Ethiopian’s former prime minister, Hailemariam Desalenge, led African Union mission to Zimbabwe, which was invited by the government of the country, to observe the first election since Zimbabwe’s longtime leader, Robert Mugabe, was forced out of power in a friendly coup de’ tat in November 2017.
On the sideline of his mission, he met with Ethiopia’s former leader Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam which took many Ethiopians in social media by surprise.
A photo of Hailemariam Desalegne smiling while posing for a picture with Ethiopia’s revolutionary leader Mengistu is widely shared on twitter and facebook.
The two former leaders reporedly had discussion but the topics they covered and contents of it are not known to the public yet.
The only thing Hailemariam Desalgne said, in his facebook update today, was :
“I met former president of Ethiopia, colonel Mengistu Hailemariam. I wish to see more former heads of government and state in my country contributing their parts in different capacity after peaceful transition of political power.”
Ethiopians are speculating that perhaps the government of Abiy Ahmed, whose governance principle tends to emphasize pacificism and conflict resolution, is intending to allow the former leader to return to Ethiopia. Last month, Kassa Kebede, one of the top officials of Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam’s government, was offered a warm reception in Addis Ababa as he returned after 27 years in exile. He even held discussions with prime minister Abiy Ahmed and other senior government officials in the capital and outside of the capital.
Based on the picture that is circulating in social media, Colonel Mengistu looked great for his age. He was only 33 years old when he took over power following Ethiopia’s revolution that toppled Emperor Haileselassie in 1974.
Colonel Mengistu has been living in Zimbabwe for more than 27 years now as a guest of the government of Zimbabwe.
Under colonel Mengistu’s administration, Ethiopia supported Zimbabwe, militarily or otherwise, in its struggle to win independence from its former colonial master, United Kingdom.
Mengistu published two volumes of book about the Ethiopian revolution which he led. He named the book “Teglachin” – which translates to “our struggle.”
Opinion seem to be divided about Colonel Mengistu. Some Ethiopians consider him as a criminal and wants him to appear before court in connection with the era of “Red Terror” and the killings of 60 senior Emperor Haileselassie government officials.
Others consider him a hero and selfeless Ethiopian who stood firm for unity of Ethiopia although he abandoned Ethiopia finally, although he claims that he was not aware about how he was taken out of Ethiopia. People also refer to the fact that he was not corrupt. He was rather tough on corruption.