Who is Meles Zenawi?

 Filed under: Ethiopia | Posted by: MarieC-/ From African dictator web/

Cartoon by GADO, Nation Media, Kenya

Meles Zenawi is Ethiopian ruler for the past 20 years under his dual official titles of Prime Minister and party leader for the Ethiopean People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front. In the last elections in May 2010, he rigged out almost completely the opposition parties which were reduced to two parliamentary seats. Never mind that the same parties were said to have defeated him but denied of their victory five years earlier leading to mass protests and violently crushed by the regime.

Prior to the May 2010 elections, the Meles government had effectively silenced its critics by waging on them a sustained attack for months.

Back in the early 1990s, Meles Zenawi was hailed as one of a new generation of democratic African leaders that included Rwanda’s Kagame and Museveni of Uganda.
Zinawi had in 1991 successfully led the Ethiopean People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front to triumph over the Soviet Union-supported Mongistu regime.

The new crop of African leaders soon shed their ‘democratic’ credentials – Zenawi begun an agenda of ruthlessly cracking down on his critics, opposition and human rights activists.

There is plenty of evidence, including the imprisonment of opposition leaders such as Birtukan Mideksa. One of Ethiopian’s most prominent independent newspapers, the weekly Addis Neger, was closed in November 2009.

In May 2010, dictator Zenawi admitted to jamming transmissions from the Voice of America’s Amharic language service, accusing VOA of broadcasting “destabilising propaganda”.

As in other dictatorships on the Continent, the ruling party, the Ethiopean People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, and the state are becoming one – which allows the government to use the full weight of its power to eliminate or silence dissent and opposition voices.

The true colours of the Zenawi dictatorship became clearer in 2005. When in that year the opposition protesters disputed election results and took to the streets, they were massacred in large numbers.

Over 200 people lost their lives and hundreds injured. Scores of opposition leaders were imprisoned.

In the May 2010 elections, however, the regime ensured neither fair competitive politics, nor protest would feature this time around.

Finally the talk the Ethiopian dictator retiring from active politics has ended. On the contrary Meles Zinawi seems set to rule for another decade or more.

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