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Meles Zenawi
መለስ ዜናዊ

Assumed office 
23 August 1995
President Negasso Gidada
Girma Wolde-Giorgis
Preceded by Tamirat Layne

In office
28 May 1991 – 22 August 1995
Prime Minister Tesfaye Dinka
Tamirat Layne
Preceded by Tesfaye Gebre Kidan
Succeeded by Negasso Gidada

Member of the House of Peoples' Representatives for Adewa Town
Assumed office 

Born 8 May 1955 (1955-05-08) (age 54)
Adwa, Tigray, Ethiopia
Political party Tigrayan People's Liberation Front as part of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front coalition.
Spouse(s) Azeb Mesfin
Religion Ethiopian Orthodox

Meles Zenawi Asres (Ge'ez መለስ ዜናዊ አስረስ Mäläs Zenawi Äsräs, (born 8 May 1955) is the Prime Minister of Ethiopia. Since 1985, he has been chairman of the Tigrayan Peoples' Liberation Front (TPLF), and is currently head of the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). His first name at birth was "Legesse" (thus Legesse Zenawi Ge'ez: ለገሰ ዜናዊ legesse zēnāwī) but he is better known by his nom de guerre Meles. He later changed his first name to "Meles" in honor of a University student and a revolutionary radical who was executed by the previous government in 1975.[1]


Early life

Meles Zenawi was born in Adwa, Tigray in Northern Ethiopia, to an Ethiopian father from Adwa, Ethiopia and his mother from Adi Quala, Eritrea.[2] He graduated from the General Wingate high school in Addis Ababa, then studied medicine at Addis Ababa University (at the time known as Haile Selassie University) for two years before interrupting his studies in 1975 to join the TPLF.[3] While a member of the TPLF, he founded the Marxist-Leninist League of Tigray.

Meles Zenawi (r) and Bereket Simon (c) at a congress during the struggle

The TPLF was one of many armed groups struggling against the dictator, Lieutenant Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam. Zenawi was elected Leader of the Leadership Committee in 1979 and Leader of the Executive Committee in 1983. He has been the chairperson of both the TPLF and the EPRDF since the EPRDF assumed power at the end of the Ethiopian Civil War. He was president of the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE), during which Eritrea seceded from the country and the experiment of ethnic federalism started.

Education and Personal life

Prime Minister Meles acquired an MBA (Master of Business Administration) from the Open University of the United Kingdom in 1995 and an MSc. (Masters of Science) in Economics from the Erasmus University of the Netherlands in 2004.[4] Some University professors and renowned college administrators stated that Meles Zenawi was a very smart and gifted student. At a public Speech in George Washington University, vice chancellor of Open University said, "President Meles Zenawi was a brilliant student who achieved distinctions on every course he took."[5] In July 2002, Meles has also received an honorary doctoral degree in political science from the Hannam University in South Korea.[6]

Meles has represented Africa in several international forums and summits. Diplomats say he is one of the most intelligent, sharp and eloquent leaders in the continent.[7] A Somali analysts who underlined Meles Zenawi's political, military and diplomatic maneuvering in the horn of Africa called Meles "the greatest strategist of the 21st century in Africa." [8]

Meles Zenawi is married to Azeb Mesfin and is the father of three children. Azeb Mesfin is now the chair of the Social Affairs Standing Committee of Parliament, and in January 2007, she was given the "Legacy of a Dream" award for her leadership against HIV/Aids during a ceremony held in memory of America's civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King.[9] In addition, Azeb Mesfin and various government agencies have addressed Child mortality issues in Ethiopia. According to UNICEF, Child mortality rate in Ethiopia has declined by 40% since the current ruling party took office.[10]

Leader of Ethiopia

EPRDF's victory was said to be a triumph for the thousands of Ethiopians who were killed, for the millions of Ethiopians who were victims of the country's biggest famine during the Derg regime when some estimates put up to 1.5 million deaths of Ethiopians from famine and the Red Terror. Accordingly, the big support it received from peasants and rural areas helped EPRDF maintain peace and stability. Foreign support was diverse; Western nations, as well as the Arab League, supported the EPRDF rebels against the communist Moscow-supported government (although the TPLF was at the time Marxist) at the height of the Cold War.

There were some misconceptions that the United States helped the EPRDF rebels to get power in Ethiopia and many angry demonstrators in Addis Ababa protested against Herman Cohen, the U.S. State Department's chief of African affairs who attended a conference that demonstrators viewed as legitimizing the EPRDF. A New York Times editorial commented in 1991,

Demonstrators cursing the Americans ignore two realities. The cold war is over in Africa, and Ethiopia is no longer a focus of superpower rivalry. Otherwise it would have been unthinkable for four contending Marxist groups to turn to Washington for help. The other reality is that Mr. Cohen cannot undo at the conference table what has happened on the battlefield[11]

Even though EPRDF's success was praised there was a strong anti-EPRDF sentiment in Addis Ababa. These were just the beginning of the opposition to Meles Zenawi's EPRDF party after it gained power and more strong opposition was followed. Addis Ababa has since been the center of peaceful opposition to the EPRDF, while the eastern Somali Region has been the most active region for armed opposition.

Following the defeat and exile of Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991, the July Convention of Nationalities was held. It was the first Ethiopian multinational convention where delegates of various nations and organizations were given fair and equal representation and observed by various international organizations including the United Nations, Organization for African Unity, European Economic Community, and the United States and the United Kingdom.

Of the 24 groups, the ones with the largest delegations at the Convention were the EPRDF (32), the Oromo Liberation Front (12), Afar Liberation Front (3), the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Oromia (3), and the Western Somali Liberation Front (3). Near the end of the year, Meles Zenawi became the President of the TGE, and following the first elections in 1995 1995 Meles was elected as Prime Minister and Dr. Negasso Gidada. International Election Observers concluded that had opposition parties contested, they could have won seats.

In the 2000 general elections, Meles was again elected Prime Minister, and his ruling EPRDF party shared parliament seats with the opposition party United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF). According to observers organized by Ethiopian Human Rights Council, local U.N. staff, diplomatic missions, political parties, and domestic non-governmental organizations, both the general and the regional elections that year were generally free and fair in most areas; however, serious election irregularities occurred in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Region (SNNPR), particularly in the Hadiya Zone.[12]

Meles was also elected for another term after the EPRDF won the 2005 elections, although the major opposition groups (the Coalition for Unity and Democracy, UEDF, and the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement, gained a number of seats in the national parliament. More than 30 other political parties participated in the election.[13] These elections have been the most contested and the most controversial in Ethiopia's short democratic history, with some opposition parties arguing that the election was stolen by the ruling party. Allegations of fraud were especially strong in the rural areas, as the opposition parties won in most urban areas, whereas the EPRDF won mostly in rural districts.

Although the aftermath of the election led to riots and demonstrations against the results, particularly in the capital, it had to be stopped by unprepared peace officers, that were killed in line of protecting the public from the chaos that was intended to change the Government unconstitutionally and by force. Some opposition parties blamed the government for the violence, even though they were tried and convicted in the court of the countries law. At the end of the demonstration, with the seven police officers 193 citizens were dead showing both the violent nature of the protesters as well as the unsuspected action of the police force. Many protesters and around 75 police officers were also injured.[14] This led to many rounds of accusations between the government and the protesters where the Information Minister Berhan Hailu said the government was "sorry and sad", but blamed the violence on the CUD.[15] The opposition parties have continuously accused the government of a massacre. EU election observers concluded the election failed to meet international standards for a free and fair elections while the Carter Center concluded the election was fair but with many irregularities and a lot of intimidation by both sides especially the government.[16][17] Meanwhile CUD opposition members continued to accuse the ruling party of fraud. However some accusations of fraud coming from opposition parties were very strange. For instance, a day before the final count of votes in Addis Ababa, the CUD opposition party accused the ruling party of fraud and decided not to accept the result in Addis Ababa. But it ended up that the CUD party was actually refusing its own victory, since the vote count showed that the CUD won 100% of the votes in Addis Ababa.[18] According to critics, this strange event led to speculations that the main opposition party, CUD, had already planned not to accept the result no matter what, in order to paint a bad image of Meles's ruling party, the elections and gain the support of the international community for the predestined failure of the election.[19]

In an interview, the United States AID director repeated that the Carter Center understands that the ruling party (EPRDF) won the election and most of his peers confirm that as well. The USAID director also blamed some EU observers, accused them of bias and blamed them for favoring the opposition. He said some European observers practiced out of their jobs and went "over board in encouraging the opposition and making them think that somehow they had won the election."[20] He concluded that American government never believed the opposition won the election.[21]

