(eTN) – The smoke screens on Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s health have finally been lifted, after many misleading statements, when the announcement just broke that he has died abroad while undergoing treatment for an unspecified illness.
Zenawi, long serving strongman of Ethiopia’s post communist period has kept his country on a controlled development path and was a major regional player in the war against terror in Somalia.
According to information at hand Zenawi will be succeeded as Prime Minister by his erstwhile trusted deputy Hailemariam Desalegne, who reportedly has been sworn in already to ensure a swift succession without any major shifts in policy, internally and externally.
Ethiopia’s allies in the region, Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi have all sent messages of condolence to the people and government of Ethiopia on this sad occasion.
On the opposite side of the spectrum there has been thinly concealed, yet totally displaced glee across the border in Eritrea, against which expansion drive, support for terrorist groups in particular Somalia’s Al Shabab and the so called Oromo Liberation Front, Zenawi stood firm and uncompromising.
With flags already lowered to half mast, a week of national mourning in Ethiopia will be followed by a state funeral, which many heads of state and heads of government are expected to attend, using the opportunity to discuss the way forward with the new Prime Minister, who so suddenly had to take over the mantle of power.
In a related development was it reported from a periodic source in Ethiopia that while security has been stepped up visibly and troops stationed at the borders have been put on high alert, there will be no closures of borders nor will air traffic via Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport be affected in any way. Said the source in a brief message: ‘This is a very sad day for Ethiopi,a but the country remains open for visitors and for business. We host the African Union head quarters, so there will be no reason to spread bad rumors that Ethiopia has been shut down. Please do tell the world and share our grief’.