Is Ethiopia’s Zenawi really eying the exit door? By ARGAW ASHINE

February 10th, 2012 Print Print Email Email

It is a topic more likely to be whispered about than discussed openly, but could Ethiopian strongman Meles Zenawi, now closing in on his 17th year as Prime Minister (after four earlier as President), be thinking of calling it a day?

It is for many familiar with Ethiopian politics an almost unimaginable prospect, while skeptics will point out that Meles has repeatedly promised to step down.

But early this month, senior officials of the ruling EPRDF party (Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front) hinted at a succession plan to replace its 56-year-old leader at the end of his current term in 2015.

While no one in the party that he has tightly-controlled since 1985 has so far ventured to make any public comments on the sensitive topic, a senior government official and member of the ruling party told this reporter on condition of anonymity that Meles will “surely” hand over power by 2015.

The ranking official said they were not sure as to who could replace the strongman, but there has been widespread party speculation about two hopefuls: Deputy Prime Minister, also Foreign Affairs minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, and Health minister Tewodros Adhanom.

Hailemariam, a humble family man and former university lecturer, looks to be more well-placed given his proximity to the Premier, and also because he has not had direct contact with military and intelligence circles as he was not part of the armed struggle against the Mengistu Haile Mariam regime.

Picking his deputy would mean Meles would have considerable influence if he were to relinquish power in 2015. A protestant, Hailemariam joined politics in the late 1990s and became the regional governor of southern Ethiopia in 2000 on an EPRDF ticket.

He has been a trusted Meles ally, and was in 2010 elevated to deputy Premier and Foreign Affairs minister. Hailemariam is also the deputy chairman of the EDRDF and has recently been chairing Cabinet meetings, in addition to supervising all ministries.

  1. Hodesefi Chalew
    | #1

    Please do not count on that. Melese has a lot at stake, his personal security, immediate family members, and his wealth just to pick and walk out. In addition to that, the fate of TPLF is sealed with his own and he will be torn apart by a lot of things including whom to leave the protection of the interest of his mother land – Ertieria. Neither the Tigrians Generals nor the people you mentioned above will not be trusted for that. Just forget about it. Melese will leave power to his or Sebhat’s siblings, but after they are done with education and they have become cruel enough to lead another round (20-30 years) with an iron fist. All the polices he is designing and implementing now especially in political sphere do not indicate in any way a man preparing to leave power.

  2. Muluken
    | #2

    አያቴ በ ፌስ ቡክ (ክፍል 1᎐)

    በግዜ ብዛት የአይን እማኞት ቢጠፉ:
    ታሬኬን ደበላልቀው ምሁራኖች ሲጽፉ:
    እድሜ ለ ፌስ ቡክ ማስረጃ አገኝሁ:
    ባንዳው አያቴ ማለት ይሄ ነው:
    ለ ሀገር ሲሞት ደሀው ተማሪ ሞኙ ገበሬ
    እዩት አያቴን ሀገር ሲያሻሽጥ *ባሻው* አጅሬ::
    በጌቶቻቸው *ባሻ* ተብለው::
    በግራ በቀ ኝ አጀብ ተደርገው::
    የተነሱትን የጥንት ፎቶ:
    አያችሁልኝ ፌስ ቡክ ላይ ወጥ ቶ??
    ቁርጥ እኔን ነው ካላመናችሁ
    ፌስ ቡክ ክፈቱ አድ ላድርጋችሁ::
    ባንዳነት ብቻ አይደለም ያወረሱኝ አያቴ:
    ያ ቅንድቤም ትኩረት የሳበው ውበቴ:
    የ ዘ ፋኙን የ ሰለሞን ብሪቴ::

    የመሰላችሁ ከሆነ ከሻቢያዋ ከእናቴ::
    ፌስ ቡክ ክፈቱ አፈር ስሆን በሞቴ:
    አድ ላድርጋችሁ ተዋወቁ ከ አያቴ::
    ኮሶተር ማለቱ ፊቴ ዘለግ ማለቱ ቁመቴ:
    ደረቴን ነፋ ማደርጋት እንዳይታወቅ ፍርሃቴ
    ቁጭ እንዳያቴ::
    ታሪክ እንደሁ ታሪክ ነው ቢፍቁት ቢፍቁት የማይጠፋ:
    የአያቴ ውለታ በፌስቡክ ለአለም ተበተነ በይፋ::