Also an inquiry on the violence claimed the property damage caused by the rioters and protesters in Addis Ababa and other cities totaled to 4.45 million Ethiopian Birr, including 190 damaged buses and 44 cars as police officers tried to restrain the rioters. The SBS journalist, Olivia Rousset, indicated that the government used too much force to calm the rioters. She also said that the "stone-throwing rioters" tried to take the guns from the security forces.[22] Some EU observers have also shown their discontent at the post election violence, suggested that the police response was unproportional and blamed the government. In a rare response, Meles Zenawi said that he was disappointed that "some people have misunderstood the nature of the problem and misinterpreted it." And on the final report, the independent commission concluded that the aggressive steps taken by the police force was to "avoid large scale violence and to protect the constitution" and that the reason behind the riotings might have been the protestors' unfamiliarity with the "process of democratization" e.g., respecting election results. However, the commission also acknowledged that there were serious errors that needed to be addressed regarding the capabilities of the Ethiopian Security forces to control riots.[23] However, three members of the Inquiry Commission have defected and given their testimonies to members of the U.S. Congress and the International Media. The former Supreme Court Judge of the Southern Ethiopian nations and nationalities, Judge Frehiwot Samuel, who was also Chairman of the Inquiry Commission, and his Deputy, Judge Wolde-Michael Meshesha, have fled Ethiopia with a video and final report of the Commission’s findings that shows the commission deciding through eight to two vote, that the government has used excessive force and that there were grave human rights violations.[24] Some leaders including UK's Tony Blair condemned the violence but repeated that Meles's ruling party "won the election."[25] Other European organizations also praised the elections saying it was a "free and fair multi-party election."[26] So far, most of the US representatives have not changed their outlook and the US government supports the Ethiopian government in both military and aid assistance. Other analysts also described progress in Ethiopia's first multi-party parliament in history.[27]

Meanwhile many international media outlets continued to display the post election bloodshed, followed by criticism of Meles's ruling party. At the same time, some people implied that opposition members were planning to use violence or provoke it as a means to gain power.[28] In fact, various events were said to show that many opposition supporters, even in universities, try to provoke the police hoping that the security forces will overreact and create chaos.[29] About the violence U.S. state department reports said some opposition supporters were engaged in a peaceful movement to "create greater democratic space" but some opposition supporters were "demonstrating to overthrow the government" and were engaged in "violent protests."[30][31] Other reaction to the election issue was condemnation of the EU election observers. An Irish committee said "the situation in Ethiopia had not been helped by inaccurate leaks from the EU election monitoring body which led the opposition to wrongly believe they had been cheated of victory."[32]

In early 2004 Meles Zenawi received medical treatment in the UK for an unspecified condition. Flanked by numerous UK Police officers and diplomatic protection officers he was observed at the Parkside Hospital in southwest London, a private hospital staffed by numerous specialist consultants.

Domestic policy

Structural reforms

Economic structure

griculture based economy is not essential for ethiopia but the governing party use this strategy more than 10 years. Ethiopian economy is based on agriculture which is accounted about 45% of GDP and 85 % of employment. Agricultural commodities also dominate export sector mainly coffee, chat, and hides and skins.

After Meles Zenawi government controlled power, major new players in Ethiopian economy have been "endowment companies" as called by the ruling party while commonly called as party companies. EFFORT, the biggest of all, is a conglomerate which is owned by Meles Zenawi's party-TPLF. Some criticize this as, the previous "government parastatals" during DERG regime are replaced by "party parastatals". In recent developments, Bloomberg reported that Guna Trading, owned by EFFORT[33], plans to become one of biggest coffee exporters.Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag.,2002/2003[34] and 2009/2010[35].

The most significant reform regarding land use since PM Meles took power in 1991 has been disbandment of collectivized farmlands and redistribution of lands as the regions sees it necessary. However, the land ownership demand which was central in toppling the feudal monarchy with a popular slogan "Land to the tiller" was not fully answered under the new constitution Article 40 number 3 which states that " The right to own rural and urban land as well as natural resources belongs only to the state and the people".[36] The farmers have land use rights with uncertain transfer rights. Since 2008 this land policy headed to a setback after the government announced the onset of selling on lease large areas of "empty" farm lands, internationally called "land grabs", to foreign investors. Many fear that in this process some farmers already lost or will lose their plot lands. Reporting on this issue The New York Times quoting an expert wrote that "One thing that is very clear, that seems to have escaped the attention of most investors, is that this is not simply empty land"[37]

The government defends its land policy, given the common occurrences of natural disasters such as drought or bad weather, had farmers allowed to own lands they might have no choice but to sell their land. To prevent this from happening, the EPRDF government believes land ownership should not be privatized. Accordingly, the government states that it should focus on its agriculture sector while it is developing its industrial sector simultaneously, so that it can balance everything once the other sectors are developed and increase productivity. For example the leadership has transformed its construction sector leading to a rare construction boom since the early 2000s until cement and other shortages caused it to slow down. Thus it believes privatization would be employed in the future but not presently. Knowing that it requires constitutional change to privatize lands the government is assuming for long-term to hold super majority in parliament to make the transition.

Since this approach to land ownership is unconventional (especially to western nations) and very controversial, opposition political parties have used this to their advantage during elections arguing land ownership has to be privatized. Yet the government seems unfaltering and states that flexibility is needed to address the lack of industrial development in the country despite accusations from the opposition.[38]

Multi-party system

Meles Zenawi is the first Ethiopian leader in Ethiopian history to develop the structure for a multi-party system (with the thrusted and created Opposition) of governance, with a multi-party parliament in composition.[39] Though the country had its national elections first in 1995 under Meles, Ethiopia established a multi-party representative government in 2000 after the election of the UEDF opposition party. Alongside the CUD, the UEDF and its leaders Dr. Merera Gudina and Dr. Beyene Petros became the most critical politicians inside Ethiopia. Other critical top opposition policians included Bulcha Demeksa, Lidetu Ayalew, Hailu Shawel, Birtukan Mideksa, Temesgen Zewdie and Hailu Araya. Birtukan Mideqesa is imprisoned since the start of 2009. Most opposition politicians are known for openly displaying deep anger for the ruling party semblance democracy, with some labeling Meles as a "dictator" and others calling for Meles Zenawi's resignation.[40] After the disputed 2005 national elections, dozens of opposition parties, led by the CUD, UEDP-Medhin, UEDF and Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM), control almost one third of the Ethiopian parliament seats.[41] Despite that the Ethiopian constitution dictates a multi-party system, Meles Zenawi's full control of the military forces have led to the promotion of a single-party state.

Ethnic federalism

The Meles Zenawi government created an ethnic based federalism which has come under attack by some Ethiopians. However Meles Zenawi's TPLF-party believed it was not a choice but it was the only solution to the century old oppression under centralist governments and one ethnic domination of culture, language, politics and economy which his party claims to be controlled by the Amhara ethnic group. On the other hand, some parties like OLF(Oromo Liberation front) which was a partner in drafting the constitution points their blame on Amharas and Tigrayans domination of the country. Therefore, the policy aim was to empower all ethnicities and develop their cultures & languages. Also it was widely seen as a solution to the demand of governance preferred by the ethnic-based liberation fronts and parties participated during the July Convention of Nationalities in 1991. In response to critics who say ethnic federalism can bring divisions, Meles Zenawi said this policy serves many interests including equitable distribution of wealth, empowerment of ethnicities, and since this was how the nationalities were before colonization, as ethnicity was the language they understood best. He said the "ethnic basis of Ethiopia's democracy stemmed from the government's fight against poverty and the need for an equitable distribution of the nation s wealth: peasants must be enabled to make their own decisions in terms of their own culture. Power must be devolved to them in ways that they understand, and they understand ethnicity.... Other approaches to development had been hegemonic and exploitative and had led to internecine strife and civil war."

Meles Zenawi claimed that there are two basic views about ethnic federalism: "if you think it is a threat, it will be; if you think it a benefit, then it will be." Making this statement, he concludes that "ethnicity will become less an issue as the economy grows and Ethiopia's process of assimilation does its job."[42]

Opposition to ethnic federalism

Meles Zenawi's policy of Ethnic federalism has been attacked by two groups of opposition parties. Pan-Ethiopian opposition parties like AEUP, UEDP-medhin and Andenet accuse Meles Zenawi for harming the stability and unity of Ethiopia by dividing the country on language lines. They express their fear for the future unity of the country pointing out ethnic conflicts after ethnic federalism policy introduced. Where as in the past it was Ethiopia's economic marginalization of groups or ethnics as causes of warfares in the country as experts indicated.[43]

On the other hand, ethnic-based opposition parties like the OFDM, Oromo National Congress (renamed OPC) as well as armed groups like the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) accuse Meles Zenawi's government that the powers given to the regions by the constitution are only on paper. Recently Dr Merara Gudina(from ONC) said " The only thing EPRDF’s federalism has achieved is that it helped the party hold tight grip on the people through divide-and-rule system"[44]

Most of the oppositions on both sides want to change the existing ethnic-federal system if they control power. Those who reject ethnic federalism proposes that administrative regions should be carved out on consideration of more factors than language alone. On the other hand, armed groups who favor ethnic federalism want to apply Article 39 and declare full independence for their own ethnic regions like Eritrea did in 1993. It is important to underline oppositions which are legally registered and participated, in the disputed 2005 election, won considerable seats from both sides.

