Monday, August 27, 2012

The paradox of Meles Zenawi

(Aug 27, 2012, The Monitor)--He embodied the eternal paradox that is Ethiopia: a land of 'great abundance' where so much poverty exists; a Garden of Eden whose potential has never been fulfilled writes MICHAEL STREET. 

Men react as they pay their respects at the coffin of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (AP Photo)

The death of Ethiopia's prime minister, Meles Zenawi, on August 20 raises immediate and grave concerns for security in an extremely complex, fragile and unpredictable part of the world. Ethiopia sits at the end of an arc of instability stretching from Kashmir to the Horn of Africa and is one of the world's most dangerous flashpoints.
Ethiopia's 85 million people, with millions more in surrounding countries, are at the frontline of rapid climate change - last year's drought in the region affected 13 million people. And although Ethiopia is one of the fastest growing economies in the world on the verge of a historic renaissance, it is also extremely vulnerable to global economic volatility.  As "the voice of Africa" and a key player in "the war on terror", Meles' death after 21 years in power comes at a critical time for Ethiopia, for Africa and the world at large.

While politics and security issues surrounding Meles' death understandably dominate the assessment of Ethiopia's situation, it is also important to consider three other vital areas where the late prime minister had considerable national, regional and international influence: the economy, development and climate change.

Whoever leads Ethiopia, the management of these three interconnected issues will determine levels of peace and stability achieved in the region.  On these, Meles embodied the eternal paradox that is Ethiopia: a land of 'great abundance' where so much poverty exists; a Garden of Eden whose potential has never been fulfilled.

Since the June 1992 Lem (or Green) Meeting in Addis Ababa, held in conjunction with the UN's first 'Earth Summit' in Brazil and only a year after he assumed responsibility for one of the most challenging countries on earth, Meles championed sustainable development in Africa, fought for Africa on climate change and was a leader in Africa's green thinking.

A major influence on US president Bill Clinton's 'New Africa', for the past 20 years Ethiopia has played a pioneering role in environmental research, management and development combined with historic experiments in ethnic federalism and democracy.  In 2011 Ethiopia was the first African country to launch a Climate Resilient Green Economy Strategy. Read more the original article from The Monitor »

Related topics:
Ethiopia's Meles: Two sides of an autocratic coin 
Why do so many African leaders die in office?
Zenawi’s legacy and the future of free press in Ethiopia (by Mohammed Ademo)
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi dies at the age of 57-(Video report) 
Fears for Ethiopia’s stability follow death of longtime ruler (Washington Times)
Is Hailemariam Desalegn Ethiopia’s new longtime leader or just a placeholder?
The Meles Zenawi I Knew ( BY BARRY MALONE)  

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