September 2013

Dear Editor,

I enjoyed reading your cover story assessing the political landscape in Ethiopia one year after the death of Meles Zenawi (Ethiopia: a year after Meles, Aug. 2013).  However, I found it hard to comprehend or share your general point about the country having seen no change or little change in the past one year owing to the death of Meles. For starters, what do we mean by “a change?” and what justifies our argument in whether there should be a “change” or not?  What happened in August last year is a sudden death of a man who is, without doubt, credited to the political shape and geographical size of this country. But these are not found on mere papers locked in a vault in his office where no one can access them to rewrite them. The changes this country has gone through for the last two decades are institutional: miscarriage of justice is institutional, as is corruption; abuse of power is institutional as is nepotism; gagging dissent is institutional as is arbitrary detention of hundreds of innocent civilians…the list can go on. So here is a question for you and your team of writers: was expecting anything different in just a year legitimate?

 Prof. Be’edilu Chernet G/Meskel