Meles Zenawi was the Prime Minister of Ethiopia who died in August 2012. Zenawi came to power in 1991 by overthrowing the dictatorship of Colonel Miriam. He had held power since 1995 through a series of elections that were questioned by western observors.
While his government was credited with reforms that led a multi-party political system in Ethiopia, introduction of private press in Ethiopia and decreased child mortality rates, his government was also accused of political repression and various human rights abuses as well as anti-dissent. Known as one of Africa's strongmen, he was also an ally of the United States' War on Terror.
- Zenawi was a staunch supporter of India, and in the past decade was in the vanguard of facilitating India's footprint in Africa.
- Zenawi also supported India's election to the Security Council.
India, he said, played a different role in Africa. "India is more positively involved in this African problem. First, it does not come up with a holier than thou attitude. I know first-hand that India has worked hard for a fair referendum in Sudan. But it does not brag about it."
The phenomenal growth of India and China, he said, had created a new environment for Africa. "It has created new partnerships for Africa with India and China in the form of capital and technology. It helps that both countries have much better understanding and sympathy for Africa." In his mind as in many others in Africa, the equation is becoming easier: China for the infrastructure, India for the skills and capacity.