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Ethiopian PM Meles Zenawi dies

  • Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has died after a long illness at the age of 57.

    Denounced in his country as an autocrat but revered by the West as an ally against militant Islam, Meles died in a Brussels hospital late on Monday, ending months of speculation over his health.

    His death has prompted contrasting reactions with the White House mourning his “untimely loss” and political opponents celebrating the death of a “tyrant”.

    Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn is to be sworn in as acting prime minister by parliament until the ruling party chooses a successor, for which no date has been set.

    Meles seized power in 1991 from Mengistu Haile Mariam's military junta and is credited for boosting the economy of one of the world's poorest nations. His predominantly Christian country became a close ally of Washington and he twice sent troops into neighboring Somalia to fight Islamists.

    However, human rights groups criticized him over repression and the lack of democracy in Ethiopia.

    Meles’ body has been flown back to the capital Addis Ababa, and a period of national mourning has been announced.