Engineer Hailu Shawel, one of the most prominent opposition figures whose party nearly toppled the incumbent government in a 2005 election, died October 6 while receiving treatment at a hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. He was 80.
After serving in various government offices during the Derg military regime, Engineer Hailu resorted to politics following to coming to power of TPLF, an organization largely seen detrimental to the survival of Ethiopia as one country.
Hailu was a founding member of the All Ethiopia Unity Party (AEUP) and the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) or popularly known among the people as “Kinijit.”
Following sweeping victories at the ill-fated 2005 election, Engineer Hailu and his colleagues in the CUD were thrown into prison under the orders of the late tyrant, Meles Zenawi, who overturned election results by means of violence accompanied by a state of emergency.
In prison, Hailu suffered harrowing days and nights in a solitary confinement before he was released after two years of incarceration. Engineer Hailu said his imprisonment under appalling conditions was the reason for his poor health, for which he spent the last two years nursing his illness.
Hailu was also a successful businessman in the country. But his ill health, compounded by being diabetic, put him out of his blossoming business specially the last few years of his life.
The body of Engineer Hailu will arrive in Addis Friday October 7, reported VOA Amharic Service on Thursday, without giving details for funeral. Engineer Hailu is survived by his six children.