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International Crisis Groupís Erroneous Assertions on Late Premier

By Berhane Kahsay, Sept. 27, 2012

The International Crisis Group (ICG) is literally going out of its way to make a name for itself by disseminating white lies of the worst possible sort against Ethiopia. ICG is not a self financing organisation but it audaciously states that it is transparent, independent and above board. How it can remain beyond frequent arm twisting by fund contributors is really hard to believe. The ICG further claims that it is committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflicts worldwide but by its actions it has shown quite clearly that this is far from the truth. In any case, the ICG seems to have carved a niche for itself and funds are continuously flowing in its way.  In an effort to catch up with other institutions such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, it is coming up with headline grabbing unsubstantiated sensational stories.

A case in point is the premature announcement of the death of PM Meles by the ICG via G-7 which it swiftly denied as the source of the story when it was found to be an outright lie. It is pretty clear that the ICG is acting as a mouth piece for unfriendly government/s hell bent on disrupting Ethiopia’s unrelenting economic progress. Was the intention to incite an upheaval in the country? Does it seriously reckon that a little push could cause the two decades long economic success to come to a scratching halt? Who would benefit from this?

Egypt is the country that springs to mind for obvious reasons; it wants the Nile just for itself, and would gain immensely if Ethiopia was to revert to war, and perpetual famine and starvation. The Arab nation would love to hamper the phenomenal and spectacular transformation of Ethiopia into the leading economy of Eastern Africa. The probability of success, however, is very slim indeed.

The good news for Ethiopia is that Egypt is in a precarious situation at this moment in time. The country is in a state of turmoil as a result of the serious conflict that has opened up between the Muslim Brotherhood led government and the Salafi Al-Nur opposition party that is gaining ground and wants to turn Egypt into an Islamic state. To make matters worse, Barak Obama has publically stated that he no longer considers Egypt as an ally as it took its time to condemn the death of an American ambassador in Libya. The US considers Egypt as a Very Favoured Nation (VFN) alongside Israel and Turkey, and receives annual aid estimated to be around $5 billion. The Islamisation of Egypt, not to mention the other North African Countries, is seriously worrying the Obama administration and Israel. The moment may have come for the US to damp Egypt and make its way to the Horn of Africa and catapult the age old historical relationship with Ethiopia into a much higher level.  ICG would not be ecstatic about this, but one would expect it from a trash organisation that makes a living by knocking down assertive third world leaders like the late Ethiopian Prime Minister.

The folks at ICG haven’t got a clue the length Ethiopia has travelled since the over throw of the military dictatorship. Ethiopia is now stable and can with stand sudden and prolonged shocks without too much discomfort. The country was without a leader for weeks and nothing untoward happened over this period. Smooth transition of power has taken place without a hitch for the first time in the history of Ethiopia. A huge state funeral was successfully completed although chaos was predicted by the fringe groups in the Diaspora and the ICG. Millions of Ethiopians have clearly shown during the mourning of the late Premier how united they were, and as long as this unity is maintained, the stability and cohesion of the country would undoubtly stand the taste of time. The ICG was foolishly hoping to initiate chaos and uprising in Ethiopia similar to what is taking place in Syria, Yemen, Libya and other Arab countries but these failed to completely materialise.

The ICG didn’t limit itself to spreading pure lies and fabrications but was also involved in besmirching the good name of the late Premier of Ethiopia. Not long ago, it posted an article on its website titled ‘Ethiopia After Meles.’ This short commentary has exposed how little the ICG knew about the departed Ethiopian leader who managed to transform his country into one of the leading economic powers of the Horn region in just two decades. In the article the ICG describes the late Prime Minister as an authoritarian with poor human rights records. What made them think Meles was an authoritarian?  Authoritarians have the following characteristics in common but we fail to see how anyone of them listed below could have been linked to the late Premier:

