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Will Ethiopia’s PM step down?

June 24, 2009

They say that the foundation of a good retirement is planning. By that measure, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi should have his rest period well laid out. The rebel-turned-leader has been saying he wants to step aside for almost two years now.

But after 18 years at the helm of one of the world’s poorest countries the 54-year-old is still in power and says he is trapped by the wishes of his ruling party. They will discuss his desire to retire at an executive committee meeting next month and a September congress would give him the opportunity to ask the party for his twilight years.

Some analysts say his repeated hope for freedom – with the condition of party acceptance – is a ruse to make Meles appear more democratic than he is, while others say he feels he has taken the country as far as he can and covets a high-profile international position in the United Nations or the African Union.

The problem is that many in the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) do not want to see their internationally recognisable leader go and may question his loyalty in an attempt to keep him in the driving seat as Ethiopia heads into an uncertain political and economic landscape ahead of its June 2010 national elections.

The father of two – who has a fascination with economics and represented Africa at the G20 summit – has presided over years of double-digit growth for the desperately poor country but has watched the global recession undo much of that progress.

And analysts and diplomats are divided on how next year’s elections will turn out.

A 2005 poll, touted as Ethiopia’s first truly democratic elections, ended in brutality when the government declared victory and the opposition said the result was fixed.

Police and soldiers then killed about 200 opposition protesters who had taken to the streets after Meles said they were attempting to topple the government.

Opposition leaders were jailed after Meles blamed them for orchestrating that violence and have made little impact since their release in a 2007 pardon deal. They say that is because of government harassment but the government denies that.

Ethiopians go to the polls again in June 2010 and analysts are divided on the question of whether the elections will pass off peacefully and without accusations of rigging.

And the straight-talking leader, hailed as a new hope for Africa when he overthrew a communist regime in 1991, has become a focus for rights groups who say he is cracking down on dissent again. One opposition leader has been jailed and 32 of former and serving military officers have been charged with plotting a coup.

The fact that the leader’s human rights record is questionable frustrates many Addis Ababa-based foreign diplomats who had admired Ethiopia’s economic development and poverty reduction schemes before the financial crisis started to unravel the good work.

With the opposition weakened it seems that a successor for Meles is likely to come from within his own party. EPRDF members have told me that Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin, Health Minister Tewodros Adhanom and Trade Minister Girma Birru are the most likely successors.

Should Meles step down, analysts and potential investors will closely watch his successor to see whether opposition parties are given more freedom or whether the EPRDF becomes more authoritarian so it can hold on to power beyond 20 years.

So does Meles really want to step down? Will his party let him? What will his legacy be? And what will become of Africa’s second most populous nation if he resigns?

(Photos: Prime Minister Meles Zenawi speaks to the media at his office in April, Reuters/Irada Humbatova (top); Ethiopian tour guide in Mequat Mariam, northern Ethiopia, Reuters/Barry Malone.)


Dear Barry,

The main reasons ethiopian economy is going down today are b/c of power cutting issue (due to rain problem and IMF blocking finance for dams) and ofcourse the ECX corporation that is experimenting new coffee trading institution in such a BAD BAD BAD TIME. (please report more on ECX on reuters

so Can we blame any of these on meles? i don’t think so.

he really did good job the last 5 and 6 years with economy. i wish he was this good in the 1990s but at that time we was still attending long-distance college learning. anyway, i think there are many others who can run ethiopia. especially economically, we have some geniuses. but politically, with wit and with speeches or talks, i don’t see anyone as good as meles. My FEAR is that someone inexperienced and more authoritarian leader will be born in the midst of challenges of running such a big, diverse and hard country located in the most dangerous neighborhood. My HOPE is that him stepping down will create new political culture of term limits and more trust of government on Ethiopian hearts.
whatever the case, you have to admit and respect meles for his regional and international maneuvering diplomatic skills as well as for creating first multi-party parliament and allowing first private press in ethiopian history. Let us wish him good luck for the sake of Ethiopia and the delicate horn of africa.

Posted by Helen | Report as abusive

Who really cares now? The country is in deep shit with no electricity in the capital. More street kids. The guy tried to do stuff but when you have lots of knuckle heads around,nothing gets done in the end.
And if you try to root them out, would be calling unstable- to change political allies – causing much upheaval for himself including coup.
Even worse these days, the economy is starting to get undone with most in the country just wanting politics to solve problems that their non-hard working habits created.
The conditions wont allow Meles to be a democratic leader or neither dictator. But as Seydou Kone calls them, democrature. Not much will change in Ethiopia if he resigns unless his replacement try to do stupid than acting tough every now and then, talking nice often about the economy growing even though it is shit and saying happy new year.
My $0.02.

Posted by zeberga | Report as abusive

Reading your article, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s remark about Somoza comes to mind ” He may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.”

In answer to your question “Will Ethiopia’s PM step down? ” does it matter ?

If a man can be responsible for
Stealing election, killing of more than 200 protesters, irresponsible use of military (in Eritrea more than 100,000 Ethiopian casualties, in Somalia god knows), in Ogaden, Gambela, Gumuz etc massacring thousands of innocent people … and many more acts that make Mugabe or Ahmadinejad look like a choir boys, yet he gets the biggest western aid in the whole of Africa and the kudos of high offices that represent Africa in the western world.

Why even pretend there is a modicum of democratization in Africa when such people are being cajoled and subsidized by the very hypocratic western countries that throw tantrum from time to time.

