In 1975, he left college to join the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front, and opposing the Derg. After the overthrow, he was elected as Prime Minister.
While his government was credited with reforms such as those that led a multi-party political system in Ethiopia, introduction of private press in Ethiopia and decreased child mortality rates, his government was also accused of political repression and various human rights abuses, curbing freedom of press. and dissent. Known by the media as one of Africa's strongmen, he was also an ally in the United States' "War on Terror".