Billionaire Mohammed Al Amoudi is not dead

August 28, 2012 — Saudi billionaire Mohamed Al Amoudi is not dead, contrary to a claim first reported by Ethiopian Review, a leading U.S.-based opposition website.

Several sources told Durame by phone that the longtime friend of the late Ethiopian dictator Meles Zenawi was spotted in Jeddah, Suadi Arabia inside the upscale Roshana Mall yesterday.

Since then, the 66-year-old tycoon has flown in to Ethiopia today to attend Meles' funeral processions that's scheduled for this Sunday, Sept. 2, according to state-run media.

Ethiopianreview, often regarded as one of the more credible opposition websites, was likely given disinformation by a source to purposely discredit it and the opposition, one observer noted.

In 2010, Elias Kifle, the owner of and a prominent figure within the Ethiopian opposition community, was sued for defamation by Amoudi in the UK.

Born to a Yemeni father and an Ethiopian mother in Dessie, Ethiopia in 1946, Amoudi is reported to be one of the world's richest men with an estimated networth of US$12.5 billion dollars.

Mohammed Al Amoudi

Eritrea extends its condolences to Ethiopia

August 28, 2012 — In an unexpected move, Eritrea extends its condolence to longtime rival Ethiopia after Meles Zenawi's death, local reporters have said.

After days of silence, Eritrea's Deputy Ambassador to the AU, Beniam Berhe, visited the Ethiopian National Palace yesterday, where the former prime minister's coffin has been on display for mourners.

While at the National Palace, the young Eritrean diplomat signed the book of condolences on behalf of Eritrea, much to the surprise of many observers and security personal.

Regional analysts have noted this likely not a political move, but a symbol of neighborly goodwill and cultured hospitality being shown by Eritrea.

After the bloody border war between 1998-2000, Meles was described as being 'obsessed with Eritrea.' He adopted a 'no war, no peace' strategy and supported various al-Qaeda-linked Islamic insurgents, including the notorious Eritrean Islamic Jihad Movement, to destabilize the Red Sea State.

When the international courts said Badme belonged to Eritrea in 2002, he refused to adhere to their ruling and continued to occupy their sovereignty in defiance.

On the political front, Meles worked with junior U.S. diplomats to place two rounds of sanctions against Eritrea in an attempt to weaken its military, economy and isolate the country from the international community.

Despite seemingly an unwavering political, financial and military backing from Washington D.C., Meles was said to have lived a paranoid and depressed life, who was consumed with hate and fear for arch-foe Eritrea and his political rivals.

Eritrea's Deputy Ambassador to the AU, Beniam Berhe, signing the condolences
book for Meles Zenawi on August 27, 2012
Eritrean diplomat Beniam Berhe shaking hands with Azeb Mesfin, the wife
of the late prime minister

Former dictator Meles Zenawi's coffin on display at the National Palace in
Addis Ababa - August 27, 2012

Ethiopia's post-Meles Zenawi's shadow government

Hailemariam Desalegn is just a ceremonial PM
Following the death of Ethiopian despot Meles Zenawi, his handpicked deputy prime minister and foreign minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, was appointed the acting PM by the Council of Ministers.

But beneath this important title, Hailemariam is virtually seen as a figurehead. His infant reign in power has been described as being, "a Medvedev for a group of Putins in the ruling party," a reference to Russia's leadership structure.

By placing Hailemariam as the acting PM until 2015, the ruling party wants to buy time to fix their internal squables, while at the same time, give the illusion to donor countries that a non-Tigrayan leadership is at the helm. For TPLF top brass, Hailemariam is not seen as a threat. He has no party to support him and has become the face of a shadow government he has no say in.

Meles' demise and his lack of succession plan, has had a devastating effect on his former administration. For the first time since the 2001 power struggle, the regime is in a precarious situation. Reports have indicated a number of splinter groups have already emerged; each backing a senior official who they feel should rule the country of 85 million.

Some of these TPLF bigwigs vying to rule Ethiopia are Seyoum Mesfin, Bereket Simon, Samora Yunis, Getachew Assefa, and Sebhat Nega. These five individuals have the most influence, political experience and are generally seen as the top brass of the party by regional analyst.

