Individual fate or fateful question

22. August 2012

After all: After months of playing a game of confusion concerning the serious condition or even death of Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia’s government confirmed the death of the autocratic Prime Minister just yesterday. Thus, Zenawi joins the long list of African heads of state and government who died in office. The mortality rate of African presidents is higher than infant mortality in Sierra Leone (being the highest in the world). Seemingly no attractive profession…

The question whether Zeles Menawi died of cancer on August 20 th in Brussels or even much earlier remains vague and increasingly negligible in consideration of the huge problems Ethiopia and the whole Horn of Africa region is facing.
The autocratic ruler, who lead a sophisticated surveillance state and whose party unsurprisingly took around 99,6% of the vote in recent elections, used to be by far the most important anchor of stability in an extremely unstable region. All that and Ethiopia’s impressive economic miracle on the other hand gave importance to Meles. A lump of human rights in their throats would not
prevent China, the US and the EU from courting him.
In old manner, “Africa’s big old men” style, everything was catered to his person, leaving behind a worrisome vacuum. In contrast to the recent decease of John Atta Mills, Ghana’s democratically elected president, the death of the Ethiopian Prime Minister does not only represent an individual fate at the helm, but a fatal question to a whole state – and beyond.
The German Africa policy ought to closely monitor developments in Ethiopia. If only!

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