How Meles Zenawi rules Ethiopia – By Richard Dowden

Meles Zenawi - charismatic proponent of Authoritarian Developmentalism.

Meles Zenawi is the cleverest and most engaging Prime Minister in Africa – at least when he talks to visiting outsiders. When he speaks to his fellow Ethiopians, he is severe and dogmatic. But he entertains western visitors with humour and irony, deploying a diffident, self-deprecating style which cleverly conceals an absolute determination to control his country and its destiny, free of outside interference.

He was one of four African presidents to be invited to the Camp David G8 meeting last weekend. The aid donors love Meles. He is well-informed, highly numerate and focused. And he delivers. Ethiopia will get closer to the Millennium Development Goals than most African countries. The Ethiopian state has existed for centuries and it has a bureaucracy to run it. So the aid flows like a river, nearly $4 billion a year. And Meles is the United States’ policeman in the region with troops in Somalia and Sudan. He also enjoys a simmering enmity with his former ally, now the bad boy of the region, President Isias Afwerke of Eritrea. “It’s Mubarak syndrome,” a worried US diplomat told me. “We only talked to Mubarak about Egypt’s role in the region, never about what was happening inside Egypt. It’s the same with Ethiopia.”

In the 2005 election when the opposition won the capital, Addis Ababa, and claimed to have won nationally, the government arrested its leaders and tried them for treason. Some were imprisoned, others fled into exile. Now with 99.6% of the vote, the ruling Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has created a virtual one party state. In an interview last week Meles told me he did not know of a single village in the whole country that voted for the opposition.

This is subtle totalitarianism, dubbed “˜Authoritarian Developmentalism’ by some. If you do what the government says, you get assistance – land, water, services. If you don’t, you get nothing. The basic principles of political freedom enshrined in the constitution are frequently undermined by subtle edicts from government departments. Press freedom is clearly spelt out and recently a minor ruling stated that printers must take responsibility for everything they publish and can refuse to print anything the government might consider illegal. Hardly a devastating blow to press freedom you might think until you discover that the only presses in Ethiopia capable of printing newspapers are government-owned.

Meles’ remarkable achievement since he took power in 1991 has been to attract foreign companies to Ethiopia through a policy of low taxes and a free hand. Growth has been between 8 and 11 percent over the past eight years thanks to the private sector (both western and eastern.) The economy has doubled over the last five years. Meles is rushing to develop the country as fast as he can. Using the Chinese model he has attracted foreign investors to develop agriculture and manufacturing. As he told me: “The criticism we had in the past was that we were crazy Marxists. Now we are accused of selling the family spoons to foreigners. It’s a balance.”

Meles has leased more than 4 million hectares of land to foreign or domestic companies to grow food or flowers. And to provide them with water and power he has built dams which he says are environmentally much better than power stations since they are built in gorges with little water loss through evaporation. But it is not a completely free market solution. There are government monopolies in banking and telecoms. Nor will the government give people title deeds. All land is state owned. Meles has made it clear he will keep it that way.

“Have we created a perfect democratic system? No it’s a work in progress. Are we running as fast as our legs will carry us? Yes. And it’s not just Addis but also the most remote areas. Unlike previous governments we have really created a stable country in a very turbulent neighbourhood. Our writ runs in every village. That never happened in the history of Ethiopia. The state was distant, irrelevant.”

He fiercely defends his policies, in the face of Western NGO criticism, that this development is environmentally unsound and indigenous people have been removed forcibly from their land. He insists that in every case they were consulted, dismissing a report by the Oakland Institute in the US which said people had been forcibly removed as “bullshit”. When I suggest that pastoralists should be allowed to continue their nomadic way of life, he says I am a romantic westerner. But he adds that it is their right to continue their way of life.

It is the same with the politics. Having taken power by force in 1991 and coming from a minority, Meles created a safety valve by writing into the constitution the right of every “nation” in Ethiopia to declare independence. Whenever there are local political problem he re-asserts that right to leave but it is unlikely the clause will ever be put to the test through a referendum.

