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Sunday, September 02, 2012

AFRICAN LEADERS IN ADDIS ABABA TO BURY MELES ZENAWI


African leaders have gathered in Addis Ababa for the state funeral of Ethiopia's long-serving Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who died last month.
Foreign dignitaries have been joining ordinary Ethiopians in paying their respects as his body lay in state in the National Palace.
Mr Meles died at the age of 57 in Brussels, following a long illness.
He came to power in 1991 and was credited for bringing development and growth to Ethiopia.
But critics say this was achieved at the cost of respect for human rights.
The state funeral - Ethiopia's first in more than 80 years - begins in Meskel Square in Addis Ababa, from where Mr Meles' flag-draped coffin will be taken for burial at the city's Holy Trinity Cathedral.


The prime minister was a former Marxist rebel and not publicly religious, but was brought up as an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian, the BBC's Humphrey Hawksley reports.
In contrast to the secrecy traditionally surrounding the deaths of Ethiopian leaders, the ceremony will be broadcast live, and huge screens have been erected in cities and villages around the country.
The last Ethiopian leader to be honoured with a state funeral was the Empress Zauditu in 1930.
Many African leaders will attend the funeral. One of them, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete laid a wreath next to Mr Meles' coffin on Saturday.
He paid tribute to Mr Meles' "charm, his intellect, his passion for Africa's development", adding that he was "a kind of leader that you can trust".
Rwandan President Paul Kagame honoured Mr Meles as "a gallant fighter for freedom not only for Ethiopia and Ethiopian people, but also Africa".


Also attending the funeral will be Sudan's President, Omar al-Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court on several counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in the Darfur conflict.

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