Ambachew was one of the young reformers within the Amhara Democratic Party that pushed for the change of direction the country undertook.

Meaza Ambachew tried to stay up and wait for her father to come home late from a meeting on June 19, 2019. His busy schedule often cuts into his family time so much so that she tries to snatch whatever little time she can get with him. That usually means staying up late. By around 11:30 pm, she could not keep her eyes open anymore.

She went to bed, reluctantly. When Ambachew Mekonnen (PhD) finally got home, he did not want to wake her up. Early the next morning he left for Bahir Dar, where his office is located. She will never see him alive again. He was gunned down along with his colleagues, his aide Ezez Wassie and Migbaru Kebede, the region’s attorney general, while chairing a meeting.

Though the family knew there was trouble in Bahir Dar on Saturday, like the rest of the country, they did not know the details of what happened. They learned of his death the next day, early Sunday morning.

"I did not like his new appointment considering the political situation," said Meaza, the second of his five children, recalling her reaction to his latest appointment as the President of the Amhara Regional State. She said it was a source of fear and apprehension to her.

But Ambachew was not one to shy away from challenges. He had joined the struggle against the Dergueregime when he was only in high school. He was a good student by all accounts. But when the rebels came to his village in South Gonder, he did not hesitate to quit school and join the fight. Five years will pass before he could continue his education. He will go on to earn two master's degrees and a PhD in economics.

His cousin, Amsal Getenet, recalls getting a phone call one day, while he was living abroad, from a person he did not know. The voice on the phone told him he was his cousin that had come on a business trip. He had taken the extra assignment of looking for his long-lost cousin who had gone abroad in 1997. The two cousins had never met before, but they were to become close after that. In fact, Amsal says Ambachew persuaded him to move back to Ethiopia from the United States where he was living in political exile.

"He was intelligent, hardworking and principled. But he was not a shrewd politician," Amsal said.

At work, he was known by his colleagues as a straight forward man with very high negotiating skills. In a career spanning nearly 30 years, he had worked in different positions both in the Amhara Regional State and in the Federal Government. These included positions as the minister of Industry, minister of Construction and advisor to the Prime Minister before he took his last appointment as president of the Amhara Regional State.

Ambachew was one of the young reformers within the Amhara Democratic Party that pushed for the change of direction the country undertook. That commitment is what took him back to the regional government from Menelik II Avenue. Meaza says her father took the appointment, because he was ready to sacrifice himself for his people, and he could not turn away at their time of need.

Meaza recalls that he liked to reminisce about his village and his childhood whenever he had free time at home, which was not often because of his schedule. But they regularly communicated through text messages. He never liked to discuss his work at home, she said. So much so, in fact, that she only found out about his last appointment on social media.

The 48-year-old Ambachew got married young when he dropped out of high school to join the armed struggle. He had five children ranging in age from 28 to three and a half. Meaza said she does not want to dwell on what happened but wants to focus on making sure that her little siblings are raised like she was, shaped by their father's principles of equality, unity and peace. She said I know the truth will always come out in the end.

She recalls her father’s words from a year ago, “When you live for truth, your children will walk with their heads up, no matter if you are alive or not.”

PUBLISHED ON Jul 06,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1001]

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