Ethiopia: The Devil in the Details

Ethiopian Recycler blog

The devil is in the details. And the producer of ESAT, Abebe Gellaw, is that devil. Abebe says he got his information about Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s death NOT from International Crisis Group [ICG] per se but from an anonymous source within ICG – thus rendering ICG’s twit a day or so ago and the jeering pro-ruling minority chatter irrelevant. ICG’s position is understandable. It is not going to make a public announcement of a sensitive security issue of this nature without also negating its own commitment to “preventing and resolving deadly conflicts.”

We are saddened by the way the Prime Minister’s end came. His entrance into the national scene was sponsored by a foreign country; secrecy, lies, and violence attended his every step, up until he exited. His condition and whereabouts turned out to be an embarrassment and a subject of malice and confusion. His mentor, Sebhat Nega, publicly disowned him, so to speak, when he said the ruling minority could function without Meles. He lived and died disrespecting the Ethiopian people and never gaining their trust or respect [all this is documented]. Let us not forget that his medical expenses are covered by Ethiopian taxpayer and, hence, an official report on his health and whereabouts would have only been appropriate. [Contrast this with ex-President Negasso recently turning to Ethiopians to raise funds to cover his medical expenses in Germany.] Finally, how outlandish would it be to assume that Meles Zenawi’s body could have already been buried or cremated?

To be fair, a Waltenegus Dargie [20 July, 2012; Ethiomedia] did make an educated and a bold guess that the Prime Minister has expired. Ethiomedia [21 July, 2012] also came out with the news that the Prime Minister is “clinically dead.” The private Weekly Feteh was on course when it was summarily shut down. What makes ESAT reporting different is the credibility it attached to its source and the failure of Ethiopian leaders to come up with evidence to the contrary. Time will reveal the rest of the story. Abebe Gellaw’s counter report also made us curious as to how the less than a month-old Ethiopian National Transitional Council [ENTC] could so soon request recognition from the US State Department and the Australian Government and have access to such a privileged information so early [15 July 2012] to issue a press release.

Interestingly, DailyEthiopia [Addis Ababa, 30 July 2012] listed, in what appeared to be a eulogy of sorts, the stakes to local and regional politics without Meles and yet not admitting Meles has died. As the quote below would show the attempt at cover-up was not quite successful. Moreover, the write-up seeks to paint a grim post-Meles picture for the consumption of US policy-makers in the hope of extending the tenure of TPLF. The fact is that anarchy was predicted after the fall of governments of Emperor Haileselassie, Colonel Mengistu and now Meles. What the predictions failed to comprehend is, however, the decency and faith of Ethiopian people. Let not TPLF remnants or foreign groups [ICG and others] sell us any such spurious tales. All they want is to deceptively explain away their intense desire to shape matters to favor their interests. Here is the quote from DailyEthiopia:

If Zenawi goes, the cohesion of this security and political structure will be at serious risk. What complicates matters is that the threat is not only from within. Eritrea will be keenly watching the fate of its enemy. Somali, Oromo and other rebel groups are currently based in its capital. Asmara may also wage full-scale war if the TPLF leadership ends up in disarray. Last week, exiled Oromo rebel factions met in Norway, Oslo to discuss the future role of their struggle. They agreed to unify their fight against the current Ethiopian regime. The deteriorating health of Zenawi, 57, can only embolden these opposition groups, though the home-based opposition are weak and fragmented.

In the meantime, few things should worry us all. Would the chaotic situation give US “experts” yet another chance to define the direction of the country, including appointing a leader? Would the US initiate an arrangement between Ethiopia and Eritrea on the pretext of the unresolved border issue and Assab port? Every one of the above items is not in the long term interest of Ethiopia. What can the opposition do to avert another destructive regime from taking power?

The Saudi Al Amoudi is another major player in local politics and economy. He has had an unusually unfair advantage in his shady business dealings [70% share in the gold mining sector, etc – in effect reaping disproportionately the wealth due poor Ethiopian women and children]. As reported by The Reporter last month, the Saudi could actually renege on agreements to build roads and get away with it because he is friends with the Prime Minister and Information Minister and so on. Let us remember Al Amoudi played a role in ex-Prime Minister Tamrat Layne’s downfall. Speeches both he and Information Minister Bereket made at a book signing ceremony revealed recently that he had given generous financial gifts to the minister’s pet projects, including paying for publishing the latter’s and his in-law’s books. On July 20, 2012, had an article on Al Amoudi. The gist of the article was to tell the world that Al Amoudi made his fortune elsewhere [Saudi and Sweden in particular] and that his business in Ethiopia has been simply a labor of love! Now that is one rotten lie, is it not? The one problem facing any who want to verify such statements is that his business dealings in Ethiopia are intertwined with the life of the secretive ruling minority [who more than likely are receiving a cut and an account in Western or Arab banks].

In mid-July, Al Amoudi’s company [MIDROC] was granted a loan of about USD 53 million by the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia. Weird, is it not? And the Board Chair to clear such a grant is none other than Information Minister Bereket! It is now rumored that large sums of money is being flown out of the country. Will Bereket now suddenly flee the country? With co-conspirators Meles and Bereket out of the way will the Saudi Al Amoudi move away and leave us holding the bag? Will we have a task force to hunt down such individuals and reclaim stolen funds from state treasury? What mechanisms exist to control or report such activities when the Security Chief, CEO of the national carrier, Airport security, national bank board chair, foreign ministry head, etc are all members of the secretive ruling junta? Of course there is no way to stop it or even figure out who is doing what. We are sure the US and Britain know what is going on but would certainly prefer to not interfere and jeopardize a far larger agenda they have mapped out for the country and region.

Once again we are witnessing a group of leaders that are a danger to the very existence of our nation. We need no further reason than this to come together and challenge such leaders and the system they erected. Another issue is this: Now that Meles is out of the way, will leaders Ethiomedia identified as Eritreans be removed from power? If indeed Tewodros Adhanom, General Samora, Berhane, Bereket, etc., are Eritreans and sympathizers of Eritrean causes they need to be dumped now than later; the nation should not get embroiled in Eritrea by foolishly compromising its national security.

We pray the Lord grant Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s family comfort. Abebe’s analysis was commendable. It is unfortunate that many of us appear to be taking pleasure from death of the Prime Minister. After all, Meles Zenawi is or was the leader of the country no matter how bad he governed. What’s more, we need to be sensitive to the feelings of the family at the moment going through a traumatic event. In other words, it is one thing to confront those ruling over us, to poke fun at them and to remind them they are mere mortals and altogether another matter to not respect their office and/or violate their humanity.

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