Published: Wednesday, August 1, 2012
New York (TADIAS) – Since the Ethiopian Ministry of Information had announced weeks ago that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has been prescribed “sick leave” the public has not been informed of much else. Today BBC Focus on Africa Program reported that it had been told by government spokesman, Bereket Simon, that the PM was “in a good condition and recuperating,” but that “it was ‘not useful’ to provide more details.”
As the news embargo continues, so does the speculation of whether the PM is alive or not. Without access to free media and government transparency in the country, the public is enduring endless rumors and counter rumors emanating from competing political interest groups.
What is known for certain is that Meles Zenawi has been incapacitated from carrying out his official duties for more than a month, and he may or he may not return to office. But at this point the issue is neither about a single individual or a single party, nor even about political differences. It is disconcerting that 40 days after the head of the nation’s government vanished from public view, Ethiopians still have no answers as to how long he will remain absent. Why do officials find it acceptable to continue to keep the public in perpetual darkness?
If the country is governed by its constitution, the current secrecy makes no sense. Most importantly, if it is not known when the Prime Minister will be able to resume his duties, an official announcement must be made as to who will replace the disabled PM and under what legal authority? What comes next should not be handled behind closed doors. The government is obligated to answer these questions: Where is PM Meles Zenawi? What is the nature of his illness? When should the public expect him back at work? And who will assume responsibility for leading the nation in the event that he is incapacitated? The public deserves to know.
Listen: VOA Amharic – Legal Scholar on the PM’s Absence & Succession Plan (Audio)
Ethiopians Still Looking for Answers on Meles (CPJ)
What Happens If Meles Zenawi Can No Longer Govern? (VOA)
Where is Meles Zenawi? Ethiopians Don’t Know (CPJ)
Ethiopia’s Missing PM: What’s The Truth About Meles Zenawi’s Health? (TADIAS)
Ethiopia Bans Newspaper After Stories On Meles Illness (Bloomberg News)
Media group: Ethiopia Curbs Reports on PM’s Health (CBS News)
The Zenawi Paradox: An Ethiopian Leader’s Good and Terrible Legacy (The Atlantic Magazine)