Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Transition (sort of) to come in Addis?

Africa Confidential has an interesting interview with Ethiopian strongman Meles Zenawi.

When asked what African countries can do for themselves to diminish the effects of the global economic downturn, the prime minister replied, "Well, in the end no amount of money that comes in from abroad is going to do the task for us."

Ironic comment considering Ethiopia has long been one of the world's largest per capita recipients of international "development" aid.

He also hinted at a generational transition, though as someone who's been in power for 18 years, the proof of the pudding will be in the cake.

Meles said, "The old leadership which was leading the [ruling] EPRDF during the armed struggle and up to now, myself included. That, to some extent is a sign of strength and it is also a sign of weakness that needs to be addressed and, as I said, the EPRDF is aware of it and is trying to address it. It is not just about X, Y or Z, it is about the whole group of leadership which has been in very senior leadership positions for a bit too long for the health of the party."

When asked if he was expecting a collective transition, he replied, "Yes, I think that the next crucial step needs to be taken."

It remains to be seen if there will be a real transition, both in personality and mentality. One signal: if the opposition will be able to demonstrate without being massacred.

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