Behind Zenwai’s Pathological Obsession with Sympathy Invitation to G8/G20 Summits – Selam Beyene, PhD

October 2nd, 2009 Print Print Email Email

Shunned by most of the world for his crimes against humanity, isolated as a despot because of his brutal treatment of peaceful protesters following the May 2005 elections, (more…)

Shunned by most of the world for his crimes against humanity, isolated as a despot because of his brutal treatment of peaceful protesters following the May 2005 elections, and reviled as a leader of one of the most corrupt and racist regimes in the world today, Zenawi has incessantly been lobbying unscrupulous African diplomats in Addis and other groups in the West for a sympathy invitation to every summit held by the G8 and G20 economies over the last several years.

Through systematic control of almost all aspects of the economic activities in the land, including the aid intended to alleviate poverty and famine, and brutally suppressing basic freedoms, Zenawi has essentially classed Ethiopia at the bottom of the list of developing countries with respect to every conceivable index of development and human rights [1-4].

In total disregard of common morality and decency, he exploits the poverty he inflicted on the people as a justification for an invitation of compassion to G8, G20 and related summits. This is a hypocrisy that in comparison makes sagacious even the proverbial man “who murdered his parents, and then pleaded for mercy on the grounds that he was an orphan.”

As outlined below, a closer examination of how the tyrant and his repressive regime operate, however, reveals sinister motives that transcend sheer obsession to be present among world leaders.

1. Zenawi’s Insatiable Appetite for Aid Money

Since the dictator Mengistu Haile-Mariam handed power to Zenawi in 1991, the TPLF regime has received over 30 billion dollars in aid and billions more in loans from donor nations and financial institutions. According to one estimate, Zenawi has been receiving well over $2 billion in foreign assistance alone every year [5]. Apart from the superficial construction projects in the capital and other selected areas — projects that are mostly awarded to TPLF shadow organizations and intended to impress the naïve visitor — the dictator has nothing tangible to show for all the money received.

With no clear accountability, the money has mainly been used, through dubious endowment rules and regulations, to prop up the repressive regime and to enrich the foreign bank accounts of leaders of the minority government as well as their illegal business conglomerates, like EFFORT [6].

Ensuring the flow of aid money has thus been a major obsession of the tyrannical regime. One obvious platform for accomplishing this is, of course, by securing a backseat, however unglamorous, at G8/20 summits using the famine and poverty of one of the most populous countries in Africa as a sufficient credential for attendance eligibility.

Regrettably, donor nations have repeatedly failed the people of Ethiopia by feeding the dictator with money that he has looted and blatantly used for repressive purposes. As L. Leicht, the EU director for Human Rights Watch, noted earlier this year [5]:

“On 30 January, European Union policymakers sent a clear signal …. no matter how repressive the government becomes, vast sums of aid will continue to flow. This is emerging as a case study in bad donor policy.”

Leicht further declared:

“In January Ethiopia’s government passed a law that is an attempt to muzzle local activists and prevent them from scrutinizing the government’s human-rights record. Among other things, the new law ….. makes it illegal for … Ethiopians to scrutinize the government’s record on human rights, policing, conflict resolution and a range of other issues….. It also provides the government with bureaucratic tools to shut down groups the government dislikes.”

Despite the reluctance of certain EU nations, a general awareness of the need to change the “bad donor policy” is noticeable in most parts of the world.

In a well-researched report, B. Bruton, an International Affairs Fellow in Residence of the prestigious foreign policy think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations, recently wrote [7]:

“… cooperation with an authoritarian Ethiopia presents looming challenges to U.S. policy objectives. … the Ethiopian government’s attempts to minimize political competition in the run-up to the 2010 elections are likely to fan ethnic tensions in the country. The government’s ruling party, the Ethiopian People Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), is perceived by many Ethiopians to be dominated by a single minority ethnic faction, the Tigre, and its consolidation of political power may be read as an assault on the majority ethnic Amharic and Oromo populations. Public dissatisfaction with the government is high in the wake of the 2005 elections and a violent explosion is not out of the question.”

These are important developments that suggest the West has finally recognized the true nature of the dictator, and that the despot is running out of options. Thanks to the vigilance of the Diaspora and the illuminating reports of investigative journalists and human rights activists [8], the tyrant is now in no position to continue to swindle the donor community, begging for alms, hat in hand, at major summits.

2. Summits: A Last Resort to Gain Recognition and Legitimacy

Following the 2005 elections, Zenawi has been desperate to gain a semblance of legitimacy, having been deserted even by his once ardent supporters like former British Prime Minister Tony Blair [9]. A group picture at the G 8/20 summits, however awkward and embarrassing, was Zenawi’s only avenue to get the attention of leaders of the developed world and the international media.

Paradoxically, every summit that Zenawi attended since the May 2005 debacle has instead further exposed his atrocities and laid bare the apartheid system of government he has instituted.

A case in point is the humiliation Zenawi experienced following the April 2009 G20 meeting in London, as reported by H. Gombya of The Black Star News [10]:

“Although Meles Zenawi the Ethiopian Prime Minister and also current NEPAD chair was here, he abruptly canceled a press conference he was about to give. His people gave no reasons for this. But insiders in the press centre said Zenawi was worried about the kind of questions that were going to be put to him concerning human rights violations within Ethiopia and his dealing with his opponents and Ethiopia’s neighbours.”

