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)
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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Comments page of 2
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by: Optimist from: Everywhere
August 21, 2012 12:18 PM
Well, now that he is gone, let's mak the changes the Ethiopian people are seeking for. For 21 years this man avaged Ethiopians, and he is now answering to the higher power. I hope he will be found guilty as he found several people guilty in Ethiopia without a due process.

In Response

by: Extraterrstriaql from: Addis Ababa
August 24, 2012 11:38 AM
Meles is the greatest of all ever walked under the Ethiopian sky. Sorry it needs a brain to understand a brainy and intelligent man like Meles, His great work against poverty will live forever in the hearts and minds of the Ethiopian poor.

A HERE NEVER DIES, MELES NEVER DIES!

In Response

by: Sami from: Hawassa
August 23, 2012 11:22 AM
Please where are you, you must be over seas like who have built misunderstanding about our leader Meles Zenawi. Let me tell you about him because he have been our leader but have not been yours. Now we understand a littel thanks to him the enlightnment is coming to forgottens for a century, therefore we can speak the truth, he was the true leader, visionary, he did all his best to ensure democracy, to realize over all development, he was the father for all, really we missed him but his work will be in our mined forever!!

In Response

by: Behailu from: Norway
August 22, 2012 11:48 AM
His legacis are he was able to earn a large sum of many from donners and hindered the development foreign investment in the areas of Banking and Telecommunication, which the second populous country in Africa would have benefitted much.

In Response

by: miladange from: a.a
August 22, 2012 7:02 AM
we Ethiopians have to coordinate to overcome problems facing us! we need more to unite and strengthen our role play in Africa.. we ethiopians are strong nation . many transformation strategy has been planed by our respected former prime minster meles zenawi so we have to accomplish it to the target !!! no body is going to do it for us except we the nation >>>> RIP great man!!!!!

In Response

by: Ethiopian from: Ethiopia
August 22, 2012 4:53 AM
I can for sure say the comment by "Optimist" has arise from a complete narrow mindedness. I pray for you and people like you. You think you like Ethiopia, but you only like the idea of you or some one from the non-Political organization (be it Nation or Religious) you belong being on a sit, nothing more. That is so being narrow minded.

In Response

by: kanddy from: addis
August 22, 2012 4:53 AM
he's left us wit way to many troubles to live with,and happened to call all the shots,from energy to agriculture,financing and military.and has done all a dictator could do,and i am sorry to say that he,s stubborn nature cost us all the ciaos he left us with,but i still say that Ethiopia will do just fine with out him.

In Response

by: Almule from: MD
August 21, 2012 4:50 PM
rest in peace.
I supported your overthrowing of Mengistu H/ Mariam.
Thank you.

     

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