Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi died shortly before midnight, August 20, Ethiopia’s government announced. Meles ruled Ethiopia for over 20 years. His death threatens to throw the nation into turmoil.
Meles became Ethiopia’s president in 1991 after helping to depose the country’s repressive Communist military junta led by Mengistu Haile Mariam. Since then, Meles became something of a dictator himself, albeit one who improved the lives of his people and was a reliable American ally against Islamism.
Meles switched jobs to become prime minister in 1995. He won elections again in 2000. In the 2005 elections, the opposition began to threaten him. Meles proclaimed a state of emergency on the election night. Hundreds died in the police crackdown. Many more were jailed.
In the 2010 elections, Meles announced his party had received 99 percent of the vote. Naturally, international observers had some problems with how the election was run.
This kind of leader is hard to replace. A succession process has to be agreed upon and planned beforehand. Even then, countries can fall into chaos.
There doesn’t appear to be a well-planned succession process in Ethiopia. Over the last couple of months, it’s been increasingly obvious that Meles was very ill. He stopped appearing in public and missed important international meetings. Rumors spread that the prime minister had already died. But the government insisted Meles was in “very good” condition.
If Meles had his house in order, there would be no need for this secrecy. Most likely, Ethiopia’s power brokers were frantically trying to prepare for Meles’s death behind the scenes.
Hailemariam Desalegn, who became deputy prime minister and foreign minister in 2010, will soon be sworn in as the new prime minister. The government doesn’t plan to hold new elections until 2015.
Opposition forces will probably challenge Hailemariam’s leadership quickly.
“Ethiopia faces internal dissent from several marginalized ethnic groups, including the southern Oromos and those in the Ogaden region in the east, where the military has largely suppressed a separatist armed rebellion,” wrote Financial Times.
“The opposition will try to stir up all kinds of trouble—Eritrea, Oromos, the Ogaden are itching to take advantage of this civil vacuum and maybe destabilize the country. … I suspect the military will be on high alert,” FT quoted an Ethiopian analyst as saying.
In April of last year, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry warned that Ethiopia would fall under the sway of radical Islam. At the time, this seemed unlikely. The country was stable, the majority of its people are Christian, and relations between Christians and Muslims were good.
Yet Mr. Flurry wrote: “So you need to watch Libya and Ethiopia. They are about to fall under the heavy influence or control of Iran, the king of the south” (emphasis his). He based his predication on a prophecy in Daniel 11.
Just over a year later, Ethiopia is facing widespread Muslim discontent and protests. In the midst of that turmoil, the leader that has led the nation with a strong arm is dead.
Continue watching Ethiopia. Recent events appear to be setting the stage for an Islamic takeover.