News / Africa

Ethiopians Grieve PM Meles Zenawi's Death

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (2008 file photo)
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (2008 file photo)
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ADDIS ABABA –  Ethiopia is grieving the loss of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.  The passing of Ethiopia’s leader saddens the country's citizens.Everybody in Ethiopia was talking about Tuesday.  

Many people in the capital, Addis Ababa, had kind words to say about Meles, who led the country for more than two decades.

A woman in her 20s, who declined to give her name, said his death is a sad event for Ethiopia.

“We are in a time of great grief and the loss of Meles Zenawi is very sad for our country because he was a great leader and my thought and prayers are with his family," she said. "And may God give them relief in this sad time.“

Analysis by Scott Stearns

Scott Stearns on Ethiopian PM Meles Zenawi's Deathi
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Scott Stearns
August 21, 2012 3:43 PM
VOA's veteran Africa correspondent Scott Stearns discusses significance of Meles Zenawi's death.


Meles Zenawi

  • Born May 8, 1955 in Adwa, northern Ethiopia
  • Suspended studies in 1974 to join Tigrai Peoples Liberation Front, TPLF
  • Chairman of TPLF and Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front since 1989
  • Led EPRDF rebels to seize power in 1991 and became president
  • Prime minister since being elected in 1995
  • Serves as African Union spokesperson on climate change
  • Praised for helping lift Ethiopia out of poverty after civil war
  • Criticized for silencing all forms of dissent
  • Known as ally with U.S. against terrorism
A middle-aged man, who also declined to give his name, said he hoped Ethiopia's new leaders will continue with Meles' policies.

“In the future, I have faith and hope that we will continue on the path that he has set out for us," he said. "Meles passed away too soon, without finishing all the work he was working on.  And I really believe that the future leaders of this country will continue on this path towards development for Ethiopia.”

A woman named Biseat said Meles did much to improve the country's economy, while giving an Ethiopia a prominent role in East African affairs.

“I think that the passing of our prime minister, his Excellency Meles Zenawi is going to have long lasting implications for peace and security in the region," said Biseat. "He also was a torchbearer for publicizing Ethiopian development and economic stability.  Under his rule we have had enormous amounts of progress and also enormous amounts of foreign direct investments.“

But there are also some Ethiopians that believe that the death of Prime Minister Meles may be an opportunity for more democracy in the country.

By the time of his death, Meles's party and its allies controlled all but one seat in the Ethiopian parliament.

A man identified himself as Endalk, a university teacher said, “We expect people to be well aware of this situation and take the opportunity to liberate themselves from worshipping dictators and other.  So I honestly this is a truly good opportunity for Ethiopians to start true democratic transition.”

The body of Meles is expected to arrive in Ethiopia on Tuesday night.  No details have been announced on the funeral.

Photo Gallery: Meles Zenawi

  • The casket containing the body of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi arrives at the Addis Ababa International Airport, Ethiopia, August 22, 2012.
  • The body of Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is escorted upon arrival in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa early August 22, 2012.
  • Ethiopian women in black gather to mourn as the body of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi arrived in Addis Ababa, August 22, 2012.
  • Ethiopians carry posters in Amharic reading "Meles We Love You" as they gather to mourn as the body of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi arrived in Addis Ababa, August 22, 2012.
  • Ethiopian national flags fly at half mast in Addis Ababa, August 21, 2012.
  • Officials move a portrait of Meles shortly after the announcement of his death in Addis Ababa, August 21, 2012.
  • Ethiopian government spokesman Bereket Simon (R) makes the official announcement of Meles' death in Addis Ababa, August 21, 2012.
  • U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with Meles at the London Conference on Somalia, February 23, 2012.
  • The late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi arrives with his wife Azeb Mesfi for the 18th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, January 29, 2012.
  • Meles speaks to reporters after meeting with Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf in Cairo, Egypt, September 17, 2011.
  • Meles and other world leaders pose during a group photo at the G20 summit in Toronto, Canada, June 27, 2010.
  • Meles lifts his cap to salute supporters of the EPRDF party at the Meskel Square in Addis Ababa, May 25, 2010.
  • A poster featuring the prime minister displayed in downtown Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, May 2010.
  • U.S. President George W. Bush chats with Meles during a meeting with Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi for talks on combatting international terrorism, the White House, Washington, December 5, 2002.
  • German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder welcomes Meles to Berlin, Germany, February 5, 2002.
  • Meles and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Moscow, Russia, December 3, 2001.
  • UN Secretary General Kofi Annan with Meles before their meeting in the office of the prime minister in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, April 30, 1998.
  • Salim Ahmed Salim, Secretary General of the Organization of African Unity, meets with Meles in Addis Ababa, June 28, 1995.
  • Meles accompanies Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as he arrives at Addis Ababa's African Hall to attend a meeting, June 26, 1995.

