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Breaking News: Ethiopia declares Meles Zenawi dead

(OPride) After months of rampant online rumors and speculations about his health and whereabouts, Ethiopia’s strongman of two decades, Meles Zenawi, pronounced dead. He was 57.

Born on May 8, 1955 at Adwa in northern Ethiopia, Zenawi has been the prime minister of Ethiopia for nearly 17 years. Prior to that, he served four years as the president of Ethiopia’s transitional government. The former rebel-leader dropped out of Addis Ababa University’s Medical School, where he studied for two years, to join the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front in 1974. He has been the chairman of both the TPLF and the ruling coalition, Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front, since 1989.

After the highly disputed 2005 election, Zenawi consolidated his grip on power acting against his critics without impunity. When his party won 99.6 percent of seats in the 2010 parliamentary election, many warned against the emergence of a strong one-man rule system. Zenawi’s regime has been widely criticized in recent years for using draconian laws to stifle free press and the civil society. Earlier in July , Ethiopia’s kangaroo court handed down heavy sentences to 24 dissidents, including prominent journalist Eskidner Nega. The country’s only functioning “media”, the Ethiopian Television and Radio, serve as megaphones for those in power.

Zenawi’s illness and weight loss first became apparent during his final international appearance at G8 summit in Mexico last May. Zenawi who is said to have been receiving treatment abroad, for what some say, cancer, has been declared dead twice by dissident websites abroad. The state media annouced Zenawi’s death on Tuesday. The announcement praised the late prime minister as “great and Africa’s reinasance leader.” Per the country’s constitution, depurty Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegne will be the acting prime minister, the annoucement said.

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