Press Digest: Meles Recites “Till Death Do Us Part” and Teddy Afro’s Lawyer Praises the New Parliament
This week’s Ethiopian newspapers focused on the release of Birtukan Mideksa. The newspaper market is once again infused with life. Awramba Times has, for instance, now increased the number of copies they publish weekly by 3000.
Birtukan Mideksa’s release and her interview with the government media was analyzed in comparison with her letter prior to her imprisonment. The newspapers began writing about Birtukan at the start of last week, indicating that the news of her release of Birtukan was heard a week prior.
The weekly Addis Press interviewed Philosopher Dagnachew Assefa in its Tuesday issue. Dagnachew is known in Addis Ababa for his critical articles on the issue of Birtukan. In this interview, published a day before her release, Dagnachew says, “The main purpose of the government in arresting Birtukan was not to remove Birtukan as a person.” Instead, he says, ”It was to suppress the Birtukan-like spirit in the country.”
Dagnachew compared Birtukan with former French president Jacques Chirac. Dagnachew notes that the president has been nicknamed “The Man Who Said No”, following his negative response to the US rallying call for the war in Iraq. Using this example, Dagnachew says that, for him, Birtukan is “The Woman Who Said No”.
Dagnachew argues that the imprisonment of Birtukan has affected the election. He offers an analogy in explanation: if the Kenyan police were to arrest Haile Gebresilassie and Kenenissa Bekele a day before a competition for violating a traffic law, the Kenyan government could not claim the arrest purely on legal grounds, as such actions would clearly favor Kenyan rivals. Likewise, the Ethiopia government has also benefited from her imprisonment.
Dagnachew compares her imprisonment with the former trends of Ethiopian kings. Dagnachew says that, according to the trend, people considered potential rivals to the king were detained while the king was in power. Dagnachew believes the reason behind Birtukan’s detention is similar.
Ethiopia Equals Somalia in Quality of Education
Addis Press published news quoted from the “Global Campaign for Education”. According to the study, Ethiopia equals Somalia in quality of education. The newspaper also indicates that the bottom four countries facing crises in education quality are in Africa, among which three are found in East Africa. Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia rank among the countries at the bottom of the list.
Dagu Ethiopia’s Anti-Birtukan News
Dagu Ethiopia is known for publishing government ideas under the banner of press freedom. Dagu’s front page contained some news that appeared to be directly copied from the government newspaper, Addis Zemen. The line, “Some Addis Ababa dwellers say ‘the law is honored and Birtukan is released’” is one such example.
The newspaper also writes under the title, “Birtukan’s Two-Years-Late Letter”. In this article, the newspaper says that Birtukan’s “apology to the government and people” was long overdue. The newspaper further illustrates its idea with a cartoon, ridiculing the “woman’s apology”. The writer of this long article explains, “She was in Sweden to raise money, so she said what the Diaspora wanted to hear.” The writer also praises the government’s “patience”, saying, “the government could have take her to Kaliti as soon as she reached Bole Airport. Instead it chose the smoothest way.” The most amusing part of the article is the address of the writer. The writer is listed as Bereded Feleke from Ferensay Legacion–the area where Birtukan was raised, which received her from prison in a colorful celebration.
“I did not want to be re-elected, but I could not say no either,” says Ayele Chamisso
The new Kinijit (Coalition) has conducted its meeting and re-elected its father, Ayele Chamisso, as president. The president told “Ethio Channel” that he “didn’t want to be re-elected as a president”. He adds, “I wanted to rest, but since my party has re- elected me I accepted the position.”
“Only death separates me from the EPRDF,” says Meles Zenawi
Negadras has quoted Addis Zemen as the source of the Prime Minister’s interview.
Q. What is the reason to not to be with your wife when receiving guests and going abroad?
Meles: My wife has her own business and she wants to work on that business. She is also a member of the party and she is not willing to be only a house wife. So she works on her personal business at the same time I work on my government work. After we finish our jobs in separate conditions, we meet to will work on our family issues together.
Q. Where are you planning to work after your retirement?
Meles: I recognize and support the idea of retiring from the government position. But there is no such a thing as retiring from the party. I think what separates me from the party is death.
“This is the best parliament ever,” says Teddy Afro’s lawyer
Google newspaper has published short interviews with the new parliament members. Among the parliamentarians is Million Assefa, the lawyer of pop-singer Teddy Afro. Million says, “The role of the parliament is to pass laws and to check the judiciary. Even if the opposition parties were in the parliament, they would not have the power to pass the laws. Rather, they will be heard by the House. The power to pass the law is that of the governing party. Without spending any time on other things, the EPRDF will use their time to accomplish what is planned. So this is the best parliament ever to do that.”