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A stoical Meles Zenawi lays bare the antics of a communicatively-challenged journalist

By Dilwenberu Nega
May 19, 2012

Abebe Gellaw -Tigrai OnlineAbebe Gellaw should be free to express his feeling towards Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. The problem is he conducted himself like a fool in front of the world? If he really is a member of the American National Press Club as he stated himself, do any of the journalists ask world leaders like that? Why was he shaking from head to toe if he didn’t feel guilty deep inside for what he was doing? What a shameful act!

The notoriously anti EPRDF website, Ethiomedia.com, hailed ‘journalist’ Abebe Gellaw a “hero” for his bark at Prime Minister Meles Zenawi during the Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security at the Roland Reagan Building in Washington. Given the fact that The Editor of Ethiomedia.com is known to have turned ballistic by the VIP treatment accorded to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in Washington D.C. which gaga politicians like him had thought was a no-go area for Meles, it is quite understandable for Ethiomedia to ‘sex-up’ the incident with a dollop of hyperbole as a retaliatory measure.

In truth, however, Abebe Gellaw’s antics have raised more questions than answers. Far from “breaking the ice,” as Ethiomedia had put it, Abebe’s solo circus at the Reagan Centre had, in fact, laid bare the bankruptcy of the political party to which he belong and work for as a journalist at ESAT.  

 Abebe is at liberty to be who he wants, but he can’t be a journalist and politician at the same time, for mixing the two is a recipe for disaster. Imagine, if you will, journalists at the Press gallery of Britain’s House of Commons or America’s House of Representatives, barking every time an MP which they happen to oppose stand to speak. Would not parliament turn into Babel?

We know from Abebe’s well choreographed post-incident interview that he attended the Symposium because he had managed to become Member of the National Press Council. (NPC). Membership to NPC is dependent on the applicant being either in employment with a media outlet or with a proven track record of free-lancing for a registered newspaper, radio or television station. And thanks to the recently published internal Memo by G7’s “Rectification Group Movement,” we know that Abebe Gellaw is not only a member of Dr. Birrhanu Nega’s ‘kitchen cabinet,’ but he is working full-time for G7’s ESAT.

If Abebe was what he claims to be – an award winning journalist – instead of throwing to the wind cardinal principles of ethical journalism, he would have confronted the Prime Minister with tough and embarrassing questions. That – and not making a fool of oneself in the presence of erudite journalists – would have made him a hero. Just to prove my point: not a single journalist in the Symposium had deemed it appropriate to reward Abebe’s desultory outburst of politicking with a round of applause. After all, was Abebe not fulminating about the arrest of journalist Eskinder Nega?

Then you have Abebe’s ubiquitous lies. He tells us that he was invited by WEF (World Economic Forum) in Tanzania when the established fact is that WEF does not send out invitations to journalists apart from the normal news alert. He tries to hoodwink us by stating that the police officer who escorted him out of the Regan Centre gave him a tap on the back and said: “I understand what you said because I was in Ethiopia myself and know the things that you’ve said do exist in Ethiopia.” US law insists that police force remain non-partisan without hesitation or deviation. Enough with a weirdo journalist whose “Don’t-buy-Ethiopian-don’t-go-to-Ethiopia-campaign!” has already made him a laughing stock and let me, instead, state a few points about Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s ongoing visit to the USA.

 If there ever was a watershed moment in the Prime Minister’s foreign visits, his presence for the G8 meeting in Washington would become an award winning visit. The sight of fans mafficking outside the Regan Centre in Washington to showcase their jubilation and pride for Ethiopia’s pragmatist premier was indeed a far cry from the dark days of when Ethiopians in USA for fear of being targeted by the avatars of toxic politics used to stay at home instead of expressing out of their own accord solidarity with the author of Ethiopia’s transformation – to borrow from a recent Sir Bob Geldof-speak – “From starvation to industrialization.”

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