By Berhane Kahsay
August 30, 2012
The grief generated as a result of the demise of Premier Meles is of epic proportion. Ethiopia is inconsolably weeping for her golden son who prematurely passed away on the 20th August. The sorrow and sadness that started after the announcement of his death shows no sign of abating. People from all walks of life, especially the youth, are in a state of shock and it would take a very long time for things to return to normal. Why are the Ethiopian people bestowing so much love and adulation on the ‘’dictator’’ who won three successive general elections? Why is Meles mourned so intensely? Why are men, women, old and young wailing so much until they pass out?
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi earned the respect and admiration of his people because of his track record over the last 21 years. He moved heaven and earth to improve the lives of his fellow countrymen and women, and tremendous strides have been made in all sectors. The Premier quite rightly identified that the way out of poverty was to investment on education, and it was for this reason that 31 fully fledged universities were constructed in various regions of the country costing millions of birr. Infrastructure development in four corners of the nation is taking place in an impressive way ; all weather roads that are linking cities, towns, villages and woreds with each other is enormously helping to swiftly move farm produce to where ever they are needed thereby reducing scarcity and food inflation.
Industrialisation of the country is progressing in earnest, and to generate the necessary energy, numerous dams have been constructed in various zones, and many more are under construction including the massive Millennium Dam which will produce over 5000 mega watts for domestic consumption as well as for export to neighbouring countries. The Premier stood up to the Egyptians and gave the go ahead for the building of the Grand dam, and this has made Premier Meles to be the first Ethiopian leader to challenge the water Treaty of 1959 that was signed between Egypt and the Sudan.
The loss of the good son of Ethiopia is also badly felt in many countries of the world more so in Burundi, Darfur, Liberia, Abyi and Somalia where Meles sent the Ethiopian Defence Force to help stabilise these African nations afflicted by severe conflicts for a lengthy period. For the first time since 1991, things are looking bright in neighbouring Somalia as a result of the expulsion of the Al-Shebab from many parts of the country it used to control. Preparations are now underway to elect a President in a one man one vote manner and a new leader will be sworn in very soon.
A lot has been achieved in Ethiopia under the tutelage of Premier Meles. The economy has been growing by more than 11% for the last decade or so, and the prevailing peace and stability in the country is causing inward investment from China, India, Korea, Turkey and the Arab countries to flow unabated. The smooth transfer of power to a new Prime Minister will further encourage foreign investors to flock to Ethiopia and take advantage of the excellent business opportunities put in place by the late Premier. Premier Meles leaves a country behind that is stable and safe where its populace are free to express their views without fear of repercussions. The days of whole sale murder of the youth and charge for the bullets that killed them is a thing of the past thanks to the visionary African leader and his comrades. The youths are no longer forced to leave their home because of terror, and anyone who wants to leave the country is entitled to do so as long as legal documents are in place.
We expect the new leaders of the EPRDF to continue with the excellent work the visionary African leader started. On the political front, the negotiations with the two stands of the OLF and the remnants of the ONLF that were started by the Premier should be re-commenced. Conducive environment should be created for these organisations to put their political programmes to the electorates and see how far they could go. This opportunity should not be afforded to G-7 until it renounces violence, and unequivocally submits to the FDRE constitution. In other words, this terrorist outfit must to raise the white flag very high indeed before it can join the fold. Esayass Afeworki is in a state of confusion as to his next move with regards to his relationship with Ethiopia, and the new Premier must ensure that this unsavoury character is where Prime Minister Meles left him— in the doldrums