Ethiopia is in mourning today after news of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s death spread across the country. Few details about Prime Minister Meles’ death have been released, but a spokesman for the country said the 57-year-old leader died abroad after suffering from a “sudden infection.”
Ethiopia’s Council of Ministers shed little light on Meles’ death in a statement:
“The premier [had] been receiving medical treatment abroad for the past two months and his health was improving, but due to a sudden infection which occurred [on Sunday], he went back to hospital for emergency treatment, and even if a lot of medical attention was given by his doctors, he died yesterday [Monday] at around 23:40,” the statement read.
Prime Minister Meles ascended to power in 1991 after taking control from communist leader Mengistu Haile Mariam. Since serving as Prime Minister, Meles has become an integral part of Ethiopia’s growth. A staunch Western ally, Meles helped to grow the Ethiopian economy, making it one of the fastest growing in the Horn of Africa. Although questions about the nation’s political climate have remained (he was criticized as being overly repressive), Meles has been a leading voice in the region and has often sent peacekeepers and troops to neighboring countries to fight the spread of al- Qaeda.
Meles Zenwi leaves behind a wife, Azeb Mesfin, and three children. Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn will lead Ethiopia in the interim.