Daily Archives: August 21, 2012

Esther Bintliff

Meles Zenawi in December 2010, at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Cancun, Mexico (Cris Bouroncle/AFP/Getty Images)

He hadn’t been seen publicly for two months. Twitter and the blogosphere were buzzing with questions – where was the prime minister of Ethiopia? Was he ill? Travelling? On Tuesday morning, confusion fell away. State television announced that Meles Zenawi, aged 57, had died of a sudden infection, after a prolonged stay in a “hospital overseas”. A guerrilla fighter-turned-tenacious leader, Meles held power for 21 years, becoming a political heavyweight who won billions of dollars of aid from western governments while attracting condemnation from human rights groups for his crackdowns on journalists and opposition activists. While some observers hope his death may help usher in a less autocratic government in the Horn of Africa’s most populous country, others foresee a destabilising tussle for succession.

In the FT

  • The prime minister’s death leaves a vacuum both in the region and at home, report Katrina Manson and William Wallis, in an analysis that highlights the many contradictions in Meles’ life. “He was a Marxist who courted foreign investment; a liberation fighter who cracked down on marginalised peoples crying out for their own freedom and an intellectual who brooked little debate at home. In the west, he was admired for delivering development and economic growth while marshalling security; at home he suppressed dissent and mastered party political control of the economy with autocratic vim”.

 Read more

Anna Fifield

Mitt Romney (R) and his wife Ann Romney on August 12. (Photo Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

Mitt Romney (R) and his wife Ann Romney on August 12. (Photo Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

Mitt Romney has a woman problem. Not with his wife, the telegenic Ann, who has a gift for making the man accused of being an automaton seem real, but with the millions of women voters who will comprise the majority of the electorate this November.

In a tight contest like this one, every vote counts and Republicans can’t afford to give President Barack Obama any more of an advantage with women than he already enjoys.

While Romney, who will be crowned as the Republican nominee for president next week, has adopted some hardline positions on women’s health issues such as access to contraception and abortion during his latest political incarnation, they pale next to the policies being espoused by his new running mate, Paul Ryan, and his latest headache, Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin.

Amid the controversy surrounding Akin, who has apologised for claiming that “legitimate rape” does not lead to pregnancy but is thus far refusing to pull out of the must-win Missouri race, new light is being shone on Ryan, a congressman from Wisconsin best known for his hawkishness on the deficit. Read more

Esther Bintliff

The world desk’s recommended reads from around the web today:

By Gideon Rachman
Congratulations Vladimir Putin. Just four months back in the Kremlin and you have inflicted the worst blow to Russia’s international image in more than a decade.