    ሀገር ለመውረር የመጡ ሁሉ :
    የጣሊያን ጀግኖች አሸከር በሙሉ::
    አንገት እያጡ ሲንከባለሉ::

    ጨካኝ ነፍጠኛ ድንበር ጠባቂ
    በ ጦር በ ጋሻ ትጥቅ አስወላቂ::
    ለ አፍሪካ ኩ ራት ሆኖ ለመኖር:
    ለነጮች ውጋት ሆኗቸው ነበር::
    ታዲያ
    የነጮች ሀፍረት ቢያስጨንቃችው:
    ያፍሪካ ኩራት ቢያናድዳቸው:
    ቅናት መኝታ እንቅልፍ ነስቷቸው::
    ባንዳው አያቴ* አስካሪ* ሆነው:
    በ ጥቂት ሊሬ ባን ዶች መልምለው:\
    መንገድ ሲመሩ ሸክም ተጭነው::
    ብዙ ጠቁመው ብዙ አስገድለው:
    እንቁላል ሸጠው እንቁላል ገዝተው::
    እንቁላል ጠብሰው ቁርስ ምሳ አብልተው::
    ጣሊያን ኧባቴን አቅፈው ደግፈው:
    እረ ስንቱ??
    ባንዳው አ ያቴ ብዙ ሰርተዋል
    ታሪክም ይኅው ይመሰከራል::

  3. Anonymous
    | #3

    The meanest and cruelest man on earth, Meles, has been controlling the the 85 million Ethiopians he hates the most with iron-fist for the last twenty years, without Human Rights in the country, has weaken the Ethiopian Army by sending them to their deaths to unnecessary war…has looted the country and made the majority of Ethiopians poorer and die of hunger and has made himself and his buddies rotten rich…has chased Ethiopians from their land out in the cold with no place to go and given their land to foreigners, has intimidated the brightest Ethiopians and had to leave their country to same their lives, has incarcerated the brightest and the bravest innocent Ethiopians not to come after him, has tortured and killed unknown number of the bravest and the brightest Ethiopians– who needs foreign enemy when you have such kind of homegrown evil possessed Dictator! Tyrant Meles has accomplished more evil deeds than what other dictators come out to accomplish. If Meles feels he is not done with his evil deeds, Ethiopians must find a way to get rid of the senseless TPLF Hitler to save their country and the lives of their fellow Ethiopians. Ethiopians must find a way to stop the Twenty one years of TPLF tyranny! Meles has committed every crime in the book, if he continues, the only thing that is left for Meles to do is to set the whole country on fire or drown it in floods.

  4. Agerwedad
    | #4

    Dictators do not retire!!! A shrewed control freak like Meles won’t even pull a Putin (letting someone take the reigns and operating in the backgrounds for a while), He micro mangaes the country’s affairs and in no will he be amenable relinquishing power.

  5. sherif
    | #5

    melese giziawi one thing history made him in this position is to be a history man cos if he can make peace b/n shabia and weyane he is gott to be him.
    becouse when you get slap by your mum and slap by your nany is not the same if shabia,get avery good slap on his face by meles and make apeace
    that will make him opportunist so don’t let it down mr,meles.

    if other ethiopians give slap to shabia its so painfull but it is stil the same slap but different in feeling we are awere of that otherwise.

    they know the answer even if its seye abraha or some other membere they don’t have this dam patient like you have,

  6. Berta
    | #6

    Hailemariam will be agood choice for Meles because he works 100% for him. Hailemariam has proven beyound any reasonable doubt that he is a dedicated yes man to the TPLF. It is very unlikely that hailemariam will create a problem of trying to think independently known among the meles and TPLF circles as the “Negaso Syndrome”. Meles and the TPLF have now effectively transformed themselves to the status of “king makers” like Sehul michael was doing in Gondar. So Hailemariam will be the new comfortable face of Meles and the tplf. When the oromos and amharas were jostling and fighting for premiership, to be the new face of the TPLF, meles smartly chose hailemariam from the south. He seems to say give other a chance.