The current trouble spot is the southern region of Gambela where land has been given to agricultural businesses. Meles is defensive about reports of recent forced removals. “We are making sure that the Gambela people are settled and have land and that young people can go to farms not as guards but as farmers,” he said, assuring me that the people who have been moved were consulted. Only when all those in the region who want to work have jobs will other workers be recruited from other parts of Ethiopia.

Is the Meles plan for rapid, state directed capitalism working? At the recent World Economic Forum meeting in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa earlier this month, criticism came, not from western NGOs , but from China, Ethiopia’s closest ally. Gao Xiqing of the China Investment Forum, warned Meles: “Do not necessarily do what we did”. Policies of “sheer economic growth” should be avoided, he said. “We now suffer pollution and an unequal distribution of wealth and opportunities… You have a clean sheet of paper here. Try to write something beautiful.”

Has any Chinese official ever publically criticised an African leader in such terms before?

And some foreign investors are not happy either. They have driven Ethiopia’s growth but now the government and Ethiopian firms are desperate for a greater slice of the profits. Flower and horticultural companies have been suddenly ordered by the government to only use Ethiopian companies for packing their produce, transporting it to Addis Ababa airport from where only the state-owned Ethiopian Airlines must be hired to fly it to Europe. As the distraught owner of one of the biggest flower farms told me last week: “Ethiopia does not have such companies yet”. But if they refuse, their licences will be withdrawn. It appears that having lured foreign businesses into Ethiopia, the government is now tying them down and taking their profits.

Meles is caught in a bind, under pressure on several fronts with problems that economic growth may not solve. Inflation is coming down but has been running at almost 50 percent. Everyone I spoke with in Ethiopia said that the cost of living was the highest they had ever known. There is real hardship among the poor as the staple grain in Ethiopia, teff, has quadrupled in price recently. The universities are pouring out graduates but there are few jobs. One recent graduate I spoke with said she was one of about 10 out of more than 100 in her class who had a job. The government’s hope is that it can grow the economy even faster. It is promising mining as the next bonanza and Meles hinted last week that oil has been discovered.

But this is the scenario he may soon be facing: a mass of urban poor hurt by the price rise of the staple food and large numbers of educated but unemployed urban youth. Sounds familiar? The Arab Spring was watched closely by Ethiopians. And, it appears Meles senses it is coming. He told the World Economic Forum meeting: “The going is going to get tough so Ethiopia needs a tough leader, a leader prepared to say no. You can’t please everyone.”

Note: A selection of quotes from Richard’s interview with Meles can be read here

Richard Dowden is Director of the Royal African Society and author of Africa; altered states, ordinary mircles.

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46 thoughts on “How Meles Zenawi rules Ethiopia – By Richard Dowden

  1. Pingback: How Ethiopian dictator Meles rules Ethiopia « ethiopiantimes

  2. A bit sympathetic and understanding of Meles but a good read. Current hotspot is Gambella? What about Ogaden? Or the cries of the muslim doesn’t matter!!

  3. Thank you sir for pointing out the reality. You wrote what we as Ethiopians know and talk about everyday. I personally admire my Prime Minister as a leader, but I don’t understand why it has to be this way to development. Thank you gain!!

  4. Never read such slicing and dicing analysis on Ethiopia for some time now! It is just a wow! Don’t ever think many Ethiopians would leave a comment here though! That is not the behavior manifesting during extreme situations – silent volcano.

  5. Yes, the going is going tough. he has been saying no for our basic right. He will surely pay the price of suppressing our basic right, freedom. The volcano will erupt. he is the one at the top of the volcano open mouth

  6. Call him a dictator for all you like but the fact is Meles has changed Ethiopia and his name will be written in history as the person who started the renascence of Ethiopia. Many people have short memories but I remember vividly when 1 million fellow citizens perished in 1984 due to famine. Today I can confidently say we will never see that again, thanks in part to Meles’s leadership. Ethiopia has seen an amazing improvement and growth rate never witnessed in its 3,000 long years history. In just 20 years, every school children can now go to school from just 18%, nearly 87% have access to some sort of health service from just 9%, etc…

    On every level – economically, militarily and diplomatically – Ethiopia is building its power on the continent.