You wrote
“Addis Ababa-based foreign diplomats who had admired Ethiopia’s economic development and poverty reduction schemes before the financial crisis started to unravel the good work”

Do you honestly believe the froth of 11% growth hype that is now being reversed is because of the financial crisis ? Give me any country and if I pump $3 billion /yr in aid and grants that would not show artificial growth.
The question is now what ? is that aid going to continue for ever ? Has Ethiopian poor and hungry any better off ?
This recent BBC link below will answer it 8103355.stm

Posted by Abby | Report as abusive

I write this comment for you from Ethiopia and am Ethiopians first I would like to say thanks prime minister Meles Zenawi because he did great things for my country Ethiopia specially through poverty reduction, economical development, the democrat cession process laid down in good base and his policy to ward all nation of the world. I hope his successors will be follow his foot step to make my country most democratic country

Posted by Tarekegn Bululta | Report as abusive

Though I am conserned that power corrupts, and want to see new fresh face, I guess it is better to stay with Meles than unknown person.
Will he step down, he could if he wants, that should be his own personal choice to serve not a party cadres or organization that supposed to be fighting for individual right and a freedom to choose.

Posted by Desta Takele | Report as abusive

Take this facts in to consideration when discussing Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia

He comes from a tigrean Ethnic group which comprises only about 6% of the Ethiopian population.
yet after 18 years of rule
The entire military apparatus is controlled by his ethnic group. The lower ranking military is filled with poorly educated desperate individuals from other ethnic groups who’s only job is to take orders from tigrean military officers.The rest of armed groups under the government are mainly organized ethnically and segregated from each other building animosity and rivalry.

The entire public offices are controlled by tigrean ethnic group.

With the confiscation and jailing of the last remaining coffee exporters from other ethnic groups the entire economy is controlled by tigreans.

At the same time the region of Tigrai except for the row materials and money that pours inn from other regions to build it’s independent infrastructures is completely governed outside of the rest of Ethiopia. It conducts it’s own foreign relations either directly or through it’s people in Addis Ababa. The rest of the country have no access or say on the affairs of Tigrai. While in the entire country except those who are sitting symbolically as president Girma the Ethiopian President all regions are governed by tigrean personnel supported by a tigrian armed personnel.

Most Ethiopians, politicians and ordinary people were afraid to spell out where Meles Zenawi is leading the country for the last 18 years. He is preparing the nation for genocide while building their retreat in tigrai. That is the retirement Meles Zenawi is planning once he is unable to control and govern from Addis Ababa and all along he was financed by his western backers. I belove the world should brace it self for what is coming in Ethiopia

Posted by beles | Report as abusive

Weather PM Meles leave his position or not is in the hand of Meles. If he want to leave he have many reasons to say for his party.
But I sujest pM Meles before leaving his power to put new regulation for how long and how many times Someone could be in Prime minister position.

If Prime Minister leave his power he will be one of Our Mandella to lay foundation of peacefull power transfer. I know Meles is Smart for his poletics and also for our development, but others also have to get experience…there are alot Ethiopians. We nead good ruler who could bring us in to Unity in diversity and development.
Three good things that Meles have to leave:-
1-The foundation for peacefull power transfer will be laid.That is our aim..then We Ethiopians big part of our problem of getting power in war will be solved.
2-Compution among developments in five year time step of different Prime ministers regiom will be created. I mean we will not compare 18years development of Meles with the Derg Menigistu as we have been doing so far.
3-It strengthen Ethiopian Unity. Most importantly all Ethnic specially Oromo, Ogaden, Debub etc will have Ethiopian feeling than before if this position could also be shared for them.Eventually we Ethiopians will come to a step where we will accept the prime minister as Our Prime Minister irrespective of which ever Ethnic he or she came.Cause I know that someone good Ethiopian from my Ethnic also could be Prime Minister in the coming election, then I accept others also as my Prime Minister.
4- Prime Minister will be very famouse like Mandella, and he will make greate History for Ethiopia and for him self too.
5- Every of our ruler will start to respect the Ethiopian pewople as the power to select will be under the peoples hand.
6- I will have a chance to see and compare a number of Prime Ministers before my death.

and many more……

But the Soliders have to keep our Country…as we have many Historical enemies surrounding us…

Peace and development for Ethiopia and the people.


Posted by Dibiliklik | Report as abusive

Meles Zenawi is known as bad as Mengistu to millions of Ethiopians. The media in the west should have the moral to tell the public this truth. Meles is worst than Mugabe if you compare them on how many people they murdered and imprisoned but for sure you don’t write good about Mugabe. The main thing is we Ethiopians thought the west have the moral value to tell the truth, but we have been proven wrong. History will judge you in your double standard. We don’t need no one’s support to remove crime minister Meles Zenawi. Please keep off from Ethiopia and once we have a democratic elected leader, then you are welcome to say whatever you want.

Posted by Mezgebu | Report as abusive

He is a real revolutionary. He has done a lot especially in health, education, agriculture and infrastructure. I think he is frank when he says that he wants to step down and I hope his party will let him go because that is the only way that our democracy and democratic institutions will get stronger.
He will be remember as one who have transformed the country from being disintegrated in to a powerful and Democratic country in Africa. He will be role model not only for Ethiopians but also for all Africans. His policies are pro poor and has transformed many poor people to Middle class.

After He resigned we will have stronger and more independent institutions so that Opposition politicians will have more confidence to add value to the democratization of Ethiopia. Hopefully opposition politicians will be united. Ethiopia will be economically stronger

Posted by Osman | Report as abusive

Here is an interesting take on talk of Meles’s retirement. hen-no-one-is-watching.html

When No One is Watching

PM Meles did finally come out to give interview to a major news media. In his latest to Financial Times [a yearly ritual now] he, perhaps inadvertently, opened up his soul to confess he was the target of a ‘foiled’ assassination attempt. For a man who enjoys verbal gymnastics and its mesmerizing effect on his audience that small admission goes a long way to reveal the depth of troubles brewing around him. It is also interesting that he plans to take with him the old guard in power since 1991. Deceptively, however, he gets across the idea that he is for “a new generation that does not have the experience of the armed struggle” without mentioning that the “new generation” he has in mind is those of his own ethnic group and a cadre of pliable neophytes. His strength, if one could call it strength, is that he is practised in the “yes-no” technique so well that unless the interviewer is as seasoned as, say, Sacker of the BBC, one ends up promoting his half-truths and instant lies. The fact that Financial Times begins the brief write-up of the interview with “Meles Zenawi …one of Africa’s more prominent leaders on the world stage” is indicative of the fact that African leadership registers very low on European radar and that Meles has managed to play the good cop by day while remaining a bad one when no one is watching.

