Meles Zenawi (mĕˈlĕs zĕnäˈwē) [key], 1955–2012, Ethiopian political leader, prime minister of Ethiopia (1995–2012), b. Adwa. After two years of medical studies at the Univ. of Addis Ababa, he helped found (1975) the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), becoming its secretary-general in 1985. In 1989 he became chairman of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), a coalition of opposition groups in which the TPLF was the leading constituent. Following the defeat of the military regime in 1991, Meles was elected transitional president; prime minister after 1995, he began his fourth term in 2010 and served until his death. Faced with a moribund economy, he spearheaded its rapid development, encouraging both domestic growth and foreign investment while solidifying ties with the West. Meles was widely criticized, however, for his extreme repression of dissent, particularly after the 2005 and 2010 elections, which were marked by opposition accusations of fraud.
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