    But I agree Meles is not a democrat and believe one can try to understand why given the fact that Ethiopia had never had a democratic government throughout its long history, and I don’t envy Meles’s conundrum given the highly self-serving nature of politics in Ethiopia. Having said that one of the biggest challenges for Meles before he steps down is straitening his track record on democracy. That is something we will get to see in the future.

    However, as a neutral my prediction is that Meles will step down in 2013 instead of 2015 we were lead to believe but stay behind the scene until 2015. I really can’t see any revolution happening as the critical middle class necessary isn’t there. I also I think if Meles is seen to give up power, majority of the discontent will dissipate for another five to ten years. Hopefully then people will get to see the advantages of the sacrifice they are paying now.

  7. Another fantastic insight, African Arguments never fails to fascinate. I find the Chinese official’s comments particular interesting, Chinese pragmatism is something that the development community continues to underplay.

  8. I think we Ethiopians are enjoying development-a sustainable one. the fear of the Chinese delegate, which I concur with, seems tied in the air. Most of the development stapes that Ethiopia is currently taking are environmentally friendly and the gap between the poor and the wealthy is manageable through the policy choice of the current government. and finally, what we have to keep in mind is the last quote which Meles used at the world economic forum meeting…”You can’t please everyone.”

  9. Over 20 years of iron feast rule by a single person;a stiffening freedom of expression, day by day, 40-50% annual inflation, shortage of basic food items; then a “growing economy” entirely based on export of agricultural products taken out of peaple’s mouth.
    Some call this “developmental state”. I call this a time bomb!

  10. Dear Richard, thank you for your note. I, as a citizen, would like to say one or two things. I am no politician but i read sometimes and comment but do not actively participate on politics, i like the changes that we see here in Ethiopia (at least the positive ones). We experience at first hand all sorts of changes.Our country hosted so many international symposiums so we hear,learn, interact with the rest of the world, we believe that if Melse or any of his successors (when ever they are here) try to write a clear path with the ‘clear sheet of paper’ Ethiopia will be among the few.
    My other point regarding this particular text is that ‘prediction’ is not easy and never good, especially when it comes to violence or war. This is not PHIL 101, that says ‘The Arab has experienced an uprising’, ‘The Ethiopians has closely watched the Arab uprising’ therefore it is true that ‘The Ethiopians will experience an uprising’…because prediction of war and violence has consequences unlike weather forecasts. Demography of the population, religion, age and so many background factors matter for the above to come true….all i am saying is that i enjoyed your text with my own reservation on your forecast of an “uprising”

  11. As much as I wanted to see a changed Ethiopia before the eye’s of the world, I am feeling so many things are messed up and things are really getting crazier every day with inflation, unequal opportunities, land grab, political stagnancy and the likes in the country.

    I believe it is good to adopt what suits us best from other countries. Adopting the Chinese policy (both economic and political it seems in our case)with all its junks will jeopardize us. Believing, the PM knows what he is doing, I really enjoyed reading this article. It asses the PM’s personality and his current and future stances regarding the power he is holding, specially the last couple of lines “The going is going to get tough so Ethiopia needs a tough leader, a leader prepared to say no. You can’t please everyone.” seem to show that he shall not be done any time soon. Regardless, hoping for a peaceful transition unlike the Arab uprising, again, I’d like to say thanks for the article. God Bless!

  12. Richard:
    I don’t understand how you get it so right and the British government gets it so wrong. For one like Geldof I know what matters most is his “legacy” and the tax-free zone the Ethiopian situation has created for him. I am not denying there have been positive developments in the past 2 decades. One mighty example is election 2005. Ethiopians were given a chance to organize and they organized and rose up as one with an agenda slightly different to incumbents’. Donor nations sided with incumbents to smother the air of freedom out of that movement. And the government of Meles Zenawi over the next 5 years methodically dismantled every single civil society organization, put the leaders to flight or in jail, and established a one-party state – all with US and British funding!

