The Strongman Who May Be Missed: Meles Zenawi, 1955-2012

The Ethiopian Prime Minister of 21 years leaves behind a mixed legacy of economic gain and repression — and a giant hole in African politics.

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Les Nauheus / AP

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi at his offices in the capital, Addis Ababa, Jan. 10, 2007.

Meles Zenawi always said he didn’t intend to die in office. Speaking to TIME as long ago as 2007, the Ethiopian Prime Minister was talking about moving on: “I have been around for quite a long time,” he said. “Time to start thinking about doing new things.” In the event, Meles did not do anything else but stayed through another election in 2010 – rigged, said the U.S., E.U and human rights groups – in which his Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and its allies won 545 of the 547 seats in parliament and 1,903 of the 1,904 on nine regional councils. The result was not surprising but was at least less bloody than the previous poll in 2005 when Ethiopian security services shot dead 200 protesters – more like 1,000, said the opposition – who were demonstrating against the ERPDF’s victory in the streets of the capital Addis Ababa. Meles’s version of events was that the opposition, having lost a free and fair vote, were trying to win power by other means. “We felt we had to clamp down,” he said. “In the process, many people died. Many of our friends feel we overreacted. We feel we did not.”

Still, though rights groups, opposition politicos and journalists he persecuted are understandably loathe to admit it, there was more to Meles Zenawi than a stereotypical African strongman. In the 1980s, Ethiopia was synonymous with famine and Live Aid, and a global symbol of African hopelessness. Under Meles, hunger still returned to Ethiopia every year (though that seemed partly a product of foreign provision of free emergency food aid, which saves lives in the short term but ruins commercial farmers in the longer term). But Meles’s regime ensured less and less of Ethiopia’s 85 million population was affected. Child malnutrition has fallen by more than a third since 2000. One of the most effective public health programs in the developing world also saw rates of malaria and child mortality halve between 2005-2011. Meles scored well too on that other answer to hunger: development. Since 2004, Ethiopia has posted rocketing economic growth of an average of 11% a year. The country now boasts Africa’s first commodity exchange, turning over more than a billion dollars of coffee, sesame, wheat, maize, peas and haricot beans every six months. A quarter century ago Ethiopia was the land of famine. Today, its first yuppies are food traders.

(MORE: Q&A with Meles Zenawi)

Like an increasing number of other African leaders – Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in Liberia – Meles defied simplistic attempts to pigeonhole him as bad or good. Meles was a believer in assertive African self-determination, rejected the idea that the West had a superior claim over how the world should work, and refused to be judged by standards, ideologies or people other than his own. There was an inherent contradiction in the hectoring “holier than thou” ways of Western governments and rights groups, he argued. How could “foreign advocates of human rights ensure there is respect for human rights” by acting like “a big brother out there watching everyone?” he asked. “Rights have to come from inside. If people need a big brother, then by that very fact there is no democracy.”

Studiously beholden to no one, Meles picked and chose foreign allies as it suited Ethiopia best. On security, he was close to the U.S., letting the Pentagon set up Special Forces bases and drone airstrips inside Ethiopia – though he was not, as many alleged, under Washington’s thumb. His 2006 invasion of Somalia to topple an Islamist government, for instance, went ahead against strenuous U.S. advice, rather than at its suggestion. He also supported the African Union, whom he gave an impressive shiny new home in Addis Ababa, and courted China, who built it, and whose state capitalism served as something of a model for Ethiopia’s government-dominated economy. Ethiopia’s biggest natural resource, its farmland, Meles opened up to anyone: commercial farmers from China, India, Europe and the Middle East were all granted huge concessions on which to grow flowers and more vegetables.

(MORE: Ethiopia: Horn of Dilemma)

Much of Ethiopia’s ability to demand and receive treatment as an equal was down to its social and economic success. Some of it was down to the sheer force of Meles’ personality. As someone who dropped out of medical school to help found the rebel Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) as a 20-year-old in northern Ethiopia in 1975, then rose to lead it, then, in 1991, marched into Addis Ababa and overthrow the chilling dictatorship of Mengistu Haile Mariam, Meles had steel. Asked about allegations of repression of ethnic Somali secessionists in the east of the country, he replied: “We know how insurgencies succeed and how they fail. We may not have been the most evangelical of human rights advocates in the world, but we are not stupid either.” Aggression was, he conceded, an occasional personal failing. “I probably fail to beat about the bush,” he told TIME. “I have never been discourteous or nasty to anybody. [But] I may have stood my ground a bit too directly, a bit too firmly. Sometimes, when we disagree, we say so with perhaps a little extra force in it. That might be misunderstood.”

