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Meles' death opportunity for Ethiopia to reform---Amnesty International

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Amnesty International said the death of Ethiopia prime minister Meles Zenawi will open up Ethiopia for reforms after 21 years of widespread human rights violations.Zenawi died yesterday at 57of an undisclosed ailment that have kept him out of public

functions for sometimes including the recent AU submit in Addis Ababa.

Meles died Monday just before midnight after contracting an infection, state TV announced Tuesday.

Hailemariam Desalegn, who was appointed deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs in 2010, is now in charge of the Cabinet, state TV said

Reacting to the death,Claire Beston - Amnesty International's Ethiopia researcher,stated that   "the 21 years of Meles Zenawi's rule were characterised by ever-increasing repression and widespread human rights violations. His government stamped out dissenting voices, dismantled the independent media, obstructed human rights organisations and strangled the political opposition."

"Ethiopia's jails are packed to the seams with suspected political opponents - from urban intellectuals to rural farmers. Torture and ill-treatment are commonplace. State resources, assistance and opportunities have been broadly used to control the population. Tens of thousands of Ethiopians were forced to flee the country during his rule."

"The succession of Meles Zenawi represents a significant opportunity which the government and the next Prime Minister must use to change the course of the country, to usher in an era of greater respect for the rights of all Ethiopians."

It should noted that the   Ethiopia's long-time ruler who held tight control over this East African country was a major U.S counter-terrorism ally, although he has been highly criticised over his leadership style.

Meles was out of public view for about two months and he failed to attend a meeting of heads of state of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital held in july people began to question his health.

Ethiopian officials hid details and said the prime minister was in "very good" health and would return to office soon. International community knew however that he was not likely to recover.

State TV on Tuesday showed pictures of Meles as classical music played in the background.

Born on May 8, 1955, Meles became president in 1991 and prime minister in 1995, a position that is both the head of the federal government and armed forces.

The U.S. See   Meles as a strong security partner over threats in horn of Africa and has doll out   hundreds of millions of dollars in aid over the years to him. U.S. military drones that patrol East Africa- especially over Somalia - are stationed in Ethiopia.

Human rights groups have over the years criticised Meles actions particularly his government's strict control that have landed thousands of dissents in jail.

In 2005, when the opposition was about to make in road during the election, Meles suddenly tightened security across the country and declared a state of emergency, outlawing any public gathering as his ruling party claimed a majority win.

Several opposition members who accused Meles of rigging the election in the demonstrations that followed were shot by security forces he called in while thousands that were apprehended were sent to jail.

Meles won again in 2010 after he reportedly received an in creditable 99 percent of the vote

Meles was the chairman of the Tigray People's Liberation Front .

"I cannot separate my achievements from what can be considered as the achievements of the ruling party. Whatever achievement there might have been, it does not exist independent of that party," Meles once said when asked what he thought would be his legacy.

Meles grew up in the northern town of Adwa, where his father had 13 siblings from multiple women. He moved to the capital, Addis Ababa, on a scholarship after completing an eight-year elementary education in just five.