Just before May’s general elections, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi attributed his expected victory to seven years of double-digit growth. Yet the figures are controversial and pose questions about the country’s economic direction. The latest furore broke out on 19 October, when Human Rights Watch published a scathing report, ‘Development without Freedom: How Aid Underwrites Repression in Ethiopia’. Wrote HRW, ‘The Ethiopian government is routinely using access to aid as a weapon to control people and crush dissent. If you don’t play the ruling party’s game, you get shut out. Yet foreign donors are rewarding this behavior with ever-larger sums of development aid.’
The majority of the governing party, Chama cha Mapinduzi, is unlikely to be overturned at the 31 October election. There are nevertheless widespread expectations of good results for the opposition. The Parliament which was dissolved in July had a CCM majority over all the opposition seats combined – 277 of 322 – but this time around, Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) looks set for a strong showing.
The political parties expected to do best in the 31 October general elections are the governing Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), with Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) probably pushing the previous number two party, the Civic United Front (CUF), into third place except in Zanzibar, where its position remains the same. It is clear that President Jakaya Kikwete and the CCM see Chadema as the main threat and local observers believe that is the real reason for all the current publicity and litigation over the marital affairs of its presidential candidate, Wilbrod Slaa (AC Vol 49 No 2).
The official story is that Armand Tungulu Mudiandambu killed himself on 1 October with a cloth he was using as a pillow. He had been detained by President Joseph Kabila’s National Guard. This was the second such recent death. Four months ago, Floribert Chebeya, Chairman of the human rights group La Voix des Sans-Voix (Voice of the Voiceless), was found dead after giving himself up to the Inspector General of Police, John Numbi. The security services seem to be immune from responsibility. Opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi wa Malumba accuses Kabila of treating his countrymen like animals.