Equity and growth

Throughout its operation, the government and the Prime Minister have advocated "pro-poor" domestic policies. According to World Bank's East African leadership, the Ethiopian government ranks number one in Africa on spending as a share of GDP going to Pro-poor sectors.[45]

The administration has also created self-governing regional development organizations like Amhara Development Association,[46] Tigray Development Association,[47] Oromia Development Association and many others.[48]

Even though Meles Zenawi's administration inherited one of the worst, if not the lowest, economies in the world, the country's economy has been growing steadily since he took office. During the last three years, Ethiopia's GDP has shown a rate of growth of about 9 percent a year. The country was also in the top category for “policies of social inclusion and equity”, in the domain of “economic management” and Ethiopia did exceptionally well in the domain of “structural policies” and “public sector management and institutions. Gross primary enrollment rates, a standard indicator of investment in the poor, went up to 93 percent in 2004 from 72 percent in 1990, contributing to a rise in literacy rates from 50 percent in 1997 to 65 percent in 2002.[49] Still some opposition parties in the Ethiopian parliament doubted the economic growth. During the House's 31st regular session where the parliament reserved for its monthly "Opposition Day," some opposition MPs condemned the ruling party, pointing to double-digit inflation as a sign of the government's economic failures.[50] African Development Bank and the Paris-based OECD Development Center stated that Ethiopia has become one of the fastest growing countries in Africa.[51]


One of the most important resource of the country, water (Nile), has also been the focus of Meles's administration. Due to the potential conflict that can occur between Egypt and Ethiopia, Meles's EPRDF-led government have chosen to initiate and support programs that would benefit all sides of the Nile. So far many small scale Dams have been constructed in Ethiopia but large dams have been rare because of financial capabilities. Two of the big projects include the Tekeze hydro-electric power project in Tigray and the largest hydroelectric plant in Ethiopia located in Achefer Woreda of the Amhara State [52][53] Yet the building of the Tekeze power project has dominated the media since it was built in the Tigray region, the home state of Meles. The country is planning to export electricity to Sudan and Djibouti by 2010.[54]

Freedom of religion

Even though Muslims and Orthodox Christians lived together for many centuries, complete religious freedom didn't arrive until 1991. Many of the issues that existed before; for example, pre-1974 state religion followed by seizure of the Church by 74-91 government, the state sponsored persecution of non-Orthodox Christians, the 2nd class citizenship of Ethiopian Muslims, landownership & similar issues for non-Orthodox religions have subsided for the most part. Currently there are between 12-15 million Protestant Christians as well as other new non-Orthodox Christians. Even though there was one big religious war in Ethiopia many centuries ago, after that, clashes have been very rare with the domination of Orthodox. In contrast there has been more violence lately since there is no state religion (Orthodox) guardian-like control of other religions in Ethiopia thus creating a rise in religious clashes. Some of these are causes because of inability to share lands equally as well as due to aggressive evangelism and conversion which some relate to Western vs Arab proxy politics. Still most analysts say that since such equality and full religious freedom didn't exist before, the infrequent clashes might occur until the culture of tolerance grows between all old/new religions and denominations.

Press freedom

Meles Zenawi's administration was the first to introduce private free press in Ethiopia.[55][56][57][58][59][60] However, he has been under fire often for imprisonment of journalists and lately for some website censorship.[61] Meles government defends its action on the ground that the banned media outlets advocated "a certain population should be quarantined" and incited "violence among different ethnic groups in the country," including using hate-filled text messages on mobile phones asking people to attack ethnic groups.[62][63] Some sources blame certain websites & papers who have been caught inciting violence and asking for bombings on companies.[64] A couple of them have even been sued for provoking uprising.[65] Others claim that the supporters of the previous dictatorship government are trying to use the new opportunity to freely express themselves by defaming the current government officials.[66] But the government critics say that the ruling party is not willing to be criticised. Many international organizations reports support their claim. The strong criticism came from Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on its 2007 press freedom summary wrote "Ethiopia the world's worst backslider on press freedom over the previous five years"[67][68] At the start of 2010 AFP reported that an Ethiopian journalist has been jailed for a year for criticising the prime minister Meles Zenawi.[69]

Because of pressure from the government, even though the number of private media outlets are lower than during Meles Zenawi's first term, there are still several of them currently. In his first term most of the medias were politically oriented. However, in his second term the trend is changing, the number of political medias going down while entertainment and business medias are on the rise. On the other hand for what is believed to be the first time in the Ethiopia's history, the government granted licences to two domestic pro-government private commercial FM radio operators.[70][71] As of 2009, there are over 56 radio stations in the country that are owned and operated by regional governments, community organisations, and private companies. The government has issued licenses for seven regional states television transmissions agencies, but there are still no private broadcasters in the country [72]

Language policy

Meles Zenawi's government introduced a diverse but controversial policy of decentralization of the language system in Ethiopia. Most Ethiopians are taught using their mother tongue in primary schools and they are encouraged to develop their own language. Some critics have said that this policy harms the unity and national identity of the country. While others have supported and praised the policy. Currently, many regional states have their own official state language. For instance, Afaan Oromo is the official language of the Oromia regional state while Amharic is still the official language in The State of Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples'.


To bring order and transparency to the agricultural sector, the country started its first market exchange program and company called the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECEX.)[73]. In April 2008, the country finalized its first commodity exchange, The Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX), to "revolutionalize the country's backward and inefficient marketing system" according to Meles Zenawi.[74]

Other than the dominant coffee industry, the government has made the floriculture industry another sector where Ethiopia can have comparative advantage. Thus Various Kenyan investors have already moved to Ethiopia and the industry seems to be growing rapidly.[75][76] Flower growers from other countries were also said to be relocating to Ethiopia.[77] Ethiopia recently became Africa’s second largest flower exporter after Kenya, with its export earnings growing by 500 per cent over the past year.[78] According to the Oromia Investment Commission, foreign investors are taking advantage of the new favorable investment opportunity in the Sugar sector, where the most recent being a $7.5 Billion investment.[79] Ethiopia also depends on livestock exports as well. Issues relating to wild life conservation has been tackled aggressively under Meles Zenawi. World Wildlife Fund also praised Ethiopian government's progress saying "Ethiopia has set a fine example for other countries to emulate,"[80]

Other issues promoted by Meles Zenawi has been economic development in "green fashion." Discussing during an annual meeting under the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2007, Meles debated with Tony Blair and other world leaders about global warming and trade.[81][82] According to Reuters,Meles stated the need for a cap and trade mechanism and for different strategies towards Africa, since it did not contribute as much towards global warming.[83]

Some recent issues have been the shortage of cement to sustain the construction boom in the country. However foreign and native investors, including the recent investment on a US$5 billion cement factory in Misraq Gojjam Zone of the Amhara Region, are an attempt to stabilize the situation.[84] Still the brief severe shortage that occurred in 2005 was blamed on Meles Zenawi's policies that were alleged to ignore urban development. Other recent development in the country included a first car factory in Ethiopia that assemble cars and to sell for local- and export-markets as well as cars that use Liquefied Petroleum Gas, Bus manufacturing in Mek'ele and Taxis manufacturing in Modjo city, Oromia state.[85][86][87][88] But the drastic development of most sectors in Ethiopia; including textiles, leather, garments, agriculture, beverages, construction and others have made Ethiopia to be labeled the "East African land of opportunity" by the World Investment News."[89]

Some economists state that Ethiopia's economic growth has come at the expense of inflation.[90] The World Bank under Ethiopia's country profile in 2010 mentioned the underlying inflation threat started in 2008 might continue.[91] Despite the inflation and differences on the rate of economic growth reports among several international organizations, they continued to praise the economic growth. African Development Bank claimed that Ethiopia "is registering a remarkable economic growth in recent years."[92] On top of that various social concerns exist and the Ethiopian section of VOA news on its Amharic language program has reported about problems facing farmers and growers who often get less profit due to the market exploitation of middlemen.

Ethnic federalism

The 1995 Constitution of Ethiopia allows substantial regional autonomy and any region has the right to secede from the country. This area of the constitution was originally amended by the current government to satisfy the interests of ethnic based states in Ethiopia especially Oromia and one of its historical leaders, OLF, as well as to give free will to TPLF and other liberation fronts in the country. After centuries of centralization, the TPLF-led government believes this policy will unite all Ethiopian states voluntarily instead of by force. This TPLF/EPRDF ideology of voluntary unity has been questioned as one of armed liberation forces succeeded in the secession of the former Ethiopian province, Eritrea, after a referendum was held in 1993 before the Ethiopian constitution was adopted.

