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ICG: ‘Tougher love’ needed for Ethiopia’s new leader


August 27, 2012 (NAIROBI) - The international community will need to be tougher with the successor to Meles Zenawi’s leadership of Ethiopia to prevent negative consequences at both national and regional levels the International Crisis Group (ICG) has said in a report published on 22 August.

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Ethiopia’s prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn (File photo/Reuters)

ICG said that the international community, particularly Ethiopia’s key allies, the US, UK and European Union (EU), should play a leading role in shaping and encouraging the new leadership if one of their most important regional allies is to remain stable.

Zenawi and his predominantly Tigrayan clique from the north of the country, ruled Ethiopia since 1991 after toppling the Communist Derg regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam.
Hailemariam Desalegn, tasked to carry on Meles’s duty until 2015, will lead a weaker regime facing mounting grievances along ethnic and religious lines and a likely increase in radicalism, the group said.
“Meles adroitly navigated a number of internal crises and kept the different TPLF [Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front] factions under his tight control”, says Emilio Manfredi, ICG’s Ethiopia analyst.
“Now that he’s gone, the weaknesses of the regime that he built are more likely to be exposed, and the repercussions could be felt across the region”.
ICG said the new government in Ethiopia will most likely be more fragile causing a massive impact across the region.
Accordingly, increasing internal instability could threaten the country’s role as the West’s key counter-terrorism ally in the Horn of Africa, putting into question its responsibility to military interventions in neighbouring Somalia and Sudan. It could further exacerbate tensions with arch foe Eritrea.
Divisions along ethnic and religious groups, could make the political system and society more unstable.
Should ethnic and religious extremism grow which possibly would link with other external armed radical Islamic groups, Ethiopia will, without Meles, fight back to control unrest that could easily spill beyond its borders.
Zenawi’s government was under increasing pressure due to intensifying repression of political, social, and ethnic and religious liberties and ICG analysts say that his Tigrayan elite could be forced to use more repression to keep control of other ethnic groups.
The government has also been been accused of stifling press freedom which eventually drove dozens of journalists into exile and gave others lengthy jail terms. 
His successor, Desalegn, is seen as a more moderate figure, but analysts do not expect him to loosen his grip on the press.
"There are hard-liners in the [ruling] party and they wield a lot of influence," Mohammed Keita of the Committee Protect Journalists told Voice of America.
"I don’t think Hailemariam is a hard-liner, but I’m sure he’s under a lot of pressure so I don’t know if he’ll have a chance to really break with the past."
ICG noted a need from the West to extend political, military and development assistance to the opening of political space and an end to repressive measures further stressing the new Ethiopia leadership is shaped to lead an all-inclusive political landscape by conducting fair and free elections.


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  • 28 August 2012 09:22, by Jalaby

    I’m not sure whether the new Ethiopian prime minister Mr. Hailemariam Desalegn will be able to keep the country unified and lead it to true democracy or not?
    The current regime system in Ethiopia is based on ethnicity where Tigray clan are controlling everything and most if not all the critical positions in Ethiopia such as military and security positions plus high ranks govern.

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    • 28 August 2012 09:35, by Jalaby

      Although Tigray consist only 6% of 93 million Ethiopian population but they are controlling everything with fist iron while the biggest Muslim Oromo clan in Ethiopia that stand for 35% but they are given nothing other than being soldiers in the army who most of them were killed during the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea in 1998 over Badme disputed territory

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      • 28 August 2012 09:45, by Jalaby

        If you add the 6% Somali descendant to Oromo then that will make them together more than 40% of the population,Amhara (Amara) who makes 27% of the population who always consider themselves as the top people and should lead and rule are out of the game,Ethiopia has ethnicity problem,Ogaden problem, Bani Shangual and Oromo problem, hence real democracy is the only solution!

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        • 29 August 2012 23:06, by henok

          What a fitting name. jalabya in our locaal language is a woman’s cloth worn at home. We also use that word to epheminate, womanish men like you. How blockheaded clown you are to propagate unfounded information about my country!! Do you think Ethiopia is Your Sudan, weak and easily shaken by a gentle wind?? You need to read extensively to understand the true picture and history of Ethiopia

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      • 29 August 2012 23:12, by henok

        Listen you idiot,
        Talk not about my country. Ethiopia is a solidly founded nation that has stood victorious against the European colonizers while your country was under the bondage of the British colonizers.Never ever have we knelt for aggressors, unlike you feeble people.Who the hell told you that the Oromos are Muslims and do not have an authority at the higher governmental level?shut up ucrook

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    • 29 August 2012 23:17, by henok

      Do you know we are there at your backyard to help you make peace with your neighbour, you weled humer. As to the loser ICG, we know why they are trupeting this now. They think we are weaker, following the passing of our great Prime Minister, and can manipulate us as they wish. ICG you did not succeed to annex us during the time of "scurumbling of Africa". Neither can you now. We are ready for u.

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  • 28 August 2012 10:10, by negusse

    It is well-known that we have alot of problems with in but not like the previous time, PM meles has shown us many ways on how to be united,, on my point of view i have a great wish on z new PM..He will fulfill z ongoing projects and will try to do z best to earn more respects than our dear meles.

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    • 28 August 2012 10:41, by Jalaby

      I hope that the new PM will be able to unify the country and lead it towards real democratic country where everyone can contribute positively, Ethiopia is really very important country in the region and we as Sudanese have historical relationship with them that goes back to B.C time,they are our true brothers and I wish real democracy to my country Sudan too!

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  • 28 August 2012 11:46, by Asmera

    Haile Mariam is well educated person and has sufficient leadership skill. He is a person we need for Ethiopia leadership.
    However, the whole world should keep in mind Ethiopia will go for serious war with Eritrea which is on the edge

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  • 28 August 2012 13:21, by negusse

    dear, asmera..
    Well it could be a far cry to think about war against our beloved neighbor Eritreans ,,, because our past may be a teachable my friend .. It is time of development and technology our mind is difference from z past,,he who didn’t understand from z past lesson is very few these days,, what i am realizing is a huge contrast. i wished them a peaceful journey both countries.

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  • 28 August 2012 21:51, by Justice Seeker

    To Emilio and his Follower Jalaby.
    Giving the analysis that Meles Government was based on ethnicity is simply misleading. Hailemariam who has replaced Meles is not Tigray. ICG business is clear. It is creating situations by simply hinting religious and ethnic extremist to take advantage of natural circumstances so that business of ICG continues. Shame on you ICG. FYI, Ethiopia is strong than ever

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    • 29 August 2012 23:26, by henok

      Justice seeker,
      Thank you my good friend. You indeed know the true position of Ethiopia currently. U have also understood the motive of these "lords of poverty and crisis" the so called ICG, which, for me, stands for (International Crisis generators). When they see that their day seems to elapse without for them doing nothing, they just fabricate a crisis and make a foul cry,like what theyare now

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