In D.C.’s Little Ethi­o­pia, a search for answers about Meles’s death [Washington Post]

By Emily Wax, Published: August 21

With Ethiopian flags unfurled and satellite televisions set to the African nation’s state-run news channel, hundreds of stunned Ethio­pian Americans crammed into restaurants in the Shaw section of the District, known as Little Ethiopia, on Tuesday to watch news reports about what they had suspected for weeks: the country’s longtime ruler, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, had died at 57.

But for many in the crowds, which included parking attendants and cabbies, professors and college students, the African nation’s long-awaited official announcement was not enough.

“Where did he die? From what exactly? We deserve to know,” said a red-eyed Petreous Melek, a 46-year-old real estate agent who wept as he sat in an Ethiopian restaurant sipping strong coffee and watching the patriotic reports on Ethio­pian Television.

Flashing on the screen were grainy black-and-white images from the 1970s of a young Meles in frayed military clothing and an Afro, cradling an AK-47 as a guerilla fighter who vowed to seize power from Mengistu Haile Mariam’s Soviet-backed military junta. Next came footage from 2008 of the balding prime minister, cleanshaven and dressed in a suit as he congratulated Ethio­pian Olympic medalists upon their return home.

The diaspora in the Washington region burgeoned to 200,000 — the largest outside Ethi­o­pia — in the decades after Mengistu’s military seized power in 1974. Many who fled were educated elites who were fearful of Mengistu’s communist policies and hoped that Meles would bring democracy and wide-ranging economic reforms to the impoverished Horn of Africa nation.

On Tuesday, many Ethio­pian Americans shared conflicting emotions about Meles’s legacy — pride that their native country had become one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa under the leader, but anger and disappointment at the Meles government’s repressive policies and jailing of opposition leaders.

And many of the questions that lingered after Zenawi’s death reflected anxiety about Ethiopia’s future and the fate of relatives and friends there.

“There’s just a lot of worries, questions about what’s next,” said a crying Messeret Araya, 40, as she watched the television at Habesha Market and Carry-Out on Ninth and U streets NW.

“He was our leader and we were proud of him because the country was at zero when he took over,” Araya said. “Will we turn into a Somalia now?”

The Ethio­pian government has offered little information about what has become known in the Ethio­pian American community in Washington as the “Meles Mystery” — Meles Zenawai’s disappearance from public life in June. In mid-July, officials said only that Meles’s “health condition is very good and stable” and that he was “taking some rest.”

In the end, Ethiopian officials said only that Meles had died in a hospital “abroad.” A European Commission spokesman disclosed that Meles was being treated in the Belgian capital for an unspecified illness when he succumbed to a secondary infection just before midnight Monday.

Ethio­pian government spokesman Bereket Simon offered little more, saying that Meles had been ailing for a year and died after being rushed to intensive care. Hailemariam Desalegn, the minister of foreign affairs and deputy prime minister, will become the new premier, the government said. Unlike many in Meles’s party who are from the north, he is from the South and an ethnic group known as the Wolayta, which has not traditionally dominated national politics.

Opposition leaders in exile in the United States said the intrigue surrounding Meles’s death showed just how autocratic his government had become.

The dearth of information “shows just how fragile our political institutions are,” said Birtukan Mideksa, a female judge and former opposition leader who was jailed by Meles twice for three years. “But when I heard the news, I also felt sad because I wanted him to leave a better legacy. Unfortunately he didn’t use the opportunities he had to lead the country into more inclusive and democratic and political systems.”

In Washington, Addis Dimts Radio, an Ethio­pian radio program is planning to hold a series of meetings so opposition parties here can list their “demands for change,” said political radio host Abebe Belew.

“This is the time in Washington to sit down and figure out the important things that we want: a free media, an open opposition,” said Belew, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison on terrorism charges by Meles’s government in July because his show has included guests from the political opposition in Ethiopia.

Source

Views: 1182

Tags: D.C.’s, Ethi­o­pia, In, Little, Meles’s, a, about, answers, death, for, More…search

Comment

You need to be a member of Sodere Ethiopian News and Entertainment to add comments!