Posted by AR | Report as abusive

Lol, funny is how the writer makes Meles look like a normal leader. Meles is a murder, not leader. Period. He murders Ogaden people and murders Somalis! Last but not least the whole world saw how he rigged the polls in 2005 and how he murdered young students in the open street. You want to be him on UN sit or anywhere else? laughable. He belongs in the ICC hands. Second, even he will step down Syum Mesfin will take the chair not other than Siyum and he is more worse than Meles. Meles will never go out of the Ethiopian politics landscape unless his party is vanished by opposition parties. Where should and can he go, at all except to other dictatorial country just like the former dictator Mengistu! I don´t see any future for his life out of Ethiopia as long as his party lives! He represents only 3% of Ethiopians means ca 4mill people of 80mill people and his hands are full of blood, hence this man has no future. And Mr writer, pls don´t make some fun of murders! You guys are talking as he were one of democratic great man but he nothing than murder. He is worse than Bashir, if Ethiopia had oil you all western papers had saw the things different. Isn´t it lol

Posted by Berhe | Report as abusive

Western reporters like Barry of Reuters and Elizabeth Blunt of BBC are the ones doing the damages to our country in their attempt to boost the image of this killer and terrorist. Leave your 5 star hotel comfortzone and go to the remotest part of Ormia, Ogaden, and other repressed regions and report if you are true reporters. Otherwise shut up and go home!


Meles now wants to step down huh? He just made a rule/law on benefits for Ethiopian leaders. Yes, after preparing his and his family future, after making rules on continuous benefits for him and his family, after bringing the Eritreans allow to comeback to Ethiopia to make the Ethiopians life difficult and awful, after sucking Ethiopia out…now he wants to step down. It is a clear and obvious set up for self. He messed up the country and now he is going to step down. I bet he is getting ready and making plans to live better than all the Ethiopians. May be out of the country, we never know, we will see what else the news will bring to us. I feel so sorry for the Ethiopians, for those who are still in Ethiopia. Who else is going to come and trouble them again? It is VERY VERY sad that this beautiful, full of culture and history nation is suffering from continuous suckers.

Posted by HM | Report as abusive

I think in the messed up horn africa, the pm has done an ample job though still there are some critical affair up in the air. we have seen so many changes in the country with regard to infrastructure and in gearing the country in the path of modern life. So my overall assesment is, time will remember the pm’s intellegence that he has shown right from gurelia fighter to representing Africa in G20 – summit. As to his step down, from the repeated and consistent interviwes he delivered i am convinced that he is laying down the path to hand over the grip of power. I wish all the best for him.

Posted by sisay | Report as abusive

Dear Author,
First of all, I would like to thank you for your concern towards my country.
In such a diversified nation, it is up to the good luck of the state to have obtained such a DYNAMIC and SMART leader to have it progressing in the right track.
On top of the diversity, there is always one big fact that seems to be hiding itself. Prime Minister Meles… as you rightly named him as the “rebel-turned-leader”… had been in the battle field for the wholle of his youthful life. There He fought for freedom, which was the wish of the MAJORITY of Ethiopians. Here comes, then, the sources of alleging Melles of murdering… There are many Ethiopians who benefited from the previous military regime (be it as the then’s EWP party,.. or being relatives, family mmembers…) and who fled to the west during the overthrow of the regime.
You know… I would rather label him “CURER”. Because, He and his PARTY have shown us, as Ethiopians, how merciful they were to the soldiers even during the armed struggle for freedom.
Thus the bottom line is Melles is the CURER of ETHIOPIA… both interms of bringing democracy and good economic direction!

Posted by reality Matters | Report as abusive

i dont now if this writer is a lobyist for meles, but it is known that meles spends millions on lobyist to cover up his crimes, and to make him look like a saint.
i can correct u with alot of things u said, u tried to make him look like a respectable person or some kind of hero.
first he was not the one or TPLF who overthrew the dictator mengistu, it was all ethiopian groups including
the oromo and ogaden liberation fronts help out, and from
the mouth of mengistu haileariam he saiad, it was the eritrean peoples front that were the real threat and the ones he was fighting, the eritreans had also trained and armed meles group TPLF, and even took them to Addis and put him in power.
so it wouldnt be wise to make it look like that he or his group were the only ones who freed ethiopia, because
its allready written down in history, on who did wat, and on how mengitu went down.
u might be able to fool forigners and hide the atrocities and crimes comitted by meles, including the ogaden killings and invasion of somalia and the crimes comited there, were now meles lobyist are trying to cover up his tracks, but at the end justice will prevail.

Posted by jony | Report as abusive

What a lame excuse to use ‘..wishes of his ruling party…’ to stay in power. If Ethiopia was a democratic country, the people would have made the decision who they want their leader should be…..not a corrupt-murderer-thug party. This clearly shows that his loyality is to his party and the the people of the country do not matter. Unfortunately, the West is taking this excuse to exemplify him as democtratic and an example to Africann leaders. The reason is because they know they have in-house slave, and he is obedient. They will do anything to support him including boasting double digit growth as if the Aid money and direct budgetary support had nothing to do with it….even a 9th grade student knows that you cannot have growth with Aid money. Shame on you!!!

Posted by Mamo | Report as abusive

Dear Malone,
The rulling party EPRDF and its leader Meles Zenawi will be remembered in history for laying the ground for democracy and human rights in Ethiopia.The revolutionary Democrat’s pro-poor policy is in fruitation . The country is thriving with his exuberant leadership and his achievements need no redressing as the facts on the ground speak for themselves.Hence ,not with standing the fact that Meles debates his case of resignation ,he should be given one more chance of public service infact while grooming a successor and renewing the party. Further ,suffice the insistance of the international media to press him to step dawn. Hatemongers come on tone dawn your voice.Meles is now voice for the voiceless Africa.