Over the years, he had learned, he said “to be a little less direct.” But he had perhaps not grasped the hole he would leave in Ethiopia and Africa with his sudden death, aged 57, from an infection caught while he was recovering in Europe from an unexplained illness. The EPRDF, he insisted, was “not personality based [but] ideologically driven and organization based, with well-articulated positions. These things do not change because of personalities.” But the vacuum that immediately opened up in Ethiopia with the announcement of his illness in July, and the confusion created by his headless government – which first denied he was ill, then claimed he was away on sick leave, then shut down a newspaper that was about to publish an article on his health – suggested he was wrong on that score.

(MORE: Africa’s Game of Follow the Leader)

On Tuesday, in its announcement of Meles’ death, Ethiopian state television said his deputy and foreign minister, Hailemariam Desalego, had replaced him. Desalego is from a camp of younger reformers inside the EPRDF, distinct from an EPRDF inner core made up of Meles’ old TPLF comrades, a paranoid and secretive group that admired Albania’s long serving communist despot, Enver Hoxha. The concern now is that any leadership tussle might endanger the positives of Meles’ rule and accentuate its negatives.

That concern is all too real because, according to Meles, it was only rational to be worried for Ethiopia. Asked what kept him awake at night, he replied: “It has always been fear. Fear that this great nation, which was great 1,000 years ago but then embarked on a downward spiral for 1,000 years, and reached its nadir when millions of people were starving and dying, may be on the verge of total collapse. Now it’s not a fear of collapse ­– I believe we are beyond that. But it’s the fear that the light which is beginning to flicker, the light of a renewal, an Ethiopian Renaissance, might be dimmed by some bloody mistake by someone, somewhere.” For some – the opposition, journalists – Meles’ departure will by itself dissipate some fear. The uncertainty, however, seems likely to endure.

59 comments
TeferiHailemichale
TeferiHailemichale

simply meles was one of the world extremely knowledgeable leader missed the world,and also he was the man of dignity !!!!! 

Ashenafi
Ashenafi

Dear Alex,

Thank you Alex, for the "fair" descriptive and realities of our indomitable hero. Some us still are not awake of the tragedy of the loss of the ever strong man, the true son of Africa! Fortunately, his legacy is everywhere, we are building the nation following his path, come home you can see everywhere, what the man has impacted. Hope, we will not go back again!

One thing that surprise me from the glimpse look of the comments is that: what happened to our diasporas, we meant them to be our  means of enlistment being residing in areas where everything is close to perfect but what we noted is that they are rather in darkness sound uniformed in the century of information technology, extreme racist and narrow minded. Some of us back home may have empty stomach but bright mind, strong sprit and hope with all what we see heading us, some of our brothers elsewhere sound to have a full belly but empty soul and mind! We may need a forum on this as a nation. We don’t need to let you fail behind.

Ashenafi, A.A.

Gelaw
Gelaw

He was a true hero to western and developed nations because he was their lap dog. He dressed well and talked what they needed to hear. But for the nation of Ethiopia and for Afrikaans in general, Meles was a shameful Prime Minster just like Nazi and Mussolini. He tore apart the basic fabric Ethiopia was built. He ruled with ethnic division, corruption, lie and fear. His inner circled dominated all business and looted Ethiopia’s virgin recourses. He leased lands to pocket the contract money and kicked the natives out of their own land without long term compensation. The list goes on and on, it is endless. People that stand by him are people that benefited from him and had great interest for themselves ONLY. It is a good era for Ethiopians that he is out of the picture now, his supportes will begin to dissolve one by one.

cleve jones
cleve jones

The story of Mr. Zenawi’s legacy is best told in the lives of the ethiopian youth -- those who are the real owners of the legacy – whose destinies are shaped by Zenawi’s dictatorial rule, for better or for worse.

Zemen2
Zemen2

In life, Meles was terrorizing his people. His death was supposed to be a relief for millions of Ethiopians; however, as in his life in his death people are being told to go pretend and cry for him.  How sad!  he is not giving Ethiopians any peace even in his death. A couple were arrested on their wedding day for playing music. The idea being they are not mourning for dear leader. Such is Ethiopia today, people are saying they love their dear leader just to get a free soft drink or a cookie.

The other sad aspect of his government is that instead of using this opportunity to unite the country and start a new beginning, they are openly saying they will continue his legacy of no toleration of any kind. Journalist are being arrested, citizens are being abducted , the killings continue in Gambela etc.... the usual!  This feels like a country being lead by a mafia. God have mercy on us.

Hagusta Ta
Hagusta Ta

not surprising that's how western journalists have been saying  which is always wrong  the truth is we know, so they don't need to tell us what to do about our country. No matter what the guy was a visionary, irreplaceable and irreversible leader

TsionAyalew
TsionAyalew

I can't believe and I don't understand how a lot of western journalists look at Ethiopian related issues.

Today most Ethiopians, just normal middle class families have a new struggle of putting bread on the table, to feed their kids and only Meles Zenawi's party's puppets are the exception. 

I don't think what you are writing in journalism. A journalist should be a person who is open minded, trust worthy, and most of all, needs to research the information and bring it all to the table, not just parts and pieces.

