Monday the 12th of January, 2009
During two successive afternoons, on Dec. 5 and 6, prime minister Meles Zenawi convened 45 ministers and senior civil servants to outline the results of his government at length. According to information gleaned by The Indian Ocean Newsletter, he singled out some in attendance by name, accusing them of incompetence and informing everyone that a purge of ministers and deputy ministers would follow.
During the Dec. 5 session he specifically pointed the finger at Teshome Toga, speaker of Ethiopia's parliament, and accused him of spending the government's money on trips and entertainment instead of fulfilling his functions. Surprisingly, the Parliament's speaker, who is on extremely bad terms with the prime minister's wife, Azeb Mesfin, didn't take the criticism lying down as most dignitaries of the Ethiopian regime tend to do. On the contrary, he stood his ground with the prime minister, explaining that the funds given to him for a five day trip weren't adequate to cover his expenses and that he paid some money out of his own pocket. Considering that Zenawi was altogether aware of that fact, he demanded that the prime minister withdraw what he saw as unfair criticism.
At that moment, visibly furious, Zenawi held his head in his hands and called for a 30 minute suspension of the session, claiming he had a terrible headache. He rested for a moment in another room where a doctor came to tend to him and give him pills, after which he proceeded with his speech.
The prime minister subsequently praised Abdula Gemeda, president of Oromiya Regional State, who wasn't present at the gathering. He also raised the question of differences between Ethiopian generals on the strategy to deploy on Somalia. Elsewhere, he admitted that despite his talks with Djibouti president Ismail Omar Guelleh and the presents he offered him, Djibouti had finally raised its port fees. The move, said Zenawi, could only "worsen our economic problems."
Source: The Indian Ocean Newsletter