Zenawi’s grisly legacy: divisive dictator relished by outsiders

By Nemera G. Mamo

Sept 3, 2012 (Opride) – The death, imposed mourning period, and funeral of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, an ascribed dictator hailed by his supporters as a hero, remained the biggest news story for the second half of August.

Meles was a tyrant who tried to institutionalize authoritarianism and make itacceptable . No one yet knows how he died, but that is part of the secrecy, which shrouded his authoritarian rule. Rumor has it that a blood cancer, brain tumor, liver disease or a cumulative of these conditions caused his early demise.

A lot has been said about the legacy Mr. Zenawi had left behind: both bad and good – by foreign dignitaries, journalists who covered him, and ordinary folks alike. I was particularly moved by one Facebook post from a young man in Minnesota: It’s like God said to the TPLF, let my people go or else I will bring plague number 10 to all first born [leaders]. It seems like the angels are already clearing the house. The premier’s demise follows the death of an influential Ethiopian Orthodox Church Patriarch, Abune Paulos. The apocalyptic types say there will be many more in the days and moths ahead.

But why didn’t Ethiopians hold Zenawi dear the same way outsiders heaped praises on him?

A Big Man and Darling of the West

Most Ethiopians know why the West backed Zenawi’s regime and why his death is so widely mourned. For nearly two-decades, Western countries considered Ethiopia an influential regional powerhouse for stability and a bulwark against the rise of Islam.

Under Zenawi’s leadership, in a region that lacks both security and stability, Ethiopia became a key partner for the United States, UK and the European Union. The West sees the Horn of Africa as a hotbed of terrorist activities, making it a focal point in the protracted global war on terror.

After establishing a pro-western and anti-Islamist state in one of the most troubled corners of Africa, Zenawi – a former Marxist-Leninist rebel turned autocrat – offered to police the region on West’s behalf, proving himself as a reliable ally who can deliver, even if loathed in some circles as a cunning tyrant.

–Full Report Opride.com