ethiopiantimes

February 28, 2012

Ethiopian dictator harbours Yemeni dictator

Filed under: Azeb Mesfin,Ethiopia,Meles Zenawi — ethiopiantimes @ 12:36 pm
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Aides to Ali Abdullah Saleh said Monday that the ousted Yemeni president plans to go into exile in Ethiopia, as pressures mounted on him to depart the country for fear of sparking new cycles of violence.

The news that the longtime Yemeni leader might leave to Ethiopia marks the latest twist in the meandering story of Saleh’s fall from grace.

As rumors have circulated of Saleh seeking refuge in a myriad of countries including Oman, and the United Arab Emirates where some of his family is already setting up residence, the ousted president has lingered on in Yemen, much to the dismay of the man who replaced him, the international officials who facilitated the handover of power, and people on the street who want his head.

The aides said that the former president will leave Yemen within two days along with some of his family members where he will reside in a villa in the suburb of Addis Ababa.

A diplomat in Sanaa confirmed that arrangements had been made for Saleh’s departure for Ethiopia. Aides said that visas have been issued and Saleh’s belongings already shipped to Ethiopia. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Inside the presidential palace there were signs that Saleh’s time in power was at an end.

Witnesses who went inside Monday said a whole hall that used to display precious souvenirs, antiques, golden watches, guns, hunting rifles and other paraphernalia collected under Saleh’s regime, was bare on Monday.

A senior army officer and a presidency employee told AP that the commander of the Presidential Guards, who is also Saleh’s nephew, has ordered his guards to move all the antiques to an undisclosed location. Even alcohol which Saleh used to serve to his western visitors had been carted away, said another employee.

Officials said that Saleh came under heavy pressures from Western and Arab countries to leave the country, upon repeated requests by the newly elected president and transitional government to prevent Saleh from staying in Yemen.

Newly inaugurated President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was sworn in as president on Saturday following an election aimed at ending more than a year of political turmoil. Hadi was the only candidate. A power-transfer deal backed by the Gulf and U.S. gave Saleh immunity from prosecution in exchange for stepping down.

Saleh’s permanent departure from Yemen was not spelled out in the agreement but it was generally understood by all parties that he would find a new home. The fear was that if he stayed in Yemen permanently he would incite riots of those calling for his prosecution and, his opponents feared he would be able to exert control through his powerful network of well-placed family members and allies.

 

 

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February 24, 2012

Ethiopians protest against Meles Zenawi in London –

Filed under: Ethiopia,Meles Zenawi — ethiopiantimes @ 11:53 am
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February 23, 2012

Ethiopia: Land grabs are fueling violence in Gambela

Anywaa Survival Organisation | 22 February 2011

by the Anywaa Survival Organisation

The Ethiopian government leased the homelands of these Anuak women to an Indian company, Karuturi Global Ltd, and moved them to a village where there is no land for farming. The Anuak Justice Council has initiated a letter writing campaign calling on Ethiopia’s donors to pressure the Ethiopian government to stop the land grabs in Gambela. Join the campaign here. (Photo courtesy of the Anuak Justice Council)

The Ethiopian peripheries, with their abundant, fertile farmlands and water reserves, have become centres of land grabbing, forcing tens of thousands of indigenous people to relocate their ancestral villages, farmlands and grazing areas without proper legal remedies and without their prior consent or consultation. The livelihoods of indigenous people are under threat, as are their traditional ways of life and the environments they have protected and preserved for generations. The government has so far leased out about 3.6 million hectares to national companies and foreign private and state-backed investors, mainly in the regions of Gambela, Omo Valley, Benishangul Gumuz and Oromia.

The policy has drawn critical attention from international media, research institutions and NGOs. In response to widespread grave human rights violations– systematic genocide, arbitrary detentions, rape, forceful relocations of indigenous people from their ancestral lands to make way for large scale agricultural investments– insecurity, mistrust and fear has once again returned to Gambela region, one of the major targets of land grabbing, towards the newly independent state of South Sudan.

