Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A year after long time leader’s death, Ethiopia has seen little change

(Aug 20. 2013, (Addis Ababa))--Residents in Ethiopia’s capital awoke to the sound of a 21-gun salute Tuesday to mark the first year anniversary of the death of long-time ruler Meles Zenawi. The ritual underscores the approach Meles’ successors have employed during the last year: a continued lionization of the late prime minister, whose portrait still appears in every public office across the country.

Candlelit vigils and the launch of over two dozen parks were organized across the country for the late leader. In the capital a cornerstone for the Meles Zenawi Memorial Museum was laid in a televised ceremony. During the ceremony, attended by regional leaders such as the presidents of Somalia and Sudan, Meles was praised as “Africa’s voice.” His successor Prime Minister Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn praised Meles as a “champion of the poor.”

“Meles did a remarkable endeavor in the green economic development. He also led a successful party and government to establish a widely defined democratic system that has recognized and observed rights of individuals and groups at the same time,” Hailemariam said in a speech.

Meles became president in 1991 after helping to oust Mengistu Haile Mariam’s Communist military junta, which was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians. Meles became prime minister in 1995, a position he held until his sudden death last year.

The United States long viewed Meles as a strong security partner and gave Ethiopia 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. David Shinn, the U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia from 1996 to 1999, says he hasn’t detected any changes in the U.S.-Ethiopian relationship since Meles’ death. Read more from The Washington Post »

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