News / Africa

Former US Ambassador Weighs In on Ethiopian PM's Health

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (file photo)
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (file photo)
Ashenafi Abedje
A former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia says the latest statements by Ethiopian officials suggest “a significant health issue” facing Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

During a press conference Thursday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopian authorities said Meles has been advised by his physicians to take “sick leave,” and that he will resume his official duties after he recuperates.

David Shinn, who currently teaches international affairs at the George Washington University, says he finds the reported official remarks telling.
                  
“You wouldn’t make a statement like that that is so open-ended unless the problem is significant,” he says.

Conflicting accounts

Shinn notes today’s statement is at variance with earlier remarks by a TPLF party elder.

“There was a comment a couple of days ago by Sebhat Nega, a very close friend of Meles, indicating Meles will be back on the job within a week or so. So I think we’re talking about an open-ended issue,” he says.

The former U.S. Ambassador says Prime Minister Meles seemed in good health when he recently saw him in Washington.

“Prime Minister Meles was in Washington on May 18…I was there during a question and answer session, I did not detect any health issue. He seemed to me perfectly normal at that time,” he recalls.

Shinn says Meles has probably known about his health condition for some time and that this could not have been “some sort of a surprise issue” for him.
                  
Potential succession

That being the case, says the former diplomat, Meles must have given thought who would follow him.

“I would be willing to bet very good money that he has been planning for some way to deal with this issue in order to insure some kind of reasonable succession of government in Ethiopia.”

Commenting on the hypothetical, Shinn outlines a scenario -- should Mr. Meles become incapacitated.
                  
“In the immediate aftermath, you would have the Deputy Prime Minister Haile Mariam Dessalegne  taking over, and then it would be up to the House of Peoples’ Representatives at some point to name a replacement Prime Minister,” he says.

Shinn says the success of any potential handover will depend on how well any such transition has been organized, and how long Meles has known (if he is incapacitated) about the need to organize a transition.

The former diplomat says if Meles has known about it for some time, it could be a “relatively smooth transition.”

“I think the way Meles works, he probably has done quite a lot to try to ensure a transition of the EPRDF at least through 2015 (through the next elections.)  After that, of course, it may be a whole new ballgame," he says.

Listen to interview with Ambassador David Shinn
Listen to interview with Ambassador David Shinni
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

You May Like

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous from: Ethiopia
July 23, 2012 11:12 AM
As human being, I wish a quick recovery of our PM health!, no matter what all of you say, this is my opinion! and I wish a smooth transition of power in case of worst situations!, We don't need revenge, we don't need who rules us, what I wish to see is eager to see Our Country to make big- big changes in terms of Democracy, freedom to speech, freedom to write, much more Development, Poverty eradication activity, Unity under diversified culture, religion,....., one strong, Ethiopia.

by: Dany from: addis abeba
July 21, 2012 9:48 AM
It is good to see him in life and resign from his position willing than go out by nature. Lets pass to the new one

by: From Minnesota
July 20, 2012 11:38 PM
The corrupted P.M and his TPLF cliques, your policy of divide and rule is obviously near to an end. I am amazed to read the comments of people who assume the buildings constructed in Addis or other cities reflect the economic growth of the country. Do you know who built those buildings? Do you know how many school children go to school without lunch? On the contrary hundred and hundred of Tigrai youth are getting their education abroad, and their tution and other expenses being paid in hard currency by their parents multi millioners and modern mesafints living in Addis and other cities. It's unfortunate that the woyane "EPDRF" created this dangerous situation between ethinic groups of Ethiopia.

by: AyzoshAgere
July 20, 2012 2:41 PM
Every Ethiopian except the few ones advantaged by the Meles regime is happy the dictator and phatological lier,Meles, is gone to hell, where he can not decieve the devil to come back.
I wish him a hell stay in hell itself. That is what he deserves.
In Response

by: AK47 from: ADDIS
July 21, 2012 12:11 PM
its always true that polticians benfit one side of the party and another to suffer, however, meles is different, he divided the country in very several piceses, its clear he is gonna go at end. its difficult to the coming leader whoever is to govern, becouse we gonna startover again. the damage Meles has done is never seen in half century.i wish all the best for the people of ethiopia.
In Response

by: JAMAL from: MEMPHIS
July 20, 2012 10:46 PM
Typical amhara comment that lacks substance. And they are waiting in vein to celebrate and take short cut to power.

