Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mixed reaction on social media to death of Ethiopian PM

(Aug 21, 2012, BBC)--Social media users across Africa have been giving mixed reactions to the official announcement of the death of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

Meles Zenawi, escorted by EPRDF bodyguards upon his arrival in Addis Ababa Getty Images
Some commentators consoled Ethiopians and the late PM's family, and hailed the late PM for bringing political stability. Others were critical of Mr Meles, especially of his leadership style, democratic credentials and decision to seek treatment abroad.

Social media commentators in several African countries sent their sympathies to Ethiopia. Reacting to the news on the Facebook page of Kenya's NTV station, "Kibet Felix Koech" said: "2012 is not a good year for African leaders, may his soul rest in peace."

Numerous African leaders have died in 2012, including President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi, Guinea-Bissau's Malam Bacai Sanha, and John Atta-Mills of Ghana. On Twitter, "James Munyaneza", who describes himself as a Rwandan journalist, pays tribute to Meles: "#Rwandans join #Ethiopians in mourning their fallen leader. The PM [prime minister] has been a close friend of the people of #Rwanda. #RIPMelesZenawi".

Another Rwandan Twitter user, "Ladislas Ngendahiman", echoes her compatriot's remarks, saying: "#Rwanda has lost a true friend and hero! RIP".

'Ethnic violence'
There is also anxiety evident in many users' comments, and a sense that Mr Meles's death could lead to unrest in Ethiopia. Twitter user "Fatou Toure", who describes herself as expatriate, says the PM's death "is terrible news even though I was not his fan. I'm just hoping the transition is peaceful."

Another Ethiopian Twitter user, "Buff Balcha", says: "I'm so scared for my country right now #Ethiopia #Meles". "Gerald Mahinda", writing on NTV's Facebook page, expresses fears of imminent religious conflict in Ethiopia, saying "the civil war between Christians and Muslims is about to start!" Read more from BBC »

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