Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi dies at 57

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Meles Zenawi, the Ethiopian PM at the World Economic Forum annual meeting 2012
Image: World Economic Forum.

Meles Zenawi, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, died this week on Monday at the age of 57 years of an undisclosed illness at a Brussels hospital. This came after months of speculation about the health of the Ethiopian leader after he missed several high profile meetings in the last month. An Ethiopian government official reported a week prior to his death that Meles Zenawi was recovering well from his illness.

Zenawi ruled for more than 20 years after taking leadership from Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991. His deputy Haile Mariam Desalegne, who is also the foreign minister, was appointed to occupy the Prime Minister's post in an acting capacity following the news.

Ethiopia's economy was transformed under Zenawi's leadership to place it to among the Africa's fastest growing with the Prime Minister serving as a key ally to the United States in fighting terrorism. During his time as head of state, several social, economic, religious and political developments and systems were established for the first time in Ethiopia. His government has also been accused him of oppression, killings of its critics, and unjust detention and surveillance of the opposition members in Ethiopia by the Human Rights Watch in Africa. He is survived by one widow, Azeb Mesfin.