Ethiopia: Political uncertainty as Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on sick leave
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi at a session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, January 26, 2012. PHOTO/Christian Hartmann/Reuters
The government of Ethiopia revealed Thursday that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, a sharp-witted and charismatic player in the volatile Horn of Africa region, is in ”stable” health but has been told to take a leave of absence.
Zenawi, an intellectual ex-rebel praised as a visionary by most but vilified by some as a dictator, has dominated politics at home and in the region for over two decades.
From the revolutionary who fought to topple dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991, the 57-year-old leader has created a new persona for himself as the champion of Africa’s economic and environmental rights on the international scene.
Born on May 8, 1955, Zenawi abandoned his medical studies before he turned 20 to join the rebel Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and fight Mengistu.
After taking over the TPLF’s leadership he forged a broader coalition with other regional movements to make up the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), now the country’s ruling party.
The rebellion toppled Mengistu’s bloody dictatorship in 1991.
In recent years, Zenawi has challenged the world’s powerful and spearheaded an African push for more fairness in key climate change talks.
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