Join Sodere Ethiopian News and Entertainment

Comment by mesafint on August 26, 2012 at 12:09am

people like abebe belewu is so idiot and try to restore old feudal system!!!!!!!! we will not give them chance!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Comment by Marx Amaniel on August 23, 2012 at 12:51am

Abebe Belew is changed to Abebe Gelebaw. Don't salivate to take the power from the ruling party out of constitution. if you planned to take power illegally the consequence on the power salivators will be devastating   

SodereTube Ethiopian News

Ermias Legesse, former deputy communication minister, speaking EPRDF election strategy

Ermias Legesse, former deputy communication minister, speaking EPRDF election strategy

City to build 1,000 model houses with the new design which cost 30,000 birr for one bedroom

City to build 1,000 model houses with the new design which cost 30,000 birr for one bedroom

Ethiopia to construct 30 thousand seat Gambela stadium with 375 mill birr ($19mil)

Ethiopia to construct 30 thousand seat Gambela stadium with 375 mill birr ($19mil)

Yegna Dankira Idol Show street audition in Israel

Yegna Dankira Idol Show street audition in Israel

Amazing video - Ethiopian shoot at Somali pirates who tried to hijack Ethiopian vessel

Amazing video - Ethiopian shoot at Somali pirates who tried to hijack Ethiopian vessel

SodereTube Comedy

Betoch Comedy Part 74

Betoch Comedy Part 74

Ethiopian artists compete and share funny stories

Ethiopian artists compete and share funny stories

Markos Fikre - Kuralew (ቁራሌው) New Ethiopian Comedy Music 2014

Markos Fikre - Kuralew (ቁራሌው) New Ethiopian Comedy Music 2014

Betoch Comedy Part 73

Betoch Comedy Part 73

Comedy - Political Satire - Kiros from 9th street on recent clash at Washington DC embassy

Comedy - Political Satire - Kiros from 9th street on recent clash at Washington DC embassy

Events

SodereTube Sport

Ethiopia to construct 30 thousand seat Gambela stadium with 375 mill birr ($19mil)

Ethiopia to construct 30 thousand seat Gambela stadium with 375 mill birr ($19mil)

Mali 2: 3 Ethiopia Goals - 2015 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifications

Mali 2: 3 Ethiopia Goals - 2015 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifications

Ethiopia vs Mali Goals, Highlights and Discussion about the game

Ethiopia vs Mali Goals, Highlights and Discussion about the game

Ethiopia vs Mali Live 0 : 2 - Goals, Highlights and Discussion

Ethiopia vs Mali Live 0 : 2 - Goals, Highlights and Discussion

The most watched video - Arsene Wenger push on Jose Mourinho

The most watched video - Arsene Wenger push on Jose Mourinho

የ ፌስቡክ ጓደኛዎን ወይም ከኢሜይሎ አድራሻ ዝርዝር ወደ ሶደሬ.ኮም ይጋብዙ። You can now invite your Facebook friends and people in your address book to Sodere. It takes less than a minute. http://sodere.com/main/invitation/new

EthiopianTube Music

Balageru Idol - Ehetnesh Fanta - Best singer among women

Balageru Idol - Ehetnesh Fanta - Best singer among women

Balageru Idol - Tilanesh Solomon - Lovely girl

Balageru Idol - Tilanesh Solomon - Lovely girl

Ethiopian Saron Abraham became emotional after her performance on Sweden Idol

Ethiopian Saron Abraham became emotional after her performance on Sweden Idol

Markos Fikre - Kuralew (ቁራሌው) New Ethiopian Comedy Music 2014

Markos Fikre - Kuralew (ቁራሌው) New Ethiopian Comedy Music 2014

Tsedenia Gebremarkos - Yefikir Girma

Tsedenia Gebremarkos - Yefikir Girma

Ethiopian Videos

My sweet memories of childhood - Eka Eka Chewata, Bale Ena Mist, Serg..

My sweet memories of childhood - Eka Eka Chewata, Bale Ena Mist, Serg..

Jossy In Z House Show Interview With Selam Tesfaye October 2014

Jossy In Z House Show Interview With Selam Tesfaye October 2014

How to Kiss a Lady The Art of Kissing Love Vaccination from Ethiopikalink Part 1

How to Kiss a Lady The Art of Kissing Love Vaccination from Ethiopikalink Part 1

I broke up with my girlfriend after I cheated. Now I am dating her sister. Would this love last?

I broke up with my girlfriend after I cheated. Now I am dating her sister. Would this love last?

I saw my boyfriend's sister cheat on her husband. She told me not to talk but I can't keep the secre

I saw my boyfriend's sister cheat on her husband. She told me not to talk but I can't keep the secre

Ethiopian news and video portal. Sign in create profile, share videos, upload picture, invite your friends and have fun.

All Idol Shows (Balageru, Coca cola...)

Balageru Idol - 4A cultural Dance group - Best performance of the day

Balageru Idol - 4A cultural Dance group - Best performance of the day

Balageru Idol - Ehetnesh Fanta - Best singer among women

Balageru Idol - Ehetnesh Fanta - Best singer among women

Balageru Idol - Tilanesh Solomon - Lovely girl

Balageru Idol - Tilanesh Solomon - Lovely girl

Ethiopia Balageru Idol - Tigist marie

Ethiopia Balageru Idol - Tigist marie

Eyerus Surew - Amazing little girl dance on Balageru Idol

Eyerus Surew - Amazing little girl dance on Balageru Idol

© 2014   Created by Sodere.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service