Mourners Attend Funeral of Ethiopia’s Meles

Posted September 2nd, 2012 at 3:55 am (UTC-5)
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(( updates from late Saturday, new grafs 1-3, edits )

A host of African heads of state have joined thousands of mourners at a state funeral 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 among the speakers at Sunday's funeral in the capital, Addis Ababa.

Washington sent a delegation led by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice.

Mr. Meles died in Belgium last month following a lengthy illness. He ruled Ethiopia for more than 20 years, after the rebel alliance he led, the EPRDF (Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front) seized power in 1991.

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.

He will be buried at Trinity Church alongside other prominent Ethiopian leaders, including former emperor Haile Selassie.

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