  7. GETACHEW REDA
    | #7

    FROM GETACHEW REDA
    http://www.ethiopiansemay.blogspot.com

    “I am aware in parliamentary system the party that wins majority of the sits gets the power every time. There are term limits in United States, but none in the United Kingdom. I would hope you understand that the United Kingdom is perhaps as democratic just as the United States. And that the parliamentary system is as democratic as the presidential system. The presidential system requires term limits and prime ministerial system of primary system do not require presidential systems.
    But, in case you are wondering whether I have plan to stay in power until kingdom comes I can assure you this will be my last in power.” Take your judgment from this by comparing what he said even before this cession takes place. What I meant is he said too many times that he will relinquish or leave power after the last election (two years ago), but then he said “if my party elected me I will be in power not because I want it, but if my party demanded it- no option but to carry on my party’s demand”. There you have it. So, how do you trust Meles’s word? every time he said, he will leave power and you see him conform his power? The important issue is whether Meles is looking for exit or not, is not the issue to focus, he will be behind his party leading it behind.

    The issue whether the OPPOSITION has the skill to bring PAN ETHIOPIANIST LEADERSHIP with broader wisdom than the scam opposition leaders that you see them enjoying “Sandwich and Kitfo” on a their tour from State to Sate from Europe to USA to Wedi Afom’s Asmara talking ethnic politics with thousands of useless self made flags that has nothing to do with democracy or justice, but to only destroy people’s life to with a purpose to satisfy the psychologically defecated power mongering ghost elites.

    If one thinks the exit of Meles will bring differences to the country depending such opposition leaders who love a lavish live, that means you people didn’t learn for the last 20 some years.

    You have got media who allow lies and fake stories and doesn’t care as long as it fits its temporary purpose without knowing the back fire it reflects later in the struggle.

    You have got politicians who lie with no restriction or shame, at the same time, you have a new generation who packed a lie to its daily meal and it is becoming the direct shape of the liars. You can see this evidence in many Pal Talk Rooms, how naïvely they preach myth after myth.

    Many of them forgot they are thousands of Miles away from the country they said they are controlling Meles and his system under their MIC. No doubt, Meles is laughing to its teeth, because he sees the opposition are transforming myth from miles away which knows and seeing them they love life more than him. Thanks.
    http://www.ethiopiansemay.blogspot.com

  8. meyesaw
    | #8

    the only exit the woyane leader understand is when he will get it from the ethiopian people.the ethiopian people shouldn’t have to wait until 2015 they must give him exit visa right now.the ethiopian strong man will never transfer power peace fully we know it and he knows it he proved that time again and again.those of you who are playing fools game go ahead wish him as many time you wish the ethiopian people are tired of dictatorship change can come any minute any time.down with the dictatorial bloody regime in ethiopia.victory to the ethiopian people!!!!!!!!

  9. alli
    | #9

    meles will not hand over power to anyone. this is a man who got to the helm of TPLF by annhilating every known opponent in TPLF ( purges and assassinations) and has no trust in anyone who is better than himself.

    All those people surrounding zenawi are dummies who live to pick up crumps and people who are happy to be arround as long as their belly is full. they are good nothing opportunists; that is why zenawi is using them like pawns. He knows they are useless , good for nothing idiots, they live to fill their belly. Such is Hailemariam Dessalegn and all the others mentioned in this article.

    zenawi will have to be dragged out of menelik palace by force, like his contemporaries, gadaffi . mubarak and the others. he is a man who believes in violence and he will eventually have his own good medicine.

  10. Tasew
    | #10

    Here is the part I really don’t understand how you the people in the Diaspora at large think. For starters, if you don’t recognize the government and the ruling party – let alone the constitution – then why do you care who leads and who follows? To the extent you care, then you should swallow the bitter fact that in a parliamentarian system the ruling party chooses their leader – in this case the EPRDF picked Meles as its leader, hence PM. This hiring and firing should be left to the party apparatus. As far as I can tell, they seem to be content having Him leading their party for a while it seems. If my memory serves me well, it was the party who begged him to stay last time he asked to resign. They are the once with that mandate not you. As far as I can tell this kind of talk is just a gossip with no purpose to further a healthy intellectual discussion to the future of the country. By all accounts, the PM gets a lot of kudos for his deft intellect and grasp of current affairs. If you are not a consumer of political gambits, Meles, yes with all his faults, seems the right person at the helm of the party and the country. Until you came up with a better alternative from your corner of the woods, try to enjoy the show called P-R-O-G-R-E-S-S! That’s where Ethiopia’s path is pointing.