Since the 2003 genocide committed against indigenous Anywaa people by Ethiopian national defence forces alongside some members of  the Ethiopian highland community, the region has been seeing and experiencing increased tension, insecurity, displacement and unspeakable human misery. Various organisations that support the indigenous people in Gambela, including the Anywaa Survival Organisation (ASO), are drawing attention to the impacts of the government’s inconsiderate and deliberate destruction of the cultural identities and traditional ways of life of the indigenous people in the country.

A number of recent calls have been made to increase awareness on land grabbing and the associated human rights issues and potential conflicts in remote regions that have been underdeveloped and marginalised for centuries. They have come in the form of documentary videos (Grabbing Gambela: a joint video by ASO, GRAIN, and EJOLT) and written reports (Peace, Bread and Land: Agricultural Investment in Ethiopia and the Sudans by the Chatham House, Understanding Land Investment in Africa-Ethiopia by the Oakland Institute, Waiting Here for Death: “Villagisation in Ethiopia’s Gambela Region by Human Rights Watch, etc.). Yet the Ethiopian authorities have ignored the genuine concerns over human suffering, displacement, environmental impacts, and instability.

In Gambela region where indigenous people are threatened to the point of extinction, despite the return of relative normalisation and stability in the region since the 2003 indiscriminate killings of Anywaa indigenous people in their own traditional homeland, the government has failed to bring perpetrators to a court of law and justice, and categorically refused to serve apologies and compensation to families of victims.

The authorities instead prevent indigenous people from achieving decent livelihoods by leasing out their traditional farmlands, hunting and fishing grounds, forests and woodlands. Since the 2008 international financial crisis and rising commodity prices in the world market, the Ethiopian authorities have, without concern for the ways of life of indigenous people or the environment, allocated the lands of these people to foreign and national investors. India’s Karuturi Global was allocated 100,000 hectares of land, with an option to increase to 300,000 hectares. This land lease deprives about 5000 Ilea indigenous people from the lands they use for farming and from their sacred village along the Openo River, which they have protected in accordance with their traditional customs and beliefs for generations. The Ilea people were not even consulted about the deal.

Similarly, the Saudi business tycoon Al Amoudi was given 10,000 hectares of farmland in Gambela which his company intends to increase to 500,000 hectares. This land deal deprives the people of Pokedi village, along the Alworo River in the Abwobo district, of their traditional farmlands and environment.

The land deals are undermining the survival and cultural identities of indigenous peoples on a similar scale to the 2003 genocidal massacre of  the Anywaa, and they are fueling anger among local farmers and young men across the region, thus increasing tension and insecurity.

The last few months have seen a return of sporadic attacks on government institutions in Gambela, such as an attack on the police station at the Gog and Abwod checkpoints, Pinyudo town, in the Jor district, 30 km from Gambela town.

The attack in Jor district destroyed the police station and communication infrastructures. The attackers took cash and ammunitions belonging to the administration. This was followed by another attack in Pinyudo town leaving an Ethiopian highland woman dead and one Anywaa person and Ethiopian highlander wounded.

A recent incident on 16 February 2012 at about 8:00pm at Abwod checkpoint claimed the life of police officer Opiew Ojulu and Obang Amau Ochudho, a member of the Ethiopian special forces. At around the same time, an Ethiopian highlander, reported to be a staff of the Al Moudi operation, sustained serious injuries when the car he was travelling in was ambushed at the Abwod checkpoint. He was airlifted by Al Amoudi to Addis Ababa for treatment.

Though not directly linked with land grabbing and human rights issues in the region, an Ethiopian highlander, working for Gambela town municipality in charge of finance and administrative affairs, Getachew Ankore, was gunned down by an unidentified group of people last month. Investigations suggest a personal dispute with an Ethiopian highlander who gave himself up to the authorities, but growing tensions and suspicions among the communities in teh region likely contributed to the incident.

The growing insecurity and violence in Gambela, seen in the recent loss of innocent human lives and the attacks on government institutions by unidentified groups, should be seen as a clear warning to foreign and national investors about the dangers involved in the large scale agricultural investments taking place in Ethiopia and elsewhere in Africa.