Why do you think people of Ethiopia that are not from Tigray are opposing Meles Zenawi? Please think twice, be real. Do you remember you journalists use to write about only the good things Moubarek did? Be the mouth for those cried every day because of Meles Zenawi's regime, even today after Meles' death his party continuea harrassing people, doing exactly what a dictator would do and going door to door to tell people to be at his funeral. Are you going to write that or just the Meles Zenawi version of the truth? Be honest.

The statistics you are using as reference are made up numbers, created by the government agency, not a independant, legitimate agency. For true numbers, you can contact Ethiopian economists.

Ambshka
Ambshka

Too soft on his dictatorial personality. He talked about "fear that the country might collapse", but many of us believe that he created the condition (by inserting an article on the right to secedde in the constitution) and used this as a political weapon. "If you touch me, the country will collapse". To that end, he kept his EPRDF as a coalition of 4 ethnic parties who might choose to 'go waya with their home regions' if some oppostion group takes power in Addis Ababa.  He has never provided why his front cannot be transformed into a 'Pan-Ethiopian' party.

Ethiogelasius
Ethiogelasius

I've read a couple of your comments and you seem quite honest, so let me try and reply. I have to disagree with you on your statement about him creating the condition for the country to collapse. You are obviously talking about his belief in Ethnic Federalism. I won't rely on any argumentum ad verecundiam , even though a good deal of authorities on this matter have said that Ethnic Federalism saved Ethiopia from balkanization. 

Ethiopia has been in turmoil for the better part of the 20th century, this due to an over-centralization in power both during HIM Haile Selasie's time and Chairman Mengistu's time. Indeed Ethiopia was on the verge of becoming a failed state, much like its neighbor Somalia when Meles came to power. It is not unreasonable then to say that he must have done something right. And that thing is Federalism.

In Paul Kennedy's "The Rise and Fall of great Empires" he argues that China should have been first to industrialize. He tries to understand why despite the fact that it had more knowledge, more sophistication than Europe in the first millennia AD,  it failed to lead anywhere. The explanation he gave was that Europe never unified until recently(and now you see where its leading them). As China was burdened with unnecessary taxes and bureaucracies, the decentralization of power in Europe meant that it was free of these problems. It is in that spirit that the founding fathers of the US gave as much power to the individual States as they could, and created the oldest federal government that is in place to this day.

Coming back to Ethiopia, you see that many of the problems facing it stem from the fact that the different ethnic groups feel overlooked. The way to ensure that they feel Ethiopian is by giving them a say in the direction the country takes. Nostalgia is a problem in Ethiopia, many people say that things were better in the good old days. That electricity was more reliable for example. But they fail to understand that back then only the few urban people enjoyed this "luxury", or maybe they feel like the peasant does not deserve this basic comfort. Either way it betrays an old elitist view that needs to change.

In conclusion, the way to keep Ethiopia together is by giving everyone an equal share of the pie, and making everyone a stakeholder of the enterprise that is Ethiopia. If you want to combat the OLF or the ONLF it is not by outlawing them, but by showing the people that they are wrong, that they have more to gain as a unified part of Ethiopia then by themselves, by respecting their beliefs and traditions. And ultimately it is their decision, if they do not want to be Ethiopian, you and I cannot force them.

Ambshka
Ambshka

Thanks.

The question is not about federalism, but what type of federalism. (EPRDF, unfortunately tries to frame the debate in such a way as if the argument was between those who support and others who oppose federalism. This is not true anymore.) As you know, the current federation is not an "ethnic" federation unless you assume that Affar, Amhara, Oromiya, Somali and Tigrai regions are the only ones entitled to their own region. There is no uniformity in the criteria used to define which entity "deserves" to be a region, zone, special woreda, etc. (Why is Harari a region, while Sidama is not?)

For me, the claim that Melles saved the country from collapse is misleading. How can you be a secessionist and savior of unity at the same time?

The analysis about China and Europe is interesting. I will try and make time to read more on the topic.

Ambshka
Ambshka

Thanks.

The question is not about federalism, but what type of federalism. (EPRDF always tries to frame the issue as a fight between those who support and others who oppose federalism. This is not right.) As you know, the current federation is not an "ethnic" federation unless you assume that Affar, Amhara, Oromiya, Somali and Tigrai regions are the only ones entitled to their own region. There is no uniformity in the criteria used to define which entity "deserves" to be a region, zone, special woreda, etc. (Why is Harari a region, while Sidama is not?)

For me, the claim that Melles prevented collapse of the country doesn't hold water. The simple reason is that his party (TPLF) is a secessionist group. So how can you be a secessionist and savior of unity at the same time?

The analysis about Europe and China is interesting. I will try and make time to read more on that.

Ambshka
Ambshka

I used Harari as an example only. My argument is that the constituents of the federation were created almost arbitrarily. You can also agree that the calculus behind it was probably based on ensuring long stay of TPLF/EPRDF in power, not the long term interests of the country.

