The Ethiopian Government True Picture: Wikileaks in Reverse

Secrets the government was keeping from us through denials, brazen lies, and spins are out. Ethiopians have known all along what was going on; unfortunately, not so the outside world. Information Minister Bereket [of the Interahamwe fame] late last week delivered with an air of arrogance a panicky communiqué that inadvertently revealed the true nature of the beast. If you don’t believe us just read this piece with commentary brought to you by the only government ‘independent’ paper Ethiopian Reporter. We have commented in parentheses in the hope of making life a little bit easier for us all. Here we go:

“In response to the rumors that were spreading like wildfire, on Thursday, Bereket Simon, head of the Office for Government Communication Affairs (OGCA), tried to break the deadlock of his government by saying, ‘Meles is in a stable condition.’ Bereket began his press conference by saying that he came to brief the media on the current activities and developments which are being undertaken by the government. [Did he mean he was so busy with state affairs that he had to postpone meeting the press three times?] “As you know, we, the communications office, have pledged to hold a press conference and meet with media every two weeks and the Prime Minister will do so every two months,” Bereket said. However, despite all promises, OGCA called a press conference only twice in the last eight months. In addition, it has been more than a year since the PM held a press conference. [The reason being the government is accountable to no one, need not keep its promises and there is no free press in the country.]

“After being asked about the health of the PM, Bereket told members of the media that the doctors of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi have instructed the PM to take a long leave. [The dead do tend to take “long leave”, too. At any rate, alive or dead Meles’ aura could never be the same. After the desired time elapses the next news cycle will be, We thought the Prime Minister’s health showed improvement BUT he expired late last night very unexpectedly.]

“[… Bereket] said that the weight loss that was observed during the G20 Summit in Mexico was due to the lengthy travel to the Central American country. [Did Bereket mean the air travel from Addis to Mexico actually caused weight loss? He must be thinking everyone except himself is easy to fool! It is possible Meles was undergoing chemotherapy – only a few months ago he had made a revealing statement in the context of Western economic prescriptions that “the medicine … turned out to be worse than the disease.” What could that possibly be if not some sort of radiation he is being subjected to? It could also be he was poisoned in Mexico. According to Ethiomedia “American officials had asked a prominent Ethiopian American medical doctor to help treat Prime Minister Meles Zenawi after the premier collapsed following his return from the G-20 Summit in Mexico last June.” Whether by an agent from a foreign country or from within his own party is unimportant at the moment. Two comments, however, have piqued our interest. One was a comment by Dan Connell in the New York Times where he said “Ethiopia’s prime minister, Meles Zenawi, “has been cranking up the rhetorical level against Eritrea since last spring,” Mr. Connell said, with Mr. Zenawi openly calling for a change of governments in Eritrea. Meanwhile, Eritrea has vowed to defend itself, and, Mr. Connell said, “Whatever happens in this particular case will either happen right away or be reflected in another clandestine op aimed at” Ethiopia’s capital.”

Another comment by Sebhat Nega [founding member of the ethnic minority party] to the VOA was that “the government has been functioning normally during Meles’ absence and that the ‘system does not depend on one person.’” [Is Sebhat suggesting that Meles may have monopolized power and enjoyed the spotlight more and more that it is time that he be moved on to his deserved place? Is it also the case that Meles’ worsening human rights record and corruption is giving the US a bad breath Obama Administration would like to freshen up before the upcoming US elections? Ethiopian-Americans should not be deceived by such empty gestures!]

“Apart from that, the mounting pressures that come from implementing the GTP, continental affairs and global affairs all resulted in the PM’s fatigue. Of course, observers had earlier suggested that Meles ought to take a rest even before the 2010 elections. [This litany that he was overworked goes to show that Meles is not a good leader; good leaders delegate and recruit and enable other good leaders. The reality is that Meles could not stand a competitor. Remember that he did not show up for a public debate during the run up to the 2005 elections!]

“… When asked about the sickness and the current whereabouts of the PM, Bereket replied [] that it was not important to reveal the type of disease since there is a doctor-patient confidentiality. ‘There is also no need for mentioning his whereabouts,’ Bereket added. He was also unable to say how long the leave of absence would last but said ‘it will not be too long’ and that ‘we are expecting him to be back in days.’ According to Bereket, the leadership is stable and the country will continue to be a powerhouse in the Horn of Africa region. Asked about the secrecy surrounding the whole thing, Bereket responded by saying: “The communications office did not bother to release the information about the PM’s health since we did not want to make a public relations piece out of it. In addition, it is the culture of our party.” [Secrecy is his party’s culture? Meles is leader of a party and not leader of a nation? Bereket and his minority party are not obligated by law to tell the nation the whereabouts of the Prime Minister? Is that absurd or what?]

“Berket also spoke about the power vacuum that many are wondering about. ‘I don’t think there is any political crisis among the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).’ [How deceptive of him to ascribe the goings-on to EPRDF instead of to TPLF? Ethiomedia and other sites have listed 6 or 7 in the leadership at the moment on the verge of deciding the next phase of events in our country. Shamefully, every one of them is a Tigrayan. This after 21 years indeed should be an embarrassing thing and a matter of dishonor to all reasonable Tigrayans and a disgrace to the rest of us!] Incidentally, one Tigrayan scholar recently injected into the discourse the word “EPRDFites” instead of the factual TPLFites!]
“Maybe, if there is anyone who has such a kind of wishes, they are making a wrong assumption. ‘With Meles on sick leave, I don’t think it creates any problem for the national security as it is a temporary leave. One of the problems was in Somalia but at this time Al-Shabaab is getting weak. [How many times have we heard Al-Shabab has been flushed out of Somalia?] The other issue might be related with Eritrea. Last time, Ethiopia has carried out proportional retaliation on Eritrea for the action the latter carried out on the Ethiopian border. We conveyed a loud and clear message. We don’t expect any permanent confrontation with them.’ Bereket said that more than ever, the country is strong enough to defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty. ‘I have no doubt that there will be any threat regarding stability,’ he said. [Repeating “stability” “weak Al-Shabab” “peace with Eritrea” is to assuage American fears, NOT Ethiopians’ for the sole reason that most of the instability is deliberately caused by the regime itself. Remember, Muslims demonstrating at Maskal Square a while back when VOA’s Peter Heinlein was arrested for covering the event? Such situations are designed to make the ruling minority indispensable to Americans and at the same time siphon off fear-generated money. America cares less about human rights abuses or eviction and unlawful imprisonment of citizens or stolen aid money. America seems to be more interested in keeping the Drone Base in Arba Minch and recruiting someone like Meles to run errands as US military presence in the region continues to grow than worrying about the long term wellbeing of Ethiopians. Outsourcing such covert wars hides the facts from US public and conveniently delegates crimes committed against humanity; moreover, deaths will be confined to Ethiopians. In other words, a deal of this nature is cheaper for the US and lucrative and politically expedient for Ethiopian rulers.]


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