The man who tried to make dictatorship acceptable.

HE death of Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia’s prime minister, on August 20th reveals much about the country he created. Details of his ill health remained a secret until the end. A short broadcast on state television, late by a day, informed Ethiopians that their “visionary leader” of the past 21 years was gone. He died of an unspecified “sudden infection” somewhere abroad. No further information was given. In the two months since the prime minister’s last public appearance the only Ethiopian newspaper that reported his illness was pulped, its office closed, and its editor arrested. Further details of Mr Meles’s death surfaced only when an EU official confirmed that he died in a Brussels hospital. A towering figure on Africa’s political scene, he leaves much uncertainty in his wake. Ethiopia, where power has changed hands only three times since the second world war, always by force, now faces a tricky transition period. . He went into the bush as Legesse Zenawi and emerged as “Meles”—a nom de guerre he had taken in tribute to a murdered comrade.Image

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