This policy of self-determination has been opposed by some political parties, particularly CUD, which wants to limit regional autonomy and outlaw the rights of states to secede. However, this CUD policy is casually opposed by the TPLF/EPRDF and largely against the interests of OLF and ONLF rebel groups.[93]

Education policies

School expansion

Since the 1990s Ethiopia has experienced more increase of schools and colleges despite still not covering all regions.[94][95] Millions of money (ETB) continue to be spent on building educational institutions and many new schools have been constructed since Meles Zenawi took office. However, the government's focus on the agricultural sector has slowed the growth of jobs in the urban areas of Ethiopia which is also reflected by the anger of the urban population and its students as well as the landslide victory of opposition parties in these areas during the recent national election.[96] The statistics showed that in 1991 only 27 percent of Ethiopian children attended school, but in 2004 gross enrollment rate was up to 77 percent and it reached 85 percent in November 2006.[97]

As of 2005, there were 13,500 elementary schools and 550 secondary schools. A majority of them are newly constructed and the secondary schools are connected by satellite in a new programme called School-Net.[98]

More colleges and Universities have been constructed and/or expanded during the last few years than in whole history of Ethiopia. These colleges and Universities include Adama University (Oromia) an expansion of Nazreth technical college, Jimma University (started earlier), Mekelle University newly built under Meles, Debub University an expansion of Awassa college, Bahir Dar (Amhara state) University an expansion of poly-technic college and teacher's college and others.[98][99] Also most of the older colleges have added various new departments, including Faculties of Law, Business etc. Other new growing colleges include Jijiga (Somali state) University, institutions in Debre Markos, Semera (Afar), Aksum, Tepi, Nekemte (Oromia), Kombolcha (Amhara State), Dire Dawa and in Debre Birhan. Wollega University in the Oromia state is the most recently finished university in Ethiopia with various modern facilities, with 20 new fields of study [100] and the new Wolaita Soddo University started taking in students in February 2007.[101][102] Including the new Axum University, 12 new universities are starting operation in 2007 [103] Other fairly new universities like Dilla University in the Bale Zone of Oromia launched new facilities, expanded laboratories for research and initiated new post-graduate studies.[104][105]

In the last decade, more than 30 new private colleges & universities have been created, including Unity college. The University Capacity Building Program (UCBP) is a leading project in this sector.[106]

Women's rights

In a reflection of the gender equal rights valued since TPLF's battle days where northern states Tigrean and some Amhara women soldiers fought together with men against the Derg dictatorship, Meles Zenawi's administration, along with First Lady Azeb Mesfin, have sternly advocated for more equal rights & opportunities for women in Ethiopia. Despite the country having a rich history of respected queens, rulers & empresses, Meles inherited another unfavorable national conditions were Ethiopian women did not have equality or basic rights. In contrast, since his administration began, there have been a steady growth of women's organizations, women activists, employment opportunities and a forum where women discuss backward cultural issues on national television.[107] In their long fight against destructive traditional practices, HIV transmission, early marriage, women legal rights, unfair public policies, job opportunity and other issues, various organizations continue to work with the government including the Ethiopian Women’s Lawyers Association (EWLA), Network of Ethiopian Women's Associations, the Ethiopia Media Women’s Association (MWA), the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), Women in self employment (WISE), Ethiopian Medical Women's Association (EMWA), the Women’s Association of Tigray (WAT), Kembatti Mentti Gezzima-tope (KMG), Ethiopian Nurse Midwives Association(ENA) and others.[108] The Ethiopian leadership has made significant advances to protect women's rights in recent years: it has its first Minister of Women's Affairs and overhauled legislation on rape, female genital mutilation and other offences.[109]

Foreign policies

Zenawi with then President of Russia Vladimir Putin on 3 December 2001.


Meles Zenawi, just like previous Ethiopian governments wants Ethiopia to have a larger share of the Nile River. In order to end its decade long dependency on foreign aid Ethiopia needs to develop its irrigation system. The country has already lost millions of people to poverty due to its inability to use the Nile water which 85% of its water runs through Ethiopia.

With the exception of Eritrea (through which the Nile doesn't stream), all East African nations have developed their economies enough to finance a greater use of the Nile River. However, due to the 1929 Blue Nile accords between Egypt and England as well as other agreements, Ethiopia is not allowed such use of its Nile river water. But in contrast to his predecessor, Meles Zenawi and his political party favors diplomatic solutions and accommodating ways to solve this stalemate since Egypt will also fall into poverty without the Nile resources.[110]


Just like Emperor Haile Selassie and Mengistu Haile Mariam, Meles Zenawi and his administration preferred a united but federal nation that included the Eritrean state. However, since Zenawi's TPLF fought together with EPLF, Zenawi originally left the decision of independence to the Eritrean citizens. Also according to Time magazine's 1991 analyzes, Zenawi and the TPLF:

endorsed the right of the Eritreans to their referendum but wants a unified Ethiopia and so hoped that the vote, if held, goes against secession.[111]

However after the EPLF secured their borders when Mengistu's regime fell and after the majority of Eritreans voted for independence on 24 May 1993, Isaias Afewerki Isaias became the new leader of the youngest nation in Africa after Eritrea seceded from Ethiopia. Many people in Meles Zenawi's Ethiopian government and the opposition parties were angry over the decision to grant Eritrea its independence in 1993.[112]

But despite working together against the Derg regime, Meles and Issaias' positive relationship turned sour after Meles succumbed to US pressure to deliver elections within a year and Issaias abandoned his original promise to create a transitional government in the early 1990s..[113] The Eritrean-Ethiopian War began in May 1998.[114] After the Ethiopian breach of the western front and subsequent capture of parts of western Eritrea, the Ethiopian President Negaso Gidada gave a victory speech and a peace treaty was signed a few weeks later. According to the peace treaty Ethiopia then pulled out.[115] The stance of the EPRDF-led Ethiopian government to pull out its troops and let go of Barentu and eastern Eritrea led to one of the many reasons for EPRDF's unpopularity in Ethiopian cities. However since the Ethiopian government accepted the border ruling "in principle" with 5-point condition, tensions between these two nations still exist.


Meles Zenawi and his government have a strong relationship with the internationally recognized Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia. Two of the main points of agreement are state borders and secular values.

Both the TFG and Ethiopia respect the current Ethiopia-Somalia border while the ICU rejects it and considers the Ogaden region part of “Greater Somalia.” Secondly, both TFG. and Ethiopia share secular values where church and state stay separate. Lastly, the United States accused the leadership of ICU of harboring the suspects of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, while Ethiopia also labels ICU as “Jihadists” due to the assistant ICU received from terrorist groups (Al-Itihaad) and others mainly crossing the border to Africa from Arab nations of the Middle East.[116]

Also according to RAND corporation, several Al-Qaeda fugitives had "found sanctuary in Somalia" and exploited the lack of government.[117] There were also several Al-Qaeda operatives identified in southern Somalia.[118] Despite Western interest to solve the problems in Somalia, RAND claims that world powers have failed to practiced their will, particularly in financing the peacekeepings and humanitarian assistance. In addition other analysts have identified documents and Al-Qaeda letters to increase their involvement in Somalia.[119]

Even though the ICU and its Al-Qaeda militant foreign allies received support from various sources, the war was a short-lived one with Ethiopia and the Somalia government defeating the ICU and its allies[120] The battle between the allied Ethiopian/Somali forces and ICU forces ended abruptly and placed the Somali Transitional Federal Government back in control of the capital Mogadishu but an insurgency developed since then. According to Al Jazeera, Ethiopian troops got "a very welcoming reception" from the people of Somalia and the Somalis were "very glad that the Ethiopians came in." [121] But other sources said the people opposed them. It is reported that the ICU lost hundreds of its fighters but the most important factor might have been the self-destruction of ICU's allies and united militia.

However, the transitional government still faces many security issues and the hundreds of Somali refugees that left Somalia because of the insurgency are not willing to return back to Mogadishu.[122] According to the Somali media Garowe Online, clan based Mogadishu media outlets like radios were used as propaganda against the TFG and its Ethiopian allies.[123]

Some political parties in Ethiopia continued to oppose Meles Zenawi's policies and demanded the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops. Merera Gudina, leader of the opposition party United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF) said "the military victory against the Islamic Courts forces was not followed by political victory or national reconciliation."[124] He also said staying in Somalia harms Ethiopian economy and some of the leaders in the Transitional Somali government were not reaching out to civil society members in Somalia. With the exception of the SPDP, UEDP-Medhin(EDUP) and ONC opposition parties, not many other opposition parties in Ethiopia supported the choice of intervention in Somalia forwarded by Meles Zenawi's ruling party.[125] Some members of the Somali parliament expressed their appreciation of Ethiopia's help publicly, but other oppositions remained against the intervention which was portrayed as an invasion instead.[126] a very welcoming reception" "very glad that the Ethiopians came in" Ethiopia withdrew from Somalia in 2009 according to a UN peace agreement between the Sheikh Sharif led opposition and President Abdullahi led TFG.