I am sure Malone will agree with me that Meles has never shown any desire of working for any international organizations be it UN or AU.He is still committed to serve his party,TPLF/EPRDF,which took the toll of his life.

Posted by Meles A.T. | Report as abusive

Dear writer,
No question at all, Meles is way too good to Ethiopia than you feel you have described him.
I wish his successor will build on the foundation He built and not undo all the efforts He invested on.

Posted by Gala | Report as abusive

Dear Barry,

I will try to address your questions from the majority of Ethiopian’s point of view:
1. Will Meles resign?
Meles is not having any more hopes about his ability to rule. He has tried and experienced his ethnic based theories and ineffective land policies on this country for the past 18 years to no one’s benefit except his selected few. Infact he has made the country worse than ever, and things are cornering him more than ever without any way out. So, in order to secure his retirement in peace, as he knows the present status of Mengistu Hailemariam who he ousted, and to try and fool his people by showing that he is the first leader in Ethiopia to step down by his own will he will resign.
2. Will his party let him?
The party is not democratic. It is ruled just the way the country is ruled. He is the absolute figure. He can do and say whatever he wants in the party. He is the party. So who is going to seriously get in the way of his decision? No one. All of the guys in the party are their not beacuse of ideology and political good will, they are their to replenish what they have lost during their war against Mengistu. And they know Meles is their boss, but if he says my part is over, they will say nothing but OK BOSS and try to fill the post the soonest possible and continue previous policies. WITH NO CHANGE AT ALL!!
3. What will his legacy be?
A tyrant will be the first in mind:
- He came by the gun and he stayed by the gun.
- Devided the nation like never before with his ethnic principles.
- Impoverished the people like never before with his failed land and food security policies.
- Alienated the country from its neighbours (this does not include Eritrea) with his ill foreign policies.
- Damaged the economy in every aspect with his unyielding economic policies.
- And many more. This will be his legacy.
4. What will be our fate?
Well, since he is telling us power will not shift to a new party and as long as we continue to be ruled by thess tyrants, we will keep on asking for aid, keep showing our impoverished countrymen and women on the international media.

Posted by laljoe | Report as abusive

I’m torn apart between my desire to see new leadership for my country coming over and the risk the transition period might involve for our national security. Despite some achievements Meles and his party made in terms of economic progress over the last 2 decades, the country is still vulnerable in terms of security threats from Eritrea, Somalia and other extremists in the region. Ethiopia is also quite complex country to lead and it is going to pose enormous challenge to a new leader to keep it stable for the short term. Therefore, it might be wise for EPRDF to keep Meles for just another term and let a potential successor work closely with him over the next 5 years so that he/she can easily take over and keep the country running safely. At the momment I don’t see anybody else within or outside EPRDF that can effecetively lead such a complex country with so many internal and external challenges.

Posted by Solomon, T | Report as abusive

Dear Barry:
Ethiopia has gone through so many changes since Mengistu was ousted. Some people seem to have forgotten the brutality of Mengistu and his regiem or were his accomplices who are hiding in the West. Their hatrate towards the incombant leader is so obvious they do not admit his achievements. My view on whether Meles should leave office is not indifferent to may Ethiopians, simply because I believe for democracy to thrieve, risk of allowing new leader to the EPRDF should be installed. I am not suggesting an automatic premiership post for the replacement should Meles resign or be replaced; which is the sole choice of the majority of Ethiopians at home through their votes. My last advice for fellow Ethiopians who could not sleep without telling every name to Meles rather spend their valuable time in something productive towards correcting the image of Ethiopia in their host countries. Let their legacy be at least for once of positive to be remembered in history.God bless Ethiopia and its people.

Barry only presented the views of the people and there is no element of favourism in his article at all. Job well done.

Posted by Zemenfes | Report as abusive

Meles has led this country to the best of his ability, and shouldered and managed much of the problems of the troubled and poor east african region! i wish him a good posjt premier life, !!!!

Posted by ddt | Report as abusive

Why bother to comment if you can not even be bothered to publish non offensive comments. Shame!!

Posted by Abby | Report as abusive

I think trying to mislead international media. everybody in Ethiopia know that after EPRDF conference he will call the press and then claim that his party refused his proposal to rest

This is ridiculous drama

Posted by Jigjiga | Report as abusive

The only right Meles did to his own benefit was putting his name on the list of “the coalition of the wailings” for George W Bush’s “war on terror”. Once he did that, no one cared how many people he murdered or jailed. His narrowly crafted tribal government made the worst of worst things to that countries political, economical and social well being than any of the previous once combined. He is the Kim Jong Ill of Ethiopia. He has too much blood in his hand to live in Ethiopia without power. So my view is that he will be a dictator until his tribal government is out of fule.

Posted by Abdisa Aga | Report as abusive

Dear Barry,

Your article is very bias and unbalanced. You talk about 200 protestors killed by police but YOU ARE WRONG.


193 rioters were killed, not 200 protestors


Many dozen police were injured and 7 Policemen were killed by rioters, why do you hide that fact??


Meles zenawi is the best leader in our history. Who brought first freedom of religion for evangelicals in ethiopia?

who brought first 10% GDP per capita?

who brought first multiparties election??

who brought first private media, private newspapers and other system in ethiopia??

who allowed first private radio in ethiopian history?

who gave local language freedom when previous leaders banned local languages?

who brought 10x more roads construction and 10x more rural electrification?

who built 15x more state universities and tripled attendance percentage??



Some amhara politicians from GINBOT 7, CUD and UDJ who are RACISTS want to taint meles zenawi image in the west by crying and organization anti-meles demonstration everyday in america and europe just because their hero mengistu (who killed 1 million ethiopians) is gone.



Posted by Mesfin | Report as abusive

It is indeed amazing how most people can only see one side of Barry’s Report. Try and get out of your biases People! if you look closely the report is actually a balanced assessment of Melese’s(his Party’s) legacy, with what little conformable fact there is! Personally though when it comes to the question “will he resign?” well i am still waiting for the twist in this story because i can not imagine Meles will ever leave the throne with out making sure the remote control is still in his hands.

