Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Ethiopia's late leader Meles returns home

22 August 2012, 09:30

 Addis Ababa - Thousands of mourning Ethiopians turned out early on Wednesday as Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's body arrived at Addis Ababa airport following his death in a Brussels hospital at the age of 57.

A military band played as the coffin, draped in an Ethiopian flag, was taken from the Ethiopian Airlines flight, a ceremony also attended by political, military and religious leaders as well as diplomats.

Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, 47, who has also been foreign minister since 2010, will take over interim power, government spokesperson Bereket Simon said.

Meles died overnight Monday to Tuesday following a long illness. His wife Azeb Mesfin, dressed in black, was seen leaving the plane.

National mourning

The coffin was taken to the prime minister's official residence at the national palace where Meles' body will lie in state until the funeral, said national television which broadcast live footage from Addis Ababa streets as the coffin passed slowly.

Several mourners carried photos of the late leader.

Ethiopia has declared a state of national mourning, but no date for the funeral has been set.

"Under the Ethiopian constitution the deputy prime minister will take the oath of office before parliament," the government spokesperson said. He expected the lawmakers to convene "as soon as possible".

Bereket said "everything is stable" in the country.

Meles, a regional strongman in the volatile Horn of Africa, was a former rebel who ruled with an iron fist for more than two decades.

He came to power in 1991 after toppling the brutal dictatorship of Mengistu Haile Mariam, set Ethiopia on a path of rapid growth and played a key role in mediating regional conflicts, but also drew criticism for cracking down on opponents and curtailing human rights.


US President Barack Obama led tributes to Meles whom he said deserved "recognition for his lifelong contribution to Ethiopia's development, particularly his unyielding commitment to Ethiopia's poor".

He said Meles had earned his own personal admiration "for his desire to lift millions of Ethiopians out of poverty" through his efforts to improve food security following a meeting at the G8 in May.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she was "saddened" by Meles's death and expressed confidence "that Ethiopia will peacefully navigate the political transition according to its constitution".

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon praised his "exceptional leadership".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Meles "a true friend" of Israel and "presented his condolences to the Ethiopian people", his office said.

"Zenawi was loved in his country. He was also a true friend of Israel. During his mandate Ethiopia became one of Israel's closest friends," he said.

More than 120 000 Jews of Ethiopian origin live in Israel.

Meles - a key Western ally in a region home to al-Qaeda-linked groups - had not been seen in public since the G20 summit in Mexico in June.

European Commission spokesperson Olivier Bailly said Meles had died in Brussels, but the Ethiopian government said only that he had died abroad.

"Prime Minister Meles Zenawi passed away yesterday evening at around midnight," said the government spokesperson on Tuesday, adding he had been "struggling to be healthy in the last year".

"He had been recuperating well, but suddenly something happened and he had to be rushed to the ICU (intensive care unit) and they couldn't keep him alive," he added.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...