Meles Zenawi

Meles Zenawi, prime minister of Ethiopia, was born in May 1955, in the town of Adwa, in northern Ethiopia. After completing high school in 1972 in Addis Ababa, he joined the medical faculty of Addis Ababa University, where he studied for two years. Further on in his academic career, Zenawi received an MA in business administration from the Open University of the United Kingdom in 1995 and an MS in economics from the Erasmus University in the Netherlands in 2004.

In 1974, he interrupted his studies to join the Tigrai Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), a political party. Zenawi was elected to the leadership committee of the party in 1979 and to its executive committee in 1983. Since 1989, he has been chairman of both the TPLF and the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), a political alliance of the four main political organizations in the country.

Upon defeat of the military junta, Zenawi became president of the transitional government of Ethiopia and chairman of the council of representatives (the legislative body of the transitional government) from 1991 to 1995. He was elected prime minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in 1995 and was re-elected for a second term in 2000. He extended his nineteen-year rule in the recent May 2010 election.

Meles Zenawi served as chairman of the Organization of the African Union from June 1995 until June 1996 and is currently serving as co-chairperson of the Global Coalition for Africa, where he has been active in the efforts of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in Eastern Africa (IGAD) to end the conflicts in Sudan and Somalia, as well as African initiatives to seek a solution to the crises in Burundi. In 2004, he was appointed by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair as one of the commissioners for the Commission for Africa, also known as the Blair Commission for Africa, an initiative established by the British government to examine and provide impetus for development in Africa.

Prime Minister Zanawi is chairing both the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee and the African Peer Review Forum.  In July 2009, he was mandated to speak on behalf of Africa on climate change matters and to coordinate the Conference of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC).  In this capacity, he has led Africa’s negotiating team to the World Summit on Climate Change, held in Copenhagen in December 2009.  His mandate was extended by the 14th ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government to lead the CAHOSCC in the global Climate Change negotiations for the next two conferences in Mexico and South Africa this year and in 2011.

The Prime Minister is married and has three children.

This bio was provided directly by the Ethiopian Government, September 2010