Posted by Mo | Report as abusive

Bary Malone, get your facts straight. In the aftermath of the 2005 election, 193 violent protesters and 11 police officers were killed. Why did you omit the part about the murdered 11 police officers? Is it because it will make people question about the nature of the protest?

Whether or not Meles steps aside is his and his decision alone. I hope he stays for another five years.

Posted by Ezra | Report as abusive

Meles is a western puppet! He is there to do westerns Dirty job.Westerns don’t have to do it like they used to do,instead they train some stupid like meles and give him order from london and washington.We ethiopians are proud nations and we showed you dirty colonisers what we are able to do,GOD willing !!.When the time come we will clean our country from fealthy western diplomats and OAU.

Long Live Africa ! Africa For Africans !

Posted by Abera | Report as abusive

Who is going to beg behalf of 9 million starved ethiopians if meles left ? no one has experience like him.Don’t forget he is from tigray.He knows the art of begging.How about those political prisoners? how about freedom of assembly ? we really going to miss him.But i don’t think his party will leave him till they get some
begging exipert from

Posted by tesfu | Report as abusive

The Ethiopian people will not forgive Meles for the following reasons:
1. He let a country of 80 million go landlocked, never happen anywhere with such a big population
2.He still cajoles the runaway population of Eritrea more than his own.
3. He killed in cold blood, in front of the international community, 200 innocent demonstrators (10 times more than the Ayatollahs and we all know how the west cried foul)
The party he consistently pledges allegiance to (EPRDF) is a party that said over the VOA “We do not relinquish power we got by blood to a ballot box.” If this is the philosophy of the Party Mr. Meles loves so dearly and asks permission to step down, then what is Meles himself? Who can ever think he is a democrat?

Posted by Kumneger Enawra | Report as abusive

Is this article a joke? Barry Malone and other so-called reporters are the reason why my country suffers from tyranny. You sugar-coat killers and tyrants whom the US considers condom regimes, while demoralizing and demonizing the ones the US has little influnce on; I.E, Cuba, Iran, Zimbabwe, Russia, etc, etc. Compare Mugabe’s crimes with Legesse (which is his real name ) Zenawi and Mugabe would look very decent.

-Meles Zenawi committed the anuk genocide
-Orders his troops to commit war crimes on Ogadeni-Ethiopians
-Illegally invaded Somalia and occupied it. Even now, he’s sending more Ethiopian troops into an unwinable war just to collect aid from uncle sam.
-Illegally occupies sovereign Eritrean territories, in vialoation of all internationl laws, which had the UN was not corrupted and influenced by the US, he should have been sanctioned for.
-Tens of thousands of Ethiopians rot in jail for crimes they never committed.
-He killed 200 Ethiopians in the middle of Addis Ababa and stole a fake election.
-His policies has brought ethnic divisions into my country that is destroying it.
-He’s Africa’s largest aid recipient and something like 92% of Ethiopia’s current economy comes from Aid (wonder why you’ve never covered this sad fact).

I’ve never heard of no US president that stayed in power for nearly two decades. It’s high time you start calling a spade a spade, he’s a tyrant.

Posted by Gondere | Report as abusive

I know mister PM of ethiopia is in power for the last 18 years which is a litter longer than the dictator Mengistu. In terms of killing and repression, he does well like Mengistu.
The uniquness of this leader is that he enrich one tribe and the whole economy is controlled by his junta groupe.

If he step down, that is just to control the economy as they need some one who is a mastermind. His wife is the manager of the EFFORT company that company that has a billions dollors.
EFFORT do not pay tax as registered NGOs.
EFFORT signed directly agrrements with the foreign governements that help the country and money go directly to this company.
It is really very difficult for a none ethiopian citizen to understand what the Zenawi regime is doing behind.

The EU representative went to Addis to sign a aid agreement for the country and the ethiopian side people were those who leads the EFFORT and once signed the agreement, money go to their account.
They will give some if they are happy and not if not.


I am an Ethiopian. Even though I am not proud of Zenawi, I admire him. I do not approve all his actions, but he deserves my respect for his commitment and success of paving the way to eradicate the chronic difficulties Ethiopia faced. He shouldered all sort of problems created by consecutive leaders of the country. Most people in Ethiopia agree that, Zenawi is not a saint, but he is not a butcher like Mengistu. During his time, Ethiopia got a basic road network, telephone, schooling, healthcare, electricity.

That is why I do not want to Blame Zenawi. Can somebody else better accomplish than Zenawi, may be. At least Zenawi knows the burning issues Ethiopians are looking for. He didn’t spend the countries resource to build the military might. Until today, I didn’t heard anything about Zenawi having a secret bank account in Zurich or Monaco.

Yes, we need another leader. It is time for Zenawi to go. I am a staunch believer that power corrupts. But, I always remember Zenawi for his contribution to make Ethiopia a better place for its citizens.

Posted by Zelalemawi | Report as abusive

Dear all again,
Meles’s leave of his office is good idea.What the world community should realize is that stablity and development shold come to Ethiopia for the price of Regional stablity in the horn of Africa.Ethiopia is the balance of Power to the region.Peace full power transormation is a key factor.
We Ethiopians should realize that Islamic Extrimists including ALQUIDA are waching Ethiopia to disablize and use the region according to their savage action.Therefore Ethiopians in all over the world shold come to tolerate and use every fraction of seconds for peacefull power transformation.Unless we are blind we can see what is going on around Horn of Africa.Western world must think ten times.Peace full power transformation, stablity, and Development should come to Ethiopia to stablize the rest of Horn of Africa.

Posted by Getachew | Report as abusive

As I was reading some of the articles written above, It really makes me feel ashamed of this sick minded,ignorant individuals who can not even put their argument in prospective, yet they are trying to criticize a world class renounced leader, an updated 21st century unique individual ,charismatic, time tested, noble minded, very sharp, who I might add was recognized by many global leaders. However, I don\’t mean that Meles is irreplaceable, There are a lot of Ethiopian that can do the work. We should learn to appreciate proportionally as we criticize his mistakes.

