- Meles Zenawi
Prime Minister of Ethiopia Incumbent Assumed office
23 August 1995
President Negasso Gidada
Preceded by Tamirat Layne President of Ethiopia In office
28 May 1991 – 22 August 1995
Prime Minister Tesfaye Dinka
Preceded by Tesfaye Gebre Kidan (Acting) Succeeded by Negasso Gidada Personal details Born 8 May 1955
Political party Tigrayan People's Liberation Front
Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front
Spouse(s) Azeb Mesfin Alma mater Open University
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Religion Ethiopian Orthodoxy
Meles Zenawi Asres (Ge'ez መለስ ዜናዊ አስረስ Mäläs Zenawi Äsräs; born 8 May 1955) is the Prime Minister of Ethiopia. Since 1985, he has been chairman of the Tigrayan Peoples' Liberation Front (TPLF), and is currently head of the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).
Meles was born in Adwa, Tigray in Northern Ethiopia, to an Ethiopian father from Adwa, Ethiopia, and a mother from Adi Quala, Eritrea. He graduated from the General Wingate high school in Addis Ababa, then studied medicine at Addis Ababa University (at the time known as Haile Selassie University) for two years before interrupting his studies in 1975 to join the TPLF. While a member of the TPLF, he founded the Marxist-Leninist League of Tigray. His first name at birth was "Legesse" (thus Legesse Zenawi Ge'ez: ለገሰ ዜናዊ legesse zēnāwī) but he is better known by his nom de guerre Meles. He later changed his first name to "Meles" in honor of a University student and a revolutionary radical who was executed by the previous government in 1975.
The TPLF was one of many armed groups struggling against the dictator, Lieutenant Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam. Zenawi was elected Leader of the Leadership Committee in 1979 and Leader of the Executive Committee in 1983. He has been the chairperson of both the TPLF and the EPRDF since the EPRDF assumed power at the end of the Ethiopian Civil War. He was president of the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE), during which Eritrea seceded from the country and the experiment of ethnic federalism started.
Education and Personal life
Meles Zenawi acquired an MBA (Master of Business Administration) from the Open University of the United Kingdom in 1995 and an MSc. (Masters of Science) in Economics from the Erasmus University of the Netherlands in 2004. Some University professors and renowned college administrators stated that Meles Zenawi was a very smart and gifted student. At a public Speech in George Washington University, vice chancellor of Open University said, "President Meles Zenawi was a brilliant student who achieved distinctions on every course he took." In July 2002, Meles has also received an honorary doctoral degree in political science from the Hannam University in South Korea.
Meles has represented Africa in several international forums and summits. Diplomats say he is one of the most intelligent, sharp and eloquent leaders in the continent. A Somali analysts who underlined Meles Zenawi's political, military and diplomatic maneuvering in the horn of Africa called Meles "the greatest strategist of the 21st century in Africa."
Meles Zenawi is married to Azeb Mesfin and is the father of three children. Azeb Mesfin is now the chair of the Social Affairs Standing Committee of Parliament, and in January 2007, she was given the "Legacy of a Dream" award for her leadership against HIV/Aids during a ceremony held in memory of America's civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King. In addition, Azeb Mesfin and various government agencies have addressed Child mortality issues in Ethiopia. According to UNICEF, Child mortality rate in Ethiopia has declined by 40% since the current ruling party took office.
Prime Minister of Ethiopia
Meles Zenawi thinks EPRDF's victory is[weasel words] a triumph for the thousands of TPLF-fighters who were killed, for the millions of Ethiopians who were victims of the country's biggest famine during the Derg regime when some estimates put up to 1.5 million deaths of Ethiopians from famine and the Red Terror. Accordingly, the big support it received from peasants and rural areas helped EPRDF maintain peace and stability. Foreign support was diverse; the Arab League, as well as Western nations, supported the EPRDF rebels against the communist Moscow-supported government (although the TPLF was at the time Marxist) at the height of the Cold War.
"What the implications of this will be in terms of relations between Ethiopia and the European Union, we will have to wait and see but I don't think you will be surprised if Ethiopia were to insist that it should not be patronised.”
There were some who thought that the United States helped the EPRDF rebels to get power in Ethiopia and many angry demonstrators in Addis Ababa protested against Herman Cohen, the U.S. State Department's chief of African affairs who attended a conference that demonstrators viewed as legitimizing the EPRDF. A New York Times editorial commented in 1991,
- Demonstrators cursing the Americans ignore two realities. The cold war is over in Africa, and Ethiopia is no longer a focus of superpower rivalry. Otherwise it would have been unthinkable for four contending Marxist groups to turn to Washington for help. The other reality is that Mr. Cohen cannot undo at the conference table what has happened on the battlefield
Even though EPRDF's success was welcomed as a relief from DERG there was a strong anti-EPRDF sentiment in many areas and were strongly visible in Addis Ababa. These were just the beginning of the opposition to Meles Zenawi's EPRDF party after it gained power and more strong opposition was followed. Addis Ababa has since been the center of peaceful opposition to the EPRDF, while the eastern Somali Region has been the most active region for armed opposition.
Following the defeat and exile of Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991, the July Convention of Nationalities was held. It was the first Ethiopian multinational convention where delegates of various nations and organizations were given fair and equal representation and observed by various international organizations including the United Nations, Organization for African Unity, European Economic Community, and the United States and the United Kingdom.
Of the 24 groups, the ones with the largest delegations at the Convention were the EPRDF (32), the Oromo Liberation Front (12), Afar Liberation Front (3), the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Oromia (3), and the Western Somali Liberation Front (3). Near the end of the year, Meles Zenawi became the President of the TGE, and following the first elections in 1995 1995 Meles was elected as Prime Minister and Dr. Negasso Gidada as President. International Election Observers concluded that had opposition parties contested, they could have won seats.
In the 2000 general elections, Meles was again elected Prime Minister, and his ruling EPRDF party shared parliament seats with the opposition party United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF). According to observers organized by Ethiopian Human Rights Council, local U.N. staff, diplomatic missions, political parties, and domestic non-governmental organizations, both the general and the regional elections that year were generally free and fair in most areas; however, serious election irregularities occurred in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Region (SNNPR), particularly in the Hadiya Zone.
Meles encountered first real challenge in 2005 elections. His party was declared winner and stayed on his prime minister seat for another term, although the major opposition groups (the Coalition for Unity and Democracy, UEDF, and the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement) gained a number of seats in the national parliament. More than 30 other political parties participated in the election. These elections have been the most contested and the most controversial in Ethiopia's short democratic history, with some opposition parties arguing that the election was stolen by the ruling party. Allegations of fraud were especially strong in the rural areas, as the opposition parties won in most urban areas, whereas the EPRDF won mostly in rural districts.
Although the aftermath of the election led to riots and demonstrations against the results, particularly in the capital, it had to be stopped by peace officers. Some opposition parties blamed the government for the violence, even though they were tried and convicted in the court of the countries law. At the end of the demonstration, with the seven police officers 193 citizens were killed and 763 civilians wounded. Tens of thousands of Ethiopians were also jailed. Many protesters and around 75 police officers were also injured. This led to many rounds of accusations between the government and the protesters where the Information Minister Berhan Hailu said the government was "sorry and sad", but blamed the violence on the CUD. The opposition parties have continuously accused the government of a massacre. EU election observers concluded the election failed to meet international standards for a free and fair elections while the Carter Center concluded the election was fair but with many irregularities and a lot of intimidation by both sides especially the government. Carter Center didn't publish its final report at the time. Meanwhile CUD opposition members continued to accuse the ruling party of fraud. However some accusations of fraud coming from opposition parties were very strange. For instance, a day before the final count of votes in Addis Ababa, the CUD opposition party accused the ruling party of fraud and decided not to accept the result in Addis Ababa. But it ended up that the CUD party was actually refusing its own victory, since the vote count showed that the CUD won 100% of the votes in Addis Ababa. According to critics, this strange event led to speculations that the main opposition party, CUD, had already planned not to accept the result no matter what, in order to paint a bad image of Meles's ruling party, the elections and gain the support of the international community for the predestined failure of the election.
