Meles Zenawi’s death will have repercussions far beyond his country.
He was undeniably central to everything in Ethiopia – the good and the bad, the economic growth and development, as well as the repressive climate denounced by opposition politicians and journalists.
But he also played a key role in the region.
Since Mr Meles took power in 1991, Ethiopia has seen Eritrea secede, then fought a war with the new country. It also twice sent troops into Somalia to fight militants linked to al-Qaeda.
Ethiopia also has peacekeepers in Abyei, the border region claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan.
Political leaders in all these countries will be carrying out rapid calculations about what Mr Meles’ death means for them.
The West has also lost a key ally in the Horn of Africa.
Now the attention will switch to whether Mr Meles built a strong enough system to outlast him.