Ethiopian media still under regime's thumb

Aug. 26, 2012 at 11:36 AM

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- Political analysts say Ethiopia will likely keep its news media on a short leash following the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

Journalists who reported Zenawi's sudden death in a Belgian hospital last week have been subject to reprisals from the government, which had kept a tight lid on news about Zenawi's health for weeks, Voice of America said Sunday.

Although Zenawi's successor, Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, is seen as more moderate, analysts don't expect him to loosen controls on the press. "There are hard-liners in the (ruling) party and they wield a lot of influence," Mohammed Keita of the Committee Protect Journalists told VOA. "I don't think Hailemariam is a hard-liner, but I'm sure he's under a lot of pressure so I don't know if he'll have a chance to really break with the past."

Some critics say the Ethiopian government contributed to the political instability in the country by steadfastly refusing to release accurate information about Zenawi's decline, which fueled uncertainty and speculation.

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