Mr. Saleh Meki, Eritrea’s Minister of Fisheries, died on Saturday morning (October 3) local time of heart failure. He was 62.
Saleh was in his office in the port city of Massawa when he started experiencing chest pains. His colleagues called an ambulance to drive him to Asmara. He passed away in Gindae, a small town on the Asmara-Massawa road.
A long-time member of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) and its successor People’s Front for Democracy & Justice (PFDJ), Eritrea’s ruling party, Saleh was the Front’s representative in the San Francisco Bay Area at its Oakland office. An anesthesiologist, he moved to Eritrea in 1991, shortly after independence, where he was made the Minister of Fisheries. In the mid 1990s, he was made the country’s Minister of Health.
A hard-liner who had little tolerance for dissent or criticism of his party, Saleh Meki was a victim of the party’s inability to attract new talent or maintain its loyal crew. Consequently, Saleh Meki was required to juggle multiple portfolios. In addition to his new responsibilities in the Ministry of Fisheries, he was required to train his successor in the Ministry of Health, Ms. Amna Nurhussein, as well as to oversee the Ministry of Sports, which is no longer managed by the commissioner, Mr. Ramadan Awliyay. As one of the few cabinet members who had exposure to the West (Saleh Meki was a United States citizen), he was also required to assist the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The case of Saleh Meki is not new: that party’s inabilitiy to attract new talent, to maintain its loyal cadre and to open up its system to other parties, is overwhelming the loyal members of the party and the government’s civilian officials who are suffering from stress and various health complications.
Several years ago, Saleh Meki was admitted to a hospital, after he had a stroke.
Mr. Saleh Meki is expected to be buried on Tuesday at the Martyrs Cemetery. He is survived by his wife, children and siblings.