In an interview, the United States AID director repeated that the Carter Center understands that the ruling party (EPRDF) won the election and most of his peers confirm that as well. The USAID director also blamed some EU observers, accused them of bias and blamed them for favoring the opposition. He said some European observers practiced out of their jobs and went "over board in encouraging the opposition and making them think that somehow they had won the election." He concluded that American government never believed the opposition won the election.
Also an inquiry on the violence claimed the property damage caused by the rioters and protesters in Addis Ababa and other cities totaled to 4.45 million Ethiopian Birr, including 190 damaged buses and 44 cars as police officers tried to restrain the rioters. The SBS journalist, Olivia Rousset, indicated that the government used too much force to calm the rioters. She also said that the "stone-throwing rioters" tried to take the guns from the security forces. Some EU observers have also shown their discontent at the post election violence, suggested that the police response was unproportional and blamed the government. In a rare response, Meles Zenawi said that he was disappointed that "some people have misunderstood the nature of the problem and misinterpreted it." And on the final report, the independent commission concluded that the aggressive steps taken by the police force was to "avoid large scale violence and to protect the constitution" and that the reason behind the riotings might have been the protestors' unfamiliarity with the "process of democratization" e.g., respecting election results. However, the commission also acknowledged that there were serious errors that needed to be addressed regarding the capabilities of the Ethiopian Security forces to control riots. However, three members of the Inquiry Commission have defected and given their testimonies to members of the U.S. Congress and the International Media. The former Supreme Court Judge of the Southern Ethiopian nations and nationalities, Judge Frehiwot Samuel, who was also Chairman of the Inquiry Commission, and his Deputy, Judge Wolde-Michael Meshesha, have fled Ethiopia with a video and final report of the Commission’s findings that shows the commission deciding through eight to two vote, that the government has used excessive force and that there were grave human rights violations. Some leaders including UK's Tony Blair condemned the violence but repeated that Meles's ruling party "won the election." Other European organizations also praised the elections saying it was a "free and fair multi-party election." So far, most of the US representatives have not changed their outlook and the US government supports the Ethiopian government in both military and aid assistance. Other analysts also described progress in Ethiopia's first multi-party parliament in history.
Meanwhile many international media outlets continued to display the post election bloodshed, followed by criticism of Meles's ruling party. At the same time, some people implied that opposition members were planning to use violence or provoke it as a means to gain power. In fact, various events were said to show that many opposition supporters, even in universities, try to provoke the police hoping that the security forces will overreact and create chaos. About the violence U.S. state department reports said some opposition supporters were engaged in a peaceful movement to "create greater democratic space" but some opposition supporters were "demonstrating to overthrow the government" and were engaged in "violent protests." Other reaction to the election issue was condemnation of the EU election observers. An Irish committee said "the situation in Ethiopia had not been helped by inaccurate leaks from the EU election monitoring body which led the opposition to wrongly believe they had been cheated of victory."
In early 2004 Meles Zenawi received medical treatment in the UK for an unspecified condition. Flanked by numerous UK Police officers and diplomatic protection officers he was observed at the Parkside Hospital in southwest London, a private hospital staffed by numerous specialist consultants.
Ethiopian economy is based on agriculture which is accounted about 45% of GDP and 85 % of employment. Agricultural commodities also dominate export sector mainly coffee, qat, and hides and skins.
After Meles Zenawi government controlled power, major new players in Ethiopian economy have been "endowment companies" as called by the ruling party while commonly called as party companies. EFFORT, the biggest of all, is a conglomerate which is owned by Meles Zenawi's party-TPLF. Some criticize this as, the previous "government parastatals" during DERG regime are replaced by "party parastatals". In recent developments, Bloomberg reported that Guna Trading, owned by EFFORT, plans to become one of biggest coffee exporters.
Land and agriculture
Ethiopian agriculture is predominantly rain-fed subsistence agriculture, troubled by recurrent droughts. After Meles came to power in 1991, there were three major droughts in 1999/2000, 2002/2003 and 2009/2010.
The most significant reform regarding land use after Meles took power was the dissolution of the collective farms and redistribution of land at local levels. The demand for land ownership, expressed in the slogan "Land to the tiller," was central in toppling the feudal monarchy. The demand, however, was not fully answered. The new constitution, in Article 40, section 3, states that, "The right to own rural and urban land as well as natural resources belongs only to the state and the people". The farmers have land use rights, but uncertain transfer rights. Starting in 2008, this land policy was set back after the government announced that it would begin leasing large areas of "empty" farm lands to foreign investors. Derided internationally as "land grabs," these operations threaten some smallholders with the loss of their plots. Reporting on this issue, the New York Times quoting an expert, wrote that, "One thing that is very clear, that seems to have escaped the attention of most investors, is that this is not simply empty land"
The government defends its land policy, given the common occurrences of natural disasters such as drought or bad weather. The argument is that had farmers been allowed to own land, they might have been forced but to sell it during drought. To prevent this, the EPRDF government believes land ownership should not be privatized. Accordingly, the government states that it should focus on its agriculture sector while it is developing its industrial sector simultaneously, so that it can balance everything once the other sectors are developed and increase productivity. Government transformation of the construction sector, for example, led to a rare construction boom from the early 2000s until cement and other shortages caused it to slow down. The government believes privatization should be employed in the future but not presently. Knowing that constitutional change is required to privatize lands, the government assumed that it would hold a long-term super majority in parliament, to enable it to make the transition.
Since this approach to land ownership is unconventional (especially to western nations), and very controversial, opposition political parties have used this to their advantage during elections, arguing that land ownership has to be privatized. Yet the government seems unfaltering and states that flexibility is needed to address the lack of industrial development in the country despite accusations from the opposition.
Meles Zenawi is the first leader in Ethiopia to develop a multi-party system (including an Opposition) in parliament. Though the country had its first national elections in 1995, a multi-party representative government was established in 2005, after the election of some candidates of the UEDF opposition party. Outspoken critics of the CUD, included not only the top UEDF leaders, Dr. Merera Gudina and Dr. Beyene Petros, but also Bulcha Demeksa, Lidetu Ayalew, Hailu Shawel, Birtukan Mideksa, Temesgen Zewdie and Hailu Araya. Birtukan Mideksa was imprisoned at the start of 2009. Most opposition politicians are known for openly displaying deep anger for the ruling party's semblance of democracy, with some labeling Meles as a "dictator" and others calling for his resignation. After the disputed 2005 national elections, opposition party members, led by the CUD, UEDP-Medhin, UEDF and Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM), fill almost one third of the Ethiopian parliament seats. Despite the fact that the Ethiopian constitution dictates a multi-party system, Meles Zenawi's full control of the military forces has promoted the reality of the single-party state.
The Meles Zenawi government created an ethnic-based federalism, which came under attack by some Ethiopians. Meles Zenawi's TPLF-party believed that there was no choice—this was the only solution to the century old oppression by centralist governments, and to domination of culture, language, politics and economy by one ethnic group, namely the Amhara. On the other hand, some parties like the OLF (Oromo Liberation Front), which was a partner in drafting the constitution, put blame on Amhara and Tigrayan domination of the country. The aim of the government policy was to empower all ethnicities and develop their cultures and languages. Also it was widely seen as a solution to the demand of governance preferred by the ethnic-based liberation fronts and parties participating in the July Convention of Nationalities in 1991. In response to critics who say ethnic federalism can bring divisions, Meles Zenawi said this policy serves many interests, including equitable distribution of wealth and empowerment of ethnicities. He also said that since this was how the nationalities were before colonization, ethnicity was the language they understood best. He said the "ethnic basis of Ethiopia's democracy stemmed from the government's fight against poverty and the need for an equitable distribution of the nation's wealth: peasants must be enabled to make their own decisions in terms of their own culture. Power must be devolved to them in ways that they understand, and they understand ethnicity.... Other approaches to development had been hegemonic and exploitative and had led to internecine strife and civil war."
Meles Zenawi claimed that there are two basic views about ethnic federalism: "if you think it is a threat, it will be; if you think it a benefit, then it will be." Making this statement, he concludes that "ethnicity will become less an issue as the economy grows and Ethiopia's process of assimilation does its job."
