Ethiopia Ready for Longtime Leader’s Funeral

Posted September 1st, 2012 at 11:30 pm (UTC-5)
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Several African heads of state have arrived in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa to attend a state funeral Sunday for Ethiopia's longtime leader Meles Zenawi.

Dignitaries including Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and former South African president Thabo Mbeki are expected to speak at the funeral.

Mr. Meles's casket will be taken to the Trinity Orthodox Church, where it will be buried alongside other prominent Ethiopian leaders, including former emperor Haile Selassie.

Prime Minister Meles ruled his country for more than 20 years, after the rebel alliance he led, the EPRDF (Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front) seized power in 1991.

Mr. Meles earned praise abroad for improvements in the economy, education and health care. But human rights groups sharply criticized him for various abuses, including restrictions on independent media.

Under Mr. Meles, Ethiopia fought a border war with Eritrea and sent troops to Somalia to fight Islamist militants.

Mr. Meles is to be succeeded by Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who has yet to be sworn in.