Ethiogelasius
Ethiogelasius

At least we agree on the merits of a federal government. You've also pointed out pertinent issues about the federal system in Ethiopia. Though I do not agree with all the issues you raise about the federation(Harari), I do agree it could have been perfected. That said, let's keep in mind the context in which the federation came to existence. It was at the end of the longest civil war in Africa, with problems that needed to be solved (Eritrea,..), let's at least agree that the atmosphere wasn't exactly conducive to the kind of talks needed to resolve this issue. To quote Hayek "nothing short of some hard-and-fast rule would have been effective".

Demekech
Demekech

Thank you Mr Perry. Meles was a leader who loved/cared for his country. Leaders are not perfect and cann't be perfect either. They are human beings just like anybody else.

Prime Minister Meles did his best to solve the famine problem that occurs so often in Ethiopia. As you mentioned in your article, he had opened doors for anyone who wanted to invest in the country. The Ethiopians who are living abroad should be very grateful because Mr Meles had allowed them to build houses, start businesses and do whatever thier heart desired. We all know that it is not an easy thing to be a prime minister in Ethiopia where so much problem exists. They asked Mr Meles why he never smiled, his reply was, "I am not having a picnic."

RIP Mr Prime Minister.

Tigi

Yoseph2
Yoseph2

What worries me as an Ethiopian who had participated in Ethiopian politics for the last 40 years is the complete lack of perspective by international journalists when they cover Ethiopia. For many journalists he has been a darling who would speak in their language with out any hesitation and so boisterously that they are "amused' by his intellect and forget his dictatorial proclivities aside and gloss over the intricate poltics of Ethiopia.

  There are some journalists who have come out of the closets to show us who Meles Zenawi was. We would like to thank those journalists. Any journalist could have gone to Ethiopia in the dark and found out what the people felt about him across Ethiopia. Meles was a megalomaniac whose life was cut short for the good of Ethiopia. It will take many years to recover from the wounds he inflicted on Ogadenis, Gambella, Oromos, Amharas and all other ethnic groups except the Tigreans. Yet, some western media are quick to give him the praise that he does not deserve.

Zemen2
Zemen2

We need to point out to the whole world what Meles' most damaging legacy is and will be (unless some progressive minds adjust course) his determination to make one minority tribe (~6% of population) dominate a huge country of  85 million.  Of course he never stated this openly, he only showed it by his actions. All meaningful power resides in this Tigre clique and when the apparent power is in someone like Hailemariame hand they will ensure that some narrow minded tribalist was his deputy. Given such deputies ties to real power they serve as surveillance tool provide an external cover for their tribal agenda while maintaining a system of tribal apartheid.

This effort of ethnic apartheid can not and should not be allowed to continue. The best it can achieve is hold back  on the development of Ethiopia in this opportune time for poor countries. People like me who sees this narrow minded thinking in a country of vast ethnicity will stop at nothing to continue exposing it. I PROMISE TO KEEP EXPOSING SUCH ISSUES TO THE WORLD.

If Meles was jut run-off-the-mill dictator who takes equal opportunity at oppressing the masses I probably, grudgingly live with that but he was not only an evil dictator but a narrow minded tribalist too.  Somehow he tricked the world without doing so a single Ethiopian. Out of fear of violence from the government an Ethiopian may cry for dictator Meles but deep inside he is laughing to his hearts content, at the knowledge that he does not have to see the dictators voice again.

getumo
getumo

I like the title;"a strong man who may be missed". Thank you for your doubt!

For millions of Ethiopians, he was a total disapointment, The trick is, he has

multiple characters,the good(for foreign cosumption),the bad(for ordinary ethiopian) and the ugly(for people who oppose him or challenge his view by any means)!

His multiple personality enables him to confuse,win and manage his critics. 

To me,i wish he could have gone so many years before,he left us a big uncertainity

and a divided nation where without him hard to move on in the near future! 

After 21 years of power addiction,God has let him go,and i hope he is now 

having his judgement,ofcourse with out a barel of gun!!!

Berhanu2
Berhanu2

To those of you, who worship Meles the ethnic 'divide and rule' dictator, please when you mention the name 'opposition' stop and think for a minutes before you start demonizing the real meaning of what 'political opposition' stands for. Lets not forget  EPRDF and all other Ethiopian political opposition parties  have one thing in common which makes them all equal in the eyes of the people of Ethiopia, they all claim to stand for the best interest of the Ethiopian people.