Seyoum Mesfin: He was the former foreign minister before being replaced by Hailemariam Desalegn, in an unpopular power shuffle by Meles in 2010. He was very much critical of the move and solidified his long held belief that Meles was simply a one-man-regime. Prior to becoming Ethiopia's Ambassador to China, he was generally regarded as the second most prominent figure within the TPLF. With the death of his former comrade and rival, look for him to muscle in for control.

Bereket Simon: Out of all the regime heavy-weights, he's been the most faithful to Meles. This is largely due to the fact that within the party, he's very much disliked. For him, Meles was a way to climb within the political ladder. He is of Eritrean in origin and many view him with suspicion, even though he fought for the TPLF organization as a guerrilla fighter.

Samora Yuinis: Described as a 'paranoid' general by the former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, David Shin, General Samora has been the head of Ethiopian National Defense forces since 2007, a title given to him by Meles as a reward for his staunch loyalty. With Meles' death, the 57-year-old general is seen as being in a position of strength. Many TPLF splinter groups are soliciting him to take power from their political rivals.

Getachew Assefa: Since 2001, Getcha has been the head of the Ethiopian National Security and Intelligence Service, a position appointed to him by Meles. Like Samora, Getachew is a paranoid and secretive man. He's been known to arrest people for simply taken a picture of him. He likes to stay in the shadows, but is very much an influential figure within the party.

Sebhat Nega: He's the founder of the TPLF and was the leader until the 3rd congress in 1991, when Meles was voted in to power by his comrades. Out of all the senior officials, he's the most staunch advocate of Tigrayan nationalism. Within the party, Sebhat is known as a 'loose canon'. He criticized Meles in 2009 for his dictatorship and corruption, a move that ignited Meles' 2010 power reshuffle of senior political and military officials.

Seyoum Mesfin
Ambassador to China
63 years of old
Bereket Simon
Government Communications Minister 
58 years old
Samora Yunis
Head of the Ethiopian Defense Forces
57 years old
Getachew Assefa
Head of Ethiopian National Security  and Intelligence
58 years old
Sebhat Nega
Founder of TPLF and Influential leader within the party 
78 years old

TPLF officials who Rule Ethiopia

Ethiopian Dictator Meles Zenawi died of liver Cancer

August 24, 2012 — After months of speculations, the late dictator Meles Zenawi is reported to have died from liver cancer; a serious disease that's almost always fatal.

The 57-year-old tyrant died last Monday night from a sudden infection in Brussels, but the regime declined to specify what the nature of his illness was.

Funeral procession will be held in the capital, Addis Ababa, on Sunday, September 2, according to government spokesman Bereket Simon.

The acting Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, will be sworn in immediately following Meles' burial and is expected to finish his term which ends in 2015.

Sources in Addis Ababa say the city is on edge, as uncertainty and fear grips the country of 85 million. Extra security have been called up, while the army is said to be on standby.

Meanwhile, in North Korean fashion, reports are indicating the regime is warning and arresting people who do not mourn for Meles' death.

Amid all this, the regime is in under an intense power struggle. Sources say TPLF top brass are splitting into a number of factions, each one vying for control.

Meles Zenawi died as a result of liver cancer - Image: Kenya Star

Ethiopia's Tyrant Meles Zenawi Dies In Brussels

August 23, 2012 — Ethiopian tyrant Meles Zenawi passed away on Monday night from an infection, ending months of speculations of the former guerrilla fighter's health and whereabouts.

The 57-year-old dictator was being hospitalized in Brussels for an unspecified illness that's thought to be liver cancer, before succumbing to an infection and dying shortly after.

Meles' body arrived in the capital, Addis Ababa, on Tuesday night from Belgium, where TPLF bigwigs and party loyalist awaited him at Bole International Airport. Officials say he will stay at the National Palace until he's buried on Sunday, September 2.

Government officials say the Deputy Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, will be sworn in as the acting prime minister until the 2015 period, when another round of fake elections are slated to take place.

In the wake of the regime's announcement of the death of the former premier, reports indicate there is a palpable tension on in the capital and regional cities, particularly in Mekele and Gondar.

