IN OTHER WORDS: Autocracy
Somebody needs to remind Meles Zenawi that he is supposed to be setting the example for how democracy should work in Africa. As things stand, the only example Meles, the Ethiopian prime minister, is setting is one of autocratic repression. Meles has often been lauded as an exemplar of good government by the likes of British PM Tony Blair. But it turns out that Meles is in favour of democracy only when people are voting for him.
During May polls, many voters cast ballots for lesser-known opposition. When the government announced that it won 296 of parliament’s 547 seats, many critics charged voter fraud. Earlier this month, protest erupted. Government soldiers fired on the crowds killing some 46 people. Has Meles never heard of tear gas? Soldiers swept through the streets and arrested more than two dozen opposition party members and even a few journalists.
Left with egg on its face, the British government is withholding some of Ethio-pia’s foreign aid money. But that would actually hurt the poorest of the poor, at no cost to Meles. Western donors should funnel money to ground-level aid projects, while shunning direct budgetary support of the government. Blair should publicly evict Meles from his Commission for Africa. The rest of the international development crowd should exile him.