Therefor to any patriotic Ethiopian citizen who wish to see his country prosper and claim her rightful place in the world, could not and should not have any problem in having a strong opposition party, a free media and an independent judiciary system to keep the checks and balance. But the reality of the past 21 years under EPRDF, Ethiopia is still ruled by one party which is dominated by a minority ethnic group of Tigra, who come to power by the barrel of the gun and remain in power systematically destroying all opposition parties, shutting down news papers, controlling the only TV and Radio station in the country and turning the court to be part of the EPRDF branch to do its bedding. Now imagine Ethiopia with an independent court, a free media and a strong opposition parties for the past 21 years, imagine if Meles was a true democrat who wasn't afraid of free media and a strong opposition instead of the arrogant ethnic dictator he was, imagine if Meles didn't treat us as children, as if he's the only one capable of thinking or he only new what's best for us. imagine what we could have achieved in the past 21 years if we have used all the best mind Ethiopia have instead of a one party rule.

K K
K K

Like Haile Selassie, and Menelik, he commanded respect from the World and attention with his seriousness about his country.  No journalist could instigate a question and get away with it, he was quick and smart.  I like that about him.  No one person can be 100% all good, so there are obviously good and bad sides of  Meles.  

Sertse
Sertse

From Meles Grand Reniassance Dam:

TIME deserves acknowledgement for covering professional and balanced article unlike other western papers which strived much to ruin the image of the noble late Ethiopian leader. P.M. Meles Zenawiin the first place  is a human being who might had mistakes as any other leader in the world. No leader is immune to mistakes, be it from developed or developing nations. 

Having said that, Meles' track record and legacy outweighs on the positive impacts side in all walks of life in this old nation. We don't even need to refer to any kind of sophosticated western type analysis or some kind of magic statistical figures to pay tribute to his results. For us here in Ethiopia, we are the first hand witnesses to claim how Ethiopians and the picture of Ethiopia changed dramatically during the current regime. It takes a bit of frankness and conscience for a reasonable average person to confess this. The all round change achieved in this country since Meles assumed power speaks for itself which any hatred accussers wouldn't camouflage the reality. We know what the status of the country pre 1991 when its people were in dark and desperate situation as a consequence of backward governments prevailed for ages. Ethiopia before Meles remained divided with protracted economical, social, political and environmental constraints. And I tell you it is gravely difficult as well as complex to rule this nation. But thanks to the wiseness of Meles he sufficiently crossed the trap and managed very well. 

I wonder, sometimes why western journalists try to accuse him for the rampant poverty he inherited from his predecessors. He didn't bring poverty to Ethiopia and neither he was part of the cause. Rather he brought comparative prosperity. Rather he intelligently and devotedly crafted his own roadmap that suits Ethiopian circumstances and resolved many deep rooted and critical problems during his 20 years stay. Meles didn't live his life for his sake. He was there tireless for the larger Ethiopian farmers. He just left us as ordinary as he was a freedom fighterin the jungle. One couldn't observe a flamboyant lifestyle while he had the opportunity to do so as several african leaders. He was selfless and didn't betray his people. He was visionary to transform Ethiopiaand passed while he was busy at office. 

His magnetism in continental and international relations, his leadership skills as well, it is something unique and unanimously approved by most known world leaders.

Meles has thaught and built the contemporary Ethiopian youth. That's why every one is vowing now to continue what he paved in a determined manner. Some monsters criticise him on the account of human right and free press which revealed us their hidden agenda. Well Ethiopia was in turmoil and highly polarized while he took power. He didn't order arrest for some kind of vendetta. Any one can see still several books being published in Addis which personally attacked the late premier and they are on sale in the open air. Thus the point here is Meles was trying to prevent irresponsible and politically motivated journalisme which primarily preached ethnic hatred on some sects of the soceity and at times led to flare up dangerous violences that threatened the development efforts of the country. The late premier believed Ethiopia should not immitate western democracy which itself took centuries to be matured in its own niche. Ethiopia needs responsible and professional ethics of  journalism. It should not be abused as a cover.  Ethiopia requires quite a time to build a transparent society given the current facts on the ground. The extremists have many times provoked ethnic hostility which targeted instability hoping regime change in the name of journalism and human rights which is often parroted by CPJ, HRW and their other rubishes. This had to be uncovered. Meles and his government had to regulate this obvious threat and there were undeniably collateral damages. Concerning some of the comment providers on the national mourning, I think the government has made it clear that it is going to be a state funeral and what is the scale of state funeral I don't wat to explain.  As regards the public reaction and feeling, again the truth speaks for itself. there is no foul play here. Actually, the public knows human is mortal and death comes to every one any time. However, it is visible now that Ethiopians have understood their late leader and his cause particularly in the last seven years.

We assure you Ethiopia is not North Korea whose door is closed for western journalists and many press people have visited this country. Thus the message simply is any one can come and prove how Ethiopians feel about the late premier and how united they are in this difficult situation.

Ethiogelasius
Ethiogelasius

                 Well said Sertse, you've shown Meles' actions of the past years in a manner that very few people are used to. As you said this is the first piece I've read on Ethiopia that tries to dig below the surface and understand the politics that are in play. 

