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With death of Ethiopian leader Meles, US loses an anti-terror ally (+video)

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When he was president, Bill Clinton called Meles one of a “new breed of African democrats” and Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, said he was a “visionary leader.” 

That friendship has developed further amid the US’s growing concern about terrorism in Africa. Washington says terrorist groups have found safe haven in neighboring Somalia, and under President Obama, Meles has allowed US unmanned drones to take off from his country’s airports for spying missions over his chaotic neighbor. He has also twice invaded Somalia to pursue Ethiopian domestic rebels and their ally, the Islamic Courts Union, which the US believes has harbored Al Qaeda

Crackdowns on personal freedom 

He was, however, facing growing criticism over new laws on media, advocacy groups, and aid agencies that his detractors claimed were designed to stamp out all opposition to the ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). An anti-terror law gave police extra powers of arrest. 

“Ethiopia’s government should commit to respect for human rights and core rights reforms in the coming days and weeks,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The country’s new leadership should reassure Ethiopians by building on Meles’s positive legacy while reversing his government’s most pernicious policies.”

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