Posted by Zebib | Report as abusive

Why do westerners bother whether Meles resugns or not? Isn’t this a matter for Ethiopian citizens? Those who have left Ethiopia to fill their stomach should shut-up because it is non of their business. Let them worry about their adopted country but not Ethiopia because they left us when the fighting was getting tough, they have no moral right to say anything about what happens in Ethiopia. The peoples of Ethiopia, poor or rich, can now live their life and work hard to change their life without any restriction like it was during the Dergue. Does any one remember that parents had to hide their teenage children in the closet to guard them from the cadres who hunted them for the Dergue army? Some of these hiding childrenlost died in the closet due to suffocation any way? Where were these western appologists then? They never said a word and now they pretend to worry about what goes on in Ethiopia. This is absurd.

Posted by Germame | Report as abusive

Meles Zenawi,a traitor and a dictator who is leading Ethiopia for 19 years is the worst ever to lead the country and even any country in the world. Meles can well be described as USA’s weapon of mass destruction against Ethiopia. The death,harm, destruction and pain this regime of Meles that was installed and kept in power by USA brought to Ethiopia is enormous. For this crime against our people Ethiopians will forever have a bad feeling and hatred for the USA,probably the greatest enemy of Ethiopia.

Posted by Warkaw | Report as abusive

Meles Zenawi – Now the Last Shame for Africa
Election should be at the heart of viable democracy. By election, we are talking about fair and free election whereby the culture of open political debate prevails as opposed to pretentious election meant for donor consumptions. This means there should be freedom of press and freedom of speech. Mass Media should be free from sole manipulation of the government. It is also important to do away with unfair election rules that otherwise hamper the achievement of oppositions or at least pose procedural formidability.

The ruling party and/or the government should not interfere with campaigns which include among other things, harassment or killing of candidates, suppressing campaign actions, closing campaign headquarters, criminalizing campaigning, harassing or beating campaign workers. The election must also be free from intimidating voters, tampering with the election mechanism, i.e., confusing or misleading voters about how to vote, violation of the secret ballot, ballot stuffing, tampering with voting machines, destruction of legitimately cast ballots, voter suppression, fraudulent tabulation of results, and use of physical force or verbal intimation at polling places.

As history witnesses and experience demonstrates, elections in many African countries are far from fulfilling minimum thresholds for conducting of fair and free elections. In many countries, it is unlikely for the people to find their leader from the ballot box. However, recently we are observing the spark of genuine democratic elections in some countries in Africa. In 2002 presidential election in Kenya, Mwai Kibaki won the election by defeating Uhuru Kenyatta of KANU. In 2007 general re-election made between President Kibaki of the ruling party and Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), the election was believed to fall short of meeting international standards of fair and free election. The news of rigging of the elections coupled with the prevailing unaddressed injustices in the country resulted in chaos and bloodshed in the nation. Later on the problem was tackled as President Kibaki, who betrayed a fair and free election which brought him to power, reached an agreement with Raila Odinga to form coalition government in February 2008. President Kibaki at least tried to heal the democracy he wounded in Kenya.

The other controversial election was the 2008 election of Zimbabwe. This election led to a long battle between Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change and Robert Mugabe of ZANU-PF. The two embattled parties have come to agreement and the opposition leader has sworn as the prime minister of the country. It is also part of our fresh memory how Ghanaians had a wonderful democratic transition without the election being orchestrated by any violence.

Whenever we see a successful election in Africa and elsewhere or whenever we see rigid dictatorial regimes ameliorating their positions and form the government of the national unity with the opposition they were demonizing and persecuting, it is our natural instinct to feel when we will have that kind of democratic transition in Ethiopia or at least that sort of mitigated solution? These days we are pondering in one way or another when Ethiopia will have Ghanaian type of election? Wee are also pondering why the aftermath of election in Ethiopia is often so bloody? Why the ruling party and the opposition parties fail to reach on amicable solutions even after violence just like the case in Kenya or Zimbabwe? We also pondering whether 2010 election is as a usual shame election or going to be little bit different from the trends we witnessed under EPRDF/TPLF regime. At any rate, we wish about the coming of the day when we shall have a fair and free election that allows political participation of all political forces in Ethiopia. In my view, all these questions boils down to whether there will be a possibility for the eventualization of fair and free election under TPLF/EPRDF regime?

Election under EPRDF Ethiopia: Genuine?

Upon the inauguration of its power seizure, one of the promises the TPLF/EPRDF regime made to Ethiopian peoples and the international community was—it would realize human rights regime and democratic transition from the bullet to the ballot. Consequently, EPRDF pretentious rhetoric about democracy and human rights built optimism among Ethiopians and the international community about the improvement of human rights situations and the pace of democratization. However, the expectation commenced to dash immediately when the Ethiopian government terribly harassed the opposition and rigged the election held for Councils of Representatives in 1991.

In 1994, the first election that was boycotted by the opposition parties was held and EPRDF won EPRDF election with the landslide victory. This culminated in a simulated and symbolic transition of EPRDF Ethiopia from Transitional Government to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE). In 2000, in the so-called first multi-party election in the history of the nation, EPRDF was reelected to rule the nation.

In March 2005, Ethiopia undertook highly campaigned and contested regional and national elections in the history of the country. Although the election did not get the attention of the marginalized ethnic groups such as Oromo and Somali because of the exclusion of their main parties, it allowed the participation of the opposition parties operating in Ethiopia and secured 90% turnout of the registered voters. The election showed a tremendous achievement of the opposition parties: an increment from 12 seats to more than 170 seats, and CUD wiped out EPRDF from the Municipality of Addis Ababa City. The Carter Center called the voting stage as a commendable and post election-counting process as disappointing. The finding of the European Election observers also indicated that the election shy of international election standards.