Climate Change

Meles Zenawi has played an important role in shaping the African Union position on climate change and was a 'friend of the Chair' at COP 15. The following details his role in international climate change policy.

On 31st August 2009 Meles Zenawi was appointed Chair of the African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC). The group had been established in light of the 4th of February 2009 decision at the 12th AU Assembly of Heads of States to build a common Africa position on climate change in preparations for COP15.

Prior to Meles Zenawi's appointment but in light of the AU decision, and the ‘Algiers Declaration on the African Common Platform to Copenhagen’, on 19 May 2009 the Africa Group made a submission to the UNFCCC that included demands for: $67 billion per year in finance for Adaptation funding; $200 billion per year for mitigation; and which set targets in terms of reductions of emissions by developed countries not by reference to temperature.[127]

On the 3rd of September 2009 Meles Zenawi made a speech to the Africa Partnership Forum where he says:

"We will never accept any global deal that does not limit global warming to the minimum unavoidable level, no matter what levels of compensation and assistance are promised to us… While we will reason with everyone to achieve our objective, we will not rubber stamp an agreement by the powers that be as the best we could get for the moment. We will use our numbers to delegitimize any agreement that is not consistent with our minimal position. If needs be we are prepared to walk out of any negotiations that threaten to be another rape of our continent.”[128]

On the 12th of December 2009 at COP 15 the Africa Group made a further submission to the UNFCCC that called for: 45% emission reductions by developed countries by 2020; finance for adaptation of $150 billion immediately as special drawing rights from the IMF; $400 billion in fast-track financing and 5% of Developed Countries' GNP in longer term financing.[129]

On the 15th of December 2009 Meles Zenawi made a joint press release with the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, which declared that the African Union position at Copenhagen was: A 2 degree C temperature target; 10 billion Euros in 'fast-track financing'; and 100 billion euros in 'long-term' financing.'[130]

This new position from Meles Zenawi was observed to be the same as the European Union's position[131] and received wide-spread condemnation by other African leaders including by: Namibian Prime Minister Nahas Angula; Lesotho’s Bruno Sekoli; Ugandan chief negotiator and minister of water and environment, Maria Mutagamba; Sudan’s Ambassador and Chair of G77 Lumumba Di-Aping. African civil society condemned the position as a betrayal of Africa. Archbishop Desmond Tutu said the 2 degree target ‘condemns Africa to incineration and no modern development.'[132]

The Copenhagen Accord went on to reflect the EU's position as adopted by Meles Zenawi.

Criticism and scandals

Ethio-Eritrea War

When Eritrea invaded Ethiopia in 1998, a costly war led to the death of tens of thousands of people on both sides.[133] By the end of the devastating war, the Ethiopian army recovered the town of Badme and drove back Eritrean forces until they controlled around one-third of Eritrean territory, including Barentu region.

However, Meles Zenawi signed a controversial UN peace treaty that was seen to favored Eritrea. This decision angered many Ethiopians and caused an internal division inside the Ethiopian ruling party. The faction critical of Meles, led by Defense Minister Siye Abraha, disagreed with those aligned with Meles over "key issues of ideology", accused his supporters of corruption and Meles of failing to act quickly or decisively enough over the crisis with Eritrea. "Meles was certainly seen as a reluctant warrior," according to a source quoted by IRIN.[134] This led to a showdown at a meeting of the Politburo of the EPRDF, where Meles' won a 15-13 vote on his proposed statement that "the greatest threat that Ethiopia was facing was corruption and undemocratic tendencies." Meles said afterwards that the dissenting members had at that point insisted that the meeting be aborted and called for a general meeting of the TPLF, a move Meles described as "a violation of democratic principles and the statute of the front." A number of the dissenting members of the TPLF, including Siye, were quickly arrested and imprisoned. Siye was later released after 6 years in prison, and joined opposition parties.[135] This rift is thought to have led to the murder of Kinfe Gebremedhin, a former TPLF commander, Chief of Security and Immigration, and a right hand man of Zenawi.

In addition to accusations of his handling of the post-war events, Meles Zenawi was criticized for his pre-war decisions that ignored Eritrean incursions and delayed Ethiopian response to the invasion. Ethiopia did not mobilize its defense forces for a full scale border war after Eritrea attacked the country until a week had passed. By June 1998, Eritrean airforce has already attacked northern Ethiopia, including massacring dozens of school children and teachers in Ayder Elementary school of Mekele. The Ayder Memorial Library Project was established by Diaspora Ethiopians to remember the victims and facilitate the school.[136]

Meles Zenawi, whose mother is Eritrean, has been accused of being too soft on the Eritrean government by many Ethiopians, including by members of his own TPLF party.[citation needed] Some believe Meles wants Eritrean President Isaias to remain in power, despite their deep disagreements.[137] According to a BBC Monitoring report, Meles reportedly blocked 4 million dollars of support being transferred from Yemen and Sudan to the Eritrean National Alliance opposition group which was trying to overthrow the Eritrean regime.[137]

Anuak Conflict

On 13 December 2003 an ethnic conflict in the Gambela Region led to the death of 61 Anuaks in one day and hundreds more over the coming months. It is alleged that the highlanders were also being helped by the Ethiopian Defense forces. According to Amnesty International, federal soldiers participated in the killings and regional authorities did not take necessary preventative measures against the violence.[138]

The highlanders are mostly from the northern regions of Amhara and Tigray (but also Oromia) which populated the Gambela region after they were forced to move southwest from north in the mid-1980s. When Mengistu Haile Mariam ruled in the 1980s, more than 1.5 million Ethiopians were forced to relocate which led to more than 200,000 Ethiopians dead and many more sick in what is described as one of the worst humanitarian crisis of that decade. Since those old days some of the northern highlanders have been living in Gambela, and added a fuel to the already existing conflict between the Nuar and Anuaks.

In December 2003, some of the highlanders who worked for Ethiopian refugee agency, were looking for new camps to shelter the thousands of Sudanese fleeing from their country's internal battles. In that early December a group of armed Anuak killed many highlanders.[139] Anuak rebels have also attacked civilians many times including killing eight people after attacking a United Nations vehicle as well as killing traditional gold miners.[140] But these incidents triggered a tragic & new wave of ethnic violence in which the ethnic highlanders have the power & financial edge since they owned most of the businesses in Gambela. Highlighting this disaster which was labeled a "genocide" by some Anuaks and anti-Ethiopian government diaspora Ethiopians was that Barnabas Gebre-Ab, who was the Ethiopia’s Minister of Federal Affairs for the State of Gambela, was never charged of any wrongdoing after the court hearings.

A lot of ethnic conflicts occur also since the region is rich with oil and minerals. It is said that the Anuak (Anyuak) people feel they have been gradually displaced from their traditional lands.[141] Despite 5,000 Ethiopian troops being deployed to keep peace in the area, tensions are still high. Anuak tribesmen interviewed by BBC correspondents said they appreciated the government's effort to keep peace against Anuak rebel's, yet ordinary Anuaks still fear for their lives.[142] In October 2005, Anuak rebels attacked a catholic church and a police station.[143]

The Ethiopian government, including PM Meles Zenawi, stated that both the Anuak insurgents and the highlander militias were responsible for the conflict. And "without the intervention of the army, the killings would have continued indefinitely." Even though the regional security forces made an effort to restrain the tension between the ethnic groups which are historically enemies, after an independent investigation, four town soldiers have been put in prison for favoring one ethnicity over another during the ethnic conflicts. Also many regional government officials say the number dead was not 400 in that day but claim that around 200 both armed Anuaks and 'highlanders' were tragically killed after the ethnic violence.[144] They also claim that making a conclusion based on the accusations of some Anuaks who fled after the ethnic conflicts or foreign organizations using the testimony of only these same Anuak people who obviously do not like the other two ethnic groups in Gambella (Nuer and 'highlander' Amharas & Tigeans) is an unprofessional and dishonest observation.