Opposition to ethnic federalism
Meles Zenawi's policy of Ethnic federalism has been attacked by two groups of opposition parties. Pan-Ethiopian opposition parties like AEUP, UEDP-medhin and Andenet accuse Meles Zenawi for harming the stability and unity of Ethiopia by dividing the country on language lines. They express their fear for the future unity of the country pointing out rise in ethnic conflicts after ethnic federalism policy introduced. Where as in the past it was Ethiopia's economic marginalization of groups or ethnics as causes of warfare in the country as experts indicated.
On the other hand, ethnic-based opposition parties like the OFDM, Oromo National Congress (renamed OPC) as well as armed groups like the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) accuse Meles Zenawi's government that the powers given to the regions by the constitution are only on paper. Recently Dr Merara Gudina (from ONC) said " The only thing EPRDF’s federalism has achieved is that it helped the party hold tight grip on the people through divide-and-rule system"
Most of the oppositions on both sides want to change the existing ethnic-federal system if they control power. Those who reject ethnic federalism proposes that administrative regions should be carved out on consideration of more factors than language alone. On the other hand, armed groups who favor ethnic federalism want to apply Article 39 and declare full independence for their own ethnic regions like Eritrea did in 1993.
It is important to underline oppositions from both sides which are legally registered, and participated in the disputed 2005 election, won considerable seats.
Equity and growth
Throughout its operation, the government and the Prime Minister have advocated "pro-poor" domestic policies. According to World Bank's East African leadership, the Ethiopian government ranks number one in Africa on spending as a share of GDP going to Pro-poor sectors.
The administration has also created self-governing regional development organizations like Amhara Development Association, Tigray Development Association, Oromia Development Association and many others.
Even though Meles Zenawi's administration inherited one of the worst, if not the lowest, economies in the world, the country's economy has been growing steadily since he took office. During the last three years, Ethiopia's GDP has shown a rate of growth of about 9 percent a year. The country was also in the top category for “policies of social inclusion and equity”, in the domain of “economic management” and Ethiopia did exceptionally well in the domain of “structural policies” and “public sector management and institutions. Gross primary enrollment rates, a standard indicator of investment in the poor, went up to 93 percent in 2004 from 72 percent in 1990, contributing to a rise in literacy rates from 50 percent in 1997 to 65 percent in 2002. Still some opposition parties in the Ethiopian parliament doubted the economic growth. During the House's 31st regular session where the parliament reserved for its monthly "Opposition Day," some opposition MPs condemned the ruling party, pointing to double-digit inflation as a sign of the government's economic failures. African Development Bank and the Paris-based OECD Development Center stated that Ethiopia has become one of the fastest growing countries in Africa.
One of the most important resource of the country, water (Nile), has also been the focus of Meles's administration. Due to the potential conflict that can occur between Egypt and Ethiopia, Meles's EPRDF-led government have chosen to initiate and support programs that would benefit all sides of the Nile. So far many small scale Dams have been constructed in Ethiopia but large dams have been rare because of financial capabilities. Two of the big projects include the Tekeze hydro-electric power project in Tigray and the largest hydroelectric plant in Ethiopia located in Achefer Woreda of the Amhara State Yet the building of the Tekeze power project has dominated the media since it was built in the Tigray region, the home state of Meles. The country is planning to export electricity to Sudan and Djibouti by 2010.
Freedom of religion
Even though Muslims and Orthodox Christians lived together for many centuries, complete religious freedom was only formalized in 1991. Many of the pre-existing issues—dominance of the state religion to 1974, seizure of the church properties by the Mengistu regime, 1974–91, state-sponsored persecution of non-Orthodox Christians, second-class citizenship accorded to Ethiopian Muslims, landownership problems and similar issues for non-Orthodox believers—have subsided for the most part. Currently, there are between 12 and 15 million Protestant Christians, as well as other new non-Orthodox Christians. Even though there was one big religious war in Ethiopia many centuries ago, after that, clashes have been very rare with the domination of Orthodox. In contrast, there has been more violence lately[when?] since there is no (Orthodox) state religion with guardian-like control of other religions in Ethiopia. Some of the clashes are caused by inability to share lands equally. Others are due to aggressive evangelism and conversion, which some[who?] relate to Western vs Arab proxy politics. Still most analysts say that since such equality and full religious freedom didn't exist before, the infrequent clashes might occur until the culture of tolerance grows between all old and new religions and denominations.
Private property of means of communication
Meles Zenawi's administration was the first to introduce private press in Ethiopia. However, he has been under fire often for imprisonment of journalists and lately[when?] for some website censorship. Meles government defends its action on the ground that the banned media outlets advocated "a certain population should be quarantined" and incited "violence among different ethnic groups in the country," including using hate-filled text messages on mobile phones asking people to attack ethnic groups. Some sources blame certain websites and papers who have been caught inciting violence and asking for bombings on companies. A couple of them have even been sued for provoking uprising. Others claim that the supporters of the previous dictatorship government are trying to use the new opportunity to freely express themselves by defaming the current government officials. But the government critics say that the ruling party is not willing to be criticised. Many international organizations reports support their claim. The strong criticism came from Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on its 2007 press freedom summary wrote "Ethiopia the world's worst backslider on press freedom over the previous five years". At the start of 2010, AFP reported that an Ethiopian journalist has been jailed for a year for criticising the prime minister Meles Zenawi.
Because of pressure from the government, the number of private media outlets is significantly lower than before 2005. In addition, its composition is also changing. While previously most of the media were politically oriented following the government crackdowns on media after 2005 election, the number of political media is going down while entertainment and business media are on the rise. On the other hand for what is believed to be the first time in Ethiopia's history, the government granted licences to two domestic pro-government private commercial FM radio operators. As of 2009, there are over 56 radio stations in the country that are owned and operated by regional governments, community organisations, and private companies. The government has issued licenses for seven regional states television transmissions agencies, but there are still no private broadcasters in the country.
Meles Zenawi's government introduced a diverse but controversial policy of decentralization of the language system in Ethiopia. Most Ethiopians are taught using their mother tongue in primary schools and they are encouraged to develop their own language. Some critics have said that this policy harms the unity and national identity of the country. While others have supported and praised the policy. Currently, many regional states have their own official state language. For instance, Afaan Oromo is the official language of the Oromia regional state while Amharic is still the official language in The State of Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples'.
To bring order and transparency to the agricultural sector, the country started its first market exchange program and company called the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECEX.). In April 2008, the country finalized its first commodity exchange, The Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX), to "revolutionalize the country's backward and inefficient marketing system" according to Meles Zenawi.
Other than the dominant coffee industry, the government has made the floriculture industry another sector where Ethiopia can have comparative advantage. Thus Various Kenyan investors have already moved to Ethiopia and the industry seems to be growing rapidly. Flower growers from other countries were also said to be relocating to Ethiopia. Ethiopia recently became Africa’s second largest flower exporter after Kenya, with its export earnings growing by 500 per cent over the past year. According to the Oromia Investment Commission, foreign investors are taking advantage of the new favorable investment opportunity in the Sugar sector, where the most recent being a $7.5 Billion investment. Ethiopia also depends on livestock exports as well. Issues relating to wild life conservation has been tackled aggressively under Meles Zenawi. World Wildlife Fund also praised Ethiopian government's progress saying "Ethiopia has set a fine example for other countries to emulate,"
Other issues promoted by Meles Zenawi has been economic development in "green fashion." Discussing during an annual meeting under the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2007, Meles debated with Tony Blair and other world leaders about global warming and trade. According to Reuters,Meles stated the need for a cap and trade mechanism and for different strategies towards Africa, since it did not contribute as much towards global warming.
Some recent issues have been the shortage of cement to sustain the construction boom in the country. However foreign and native investors, including the recent investment on a US$5 billion cement factory in Misraq Gojjam Zone of the Amhara Region, are an attempt to stabilize the situation. Still the brief severe shortage that occurred in 2005 was blamed on Meles Zenawi's policies that were alleged to ignore urban development. Other recent development in the country included a first car factory in Ethiopia that assemble cars and to sell for local- and export-markets as well as cars that use Liquefied Petroleum Gas, Bus manufacturing in Mek'ele and Taxis manufacturing in Modjo city, Oromia state. But the drastic development of most sectors in Ethiopia; including textiles, leather, garments, agriculture, beverages, construction and others have made Ethiopia to be labeled the "East African land of opportunity" by the World Investment News."