  • Demand total obedience; Meles was a champion of consensus politics and if it was not for this, the success registered in all spheres under his leadership would not have been possible. The sign of a good leader is that he takes the views and opinions of others into account, and this is exactly what he did when he was a guerrilla leader for seventeen years and prime Minister for the last twenty one years. Of course he was firm and decisive with those who were involved in destructive and harmful politics.
  • Disallow freedom of speech; there are a number of free private presses and radio stations expressing their views without any restrictions provided they operate within the law of the land. Most of these are critical of the EPRDF government and yet they are functioning freely which an authoritarian leader would not permit. Of course there are those activists who claim to be journalists and call for the overthrow of a democratically elected government so that they could come to power where they were not able do so through free and fair general elections. Such people were prosecuted and put behind bars as they transgressed the law of the country. In the Western World you could be prosecuted for being homophobic or racist, why shouldn’t those who were calling for regime change through violent means be punished? It is simply tripe to question Meles Zenawi’s record on human rights because of the incarceration of the so called diehard political activists who masquerade as journalists and commit crimes of serious nature in collaboration with the arch enemy of Ethiopia.
  • Prevent the right to assemble; members of the opposition and others have been able to freely gather in large or small groups to discuss issues of their concern in any part of the country without any fear or trepidations. They are also at liberty to organise legal demonstrations but the opposition have always toyed with the idea of conducting this outside the remits of the law. The right to assemble is guaranteed by the FDRE constitution that came into being after the EPRDF administration led by Meles came to power.    
  • Restrict freedom of movement within the country; in today’s Ethiopia there is no restriction of movement and the People can travel from north to south and west to east freely as it is their right to do so. One can confidently state with absolute certainty that not a single Ethiopian can come forward that can claim that his or her freedom of movement has been curtailed.
  • Deny the right to travel abroad; every Ethiopian is entitled to a passport and as long as the legal requirements are met, going overseas is no longer restricted to the very privileged few. The number of people queuing up at the entrance of the Immigration Office on daily basis wanting to renew their passport or apply for a new one is irrefutable proof.
  •  Interfere with the judicial system; so far no one has come up with a shred of evidence to implicate Meles’s involvement in deflecting the due process of the law. In fact Meles was very magnanimous in his dealings with his political opponents and went the extra mile to accommodate them. On a number of occasions, his government pardoned those who were sentenced to long years of imprisonment for crimes they committed after only a few years. Respect for the rule of law was Meles’s paramount concern as this was extremely important for the maintenance of peace and stability needed for the re-construction of Ethiopia to continue unabated.
  • Harshly treat opposition parties; the opposition have always been   treated fairly but they reciprocate by blaming the EPRDF of narrowing the political space in order to cover their failings. In actual fact, it is the electorates that have denied them the space and the votes they desperately crave and not Meles Zenawi. The political playing field is out there for grabs, but the opposition are refusing to take full advantage of it. There are problems here and there but they are surmountable.  A substantial number of political parties exist in Ethiopia today, but by and large, they do not have clear political programmes that they could present to the electorates. Their wish is to assume power by highlighting the perceived weaknesses of the EPRDF, but not on the strength of their manifestos. As a result of their inability to make headways, they have been gallivanting around the globe pleading with the international community to put pressure on the late Premier’s government to give in to their demands. The PM was firm and clearly demonstrated on many occasions that he had nerves of steel; he was not prepared to take any nonsense from those who were trying to deflect him from his resolute determination to improve the living conditions of millions of his people.

The article that appeared on ICG’s website seems to have been taken from the books of the disloyal opposition groups as everything that is contained in it is what we hear from them on daily basis. Some of the audacious staff the ICG stated in the article include: one party rule of the TPLF; --- Wrong! It is the EPRDF that is ruling and Ethiopia is an emerging multi-party democracy with failings here and there.  Meles’s successor will lead a weaker regime---- the solid foundation in place is what matters not whether Meles is here or not.   TPLF is failing to implement the policy of ethnic federalism----Such as? ; Curbed journalists, non-governmental organisations and religious freedoms--- activists and NGOs financed by foreign bodies have been taken out of play and religious freedom is enshrined in FDRE constitution. The recent disturbances by the very few Muslim fundamentalists were simply a struggle for power, and had nothing to do with curbing religious freedom at all.

Clearly the ICG knows very little about Ethiopia, and the article it authored is riddled with hearsay from beginning to end.  This is to be expected from a white colonialist entity with a clear agenda to test the stability of Ethiopia; ICG is not ashamed or unduly perturbed by the manner in which it treats black third world countries. It would not dare write such a preposterously interfering article against the rich and powerful petroleum producing countries such as Saudi Arabia where women are not even allowed to drive a car. Poverty is humiliating and that is why we are being treated in this unacceptable manner by this racist organisation. No wonder the late Premier was working day and night to make his country self sufficient and silence the parasites that want us to remain as foreign aid dependents.