Eritrean Envoy to the AU Pays Respect to the Deceased Meles Zenawi

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Eritrean Deputy Amb. to the AU, Biniam Berhe
Eritrea’s Deputy Ambassador to the AU, Biniam Berhe, signing the condolences book for Meles Zenawi on August 27, 2012

By Durame,

In an unexpected move, Eritrea extends its condolence to longtime rival Ethiopia after Meles Zenawi’s death, local reporters have said.

After days of silence, Eritrea’s Deputy Ambassador to the AU, Biniam Berhe, visited the Ethiopian National Palace on Monday, where the former prime minister’s coffin has been on display for mourners.

While at the National Palace, the young Eritrean diplomat signed the book of condolences on behalf of Eritrea, much to the surprise of many observers and security personal.

Regional analysts have noted this likely not a political move, but a symbol of neighborly goodwill and cultured hospitality being shown by Eritrea.

After the bloody border war between 1998-2000, Meles was described as being “obsessed with Eritrea“.  He adopted a “no war, no peace” strategy and supported various Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic insurgents, including the infamous Eritrean Islamic Jihad Movement, to destabilize the Red Sea State.

When the international courts said Badme belonged to Eritrea in 2002, he refused to adhere to their ruling and continued to occupy their sovereignty in defiance.

On the political front, Meles worked with junior U.S. diplomats to place two rounds of sanctions against Eritrea in an attempt to weaken its military, economy and isolate it from the international community.

Despite seemingly an unwavering political, financial and military backing from Washington, Meles was said to have lived a paranoid and depressed life, who was consumed with hate and fear for arch-foe Eritrea and his political rivals.

Biniam Berehe shakes Azeb Mesfin hand
Eritrean Deputy envoy to the AU and IGAD expressing his condolences on behalf of the Eritrean government; shake hands to the widow Azeb Mesfin

Binyam Berhe together with other African diplomats
Deputy Ambassador, Binyam Berhe, together with other African diplomats at the Ethiopian palace