ESAT is reporting service at government institutions crawled to a standstill. Citizens have been seen withdrawing money from banks in large numbers, while prices for staple products have increased significantly since his death.

Amid the mourning for their fallen comrade, an intense power rivaraly is taken place underneath. Seyoum Mesfin is reportedly 'muscling' his way in to call the shots, while other officials are building  up  alliances to challenge his dominance. 

One source, who declined to be named for fear of reprisals, informed Durame by phone that once they bury Meles, senior officials will be arrested and charged with corruption, while party factions within the TPLF party will solicit Tigrayan army generals support against their rivals.

"We knew he can kill; we didn't know he can die" - Ethiopian Ph.D student
- Meles Zenawi dies at the age of 57 in Brussels, Belgium on August 20, 2012

Murder suspect Abey Belete Girma captured in Colorado

August 19, 2012 — Abey Belete Girma, the man suspected of killing an Ethiopian couple in Dallas, was captured and placed in custody in Aurora, Colorado last night.

An official of the Aurora Detention Center said the 37-year-old suspect is currently awaiting extradition to Texas, where he is likely to face the death penalty if convicted.

Dallas Police said he fled the state after he allegedly shot to death 40-year-old Desta Yenenesh and 31-year-old Lemma Yayehyirad on the door steps of their house Wednesday morning.

Girma later admitted to his friend that he followed them home and shot them because they had 'disrespected' him.

The tragic double murder has stunned the tight-knit Ethiopian community in Dallas. Many were also in disbelief after learning an Ethiopian was named the suspect.

The couple, which owned a popular Ethiopian restaurant named Desta on Greenville Avenue, leave behind a one-year-old son.

Suspected killer, Abey Belete Girma - Image credit: Dallas police

Ethiopian General Samora Yunis is gravely ill

August 19, 2012 — General Samora Yunis, the head of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, is reported to be seriously ill and receiving medical attention abroad, according to Ethiopian Media Forum, a U.S.-based opposition website.

The 57-year-old military chief had been receiving treatment for an undisclosed illness at the Armed Forces General Hospital for several days, prior to his health deteriorating and needing specialized medical care in the Middle East.

Amid his absence, reports indicate longtime severing Lieutenant General Tadesse Werede and Lieutenant General Se'aree Mekonen, both hailing from the minority Tigray ethnic group, have filled his position on his behalf.

Described as having a “paranoid and secretive leadership style”, by the former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, David Shinn, the ailing general was first appointed to his position by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in early 2007.

During his time as the head of the defense forces, he has orchestrated several attacks against neighboring states of Eritrea and Somalia, while domestically, he has played a key role in quelling and suppressing dissidents against the Meles-led dictatorship.

General Mohammed "Samora" Yunis

Ethiopia's patriarch Abune Paulos has died at the age of 76

August 16, 2012 — Abune Paulos, the patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, has died Thursday morning from an unspecified aliment.

The 76-year-old was rumored to suffer from a number of illnesses and was receiving treatment since Tuesday at the Dejazmach Balcha Hospital, according to state officials.

An emergency meeting is underway in the capital, Addis Ababa, to finalise arrangements for funeral services, according to the BBC.

At a press conference held today with foreign media, government official Shimeles Kemal said a new  patriarch will be selected based on “the bylaws and canons of the Coptic Church.”

The controversial patriarch, who had recently changed his name to Aba Gebremedhin, was handpicked by Ethiopian despot Meles Zenawi in 1992 to lead the Tewahedo Church.

Throughout his 20-year reign, he was regarded as a man who put politics ahead of the church. He supported the Meles-led regime and failed to condemn the numerous crimes his ethnic-oligarchy had committed.

More recently, Abune had erected a bronze statue of himself in Addis Ababa, which gained heavy criticism from Ethiopian citizens and among the regional Orthodox Community.

Abune Paulos dies at the age of 76
Abune Paulos - 1936 -2012 : Image Credit: Lacopts  

Bronze statue of Abune Paulos in the capital

Bereket Simon says Meles Zenawi will return in a month

August 10, 2012 — Prime Minister Meles Zenawi will return before the start of Ethiopian new year, according to government spokesperson, Bereket Simon.

In an interview held in Amharic, Bereket said Meles will be back before September 11, but did not disclose what the 57-year-old dictator is suffering from.