  11. KEMAL
    | #11

    No one denay what melese achived ,regarding,hydro electric,roads,cement industry,car plat,investement,indifferent part of the country,

    the other part is even for the fall of the regim in egypt and libya melese played a good roll.

    But i am not happy the way goverment putting his hand in religion.
    specialy now in awelia muslim student.

    lets see Menegstu time ,protestant was limmited in preaching at the same time i don’t have any problem with that. but the root couse for goverment being secpeciouse of students comes from your owen church attitude like as melese recentely said abandening (maglel)i new this in my personl experience long time.

    if you go to merkato or cherkose or nefase silk some local market.
    the christians specialy protestant,orthodox,jova wittnes,preaching in the street big micrafone on the car,opening mezmur in the middele of the market so loude who is listening the one who opened it or the other,its makes me ferustreted what is their messege? is well known,shut up and listen our religion.
    my answer will be put the volume dawn and listen to yourself.

    but they compet one anather ,muslim start opening,orthodox,its crazy.
    in the west when you go to school specialy transport,they advice you not to offende the other at least open music if you are requested.

    some times its happen in addis taxi opening mezmuer,some times even menzuma very rare,this should,t happen,its public transport open radio or shut it.you are not out of duty.

    let me go back to goverment involvement,like recent al-habeshi.
    they trying to divid muslim into two to creat hate b/n muslim

    its better the devil you know mr meles we are suni muslim we don’t have with any my christian brother or sister only problem comes from extrim christians attitude towards us.the way of muslim in ethiopia is different than in other country,we have our owen way muslim say merry you uncle doughter but we say its not our cultur,there is different thing acording to country to country.

    the recent al-habeshi its a disaster you gone carefull.
    we muslim in ethiopia we don’t say ,ITS OK TO ROB stile YOUR CHRISTIAN NEIGHBOUR BUT HABESHI SAY.
    ethiopian muslim,don’t advocate to rape any women its ok cos she will be ours.
    AL HABESHI ITS OK AS LONG AS SHE IS NOT AMONG US.

    al-habeshi ITS OK TO KISS ANY WOMEN AS LONG AS NO INTERCOURSE.
    this one which i comment even not accepted in christian.
    the other YOU CAN GAMBEL WITH CHRISTIAN NOT WITH MUSLIM COS PUT THEM IN SIN.

    THIS KIND OF RELIGION IT WILL ONLY CREAT PROBLEM IN THE COUNTRY.
    why you don’t sent protestant preacher in to orthodox church its the same thing what you are doing in our relgion.specialy in awelia there is nothing to do with terorist.

    IF TERORIST OR ANY HATE COMES TOWARDS CHRISTIAN I AM THE ONE WHO CAN STAND WITH CHRISTIAN ,BECOUSE WE BELIVE IN LIVING IN HARMONY AND LOVE.
    AS A FAMILY YOU CAN TEACH YOU CHILD YOUR RELGION.BUT WHEN HE REACHES 18 OR 20 ITS UPTO HIM CHANGE HIS RELIGION,YOU CAN’T DENY HIM HIS RIGHT.

  12. A.A
    | #12

    Dear Editor Please post the full story, its half of the story apeared on your website. Its indepth analyisis not just a pice.
    http://www.africareview.com/Special+Reports/Succeeding+Meles+Zenawi/-/979182/1324262/-/wel6ysz/-/index.html

  13. me
    | #13

    at the bottom of the original website there is a Read more button!

  14. A.A
    | #14

    Dear Editor Please post the full story, It apeared half of it in your web. Its indepth analysis not pice of story. At the bottom of the story there is a Read More button to see the whole stort in African review websire.
    http://www.africareview.com/Special+Reports/Succeeding+Meles+Zenawi/-/979182/1324262/-/wel6ysz/-/index.html

  15. Idris
    | #15

    Dictators leave power only when they are forced! Stop this type of disarming wishful thinking. Count on what you control not on what you do not have any control!