For more information contact Nyikaw Ochalla of the Anywaa Survival Organisation:
Tel: +44 (0)118 9414507
Mobile: +44 (0)7939389796,
Fax: +44(0)1189414507
E-mail:contact@anywaasurvival.org

February 22, 2012

Survival uncovers shocking human rights abuses in Ethiopia

 
Two Karo by Ethiopia's Omo River. It is crucial to their way of life.
Two Karo by Ethiopia's Omo River. It is crucial to their way of life.
© Survival

Survival has uncovered shocking new evidence of human rights abuses against tribes in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley, as government efforts to develop lucrative sugar cane plantations in the region intensify.

Bulldozers are flattening land near a UNESCO World Heritage Site, destroying villages and forcing local communities to give up their pastoral way of life.

Fear is growing as violence becomes commonplace and reports of beatings, rapes and arrests spread among tribes close to the Omo River.

As recently as January 2012, Survival received reports of three Bodi men being beaten to death in an Ethiopian jail.

The government is also ordering families to sell their livestock. One man told Survival, ‘My money is my cattle. My bank account is my cattle.’

Survival has exclusive photographs of a road Ethiopia’s government is building, which cuts straight through tribal land, to improve access to land clearance sites.

Exclusive picture of a bulldozer clearing a road to sugar plantations.
Exclusive picture of a bulldozer clearing a road to sugar plantations.
© Survival

One Mursi man said, ‘The government is building sugar cane plantations on my land. When you see it you will cry – there are no bushes in the Omo Valley now.’

Two UN bodies have already asked Ethiopia to provide evidence that tribes are being consulted, and that current developments are not damaging the area’s cultural and natural heritage. However, Ethiopia has ignored such calls.

Survival has also received disturbing reports that Ethiopia has begun the process of forcibly resettling tribes in the Omo Valley, a tactic known as ‘villagization’.

Communities have been given one year to relocate, in a programme similar to that reported by Human Rights Watch in Ethiopia’s western Gambella region.

One Mursi man told Survival, ‘It (the government) came, took our land and told us it wants to move all the people in the Omo valley to stay in one place like a camp.’

The forests and savannah of the Omo valley (L) are being cleared for plantations (R).
The forests and savannah of the Omo valley (L) are being cleared for plantations (R).
© Survival

Survival International said today, ‘The Ethiopian government is responsible for some of the most flagrant and violent human rights abuses that Survival has seen in years. By dressing up the theft of tribal land as ’development’, it expects to get away with such atrocities. State and private investors will be the only ones to benefit from the Omo Valley sell-off, while self-sufficient tribes face destruction

February 17, 2012

Ethiopia risks western aid suspension over jailed Swedes

Filed under: Azeb Mesfin,Ethiopia,Meles Zenawi — ethiopiantimes @ 12:39 pm
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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

February 17, 2012(ADDIS ABABA) — A European Union delegation is negotiating with Ethiopian authorities over the release of two Swedish journalists who currently are facing prison terms under a 2009 anti-terrorism law in the horn of Africa’s nation.

The negotiations came after Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, last week told parliament that his country might consider granting pardon to the Swedes if they admit to wrong doings.

According to Sudan Tribune sources, the EU delegation during the past few days has been meeting Ethiopian officials including Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, in an effort to release the two journalists.

However, the European Union delegation has gave hints that Ethiopia could lose the aid it receives from European nations if the horn of Africa nation failed to release jailed Swedes.

“In the last couple of days, we have been discussing with Ethiopian officials and we hope to secure the release of the two reporters,” Kenyan newspaper, the nation, quoted a high-ranking EU official as saying.

“Aid suspension is the last option.” The EU official who decline to be named further said.

Ethiopia security forces arrested photo journalist, Johan Persson, and reporter, Martin Schibbye, last July after the Swedes crossed in to Ethiopia from Somalia along armed members of Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), a separatist movement blacklisted by Addis Ababa as a terrorist organization.

Last December an Ethiopia court sentenced the two Swedes to 11 years of rigorous imprisonment each for aiding, promoting banned rebel group and also for illegally entering the horn of Africa’s state. The Swedes have admitted to entering country without permit but denied to supporting terrorism.

The conviction against the Swedes has raised broad criticisms from the Swedish government. A number of international human right organizations have also condemned it as “politically motivated”.

