Briefing Paper

Ethiopia After Meles

“For more than two decades, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi managed Ethiopia’s political, ethnic and religious divides and adroitly kept the TFPL and EPRDF factions under tight control by concentrating power, gradually closing political space and stifling any dissent. His death poses serious risks to the ruling party’s tenure. Deprived of its epicentre, the regime will find it very difficult to create a new centre of gravity. In the short-term, a TPLF-dominated transition will produce a weaker regime that probably will have to rely increasingly on repression to manage growing unrest. The international community ignored and to some degree supported the authoritarian tendencies. It preferred shortterm security to long-term stability and turned a blind eye to growing dissatisfaction that in the absence of political space is being channeled along ethnic and religious lines, potentially radicalising society. In the post-Meles era, it needs instead to push the ruling party to revive the rights and freedoms of the 1994 constitution and promote inclusive reforms as the only way to ensure internal and regional stability, as well as durable development.”