Prime Minister Meles Zenawi dies
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has died at the age of 57 in an unnamed foreign country after suffering from an unknown illness over the past few months.
Speculation has filled the regional media for months with Mr Meles neither seen nor heard from and government sources saying that he was recovering from an illness. He will be replaced in the short term by his Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hailemariam Desalegn.
Mr Meles ruled Ethiopia from 1991 when, as leader of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), he ousted communist leader Mengistu Haile Mariam. Mr Meles was president from 1991 to 1995 and then prime minister from 1995 until his death early today.
A strong man figure Mr Meles had been able to keep the many regional factions within the country together through clever politics and ruthless measures against those who opposed him. The worry will be as to who will follow him and whether they will be able to keep the country united. Ethiopia has been opening up in recent years and has become a good place for foreign investment that may well be halted if decisive action isn’t taken quickly to ensure the stability of the country.