Content: Capital Insight

  • Anti-Corruption Crackdown: Targeting Whom, Exactly?

    The recent anti-corruption crackdown surprised both citizens and analysts alike. And, indeed, the surprise was not unwarranted. The list of suspects included Melaku Fenta, director general of the Ethiopian Revenues & Customs Authority (ERCA). For distant observers, his image was associated with the modernisation drive of the ERCA under his leadership. As the state media […]

  • Opposition Parties: Right? Left? Center?

    In one of the televised debates in the run-up to the national election in 2005, Bereket Simon, the-then Minister of Information (MoI) and now head of the Government Communications Affairs Office (GCAO) with a ministerial portfolio, cornered opposition politicians by asking them whether they would concede that the downfall of the Dergue regime was a […]

  • Could Egypt Buy the New Nile Reality?

    When I was in high school, I took a short vacation to Egypt. One of the memorable things of my time in the country, besides the historic places, magnificent museums and elegant ladies, was responding to a question “where are you from”? Aided by the brief Arabic language lesson I took for the vacation, I […]

  • Hailemariam Goes More Parisian, Less Londoner

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s visit to France last week came as a surprise. One would assume that his first bilateral visit outside of Africa would take him to London, given the parade of British officials who visited Addis Abeba in recent months – at least, one senior official a month, on average, since last […]

  • GIBE-III: Could Activism Stall a Viable Project?

    Last month, I had an informative chat with a state minister for the energy sector, in Bahir Dar. As we were just a  few kilometres away from the source of the Blue Nile, and with a foreign journalist standing nearby, the minister was wary of what I might ask about the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam […]

  • Resettlement Challenges

    In his annual conference with the Ethiopian youth, brought from all over the country, in 2007, the late Meles Zenawi was asked why his government does not resettle landless youth from land-scare regions to those with vast unused farming lands, such as Gambella. Meles replied that his government decided to undertake resettlements within a region; […]

  • Opportunistic Headwinds: Can the EPRDF Sail Beyond them?

    Opportunists are the new enemies of the EPRDF. They were declared as threats back in mid-March, first in a prime space column in the state-owned daily, Addis Zemen, and then later, at the congresses of the EPRDF and its member parties. The specific behaviour under attack is expressed in various harsh terminologies, found in the […]

  • Succession Surprise

    The late Prime Minster Meles Zenawi was both present and absent at the bi-annual EPRDF Convention held last week in Bahir Dar, a few kilometres from the source of the Blue Nile. As usual, the Convention was preceded by the congresses of its four member parties – Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation (OPDO), Amhara National Democratic […]

  • FinSpy Allegation Smells Fishy

    Last week, media outlets, citing a briefing published by CitizenLab – an interdisciplinary laboratory based at the University of Toronto, Canada – widely reported an allegation that the Ethiopian government is using FinSpy malware, FinSpy is a lawful interception malware developed and marketed by a British company, Gamma International, with the ability to “capture information […]

  • After Uhuru Comes Diplomatic Trouble

    Last week saw the election of Uhuru Kenyatta as President of Kenya, one of the biggest economies in Eastern Africa. Most Ethiopians, however, are more familiar with his rival Raila Odinga, as part of the 2007 Kenyan presidential elections and the ensuing violence that saw him instated as Prime Minister. Of course, arguably, Odinga became […]

  • Chavez Vs Meles: A Comparison

    In the days following the passing of Meles Zenawi, senior EPRDF officials stood firm in rejecting the conspiracy theories that were running wild in the streets. Although a public statement was not issued on the matter, as journalists did not raise the subject, the official reaction was firm during private discussions. It even went as […]

  • Saudi Arabia: An Honest Friend or Pretentious Foe?

    The state media never gets tired of telling us how the Arabs are grateful that Ethiopia hosted the “First Hijra” – the relatives and followers of Prophet Mohammed who took refuge in Ethiopia from persecution back home. It reiterates this version of the story whenever it is reporting about the warm relationship with Arab nations […]

  • Custodian Dilemma

    If there is a cliché often repeated among the ranking officers of the Ethiopian national defence forces, it is that, “the military is the last barrack of defence for the Constitution”. Apparently, the maxim is part of their training on the Constitution. The exact meaning varies with the officer one talks to and depends on […]

  • Thin Line Divides Information, Defamation

    When the Ethiopian parliament enacted the anti-terrorism law in mid-2009, many of its contents provoked a heated debate. But little, if any, attention was given to the National Anti-Terrorism Coordination Committee established by the legislation, comprising the heads of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), the Federal Police and the National Intelligence & Security Service, chaired […]

  • To Losers Go the Awards

    Last week, Bofta Yimam, a reporter for the United States’ Fox 13 News, caught some attention in the Ethiopian media. She is an American journalist of Ethiopian origin and winner of the Regional Emmy Award for excellent reporting, for 2013. Of course, she is not the first Ethiopian journalist to be given an award by […]

  • Transition Plus Confusion

    After the passing of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, I coined a phrase to describe the constellation of power inside the ruling party: “The outgoing are not really out, and the incoming are not really in”. That was to describe the relative power of the ‘first generation’ officials who left their previous posts to […]

  • Eritrean Showdown: Coup or Showbiz?

    Yemane Gebremeskel, director of the Office of the President of Eritrea, reflected, last Tuesday, on the showdown of last Monday, saying, “all is calm today as it all was yesterday.” The well-known spin-doctor of the regime, Ali Abdu, the minister of Information, was absent from the show this week, providing more credibility to the two-month-old […]

  • Constitutionality Debate Lost Transparency Thread

    The debate on the constitutionality of the recent high-level governmental appointments seems to have been put to rest by the recent explanation given by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. Largely, the debate was about the elevation of two ministers to the ranks of Deputy Prime Minister and their appointment, alongside Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen, to […]

  • Hailemariam Not Like Meles

    In July 2012, when the probability of a post-Meles Ethiopia appeared inevitable, a diplomat based in Addis Abeba pressed me to speculate on prospective successors. I insisted on “Hailemariam Desalegn, or someone like him”. The answer did not seem plausible to the diplomat, and she was not alone. Many people, to date, doubt if Prime […]