Spokesman: Ethiopia PM’s Death No Cause for Worry

Posted August 21st, 2012 at 10:05 am (UTC-5)
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Ethiopia's communications minister says there is “no worry” about the country's future after the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who ruled Ethiopia for more than 20 years.

Minister Bereket Simon told VOA on Tuesday said the leadership is united and the government is “strong as ever.” And he rejected concerns about a power vacuum.

“The policies, the strategies, that have enabled us to register massive growth are in place,” he said. “The party is strong as ever, government is as strong as ever, the leadership is as united as ever. So there is no worry. There is no worry at all.”

The spokesman says acting Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn will be sworn in and serve the remaining three years of Mr. Meles' five-year term.

Mr. Meles died late Monday from an infection while being treated abroad, according to the spokesman.

In a statement Tuesday, a rebel group in Ethiopia's Ogaden region suggested the leader's death may lead to greater stability and peace.

The Ogaden National Liberation Front described the late prime minister as a “dictator” who had caused “unimaginable suffering” to the Ogaden people.

The ONLF has been fighting for self-determination in Ogaden, also known as the Somali region, since 1984. The rebels and the government frequently accuse each other of wrongdoing and atrocities.

The accusations are hard to confirm because authorities do not allow journalists to enter the region, located in eastern Ethiopia on the border with Somalia.

Human rights and aid groups have accused both the ONLF and pro-government forces with numerous rights violations during the conflict, charges both sides have denied.