The government and other critical analysts often disregard using just pro-Anuak sources of information and testimonies for seeing them as bias against other local ethnicities. However some Anuak (Anywaa) sources also depicted diverse accounts of the story. For instance, Anuak refugees and witnesses who claimed they saw the conflict & massacre said that the bloodshed was started by anti-government civilians as well as anti-government soldiers & anti-government officials in order to create problem for the government. One witness said,

I think that among the mob and the soldiers there was a group of people who were against the government and wanted to use this opportunity to put the government in a problem. I think that there were anti-government and anti-Anywaa elements within the army who orchestrated this type of killing.[145]

Despite progress to curb the historical ethnic divisions & political tensions, there still remains a relatively tense political situation in the Gambella region. Recently the Gambella Peace Olympics, a sport festival promoting peace and development amongst Gambella Region's ethnic groups including Anuaks & nuers, was held in a bid to bring about constructive dialogue and long-term peace among the region's often feuding ethnic groups.[146]

Post election violence

On 18 October 2006 an independent report said Ethiopian police massacred 193 protesters, mostly in the capital Addis Ababa, in the violence of June and November following the May 2005 elections. The information was leaked before the official independent report was handed to the parliament. The leak made by Ethiopian judge Wolde-Michael Meshesha found that the government had concealed the true extent of deaths at the hands of the police.[147] This leak also brought more accusations that the opposition party which provoked the riots was trying to damage the reputation of the government by leaking the inquiry unlawfully. Gemechu Megerssa, a member of the independent Inquiry commission, which Mr. Meshesha once worked with, said Mr. Meshesha taking the report "out of context and presenting it to the public to sensationalise the situation for his political end is highly unethical."[148]

The judge in Europe described the deaths as a massacre and said the toll could well have been higher. However, the judge was filing for an Asylum and is currently living in Europe, bringing a speculation that he was bias to begin with in support of the opposition party. But he claimed that he had to leave the country because he thought he would be "harassed" by the government. He speculated that Zenawi ordered troops to shoot at protesters. But according to New York Times, Meles said "he did not authorize the police to use live bullets."[149]

The official report described by the parliament and the government gave the exact same details as the leaked inquiry. It said that 193 people had been killed, including 40 teenagers. Six policemen were also killed and some 763 people injured. Police records showed 20,000 people were initially arrested during the anti-government protests.[147] However the government said various witnesses from the Kinijit (CUD) opposition party members have testified that CUD leaders assured them of a demise of Zenawi's party and government in order to start an armed rebellion. The witnesses stated that CUD leaders encouraged them to start military training and planning to overthrow the government.[150] The commission members living in Addis Ababa also criticised the government saying;

We are not saying the government was totally clean. The government has a lot to be accountable for. The mentality of the police needs to be changed, and then we will be able to minimize those kinds of casualties in the future. Building of [democratic] institutions is required, but that is going to take time. [So] The government was not prepared to tackle violence like that which took place last year. They could have brought an alternative way of dispersing rioting crowds.[151][152]

But the independent Inquiry commission members added Mr. Meshesha going to Europe and reporting out of context information was "dishonest", ugly politics as well as insensitive to the process of developing Ethiopia's young democracy. Then the commission said Ethiopians need to solve their problems themselves so that these kinds of violences will not occur again. It said respecting authority & each other and working together is important as well as changing the mentality of the police is what the "government has to think about seriously."[153]

Despite all these post-election issues & complications, in addition to the Carter Center and the US government, British MPs continued to praise the democratic process in Ethiopia. After meeting with some opposition parties, the British MPs also stated that the Ethiopian government should always stand firmly against those who try to use "undemocratic and unconstitutional means" to change government.[154]

Presently, all except 20 of the elected opposition members have joined the Ethiopian parliament along with the EPRDF party members. The other top opposition parties, UEDF and UEPD-Medhin, are peacefully working with the government for negotiations on the democratic process.[155] Yet many opposition parties are still represented in the Ethiopia Parliament where representatives from Oromia state hold the most positions and representatives from the Amhara State hold the second most position, in correlation with the population order of the corresponding states.[156] Various opposition parties including UEDF, UEPD-Medhin, Somali People's Democratic Party (SPDP), EDL, Gambella People's Democratic Movement (GPDM), All Ethiopian Unity Organization (AEUO), Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM)and Benishangul-Gumuz People's Democratic Unity Front (BGPDUF) hold positions in the parliament.[156] Despite pressure to release the CUD leaders who were rounded up after the post election violence, the Ethiopian court convicted 38 of the top CUD leaders.[157] However after various negotiations to solve the deadlock via a political agreement, the convicted CUD leaders signed a document, which many believe was coerced out of them, accepting their "mistakes" and an accountability ranging from partial to full responsibility for the post election violence.[158][159]


Currently, all of the main opposition party's (CUD) leaders are out of jail after an alleged attempt to overthrow the government and initiating the post election violence. All of these charges are denied by CUD leadership both in Ethiopia and international, and the European Union continues to plea for the political prisoners to be released after a speedy trial. Some of these elected CUD officials endure very harsh conditions inside Ethiopia's poorly maintained prisons and they are at risk of various medical complications. As a result of the violence after the elections, many thousands were arrested and imprisoned, even though some have been freed few still remain in prison. Up to the end of 2005, around 8,000 Ethiopian rioters were freed.[160]

After a long and slow judicial proceedings an Ethiopian judge dropped the controversial charges of attempted genocide and treason against 111 people arrested after election protests. Twenty-five accused, mostly journalists and publishers, have also been acquitted of all charges. However several opposition leaders remain in custody, accused of trying to violently overthrow the government.[161] After the original arrests the Prime Minister told the parliament that releasing "these hardliners" would embolden them to think "whatever their action, they will not be held accountable." Thus he stated "the government has made it abundantly clear that interfering with the judicial process for the release of hardliners is out of the question. The government has taken this unwavering position not because of stubbornness or for a lack of willingness to resolve issues through dialogue and negotiation."[162] The ruling party has accused the group of trying to utilize street uprising techniques as a way to change regimes. Various supporters of the government and supporters of peaceful opposition parties who function in the parliament continue to accuse the imprisoned opposition group of "extremism" and accuse them of following the textbook directions given by Dr. Negede. An exiled & educated Ethiopian, Dr. Negede is known for the famous book he wrote on how to overthrow the government through street uprising.[163][164] However Amnesty international and the supporters of the group in jail claim that the detainees are "prisoners of conscience", innocent and should be freed immediately and unconditionally. As of June 2007, the Ethiopian court found the opposition party CUD's 38 senior figures guilty of the charges.[165] After CUD's top leaders signed a paper accepting responsibility for the violence, some sources claim the leaders would be freed in a short time.[166] All the leadership of the CUD party were released after the pardon board accepted their apology letter. According to VOA news, a CUD spokesman Hailu Araya said "We signed it voluntarily. We apologized to the people, to the government. Yes, we did. That’s what the paper said, and that’s what we signed."[167]

Somalia intervention

Following jihad declaration by Islamists in Mogadishu and after an invitation by the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, Ethiopian troops intervened in southern Somalia at the end of December 2006. With the help of Puntland and together with the TFG's forces, Ethiopian troops captured Mogadishu and installed the transitional government.

Since their presence, the war between TFG forces, Ethiopian troops and Al Qaeda linked Islamist insurgents led to the death of over 10,000 civilians in souther Somalia and charges of war crimes on all sides of the fighting. All parties of the fighting have rejected the accusations from human rights organizations.

Ogaden conflict

Meles Zenawi's government has allegedly carried out brutal counter insurgency techniques against the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), particularly after the ONLF killed more than 70 Chinese and Ethiopian Oil facility workers in the region in April, 2007. Both sides accuse each other of human rights abuses. In June 2008, HRW criticized the lack of Western condemnation to Meles Zenawi's counter insurgency policy and to the military activities by Ethiopian Defence forces in reaction to ONLF's attacks.

Both fighting forces accuse each other of killing civilians and burning villages, with HRW claiming that accounts by refugees fleeing out of the country support ONLF's accusations. Both Ethiopia and its allies claim refugees fleeing out of Ethiopia, instead of taking shelter from the conflict inside Ethiopia, were supporters of the ONLF who can not be used as independent source of evidence.

Western governments continued to state that they will check into the various allegations from all sides.

Inflation and drought management

Ethiopia has seen a rise in the general level of prices since around 2004, which has worsened the drought problems caused by the lack of rain, as reported by UN humanitarian organizations. The inflation rate was reportedly in the low teens in 2005- 2006, high teens during 2007 and in the 20s in 2008. This inflation crisis has deeply affected the urban population in Ethiopia.

