Mourners Attend Funeral of Ethiopia’s Meles

Posted September 2nd, 2012 at 2:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Thousands of mourners gathered Sunday along with many African leaders for the state funeral for Ethiopia's longtime leader Meles Zenawi.

Mr. Meles died in Belgium last month at the age of 57 following a lengthy illness. He ruled Ethiopia for more than 20 years.

Sunday's state funeral, in the capital, Addis Ababa, was attended by dozens of dignitaries including Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and former South African president Thabo Mbeki.

South African President Jacob Zuma said Africa had “lost one of the greatest sons of the continent”, while the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice described him as an “uncommon leader” and a “rare visionary”.

The late prime minister 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.

Following the ceremony, Mr. Meles' casket was carried to the Holy Trinity Cathedral, where he was buried next to other prominent leaders of Ethiopia, including former Emperor Haile Selassie.

Under Mr. Meles, Ethiopia fought a border war with Eritrea and sent troops to Somalia to fight Islamist militants. Mr. Meles came to power in 1991 after his rebel alliance, the EPRDF (Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front) seized power from the country's former Communist regime.