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by: Lulu from: Addis Ababa
August 26, 2012 2:20 PM
The loser diasporas,you went abroad for the sake of your interest,(to fill up your stomach) not for this poor Ethiopian people. But the one who stay with those poor in his home land, by going up and down, is our leader Meles, Champions of the poor.
Please think as human. Meles is not like you who worship Koshasha ferenji. He loves much his country.He showed us practically. What you did for your country, Ethiopia rather insulting us being there.


by: yodi
August 25, 2012 7:03 PM
Meles zenawi of course changed Ethiopia a lot! He has put: hatred and racist among the people, dept. from World Bank that we will never pay it, famine, inflation, economical downfall, destroy and burn our recorded history, arresting and killing innocent journalists, took away our freedom, fright among the courageous people of Ethiopia, less job, less food, no light, goods and services are not available at the markets (no sugar, oil etc..), increase cost of goods, horrible school system, and numerous people has exiled from Ethiopia more than ever in history. God bless Ethiopia!!!!

In Response

by: hancho from: bd
August 29, 2012 11:24 AM
meles is not the one who is racist rather those who are in need of power has create differences among people falsely preaching as they are the symbol of unity .could you please tell me any other possible way to govern Ethiopia other than federalism?EVERY NATIONS NATIONALITIES respect and be equal?REMEMBER ECONOMIC CRIES IS NOT THE PROBLEM OF ETHIOPIA RATHER THE WORLD.for the problems you have mentioned meles tried to solve for the country heis a solution not a problem.


by: Goitom from: ethiopia
August 25, 2012 12:53 PM
Meles death is heartbreaking
We Ethiopian lost our visionary and intelligent leader. I personally feel very sad about his death. I was not expecting such great lose at this critical time. I was thinking that he may take some time to finalize the national development plan up to certain stage. Even though, we will continue his mission. At this time our government has two assignments looking forward. One is, to look and serious investigation about the death of Meles and makes it clear to his people. Second, securing good governess and contain the exiting peace and stability in the country. I am fully confident that the majority of the population except /few individual who has their selfish interest/ will go with you if and only if you work hard for the Ethiopian people. I am sure that the existing government and the real people of Ethiopian should step up and go hand in hand for what he has show as the way. United society can only exist in the 21 centrary. We Ethiopian can play our role in Africa and even to the word. I think this is the vision of Meles and the needs of the Ethiopian people. First we should not be selfish for ourselves. Think about your country first. You can have wealth and assure development. Be our leaders like Meles. The existing leadership should work hard in assuring good governess in our country. If you do this Meles’ vision will be realistic.


by: hiwot engdawork from: adiss abeba
August 25, 2012 3:00 AM
we lost our hero , i really sorry .but your plan and you!!will be in my heart forever!

In Response

by: Sabbonna from: Ambo
August 28, 2012 9:55 PM
We Ethiopians who are actually living in the land but not leisurely in other country loss a true father: woman, street children, the poorest, ... etc. Males loss is loss not only for Ethiopia but for Africa. He is a brilliant, intelligent, charming person. We Love him.


by: Oman from: Bahir Dar
August 23, 2012 10:00 AM
Really we miss u a lot in all aspect that is why we Ethiopians in deepest grief and obsession.u were our Hero and u will be again and again till for this generation and to forthcoming too.God bless your soul.R.I.P


by: Mesfin Tesfaye from: Addis Ababa
August 23, 2012 5:55 AM
It is really a sad moment for us. We lost the best Ethiopian and African leader. Now the turn is of this generation to face the challenge and make the dreams of this hero be true. Above all in God we trust


by: tk from: Ethiopia
August 23, 2012 5:19 AM
Hi you all on the wrong way with meles and ethiopia in general, we are flood of blood from ethioipia and built by stamp of blood from ethiopia. you are abroad, you know the reason why you went there? though your physical looks ethiopian you do not have right blood of the mother land. you know, Meles devoted all his life for his mother land and gained multi develepment and this will be saved in each sitizen of the country. and, we will build on his optimistic plan.