                 What we have to understand is that Ethiopia is an ancient country. Its people have not known democracy for over 3000 years, add to that the different conflicts inside its borders and you start to get the level of difficulty there is to run it. The diaspora needs to grasp this. 

                 The thing that really irritates me about the diaspora, is that they've eaten the extreme left-wing view that liberalism, or democracy, means that the people do whatever they want. Much like that reporter, whose name I don't bother to remember, who shouted at Meles in DC; they fail to understand that their rights end where other people's rights start. It's the proverbial 'Your right to stretch your fist out ends where my nose begins". The rule of law is the single most important thing in a democracy, though recent generation left-wingers see it as an obstacle. 

                     Ironically the people who undermine civil liberties are the very ones who cry foul. Again this problem is aggravated by the media and Ethiopians who do not understand the situation in their own country. These "FOB"s clamor about the lack of free-speech in Ethiopia, unbeknown to them that this entails a responsibility that they are not ready to carry. Even in the West governments struggle to make journalist accountable for their actions, and we are finding out about the limits of free-speech. Indeed debates rage on in the US and Europe about paparazzi's, tabloids and what have you. This, despite the enormous resources they have at their disposal to keep the journalists in line. Then we have Ethiopia, one of the poorest countries in the world, the government does not have the means to watch over the media, hence the "oppressive" measures, and the "restrictive" laws. 

                  This is an example of the difficulties that we face in our transition towards a democratic society, it is not only the institutions that need to change, we have to as well. But it has to be internally. External pressure will make us crumble, that is also a point that Meles stressed.

Of the many achievements the late prime minister has, the one thing that will prevail is the legal framework he put down. The developmental state as championed by him is the way out of poverty for Ethiopia. 

Debub12
Debub12

That's not true.

On the whole, Meles has received balanced coverage from Western papers.

It's the anti-Meles Ethiopian bloggers (one DC-based propagandist in particular) who have been unfair and silly. 

These people are not interested in stability or growth for the country, however, so it's to be expected.  I hope their violent mission for Ethiopia never sees daylight.  Ethiopia needs to build on Meles' work and move forward. 

Meles was a dictator but a dictator with sincere visions of economic growth for the entire country. 

God bless the work he's done for all Ethiopians and God bless his soul.  

Paltalk
Paltalk

No paragraph regarding the corrupted chains of organizations and business enterprises of Meles' party members that account for the said unverified 11% growth, which hindered the growth to change people's lives.

BalchaD
BalchaD

Dear Writer, I appreciate the due diligence you gave to this great country of ours in your comments. I'm always perplexed by the so-called "Journalists" who make it a habit copying and pasting posts time again without the necessary research and analysis required to make an educated assessment  of the subject they are writing about. In case of Meles, they just repeat the tired allegations that he was a "dictator" without combing deep through  the sources of those allegations. If Meles was ever a dictator, it was because he was forced to be one for the sake of his people and because of the responsibilities he has to carry as a head of state. The so-called opposition, especially the toxic Diaspora, had never a vision or the resolute needed to lead a party let alone a country. What they had was a hate and disregard for the government led by Meles. To most, the power of leading Ethiopia, was a settled issue - which they thought they had the birth right to it.  They also assumed, wrongly, Meles and Co. were inferior to them in all aspects of life. Seeing the changes they brought about under the able leadership of Meles was more than they can bear. Ethiopia on the march of sustainable growth in the economy, democracy and social sectors under Meles was the last thing they wanted to see. The scene that people of all walk of life having  a say in the future of their country was an afterthought to them. To undermine all this they tried everything under the sun in the hopes that some of it will stick. They disguised themselves under the name of "Journalist" when in fact they were far from it. They re-invented themselves as civil rights advocates when their true color and intent was clear to see to anyone willing to do so. They pretended to be concerned about the environment when of course their intentions were undermining the development projects.  What they forgot was the path the country have traveled under Meles's leadership.  The Ethiopian people are way smarter than they give them credit for. That is the source of this out pouring  of sorrow exhibited on the streets of Ethiopian cities. Ethiopians still remember how it was twenty years ago. They just are saying: Hell with your old divisive and backward politics. The country has moved on. Meles, despite his so many failings, has positioned the country in the  right track to sustained growth both politically and socially. He has done it against all odds with sheer determination and deft intellect equal to none. Meles was the best thing happened to Ethiopia and Ethiopians - May he rest in peace!

markoss
markoss

 forced to become a dictator?? what??

tam_rat
tam_rat

I don't know why most of western medias are interested in reporting ONLY the bad image of Ethiopia,always famine,always war always bad bad.Remember we got also good things and currently Ethiopia is rising.

This article shows the bright side of Ethiopia.Thank You so much!!!

Kurfa Beriso
Kurfa Beriso

 I feel greatly sorry for the defamation the 'International Human Right Groups and Ethiopian Review Webs'. We, Ethiopians should wake up! It is time put hands together and put an end to the cheap  silly news, bad wish and creating negative image on our country and our hero Prime Minister MELES ZENAWI.

