Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was laid to rest in Addis Ababa Sunday, as tens of thousands of Ethiopians and many heads of state attended the leader's funeral to pay their respects.
African leaders including Djibouti's Ismail Omar Guelleh, Kenya's Mwai Kibaki, South Sudan's Salva Kiir, Sudan's Omar al-Bashir, and Somalia's Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, were in attendance, as were officials from the United States, the European Union, and China, The Nation reported.
Meles died August 20 in Brussels while receiving treatment for an undisclosed illness. He was 57.
He was a close ally of the United States, and has been lauded for his effective use of aid money, his fight against poverty, and his instrumental role in peace deals in Sudan, Somalia, and within the African Union, which is headquartered in Addis Ababa, CNN reported.
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South African President Jacob Zuma said Ethiopia had lost "a patriot and a visionary," the Associated Press reported.
‘‘His was a life of immense courage, vision and enterprise which he devoted to the advancement of his fellow citizens in this country and across Africa,’’ said Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
Meles was a rebel leader who forced Mengistu Haile Mariam's military junta from in 1991 after 17 years of Ethiopian civil war, Reuters reported.
Despite his strong record as Ethiopia's leader, the late Prime Minister also has a tainted human rights record: his elections failed to meet international standards, and he has come under fire when his government arrested over 100 activists, journalists and political leaders for alleged terrorist actions in 2011, according to the International Business Times.
Hailemariam Desalegn, Meles' deputy, has been named as his successor until the country's next elections in 2015, Reuters reported.
"He has passed away, but ... we will strive to carry on his vision to transform the country," Hailemariam said in a speech in Meskel Square.
Meles will eventually interred in a mausoleum at a research center and museum dedicated to him, according to Hailemariam.