Ethiopia’s Council of Minister Honours Departed Leader

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Late Zenawi.Africas apostle of changeAs Acting Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn speaks to the press

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, passed away at midnight, (August 20th) following an illness for which he had been receiving treatment abroad for the previous two months.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was a visionary leader who dedicated his entire life to the fight against the brutal military Derg regime and then to the battle to lift the people of Ethiopia out of poverty.

He not only led his country into a new chapter of development, peace, and democracy but he will always be remembered as a champion of the cause of Africa in international fora. The Council of Minister described him as “Africa’s apostle of change” whose death was “a loss to Ethiopia and Africa, but also to the world.” The statement said Ethiopia had “started seeing light at the end of the tunnel through the projects of peace, democracy and development developed through Meles’s great leadership”. It added: “we shall only be consoled by our commitment to bring to end what Prime Minister Meles started in his years of leadership.” Thousands of mourning Ethiopians turned out on Tuesday night as Prime Minister Meles’ body arrived at Addis Ababa airport. In a ceremony attended by ministers, military and religious leaders as well as diplomats, the coffin, draped in an Ethiopian flag, was taken from the Ethiopian Airlines flight. Thousands huddled in the rain waiting to pay their respects as the coffin passed slowly through the streets on the way to Grand Palace where it lies in state. Many carried photographs of Prime Minister Meles; others held up placards reading: “Meles, your legacy will never die.” The widespread grief over the death of the Prime Minister has continued all week with tens of thousands passing through the Grand Palace every day, all day, to pay their respects for the passing of a leader who had been in power for over twenty years and whose loss has stunned and saddened the entire country. The Government has declared a state of national mourning to last until the funeral takes place on Sunday September 2nd. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs offers its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Prime Minister Meles and to the peoples of Ethiopia.

Acting Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn speaks to the press

The Council of Ministers announced that Hailemariam Desalegn, as Acting Prime Minister will continue to lead the Council of Ministers. He will be sworn in as Prime Minister by Parliament after the funeral on Sunday. The Acting Prime Minister spoke to the press on Tuesday, August 21st, about the sudden and untimely death of Prime Minister Meles. Prime Minister Meles, he said, had spent his life struggling for development, progress, equality and justice and had shown wise leadership throughout his time in office, “working to establish a democratic developmental state on a concrete foundation.” The Acting Prime Minister said that the people of Ethiopia were a living witness to “the wise leadership that had brought about the implementation of polices and strategies to produce tremendous changes over the past ten years”. He hailed Meles’ leadership saying that he had “lived his life burning like a candle for the good of his people”. He said Prime Minister Meles had sacrificed his entire life to the development of his country and died all-too-suddenly as he was leading the country with high zeal and commitment. “The loss of his exceptional leadership is great – a leader like him is a once in a lifetime phenomenon”, he added. The Acting Prime Minister vowed that in order to “implement government policies and strategies the leadership will work with more vigour, utilizing the skills and knowledge developed through Meles’ wise leadership over the past two decades”. He said that this loss would leave a void that was difficult to fill, particularly given Prime Minister Meles’s dynamic role at a national, continental and even global level. Nevertheless, he stressed, the members of the government and leadership of the country would work together, collectively contributing their level best to implement the policies and strategies already laid down and registering tangible results. He affirmed the commitment and readiness of the leadership; and he urged the people of Ethiopia to stand by the side of the new generation of leaders of the nation to fully support the Growth and Transformation Plan.

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