(ST)

February 15, 2012

Ethiopians sign petition for emperor’s statue at the AU

Filed under: Africa,Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 11:52 am
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Ghana President John Atta Mills (black suit), former President Jerry Rawlings (in yellow) and Kwame Nkrumah’s children Prof Francis Nkrumah and Madam Samia among others pose with the independence leader’s newly-unveiled statue in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. PHOTO | PRESIDENCY.GOV.GH |

Ethiopians are signing a petition demanding the erection of a statue of former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie at the African Union’s Addis Ababa headquarters.

The campaign comes two weeks after the AU unveiled a statue of former Ghanaian leader and renowned pan-Africanist Kwame Nkrumah at its new compound.

Prime minister Meles Zenawi while answering a question in parliament called Haile Selassie a “feudal dictator” and termed the campaign “disrespectful”.

A team of self-organised Ethiopian politicians, scholars, elders and other individuals have also written a letter to the AU Commission expressing their disappointment with the “ignoring” of Haile Selassie.

The letter also called for the 54-member bloc to consider putting up a statue of the emperor.

The Nkrumah statue was inaugurated together with the AU’s new $200 million Chinese-built headquarters.

Nkrumah is largely credited with being the brains behind the creation of the Organisation of African Unity, the AU’s predecessor.

But Ethiopians have highlighted the role and contribution of Haile Selassie during the OAU’s establishment as well as supporting the liberation struggles of many African countries.

Ghion Hotel, Ethiopia Up for Privatization Again Ghion Hotel, Ethiopia Up for Privatization Again

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 11:43 am
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The Privatization and Public Enterprises Supervisory Agency of Ethiopia is re-inviting interested parties to invest in the hotel after a previous deal with Prince Aklile Berhan Mekonnen fell through.

The privatization agency is interested in a joint venture with private investment for the expansion and upgrade of the hotel according to sources.

Interested parties, individuals or consortium’s, can submit proposals including the price offer and design for expansion before the 2nd of April according to the bid invitation released by PPESA.

The Ghion hotel has been up for joint investment with the government for some years but the deals that have been arranged failed a couple of times.The last arrangement with Prince Akilie had outlined an initial investment of 210 million US dollars as a down payment, and a total of 310 million US dollars, which he failed to deliver by the deadline established by the deal.

The Prince would have owned 80% of the hotel for an additional 300 million paid out over three years if the deal had gone through.

It is to be remembered that PPESA privatized the Ethiopia and Ras Hotels with a chains of hotels across the country in the past three years.

PPESA has currently invited investors to set up a National Nucleus Project for a Rubber Plantation and Processing Plant. The agency plans to operate the rubber plantation project in collaboration with interested investors.

Source: Capital

February 13, 2012

Ethiopia’s tribes cry for help

A drive to become a world leading sugar producer threatens the livelihoods of thousands of people in rural areas.

 The Ethiopian army has been violently clashing with tribes, forcing many from their land [Dominic Brown/Al Jazeera]

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – The Lower Omo Valley in south-western Ethiopia is a vast and rugged region of mountains and valleys, inhabited largely by nomadic agro-pastoralist tribes numbering some 200,000 people. Many live a simple existence, living in straw thatched huts and have little contact with the outside world. But the Ethiopian government’s new found appetite for large-scale sugar production threatens the very existence of many of these tribes.

Nearly 300,000 hectares of land in the Omo and Mago National Parks, which comprises much of the Lower Omo Valley, has been earmarked for the Kuraz Sugar Development programme. Backed by large-scale investment from Indian companies, the programme aims to help increase overall sugar production in Ethiopia to 2.3 million tonnes by 2015, with the goal of achieving a 2.5 per cent global share by 2017.

Whilst revenues from the sugar plantations will undoubtedly fill the coffers of central government, the forced relocation of tribes from their traditional lands is already having catastrophic consequences. The permanent damage to a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site is also raising alarm amongst environmentalists.

“We stand to lose everything,” one tribal leader explained, tears welling in his eyes, as he stood surrounded by his villagers. “Our traditional hunting grounds, the land we use for grazing our cattle, our homes. Everything will be gone. We will be left with nothing. We need the outside world to help us.”

Early in 2011, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi spoke of the importance of the project to the country’s economy, outlined in the government’s Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP). “In the coming five years there will be a very big irrigation project and related agricultural development in this zone. Even though this area is known as backward in terms of civilisation, it will become an example of rapid development.”

