reserve. According to Ethiopian Review sources, the regime will completely run out of hard currency within the next 3 – 4 weeks, unless it is bailed out by its puppet-masters.

Foreign exchange crisis is the main reason that the TPLF junta has reportedly agreed to the U.S. demand to appoint Hailemariam Dessalegn as Meles Zenawi’s replacement until 2015.

The U.S., along with the World Band and IMF, is currently working on a multibillion-dollar foreign exchange bailout package to save the TPLF junta from crumbling, according to our sources. This is a sad development since the U.S. officials know that the regime is running out of hard currency because of the massive looting of Ethiopia’s treasure that is underway by the TPLF high-ranking officials.

Murder suspect Abey Belete Girma caught in Aurora, Colorado

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

Abey Belette GirmaA man who is suspected of killing an Ethiopian couple in Dallas, Texas, has been caught in Aurora, Colorado, last night.

Abey Belete Girma, who fled from Texas after the Dallas Police has issued an arrest warrant against him for killing Yayehyirad Lemma and Yenenesh Desta, is currently being held at the Aurora Detention Center.

An official of the Aurora Detention Center told Ethiopian Review this afternoon that Abey was arrested on Saturday, August 18, and he is currently awaiting extradition to Texas, where he is facing death penalty if he is found guilty.

59th day since the disappearance of Ethiopian dictator Meles Zenawi

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

meles zenawi

Today is the 59th day since Ethiopia’s khat-addicted dictator disappeared. Whether Meles is dead or alive, it seems every one, even members of the TPLF junta such as Sebhat Nega, are convinced that he will not return to his ‘job’.

Recent Developments

1. The TPLF leadership has reached an agreement to appoint Hailemariam Desallegn as prime minister until 2015 at the urging of U.S. Africa Command.

2. The regime will run out of foreign currency in less than 3 – 4 weeks unless the U.S. and others intervene.

3. Beneyen Betros, Merera Gudina and other members of the “loyal opposition” in Ethiopia are arriving in Washington DC for secret meetings with U.S. officials.

4. Peaceful but massive protest by Ethiopian Muslims took place today in Addis Ababa.

Massive Muslim protests rock Addis Ababa

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

ADDIS ABABA (August 19, 2012) — Ethiopian Muslims staged a huge protest rally following the end of Ramadan prayers.

The demonstrators refused to be intimidated by the massive presence of the security forces of the ruling Tigrian People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).  The protesters called for the release of jailed leaders and an end to government interference in religious affairs.

Leadership vacuum in Ethiopia: Will ethnicity win over competence?

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

Challenging Ethnicity as a Free Ride to the Top

Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE)

August 19, 2012

The sudden death of Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarch Abune Paulos, following the disappearance of Prime Minister Meles, and now the rumored illness of General Samora Younis, leaves three unexpected vacuums in the top leadership of Ethiopia. Who will replace them—a tribe or the most qualified leaders?

The death of Abune Paulos on August 16, 2012 has caught many Ethiopians by surprise. The loss of another TPLF/EPRDF top linchpin must be causing increasing anxiety and fear behind the closed doors of the regime. His death only compounds the leadership vacuum created when Meles disappeared over two months ago. 

On August 17, 2012, information emerged that General Samora Younis, the top leader of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces was taken seriously ill and rushed out of the country for medical treatment, another shocking development that could weaken the regime’s control of the military. The TPLF/EPRDF faces some difficult and anxious days ahead as the crisis of leadership deepens within their ruling party; all worsened by the growing anger, fear and resentment from Ethiopians towards their 21-year long iron-fisted, one-party, ethnic-apartheid rule.

Who could have predicted such a crisis? Not even Meles himself could have planned for such a time as this or the regime would have been more prepared. Instead, under his leadership, the TPLF/EPRDF has eliminated, killed, imprisoned, suppressed or otherwise destroyed most every alternative or competitor from gaining enough strength to challenge him as the “strongman of Ethiopia.” Every legitimate institution has been brought to its knees, unable to operate under such a hostile climate; replaced by TPLF/EPRDF-controlled, pseudo-institutions of pretense so that Ethiopians would be left without hope for change.

In light of this, we in the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE), a social justice movement of diverse Ethiopians, formed in 2008 to bring about a “New Ethiopia,” where truth, justice, freedom, equality, respect for human rights, opportunity and reconciliation create the foundation for a healthier, more thriving society, urge Ethiopians to embrace the universal God-given values to honor our Creator, to care about our family, neighbor and nation and to act on it in daily life until we see the dawn of light from a transformed Ethiopia rise up over our nation.

Yet, today, Ethiopia is in darkness. Anxiety is plaguing the hearts of most every Ethiopian as no one knows the future. Who will replace these leaders? Will the only contenders be from one tribe from one region or the country or the most qualified candidates? Ethiopians see no hope that the TPLF/EPRDF regime will change its nature as political space remains completely closed, as communication lines are monitored, suppressed or blocked, as crackdowns on the opposition and peaceful Muslim protestors continue, as the independent media is shut down and as land and resource grabs continue to threaten the survival of our vulnerable people.  