It is a pity, we are in a deep mourn. we missed a renaissance leader.

  From   K. B.   Adama Science amp; Technology University

Zemen2
Zemen2

 Until Ethnic apartheid is completely gone from our country I say no to you. Give me one answer about this?

Steven Ronald Akon
Steven Ronald Akon

ALEX PERRY it will be a great if you conduct a workshop or some kind of a course to Ethiopian journalists who write political propaganda day in and day out. Journalism is a dead concept, Ethiopian journalists are literally politicians who use journalism as an instrument to intimidate the government. I am serious, can you please help Ethiopian journalists, we have never seen anything like this from an Ethiopian.

Abiyet
Abiyet

Irrespective of Mr. Perry's stand on Ethiopian politics, the role of Journalist or journalism is, "to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted" go figure...

Abiyet
Abiyet

Irrespective of Mr. Perry's stand on Ethiopian politics, the role of jounalism or journalist is "to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable" good day.

ettm
ettm

Nice try "Steven Ronald Akon." I thought you left the consulate a while back. But I see you still worrying about journalism being used "as an instrument to intimidate the government"? You mean your government that has virtually stamped out free press and jailed, tortured or exiled journalists? So now you want Alex Perry to do your bidding because Ethiopian journalists would not? This must be the grand campaign to raise the eminence tinpot dictator Meles Zenawi. Majority Ethiopians would not grant him that honor and so your government has resorted to demanding every citizen mourn him? Ethiopians go along out of fear and contempt in their hearts. The only group buying into this scandal of "national mourning for a great leader" is the West and its gullible journalists. What you forgot is those same journalists would come around to disown this retailed fiction as they begin to understand the dynamics of our culture. Then the fall in the eyes of the international community will be greater than that in the eyes of Ethiopians. In the meantime, I will let you continue to dig your own and your leader's grave with your keyboard.

ettm
ettm

Meles came to power as head of Tigray Liberation Front [not Ethiopia] and exited the same way. He ruled for 21 years without public consent. He had little respect for Ethiopians in general and he was paid back in kind. He was the darling of the West because he presented himself indispensable to the West's economic and security interests in the region. He was paid for his services and, consequently, was never held to account for his dismal human rights record [evictions, mass killings] and misappropriation of aid money. He did initiate many projects though it was virtually jobless. Tens of thousands young women and men have left the country during his tenure not few paying heavy price with their lives. The country regressed into a one-party state where exercising freedom of speech amounted to certain imprisonment, torture and exile.  An effort is underway as we write this to give his death national prominence. What the foreign reporter does not realize is that it is all staged; state employees, pop singers, households, students are instructed to mourn and those who specialize in funeral dirges hired. The only difference between Mengistu and Meles is that the former is still alive and the latter dead.

Geele
Geele

As an Ethiopian I feel PM Meles was Tolerated Tyrant and his reign highlights the gap between western values and their interests

Zemen2
Zemen2

This article is written with balance not truth in mind. Truth is he is a killer, truth is he has no room for normal political discourse (you believe what he says or you are exiled, if lucky, or die or thrown to jail if not). I guess when you try to balance the truth  or the facts of dictatorship and balance that with his supporters/his demand for admiration of a dictator you end up with a half true story. The main legacy of Meles' administration is a type of ethnic apartheid. You did not have the hospa to mention. 

This guy was a terrible dictator who tricked the western governments and journalists, not Ethiopians. He has silenced Ethiopians  and were able to say stuff on their behalf and you the western media left the poor Ethiopians in favor of the beloved dictator.

Jeremii
Jeremii

TIME missed big time the roll of the "opposition" in the killings and unrest during the 2005 election. Democracy is a two ways game. If either side playes bad, it would be a bad game.It would be yet years to build a mature democracy, because we are not lucky to have true democrats as opposion. Who are fair to accept loss of an election, instead of crying faul to foreigners.

Moreover democracy is a buzz word this days to discrated anyone in the non-western worled, the same with human right.It seems its the new form of neo-colonialization!

Yohanes
Yohanes

As far Ethiopians in Ethiopia are concerned, he was a beloved leader. The reaction is overwhelming to say the least. I wish all the best to the government and the people of Ethiopia.  He was a true leader African leader in a long long time. Its a huge loss for Ethiopia and Africa. RIP Meles You will be missed. 

walddba
walddba

jony jony....we both know how it works my friend. we kow how we pay our salary for Eretirea war, for the dam, we know how and why we go to election polls. Remember 2005 election? Millions showed up for the government support rallay only for the government to lose that election. The people is doing whatever the government is asking just to saty alive or on job  the next day but whenever the playing field is leveled and fair play is allowed you know where we are going to stand. Now is the time for Tegrians to join the rest of the people. Don't wast this opportunity. Don't mis-understand what is whappening and why it is happening.