In the meantime, Ethiopian Prime Minister declared the state of emergency that bans all forms of freedom of assembly and association on the very night of voting day. The Executive Committee of the ruling party declared winning the election on the next day, before the counting and tabulation was finalized, in contravention with the mandate of the National Election Board. When the election results were made public, the opposition supporters went to the streets to protest the result of what they called rigged election violating the ban on demonstration. The government reacted by gunning down 193, wounding 763, and incarcerating 30,000 civilian demonstrators giving them the plate ‘individuals motivated to dismantle constitutional order by the street action’. The government further alleged that the victims were people who were killed in the course of looting banks and private properties.

After the U.N. and donor countries expressed their concern about how the government securities handled the matter and requested an independent probe into the issue. As per the demands of the intentional community, the Ethiopian Parliament created an independent inquiry commission of eleven individuals, which were mandated to make inquiry as to “whether the measures used were excessive or not” rather than questioning the very constitutionality of the measures and this gave prima facie justification for abysmal disregard for the dignity of human dignity. The findings of the Commission concluded that the force used was excessive and the ways the detainees were handled was unconstitutional. The Report also unearthed the intentional mass killings of the detainees at the Qaliti concentration camp.

While the Commission was on preparation to present the truth to the Parliament, the Prime Minister reprimanded them to reconsider the report. The Chairperson of the Commission and his Deputy was adamant to surrender to the persistent threat from the Office of the Prime Minister. With escalation of the intimidation to the extent of jeopardizing their lives, they decided to leave the country, and later, the news rocked the government. In no time later, the government reshuffled the Commission members to rewrite the report in the way that fits the government propaganda consumption. The reshuffled Commission came with the report that is at the different web length with the previous one.

Hence, it goes without saying that the elections so far held proved the recalcitrance of the government to bring abut its vociferous promise of democratization and supremacy of law. Ostensibly, experiences demonstrate government grip on the bullet as it denied the Ethiopian peoples the right to find their leader from the ballot box as elections are quite often accompanied by voter intimidation, opposition harassment, ballot box stuffing and stealing, and bloodsheds and blood bathing since the government is concocted on the Mao Dictum of “Legitimate power comes from the barrel of the gun”. I will treat in a piecemeal fashion why fair and free election is hard to be achieved, if it is not total impossibility, under TPLF/EPRDF Ethiopia?

The Marxist/Leninist Root of TPLF and the Idea of Revolutionary Democracy:

TPLF, the nucleus of EPRDF, was an Albanian Model Marxist-Leninist guerilla group which came to power in the era of disintegration of communism. The Marxist-Leninist root of TPLF is inimical with the very underlying rationales of liberal democracies such as multi-party system and periodic election. Upon ascendance to power, TPLF transformed itself to the notion of liberal democracy since that was the political order of the day, what Fukuyama dubbed as the “Last Man”. The Marxist ideology embedded in TPLF manifesto is a serious stumbling block for flourishing of the notion of the minimum civility that various parties can live under a democratic umbrella maintaining their differences. Accordingly, in the way similar with the philosophical underpinnings of one party rule, the so-called an proletarian dictatorship, EPRDF embarked on the political concoction of democratic centralism, one strong central party, by dismantling other oppositions and suppression of dissent voice even in EPRDF itself under the pretext of bringing economic development and political stability to the country. The elimination of the viable oppositions such as OLF, ONLF, CUD, and others from Ethiopian political contour and the cloning of their substitutive parasitic organizations emanates from this fundamental communistic orientations.

Let alone, allowing the flourishing of multiparty democracy, TPLF philosophy of revolutionary democracy hardly allows democratic options within the ruling party. In EPRDF traditions, dissenting within the party itself is considered as aberration and crime. Hence, the dissident has to undergo a political self-mortification process known as gille-his and inquisition process called gimgema. That is why the elected EPRDF Parliamentarians neither abstain nor oppose any bill or agenda introduced by their party in the Parliament however they think it is detrimental to the public and repugnant to their conscience since loyalty to party is much more important than loyalty to the public and/ or once conscience. This is why there is no a prominent figure emerging under the leadership of Meles Zenawi in TPLF itself since the system has only a room for sycophants than to the challenger. This is why Meles eclipsed emerging personalities like the former Mayor of Addis Ababa. The lack of tolerance for diversity and dissenting opinion is the main cause for suicidal division within TPLF in 2001.

TPLF Considers Power as an Indemnity, Consolation for the Suffering Inflicted on Them Fighting against Derg, and a Reward for their Military Gallantry

Democratic cultural would hardly bloom so long as TPLF cadres have a mindset that Ethiopian peoples have to thank TPLF for the “spark of democracy” they saw as the result of TPLF indomitable struggle. Democratic election is impossible so long as EPRDF considers power as an indemnity and consolation for suffering inflicted upon them fighting against Stalinist Ethiopia. For fair and free election to come, TPLF should know that legitimacy to rule the nation comes not from military valor but from the consent of governed via ballot box. Nor power transition by the election is rolling out the red carpet for the opposition who did not, to use the jargons of cadres, “bleed or die” in the desert. Also, TPLF has to recognize that the fall of Derg was not simply because of their exceptional military ingenuity or gallantry but also because of lack of backing from the Ethiopian mass and natural death as the result of global phenomena of Stalinist States disintegration.

TPLF should also liberate itself from its parochialism that human rights and democracy is the gift of their struggle. Human rights are neither the gift of the government nor quid pro quo; rather it is endowment of nature, what human being is cherished with for simple reason of his/her humanity. This is the fundamental axiom that TPLF needs to know. As the Great Personality from the Great Nation, Thomas Jefferson said, these truths are self-evident,

We hold (they say) these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal. In what are they created equal? Is it in size, understanding, figure, moral or civil accomplishments, or situation of life? Every ploughman knows that they are not created equal in any of these […] That every man hath an unalienable right to liberty; and here the words, as it happens, are not nonsense, but they are not true: slaves there are in America, and where there are slaves, there liberty is alienated. If the Creator hath endowed man with an unalienable right to liberty, no reason in the world will justify the abridgement of that liberty, and a man hath a right to do everything that he thinks proper without control or restraint; and upon the same principle, there can be no such things as servants, subjects, or government of any kind whatsoever. In a word, every law that hath been in the world since the formation of Adam, gives the lie to this self-evident truth, (as they are pleased to term it); because every law, divine or human, that is or hath been in the world, is an abridgement of man’s liberty.

