Daniela Kroslak replied to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's recent dismissal of the International Conflict Group's "Ethiopia: Ethnic Federalism and Its Discontents," by pointing out that he thought it was important enough to read it.
In a press conference last week, the prime minister cited an Ethiopian proverb that suggested the report was not worthy of his time. In the press conference for Ethiopia's Amharic media, Meles questioned the motives of the funders of ICG and said the report, which was written by ICG's Nairobi office staff, was biased because it was written by an Eritrean.
Kroslak told VOA's Tizita Belachew for the Amharic service's Democracy feature that the Eritrean left the staff a year ago and was not an author of the report. She denied the Eritrean had any involvement in the report and said the organizations who fund ICG's work are listed on the ICG web site.
ICG's funders include the foreign ministries or foreign aid agencies of Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Holland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States; and 10 major private foundations including the Open Society, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
The report analyzes the transformation of Ethiopia's political system, which is dominated by the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front and led by Meles, the party's chairman and the nation's president or prime minister for the past 18 years. ICG says the government tried to create a more prosperous, just and representative state for all its people by doing away with a centralized state of the 1980s and redefining citizenship, politics and identity on ethnic grounds.
Driven by fear of continued ethnic conflict, however, the government has fostered domestic political discontent, the report says. The authors conclude that without "a genuine multi-party democracy, the tensions will only grow, greatly increasing the possibility of a violent eruption that would destabilize the country and region."