Yohanes
Yohanes

Again with the ethnic BS. We all know people back home, we all have seen the video footage. So stop going in circles trying to convince your twisted mind. Why not you join the Ethiopian people instead of spewing this tired ethnic "them vs us" BS.

I really don't care about diaspora Ethiopians...Majority are a useless bunch. I rather here about the situation from Ethiopians in Ethiopia.

Zemen2
Zemen2

A leader dying of AIDs is so shameful for the nation. That is why they don't want to tell us how he died. I do not want to think he died because a journalist heckled him, I mean for a leader who killed so many to die because someone shouted at him will be laughable.

azizaye
azizaye

Zemen2 please read your words above. It tells how much you

are immature. You’r dominated by childish thoughts.  

mekdes
mekdes

In the era that we are fighting shame and stigma against people living with HIV, you talk about AIDS being a shame. I do not know what the late PM sickness was but man having HIV is not a shame. Grow up!!! 

Yohanes
Yohanes

Typical Diaspora habesha...Good to know the diaspora is a total joke.

mekdes
mekdes

ye Ethiopia hizb  anikro tefloachewal eko enezi losers....sick and tired of them

dalad
dalad

AS far as  the Ogaden somalis in Ethiopia are concerned,  he was a murderous dictator who brought to them nothing but massacre, destruction of  villages and properties,  mass starvation  and  rape as a policy of State. Surely, they will never forget the crimes against humanity he committed,  including the thousands of mothers and girls who are languishing in the notorious Jail Ogaden Prison in Jijiga with the children they gave birth to in the prison. You may be talking of  the  Ethiopians in Tigray but not of me

Ras_Mitat
Ras_Mitat

 Dalad, the whole world is SICK OF SOMALIS like you...Pirates, terrorists, suicide bombers...As for rape, that's a specialty of you Somalis, raping teenage girls and then stoning them to death for adultery. Sick!

dalad
dalad

Ras_Mitat or rather Ras Dingay,  you rather make a research on where Ogaden lies - It is more than one-fourth of the current Ethiopian map and it has no sea for pirates to rob seafarers.It is the  Weyane which introduced rape as a form of coercion to anyone who has blood relations to the opposition members. The Ogadens do not rule themselves but are ruled and occupied by the Weyane who are killing their teenages by stoning and strangling,  in addition to the rape and spreading of  AIDS  that killed the dictator and from which the remaining of his colleagues are suffering from. Suicide bombing and terrorism  are not known,  sofar,  in the Ogaden,   but a genuine armed struggle since this   late dictator banned the Ogaden National Liberation front, which enjoyed 87 % of the vote -the only real vote- in 1993. 

what an ignorant! Please remember that we are talking of Ethiopia and not about Somalia and if  you can not differentiate between Somalia and Ogaden go back to a school to   get at least elementary education.

Yohanes
Yohanes

Deal with it. The reaction is from Jijiga too. "Your" people are mourning for Meles. As far as I am concerned you are the poison Meles was trying to cure. Grow up, and let go off your ethnic mentality.

dalad
dalad

I am dealing with it until I reach my goal - Ogaden free of rape, fear, hunger, oppression and mass killing. The reaction of jijiga to the death of  this genocidal dictator is one of silent glee with the exception of  his hand-made puppet,  the so- called president of the Somali Region- the 12th  'president' of the region during his reign. What a mockery of democracy!.

Zemen2
Zemen2

We have seen the government's directive showing the required attendance and the type of cloth to wear.  So much about the spontaneous reaction. You guys made North Koreans look like amateurish.

Yohanes
Yohanes

No amount of propaganda can cause this much reaction. The directive you saw is nothing more than an announcement, nobody was forced to go. No amount of propaganda can make old people and street kids to react like that. And I have heard enough from ETHIOPIANS in ETHIOPIA. nuff said.

mekdes
mekdes

Ambshka ...the truth is people are in love with Meles and they are mourning him deeply. Have respect for the Ethiopian people!

Ambshka
Ambshka

 Why are they required to sign their names after going to the tents? Is it to document the love?

The truth is, in a country filled with fear of the ruling party, this simple measure is tantamount to coercion.

Zemen2
Zemen2

Nobody was forced to go! Really? not only were they told to go but were also told in what manner to wear thier cloth and how to show their sadness. If they did not go, you and I know, that is bye bye to thier job  if they are government employees or business licensce if not.

Be_Objective
Be_Objective

I was there, I did not receive a directive... I may not have agreed with every policy but at lease someone was doing something. In his own words "democracy and growth are not synonyms" . Tell me Zemen2, what have you done for your country lately? Talk is cheap and if you talk cheaply without action, just sitting at Starbucks, mulling over conspiracy theories and looking for ways to destroy rather than build...my friend then, leave Ethiopia to the Ethiopians.