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Ethiopia: Meles Zenawi’s shadow still hangs

Died in 2012, the first former minister is more present than ever. Economic programs and political mores of the country bear his mark.

Ethiopia today follows the economic and political path that drew him Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister for twenty-one years, died Aug. 20, 2012. © Roland Kemp / Rex Featu / REX / SIPA
Ethiopia today follows the economic and political path that drew him Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister for twenty-one years, died Aug. 20, 2012. © Roland Kemp / Rex Featu / REX / SIPA

Many said of him that he was the “last emperor” ‘s Ethiopia . Came to power by force after the fall of the communist regime, Meles Zenawihas ruled with a rod of iron twenty-one years. Two years after his death August 20, 2012, in the streets of Addis Ababa, on school walls, behind the offices of officials, his picture is everywhere.

An unusual course

At 20 years old, medical student leaves the university and joined the People’s Liberation Front Tigray (TPLF). He takes up arms and led a guerrilla war against the Marxist government of Mengistu Haile Mariam . In 1989, he became president of the TPLF and the Revolutionary Democratic Front Ethiopian People (EPRDF). Two years later, the military junta of the Derg is scanned and it is natural that Meles Zenawi took power in the state. Power he held for twenty-one years. In Ethiopia, it is the man who pulled the country out of starvation. He boosted the industry to achieve double-digit growth in the 2000s icing on the cake: he managed to wear the habit of leading the fight against terrorism in the Horn of Africa. At the time, President Bill Clinton saw in Meles Zenawi one of the “leaders of the African renaissance.” Ask an Ethiopian name his prime minister, he never answer Haile Mariam Dessalegn, yet in the position for two years.

A real sense of anticipation

Meles Zenawi had everything. He had made his runner Haile Mariam Dessalegn since 2010, Article 75 of the Ethiopian Constitution provides that the Deputy Prime Minister “is acting on behalf of the Prime Minister in his absence.” Without consulting the opposition, the EPRDF, the largest component of the ruling coalition, plans Haile Mariam Dessalegn the highest office of state. At first glance, all opposed to his mentor. Dessalegn is a technocrat, a Southerner, discreet and Protestant confession, unlike the leaders of the party, all Tigrayans (ethnic group in the north). But analysts doubt that the elite waives run the country. Some see Dessalegn a puppet of the party.

GTP, the economic will is followed to the letter

Meles Zenawi had foreseen indeed. For 2010 as he launched the GTP – Growth and Transformation Plan. A five-year plan that lays the political guidelines. A bequest that the current government is following to the letter. Industry, education, agriculture, infrastructure, international trade, all sectors are scrutinized to place Ethiopia in mind the dominant economies of the continent. Major projects are gradually made ​​roads, interchanges, railway lines … The train from Addis Ababa to Djibouti is on track and the dam of the Renaissance, built on the Blue Nile, out of the ground.Come see what serenely 2015, an election year in which the opposition hopes to achieve in a year of change. But nothing is less certain with the developmental state(“developmental state” presiding instead of Meles era, regarded as the era of “enlightened despotism”). Along with the gradual democratization, there is the developmental state based on the principle advocated by former Prime Minister himself, inspired by Asian economies. More clearly, it is a liberal based on capitalism but state-controlled economy.

And in this respect, the guideline given that Meles is: export and attract foreign investors. In 2011, he invited the CEO of Huajian, Chinese shoe giant, Ethiopia. Meanwhile, Meles knocking the French Castel and urged him to make wine “made in Ethiopia”. Two years after his death, two plants Huajian suburb of the capital in full swing and the first bottles Castel (1.2 million) are already on the shelves and half is sold abroad.

After the economic continuity, policy continuity

The State encourages. The state controls. No matter the man who runs it. Meles dictated the rules. According to Jean-Nicolas Bach, a researcher at the Institute of Political Studies in Bordeaux, “the state does not admit any dialogue or compromise.” Meles Zenawi did not trust that in his entourage, even to himself, to orchestrate the entry of Ethiopia in 2025 in the community of middle-income countries, “he said. And of He added: “The autocratic rule of Meles Zenawi has been the cost to date to implement the announced development.” In the 2010 elections, his victory was overwhelming with 99% of votes.

In the era Dessalegn few changes that side. In 2012, the International Crisis Group wrote: “In recent years, Meles had relied increasingly on repression to quell growing dissent His successor will struggle to manage the increase in these disorders..” And indeed, the Anti-Terrorism Act, introduced in 2009, continues to hold political opposition and media. In late April, new bloggers and journalists have been arrested and charged with terrorism. As members of opposing parties, they are regularly arrested. Last June, the opponent Andargachew Tsige was extradited from Yemen to Ethiopia, where he was convicted in absentia in 2009 and sentenced to death. This state continuity beyond the men who embody it gives the famous phrase “The king is dead, long live the king” a particular resonance.

Source and translated from : lepoint.fr

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