Meles death: Leaders' reaction
- 21 August 2012
- From the section Africa
African and other leaders have been reacting to the news that Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has died at the age of 57. He was one of the continent's most prominent leaders and had dominated Ethiopian politics for more than 20 years.
Raila Odinga, Kenyan Prime Minister
Meles Zenawi was a great leader, an intellectual, someone who was very dedicated to pan-Africanism. One will remember him for the great effort he put in to transforming the Ethiopian economy.
One fears for the stability of Ethiopia upon his death because you know that the Ethiopian state is fairly fragile and there is a lot of ethnic violence... I don't know that [Ethiopian politicians] are sufficiently prepared for a succession: this is my fear, that there may be a falling out within the ruling movement.
Jacob Zuma, South African President
It is an absolute tragedy for Africa and the people of Ethiopia to mourn such an exceptional leader who contributed as an active role-player in various continental and global initiatives.
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi had been a strong leader, not only for his country but on the African continent, acting as mediator on numerous talks, particularly in the Horn of Africa region.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia
Meles Zenawi was an economic transformer, he was a strong intellectual leader for the continent. In our regional meetings he stood out because of his intellect and his ability to respond and to lead dialogue on matters relating to African development. He will be missed in all of our meetings and all of our endeavour.
I don't have fears [over the transition] because I believe there are many other leaders in Ethiopia who will get the support of regional leaders to make the transformation that is necessary, moving towards an open society.
Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General
Prime Minister Zenawi will be remembered for his exceptional leadership and advocacy on African issues within and outside the continent, as well as for overseeing his country's economic growth and development. The Secretary-General is grateful that Prime Minister Meles's administration was a strong supporter of United Nations peacekeeping and peacemaking efforts.
The Secretary-General will remember, in particular, Prime Minister Meles for his active commitment to working with the United Nations on numerous global peace and development challenges, most recently his important role in the ongoing negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan, the Millennium Development Goals and climate change.
Barnaba Benjamin, South Sudanese Information Minister
It's a very, very sad day for the people of the Republic of South Sudan and the people of the East African region as a whole. This has been a tremendous nationalist leader, a president who had always let peace come to his neighbours.
We in South Sudan in particular, consider Ethiopia and especially Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, a strategic ally that (who) always never let a friend down. Indeed we greatly mourn him and we extend our extensive condolences to the people of Ethiopia.
European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso
Prime Minister Meles was a respected African leader. He demonstrated his strong personal commitment over many years to improving the lives of not just his own but all African peoples, through his work on African unity, climate change, development and in promoting peace and stability, particularly in the Horn of Africa.
I sincerely hope that Ethiopia will enhance its path of democratisation, upholding of human rights and prosperity for its people, and of further regional stabilisation and integration."
Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia's independence leader
He's a young man who has contributed a lot to the development of Ethiopia, ever since he took over there has been some stability there, development in the economic field, there's been development in the social field.
I knew him as a quiet man - smiling most of the time - and allowing you to feel at home in his presence.
David Cameron, British Prime Minister
Prime Minister Meles was an inspirational spokesman for Africa on global issues and provided leadership and vision on Somalia and Sudan.
His personal contribution to Ethiopia's development, in particular by lifting millions of Ethiopians out of poverty, has set an example for the region. Our thoughts are with his family and with the nation of Ethiopia. He will be greatly missed.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
It is with great sadness that I learned of Meles Zenawi's death. He was a hugely significant figure in Ethiopia's history, in particular helping guide his country from extreme poverty to an era of economic growth and development.
My deepest condolences go to his family and the people of Ethiopia.