As “Prime Minister Zenawi cowered in the shadows,” the report indicated, “[t]he African continent really wasn’t heard.” Affirming the lack of legitimacy of Zenawi’s government, the paper expressed alarm: “…, it was rather absurd that no representative of the African continent was at hand to put their case to the world media at such a major global setting.”

Summits as a Magnet for the Gallant Diaspora

Ironically, as an unintended consequence, Zenawi’s obsession with sympathy invitation to the summits, instead of earning him legitimacy, has provided an effective medium to the ever-vigilant Diaspora to expose his crimes and corruption to world leaders and the international media.

From the summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2005, to the recent gathering in Pittsburgh, Ethiopians in the Diaspora braved the elements and trekked the terrains to further expose the despot through penetrating slogans and placards.

As Carl Prine of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported, organizers of the recent protest in Pittsburgh declared to the world [11]:

“The U.S. taxpayers are paying money to a regime that is used to terrorize its own citizens …. The people in the G-20 … should not deal with an Ethiopian regime that was not legally elected.”

The damage to the dictator caused by the relentless protests of the Diaspora has been quite significant, both in terms of humiliating the despot and raising awareness globally about the egregious crimes he has committed against his people.

A Call to Action

With the growing realization of the moral, ethical, economic and political difficulties of supporting dictators against the will of the people they brutally suppress, world leaders are seeking alternative means of channeling their material and political support away from the despots.

The Obama administration has at least in principle declared its disassociation with dictators. In his speech in Ghana, Obama sent an unmistakable signal to dictators like Zenaw when he said [12]:

“This is about more than holding elections – it’s also about what happens between them. Repression takes many forms, and too many nations are plagued by problems that condemn their people to poverty. No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves,…. No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top, or the head of the Port Authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny, and now is the time for it to end.”

Opposition groups and the Diaspora should seize this opportune moment and fight vigorously to deny the despot another fake victory in the 2010 elections. A concerted effort should be made to demand free and fair elections, with systematic and effective measures that include:

i) Mobilization of all resources to stage demonstrations inside and outside the country effective immediately;
ii) Steadfast lobbying of policy-makers in the US and EU to use aid as a leverage for the prompt and unconditional release of all political prisoners;
iii) Persistent campaigns to boycott all Woyanne-controlled business enterprises, including use of the EAL; and
iv) Unswerving support to initiatives [e.g., 13,14] that attempt to bring disparate opposition groups under one umbrella.

Having learned a painful lesson from the 2005 elections, Zenawi would undoubtedly take brutal measures to shut out any and all credible opposition. However, history has shown without fail that no force can withstand for long the wrath of a people so viciously impoverished, humiliated, oppressed and looted as the people of Ethiopia have been at the hands of the despot.


  1. Samson
    | #1

    Abugida put this up on front page

    Mothers Of Ethiopia Part IV: Inside A Rural Health Post

    Read more at:

  2. Sami
    | #2

    “I agree with Dr. Selam in her assasement of Meles Zenawi. I also agree with her conclusion that “history has shown without fail that no force can withstand for long the wrath of a people so viciously impoverished, humiliated, oppressed and looted as the people of Ethiopia have been at the hands of the despot.”

    Meles and his stupid followers are not strong as they want us to belelive. They don’t even have a country that they love. Let us keep the faith, let us keep hope and peace in our heart and let us keep doing what we are doing and more and more of it.

  3. Guest
    | #3

    It is a good piece of writing. I am rather worried about one point. Some foreign and Ehiopian journalists and writers appear to take for granted that nothing has been done in the past that derails the success of the 2010 election. Thus, many of them urge for action in the near future to make the election process fair and just. The truth is the TPLF-led government has already done everything in its capacity to destroy all the necessary political environment that ensure a fair and free election. It is not only that there are no neutral election board, judiciary, and security forces, currently there is not any electorate that can come out and elect its leaders freely and decisively. The Ethiopian people is too intimidated, harrassed, and terrorised to participate in any political activity including election. There are no free press and civil organisation that can contribute in a meaningful way towards a successful election. Therefore, without realising the already existing obstacles and without emphasising the lack of an appropriate political environment for a free and fair election, as a result of all the atrocities made by TPLF in the past five years, calling for a preparation for the next 2010 election will be a mere approval of TPLF ascendance to power for the coming five years. The election is already rigged. It is already late to prepare for a democractic election in 2010. We have to call for more serious changes in the political environment before the next election regardelss of the time that might take.

  4. ግደይ
    | #4

    ይህ ገማታም ዘር አሰዳቢ እንደ ሙሶሊኒ ተዘቅዝቆ ይሰቀላል…በሰፈሩት ቁና መሰፈር አይቀርምና

  5. ደምስ
    | #5

    ዶክተር ሰላም;

    በአሁኑ ሰአት ሃገራችን የአጣችው እንደ እርሶ ወይም ወ/ት ገነት መርሻ እውነቱን የሚናገሩ ሰወች ነው:: ስልጣን ላይ የአሉት እስከ አሁን የቆዩት እኛ ስልማንተባበር ነው:: እኛ ለምናምንበት ነገር መሞት አንፈልግም: ነገር ግን ለውጥ እንዲመጣ እንፈልጋለን:: በሌላ አነጋገር 1+1=5!!

