Ethiopian government officially announced today the death of Prime Minister Meless Zenawi though state television’s this morning news bulletin.
According to the news the premier passed away yesterday at age fifty-seven from a serious illness. He was in treatment out of the country for several weeks. Details on funeral will be announced soon and at the moment the Ethiopian government communication officers are briefing journalists at the Hilton Hotel.
The prime mister was not seen in public for the past two months. As a result, exiled opposition media, Ethiopian Satellite Radio and Television, which is blocked in Ethiopia, has announced his death few weeks age quoting anonymous individuals at the International Crises Group officials. The Deputy Prime Minister and Foereign Affairs Minister Halemariam Desalegn is now assigned to take the Premier position.
Meanwhile, government officials denied the news and claimed that the Premier is in a good and healthy condition promising that he will start his duty before Ethiopian new-year, September 11. Prime Meles Zenawi, the former rebel fighter, who ousted the Derg regime, has been on power for two decades after the civil war ended in 1991.
It was in 1974 that Meles drops out of medical school and travels to the Tigray bush to take part in a nationalist revolt against the dictatorship of Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam. He helps found the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) in 1975, taking over as leader in 1989. He broadens its ethnic Tigrayan power base by setting up the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition, bringing in other ethnic groups.
After Mengistu flees Ethiopia en route to Zimbabwe in May 1991, Meles and his EPRDF rebels arrive in the capital Addis Ababa. Two months later, an interim government is formed with Meles as transitional president. Since then he has been on power as Prime Minister of the country.
The news of his death just followed the death of the controvesial Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarch, Abune Paulos who passed away last week and expected to be buried tomorrow. Many people especially in the diaspora oppose the appointment of the late Patriarch claiming that it is political and against the law of the church for the fourth Patriarch of the church is alive still in excile.