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2012 - Prime Minister Meles Zenawi Died

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi died 20 August 2012, at the age of 57, after months of speculation about his health. State television announced his death, saying he died from a sudden infection at a hospital abroad. Government spokesman Bereket Simon would not say where Meles died, or disclose the illness that led to his hospitalization. The prime minister had been sick for quite a while.

His biggest legacy within the country and beyond has to do with the economic growth in the country since he assumed power. And his ability to keep the country strong and relevant on the African landscape, both in the Horn of Africa and at the African Union level. Meles earned praise abroad for improvements in the economy, education and health care. But human rights groups sharply criticized him for various abuses, including restrictions on independent media.

The deputy prime minister was in charge while the House of Representatives prepared to decide or elect whoever takes charge of the constitution. So there was clarity on that from the constitution of the country. Acting Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn wase sworn in and served the remaining three years of Meles' five-year term. Hailemariam, an engineer by training, was the minister of foreign affairs and deputy prime minister until August 2012. With the appointment of Hailemariam, a collective leadership was put in place. Although government officials said that a collective leadership was always part of the ruling party's policy.

Ethiopia witnessed several anti-government demonstrations in mid-2013, a rare sight. And the new prime minister also replaced most of the cabinet. But these developments are not part of any fundamental change within the government. Hailemariam was implementing the policies adopted by the ruling party."If there were people who were expecting any kind of change in terms of directions and fundamental policies then they will definitely be disappointed because there was neither the intention nor the tendency to bring about any change whatsoever in this regard.

The only thing that changed was how decision making was negotiated within the ruling party between the different power centers. Regional governments became quite important, and of course the security apparatus. So on various aspects of the management of the affairs of the country negotiations need to be undertaken among these different centers of power.




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