    I marvel at your description of Meles as “the cleverest, severe, dogmatic, entertainer, enjoys simmering enmity”. What is unfortunate is that he had the chance to rise above petty politics to allow space to Ethiopians who are highly skilled than he is and with a different view to his and who love their country and are pained by the suffering of her people. I am afraid he is not cut out to be a statesman.

    Another issue is how Meles has successfully manipulated the media. Here is a recent article aired on VOA and other outlets, titled, Ethiopia Hails Poverty Reduction, “Ethiopia, one of Africa’s poorest countries, is heralding great strides in eradicating poverty. The number of Ethiopians living in poverty has dropped below one-third of the total, despite population growth and soaring inflation.” This is put out in preparation for the G-8 Summit. What it intends to communicate is this idea that Ethiopia is doing all it could and is not just asking for handouts and if donors don’t chip in there could be a catastrophe that would destabilize the region turning it into a fertile ground for Al Qaeda and its affiliates. No one asks how the government of Meles Zenawi figured out “one-third of the total” managed to come out of poverty! That is the “entertaining” part of the report. Take child mortality or any number of statistics. It would go something like, x percent of the population had access to water in 1990 [that is when the current took over from the Derg] and now y [a 2-3-fold] have access. Few suspect the 1990 figure was fictitious!

    Yet another issue is the managed report after report of “growth” and “development” taking place in the country. Every consulate’s primary focus is to spew out such reports and contradict/neutralize evidence to the contrary. As you also indicated, it is the state doing for the people and the people not having much say in how things are done. The government relocates communities “voluntarily” and makes way for foreign agri-businesses and so on.

    Richard, I challenge you and your associates if you could show me a “strategy” [against corruption, poverty, privatization, etc] that this government promised to implement that survived 1-3 years after it was introduced. Just last week a report came out that finally admitted “Britain Education Aid Has Failed.” Now Ethiopian government report would tell you it is doing a marvelous job with “few spots” [this is how the clever prime minister would phrase it].

    Last month, a Pakistani and 4 farmworkers were killed on a Gambella farm operated by the Saudi Al Amoudi. There have been grievances building up in the communities as they got pushed around and their lives disrupted by a government that does not recognize they exist or matter. Don’t you see the desperation in why someone would decide to take matters into their own hands? Not surprisingly, the government sent in a force to protect the Saudi against citizens. The government is hunting down “terrorists” as we speak [several already are apprehended]. The idea is to teach the populace a lesson so harsh it would not be repeated. Do you see how this is to replicate in other regions and including urban centers? I can go on but you get the point.

  13. I deny there is any progress; I deny any positive thing being done in Ethiopia by Meles. I haven’t been to Ethiopia for over 23 years but I have all the information I need about what is happening. There is nothing good being done in Ethiopia, nothing at all.

  14. I just wish more Westerners would start accepting moral responsibility for all the human rights abuses of the Meles regime. They are quick to take credit for the progress on various development goals that has resulted from their aid, but when it comes to the aid-financed abuses, they assume the role of interested bystanders. They are not bystanders but stakeholders who have financially muscled out the Ethiopian taxpayer from his democratic rights.

    So just as Western taxpayers feel that the portion of their taxes that goes to aid has saved a malnourished child, so they should feel that it has also gone towards a political murder or imprisonment. Oh how wonderfully malleable consciences we have.

  15. Gao Xiqing of the China Investment Forum, warned Meles: “Do not necessarily do what we did”. Policies of “sheer economic growth” should be avoided, he said. “We now suffer pollution and an unequal distribution of wealth and opportunities… You have a clean sheet of paper here. Try to write something beautiful.”
    Sounds interesting and filled with some advisory notes.

  16. This is eye opening article and interesting to know how the Prime Minster operates, a critical view on what is happening to our country and our people, what is really funny the British and America rubs shoulders with the person who is hurting its people directing! I cry for the beloved country and our people. It kills me to see our people flea there own country in thousands, if we ask me we are the modern salves of Easters and Western, populating the world! Thank you!

