Ever since the release of the damning classified US Embassy cables on Ethiopia by the whistle-blower organization Wikileaks, the haunted and embarrassed leader, Prime minister Meles Zenawi, decided to remain unusually ‘unavailable’ to any one, any one at all for the last 14 days and counting. People in Ethiopia are now asking, where is he? What is he doing?
It is not because the majority of Ethiopians care about him or his safety but because it is unusual of him to remain silent at all levels, for quite this long.
The last time he is been seen public was in his one day ahead of the scheduled trip to Cairo on Friday, Sept. 16 evening. After a busy one day meeting with Egyptian officials, he has been seen hurriedly boarding a plane at Cairo international airport for a three and half hours flights to get back home. Or, so everybody thought.
However, there was no news of his arrival on the Ethiopian national television. In fact, it is unprecedented of him to stay off the TV for over two weeks particularly after having a much hyped trip to Cairo for re-setting relations as well as discuss issues on the mega dam project over the Nile.
Well, it is probable, the Premier might have entered town quietly, without bothering his Ministers and media officers to receive him at the airport. Of course, why would he upset them, of all the days, on a Saturday mid-night?
The big question is that he was not seen in public since – almost, two weeks. Where is he?
It was not because the past two weeks were not uneventful.
There was the unpopular National Flag day, which was celebrated last year with his presence, hoisting the flag.
There was the 66th UN General Assembly in New York, where his opposition had been eagerly waiting to demonstrate against him. But last-minute decision forced his deputy and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hailemariam Desalgne to participate and address the assembly on his behalf.
There was also a two-day conference of the Association of Upper Houses of Parliaments in Africa and the Arab World (ASSECAA) held last weekend in Addis. Though he was not supposed to attend the conference, he would normally meet a few of the guests in his office as he used to do for the past twenty years. Apparently, he didn’t.
There was also a major conference in Nairobi on the joint Infrastructure Investment Conference of the East Africa Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Horn of African grouping – IGAD. Kenyan officials told the media Meles Zenawi would be present at the opening of the conference – that is, on Wednesday. But the Ethiopian Premier was nowhere to be seen even on Thursday, when the Conference was concluded issuing a Communiqué.
The list goes on.
People might think he must have locked up himself in his office toiling for a formula that would ease the record runaway inflation and the ever growing hardship of the peoples’ lives without slowing infrastructure spending frenzy. Others might think he might be busy working on his Doctoral dissertation.
But when someone trying carefully to connect all the missing dots that lead to people’s speculations, you might get a different picture behind his decision to remain low and unavailable for quite this long.
His last public appearance was on Friday, Sept. 16, 2011 on a trip to Cairo. That same day Eritrea announced its participation to the 66th United Nations General Assembly in New York, for the first time in ten years, headed by its President, Isaias Afwerki. The next day, Sept. 17, President Isaias left for New York.
What we are suspecting is that this sudden and unexpected decision by Eritrea as part of their continued and renewed effort to engage the world, was the reason for Zenawi’s unannounced disappearance. Why?
According to Egyptian media outlet, Zenawi has been seen boarding a plane on Saturday, Sept. 17. If he is not back to his palace after a three and half hours flight, so where does he go? If he has already arrived, why the news so quiet; why he is so unnoticed, unreachable, unavailable and unannounced for well over two weeks unless he is up to something?
Contrary to his deceptive nature, he might have been so embarrassed to meet and face the world, at least for the time being, after the Wikileaks exposed his lies, deceptions, mischiefs and criminal deeds on his own people and neighbors.
Everybody knows his country is pushing for a make or break sanction drive on Eritrea under the guise of IGAD communiqué. Ever since it reached the Security Council, it got a glitch and shows no sign of progress. On top of their frustration on failing to convince African member states in the council on tabling Ethiopia drafted resolution that is calling for more economic sanction on Eritrea, here comes Afwerki’s killer mission to the UN.
Therefore, Zenawi has no option but to board his plane and head to God knows where, abandoning all his responsibilities at home. He and his handlers wants to maintain the status quo and any change of heart from the international community towards Eritrea at this time will be catastrophic to his rule back in Ethiopia.
He must have been hiding behind his handler and sponsor of the sanction drive, the State Department, to keep his mission unnoticed and unannounced until he secures some kind of progress or guarantee. His sudden, unannounced trip is then part of the petty project he is running to keep against Eritrea and possibly it was believed he is working underground trying his luck refuting every diplomatic gains and understandings Afwerki might possibly benefit out of his latest UN visit.
That was the main reason, we believe, behind Zenawi’s hurried, unplanned trip to undisclosed location, for undisclosed mission that forced him to disappear from the public and some important regional event for more than two weeks.
But until we know the real truth behind his secret mission, we, along with the confused Ethiopian people will keep asking, where is Meles Zenawi and what is he doing in the background?
* [References outsourced from Daniel Berhane (Blog)]