Melles Zenawi of Ethiopia - The Wrong Choice
By: Sophia Tesfamariam
May 7, 2004

I have been reading about the British Prime Ministers Commission for Africa for a few months now. This Commission modeled after the Brandt commission of the 1970s which was chaired by former West German Chancellor Willy Brandt, had proposed a major restructuring of the world economy “to allow poor countries to develop equitably and compete in global markets, ensuring stability and prosperity for all nations”. From what I have been able to gather, nothing came of its recommendations. Personally, I have absolutely no confidence in this new Commission for Africa for several reasons, the main one being its membership, specifically the appointment of Melles Zenawi the genocidal leader of the ethnic based regime in Ethiopia.

As an African-American, I take issue with Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Commission for Africa because these appointees are in no way representative of Africans and in the case of Melles Zenawi, he can’t even be a representative for Ethiopians. He represents a greedy, war mongering clique from Tigray, and does not possess the visionary qualities that would enhance and promote African issues in such a forum. As a matter of fact, he is representative of everything that is wrong for Africa. I bet there are others that have issues with Melles Zenawi being on Tony Blair Commission for Africa. As a matter of fact the Aegis Trust while welcoming the launch of the Commission also expressed its reservations about the inclusion of Melles Zenawi . It said:

“…the recent record of his government in southwestern Ethiopia raises serious concerns.  In light of the Commission’s objectives, which include ‘establishing the conditions for sustainable development by ensuring peace, security, democracy and good, political, economic and corporate governance’, Aegis particularly wishes to draw the Commission’s attention to ongoing acts of genocide being perpetrated by the Ethiopian Armed Forces and local militias against the Anuak minority in the Gambella region of southwestern Ethiopia…”

Unless Tony Blairs intentions are to maintain the “status quo” in Africa, I cannot imagine why he has appointed Melles Zenawi, the deceptive Prime Minister of Ethiopia who has defied international law and has ignored international calls to abide agreements he has signed. Unless he is being rewarded for fulfilling an unknown hidden agenda, his record of defying international law and practicing the law of the jungle is clear to everybody. It is clear to the international community, and most importantly it is painfully clear to the people of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Melles Zenawi has single-handedly destroyed any hope left of the Ethiopian people. Under Melles’ regime: 

The number of people starving in Ethiopia went up from 8 million in 1985 to a staggering 15 million in 2003 

In Ethiopian today, 15% of the population is suffering from HIV-Aids and other life threatening diseases. 

The average annual income of Ethiopians went down from $190 in 1991, to less than $108 today 

Over 65% of Ethiopia’s national budget is dependent on foreign aid 

Ethnic and religious conflicts have been rampant  

His Tigrayan clique has managed to remain in power by vote-rigging 

In spite of the fact that there are over 15 million Ethiopians who are awaiting foreign aid,  Ethiopia wastes $2 million a day to fulfill the Tigrayan regimes expansionist agenda against Eritrea. 

Students and people from all walks of life are gunned down in broad daylight by Melles Zenawi’s Tigrayan military and security personnel.

According to Mesfin Wolde Mariam, chairman of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRC):

"What happened in Gambella verges on genocide as a result of the ethnic policy adopted by the EPDRF government…EPRDF's preference for ruling through an ethnic-based federation… dominated by the minority ethnic Tigrayans… the federal structure in effect divides and rules larger ethnic groups such as the Oromos and Amharas and bars non-members of the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front”

BBC also reported that:

“Some 16,000 people have fled ethnic clashes in Ethiopia for Sudan…”

These and several other reported incidence of genocide (state-directed or state-authorized killing of populations identified by race, ethnicity, and/or religion, such as the people of Gambela, Somali, Awassa etc. etc.) and politicide (wholesale killing of populations identified by political affiliation, groups such as the OLF and all others opposed to TPLF) is today's Ethiopia under Melles Zenawi. 

Prime Minister Tony Blair Speaking of the Commission said: 

“It is 20 years since Live Aid gave that incredible mobilisation of public support to do something about the tragedy in Africa. So I hope very much that the commission will cover these issues, will come up with specific solutions in relation to development, conflict resolution, governance, economic questions that allow us to gather international support behind the Commission's recommendations…”

Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t Live Aid a concert put together by Bob Geldof to raise money for the famine in Ethiopia? It was not an effort to help Africa; it was an effort with a single focus-Ethiopia. Mobilizing international support for Ethiopia’s famine is one thing, but to put the very person responsible for the perpetration of famine and the instigator of conflict in the Horn of Africa on the Commission is an insult to all Africans and descendants of Africa. I strongly believe that there are other better qualified and dedicated African sons and daughters who can work for Africa’s development, peace and security.  

Furthermore, there can be no recommendations that Melles Zenawi can make that Africans will be obliged to accept. This irrational and untrustworthy man has not been able to accept the final and binding decision of the Eritrea Ethiopia Border Commission (EEBC) and abide by international agreements he has signed. It is absolutely nave to presume that any African will accept recommendations coming from the street smart and belligerent leader such as Melles Zenawi. He needs to clean up his own house first. 

The problems and solutions are obvious to everybody. Many books have been written on this very subject, multiple studies have been conducted, and recommendations have been widely published. Prime Minister Tony Blair is not ignorant of the issues that plague Africa and does not need a Commission, a dubious combination at that, to tell him what Africa needs. To have Melles Zenawi on the Commission makes it even more ludicrous, or is it ridiculous…

The rule of law must prevail over the law of the jungle!