  17. Richard, are you kidding me? You write ‘How Meles Rules Ethiopia‘ with not a single mention of the Ogaden-a region where Meles’ human right violations are well documented. His genocidal escapades in the Ogaden, might potentially, after he falls out of favor with the west, be summoned at the ICC. I may give you the benefit of doubt, as no wise, western journalist ever ventures there. May be you never heard about it.

  18. Excellent and razor sharp analysis by Mr Dowden. It gives a nice overview of the positive and negative of Meles administration.

    Let us address it in 3 parts. One has to give credit to Meles for not being delusional. He admits that he is not a democratic leader and the country is not a democracy yet. Most people might not like that but that is the reality. Ethiopia in the modern era has not experienced democracy. It was run by an autocratic king and feudal system till 1974 followed by totalitarian communist regime. So Meles and his administration are a logical follow-up. One can not run before walking first. Democracy in Ethiopia has to follow logical steps for it to be achieved.

    Secondly if one has to grade Meles as a person for his Rule. He will get a B minus. Not a perfect regime, mistakes have been made. But which government does not make mistakes? Ethiopia is located among one of the most dangerous and unstable neighbourhoods in the world. So considering what has happened in Sudan, South Sudan, Yemen, Eritrea and the anarchy in Somalia. Meles has steadied Ethiopia and made great strides in trying to reduce extreme poverty that affects large percentage of the population. The real question is that while that being a good achievement it needs to be taken forward. The rule of law, civil society, diversity of views and ideas are the cornerstone of any future democratic state. I do no think Meles and his generation can implement this. This needs generational change and for sure young population of Ethiopia is up to the task. It is the task they will and should be entrusted with in the coming decades.

    Thirdly let us deal with the audiences, critics and the populace Meles needs to please or administer over. The western audience (donor nations, NGO, International organisations) are his easiest task. He is clever enough to deal with their criticism and arguments. He can use irony and hypocrisy to point out flaws in their thinking. I am sure he does. He does need to be bombastic and no need to.

    The Ethiopian in Diaspora are a thorn. Some are genuinely well educated and think best for their country. In dealing with them he displays insecurity, while the smart move will be to cooperate with them to advance Ethiopia’s cause. The Mengistu apologist and the other rabble rousers in Diaspora are not useful in any sense. If he is severe with them, it is understandable. Their talk of democracy and human rights is nothing but empty rhetoric.

    His crucial audience he needs to worry about are 80 Million plus Ethiopians in Ethiopia. The demands for rule of law, good governance, less corruption, income distribution, respect for human rights, food security and national security. In my opinion an Arab spring in Ethiopia is not likely, the conditions do not exist for that. The Arab spring had one thing in common in those countries, large urbanized unemployed youth. Ethiopia is one of the least urbanized societies in the world. 14-18% lives in the urban areas, while more than 80% are rural dwellers. It is in these rural areas where the extreme poverty is most acute. 29 million Ethiopians live under extreme poverty.

    I think Meles has it spot on when he say you can not please everyone. His administration main focus has to be in bringing those 29 million Ethiopians out of extreme poverty. I think all reports from Ethiopian government or International insertions attest that is happening. Great strides have been made in achieving UN millennium development goals and should be applauded. The urban population is a minority in Ethiopia so might have to be patient and Meles ignores them at his peril. Their concern needs to be dealt with too. Inflation is rampant and needs to be brought down. Even if it means opening the market to the likes of Wal-Mart. True competition will bring down the price of basic consumables.

    In conclusion, it is not an enviable job to administer a complex country like Ethiopia. It is hard juggling act, for most parts damned if you do and damned if you do not. So the report card for administration reads 6/10. Steady performance, but capable of improving in a lot of ways.

  19. There are now familiar [pro]Government responses. Here is an example from a comment posted above:

    “Abebe Gelaw says: May 22, 2012 at 9:22 pm
    I deny there is any progress; I deny any positive thing being done in Ethiopia by Meles. I haven’t been to Ethiopia for over 23 years but I have all the information I need about what is happening. There is nothing good being done in Ethiopia, nothing at all.”

