Dialectics of Ethiopia’s Regional Politics after Meles Zenawi: Appraising Calculus and Praxis to Look Ahead

By Habtamu Alebachew (Lecturer)
Oct. 30, 2012


It has now become almost out of question that Ethiopia has progressively assumed a new
but controversial regional and continental role under the late PM, Meles Zenawi’s leadership. Some global organizations define the current ‘regional stability’ more as precariously hinged on Meles’s personality than to policy and institutional leverages. 

Other analysts adopt optimistic views that, despite challenges of Meles’s absence, his successors have inherited a working blue-print and experience to keep the regional momentum go forward as it was in Meles’s presence. Still others suggest that Ethiopia should redefine its regional and continental roles anew to make them fit post-Meles realities.

Summed up in question form, what would happen to the balance between Ethiopia’s rising role and regional stability? Is the absence of Meles going to adversely affect Ethiopia’s image and influence by inducing changes in the political behaviors of key actors in the region, and in Africa at large? Based on these, what is the most likely political development that may be going to unfold and prevail in the region?

This paper is an attempt at analyzing the past, the present and the future of Ethiopia after Meles vis-à-vis the region and beyond in light of political science approaches commonly known as ‘the variance’ and ‘intergovernemntalism’ perspectives. Finally, it will be attempted to diagnose into what levels and patterns of legacies Meles left and bequeathed for his successor.


The East Africa Region in this paper conventionally encompasses the states of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Southern Sudan, Sudan and Kenya, as well as Egypt for technical and expediency reasons. Ethiopia is, located at the center of the Region for geo-topographic and demographic reasons in the physical sense of the term. Egypt has 120mn estimated population to be followed by Ethiopia, 83mn, Sudan, 24mn, Somalia, 10, Southern Sudan 9mn, Eritrea 5mn ad Djibouti, 0.6 million.[1]

Ethiopia shares cultural and historical commonalities almost with all countries of the region including Egypt. Culturally, Ethiopia shares identical ethnic identities with Eritrea through Tigrai and Afar communities, Afar and Issa communities with Djibouti, Oromo speaking communities with Kenya, Somalis with Somalia, and Neuwr with Sudan. Socially, Ethiopia shares both pastoralist and agrarian peoples with all its immediate neighbors at the four corners. Environmentally, Ethiopia shares the Great Nile River with Kenya, Sudan and Egypt where the later two are most important. Both socio-cultural and territorial commonalities, however, were for …

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