Ethiopia PM, Meles Zenawi, dies at 57

21 August 2012, Sweetcrude, ADDIS ABABA – ETHIOPIA’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has died at age 57 after more than two decades in power.

Though a minor oil and gas player, Ethiopia is increasingly attracting the attention of international oil investors following oil and gas discoveries in neighbouring countries – Uganda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Kenya.

Meles died from an as-yet unexplained illness late on Monday night in a hospital believed to be either in Belgium or Germany.

He had not been seen in public for around two months. Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegu will now be sworn in as his successor.

Recently a number of foreign industry players have shown an interest in Ethiopian oil and gas acreage with Africa Oil already active and others like Tullow and Marathon looking to develop assets.

The region has proven to hold considerable oil and gas reserves especially with discoveries in neighbouring South Sudan and Uganda as well as significant recent successes in nearby Tanzania and Kenya.

Ethiopia hopes to play a role in a planned oil pipeline to link South Sudan’s crude oilfields to the Kenyan port of Lamu.

As a land-locked nation which has effectively been at war with neighbour Eritrea since 1998, Ethiopia is heavily reliant on Kenya and particularly Djibouti for imports and exports.

Meles came to power as president in 1991 after overthrowing the military junta of Mengistu Haile Mariam.

Four years later the hardline Marxist-Leninist was prime minister and ruled largely with an iron fist for 21 years.

Ethiopia has increased its level of education under Meles and the economy has grown on average by 7% a year over the past decade. However, 85% of employment is still derived from agriculture and allegations of widespread human rights abuses abounded during his reign.

International powers appeared to have tolerated the alleged sins of Meles’ ruling party as Ethiopia has played a key role in influencing stability in the region, not least in its fight against Islamic terrorist group Al-Shabaab in neigbhouring South-Central Somalia.

About the Author

  • What do you think about Biafra? Some of us did not witness the Nigerian Biafran war/Nigerian civil war, 6 July 1967 – 15 January 1970, a political conflict caused by the attempted secession of the southeastern provinces of Nigeria as the self-proclaimed Republic of Biafra. The conflict was the result of economic, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions among the various peoples of Nigeria. But with the rise in religious killings in the Northern state, are we again on the verge of another civil war? Drop your comments below after the read…….

    A pro-Biafra group, Biafra Zionist Movement, BZM, announced, yesterday, that it had commenced the process to launch the struggle for a State of Biafra with the international community, saying that the formal declaration of the new Biafra Republic had been slated for November 5.

    This came as Conference of Igbo Youth Organizations, CIYO, warned that Ndigbo “would no longer watch in silence while our brothers and sisters are slaughtered like animals” in the Northern States.

    National President of BZM, Benjamin Onwuka, at a briefing said what prevented the realization of Biafra republic over the years was the inability to get the support of world powers, like the United States of America to back the project.

    “As we approach the end of 13 years since the mobilization and struggle for Biafran Independence began under the aegis of MASSOB and other groups, the people of Biafra have not made much effort in realizing our dreams because the struggle has been internalized since 1999,” Onwuka said.

    He expressed regrets that the international community did not know the aspirations of the Biafra people, saying “Biafra must therefore be internationalized because the forces preventing the dreams for our independence are vested in the United Kingdom.

    Biafra can only be achieved when we secure the support of the United States of America; the day USA comes to our side, that day we shall be free from Nigeria; the story of South Sudan where a bloody civil war was fought for over 24 years is a typical example.”

    Meanwhile, the Igbo youths in a statement endorsed by 10 youth leaders, including the National Coordinator, Igbo Youth Grand Alliance, Dr. Uchenna Uchehara, who read it after their emergency meeting in Owerri yesterday said: “Events of the past few months in Nigeria have become very disturbing to stakeholders, especially the Igbo nation that played a major role in the founding of Nigeria and inspite of the tragedies of the Biafran war, resolved to give total support to one united Nigeria”.

    They lamented that the ugly experience of Ndigbo in Nigeria had been the persistent and unprovoked killings of Igbo citizens out -BIAFRA MY HOME…PLEASE IS NOT A WAR THING ANYMORE BUT WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT AND CONTRIBUTION IN ANY WAY YOU CAN..GOD BLESS BIAFRA.