According to UN's Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program, the inflation problem is occurring because "More income for farmers" is causing "higher prices in shops." Ethiopian farmers are the driving force of the rural based economy where only 15% of the population belongs in the urban. The UN report says "as markets get less centralized, and farmers become more sophisticated and better informed traders are starting to complain about the market power of the farmers" so "farmers are now better off, and able to wait and spread their grain sales through the year, rather than having to rush everything to market immediately after harvest when prices are at their lowest." The UN report says that "grain prices in Ethiopia, however much they may have risen, however unaffordable they may be to the urban poor, are still below world prices and below prices in most neighboring countries." [168]

International accolades


Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, has received various international awards for setting up a good foundation for the development of Ethiopia. Even though Ethiopia remains one of the poorest countries in the world, the near double digit annual economic growth recently are seen as the beginning of Ethiopia's long marathon struggle to eliminate poverty. Acknowledging the rapid GDP growth of the country, the UK newspaper The Economist said in December 2007 that "Ethiopia's economy has been growing at record speed in recent years."[169] In 2008, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) described the speed of Ethiopia's economic growth in recent years as the "fastest for a non-oil exporting country in Sub-Saharan Africa",[170] with Ethiopia ranked as the second most attractive African country for investors.[171]

Although many opposition parties and parliamentarian critics disagree, some Ethiopians also portray the arrival date of Meles Zenawi's government, 28 May 1991 (Ginbot 20), as the "Birth of democracy" in Ethiopia while diplomats and analysts say the country is slowly moving towards democracy.[172][173][174]

  • Before he joined the Medical Faculty of Addis Ababa University, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was awarded the Haile Selassie I Prize Trust, a highly selective award given only to the most outstanding graduating students.[175][176]
  • The Rwanda government awarded Meles Zenawi Rwanda’s National Liberation Medal, the "Uruti," in July 2009 for helping to liberate Rwanda and end the genocide in the country. Alongside two other African leaders, Meles was also given Rwanda's highest accolade, the "Umurinzi" medal, Rwanda’s Campaign Against Genocide Medal.[177][178]
  • The World Peace Prize for PM Meles Zenawi's contributions for global peace and his effort to stabilize the Horn of Africa through cooperation with Inter-Governmental Authority for Development(IGAD).[179]
  • Tabor 100, an African American entrepreneur’s organization, honored PM. Meles Zenawi for his big contribution toward economic and social transformation in Africa with its prestigious Crystal Eagle International Leadership Award in April 2005.[180] Tabor 100, a U.S.-based nongovernmental organization, calling Meles Zenawi “International leader of the year 2005”, also honored the efforts of the Ethiopian government in general for war on poverty and backwardness.[181]
  • PM Meles Zenawi was also awarded the “Good Governance Award" of the Global coalition for Africa in respect for leading Ethiopia in a democratic path during the challenging period of transition.[182][183] He was selected for the good governance award by the US-based Corporate Council on Africa.[184]
  • PM Meles Zenawi received the Norway-based 2005 ["Yara Prize for Green Revolution"]Yara for initiating a good foundation for economic progress in Ethiopia, particularly on the agricultural sector for the poor country that has doubled its food production. During the award ceremony held in the Norwegian capital of Oslo on 3 September, the director of the UN project for Africa said, "With our support, Ethiopia can lift itself from poverty and hunger. Under Prime Minister Meles the country has created the grass roots structure to enable this to happen.”[185]
  • Meles Zenawi was given the "Africa Political Leadership Award" of 2008 by the US-based newspaper Africa Times. Previous winners of the award include Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and others.[186]
  • Ethiopia’s military awarded Prime Minister Meles Zenawi for his leadership during the 1998-2000 war with its northern neighbour when Eritrea invaded Ethiopia in 1998.[133][187]
  • Residents of the historic and ancient UNESCO town of Axum in Ethiopia awarded Prime Minister Meles Zenawi for his political and diplomatic leadership role to the return and re-erection of the Obelisk of Axum after 68 years stay in Rome, Italy.[188]
  • Meles Zenawi received the Confederation of African Football's (CAF) Gold Order of Merit award in February 2007. PM Zenawi was given the CAF organisation's highest award for his services to the progress of African football. Ethiopia was one of the founding countries of the CAF(1957) and the organization, with the dedication of AU leaders like Mr. Zenawi, was celebrating the "International Year of African Football" in 2007.[189]


  • Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is also a Co-Chairperson of the Global Coalition for Africa (GCA.)[190] The Global Coailition for Africa brings together senior African policy makers and their partners to deepen dialogue and build consensus on Africa's priority development issues.
  • The Prime Minister was the co-chairperson of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Nov.2006) Ethiopia is the Forum's co-chair country.[191] It led to the adoption of the Beijing Action Plan (2007–2009) for partnership for economic progress and cultural exchanges. It also stated to support Africa's "development [of] international political, economic, trade and financial systems."
  • In 2004, Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom appointed Prime Minister Meles Zenawi as one of the Commissioners taking part in the Commission for Africa.[192]

Prime Minister Zenawi served as the Chairman of the Organization for African Unity (OAU, now the African Union - AU) from June 1995 to June 1996.

  • In 2007, the African Union elected Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to chair the executive committee of the NEPAD (the New Partnership for Africa's Development)
  • Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was chosen to represent Africa at the G8 Summit and the G20 summit in London.[193][194][195]
  • The African Union selected Meles Zenawi to lead an African Delegation to the Global Conference on Climate Change at Copenhagen in 2009.
  • In February 2010, the UN named Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi as co-chair of the Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing, a new high-level U.N. advisory group on climate change financing. [196]


Several social, economic, religious and political developments and systems were established for the first time in Ethiopia under Meles Zenawi's rule.[197]

  • First regional referendum for peaceful Secession (Eritrea 1991-)
  • First Multi-party National election for opposition (2000,2005)
  • First institutionalized linguistic freedom at local level (1994-)
  • First ethnic based federalism (since 1994)
  • First private media outlets in Ethiopian history (since 1994)
  • First consecutive double-digit GDP growth - International Monetary Fund (since 2006)
  • First multi-party parliament with opposition MPs (since 2000)
  • First unrestricted freedom of religion for evangelicals/Pentecostals (since 1994)


Meles Zenawi was given the Green Revolution award and a financial prize of 200,000 dollars by the Norwegian Yara Foundation in September 2005 "in recognition of past accomplishments and encouragement to achieve economic development for the people of Ethiopia."

Meles donated his $200,000 financial award to a foundation called "Fre--Addis Ethiopia Women Fund" (Fre-Addis Ethiopia Yesetoch Merja Mahiber).[198] The Fre-Addis Ethiopia Women Fund has an objective "to empower girls through providing educational opportunities" and it currently supports 514 needy and orphan rural girls to pursue their education throughout the country.

Books/thesis by Meles

  • The Eritrean Struggle: From Where to Where? (1980)
  • African Development: Dead Ends and New Beginnings (2006)
  • Agricultural Development-Led Industrialisation (ADLI) strategy