by: Endalk from: USA
August 22, 2012 12:40 PM
Meles was a good leader for the top few percent. But for most of us he looted and gutted our resource for a few $$ he put in his and Azieb’s pocket.
You all don’t know economics. He has indebted Ethiopia for centuries to come and we will never pay the debt. All the investment made in Addis is Aid money that has to get paid back by COFFEE, GOLD, land contracts and other natural resources. He has sold Ethiopia in 10 years that all Ethiopian leaders had protected thus far.
Don’t say he is a good leader because you see a road built or a building standing. Mengestu Hailemariam was a true Ethiopian than Meles Chenawi.

In Response

by: Tina from: USA
August 31, 2012 8:06 PM
Ethiopians are living their life. Do you want to live Ethiopian's life while you are in US? If you love your country that much why don't you go? The door was open for those who have the knowledge and the ability. Leading a country is not driving a cap. You compare Mengistu with Meles? :You must be out of your mind and know nothing about Ethiopia during red terror. Meles is a hero who kicked Mengistu while the run aways fled from the country. He is respected by world leaders.

In Response

by: Endalk from: USA
August 24, 2012 10:18 AM
I care less about your life. Megestu's misters and achafariwochu lived the same life your living (we called them suckers). I care about the people who are loosing thier land. The land they lived for generation. They are the real Ethiopians, and your puffed up dead leader sold them out. You may be proud of your life and that is the sick part. What goes around comes around. We saw Meles go down weeks before he disappered and we shall see that in you soon.

We shall see you fall down one by one.....not for my sake but for Ethiopas 80 million poor with out basic needs.

In Response

by: Ethiopian from: Ethiopia
August 24, 2012 5:14 AM
Lets talk facts, my so called "brother" from U.S. We are living the life and you are hearing our lives through some media which is being controlled by the opposition leaders/parties/groups; and/or foreign medias that would kill them to speak of positive about Ethiopia. Come on, for GOD's sake, they still use the footage from 1977 E.C.
So we, Ethiopians who are actually living in Ethiopia, have a better stance to comment on our Gov't; while you, as my friend from Hawassa put it, can comment on Obama's administration.
How about that for a Toast, "Endalk"?

In Response

by: Ethiopian from: Ethiopia
August 24, 2012 5:04 AM
If you think that Ethiopia needs a true leader and Meles was not the one. Then drop the Junk food that you are consuming in there and be a real Ethiopian, come with us and face the trenches of building our precious country. Don't tell us that we don't know Economics while you are consumed by the wave of Stupidity which is been driven by some self-loving, degenerate, constant complainers, which have done nothing except try to start conflict between every group that they came across.
IF YOU THINK THAT WHAT HAS BEEN DONE IS NOT ENOUGH AND THAT ETHIOPIA IS LACKS A LEADER THEN COME AN BE THAT LEADER.

In Response

by: sami from: Hawassa
August 24, 2012 5:02 AM
Your problem is you know nothing and prejudging based on misconception, being WOYANE is proud not blamed party as you think. It sacrificed thousands of life and steadfast for poor of Ethiopia. I brotherly advice you to change your mind set and come work with Ethiopian for Ethiopia build your nation. Surprisingly today all citizens are being in one and stand against poverty if not be silent and fill your will with rubbish after that you salivate to be our leader with no quality. I have Good proverb for you and for others who think like you “If you know nothing and you teach what you know for others bring great destruction”. This kind your naïve opinion makes you undermine amongst the intellectuals please be reasonable in thinking.

