What Killed Meles Zenawi? By Tibebe Samuel Ferenji
“The stirrings within us have their own fearful excesses; the excesses show which way these stirrings would take us. They are simply a sign to remind us constantly that death, the rupture of discontinuous individualities to which we cleave in terror, stands there before us more real than life itself.”
First of all, I would like to express my sympathy to the family, friends and supporters of Prime Minster Meles Zenawi. Although his death is celebrated in some quarters of our society, there is no question that his death has been very painful to those who loved him and supported him. Regardless of the wrongs he did to the country and the people of Ethiopia, I sympathize with those he left behind. I wish him to live for different reasons than those who are mourning his death. God has chosen his own way; thus, we have no choice but to reflect on the death of Mr. Zenawi and the legacy he left behind. Although so much has been said and written about his death, very few people have asked What killed Mr. Zenawi. The government of Ethiopia has been very secretive about the illness and the circumstances of Mr. Zenawi’s death. Why? In this piece, the writer would like to shade some light in the circumstances of the death of Mr. Zenawi and the strange coincidences.
Few months ago, this writer was watching Aljazeera documentary regarding the investigation about the death of former Palestinian leader Yasir Araft. Mr. Arafat was 75 years old when he died in November 11, 2004. Mr. Arafat was treated in France for unspecified illness when he suddenly slipped into a coma. Mr. Araft’s death remains a mystery until now. The cause of his death was never determined. According to several reports, the French officials have been unwilling to release the details of Mr. Arafat’s illness. Strangely enough, Aljazeera was running a documentary in the beginning of July 2012 regarding its investigation about the death of Mr. Arafat. In the documentary titled “What killed Arafat,” Aljazeera stated that Swiss institute examined clothing provided by Arafat’s widow Suha Arafat and determined that there were high levels of polonium-210, the same substance found that has reportedly killed a former Russian spy in London in 2006. Arafat was treated in France and the French government and the Palestinian Authorities have been silent about Arafat’s death and what his illness was.
The Israel government and its propaganda machine disseminated false information claiming that Arafat died because of HIV/AIDS. However, Aljazeera’s investigation revealed that Araft did not have AIDS. In fact, the investigation revealed that there was no specific illness that caused Araft’s death. Strangely enough, in July 2012, both the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi Assres and Ghana’s president John Evans Atta Mills died few months after visiting Washington. Mr. Zenawi and Mr. Mill were both participants in G-8 meeting that took place in the United States on May 18, 2012 and May 19, 2012. The last public appearance for Mr. Zenawi was on June 19, 2012, in Mexico during the G-20 meeting. For those of us who closely examined Mr. Zenawi’s physical appearance on May 19, 2012 and June 19, 2012, it is clear that Mr. Meles has lost enormous amount of weight; he also looked pail and unhealthy. Talking to some Medical Doctors in the field, they found it very strange to see such a rapid change in weight and physical appearance of Mr. Zenawi.
Although the Ethiopian government declared that Mr. Zenawi died on August 20, 2012, reliable sources have stated he died in mid July 2012. The Ethiopian government did not leave us in the dark regarding the illness that caused Mr. Zenawi, the government has been reluctant to inform the general public the name of the hospital where Mr. Zenawi was treated. Ironically, Ghana’s president John Mill also died on July 24, 2012. As Mr. Zenawi’s death, Mr. Mill’s death was sudden and unexpected.
According to media accounts in Ghana, Mr. Mills was taken to a Military hospital in Ghana on July 23, 2012 where he suddenly died a day later. For those who saw the physical appearance of Mr. Arafat before his death, the physical appearance of the Russian Spy Alexander Valterovich Litvinenko who was killed in London with Polonium, and the physical appearance of Mr. Zenawi on June 19, 2012 in Mexico, it is not difficult to see their similarity. What is interesting in death of Mr. Mill is that there is also suspicion in his death. Some people in Ghana are requesting an investigation into the death of Mr. Mill. Daniel Danquah Damptey, a Ghanaian Blogger has implicated the current president of Ghana, president Mahama, in the death of former president Mill.
Fortunately for Ghana, there is a clear Constitutional order indicating who would replace a president in his untimely death. There is no fear and there is no sign of instability in Ghana. In Ethiopia, the Constitution does not clearly define who takes power in the untimely death of Mr. Zenawi. Ghana exemplifies what a lasting peace and stability looks like when a country is ruled by an institution instead of one strong man. On the other hand, Ethiopia reflects what it means to a country when one man was in control of every aspect of the government.
Unlike Mr. Zenawi, Mr. Mill is praised for taking Ghana through a democratic path. As Mr. Damptey put it in his article, there is mystery in the death of Mr. Mill. The government is not fully disclosing the circumstances of Mr. Mill’s death. Like the people of Ghana, the Ethiopian people are also kept in the dark about the circumstances of “the illness” that took the life of Mr. Zenawi. The government is operating with the rule of the jungle and blatantly stated to the Ethiopian people that the detail of Mr. Zenawi’s health and lack thereof is not our business.
After Aljazeera’s investigation became public, Suha Arafat has since called for her husband’s body to be exhumed from its mausoleum in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The Palestinian Authoritative has publicly stated it will exhume Mr. Araft’s body, since its decision however, the Palestinian Authority has been back peddling. The report indicated there was no Autopsy performed after the death of Mr. Arafat. We don’t know if there was autopsy performed after the death of Mr. Zenawi.
The Ethiopian people have the right to know What Killed Mr. Zenawi. CPJ has indicated that Mr. Zenawi died due to Liver Cancer. If that is true, then the government needs to disclose the information. Although Bereket Simon hinted that Mr. Zenawi was ill the last one year, the ETV, has been indicating that Mr. Zenawi has been ill the last two years. Such conflicting stories do not give any credence to the government whose credibility has been already tarnished the last 21 years. What is the EPRDF hiding? What are those close to the late prime minister are hiding? Is there any relation between the death of Mr. Zenawi and Mr. Mill? We are going to have lots of time to reflect, criticize and praise Mr. Zenawi; this writer believes that History will not be kind to Mr. Zenawi. It is the hope of this writer that Historians, not Politicians put Mr. Zenawi’s legacy in perspective and show to the rest of the world his true color. Whether we like it or not, Mr. Zenawi has left a big foot print in the history of Ethiopia. This writer believes that Mr. Zenawi has done more harm to the country than good. Now, Mr. Zenawi’s death is official, we need to know how and when exactly Mr. Zenawi died; whether we opposed or supported him, we all need to know, and deserve to know What killed Mr. Zenawi. If there is nothing to hide, then, the EPRDF needs to fully disclose the circumstances of Mr. Zenawi’s death. The government also needs to fully disclose in what hospital Mr. Zenawi was treated, and who his Doctors were. The writer asks those who read this piece to contact Aljazeera and ask to investigate the death of Mr. Zenawi and Mr. Mill. We all should demand that an autopsy performed on Mr. Zenawi by an independent institution before his burial
Having said that, I would like to express my deepest sympathy for millions of Ethiopian victims who did not get a proper justice as a result of Mr. Meles Zenawi’s death. May the almighty God protect and watch over our country and people in this difficult time.