by: Mengistu
July 20, 2012 10:44 AM
Meles is great Leader ,I always see from him to win poverty ,He is hard worker The Great Leader of Africa.God with him
In Response

by: Shibru from: USA
July 21, 2012 1:58 PM
Mengistu,
What language have you used? Not English, of course although Latin characters are there. Else, do it in any other language you may best express yourself.
Thanks

by: Johanes from: USA
July 20, 2012 1:04 AM
He is already in hell ,I hope he dies such horrible death
In Response

by: Selam from: Ethiopia
July 23, 2012 4:15 AM
Shibru,

Why should you worry too much about English grammer so long as you understand what Mengistu wants to say. Of course, Your name tells your personality! Time may come soon that we can express in our language in a Cyber world like Asians and other European countries. At that time your "language" will remain at your "country".

Bye!


by: Endale from: oslo / Atlanta.
July 20, 2012 12:41 AM
Shacka you are 100% right. The prayers has got the answer.

by: Abbawa from: Silver spring, Md.
July 19, 2012 11:59 PM
first and for most I wish Pm. Meles Zenawi for good health and quick recovery.
Secondly, the whole world and vast population of Ethiopia knows that Pm. Meles Zenawi is one of the most brilliant Ethiopian leaders ever and or may be even African leader ever. Meles surly out shines the alternative leaders would have been, such as Brehanu and Shawel.

by: KA,addis from: Addis Ababa
July 19, 2012 4:48 PM
Our brave leader, Meles, I am very confident that you will be back to your office very soon. We love you so much. Our country wants to see your remarkable achievements. We have many plans to be achieved with your best leadership. The future will be bright with your leadership. You will be recovered from your illness. I know very well that leading the poor country is a very tough task and you suffered a lot. Your sickness is the result of the burden. We all positive thinkers appreciate the best results of your success since 1991. Our country will eradicate poverty once and for all very soon. I wish you all the best once again!!!
In Response

by: Amara from: Addis
July 21, 2012 2:45 AM
I can't believe you call Meles brave leader....you have to be the only one think that...we know who he is and you will see what will happen to him the prayer's of ethiopean got heard .
In Response

by: Anonymous
July 20, 2012 1:12 PM
i am pray to GOD I HOPE IN GOOD CONDITION
In Response

by: Dereje from: Addis Ababa
July 20, 2012 3:05 AM
I think every leader has his own good and bad part.its not a new incident only for Ethiopia.we have even witnessed this in the USA,the point is, we should be rational when we try to judge,but there is one thing i want to say about the diaspora,they are living in a well developed democratic world but they are thinking undemocratically,this shows me how blind and ignorant their mind is,...shame on you-losers.Ethiopia will stay blessed whether you think this way or the other.
In Response

by: G/Tsadik from: US
July 19, 2012 11:06 PM
As a man from his tribe, liars, this is what is normally expected from you man! Meles and his wife and The whole TPLF have robbed the country. How can you think of eradicating poverty while such mafias are robbing the country? I hope you don't deny this. Meles is a good leader for the thieves. He very well thought his cadres how to steal and how to lye to the people.
It is now time Meles should rest( as your officials said) from his evil thinking and doings.
In Response

by: hagos
July 19, 2012 9:45 PM
you will bury him in adwa soon my brother
In Response

by: shacka from: ATL GA
July 19, 2012 6:57 PM
There is saying,"you don't miss the water unt'l the wells rune out" You must be one of 0.01 person your tribe from Tigree.Melse one of the Fascist dictator i hope his days are number & he will rutin in hell

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More