    ሌላው ደግሞ ይህንን መንግስት የሚቃወሙት የተለያዩ ግሩፓች የተለያየ ምክንያት ነው የአላቸው:: በመጀመርያ በመካከላችን የአለውን ልዩነት ስናሶግድ ነው ይሕንን መንግስት መጣል የሚቻለው::

    ከአማራው በስተቀር ሌሎቹ ከኢትዮጵያ መገንጠል ነው የሚፈልጉት:: ለምስሌ ተገድን ነው አማርኛ የምንናገረው ይላሉ:: የአለው መንግስት የሚከለክላቸው ትግራይ እራሱን ስለአልቻለ ብቻ ነው:: የዛሬ አስር ወይም አስራ አምስት አመት አካባቢ ሃገራችን ስዋስት ወይም አራት ቦታ ትከፋፈላለች ብዬ ነው የምጠብቀው:: ይህ ሊሆን የማይችለው የአለው መንግስት በግድ ከስልጣኑ ከተባረረ ብቻ ነው::

  6. JIGSA
    | #6


    | #7

    To Guest #3

    Guest! You are right in all points that you have mentioned above. To win popular vote of the people, competing parties should have all accces jncluding free press be it radio, television and Newspaper as well as free movement and assembly to address their point to the target audiance. Here, Weyane, the family based government with ethnic based administration should not ecpected to offer free access of media communication because they assumed that they will rule Ethiopia for ever and ever. Their (wEYAN’S, NOT THE TIGRAY PEOPLE) Marxist and Devilish Messiah, Melese Zenawi Asres (and that is his complex and dual nature)will not and can not allow him to promot such free access of Media communication since he had blood in his hands. Such blood is not only the result of his own miscondut but the conduct of his grand father as well. ቂጥኛም ክዉርዴ ኣንደሚባለው Meles Zenawi’s grand father, Ato Asres, during the Italian aggression of Ethiopia was fighting on the side of Mosoloni’s Army and was appointed as DEJAZMACH and later surrendered to the Ethiopian JEGNOCH and asked mercy. Ras Alula wanted to send him to prision and even death BUT King Minilik II gave him meheret. It is no surprise that Meles had such history in selling Ethiopian fertile land to Sudan, help seceed Eriteria, sell more lands to Arabs, signed with Egypt 100 years agreement not to raise any question on the free flow of Blue Nile, loot the country’s wealth for Tigri as well as working on PLAN – B to separte Tigrai from Ethiopia thus facilitate Tigri’s inavitable misery as Ethiopas can’t remain silent on all the crimes including consficating all the national defense equipment- the Tank, Airforce, and countless artlaries.

  8. Belachew Teka
    | #8


  9. justice for all
    | #9

    Belachew Teka,
    You are pathetic! You can not erase the facts no matter how you try to persuade others by lying. The atrocities that have been committed on Ethiopians by your master dictator Meles will be in the history books for eternity like Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin. Only delusional people like you find something to be proud of a man that have imprisoned, tortured and killed poor hard working innocent people–Shame! Shame! Shame! If you believe in God, STANDING ON THE SIDE OF EVIL while others are being tortured IS A SIN!!

  10. Sami
    | #10

    The so called “Belachew Teka” I don’t think your real name is Belachew Teka to begin with. You just can’t be Belachew and think the way you think. You think like shameless monkey. If you think Meles is gallant. Well if that is the case, why is that there is no private electronic media in Ethiopia. There is one TV channel and a couple radio stations and all of them are owned by Weyanne. Why is that Ethiopia is almost equal with Somalia in terms of Telephone service in Africa. If you remember there is not even a government in Somalia. Why is that Meles doesn’t want private business get in to the Telephone service business, just like T-mobile, ATT, Verizion, and all that good staff. Why don’t we have ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC and all that kind of private Medias? Don’t tell me this kind of free expression doesn’t work in Africa. It is working even in our neighbor Kenya, and actually I thought Meles was fighting for all those democratic pricinple when he was a gorilla. At leat that is what he told the Tigray farmers right? It turns out the difference between Mengistu and Meles is Meles give Eritrea away including Badema, he is in the process a big chunk of land to Sudan, and he is trying to divide Ethiopians among ethnic lines. After he did all these evil criminal things you call hime “Galant in Tigrai”. I know Meles is “Gallant in Tigrai” and evil for the rest of Ethiopia. Evil he is. That is true. I try, in the above, to mention why most Ethiopians think Meles is an evil man. What I don’t know is why is that most people in Tigrai think of an evil man as “Gallant”. I could be wrong, but I think that speaks a lot about how their brain wired up. They are a little bit of primitives type. No logical thinking in their brain at all.

  11. adel
    | #11

    sick tlpf leader was never invited to g8 meeting

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