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Ethiopia - Why Zenawi Betrayed Africa’s Trust at the Copenhagen Climate Summit
Selam Beyene, Ph.D.
African diplomats, most of whom had brashly stood by Zenawi when he violently crushed a pro-democracy movement in 2005, naively expressed shock and incredulity at his betrayal of their trust at the recent Copenhagen Climate Conference [1,2].
As heralded by this  and numerous other authors [see, e.g., 4,5] before the ill-fated conference, Zenawi had a sinister agenda when he successfully lobbied corrupt African diplomats in Addis to get the nomination as a spokesperson for Africa.
The dictator has been in serious desperation to get the attention of the West after he lost the cover of “War on Terror” that he had successfully exploited to enjoy the full support of the Bush Administration and other Western powers. Despite his atrocious records of crimes against humanity, corruption and suppression of basic human rights, these powers looked the other way when the dictator massacred peaceful demonstrators in the aftermath of his humiliating defeat in the elections of 2005, and propped up his tyrannical rule with billions of dollars in aid that he plundered with no accountability and squandered on expensive lobbying campaigns to thwart congressional measures intended to promote democracy and good governance in Ethiopia .
To the furtively resourceful tyrant, a visible position at the Climate Conference was hence the only hope of getting the attention the West, and especially that of the Obama administration, whose rhetoric of democracy and social justice had sent terrifying signals to the despot.
With the specter of the 2005 massacre still haunting him, Zenawi saw the position endowed upon him by African diplomats as a valuable tool to earn legitimacy among Western powers and to ensure their tacit assent as he prepares to violently thwart again the aspirations of the Ethiopian people for democracy in the upcoming May 2010 elections.
In view of the mounting evidence pointing at his atrocities , he has also been frantically seeking means of garnering the sympathy of the West in the likely eventuality of charges for his crimes against humanity. Betrayal of members of the African Union, an institution that has proven a loyal subservient to him, was therefore an effective measure toward that end without any adverse consequence.
With the dwindling financial aid, thanks in part to the irrelevance of his ploy as an ally in the War on Terror, and, more generally, to the impact of the global economic downturn on the capacity of donor nations to squander money on the dictator, a quick source of hard-currency, however meager, was also a matter of great urgency for the dictator. The lofty goals of the nations of Africa, in whose names he earned visibility, were therefore expendable in the eyes of a dictator, whose track records as a leader are characterized by myopic self-interest, ethnocentrism, poor governance, corruption and environmental degradation.
It was thus a foregone conclusion that Zenawi would forgo any viable long-term international accord for a short-term gain, and that he would easily agree, as he has reprehensibly and egoistically done so, to the reduction of the billions of dollars from what African leaders had agreed or to the 2°C commitment that many campaigners claim would threaten the lives of hundreds of millions of people in Africa .
If the Obama administration engages in the discredited Bush-era diplomacy, sacrificing its hallmarks of social justice and democracy for short-term diplomatic expediency, then it has not learned the bitter lessons of its predecessors. To the chagrin of many Ethiopian supporters, the White House confirmed, as reported in the Los Angeles Times :
“… He [President Obama] expressed his appreciation for the leadership role the Prime Minister [Zenawi] was playing in work with African countries on climate change, and urged him to help reach agreement at the Leaders summit later this week in Copenhagen. For his part, Prime Minister Meles stressed the importance of success in Copenhagen, and the need to find ways to make suitable progress on the mitigation, adaptation, and the provision of finance for the developing countries."
The people of Africa in general, and of Ethiopia in particular, hailed President Obama, when he declared :
“America will not seek to impose any system of government on any other nation - the essential truth of democracy is that each nation determines its own destiny. What we will do is increase assistance for responsible individuals and institutions, with a focus on supporting good governance - on parliaments, which check abuses of power and ensure that opposition voices are heard; on the rule of law, which ensures the equal administration of justice; on civic participation, so that young people get involved; and on concrete solutions to corruption like forensic accounting, automating services, strengthening hotlines, and protecting whistle-blowers to advance transparency and accountability.”
If good governance, transparency and accountability are the guiding principles of American foreign aid under Obama, then it is hard to envisage that the President has not digressed from the path of justice when he initiated a dialogue with a dictator who has some of the worst records of any leader in each of the stated parameters.
We do agree with the President’s affirmation : “We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning,….” Accordingly, it is high time for the Obama administration to live up to its professed ideals and to make a new beginning in dealing with dictators. We trust the Obama administration would have the courage and wisdom to depart from the discredited policies of yesteryear when long-term stability took backseat to short-term diplomatic pragmatism.
As widely reported, no sooner had Zeanwi received the nod of the West, at the expense of the trust of Africa, than he ordered his kangaroo court to sentence to death potential opponents on trumped up charges . He has intensified his attacks on the free press, as evidenced by the recent flights of respected journalists out of the country [see, e.g.,13,14], and has effectively silenced all political dissent. He has kept credible political opponents, like Birtukan Mideksa, in prison , and is using mafia-like tactics to intimidate and frustrate opposition groups . To avoid another humiliating defeat in the capital and other cities and towns in the May 2010 elections, every eligible voter employed by the government or runs a major private enterprise is under duress to sign up as a card-holding member of Zenawi’s party. In the rural areas, where farmers are at the absolute mercy of the dictator to till the land or get access to fertilizers, opposition groups are completely shut out to rule out any credible threats to the despot.
