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Ethiopia - Ethiopia - Profile of Addis Neger Newspaper Founders
Mesfin Negash is an Ethiopian journalist and political commentator for Addis Neger. He is a graduate of Addis Ababa University where he studied political science.
Mesfin’s career as a journalist started at Ethiopian Reporter in 2001. At the newspaper, Mesfin wrote issues of politics and international relations. After the controversial May 2005 elections, Mesfin left Ethiopian Reporter to join Meznagna newspaper as a columnist. The reasons for his departure from Reporter hasn’t been made public. Mesfin’s political articles in Meznagna were mostly supportive of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy(CUD). In one of his articles, he opposed the early position of his former paper which called for the establishment of unity government in Ethiopia. Mesfin’s contention was that the ruling party’s democratic centralism is too much of an impediment for the formation of any governing coalition with it.
Meznagna was shut down in December 2005 by the government because it was first to publish the CUD’s unconstitutional and illegal call for the removal of the government even though the paper itself didn’t advocate for the forceful removal of the government. 
In 2007, Addis Neger was established by former Meznagna journalists including Mesfin Negash. Mesfin had been the Editor-in-Chief of the paper for a year before he moved to a managerial position in the paper. Under Mesfin’s watch, Addis Neger grew to be one of Ethiopia’s leading newspapers. Mesfin had written several articles in the paper which were milder in their tone and criticism of the government than his articles in Meznagna. Mesfin’s replacement, Abiye Teklemariam, is more radical in his approach than Mesfin. Addis Neger, including Mesfin’s articles, turned into the intellectual voice of the Ethiopian opposition under the leadership of his replacement.
In August 2008, an Ethiopian judge sentenced Mesfin Negash to one month imprisonment for committing court contempt in connection to the trial of Teddy Afro, an iconic musician.
Abiye Teklemariam Abiye Teklemariam Megenta (also referred to as Abiy Teklemariam) is an Ethiopian print and radio journalist, who is a co-founder of Addis Neger, one of Ethiopia’s leading private newspapers. Addis Neger is noted for its liberal sensibilities and strongly critical positions towards the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front(EPRDF)which has been ruling Ethiopia since 1991. Abiye is also a sportscaster, commenting on football on Sheger FM.
Abiye started his media career, writing about the legal issues pertaining to the Eritrean-Ethiopian War (1998-2000) on The Reporter, a private weekly newspaper. He later wrote an article questioning his early “unskeptical” support of the war, in which he stated the war was meaningless, and that Ethiopia and Eritrea would have to choose a European Union kind of economic union, which ultimately ends in a loose political federation to avoid subsequent wars.
Abiye found fame in sports analysis. Blunt and intentionally contrarian, he complimented the famous Fiseha Tegegn’s authoritative style in Talk Football, a Sunday football talk show co-presented by the duo. The talk show was discontinued by the Ethiopian government, after Fisseha refused to read the news report which blamed opposition politicians for the killing of anti-government protestors in June 2005. Abiye also wrote an article in the now defunct newspaper called Meznagna, condemning the government’s “wanton disregard for human life and dignity.”
After the Ethiopian general election in 2005, Abiye turned into a vociferous critic of the government, sometimes writing articles riddled with a regression analysis, which he said could prove that the EPRDF might have lost the election, but he failed short of calling for the overthrow of the government. The paper he edited was shut down in December 2005. He was also briefly arrested by the police, but no charge was brought against him
Although Abiye’s style of writing is analytical and detailed, his vocal and relentless opposition to the government has made many questions about the integrity of his journalism. In one instance, he publicly argued that the decision of jailed opposition leaders asked for a pardon; a sound for strategic reasons. After he took over the editor-in-chief position of Addis Neger from Mesfin Negash, the paper (known for its lengthy feature articles and in-depth analysis) dramatically abandoned its objective reporting, and has become the intellectual voice of the Ethiopian opposition.
His unabashed pro-Americanism and close links to some US government officials has made the paper the voice of neo-liberalism and Western propaganda. He covered the 2008 US elections from America under the auspices of the US government, an opportunity not given to other journalists in Ethiopia. There was confusion, when he unethically expressed his support to Barack Obama in a long article, even though it was in the same article he raised concerns (that Barack Obama’s trade policies might not be good for developing countries). He blogged most of his views about Barack Obama on the US liberal blog DailyKos. He made his views known, that he supported Obama, because he thought his government would be hostile to the Ethiopian government, an unfounded expectation which later proved to be false.
Abiye Teklemariam mostly writes in Amharic in local Ethiopian newspapers.
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