Ex-Ethiopian dictator Mengistu meets former leader in Harare

2018-08-02 14:26
Hailemariam Desalegn (File, AFP)

Hailemariam Desalegn (File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The former Ethiopian dictator Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam has met with Ethiopia's former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in Zimbabwe's capital Harare on Wednesday.

The surprise meeting between Hailemariam, who was Ethiopia's Prime Minister until he resigned in April 2018, and Mengistu has stunned many in Ethiopia who had a rare glimpse of Mengistu since he fled the country in 1991 as rebels, who now make up the ruling coalition, approached the capital, Addis Ababa.

See picture below

A photo of the meeting between Mengistu and Hailemariam, who was in Zimbabwe as head of the African Union's election observers' mission, was widely shared on social media and many Ethiopians expressed amusement at the former strongman's appearance.

"Mengistu has gained weight and looks very old. I'm very surprised to see that photo," Seyoum Teshome, a prominent blogger in Ethiopia, wrote on Facebook.

* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook

Others said Mengistu should still face justice in Ethiopia. "Looks like he's living comfortably in Zimbabwe when he really should be in an Ethiopian maximum security prison or at The Hague. I certainly wouldn't have met him, let alone taken a photo," another Facebook user, Samuel Gebru, wrote.

Mengistu was head of the military junta that overthrew the last Ethiopian emperor, Haileselassie, in 1974. He ruled the country in an iron grip for 17 years during which he implemented a crackdown named "Red Terror" in which tens of thousands of Ethiopians were allegedly killed. Some estimates put the number of killed in hundreds of thousands.

"Mengistu is a man with much blood on his hands," tweeted Martin Plaut, a specialist on East African politics.

The ex-dictator fled to Zimbabwe after losing power and escaped an assassin's bullet in 1995 while jogging near his Harare home. Former President Robert Mugabe refused Ethiopian government requests to extradite Mengistu, who supported Mugabe's guerrilla fighters in the war against white-minority rule in Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was then called.

Mengistu was put on trial in absentia in Ethiopia where he was sentenced in 2007 to life in prison for genocide.

Calls have been made for the current Ethiopian reformist leader, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, to allow Mengistu to return home without having to go to jail following the release of several political prisoners.

Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  abiy ahmed  |  hailemariam desalegn  |  zimbabwe  |  ethiopia  |  east africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.