    Abebe Gelaw is the exiled journalist that confronted Meles Zenawi at the G-8 Summit. Now Abebe has not been living abroad for 23 years; Meles has only been in power 21 years!The idea here is to paint Abebe as a denier of reality.

    Seyum’s comments are a more polished standard government response [often handled by insurgent “ethnic” scholars and those in the pay of the ruling party. It goes like this: Sure there were mistakes; who does not make mistakes? Sure there have been some progress; let us give Meles some credit. These commenters used to compare Meles to Mengistu but have dropped the comparison after election 2005 because the mention of Mengistu only reminded people how similar the two leaders are!! The plan here is 1. to weaken opposition to Meles by putting a wedge between groups; Ethiopians living abroad v. in the homeland; urban v. rural; Mengistu apologists, etc. Funny he does not mention Meles apologists and the fact that there is hardly any difference between Meles and Mengistu as far as dictatorship goes. 2. to argue Ethiopia is not ready for democracy because the previous two regimes were autocracies? And therefore, it is excusable that Meles continue with being a tyrant? How absurd is that! 3. Sure every one makes mistakes and leading a diverse group is not easy. But to base a national policy on the whims of an individual and a minority group is unconscionable. What Seyum is suggesting is that we wait for Meles to end his term and the next generation takeover to democratise? But Meles has told us in so many words that he or his ethnic party will NEVER relinquish power! 5. As for Meles’ dealing with donors, what Seyum did not tell the viewer is the fact that Meles is a compulsive liar [no exaggerations here]. He has a quick tongue and uses stat to hide and entertain donors – in other words, tell them what they want to hear. But the reality is different. The unfortunate thing is that most western reporters are lazy or are afraid to be critical for fear it will not help sell information or that it could sound racist/colonialist. Exceptions are Dowden and few others.

    In the past 20 years Meles has promised time and time again that Ethiopia will be food-secure. But there has not been a single year he has not gone to his paymasters for more food and money. He has talked a great deal on every topic under the sun [just like Mengistu] – especially about corruption and money-laundering and of course his bread and butter “terrorism”. When talking about corruption, his wife is never mentioned nor his party’s unaudited/untransparent business holdings. [Meles has created an environment of fear and distrust between groups abroad and at home to remain in power. That is poor leadership. Leadership is about creating trust and enabling the people to participate. He has miserably failed in this important area. I agree with Seyum that “it is not an enviable job to administer a complex country like Ethiopia. It is hard juggling act, for most parts damned if you do and damned if you do not.” The question is, Is Meles willing to step aside [not meddle in the affairs of the country – he has tried his hand for over two decades] and involve capable Ethiopians who may not agree with his form of governance or do not want to join his party but want to focus on contributing to the welfare of their country? I know Seyum will come back to tell us that’s already happening. And I will say that is another lie for the mere fact that to date no one has disagreed with Meles and survived! I give Meles 2.5/10.

  20. My response are to the excellent article written by Mr Dowden.

    It is not pro or against anything. Just telling it as i see it.

    Now the day we as Ethiopians can engage in dailogue and discussion with maturity will be a special one. Drop name calling and insults. Read, write and respond in informed fasion.

    I live in the UK, the voters could not make up their mind and we have a coalition government. Even in a proper demorcacy like the UK. Most people will rate their government a Zero, some a six and some a ten. Perfection in governing does NOT exist anyhwere. Ethiopia is no exception now or ever.

  21. I completely agree with Seyum’s last comment. The only difference is that I do not live in the UK.

    One other suggestion I have for Seyum is that he should catch up with his readings. I say this in a respectful way. Not many of us have the time to check our sources or read what is out there in plain sight [especially the so-called opposition groups who prefer and enjoy trading in hate! That is, they engage in exactly the same tactic that they criticize in Meles and his lieutenants]. So, read Meles’ interviews on democracy and the developmental state, etc. The fellow talks and talks and one sometimes wonders if he really knows what he is talking about. Here is one:

    “There is no direct relationship between economic growth and democracy, historically or theoretically…..I don’t believe in bedtime stories, contrived arguments linking economic growth with democracy.”