Human rights abuses

This “rapid development” has come at a price. There have been almost inevitable human rights abuses inflicted upon those resisting relocation since the Kuraz Sugar Development programme began last June. A report [PDF] by the Oakland Institute, a US-based think-tank, details how Ethiopian Defence Forces “arrive at Omo Valley villages (and in particular Bodi, Mursi and Suri villages) questioning villagers about their perspectives on the sugar plantations. Villagers are expected to voice immediate support, otherwise beatings (including the use of tasers), abuse and general intimidation occurs”.

Other allegations of abuse to have leaked out include the rape of male tribesmen, as well as of women and children by Ethiopian soldiers. Dozens of villagers from the region also remain in detention after voicing opposition to the development plans.

Violent clashes between the Ethiopian army and tribes from the region are on the rise. A local human rights worker told me of their fears of an escalation in the crisis to civil war. “Many tribes are saying they will fight back rather than be moved off their traditional lands to make way for these plantations. They are living in fear but feel they have nothing to lose by fighting back.”

Roadblocks are now in place in many parts of the Lower Omo Valley, limiting accessibility and ensuring the relocations remain out of the spotlight. Tribal rights NGO Survival International is leading calls for a freeze on plantation building and for a halt to the evictions. They have been campaigning to draw more attention to the deteriorating situation in the region since the Ethiopian government announced plans for the Gib III Dam [PDF] – Africa’s tallest, and one that is scheduled for completion later this year.

Officials must expect tribes to fight, rather than be moved off their traditional lands [Dominic Brown/Al Jazeera]

When completed, it threatens to destroy a fragile environment and the livelihoods of the tribes, which are closely linked to the river and its annual flood. Up to 500,000 people – including tribes in neighbouring Kenya – rely on the waters and adjacent lands of the Omo River and Lake Turkana, most of which lies in Kenya. The Karo people, now estimated to number just 1,500 along the eastern banks of the Omo River, face extinction. Already suffering from dwindling fish stocks as a result of the dam, the reduced river levels have also harmed their crop yields.

A ‘worrying trend’

Liz Hunter, a campaigner at Survival International spoke of her alarm about the situation facing those in the region. “We are extremely concerned about the leasing of the Omo Valley tribes’ land by the Ethiopian government to state and foreign companies. By regulating the flow of the Omo, the dam will enable irrigation of the plantations. So the tribes face a double whammy – loss of the natural flood and therefore their ability to feed themselves through the flood retreat cultivation, and now loss of cattle grazing land to state and foreign companies.”

Land grabbing is becoming a worrying trend throughout rural Ethiopia and is not isolated to the Lower Omo Valley region. Human Rights Watch stated in a recent report that the Ethiopian government’s “failure to provide food assistance for relocated people has caused endemic hunger and cases of starvation”.

More than 70,000 people are estimated to have been forced off their land in the Gambella Region in the west of the country to make way for Saudi Arabian and Chinese-owned rice growing plantations. The Ethiopian government maintains that much of the land they are leasing to foreign investors is unfarmed and unsuitable for smallholder farmers. But Tichafa Makovere, a permaculture and farming expert from Zimbabwe, disputes this stance. “One can never say that land is not in use. Even unfarmed land provides a vital habitat for wildlife. To tamper with it affects ecosystems that we all depend upon for our survival.”

The increasing levels of foreign influence are also raising anxiety amongst people in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. “It’s a new form of colonialism,” one Ethiopian NGO worker told me in a coffee house. “We fear where we will we be in ten years’ time, when more and more of our land is controlled by these foreign investors.” Anxiety threatens to swell to resentment, with many Chinese and Indian companies operating in the country flying in their own workers, depriving Ethiopians of work, and ultimately leading to huge reserves of money leaving the country.

With thousands facing uncertain futures, never before has sugar left such a sour taste in the mouth.

Dominic Brown is an independent filmmaker, writer and human rights campaigner. His latest documentary is Forgotten Bird of Paradise.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

February 11, 2012

Why Did the African Union Snub Emperor Haile Selassie?

