Meles Zenawi’s 13-day long state mourning ends today

2 Sep


 
Editor’s Note, Sept 2, 2012

    In an address to the mourners at the Mesqel Square, as the likely and interim successor of Meles Zenawi Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn said Sunday that the EPRDF is ready to realize the dreams of the late prime minister.

    His speech with such title officially the media reusing it for the first time in days is also indication of the fact that the much talked about power struggle within the TPLF has apparently been resolved.

    Hailemariam eulogized his mentor and predecessor as a leader who “was working not only for the renaissance of Ethiopia, but also for the renaissance for all of Africa.” He credited Meles with a developmental state and as a person who had devoted his life for the peace and security Africa, especially the Horn of Africa, according to local news sources.

    Attending the funeral are all the leaders of neighboring countries, save Eritrea’s Isaias Afeworki. Benin’s President Boni Yayi and current AU Chairman mourned Africa’s losses in his death. He said: “With his energy, vision and fight for the achievement of a free and prosperous Africa, the late Meles Zenawi… was a force… on which the African Union depended in these last 10 years.”

    Partial list of African presidents at the funeral ceremony included Ismail Omar Geele (Djibouti), Mai Kibaki (Kenya), Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed (Somalia), Omar al-Bashir (Sudan) Salva Kiir (South Sudan), Yoweri Museveni (uganda), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Jakaya Kikwete (Tanzania), Goodluck Jonathan (Nigeria) and Jacob Zuma (South Africa).

    Egypt is represented by Prime Minister Hesham Qandil of Egypt was in attendance. There are also vice presidents and foreign ministers representing their countries.

    The BBC quotes the leader of the United States delegation to the the funeral Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice praising Meles’s with the following words:

    “He wasn’t just brilliant, he wasn’t just a relentless negotiator and a formidable debater, he wasn’t just a thirsty consumer of knowledge – he was uncommonly wise, able to see the big picture and the long game, even when others would allow immediate pressures to overwhelm sound judgement,” she said.

    Seen through the lens of the international media, one cannot escape detecting that opinons about Meles are divided. While some credit him for being a reliable Western ally and for bringing about economic growth, others bring to the fore the dubious recognition his regime has won in its crackdown on any dissent, opposition groups and journalists.

    This is not being mentioned here on this day not to flog the dead but to remind the living to see how much Meles Zenawi’s important achievements have been punctuated by his avoidable misdeeds, relating to his two-decade long human rights violations.

    True to Ethiopian tradition, nonetheless, the people mourned his death as death of a family member. In spite of the misgivings they have in their private and national life, they thronged to show that human beings have capacities to push aside anger and frustration for the sake of the nation and their own as individuals.

    In so doing, the people of Ethiopia participated in Meles Zenawi’s send-off, just being true to the moment that death is a leveler, whose cup everyone would taste in his/her time. This should encourage his successors to be more human.

    The West that is hooked on Meles Zenawi as its security partner and the TPLF, still as core of the successor regime, should realize that the people are oblivious of what has been done to their human rights and voices as citizens throughout these years. It should not, therefore, be attributed to their ingenuity to mobilize mass response to any situation.

    I take this opportunity to join all those Ethiopians in wishing the bereaved family strength to weather through their sense of loss.

Prime Meles Zenawi’s body lying in state (Courtesy of ERTA)


By Faith Karimi, CNN, September 2, 2012

(CNN) — Throngs of mourners bid farewell to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on Sunday in Ethiopia’s first state funeral for a leader in more than 80 years.

Meles, 57, died two weeks ago of an unspecified illness. He had not appeared in public for months, sparking nationwide speculation about his health.

The prime minister, a key U.S. ally, is the first leader honored with a state funeral in the nation since Empress Zauditu in 1930.

A contingent of African heads of state and foreign envoys attended the ceremony at the main square in the capital of Addis Ababa.

Presidents of Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and Nigeria were among leaders who hailed him for bringing development to the nation during his 21-year rule.

Mourners followed the coffin as it made its way through the capital in a horse-drawn carriage accompanied by a marching band. Others flooded the streets, some in tears, clutching miniature flags and posters adorned with his picture.

His relatives, who were dressed in black, sat on stage with the heads of state.

In days leading up to the funeral, his flag-draped coffin lay at the national palace for a public viewing. He will be laid to rest at the Holy Trinity Church behind the palace, where famed Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie is buried.

Meles was credited with working toward peace and security in the region, and was instrumental in peace talks between Sudan and South Sudan. He dispatched Ethiopian troops to battle militants in Somalia, and is a major player in the African Union, which is headquartered in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia is often lauded for effective use of aid money, and his nation has remained relatively peaceful in the unstable horn of Africa region.

He was a leader who focused on the big picture, said Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., who attended the funeral.

Meles came to the forefront as a leader of a guerrilla insurgency against dictator Haile Mengistu Mariam in 1991, and cemented power in the ensuing decades.

However, human rights groups accused his government of a heavy hand and a series of abuses, including limiting press freedoms and cracking down on the opposition.

“He came to power at the barrel of a gun, but he made the transition from rebel leader to political leader very quickly,” said Ayo Johnson, director of Viewpoint Africa.

Though he was vilified for his human rights record, the West turned a blind eye to his shortcomings because he battled Islamist movements in the region, a major concern for the U.S., according to Johnson.

Meles’ relatively unknown successor, Hailemariam Desalegn, served as his deputy.

The next ballot is scheduled for 2015, government officials said.
 
Read also:

Bloomberg Meles Mourned In Ethiopia As Ruling Party Names Successor

The Washington Post Ethiopia: Prime Minister Meles Zenawi praised at funeral as visionary for Africa

ABC News Thousands gather for funeral of Ethiopian PM

Christian Science Monitor In Ethiopia, a nation comes to bury Meles – and to praise him

The New York Times Meles Zenawi

The Boston Globe Ethiopia gives Meles Zenawi state funeral
 
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