  16. Anonymous
    | #16

    who said Tewodros Adhanom is a medical doctor. Please go ahead and check facts before making it public. Geeeez. The last time I checked,guy has a PhD in Bilogy or something like that.

  17. ananymous
    | #17

    Yes he is looking for an exit door; otherwise who on mother earth do what he is doing in the whole horn of Africa.

  18. Ku
    | #18

    Surely, Meles will leave at the end of this term. Believe me, he will 100% leave. And the man who is to replace him is Ato Hailemraiam. Since Ato Hailemariam didn’t participate in any millitary wars in the past, he will be better, and he will bring national reconcillation. I would be happy to see him leading Ethiopia peacefully.

    If all oppostion parties drop armed struggle and enter the country to fight peacefully, I am sure they can get plenty of seats in the parliament in the comming election. This is the best option to bring democracry and freedom in Ethiopia. I am not for an armed struggle (especially with the help of Isayas Afewrk—it is all joke for me). If the new OLF and Ginbot 7 and others can drop the armed strggule option and start peaceful political struggle in the country, it would be magnificient. Otherwise, the peaceful oppostion parties in the country like Medrek will get some seats in the coming Election!

  19. chebude
    | #19

    some of u guys look like u r giving a command rather forwarding an opinion but it is ur right,we live in our motherland and foresure we likeit here so we appreciate our leaders but we do hav a lot of complaint. We r the one who r suffering from their faults ,so why u z diaspora bitterly,undemocratically/but livin in demo country,complaing about our pm like foreign journalist who wants to be famous.when z time rite we will what happes.

  20. aha!
    | #20

    Stepping down of the prime minister, might make of relative difference in terms of holding the TPLF politbeurro together, where the Prime Minister has lost half of that clout of ex-TPLFites with ethnic agenda being in the opposition camp as OPDF/OFF/EFDF/fdre and in terms of holding in tact ethnic federalism, secessionism and totaliarinism against those with national agenda for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians, the last item refers to indivdual freedom, liberty and equality to form a truly democratic government free of ethnic and secessionist politics and/or policies.

    With ethnic fedreralism, secessionism and totaliarinism and its mirror mirror party acting as a buffer, and TPLF/eprdf regime reconstituted, he will have a safe exit and retirement under the guise of reconcikiation, rather than bringing to justice the Prime Minister and the Officials in the TPLF/eprdf regime. De ja vu all over again as the previously bicameral chamber of parliament with TPLF/eprdf on on one side and OPDF/OFF/EFDF/fdre on the other under ethnic fedralism, secessionism and totaliarinism in tact. Wake up diaspora elites, stand up for silenced but not silent majority of Ethiopians, yearning for individual freedom, liberty and equality to have precedence of over ethnic and secessionist rights to live harmoniously together in the original provinces within the the confines of Ethiopia/Ethiopian land mass, where each individual asserts his/her Ethiopiawinet first and his/her ethnicity second, with ones individual rights taking the formost position in the newly formed constitution.

  21. Abiy
    | #21

    This isn none other than framing a talking point by the DERBUSH Legese to the gullible oppostion.Meyesaw has said it all ;Legese must be chased out of office through the wrath of our people-period!How often has this psycho-path openly lied that he will step down.That truth telling is not in his virtue is a widely known fact even by who have known him for long time.thanks for their honesty many of them have come forward and told us what his very purpose is.

    [TASEW],among other things you said,
    “If my memory serves me well, it was the party who begged him to stay last time he asked to resign. They are the once with that mandate not you.”.For your info time and again even people who have been his own inner circle at one time don’t hide TPLF is controlled by Legese.I mean there has never been any democratic means of solving issues within that party.Instead we hear the disapperings of fighters extra gudiciry killings of critics by Legese loyalists.Do us a favor,you might try to sell this fancey,as if TPLF and her sitelite organizaations are democrtatic entities, some other place and not here. In closing dectator It appears Leges might have convinced himself that he is the smartest individual walking in the planet.As the scripitures says,

    “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall”.prov.16:18.

    When the ethiopian people get their acts together and rise the Legese super structure that he has been building upon the foundation of sund will invitably crumble.

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