    I recognize this is a point view but what an interesting point of view! And I can go on quoting for you his statements about not seeing his [ethnic] party out of power any time soon [comparing it to Labor Party in UK :)] or the one about walking before running as a response to why he is for “developmental state” and not for “liberal democracy”. I am tired and I will stop here.

  22. Hi Alem,

    I have read his interviews, articles he has written etc..

    As an intellectual, he does come across as a false prophet and shallow.
    But i am sure he seems himself as a towering intellect above all. That is why Mr Dowden summed him up neatly lick this as being severe and dogmatic to his own people.

    As a people, we do need fresh ideas, new ways of doing things, open/broad minded approach to issues.

    One thing i am sure we will agree upon is the saying ” a leopard can not change its spots” and “it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks”.

    We need a generational change. It will happen too. Those of us who are between 20-40 are the future and we should be ready for the responsibility that it entails. Otherwise we will repeat the same mistakes Meles and those oppose him have been doing for years.

  23. There is no question that Meles’ homeland Tigray has been developed at the expenses of other Tibal lands(Kilil). Yes! Tigray has transformed, not Ethiopia and an ordinary tigrean family can attest to that!!! Please compare the data in all categories Education, health, agriculture , commerce etc of that Tigray and other. The numbers do not lie. Just check the types of colleges built, hospitals etc Google the data.. Ethiopia is run by a black Apartheid leader.

  24. What a penmanship!!! This is free of the jaundiced views of the Meles idol worshipers or classic old time war mongers. Just super informative, for the sake of it. Thumb up.

    One clean advise for our P.M. Please think about your exit and prepare us a man that stands in your shoe, that aptly works hard to elevate the Ethiopian agenda and not the tribal one. The sooner the better.

  25. You spoke the reality and the problems of the Ethiopian people. I like ur pen. Am sure Meles will learn sth good from the reality u present.

  26. Kewl:
    Your comment is interesting. So you “our” prime minister to “prepare us a man that stands in his shoes?” I thought Meles should be stopped from interfering in the nation’s affairs. He is the problem. To have him choose his own replacement amounts to extending his involvement behind the scenes.

  27. Thanks for the above article. I would rather choose peace before development in the first place. For the first time in Ethiopia’s history, Meles and his party, TPLF (by the way not EPRDF which is a cover for TPLF)had put one group against the other. So will I choose development while sacrificing the peace and harmony of Ethiopians? I don’t think so. Meles and his groups know that the only way they are holding in power is by always comparing themselves from past regimes. By this indication you can tell they are not true leaders who live by ghost shadows of past leaders that have long gone. This tells us their insecurity. Their insecurty ruling as minority Tigray will always put them at odds against the rest of Ethiopian people. So the logic thing to do was to govern based on protecting human rights and equality but what is worse they chose the worst that as a minority to absolute control Ethiopia which this can’t happen unless they divide one group against the other or commit genocide. They don’t seem to shy away from that. I am sure one of their main adviser could be Uganda of Musevini and Rwanda of Kagame. TPLF and Meles are learning fast. So Ethiopians of ALL really need to worry. It is absolutely staggering supporting and acting indifference to actions of TPLF or Meles. These groups produces the number one mass refugees in Ethiopia’s history where our people are now being kicked out of the country due to fear of uprising and the refugees are dying on water or being persecuted by Arabs. Our women being sold for slaver and sex trafficing in Arab world. Our children being sold in the West. This never occured on the history of Ethiopia but then Meles/TPLF will manufacture stories the fault is still past regimes and not their incompetence. I don’t wish to choose development over such atrocities being committed on Ethiopians. What good is development if people are not part of it or using it? Meles and TPLF seem to develop the land only throwing out the people. The agenda here is power and profit. Nothing their actions come close to other than anti Ethiopianism. Let us see, their treasonous action against Ethiopia, giving land to Sudan by displacing Ethiopians, giving away our port to Eritrea and not to mention facilitating the secession of Eritrea from Ethiopia, displacing Ethiopians and giving land to foreigners, dividing one group against the other on ethnic and religion. Everything they do is anti Ethiopian. So what is so big deal about development if people can’t live in peace? Lastly, I thank the Chinese who advised the dictator.