Some economists state that Ethiopia's economic growth has come at the expense of inflation. The World Bank under Ethiopia's country profile in 2010 mentioned the underlying inflation threat started in 2008 might continue. Despite the inflation and differences on the rate of economic growth reports among several international organizations, they continued to praise the economic growth. African Development Bank claimed that Ethiopia "is registering a remarkable economic growth in recent years." On top of that various social concerns exist and the Ethiopian section of VOA news on its Amharic language program has reported about problems facing farmers and growers who often get less profit due to the market exploitation of middlemen.
The 1995 Constitution of Ethiopia allows substantial regional autonomy and any region has the right to secede from the country. This area of the constitution was originally amended by the current government to satisfy the interests of ethnic based states in Ethiopia especially Oromia and one of its historical leaders, OLF, as well as to give free will to TPLF and other liberation fronts in the country. After centuries of centralization, the TPLF-led government believes this policy will unite all Ethiopian states voluntarily instead of by force. This TPLF/EPRDF ideology of voluntary unity has been questioned as one of armed liberation forces succeeded in the secession of the former Ethiopian province, Eritrea, after a referendum was held in 1993 before the Ethiopian constitution was adopted.
This policy of self-determination has been opposed by some political parties, particularly CUD, which wants to limit regional autonomy and outlaw the rights of states to secede. However, this CUD policy is casually opposed by the TPLF/EPRDF and largely against the interests of OLF and ONLF rebel groups.
Since the 1990s Ethiopia has experienced more increase of schools and colleges despite still not covering all regions. Millions of money (ETB) continue to be spent on building educational institutions and many new schools have been constructed since Meles Zenawi took office. However, the government's focus on the agricultural sector has slowed the growth of jobs in the urban areas of Ethiopia which is also reflected by the anger of the urban population and its students as well as the landslide victory of opposition parties in these areas during the recent national election. The statistics showed that in 1991 only 27 percent of Ethiopian children attended school, but in 2004 gross enrollment rate was up to 77 percent and it reached 85 percent in November 2006.
As of 2005[update], there were 13,500 elementary schools and 550 secondary schools. A majority of them are newly constructed and the secondary schools are connected by satellite in a new programme called School-Net.
More colleges and Universities have been constructed and/or expanded during the last few years than in whole history of Ethiopia. These colleges and Universities include Adama University (Oromia) an expansion of Nazreth technical college, Jimma University (started earlier), Mekelle University newly built under Meles, Debub University an expansion of Awassa college, Bahir Dar (Amhara state) University an expansion of poly-technic college and teacher's college and others. Also most of the older colleges have added various new departments, including Faculties of Law, Business etc. Other new growing colleges include Jijiga (Somali state) University, institutions in Debre Markos, Semera (Afar), Aksum, Tepi, Nekemte (Oromia), Kombolcha (Amhara State), Dire Dawa and in Debre Birhan. Wollega University in the Oromia state is the most recently finished university in Ethiopia with various modern facilities, with 20 new fields of study and the new Wolaita Soddo University started taking in students in February 2007. Including the new Axum University, 12 new universities are starting operation in 2007 Other fairly new universities like Dilla University in the Gedeo Zone SNNP region launched new facilities, expanded laboratories for research and initiated new post-graduate studies.
In the last decade, more than 30 new private colleges & universities have been created, including Unity college. The University Capacity Building Program (UCBP) is a leading project in this sector.
The TPLF has associated itself with gender equality since the days of armed conflict, when, in the northern states, Tigrean and some Amhara women soldiers fought together with men against the Derg dictatorship. Meles Zenawi's administration, along with First Lady Azeb Mesfin, have strongly advocated for more equal rights and opportunities for women in Ethiopia. Despite the country having a rich history of respected queens and empresses, Meles inherited a national situation in which Ethiopian women did not have equality or basic rights. Since his administration began, there has been a steady growth of women's organizations, women activists and employment opportunities and a forum where women discuss backward cultural issues on national television. In their long fight against destructive traditional practices, HIV transmission, early marriage, lack of legal rights for women, unfair public policies, job opportunity and other issues, various organizations continue to work with the government including the Ethiopian Women’s Lawyers Association (EWLA), Network of Ethiopian Women's Associations, the Ethiopia Media Women’s Association (MWA), the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), Women in Self Employment (WISE), the Ethiopian Medical Women's Association (EMWA), the Women’s Association of Tigray (WAT), the Kembatti Mentti Gezzima-tope (KMG), the Ethiopian Nurse Midwives Association(ENA) and others. The Ethiopian leadership has made significant advances to protect women's rights in recent years: it has its first Minister of Women's Affairs, and has overhauled legislation on rape, female genital mutilation and other offences.
Meles Zenawi, just like previous Ethiopian governments wants Ethiopia to have a larger share of the Nile River. In order to end its decade long dependency on foreign aid Ethiopia needs to develop its irrigation system. The country has already lost millions of people to poverty due to its inability to use the Nile water which 85% of its water runs through Ethiopia.
With the exception of Eritrea (through which the Nile doesn't stream), all East African nations have developed their economies enough to finance a greater use of the Nile River. However, due to the 1929 Blue Nile accords between Egypt and England as well as other agreements, Ethiopia is not allowed such use of its Nile river water. But in contrast to his predecessor, Meles Zenawi and his political party favors diplomatic solutions and accommodating ways to solve this stalemate since Egypt will also fall into poverty without the Nile resources.
Although Meles Zenawi and his administration claim they preferred a united but federal nation that included the Eritrean state, since Zenawi's TPLF fought together with EPLF, Zenawi originally left the decision of independence to the Eritrean citizens. Also according to Time magazine's 1991 analyzes, Zenawi and the TPLF: endorsed the right of the Eritreans to their referendum but wants a unified Ethiopia and so hoped that the vote, if held, goes against secession.
However after the EPLF secured their borders when Mengistu's regime fell and after the majority of Eritreans voted for independence on 24 May 1993, Isaias Afewerki Isaias became the leader of Eritrea after it seceded from Ethiopia. Many people in Meles Zenawi's Ethiopian government and the opposition parties were angry over the decision to grant Eritrea its independence in 1993.
But despite working together against the Derg regime, Meles and Issaias' positive relationship turned sour after Meles succumbed to US pressure to deliver elections within a year and Issaias abandoned his original promise to create a transitional government in the early 1990s. The Eritrean-Ethiopian War began in May 1998. After the Ethiopian breach of the western front and subsequent capture of parts of western Eritrea, the Ethiopian President Negaso Gidada gave a victory speech and a peace treaty was signed a few weeks later. According to the peace treaty Ethiopia then pulled out. The stance of the EPRDF-led Ethiopian government to pull out its troops and let go of Barentu and eastern Eritrea led to one of the many reasons for EPRDF's unpopularity in Ethiopian cities. However since the Ethiopian government accepted the border ruling "in principle" with 5-point condition, tensions between these two nations still exist.
Meles Zenawi and his government have a strong relationship with the internationally recognized Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia. Two of the main points of agreement are state borders and secular values.
Both the TFG and Ethiopia respect the current Ethiopia-Somalia border while the ICU rejects it and considers the Ogaden region part of “Greater Somalia.” Secondly, both TFG. and Ethiopia share secular values where church and state stay separate. Lastly, the United States accused the leadership of ICU of harboring the suspects of the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States, while Ethiopia also labels ICU as “Jihadists” due to the assistant ICU received from terrorist groups (Al-Itihaad) and others mainly crossing the border to Africa from Arab nations of the Middle East.
Also according to RAND corporation, several Al-Qaeda fugitives had "found sanctuary in Somalia" and exploited the lack of government. There were also several Al-Qaeda operatives identified in southern Somalia. Despite Western interest to solve the problems in Somalia, RAND claims that world powers have failed to practiced their will, particularly in financing the peacekeepings and humanitarian assistance. In addition other analysts have identified documents and Al-Qaeda letters to increase their involvement in Somalia.
Even though the ICU and its Al-Qaeda militant foreign allies received support from various sources, the war was a short-lived one with Ethiopia and the Somalia government defeating the ICU and its allies The battle between the allied Ethiopian/Somali forces and ICU forces ended abruptly and placed the Somali Transitional Federal Government back in control of the capital Mogadishu but an insurgency developed since then. According to Al Jazeera, Ethiopian troops got "a very welcoming reception" from the people of Somalia and the Somalis were "very glad that the Ethiopians came in." But other sources said the people opposed them. It is reported that the ICU lost hundreds of its fighters but the most important factor might have been the self-destruction of ICU's allies and united militia.
However, the transitional government still faced many security issues and the hundreds of Somali refugees that left Somalia because of the insurgency are not willing to return back to Mogadishu. According to the Somali media Garowe Online, clan based Mogadishu media outlets like radios were used as propaganda against the TFG and its Ethiopian allies. According to Wikileaks, Meles Zenawi told US officials in a confidential 2006 meeting that the ICU needs to be divided into two groups to alienate the jihadists. Ethiopia's " limited military action might precipitate this divorce" Meles predicted.
Some political parties in Ethiopia continued to oppose Meles Zenawi's policies and demanded the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Somalia. Merera Gudina, leader of the opposition party United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF) said "the military victory against the Islamic Courts forces was not followed by political victory or national reconciliation." He also said staying in Somalia harms Ethiopian economy and some of the leaders in the Transitional Somali government were not reaching out to civil society members in Somalia. With the exception of the SPDP, UEDP-Medhin(EDUP) and ONC opposition parties, not many other opposition parties in Ethiopia supported the choice of intervention in Somalia forwarded by Meles Zenawi's ruling party. Some members of the Somali parliament expressed their appreciation of Ethiopia's help publicly, but other oppositions remained against the intervention which was portrayed as an invasion instead. a very welcoming reception" "very glad that the Ethiopians came in" Ethiopia withdrew from Somalia in 2009 according to a UN peace agreement between the Sheikh Sharif led opposition and President Abdullahi led TFG. The ICU was divided into two as Meles predicted after Ethiopian intervention, and the new Sheikh Sharif-led TFG continues to receive AU and UN assistance.
Meles Zenawi has played an important role in shaping the African Union position on climate change and was a 'friend of the Chair' at COP 15. The following details his role in international climate change policy.
On 31 August 2009 Meles Zenawi was appointed Chair of the African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC). The group had been established in light of the 4 February 2009 decision at the 12th AU Assembly of Heads of States to build a common Africa position on climate change in preparations for COP15.
Prior to Meles Zenawi's appointment but in light of the AU decision, and the ‘Algiers Declaration on the African Common Platform to Copenhagen’, on 19 May 2009 the Africa Group made a submission to the UNFCCC that included demands for: $67 billion per year in finance for Adaptation funding; $200 billion per year for mitigation; and which set targets in terms of reductions of emissions by developed countries not by reference to temperature.
On 3 September 2009 Meles Zenawi made a speech to the Africa Partnership Forum where he says:
"We will never accept any global deal that does not limit global warming to the minimum unavoidable level, no matter what levels of compensation and assistance are promised to us… While we will reason with everyone to achieve our objective, we will not rubber stamp an agreement by the powers that be as the best we could get for the moment. We will use our numbers to delegitimize any agreement that is not consistent with our minimal position. If needs be we are prepared to walk out of any negotiations that threaten to be another rape of our continent.”
On 12 December 2009 at COP 15 the Africa Group made a further submission to the UNFCCC that called for: 45% emission reductions by developed countries by 2020; finance for adaptation of $150 billion immediately as special drawing rights from the IMF; $400 billion in fast-track financing and 5% of Developed Countries' GNP in longer term financing.
On 15 December 2009 Meles Zenawi made a joint press release with the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, which declared that the African Union position at Copenhagen was: A 2 °C temperature target; 10 billion Euros in 'fast-track financing'; and 100 billion euros in 'long-term' financing.'
This new position from Meles Zenawi was observed to be the same as the European Union's position and received widespread condemnation by other African leaders including by: Namibian Prime Minister Nahas Angula; Lesotho’s Bruno Sekoli; Ugandan chief negotiator and minister of water and environment, Maria Mutagamba; Sudan’s Ambassador and Chair of G77 Lumumba Di-Aping. African civil society condemned the position as a betrayal of Africa. Archbishop Desmond Tutu said the 2 degree target ‘condemns Africa to incineration and no modern development.'
The Copenhagen Accord went on to reflect the EU's position as adopted by Meles Zenawi.
Criticism and scandals
Widespread repression in Oromia
According to Freedom House, under the government of Meles Zenawi, discrimination against and repression of Oromo people has been widespread. Human Rights Watch (HRW) notes that local government in the Oromia Region has "routinely commit[ed] various human rights violations against people they believe to be critical or unsupportive of the government." After relations between the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and the ruling government broke down in 1992, the government banned the OLF, and has since regularly accused political detainees of being OLF operatives. HRW further notes that "according to former Ethiopian President Negasso Gidada, when he left office in 2001 roughly 25,000 people were in prison on OLF-related charges throughout Oromia and in Addis Ababa and no public moves have since been made to substantially reduce the number of detainees." Oromia is the largest and most populous of Ethiopia's nine regional states, but remained so far under heavy repression.[not in citation given]
When Eritrea invaded Ethiopia in 1998, a costly war led to the death of tens of thousands of people on both sides. By the end of the devastating war, the Ethiopian army recovered the town of Badme and drove back Eritrean forces until they controlled around one-third of Eritrean territory, including Barentu region.
However, Meles Zenawi signed a controversial UN peace treaty that was seen to favored Eritrea. This decision angered many Ethiopians and caused an internal division inside the Ethiopian ruling party. The faction critical of Meles, led by Defense Minister Siye Abraha, disagreed with those aligned with Meles over "key issues of ideology", accused his supporters of corruption and Meles of failing to act quickly or decisively enough over the crisis with Eritrea. "Meles was certainly seen as a reluctant warrior," according to a source quoted by IRIN. This led to a showdown at a meeting of the Politburo of the EPRDF, where Meles' won a 15–13 vote on his proposed statement that "the greatest threat that Ethiopia was facing was corruption and undemocratic tendencies." Meles said afterwards that the dissenting members had at that point insisted that the meeting be aborted and called for a general meeting of the TPLF, a move Meles described as "a violation of democratic principles and the statute of the front." A number of the dissenting members of the TPLF, including Siye, were quickly arrested and imprisoned. Siye was later released after 6 years in prison, and joined opposition parties. This rift is thought to have led to the murder of Kinfe Gebremedhin, a former TPLF commander, Chief of Security and Immigration, and a right hand man of Zenawi.
In addition to accusations of his handling of the post-war events, Meles Zenawi was criticized for his pre-war decisions that ignored Eritrean incursions and delayed Ethiopian response to the invasion. Ethiopia did not mobilize its defense forces for a full scale border war after Eritrea attacked the country until a week had passed. By June 1998, Eritrean airforce has already attacked northern Ethiopia, including massacring dozens of school children and teachers in Ayder Elementary school of Mekele. The Ayder Memorial Library Project was established by Diaspora Ethiopians to remember the victims and facilitate the school.
Meles Zenawi, whose mother is Eritrean, has been accused of being too soft on the Eritrean government by many Ethiopians, including by members of his own TPLF party. Some believe Meles wants Eritrean President Isaias to remain in power, despite their deep disagreements. According to a BBC Monitoring report, Meles reportedly blocked 4 million dollars of support being transferred from Yemen and Sudan to the Eritrean National Alliance opposition group which was trying to overthrow the Eritrean regime.
On 13 December 2003 an ethnic conflict in the Gambela Region led to the death of 61 Anuaks in one day and hundreds more over the coming months. It is alleged that the highlanders were also being helped by the Ethiopian Defense forces. According to Amnesty International, federal soldiers participated in the killings and regional authorities did not take necessary preventative measures against the violence.
The highlanders are mostly from the northern regions of Amhara and Tigray (but also Oromia) which populated the Gambela region after they were forced to move southwest from north in the mid-1980s. When Mengistu Haile Mariam ruled in the 1980s, more than 1.5 million Ethiopians were forced to relocate which led to more than 200,000 Ethiopians dead and many more sick in what is described as one of the worst humanitarian crisis of that decade. Since those old days some of the northern highlanders have been living in Gambela, and added a fuel to the already existing conflict between the Nuar and Anuaks.
In December 2003, some of the highlanders who worked for Ethiopian refugee agency were looking for new camps to shelter the thousands of Sudanese fleeing from their country's internal battles. Early that month, a group of armed Anuak killed many highlanders. Anuak rebels had also killed eight people in an attach on a United Nations vehicle. Ethiopian Defense Forces set up their headquarters at the refugee camp and took the bodies of the dead highlanders to Gambella town for burial, triggering the attack against Anuak civilians on 13 December 2003, which continued for several days. The massacres were labeled a "genocide" by Genocide Watch, which has since charged that genocidal massacres have also been committed against ethnic Ogadenis, and other groups, and has called for investigation of the human rights record of the Meles regime in an open letter to the UN Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Anuak people maintain they have been gradually displaced from their traditional lands. Despite 5,000 Ethiopian troops being deployed to keep peace in the area, tensions are still high. Anuak tribesmen interviewed by BBC correspondents said they appreciated the government's effort to keep peace against Anuak rebel's, yet ordinary Anuaks still fear for their lives. In October 2005, Anuak rebels attacked a catholic church and a police station.
The Ethiopian government, including Meles Zenawi, stated that both the Anuak insurgents and the highlander militias were responsible for the conflict. And "without the intervention of the army, the killings would have continued indefinitely." Even though the regional security forces made an effort to restrain the tension between the ethnic groups which are historically enemies, after an independent investigation, four town soldiers have been put in prison for favoring one ethnicity over another during the ethnic conflicts. Also many regional government officials claim the number of dead was not 400, but that around 200 both armed Anuaks and 'highlanders' were killed after the ethnic violence.
The government and other critical analysts often disregard using just pro-Anuak sources of information and testimonies, seeing them as biased against other local ethnicities. However some Anuak sources also depicted diverse accounts of the story. For instance, Anuak refugees and witnesses who claimed they saw the conflict & massacre said that the bloodshed was started by anti-government civilians as well as anti-government soldiers & anti-government officials in order to create problem for the government. One witness said,
I think that among the mob and the soldiers there was a group of people who were against the government and wanted to use this opportunity to put the government in a problem. I think that there were anti-government and anti-Anywaa elements within the army who orchestrated this type of killing.
Despite progress to curb the historical ethnic divisions and political tensions, there still remains a relatively tense political situation in the Gambella region. Recently[when?] the Gambella Peace Olympics, a sport festival promoting peace and development amongst Gambella Region's ethnic groups including Anuaks & nuers, was held in a bid to bring about constructive dialogue and long-term peace among the region's often feuding ethnic groups.
On 18 October 2006 an independent report said Ethiopian police massacred 193 protesters, mostly in the capital Addis Ababa, in the violence of June and November following the May 2005 elections. The information was leaked before the official independent report was handed to the parliament. The leak made by Ethiopian judge Wolde-Michael Meshesha found that the government had concealed the true extent of deaths at the hands of the police.
This leak also brought more accusations that the opposition party which provoked the riots was trying to damage the reputation of the government by leaking the inquiry unlawfully. Gemechu Megerssa, a member of the independent Inquiry commission, which Mr. Meshesha once worked with, said Mr. Meshesha taking the report "out of context and presenting it to the public to sensationalise the situation for his political end is highly unethical."
The judge in Europe described the deaths as a massacre and said the toll could well have been higher. However, the judge was filing for an Asylum and is currently living in Europe, bringing a speculation that he was bias to begin with in support of the opposition party. But he claimed that he had to leave the country because he thought he would be "harassed" by the government. He speculated that Zenawi ordered troops to shoot at protesters. But according to New York Times, Meles said "he did not authorize the police to use live bullets."
The official report described by the parliament and the government gave exactly the same details as the leaked inquiry. It said that 193 people had been killed, including 40 teenagers. Six policemen were also killed and some 763 people injured. Police records showed 20,000 people were initially arrested during the anti-government protests. However the government said various witnesses from the Kinijit (CUD) opposition party members have testified that CUD leaders assured them of a demise of Zenawi's party and government in order to start an armed rebellion. The witnesses stated that CUD leaders encouraged them to start military training and planning to overthrow the government. The commission members living in Addis Ababa also criticised the government saying;
- We are not saying the government was totally clean. The government has a lot to be accountable for. The mentality of the police needs to be changed, and then we will be able to minimize those kinds of casualties in the future. Building of [democratic] institutions is required, but that is going to take time. [So] The government was not prepared to tackle violence like that which took place last year. They could have brought an alternative way of dispersing rioting crowds.
But the independent Inquiry commission members added Mr. Meshesha going to Europe and reporting out of context information was "dishonest", ugly politics as well as insensitive to the process of developing Ethiopia's young democracy. Then the commission said Ethiopians need to solve their problems themselves so that these kinds of violences will not occur again. It said respecting authority & each other and working together is important as well as changing the mentality of the police is what the "government has to think about seriously."
Despite all these post-election issues & complications, in addition to the Carter Center and the US government, British MPs continued to praise the democratic process in Ethiopia. After meeting with some opposition parties, the British MPs also stated that the Ethiopian government should always stand firmly against those who try to use "undemocratic and unconstitutional means" to change government.
Presently, all except 20 of the elected opposition members have joined the Ethiopian parliament along with the EPRDF party members. The other top opposition parties, UEDF and UEPD-Medhin, are peacefully working with the government for negotiations on the democratic process. Yet many opposition parties are still represented in the Ethiopia Parliament where representatives from Oromia state hold the most positions and representatives from the Amhara State hold the second most position, in correlation with the population order of the corresponding states. Various opposition parties including UEDF, UEPD-Medhin, Somali People's Democratic Party (SPDP), EDL, Gambella People's Democratic Movement (GPDM), All Ethiopian Unity Organization (AEUO), Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM)and Benishangul-Gumuz People's Democratic Unity Front (BGPDUF) hold positions in the parliament. Despite pressure to release the CUD leaders who were rounded up after the post election violence, the Ethiopian court convicted 38 of the top CUD leaders. However after various negotiations to solve the deadlock via a political agreement, the convicted CUD leaders signed a document, which many believe was coerced out of them, accepting their "mistakes" and an accountability ranging from partial to full responsibility for the post election violence.
Currently, all of the main opposition party's (CUD) leaders are out of jail after an alleged attempt to overthrow the government and initiating the post election violence. All of these charges are denied by CUD leadership both in Ethiopia and international, and the European Union continues to plea for the political prisoners to be released after a speedy trial. Some of these elected CUD officials endure very harsh conditions inside Ethiopia's poorly maintained prisons and they are at risk of various medical complications. As a result of the violence after the elections, many thousands were arrested and imprisoned, even though some have been freed few still remain in prison. Up to the end of 2005, around 8,000 Ethiopian rioters were freed.
After a long and slow judicial proceedings an Ethiopian judge dropped the controversial charges of attempted genocide and treason against 111 people arrested after election protests. Twenty-five accused, mostly journalists and publishers, have also been acquitted of all charges. However several opposition leaders remain in custody, accused of trying to violently overthrow the government. After the original arrests the Prime Minister told the parliament that releasing "these hardliners" would embolden them to think "whatever their action, they will not be held accountable." Thus he stated "the government has made it abundantly clear that interfering with the judicial process for the release of hardliners is out of the question. The government has taken this unwavering position not because of stubbornness or for a lack of willingness to resolve issues through dialogue and negotiation." The ruling party has accused the group of trying to utilize street uprising techniques as a way to change regimes. Various supporters of the government and supporters of peaceful opposition parties who function in the parliament continue to accuse the imprisoned opposition group of "extremism" and accuse them of following the textbook directions given by Dr. Negede. An exiled & educated Ethiopian, Dr. Negede is known for the famous book he wrote on how to overthrow the government through street uprising. However Amnesty international and the supporters of the group in jail claim that the detainees are "prisoners of conscience", innocent and should be freed immediately and unconditionally. As of June 2007, the Ethiopian court found the opposition party CUD's 38 senior figures guilty of the charges. After CUD's top leaders signed a paper accepting responsibility for the violence, some sources claim the leaders would be freed in a short time. All the leadership of the CUD party were released after the pardon board accepted their apology letter. According to VOA news, a CUD spokesman Hailu Araya said "We signed it voluntarily. We apologized to the people, to the government. Yes, we did. That’s what the paper said, and that’s what we signed."
Following a declaration of jihad by al-Qaeda-linked Islamists in Mogadishu, the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia invited Ethiopian to send troops into southern Somalia at the end of December 2006. With the help of Puntland and together with TFG forces, Ethiopian troops captured Mogadishu and installed the transitional government.
Since the Ethiopian intervention, this fighting led to the deaths of over 10,000 civilians in southern Somalia. Charges of war crimes were made and denied on both sides of the fighting.
Meles Zenawi's government has allegedly carried out brutal counter insurgency techniques against the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), particularly after the ONLF killed more than 70 Chinese and Ethiopian Oil facility workers in the region in April, 2007. Both sides accuse each other of human rights abuses. In June 2008, HRW criticized the lack of Western condemnation to Meles Zenawi's counter insurgency policy and to the military activities by Ethiopian Defence forces in reaction to ONLF's attacks.
Both fighting forces accuse each other of killing civilians and burning villages, with HRW claiming that accounts by refugees fleeing out of the country support ONLF's accusations. Both Ethiopia and its allies claim refugees fleeing out of Ethiopia, instead of taking shelter from the conflict inside Ethiopia, were supporters of the ONLF who can not be used as independent source of evidence.
Western governments continued to state that they will check into the various allegations from all sides.
Inflation and drought management
Ethiopia has seen a rise in the general level of prices since around 2004, which has worsened the drought problems caused by the lack of rain, as reported by UN humanitarian organizations. The inflation rate was reportedly in the low teens in 2005– 2006, high teens during 2007 and in the 20s in 2008. This inflation crisis has deeply affected the urban population in Ethiopia.
According to UN's Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program, the inflation problem is occurring because "More income for farmers" is causing "higher prices in shops." Ethiopian farmers are the driving force of the rural based economy where only 15% of the population belongs in the urban. The UN report says "as markets get less centralized, and farmers become more sophisticated and better informed traders are starting to complain about the market power of the farmers" so "farmers are now better off, and able to wait and spread their grain sales through the year, rather than having to rush everything to market immediately after harvest when prices are at their lowest." The UN report says that "grain prices in Ethiopia, however much they may have risen, however unaffordable they may be to the urban poor, are still below world prices and below prices in most neighboring countries."
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, has received various international awards for setting up a good foundation for the development of Ethiopia. Even though Ethiopia remains one of the poorest countries in the world, the near double digit annual economic growth recently are seen as the beginning of Ethiopia's long marathon struggle to eliminate poverty. Acknowledging the rapid GDP growth of the country, the UK newspaper The Economist said in December 2007 that "Ethiopia's economy has been growing at record speed in recent years." In 2008, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) described the speed of Ethiopia's economic growth in recent years as the "fastest for a non-oil exporting country in Sub-Saharan Africa", with Ethiopia ranked as the second most attractive African country for investors.
Although many opposition parties and parliamentarian critics disagree, some Ethiopians also portray the arrival date of Meles Zenawi's government, 28 May 1991 (Ginbot 20), as the "Birth of democracy" in Ethiopia while diplomats and analysts say the country is slowly moving towards democracy.
- Before he joined the Medical Faculty of Addis Ababa University, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was awarded the Haile Selassie I Prize Trust, a highly selective award given only to the most outstanding graduating students.
- The Rwanda government awarded Meles Zenawi Rwanda’s National Liberation Medal, the "Uruti," in July 2009 for helping to liberate Rwanda and end the genocide in the country. Alongside two other African leaders, Meles was also given Rwanda's highest accolade, the "Umurinzi" medal, Rwanda’s Campaign Against Genocide Medal.
- The World Peace Prize for PM Meles Zenawi's contributions for global peace and his effort to stabilize the Horn of Africa through cooperation with Inter-Governmental Authority for Development(IGAD).
- Tabor 100, an African American entrepreneur’s organization, honored PM. Meles Zenawi for his big contribution toward economic and social transformation in Africa with its prestigious Crystal Eagle International Leadership Award in April 2005. Tabor 100, a U.S.-based nongovernmental organization, calling Meles Zenawi “International leader of the year 2005”, also honored the efforts of the Ethiopian government in general for war on poverty and backwardness.
- PM Meles Zenawi was also awarded the “Good Governance Award" of the Global coalition for Africa in respect for leading Ethiopia in a democratic path during the challenging period of transition. He was selected for the good governance award by the US-based Corporate Council on Africa.
- PM Meles Zenawi received the Norway-based 2005 ["Yara Prize for Green Revolution"]Yara for initiating a good foundation for economic progress in Ethiopia, particularly on the agricultural sector for the poor country that has doubled its food production. During the award ceremony held in the Norwegian capital of Oslo on 3 September, the director of the UN project for Africa said, "With our support, Ethiopia can lift itself from poverty and hunger. Under Prime Minister Meles the country has created the grass roots structure to enable this to happen.”
- Meles Zenawi was given the "Africa Political Leadership Award" of 2008 by the US-based newspaper Africa Times. Previous winners of the award include Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and others.
- Ethiopia’s military awarded Prime Minister Meles Zenawi for his leadership during the 1998–2000 war with its northern neighbour when Eritrea invaded Ethiopia in 1998.
- Residents of the historic and ancient UNESCO town of Axum in Ethiopia awarded Prime Minister Meles Zenawi for his political and diplomatic leadership role to the return and re-erection of the Obelisk of Axum after 68 years stay in Rome, Italy.
- Meles Zenawi received the Confederation of African Football's (CAF) Gold Order of Merit award in February 2007. PM Zenawi was given the CAF organisation's highest award for his services to the progress of African football. Ethiopia was one of the founding countries of the CAF(1957) and the organization, with the dedication of AU leaders like Mr. Zenawi, was celebrating the "International Year of African Football" in 2007.
- Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is also a Co-Chairperson of the Global Coalition for Africa (GCA.) The Global Coailition for Africa brings together senior African policy makers and their partners to deepen dialogue and build consensus on Africa's priority development issues.
- The Prime Minister was the co-chairperson of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Nov.2006) Ethiopia is the Forum's co-chair country. It led to the adoption of the Beijing Action Plan (2007–2009) for partnership for economic progress and cultural exchanges. It also stated to support Africa's "development [of] international political, economic, trade and financial systems."
- In 2004, Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom appointed Prime Minister Meles Zenawi as one of the Commissioners taking part in the Commission for Africa.
Prime Minister Zenawi served as the Chairman of the Organization for African Unity (OAU, now the African Union – AU) from June 1995 to June 1996.
- In 2007, the African Union elected Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to chair the executive committee of the NEPAD (the New Partnership for Africa's Development)
- Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was chosen to represent Africa at the G8 Summit and the G20 summit in London.
- The African Union selected Meles Zenawi to lead an African Delegation to the Global Conference on Climate Change at Copenhagen in 2009.
- In February 2010, the UN named Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi as co-chair of the Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing, a new high-level U.N. advisory group on climate change financing.
Several social, economic, religious and political developments and systems were established for the first time in Ethiopia under Meles Zenawi's rule.
- First regional referendum for peaceful Secession (Eritrea 1991–)
- First Multi-party National election for opposition (2000,2005,2010)
- First institutionalized linguistic freedom at local level (1994–)
- First ethnic based federalism (since 1994)
- First private media outlets in Ethiopian history (since 1994)
- First consecutive double-digit GDP growth – International Monetary Fund (since 2006)
- First multi-party parliament with opposition MPs (since 2000)
- First unrestricted freedom of religion for evangelicals/Pentecostals (since 1994)
Meles Zenawi was given the Green Revolution award and a financial prize of 200,000 dollars by the Norwegian Yara Foundation in September 2005 "in recognition of past accomplishments and encouragement to achieve economic development for the people of Ethiopia."
Meles donated his $200,000 financial award to a foundation called "Fre—Addis Ethiopia Women Fund" (Fre-Addis Ethiopia Yesetoch Merja Mahiber). The Fre-Addis Ethiopia Women Fund has an objective "to empower girls through providing educational opportunities" and it currently supports 514 needy and orphan rural girls to pursue their education throughout the country.
Books/thesis by Meles
- The Eritrean Struggle: From Where to Where? (1980)
- African Development: Dead Ends and New Beginnings (2006)
- Agricultural Development-Led Industrialisation (ADLI) strategy
- Ethiopian Orthodox
- Azeb Mesfin
- Girma Wolde-Giorgis
- Haile Selassie
- Yohannes III
- Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD-IV), 2008.
- Blanco Chivite, Manuel. Diario de Etiopía, Madrid, Vosa Ediciones, 1991
- ^ Amimo, Uduak (10 August 2005). "Profile: Ethiopian leader Meles Zenawi". BBC News. BBC. Archived from the original on 31 December 2005. http://web.archive.org/web/20051231052602/http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4545711.stm. Retrieved 6 February 2011.
- ^ Aregawi Berhe, a former member of the TPLF, notes that in their histories of the TPLF both John young and Jenny Hammond "vaguely indicate" that Meles was one of the founders of the TPLF. Aregawi insists that both he and Sibhat Nega joined the Front "months" after it was founded. A Political history of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (1975–1991) (Los Angeles: Tsehai, 2009), p. 62
- ^ Ivo Romein. "Nom de guerre Meles". Home.planet.nl. http://home.planet.nl/~romei017/ethiopianet-peoples-section-tigrayans.htm. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- ^ More information on Meles Zenawi
- ^ "Open University speech on Meles Zenawi". Open.ac.uk. 28 April 1998. http://www.open.ac.uk/johndanielspeeches/gwuniv.html. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- ^ "Honorary doctoral degree". Ethioembassy.org.uk. 19 July 2002. http://www.ethioembassy.org.uk/news/press%20releases/July%20-%2002/19-July-02.htm. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- ^ "Economist on Meles". The Economist. http://www.economist.com/world/middleeast-africa/displayStory.cfm?story_id=14222265. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- ^ "The greatest strategist of the 21st century in Africa". Mareeg.com. http://www.mareeg.com/fidsan.php?sid=14215&tirsan=3. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- ^ Azeb Mesfin given Legacy of Dream award
- ^ "Millennium Development Goals". Reliefweb.int. 24 February 2007. http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/KHII-6YS4CL?OpenDocument. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- ^ ThinkExist.com Quotations. "Meles Zenawi quotes". Thinkexist.com. http://thinkexist.com/quotes/meles_zenawi/. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- ^ "Good Deeds in Ethiopia, Punished", New York Times published 1 June 1991
- ^ "Ethiopia: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices", Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, US State Department . Retrieved 9 July 2009.
- ^ Election results with detailed map of Ethiopia[dead link]
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- “I regret the deaths but these were not normal demonstrations. You don't see hand grenades thrown at normal demonstrations”--on post election issue
- "Africa's downfall has always been the cult of the personality. And their names always seem to begin with M. We've had Mobutu and Mengistu and I'm not going to add Meles to the list.”--Dimbleby questioning Meles on his exposure to the people.
- "We have taken measures and beefed up our defense capabilities around the border since December to prevent any miscalculation by the other side,” post-Eritrean-Ethiopian war complications
- "..countries pretend their foreign policy is based on democratisation when this is clearly not the case. For all the challenges in Zimbabwe, for example, it is a bit of a stretch to say it is less democratic than some of the sheikhdoms of the Gulf. But none of the sheikdoms has a problem visiting Europe."- Meles Zenawi's response about European sanctions and travel ban on Zimbabwe's Mugabe
- "If it is presumed that the Kenyans will democratise in order to eat the peanuts of development assistance from the European Union... it would be a big mistake"- Meles Zenawi's reaction to European threat of sanctions on Kenya.
- "Democracy is the expression of a sovereign people. To impose it from outside is inherently undemocratic."- Meles interviewed by The Guardian
- "It's true we have our disagreements on border issues, we have disagreements on trade and related issues, but you don't go invading a country whenever you have a dispute on trade issues, ... We have more civilized mechanisms on resolving such problems.” – after Eritrea's attack on Mekele, Ethiopia
- "America didn’t give us any money because of Somalia intervention. This doesn’t mean America hasn’t given us food aid or money for HIV prevention before. It certainly has. But we aren’t going to fight Somalia using Condoms." – Meles’s reply to MP Bulcha Demeksa’s teasing question on whether America gave financial support to Ethiopia for the Somalia intervention.
- "This is not your run-of-the-mill demonstration. This is an Orange Revolution gone wrong" – PM Zenawi accusing opposition parties for the violence.
- "I have never heard of any convincing reason as to why we should privatize land at this stage." Part of PM Zenawi's controversial reply to Dr. Abdul Mejid Hussien.
- "The violence has marred the image of Ethiopia,... The worst is clearly behind us and we do not expect any such violence in the near future.” --on post-election events
- "Even when we obey international laws after exhausting all peaceful means, some countries might not support our move to defend Ethiopia because of their own national interests or diplomatic rationale. So what do we do? Two choices: either we seat & welcome our enemies to invade our homes or we stand up for ourselves. I hope parliament chooses the second option...we don’t need the blessing of other nations to defend our country." --Meles speaking to parliament about Somali Islamic courts. (from amharic translation)
- "I am proud to be an Ethiopian. I am proud to be a part of that history."--Meles speaking to American intellectuals about Ethiopia and its history.
- "When they (Somali Jihadists) control the whole of Somalia it would be very naive to assume that they will mend their ways, cease to be terrorists and become very civilized and very tame pussycats." --Interview with AP on Somali extremists.
- "As we respond to the assault of our enemy and defend our country, we must never break international laws. Crime can not be solved by more crime." – Meles Zenawi speaking to Parliament 23 November 2006. (from Amharic translation)
- "We believe the problem between ourselves and Eritrea will have to be resolved through dialogue, but it takes two to tango"--on border dispute with Eritrea
- "The rest of the contextual factors have no relevance whatsoever to the investigative process. Indeed, they remind me of the famous Tina Turner song. 'What’s love got to do with it?'" --Meles Zenawi's response to EU-EOM implying Mrs. Ana Gomez's alleged contradicting accusations.
- "So why don't you give them additional concessions?' We said, 'What concessions? Concessions from our sovereignty? That has never been done by any government in Ethiopia in 3,000 years.' That is the only thing of great value what we have inherited from our past, our unflinching determination to keep our...country independent even if we are dying of hunger."--Response to EU's demands for Eritrea
- "While they are entitled to their own opinion, this government and this country are incapable, unwilling and unable to be run like some banana republic from Capitol Hill. It is very worrisome that some of these individuals appear to have entertained such views."-- In response Rep. Donald Payne's pressure for Hailu Shawel & Co.
- Column archive at The Guardian
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Meles Zenawi at the Internet Movie Database
- Works by or about Meles Zenawi in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Meles Zenawi collected news and commentary at The New York Times
- Meles Zenawi at the Notable Names Database
Political offices Preceded by
Tesfaye Gebre Kidan
President of Ethiopia
Prime Minister of Ethiopia
Incumbent Presidents of Ethiopia Derg (1974-1987), Chairmen People's Democratic
Republic of Ethiopia
Republic of Ethiopia
(since 1991), Presidents*acting †military
Prime Ministers of Ethiopia Ethiopian Empire (1942-1974) Derg (1974-1987) People's Democratic
Republic of Ethiopia
Republic of Ethiopia
(since 1991)Tamirat* · Meles*acting
Chairpersons of the Organisation of African Unity and the African Union (AU)
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Commission for Africa
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