Ethiopia’s long-ruling leader died half a year ago, but it seems Meles Zenawi still holds on to power. In the capital, his face looks down from hundreds of posters plastered on walls, and government representatives vow to implement the late Meles’ vision without alteration.

Meles, who held tight control of the country since 1991, died Aug. 20 at the age of 57. A major U.S. counter-terrorism ally, Meles was credited with uplifting the country’s poor, but he was condemned for human rights abuses and crushing the opposition.

Since his sudden death, Meles’ pictures and past statements have become commonplace throughout Addis Ababa, the capital, and smaller cities and towns.

“Our great leader … we will never forget you!” reads one gigantic billboard erected in the capital’s main street.

An upcoming meeting of the congress is billed as an opportunity to achieve goals, speed up development and build democracy “based on the vision of Meles.” That vision can be boiled down to two things: economic advancement, and a tight hold on political power.

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