This is the second timetable given of the premier's return by Bereket within a month. The last one came on July 19, when he informed western news agencies that Meles was expected to be "back in days."

Its now been 50 days since Ethiopia's strongman has been absent due to a severe and unspecified illness. Speculation of his health are rife and many credible western news agencies have reported he "may not survive."

Meanwhile, amid his absence, secret talks of succession are already underway in Addis Ababa, leading many observers and diplomats to believe Meles will never assume his position again, even if he does survive.

Recently, Seyoum Mesfin, Ethiopia's Ambassador to China and a prominent figure within the TPLF ethnic oligarchy, has unexpectedly returned to Ethiopia, which some analysts say is a sign he's positioning himself to be the next Prime Minister.

Dictator Meles Zenawi is regarded as being just as bad as the
former Ethiopian President Mengistu Haile Mariam whom he replaced

Meles Zenawi is 'finished' as Prime Minister of Ethiopia

August 8, 2012 — Ethiopian dictator Meles Zenawi is said to be terminally ill from blood cancer and his days as the Prime Minister are over, according to a source with connections to the secretive Ethiopian National Security and Intelliegence Serivce.

"Meles is suffering from blood cancer and his prognosis looks grim. Belgian doctors are trying radical treatments to reverse his terminal status. One thing is certain though: his days of being a Prime Minister are finished", said our contact by phone, who declined to be named for fear of reprisals.

Meles, who has been absent for 48 days to date, has been in power over Ethiopia for 21 years through a tightly controlled ethnic-based oligarchy. Many regional observers believe his sudden departure would throw the ruling TPLF regime into chaos as his colleagues vie for control.

During a presser last week, Bereket Simon, a government spokesperson, said to state media that Meles was on a 'holiday'. He later changed his story and said he was 'recuperating' from an unspecified aliment but declined to give a timetable of his return.

Amid the premier's absence, Seyoum Mesfin, Ethiopia's Ambassador to China and longtime friend of Meles, has increasingly been taking a leadership role. Last Friday, he ordered Al-Jazeera website and channel blocked from Ethiopia, after the Doha-based network aired a debate about the country's current crises.

Meanwhile, authorities continue to crack down on news agencies who report of Meles' deteriorating health status in the country. Last week, police brought eight charges against the Editor-in-Chief of Feteh, Temsegen Desalegn, for articles published in seven editions of the newspaper.

Dying dictator Meles Zenawi does not want his deteriorating
health to be made public - Image credit: The Star Kenya

ESAT Stands By Its Claim: Meles Zenawi Is Dead

ESAT Stands By Its Claim: Meles Zenawi Is Dead

August 1, 2012 — Amid growing scrutiny, ESAT's award-winning and accredited journalist Abebe Gellaw defends his network's decision to air the news of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's death.

The Netherlands-based media, often regarded as Ethiopia's most credible news agency, reported Meles has died in a radio broadcast late last night that has shocked many Ethiopians and rattled the social media networks.

But one of its named source for the report, the International Crisis Group (ICG), denied it provided  ESAT with information regarding the premier's health.

"International Crisis Group has no direct knowledge about the state of health of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Crisis Group has never commented on Mr Zenawi’s health or his fate, and is not in a position to speculate about it." said the Brussels-based think thank.

In response, correspondent Abebe Gellaw said, "For the record, ESAT never quoted ICG. It quoted anonymous but credible sources working at ICG in Brussels. We are aware of ICG’s Twit."

He went on to add, "ESAT never relied on a speculation or comment from ICG. We only had privilege to access confidential information held by ICG that conclusively claimed Zenawi was dead."

ESAT says their decision to report Meles' death was not easy. They said it was two weeks ago that they received news from highly credible sources in Brussels that indicated the 57-year-old former guerrilla fighter had passed away. During this period, it claims it has been investigating and verifying the tip meticulously before it decided to broadcast the news.

It is to be recalled, ESAT was the first news agency to report Meles was receiving treatment in Brussels in late June. This claim was later corroborated by European diplomats whom informed the Telegraph news agency that Meles was in 'critical' condition in a Brussels hospital and may not survive his unspecified aliment.