By Elias Kifle
After being tipped by a reader about Tunisia revolution news blackout in Ethiopia, I started to browse news web sites that are affiliated with and owned by the ruling party, Woyanne. It turns out that none of them are covering the Tunisia Jasmine Revolution (some call it Facebook Revolution), which is getting a worldwide media coverage. Independent Ethiopian media are also extensively reporting about the situation in the north African nation of Tunisia and discussing their relations and similarities with conditions in Ethiopia.
The Meles regime has apparently imposed a news black out on Tunisia revolution fearing that it will give ideas to Ethiopians who are facing much more dire conditions in their own country. Yesterday, Ethiopian Review has presented the following top 10 similarities between the deposed dictator in Tunisia and the current dictator in Ethiopia, as well as their respective ruling parties:
1. The president, Zin el-Abidine Ben Ali, had been in power for 23 years. Meles has been in power for 20 years.
2. Like Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, Ben Ali was known to conduct fake elections. In a recent poll, he won by 83 percent. Meles won by 96 percent.
3. Ben Ali arrested opposition politicians, and attacked opposition parties, denying them space in the country’s politics. Meles is doing the same thing in a larger scale.
4. Ben Ali’s party, RCD, was involved in nepotism and massive corruption, like Meles Zenawi’s TPLF.
5. Tunisia’s ruling RCD favors one ethnic group, the Trabelsi clan, over other Tunisian clans. TPLF favors the Tigray region over other regions of Ethiopia.
6. Ben Ali had curtailed freedom of speech and press. Similarly in Ethiopia, opposition media, including web sites, are banned. “Although officially denying any intention to meddle with the Internet, the government exercises censorship in practice. The OpenNet Initiative, a collaboration between several universities, found that 10 percent of the 2,000 Web sites it tested in the country were blocked.” – CPJ
7. Like Meles, Ben Ali has forced many of his opponents out of the country.
8. RCD bosses have amassed enormous personal wealth while the country remained poor. TPLF bosses, including the wife of the prime minister, have become among the richest people in Africa over the past 20 years.
9. Like Meles Zenawi’s wife Azeb Mesfin, the wife of Ben Ali, Laila, diverted tens of millions of dollars to the couple’s bank accounts in Western countries. The hijacking of Tunisian state funds by Laila and Ben Ali led to inflation, and a constant rise in the price of basic necessities, followed by an increase in unemployment. “People are now convinced that the [Tunisia] First Family is an insatiable economic animal bent on gratuitous enrichment and unchecked influence-wielding.” – a U.S. diplomatic cable recently posted on Wilileaks.org
10. Ben Ali used to be a “dependable” an ally of the U.S. and Western government. “Not many people in the West noticed that it was only a very small minority that enjoyed the benefits of the economic reforms and revenues brought in by tourists. Corruption was rampant and the Ben Ali family, and that of his second wife Laila, were the principal beneficiaries.” – Jerusalem Post