The disappearance of Meles has only intensified the peoples’ anxieties for the future as a vacuum of leadership, which could have promised opportunity for change, remains unexploited because few, even within the TPLF/EPRDF, are prepared to step in. Meles and the TPLF/EPRDF, controlled by him, his family and his cronies, have worked very hard and successfully to destroy any competition. Even foreign partners who have invested in Meles, counting on his continued tight control of Ethiopia, must be highly concerned regarding Ethiopia’s shaky and uncertain future. Now add to it the death of Abune Paulos, who has been the unpopular leader of millions of Ethiopian Orthodox believers—as well as the absence of General Samora Younis, who has been the force of military power behind Meles—and the levels of anxiety over what might happen next only deepen.

In the same way that some have celebrated rumors of Meles’ death or incapacitating illness, some anti-regime enthusiasts may now be celebrating the death of Abune Paulos, believing he served the interests of the regime as he undermined the witness of the church, as well as the most recent news that General Younis might meet a similar fate; however, we should not gloat over the fall of an enemy.

 

In the case of Abune Paulos, we know this man has now died. When he was alive, he was part of the system of suppression. Like him, we are all born and destined to die. We enter the world without anything and when we die, we leave our worldly titles and possessions behind. His fate will be decided by God; so for us, it is not a time to celebrate his death. God will make the proper judgment for him in the same way He will for all of us. Instead, we should be talking about the future. What should come next and how can Ethiopians challenge the old system of ethnic entitlement with competency-based inclusiveness? This is the time to challenge ethnicity as a free ride to the top!

We know that under Abune Paulos’ leadership of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the church and its religious leaders were divided because many saw his appointment and authority as Patriarch as illegitimate; leading to the formation of a church in exile. He embraced the TPLF/EPRDF plan of ethnic federalism that not only divided the people by ethnicity, but which created a hierarchy of privilege and preferential treatment that benefited him personally as well as others from his own minority ethnic group. His qualifications were not as a highly capable and esteemed spiritual leader, respected by the people and other leaders in the church; but instead, he had to come from Adwa, be of Tigrayan ethnicity and be willing to support the TPLF above all else, including the church, the people and God. His, like all other key positions in the country, are held by persons belonging to one ethnicity. 

A country built on tribal preferences rather than inclusive competency is not only unhealthy and under-served, but it sets into motion a dangerous power-struggle between regime cronies and the excluded “others.” Yet, who is equipped and empowered to intervene to the benefit of all parties? If Ethiopia is deprived of its authentic religious leadership, who will speak to the people about the need for non-violence, repentance, forgiveness, reparations, transparency, accountability, justice, reconciliation, transformation and peace when these same people may be seeking revenge, including violent revenge, after living under the shackles of ethnic-tyranny for the last 21 years? Stealing the legitimate voice of our religious leaders and substituting in its place, ethnic domination, leaves a vacuum of spiritual, ethical and moral leadership when it is most needed.

The age of “one-tribe-take- all” is dying, but it may not end easily until we pull out the life-support of ethnic-based hatred which has been in a coma for the last 21 years. Along with it must go ethnic-based favoritism, ethnic-based entitlement and ethnic-based revenge that run too deeply within us and our society. It must be replaced with the moral and spiritual transformation which comes from souls that seek God’s righteousness. The only thing that will replace the ethnic-based dehumanization of “others” is a pure heart, not bent on revenge, but willing to forgive, to reconcile, to love, to care and to live in harmony with other human beings, all created by the same God.

Ethiopian Orthodox believers and all Ethiopians, including non-believers, who believe in freedom of religion, belief and thought, have a moral, ethical and spiritual duty to not allow another puppet of the TPLF/EPRDF to become the next spiritual head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Whoever replaces Abune Paulos should not be chosen because of village, family, ethnicity, regional biases or regime loyalty but by qualities of spiritual leadership, enhanced with competency. Now, by what seems to be divinely-orchestrated coincidence, the Orthodox are in the same position as Ethiopian Muslims, all who do not want the TPLF/EPRDF, or any other government—even a good government—to interfere with religious affairs. It is wrong and should be confronted.

Sunday, August 19th is the Muslim holiday of Eid-al-Fitr, one of the most joyous celebrations in Islam, marking the end of Ramadan, where prayers, meals with family and gifts of charity will be given. This year, we are hearing that the Ethiopian Muslims will be peacefully demonstrating on this day, calling for freedom, the release of their religious leaders, the religious freedom to choose their own spiritual leaders and the right to have their voices heard in Ethiopia. We in the SMNE wish them, “Eid Mubarak,” which means “Have a blessed Eid.” Ethiopians of faith should all pray for them that this non-violent, disciplined and peaceful protest will end without violence from government security forces or from anyone else so that no one is harmed or intimidated for exercising their rights. 