  28. simple..he rules by the rule of the jungle..either you are with him or you are in jail,or tortured,or flee the jungle,

  29. As a Kenyan I think Ethiopia is the best country in the world. I know they have internal problems of governance but the people are the most respectful I have seen. I pray that they will come together and find lasting peace and progress. It is the centre of AFrica

  30. The country is now surrounded by enemis .. from the North Eritrea, from the west Sudan , from the South East Somalia. This is what Melese is leaving for generations as most countries leave wealth , peace and happiness to their generations. To give political advantages for westerns and his and his party political advantages, how a country leader creates enemy on his people?

  31. I have a divided view of my prime minister. But, I did not get the gut to say he is wrong. If I was in his place, what I am going to do to make sure a fast economic growth materialize in a very poor country… May be I will be worse than him. Last week I was in Gambella… I must admit I was impressed by the change in the area. I know the place 12 years back… there was no single tarmac road, no tap water, no electricity. Now… there are good roads, 24 hour service of tap water and electricity…. I was impressed. I drove upto the border to South Sudan…it is impressive. That is why, I can not stand against to this brilliant prime minister… though I do not agree in all his decisions. Thank you for the balanced analysis.

  32. When the 2010 election is talked about there is one glaring mistake made, even by those who are supposed to be excellent journalists. The report that EPRDF won 99.6% of the votes is WRONG. EPRDF won 99.6% of the Seats NOT the votes. EPRDF won about 70% and the oppositions in total got about 30% (not exact figures). EPRDF made sure that it won the seats and used the government resources such as media, money and its own economic might to bear on the largely ill prepared and resource poor oppositions. It was a sad display of inequity. Not even the suporters of EPRDF deny that… Even under such circumstances about 30% of the votes were for opposition groups. Given the preparations they made (they usually blame EPRDF/Government for their inability to be well prepared- I say there is enough blame to go around to them and their supporters.) the results should have come as a surprise and encouragement that there are so many voters who are determined enough to use their rights in spite of the consequences. One can choose to see as the glass half-empty but I see this a great opportunity in the next election. But those in the opposition need to come up with clear and better goals, objectives, and strategy and try to get those to the voters. But unfortunately they have spent the past two years without any action of significance in this direction. The people who voted for the opposition in 2005 are still there they just want to be convinced that the opposition have something better to offer.
    What other choices are there? Continue in this line of opposition and hope the people will rise against EPRDF somehow? Grab a gun and fight just like EPRDF and may be repeat the same thing? The people who are free to voice their opinion by the way of articles, interviews and comments must be open enough to accommodate diverse opinions and approach such opportunities with a learning posture rather than issuing ill conceived and half baked ideas as though they are worthy of everyones’ agreement. Why else are so many Ethiopians closed to ideas that differ in the slightest way from theirs?

  33. Been an Eritrean and one that is a neighbor to PM region, I believe his kind have 9 lives/faces like a cat. You have only seen a couple but do expect to witness the remaining in the near future. We Eritreans know his people very well, because our forefathers met in various occasions and his type have left a legendary treacherous history. Politicians and Investors have yet to reveal and know the real PM and his grandiose plans, that will eventually end up in the suffering of the people of Ethiopia and to the benefit of his Tigray clan. That is the end-plan.

  34. Pingback: The Zenawi Paradox: An Ethiopian Leader’s Good and Terrible Legacy | The Alief Post

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  37. Pingback: The dead body of Meles Zenawi will be aired in the beginning of following week!! - - Ayyaantuu News Online

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  45. Mr. Writer you did not understand much about the late PM meles how much he was loved by Ethiopians. You intentionally lied again that during the 2005 election crisis story, it was the opposite of your assumption. you said meles knows how to speak foreigners, it is true but again same to ethiopians too. he was with a sense of humors. any way your story is based on assumption that 20% only true.

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