What legacy for Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi?

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White House

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi chats with U.S. President Barack Obama at the 2012 G8 meeting in Maryland, U.S.A

After it was announced that Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi  passed away Tuesday, August 21, news organizations around the world began to look at the legacy that Zenawi left behind for Ethiopia.

Scanning through the websites for the BBC World Service, CNN, Bloomberg News and USA Today, for the most part, the analysis have been positive. Here are some of the things being said about the late  prime minister.

From the BBC World Service

“He was austere and hardworking, with a discipline forged from years spent in the guerrilla movement – and almost never smiled, says Elizabeth Blunt, the BBC’s former correspondent in Addis Ababa.”

“Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga told the BBC he feared for the stability of Ethiopia following Mr Meles’ death. He said the situation in the country was fragile and ethnic violence continued to be a threat.”

” Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who is also Ethiopia’s foreign minister, will become acting head of government.”

“Ethiopia’s economy has grown rapidly in recent years, despite the secession of Eritrea and the subsequent war between the two countries.”

“Under Mr Meles, Ethiopia became a staunch US ally, receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in aid over the years, and hosting the US military drones that patrol East Africa.”

“He won accolades from the West for sending troops to battle Islamist militants in Somalia, says the BBC’s James Copnall.”

From CNN.com

“Ethiopia, which is a key Western ally often lauded for effective use of aid money, is surrounded by unstable nations such as Somalia and Sudan. Meles has been credited with working toward peace and security in the region. The Ethiopian army has sent peacekeepers to battle Islamic extremist group Al-Shabaab in Somalia.”

From Bloomberg News

“Meles Zenawi, the Ethiopian prime minister praised for overseeing one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies and criticized by human rights advocates, has died from an infection after being sick for weeks. He was 57.”

“His economic policies, which mixed a large state role with private investment, helped the country achieve economic growthrates of as much as 12.6 percent. The economy expanded an average of 11 percent annually from 2004 through 2011, according to International Monetary Fund data”

From USA Today

“The U.S. has long viewed Meles as a strong security partner and has given hundreds of millions of dollars in aid over the years. U.S. military drones that patrol East Africa— especially over Somalia — are stationed in Ethiopia. The U.S. goal for Somalia — a stable government free of radical Islamists — is in line with Ethiopia’s hopes.

Though a U.S. ally, Ethiopia has long been criticized by human rights groups for the government’s strict control, and Meles’ legacy is likely to be mixed: positive on the economic development side and negative on the human rights side, said Leslie Lefkow, the deputy director for Human Rights Watch in Africa.

Meles brought Ethiopia out of a hugely difficult period following Mengistu’s rule and made important economic progress, she said, but the ruling party has been too focused on building its own authority in recent years instead of building up government institutions.”

 

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