Filed under: Africa,Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 9:55 pm
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Emperor Haile Selassie with Ambassador Ketema Yifru (Photo: http://www.oau-creation.com)

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – African leaders gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the Assembly of the African Union this month. The leaders took the opportunity to inaugurate the new Headquarter building constructed at a cost of 200 million US dollars as a donation of the Chinese government.

Amidst the many dazzling features enjoyed by the new facilities, striking was the statue in the forecourt of Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first President. Dr. Nkrumah is a well known and respected figure in African history for being in the forefront of the movement for African independence from European colonialism and for a proponent of Pan Africanism.

Without denying Dr. Nkrumah the credit he deserves for all mentioned above and more, it still defies logic why his statue stands in the forecourt of the African Union building in Addis Ababa while there is no memorial whatsoever to Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia.

No one with any sense of history whatsoever can reasonably claim that Dr. Nkrumah played a more significant role in the formation of the OAU, now the AU, than did Emperor Haile Selassie.

No one but Ambassador Ketema Yifru, (Foreign Minister at the time), who seems to be all but forgotten as well, can make this claim without opposing the historical evidence. The leaders of the 32 independent African countries came together in Addis Ababa Ethiopia in May of 1963.

Most of the public is unaware of “the shuttle diplomacy, the closed door negotiations and all the effort” preceding the creation of the OAU according to the Mekonnen Ketema, son of Ketema Yifru on his website dedicated to the creation of the OAU. Read more on Ezega.com

February 10, 2012

H.I.M Emperor Haile Selassie has the legal, moral, historical and diplomatic legitimacy to have his statue erected

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 8:54 pm
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Perched under the shadow of a 100-metre tall marble monolith, a short-sleeved Kwame Nkrumah stands with his right hand raised in triumphant pose, his eyes gazing at the heavens.

The bronze statue, unveiled amid pomp and pageantry last month at the opening of the African Union’s new headquarters, immortalized Ghana’s beloved late leader in the heart of Ethiopia’s capital, in a glowing tribute to a trailblazer for African independence.

Some Ethiopians, however, are not impressed. A row has broken out in the Horn of Africa country over why the country’s late emperor Haile Selassie I was not accorded the same tribute, with opposition officials expressing dismay over the snub.

“I am really saddened. It is tragic that such a man has been left out,” said former opposition party chairman Gizachew Shiferaw. “No one deserves more recognition than Haile Selasse when it comes to fighting for the African cause. Not Nkrumah, not anybody else,” he told Reuters.

Some Ethiopians living abroad have also joined the chorus of calls criticizing “His Imperial Majesty’s” absence.

“He (Haile Selassie) has the legal, moral, historical and diplomatic legitimacy to have his statue erected next to Kwame Nkrumah, we believe,” said a letter written by a group of Ethiopian expatriates to the AU’s deputy chairman Erastus Mwencha.

Haile Selassie I, toppled by a military junta in 1974, was the last emperor of a monarchy that claimed lineage from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, and is revered as a messiah by members of the Rastafarian faith, especially in Jamaica.

He died a year after being overthrown, and his body was found decades later beneath a palace lavatory, bearing what forensic experts said were signs he had been murdered.

Like Nkrumah, the diminutive ruler won plaudits during his lifetime for efforts to strengthen unity among Africa’s new states and was influential in the formation of the Organisation of African Unity, predecessor to today’s African Union.

But he is also a polarizing figure. While praising his continental credentials, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has never shied away from criticizing him as a “feudal dictator.”

Government officials say the emperor was authoritarian and his feudal land system sparked cycles of drought that continue to this day.

Opposition members said they suspect a political motive for snubbing him.

“What is the message being sent? Here is a man with the history alongside other Africans and he’s been ignored,” said Beyene Petros of the Medrek opposition group.

Meles, while addressing parliament on the country’s six-month economic performance on Wednesday, defended the decision to erect a statue to Nkrumah, without directly addressing the question of whether Haile Selassie also merited such an honor.

“There is nothing political about the statue,” he told lawmakers. Nkrumah was an “automatic choice” when it came down to picking one statesman as an “African symbol.”

“I think it is even crass and disrespectful to question why a statue has been erected in Kwame Nkrumah’s honor,” he said.

African Union officials have not commented on whether they would consider building another statue in their sprawling Chinese-built complex.

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