Orthodox and Muslim believers should stand strong together and Evangelical Christians, Ethiopian Jews and people of other faith backgrounds should join them in demanding freedom from an apartheid government; calling, with unified voice, for a better Ethiopia rather than a beggar Ethiopia—a New Ethiopia grounded on truth, freedom, equality, morality, integrity, civility, reconciliation and the restoration of justice for all Ethiopians. The whole country should demand this change because unless we work for it, it will not be handed over to us. This means whoever comes after Meles should not be from the same ethnic group or controlled as a puppet by tribalists behind the scenes.

For example, if Hailemariam Desalegn, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs from Southern Nations, is appointed as the next prime minister or as the transitional prime minister, many believe that the TPLF Central Committee will try to control him from behind the scenes. If in fact he is appointed, let us remind him that he answers to someone who is above all of them—a Sovereign and Almighty God who condemns injustice, oppression, partiality, corruption, bloodshed and hatred. To whose directions will he listen and uphold? Who knows but that God may have put him in this position for such a time as this. If he does not live up to his God-given purposes, God will raise up someone else and he will lose his opportunity!

If God, who is sovereign over nations and their leaders, has removed Meles or others in order to give us a window of opportunity, will we use it rightly? Remember, Meles may be gone, but those who maintained him in power are still there. In the same way, those who maintained and sustained the ethnic divisions between Ethiopians and between Ethiopians and our neighbors are still present. This is our chance as the people of Ethiopia no matter what position we are or are not in. You can change and become part of our society that paves the way to a better future or we can give up the moment through collective passivity.

We already have that reputation. A western diplomat told SMNE leaders that Ethiopia is an unusual society, different from most any others, because its people are so submissive that the country could function without a leader for months without people rising up—despite living under such horrible conditions. We are not seen as people willing to sacrifice and to sometimes die in order to change the way we live and our legacy of bloodshed and suffering. Instead, this observer felt that despite the absence of leadership, there was nothing to panic about as the country could run in “automatic” even if no one was running country for two months or even longer. Is this true? Are we waiting for someone else to free us? Is this from our feudal past or after TPLF/EPRDF domination or both? Other home-grown observers see it differently and believe some unpredictable factor may force us out of our complacency and into action; particularly if factors like inflation, the lack of availability of hard currency that we are hearing about in the media combine with the leadership crisis.

It is time to prepare for the “unknowns of tomorrow” for when it comes, we must confront it, first as people of shared humanity and then as Ethiopians; not by our differences, but by what unifies us—our homes, the land we all share and the mixed blood of our ancestors that flows in our veins making it impossible to truly identify its sources. 

In order to confront our “tomorrow,” we should all be standing together as one family to demand a New Ethiopia where everyone is included; where “my” justice will not come without the justice of my neighbor. As we demand this, let us not miss the bigger picture—our humanity that we share with the Tigrayan. They are our beloved brothers and sisters; valued and treasured by God Almighty who created all of us. They are us! Yes, those who committed crimes of destruction will face justice, but for anyone else, the New Ethiopia will include all our Ethiopian brothers and sisters in a more humane, more God-honoring Ethiopia. 

It is time to transform—to forgive, to repent and to be willing to integrate with the people of our country, our neighbors and our fellow global citizens. With this in mind; stay firm, stay strong and let us raise the banner of honor to God and our humanity not our ethnicity. As long as we do and as long as see other Ethiopians as part of our Ethiopian family, we will have a future with hope, purpose and blessing that we can pass on to our descendents.

May God bless Ethiopia and prepare each of us to remain alert and ready to contribute our share to the betterment of each one of us and to Ethiopia as a whole for “no one is free until all are free.

______________________________________________________________

For more information, including interview requests please contact Mr. Obang Metho, Executive Director of the SMNE E-mail: Obang@solidaritymovement.org. You can find more about the SMNE through its website at: www.solidaritymovement.org

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

By ARGAW ASHINE

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.

* * * * *

By REBECCA LOPEZ | WFAA

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
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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

PRESS RELEASE
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
Email: entc.pr@gmail.com
Website: etntc.org

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  |  mwcnews.net

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.

1- http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/ethiopians-contemplate-a-nation-without-prime-minister-meles-zenawi/2012/08/07/4fb37854-de4b-11e1-8e43-4a3c4375504a_story.html
2- http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/08/ethiopia-meles-zenawai-not-seen
3- http://www.economist.com/node/21559971
4- http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/c45e4b88-e216-11e1-8e9d-00144feab49a.html
5-  http://www.opendemocracy.net/ren%C3%A9-lefort/ethiopia-after-meles

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

http://www.dejeselam.org/2012/08/abune- … 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?
susan.jpg
BY JAMES TRAUB |SEPT/OCT 2012

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.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2 … ?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: http://www.ecadforum.com/Amharic/archives/category/al-mariam-amharic and http://ethioforum.org/?cat=24

Previous commentaries by the author are available at:

http://open.salon.com/blog/almariam/  and www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam/