Will Zenawi step down? – By Barry Malone (Reuter’s Africa Blog)

June 25th, 2009 Print Print Email Email

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. (more…)

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.)

  1. | #1

    Ugly face Woyane

  2. Abiy Ethiopiawe
    | #2

    ))))))How much it cost:this step down???????????((((((((
    First of all, politians are often masters of equivocation.Their statement is not clear and not direct it’s equivocal.I don’t trust Melese as Professor Mesfen said it before.
    Melese, does he knows how much it cost his “step down”???Not only his money but also his family,life and others his combatants.Yes he does!
    Genbot “Sebat” :what do you want to say about this Weyanne’s last testment????Do you believe this fish head or he wants to cheat “ferenj”?????By the way swarm of locusts is spreading from the east of Ethiopia.I wonder in the previous time they were coming from the north.They are dangerous for East not North because they know how to handle this problem.

    We trust only God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  3. ኪሮስ ግርማይ
    | #3

    ይህ የማፍያ መሪ (god father of dedebit) ወዶ ምንጊዜም አይወርድም:: ሲሞት አካባቢም ለልጁ ስያወርሰው አይቀርም:: እርሱ ወዶ እስኪወርድ መጠበቅ የለብንም በግድ እንዲወርድ እንጂ::

  4. Joseph
    | #4

    What surprises me is, why people are giving importance to his departure. Ethiopia doesn’t need Melese and co. Our people don’t need and deserve dictators like him. If this type of barbaric creatures die tomorrow, it is a tremendous relief for the nation. We don’t need these creatures. They are the ones who need our people to suck their blood. Keep praying to devil to collect them as God doesn’t need Meles and co either. This is what the peaceful mind Diaspora wishes for their loved ones left behind. Look at the misery the country is in: No electricity (the Gilgel Gibes, World Bank, IMF etc to blame), no foreign currency (Coffe export and cofee traders to blame), bad governance ( oppositions parties, Birtuakn, Dr Berhanu but not Lidetu to blame), growth hyping (overheating of the economy caused by the Melese and co family business empire) etc

    If Melese goes for good today, we won’t spend our useful time in fighting him and his cronies but mobilize our energy to build our nation. Also, we don’t have to send money back home to support the destitues, the poor, the victims etc caused by his misrule and suffering. If Melese and co goe today that is the chain that we break!!!!

  5. mateos
    | #5

    Will Zenawi step down? in due respect to your writing I encourage you to ask your readers differently; you may need to title your writing by all sorts of tiltels. Examples would be: how many more Ethiopians will Zenawi slaughter again before he is brought to the court of law?, Why are the Tigryans are not speaking up against this killer in valumes? How much more is left to loot from the Ethiopian people? Why is Ethiopian land awarded to foreingers by Zenawi and Co.? Is he a good father to his children? Why is that Zenawi and family saling Ethiopian ancestral treasures? Why did he betray his god father Issayas Afwerki and his other uncles in Eritrea? How much of a damage did Zenawi inflicted to the people of Ethiopia? and finally ZENAWI MUST BE PLACED IN THE ISOLATION ROOM OF BERTUKAN SOONER THAN LATER!

  6. alula
    | #6

    we, ethiopian will come after him after agazzi baby killer.

  7. game plan!
    | #7

    This is a game plan, trying to be a step ahaed of Ethiopians,
    his statment does not mean anything, just a shadow of gray. He is
    bidding his time, only force! will take them out of there! After he pocketed the country in his bank account, thanks to secret banking, the world wide web of drug trafficking, he is going to retire to his old
    way of life! according to Aboy, they used to have SHIPS! smuggling of
    illicit drugs! that is what i sespect!

  8. Anonymous
    | #8

    i just seen the ethiopian priminister girl necked picture she looks like an agly pig

  9. terhas
    | #9

    i just seen that poor mind priminister Meles doughter necked picture on the web.she just humulait herself and her own poor familly.

  10. selam
    | #10

    what we need is someone who is humble and honest, meles is no more important for ethiopiachen he ruled in many very important case againist the country. we know him better for what he stand for, we have many genius well educated WHO COULD GOVERN BETTER THAN HIM in and outside the country,MANY LEFT BECAUSE OF REPRESSION; if there will be good aportunity one day OUR ETHIOPIA WILL DEVELOPE EQUALY:

  11. andelenatu
    | #11

    wether he likes it or not melesse zenawi will leave and face jutice soon nad his mafia group too.

  12. Ethiopia
    | #12


    My starving children read my leaps that this parasite son of mine, Melese the bigoted tyrant, would not leave the post that he has been holding under his guns.

    Death to my son,the Parasite Melese,!!!

  13. hayelegnaw
    | #13

    i don’t think so he is not step down .hey wake up ethiopian this is our time to fight with weyane.

  14. Ethio boy
    | #14

    meles have to step down
    no choice for these man that is it
    we seen him and taste’d him we had it all!!!!!
    freedom will come soon in Ethiopia!!!

  15. ethiopian
    | #15

    we, ethiopian will come after you soon
    all ethiopian must unite against weyane TPLF.
    G7 & OLF good start.
    we are comming after you.


    Many things can be done; one important thing we can do is exposing Woyane’s cadres where ever we live. They are criminals in their own right. The cadres must be exposed for the world to see, we have to follow them to their grave until they pay for their crime.

    In our town we know two who we are following, in due time their picture will be posted all over with the list of their activities. Others we heard who amassed stole money in another city we are working with another group to follow them

  16. I will not tell you
    | #16

    meles have to step down

    Meles killed this country, he him self and his propaganda already budried. We never expect good thing from him. His policy already corrupted. What is he waiting for Coffe export and cofee traders to blame, both melese and merchants are already buried the country and the people. We hate in country investors, reach peoples and others.

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