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Protesters Absent as Ethiopia Marks Anniversary of Meles Rule

May 29, 2011

The turnout at Addis Ababa’s Meskel Square was a fraction of the one million predicted. And with thunder clouds hanging overhead, a scheduled four-hour event was cut in half.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s nationally televised anniversary address lasted little more than five minutes. It was largely a patriotic appeal for support of construction of a massive dam that is challenging Egypt’s long-standing monopoly over the Nile River waters.

The controversial $5 billion hydropower project is being financed almost entirely with domestic funds in the absence of support from international lending institutions. Meles called the dam an example of Ethiopia’s fighting spirit.

He said “This dam has on it the fingerprints of every Ethiopian. It is not only a producer of energy, it is a certificate that shows the whole world we are the owners.”

Small bands of youths ran through the crowd chanting “We will not let Egypt stop us from using our water.”

Local physician Berhanu Gebremariam said he had come out to show support for the social progress of the past two decades. He said Ethiopia’s determination to go it alone on the Nile dam project was a great source of national pride.

“Nile is the origin in our country. We haven’t used it for decades, but now we woke up. We should use it, but that doesn’t mean we are going to punish Egypt. Egypt is our neighbor. We share,” he said.

Democracy activists had been using social networking websites such as Facebook to call for a North African-style “Day of Rage” against the government. But in a tightly controlled society where Internet penetration is less than 1 percent, there was no sign of any protests.

Government officials said the online campaign was mostly the work of dissident groups abroad, and has little domestic support.

A random sampling of public opinion on the streets of Addis Ababa Saturday found most people going about their regular business, staying clear of the demonstration. The capital is known as a hotbed of anti-government sentiment, but residents expressed little enthusiasm for public protests.

The last major demonstrations in the streets of Addis ended in bloodshed following the disputed 2005 elections.  Nearly 200 opposition activists died when government forces opened fire on the demonstrators.

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7 comments on “Protesters Absent as Ethiopia Marks Anniversary of Meles Rule

  1. This is proof( if needed) that the noxious Diaspora is finished. Their master Esayas will now pull the plug for good.

  2. Belai
    your shameless brain should remind you issayas is your own brother in deed who is working with you behind the seen if you want to know refer to the golden boy of tigrai meles zenawi. enqua kabatihum teftirna, we have worked and served more for the eritrean freedom more than you speech.
    the pure ethiopian from the orommia (galla) kush region.
    long live Ethiopia

  3. Meles said people have no appetite for protests after what happned in 2005. He might have have his own meaning when he said appetite such as the fact that he was able to quash the protest. But the main factor was the so called political leaders’ inability to handle the situation during the time. People have no more confidence on oppostion parties so there is no way they sacrify themselves for nothing. It is good to note that Birhanu Nega who now wants residents of Addis to throw stone while he is living a comfortable life in America was the main person who derailed the struggle.

  4. የዛሬ 25 ወይም 30 አመት – “ክቡር መንግስቱ ሀይለማርያም አሁን ወደ ክቡር ትርቢዩኑ ደርሰዋል” እንባል ነበረ::

  5. Kennanee,

    I don’t think you are in a fit state of mind. Because you are angry, you are all over the place. Calm down tell me what is troubling you ? You seem to be unhappy because things are going well in Ethiopia. Did you see the turn out on Saturday on the four corners of Ethiopia ? Eritreans fought and won their independence. Nobody gave it to them. I know you don’t like, it but it is the fact. Meles is not the golden boy of Tigray only but Ethiopia as well. Isayas is finished my friend. If you are an Oromo, then you should be thankful to the TPLF. Work it out if you can.

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