Ethiopian PM Meles Zenawi dies

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is dead.

A government statement said that Mr. Zenawi, 57, died at midnight on 20th August 2012 “due to an illness for which he had been receiving treatment abroad for the past two months.”

Ethiopia’s Council of Ministers said Prime Minister Meles Zenawi “was Africa’s apostle of change”

The statement however didn’t give details of his ailment.

Ethiopia’s Council of Ministers described the late Zenawi as “a visionary leader who dedicated his entire life to the fight against the brutal military Derg regime and then to the battle to lift the people of Ethiopia out of poverty.”

Mr. Meles led Ethiopia for 21 years. “Prime Minister Meles was not only a leader who led his country into a new chapter of development, peace, and democracy but a person who will always be remembered as a champion of the cause of Africa in international fora,” the Council of Ministers said, adding that “Meles was Africa’s apostle of change”.

While the government of Meles was credited with reforms such as those that lead to a multi-party political system in Ethiopia, introduction of private press in Ethiopia and decreased child mortality rates, his government has also come under criticism including for political repression, and various human rights abuses.

Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn will be acting head of government.

Details of the funeral ceremony will be announced later.