21 August 2012

Ethiopia: Prime Minister Meles Zenawi Dies

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has died of "sudden infection" while recovering at a hospital abroad, state TV reported on Tuesday.

Born in 1955 in Adwa, North Ethiopia's Tigray region, Meles received his elementary education at the Queen of Sheba Junior Secondary School in Adwa and completed high school in 1972 at General Wingate School in Addis Ababa. He then joined the Medical Faculty of the prestigious

Addis Ababa University where he studied for two years. Meles interrupted his studies in 1974 to join the Tigrai People's Liberation Front (TPLF) in the fight against the previous Derg regime. He was elected to the leadership committee of the TPLF in 1979 and to its executive committee in 1983.

Since 1989, he had been chairman of both the TPLF and the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), a political alliance of the four main political organizations in the country.

Upon the defeat of the military junta, Meles became president of the transitional government from 1991 to 1995. He was elected prime minister in 1995 and had been the country's prime minister till his death. He served as chairman of the defunct Organization of the African Union from June 1995 to June 1996. He also served as co-chairman of the Global Coalition for Africa.

He was actively involved in the efforts of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development to end the conflicts in Sudan and Somalia, and Africa's initiatives to seek a solution to the crises in Burundi.

In 2004, he was appointed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair as one of the commissioners taking part in the Commission for Africa.

Meles had been recovering in foreign hospital facilities for the past months, and did not make any public appearance since then. Meles acquired a master degree in business administration from an open university in Britain in 1995. He was married and was a father of three. His hobbies were reading, swimming and tennis.

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