In Response

by: sam from: Hawassa
August 23, 2012 11:03 AM
You have written about Meles to deceive us to build spoiled outlook about him. We know that you have left your mother land because of poverty but Meles has been struggled till his life left to eradicate it, He has been with us in all turbulent condition. How did you dared to tell us about our leader? Please now we can think, we can understand the era of slavery was over long time ago. Please our brothers, who living in USA donot mislead, don’t try to be our prominent. We know everything we understand, don't tell us about our leader we know whether he was right or wrong let we speak about him. By any requirement you have no any back ground to comment about him because he was our leader but not yours. You can speak or comment about Obama your leader. Now we can speak, we can comment, may be for you Mengistu is better than Meless because you might have been one of his coronel. But the Ethiopian Nations, Nationalities and Peoples know whether Mengistu or Meless better for them, now they have in enlightened condition. The Ethiopian people’s mourning for Meles because, he was gentile, brilliant, empathy. He has ensured the equality; he has shown us what development is. He did all his best for Ethiopians. He never missed from mined of Ethiopian. God bless Ethiopia.

In Response

by: Endalk from: USA
August 23, 2012 10:36 AM
FREE OUR LEADERS. FIRST AND FORMOST.....

The reason we are here in seidet is because of WOYANE and his followers like you. Who would sell mama Ethiopia for a buck. People cried for the last 21 years for senseless torture and inprisonment and lack of basic freedom for being miniority.

But now we know god is with us- with his people. He took the one man that has the sick mind amongst innocent lambs.

Here is a toast!!

In Response

by: Ethiopian from: Ethiopia
August 23, 2012 5:44 AM
If you think that Ethiopia needs a true leader and Meles was not the one. Then drop the Junk food that you are consuming in there and be a real Ethiopian, come with us and face the trenches of building our precious country. Don't tell us that we don't know Economics while you are consumed by the wave of Stupidity which is been driven by some self-loving, degenerate, constant complainers, which have done nothing except try to start conflict between every group that they came across.
IF YOU THINK THAT WHAT HAS BEEN DONE IS NOT ENOUGH AND THAT ETHIOPIA IS LACKS A LEADER THEN COME AN BE THAT LEADER.


by: mila dange from: a.a
August 22, 2012 6:48 AM
some of you who hate meles have problem of understanding what he has done for his country. he is hero ever happen in ethiopia!!! he gave his life for his beloved mother land !!! we truly Ethiopian have respect for him!! please if you are ethiopians just respect him despite your political issue !!! if you wish the development of your country do something or leave us alone !!! we know what to do !!!!!!! rest in peace meles zenawi!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In Response

by: Tesfay Alemseged from: Addis Ababa
August 26, 2012 4:54 PM
Rigid and misleading views of some of the former Ethiopians, now citizens of some of the western countries is highly baseless, and basically based on "an outdated politics of hate and racism".
They use to make money out of it...cheat!
They formally fail to accept objective realities such as PM Meles's dedication, genius, firmness, visionary views that changed Ethiopia, Africa and even the world.
Think about where Ethiopia was in 1991....and where are we standing now in every aspect, quite an absolute change which is appreciated by the world at large.
Those individuals who hate Meles and the Ethiopian people are who are lazy in their life, live in illusion and day dreaming, pray for instability and try to use such volatile situation to appear as big personalities.
Look at them....they are making a living through cheating naive fellows to contribute money through their sick creation and blackmail.
Every one can see....who is involved /lead those groups in the US for instance. Useless, ignorant and lampens who have been involved in the red terror supporting the Derg.

They do not have the skill, profession and culture to work and earn money.

I feel sorry for such fellows...and no doubt they will keep shouting out there, expire with out a drop of achievement in their life.

Life with our purpose!

In Response

by: G/her
August 23, 2012 7:50 AM
I don't hate meles as a creature of god;and I hope was working day and night. But he is absolutely dictator!!! he don't like to see others working better than him and hence we don't have the chance to see other leaders in the past 21 years. I don't consider him best leader(as some people believe). He seems best leader because his among the very weak,lazy ministers.
One thing that i would like to tell to every Ethiopians is there are a lot of people in Ethiopia which will perform well, lead in a democratic manner,etc.


by: hi
August 21, 2012 2:22 PM
Can somebody tell this guy that his name is not Melesh.

In Response

by: sun shine from: addis
August 29, 2012 11:48 AM
meles is not dictater if your reason is that he lead the country for 21 years ,then can you show one who is brilliant like him knows how to persuade others?and will you please tell us when he has been lasey?HIS CLEVERNESS IS NOT RELATIVE he is truely geniouse.lets see others lead better now if you say so.

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