Ethiopians in the Diaspora have a historic responsibility to ensure that Zenawi does not use his newly-earned notoriety to garner Western support and tacit acquiescence as he embarks on his vicious campaign to violently thwart once again the aspiration of the Ethiopian people for democracy in the upcoming elections. They should continue to mobilize their resources and influence the Obama administration and other Western powers from becoming accomplices in the evil gambits of the tyrant.
Opposition leaders should come to the realization that there is no more pressing matter, or nobler cause, or greater party agenda than the need to stand in unison and salvage Ethiopia from the cancerous tyranny of Meles Zenawi and his repressive machinery. The deliverance of the people can become a reality only when the leaders are prepared to forfeit egotism, party loyalty and petty bickering, and are determined to fight to the end, paying the ultimate consequences, with an enemy that may project vacuous invincibility and power, but has in essence no longevity or resilience.
The Article briefly summerises the motives of the despot. The assertion of the author is true in light of the media attention he was given by the governemnt press in ethiopia. I believe Meles manipulated peoples and he has taken to the opportunity to advance his own cause-survival sticking to the throne-rahter than the wider cause of Africans. Shame on him!!!
The US has never ideated a stimulating situation from Ethiopia as she was postulated to be weak.
Many were betrayed of the evil game in EEthiopia BUT OBAMA designdly put his hand on the millions of sharp-set life and heart .
Both Meles and Obama are mortals and nada if found on same agenda, maintaining their interest at the expense of others.
I used to hear Ethiopia is trusted by GOD, I can see how those who put their hands on
this starving people lurched.
Ethiopians should come to their heart like their forefathers.
Nonsense, no chance Africa was going to get $400 Billion every year as payout for climate change, not in this world economy. Meles secured $100 Billion; I guess not enough for African politicians to divide up for themselves. Next time, send Col. Gadaffi and see what you get.
As for Ethiopia, change will come only when there is a VIABLE opposition, not a dozen groups which fight each other.
If man is cracked and disappeared because of hatred, we would not have a chance to see Meles in the globe. But what I recognized is that rather the antagonists are disappearing but he flourishing as time goes on. Those who have got cancer because of Meles, please check yourself and free yourself from hatred to revive from your cancer. He is accomplishing his vision for Ethiopia and for Africa and hence he will not fail rather he will succeed. I wish God to be with him till he realized his vision.
this old woman, rest in peace weizero selam
Thank you very much. This is wel articulated, short, brief and presize article i went through.
Shame to your contradicting action against your beautiful name. You are just an idiot. How can you judge right from wrong? Betrayal from fidelity.
I wouldn’t use the word “betrayed". The facts are more complex than that. It is required from you to gather all evidences before giving your own verdict leave alone extensively write about it. A disgrace would be the right word for you lousy work.
First of all, I like the way the author presents the idea, however i disagree 100% the factual mis representation of Honerable Melese, cause he had bargained to get the actual deal rather than huge empty promise as we have witnessed in the past,his wise decision atleast earn Africa some Money and deal. I also disagree with his bad records
Selam: Who the hore nobody are you to talk up to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and the living representation of Africa. Meles is not given with a silver spoon every thing he did and is doing. Go and visit Addis Ababa that you underdeveloped for a century. You are singular, one eyed, one arm, one ear, one leg, unit with your kind all your disabilities and see if you can make one MELES.
Do you tell us the GDP of Ethiopia twenty years ago, were there two dozen Universities, half a dozen mega hydro electric power generator dams, or how much was the total export of the country. Could you tell us how many all weather road kilometers and otherwise their were in Ethiopia? What was the population of primary, secondary and college students? Does any one tells you Amharic is compulsory to enter College today as it was then or peoples, cultures and languages is respected? How many news papers there were who accuse and defame the government of the feudal parasite regime and your racist cowardly dictator? Could you name a couple? Was there democratic election and multi-party made up of spoiled ethnocentrics of every stripe?
Meles is willing to give up his power when he sees a wise and matured leader that will not fumble the hot potatoes called Ethiopians.
Why don’t you tell us what party would you give such a responsibility and show us a leader of moderate caliber compared to Meles.
Envy, hatred, and chauvinism we saw it was called CUD. What happened to it? Don’t tell us MEDREK a coming together of egotistical odd couples each with power lust and think to out smart and out last the other is your salvation Party. Don’t tell us you are patient enough to wait till the wet pant Berehanu Naga and friends reach from Asmara to Addis Ababa: 1080kilometers. Messekene!
I don’t understand why you always post the foolish comments of woyane cadres especially this moron DE LA MANCHU, but you ignore ours. Sorry for you.
well he did what is best and what is feasable, belt lege yesetuten yezo yalekesal! yebalal…he will negatiate for the rest of the money in the future… what if he didnt get this much, “Akurafi lege mesaw ratu new” there for that is the best stratagic move he did and it will help Afirca even if it is small amout, so others can continue argueeng for more money from now on that is state fo the art negotiation.
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