Media appearances

See also


  1. ^ Nom de guerre Meles
  2. ^ Profile: Ethiopian leader Meles Zenawi, BBC, 10 August 2005.
  3. ^ Aregawi Berhe, a former member of the TPLF, notes that in their histories of the TPLF both John young and Jenny Hammond "vaguely indicate" that Meles was one of the founders of the TPLF. Aregawi insists that both he and Sibhat Nega joined the Front "months" after it was founded. (A Political history of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (1975-1991) (Los Angeles: Tsehai, 2009), p. 62
  4. ^ More information on Meles Zenawi
  5. ^ Open University speech on Meles Zenawi
  6. ^ Honorary doctoral degree
  7. ^ Economist on Meles
  8. ^ The greatest strategist of the 21st century in Africa
  9. ^ Azeb Mesfin given Legacy of Dream award
  10. ^ Millennium Development Goals
  11. ^ "Good Deeds in Ethiopia, Punished", New York Times published 1 June 1991
  12. ^ "Ethiopia: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices", Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, US State Department . Retrieved 9 July 2009.
  13. ^ Election results with detailed map of Ethiopia
  14. ^ Inquiry on post-election violence
  15. ^ Post election violence
  16. ^ election intimidation of EPRDF supporters and others
  17. ^ Post election comments and conclusions
  18. ^ strange issues of 2005 elections
  19. ^ critics claim opposition staged chaos to gain outside support
  20. ^ US official says European observers did a bad job and "went over board"
  21. ^ USAID says opposition lost the election
  22. ^ SBS journalist on election violence
  23. ^ Final report on the causes of riots and the property damage of the violent demonstrations
  24. ^ defected inquiry members
  25. ^ Tony Blair on the 2005 election
  26. ^ Group says election was free and fair
  27. ^ Progress in multiparty parliament
  28. ^ using violence to overthrow government
  29. ^ opposition supporters hoping for violence
  30. ^ Violent protests
  31. ^ Trying to overthrow government
  32. ^ committee condemns corruption in European Union election monitoring body
  33. ^ [1]
  34. ^ [2]
  35. ^ [3]
  36. ^ [4]
  37. ^ [5]
  38. ^ World Security Network
  39. ^ political history of Ethiopia
  40. ^ Temesgen Zewdie calls for the resignation of Meles Zenawi
  41. ^ 2005 Ethiopian national elections
  42. ^ Ethnicity will become less an issue
  43. ^ [6]
  44. ^ [7]
  45. ^ Ethiopian government's rank in Africa on spending policies
  46. ^ Amhara Development Association
  47. ^ Tigrai Development Association
  48. ^ Oromia Developmemt Association
  49. ^ Ethiopia's GPD increasing
  50. ^ some opposition parties question the economic growth
  51. ^ ADB and OECD praise development
  52. ^ Tekeze power project
  53. ^ largest hydroelectric plant in Amhara state
  54. ^ Ethiopia to Export power to Sudan and Djibouti
  55. ^ Africa monitor, a private paper from addis ababa
  56. ^ the private media in Ethiopia and issues
  57. ^ capital ethiopia paper on business
  58. ^ sub sahara informer, a private paper on various african nations
  59. ^ Ethiopian reporter, an english private paper
  60. ^ Addis fortune, an english business private paper
  61. ^ Ethiopia criticized on press freedom
  62. ^ some journalists asking for ethnic violence
  63. ^ banned journalists asking for an ethnic group to be quarantined"
  64. ^ issues with irresponsible journalism
  65. ^ Journalists inciting violence
  66. ^ Ethiopia responds on press freedom issues
  67. ^ [8]
  68. ^ [9]
  69. ^ [10]
  70. ^ government grants licences to two domestic private commercial FM radio operators
  71. ^ Ethiopia legalises private radio
  72. ^ Radio and tv stations in Ethiopia
  73. ^ Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECEX)
  74. ^ Zenawi claims ECX would revolutionalize the marketing system
  75. ^ flower industry
  76. ^ Floriculture sector growing in Ethiopia
  77. ^ flower growers relocate to Ethiopia
  78. ^ Ethiopia's export earnings growing by 500 per cent
  79. ^ $7.5 billion invested on sugar
  80. ^ Ethiopia is a good example on wild life
  81. ^ Africa climate change woes aired at Clinton summit
  82. ^ “cap and trade mechanism” is vital- PM Zenawi
  83. ^ Africa climate change woes aired at Clinton summit
  84. ^ $5 billion birr cement factory
  85. ^ car factory for local and export markets
  86. ^ [11]
  87. ^ Selam bus factory
  88. ^ Taxi manufacturing
  89. ^ East African land of opportunity
  90. ^ [12]
  91. ^ [13]
  92. ^ Ethiopia registering growth
  93. ^ Brief Information
  94. ^ "Over 16mln birr secondary school built in Diredawa town". June 7, 2006. Archived from the original on April 7, 2007. 
  95. ^ Focus on HIGHER EDUCATION
  96. ^ "Over 19,000 children get access to education in North Western Tigray". November 18, 2005. Archived from the original on April 8, 2007. 
  97. ^ Ethiopia is showing "good" economic progress
  98. ^ a b Educational improvements
  99. ^ other new colleges
  100. ^ Wollega University expanding
  101. ^ New university and facilities
  102. ^ Woliata Soddo U
  103. ^ 12 new universities in 2007
  104. ^ Dilla University expansion
  105. ^ new University research project
  106. ^ University Capacity Building Program
  107. ^ Government supports better role, status for women
  108. ^ women's organizations
  109. ^ protecting women's rights
  110. ^ Ethiopia needs greater share of Nile River
  111. ^ TIME magazine 1991 June 10
  112. ^ opposition and government members angry on Meles granting Eritrean independence
  113. ^ Beyer, Lisa (1991-06-10). "Ethiopia: Rebels Take Charge - TIME". TIME<!.,9171,973133-3,00.html. Retrieved 2009-11-21. 
  114. ^ Ethiopian troops celebrate(2000)
  115. ^ Negaso Gidada victory speech
  116. ^ Intelligence Brief Somalia, and with Ethiopia
  117. ^ Al-qaeda in Somalia
  118. ^ Al-qaeda operatives in Somalia
  119. ^ Al-Qaeda letter for Somalia
  120. ^ Ethiopian Victory in Somalia
  121. ^ "Friendly" Ethiopian troops get welcoming reception- al jazeera
  122. ^ Somali refugees fleeing ICU still live in Ethiopia
  123. ^ "Mogadishu radio stations incited the public" - Garowe
  124. ^ UEDF leader demands troop withdrawal from Somalia
  125. ^ Support for the Somalia intervention
  126. ^ Somali parliament members thank Ethiopia for assistance
  127. ^ Africa Group submission, [14]
  128. ^ Meles Zenawi speech to Africa Partnership Forum - [15]
  129. ^ Africa Group submission to Copenhagen, [16]
  130. ^ Press Release from Sarkozy's Office on Meles Zenawi's "proposal" [17]
  131. ^ See, EU Position Paper, "Stepping up international climate finance: A European blueprint for the Copenhagen Deal" [18]
  132. ^ [19] and [20]
  133. ^ a b "Eritrea broke law in border war", BBC News website, published 21 December 2005
  134. ^ "Ethiopia: Government moves on dissident group", IRIN, published 27 March 2001 . Retrieved 20 November 2009.
  135. ^ "Ethiopia: Meles wins out over dissident threat", IRIN, published 26 March 2001 . Retrieved 20 November 2009.
  136. ^ Ayder Memorial Library Project website . Retrieved 20 November 2009.
  137. ^ a b "Eritrean opposition leader disagrees with Ethiopian prime minister", Asia Africa Intelligence Wire website, published 23 September 2003
  138. ^ Report 2005, Amnesty International.
  139. ^ New York Times on Anuaks, Gambella
  140. ^ Anuaks attacking United Nations workers
  141. ^ Anuaks rebels attack traditional goldminers
  142. ^ Ordinary Anuaks support government's efforts
  143. ^ Anuak rebels attack a catholic church and police station
  144. ^ Anuak and highlanders ethnic violence
  145. ^ anti-government civilians and soldiers allegedly started the revenge attacks on Anuaks
  146. ^ steps to solve ethnic tensions and bring long-term peace in Gambella
  147. ^ a b "Africa |Ethiopian protesters 'massacred'". BBC News. 2006-10-19. Retrieved 2009-11-21. 
  148. ^ Post-election violence inquiry commission
  149. ^ Inquiry on ballot violence
  150. ^ Eyewitnesses testify in court about CUD's alleged "coup-plot"
  151. ^ The Inquiry Commission's report in Addis Ababa
  152. ^ Commission members speak out
  153. ^ The Inquiry Commission's final report in Addis Ababa
  154. ^ British Parliamentary delegation praises the democratic process in Ethiopia
  155. ^ Opposition parties negotiating with the government
  156. ^ a b Opposition parties and EPRDF in the Ethiopian Parliament
  157. ^ Ethiopian CUD leaders convicted by the court
  158. ^ 38 Ethiopian opponents claim responsibility for post-poll violence
  159. ^ Ethiopian Prisoners sign Paper to accept partial guilt
  160. ^ 8,000 post election rioters freed from prison
  161. ^ Genocide charges dropped
  162. ^ On interfering with judicial process
  163. ^ Dr.Negede's role in Ethiopian politics
  164. ^ Diaspora politics and Dr.Negede
  165. ^ 38 CUD senior leaders found guilty of charges
  166. ^ Ethiopian Prisoners Sign Paper in Bid for Release
  167. ^ CUD spokesman said the party apologized and signed pardon letter voluntarily
  168. ^ the Food and Agriculture Organization claims farmers better off, rising prices
  169. ^ Ethiopia's economy growing at record speed
  170. ^ Ethiopia has fastest growing economy for a "non-oil exporting country in Sub-Saharan Africa"
  171. ^ Nigeria, Ethiopia top Africa investment index
  172. ^ Birth of democracy in Ethiopia
  173. ^ Political history of Ethiopia and start of democracy
  174. ^ Analysts and diplomats say Ethiopia is moving towards democracy
  175. ^ Zenawi given the Haile Selassie I Prize Trust
  176. ^ Meles awarded the Haile Selassie I Prize Trust
  177. ^ Meles, Yoweri and Nyerere given Rwanda’s highest accolades for their contribution to the liberation struggle
  178. ^ Museveni, Zenawi, Nyerere to receive national honours
  179. ^ World Peace Prize, Zenawi
  180. ^ Crystal Eagle International Leadership Award 2005
  181. ^ International Leader of the year
  182. ^ Good governance award
  183. ^ Good Governance Award of the Global coalition for Africa
  184. ^ Corporate Council on Africa for the good governance award
  185. ^ Yara Prize international award
  186. ^ Africa Political Leadership Award given to Meles Zenawi
  187. ^ Ethiopian army honours PM
  188. ^ Axum town residents award Meles Zenawi
  189. ^ Meles Zenawi receives merit award from CAF
  190. ^ Global Coailition for Africa
  191. ^ Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Co-op
  192. ^ Commission For Africa
  193. ^ Ethiopian PM and IMF to represent Africa’s voice at G20 summit
  194. ^ Ethiopia - Meles Zenawi G8 Summit in Pictures
  195. ^ Ethiopia - Meles Zenawi to represent Africa on G20 Summit
  196. ^ [UN taps prime ministers to seek new climate money]
  197. ^ Meles accomplished many other "firsts" in the politics of his country: Monitor
  198. ^ Fre-Addis Ethiopia Women Fund


External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Mengistu Haile Mariam
President of Ethiopia
1991 – 1995
Succeeded by
Negasso Gidada
Preceded by
Tamirat Layne
Prime Minister of Ethiopia
1995 – present
Succeeded by

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