Projection of Future Trends:

It is inevitable that the TPLF will keep on venturing on its shame election since that is a best mechanism to fool the international community so that they remain blind about the egregious and atrocious human rights violations it commits on bovine Ethiopian mass as well as to procure funding. However, what TPLF Ethiopia need is an election that mandate TPLF to rule Ethiopia ad infinitum. That is, TPLF needs opposition that perpetuates the rule of the EPRDF indefinitely. Japan democracy is the best model for them. Japan is the country with multiparty democracy yet only ruled by one party. The Liberal Conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has been in power since 1955, except for a short-lived coalition government formed with opposition parties in 1993. The notion is, well it is not bad to have multi-party system in EPRDF Ethiopia because that serves as a mechanism to get assistance from Western countries. Yet, it is important not allow the opposition to rule the nation as that is in contravention with the idea of “developmental states”, the benevolent state that gives a “bread” and then “right”. That is why TPLF (after election crisis of 2005) obsessed in the rhetoric of which party is best in realizing fast economic development and lifting the nation out of poverty. Under this mindset it is difficult to expect that the 2010 election will be fair and free. In this connection, it is important that TPLF de facto head, Aboy Sibhat Negga, has made clear that mistake of 2005 election not happen again. He said “Never Again, Never Again.”

Meles: You Have Still an Option!

Now the reign of ruling the public in splendid isolation from their consent is coming to an end and your dictatorial friends such Mwai Kibaki and Robert Mugabe are mitigating their positions. You are now among long ruling incumbent head of state in Africa and if you keep your promise good you are going to relinquish power after this term. You can use the remaining part of your era to discuss how to bring a genuine democracy to Ethiopia with all your oppositions whether they are at home, in jungle, or in diaspora. You can end your long shameful chapter with magnificent end when you allow conducting a fair and free election that allows the participation of all political forces in Ethiopia. Please, Meles now you have cashed the history of ‘naftanya” and sought legitimacy to rule Ethiopia forever. History alone will not legitimize once rule. People need the government that deal with emerging exigencies. You have also used the tactic of fear mongering among Ethiopian peoples so that you are the only messiah in between them. Though you disregarded the Ethiopian people whom you consider as the legitimate source of your power, you worked very hard to win the hearts and minds of your donors and tried to be their loyal surrogate. You have also effectively used your last bullet, i.e. terrorism paranoia and hence you cannot fool the international community any longer. If you keep running your repression machinery intact, they will soon found out that you are now the lasting real Mugabe. Hence, the only chance you have is to allow a true election happen in Ethiopia? Otherwise, for now, you will be a step behind your good friend Mugabe and you remain the last shame for Africa.

Meles, you might think that it is juggernaut and insurmountable given that (you remember you called resilience of Ethiopian people a wave in a cup of tea), you have robust international support, economy, and all means of coercion including gun, but history shows sooner or later the demand of broad mass will find itself otherwise you live in a harmony with the public. Otherwise, your destiny is not any different from the one of Musharraf. You cannot govern in the “splendid isolation” from the consent of the governed, and it is crucial to listen to peoples’ grievances and opposition resilience.

Meles, the Ethiopian peoples are tired of going to the poll centers where some of their representatives are not on the ballot box or the elections are intended for window dressing. Ethiopians are fading up of façade elections and empty promises; and otherwise these trends averted it is difficult to vindicate the hope of Ethiopians in the ballot and democracy.

Meles, I know that you are Machiavellian than Machiavelli himself, but I am audacious enough to ask you to have a minimum sense of honesty, integrity, sincerity, trustworthiness, sense of justice, fairness, tolerance, broadmindedness and common sense in your political calculus so that at least democratic order and supremacy of law prevails in our country. Ethiopian peoples need tangible political change than mere pretentiousness, empty promises, obfuscations and treacherous responses: agreeing “in principle” and denying in practice. They are tired of empty promises and re-branding of the same old stuff. Meles, you have one chance to change your history. For now you are below Mugabe and you are number one worst dictator in the world for me, not 17th worst world dictator like the Parade magazine puts.

* Kadiro is a committed advocate for the rights of marginalized, disadvantaged, disfranchised, vulnerable and downtrodden segment of society. He is a host and a producer of Voice of Oromo Chicago ( that serves the voiceless, defends the dignity and fights for justice. He can be reached for comment, suggestion, or criticism at

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of

Posted by Bekealu | Report as abusive

Dear Barry,

your website is not reporting upto date information about ethiopia. here is latest issue about MEDREK party _Ethiopia/Around_Ethiopia/Historic_Oppos ition_alliance_Medrek_to_finalize_manife sto_in_Ethiopia/32426

Peace and democracy for Ethiopia!!!!!

Posted by ethiopian | Report as abusive

The next prime minister will be a woman. Economist and entrepreneur Dr Eleni Zaude Gabre-Madhin is the perfect person for the job. The famous lawyer and politician Birtukan Mideksa will be her deputy prime minister. Prosperity and peace will be assured in the new century Ethiopia when these indefatigable duo are in charge of our historic nation. History will be made. Dr Eleni currently earns over 2 million Birr annual salary. She will be earning less as prime minister. Birtukan Mideksa is confined to a dark cell in Kality prison. She will be seeing more sun as deputy prime minister. Good luck Ethiopia.

Posted by Kassa Guta | Report as abusive

I think it is a dream that you think that way. Also I agree with the women will be the prime minster. The chance is for the Oromo people now. I don’t believe that you are wanting to come back on power again what a hell idea.


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