Thursday, August 23, 2012

S. Sudan defends declaration of three days of national mourning for Ethiopian leader

August 22, 2012 (ADDIS ABABA/JUBA) - South Sudan on Wednesday defended its decision to declare three days of national mourning in honour of the Ethiopian leader Meles Zenawi, who died on Monday.

There is speculation as to the circumstances of Zenawi’s death but it is believed to have taken place due to natural causes in a Brussels hospital. Rumours began about 57-year-old Zenawi’s health after not making a public appearance since the G20 summit in Mexico in early June. South Sudan extended its condolences to Ethiopia after the death.

Public opinion about the decision to have an extended period of South Sudanese national mourning has received mixed responses. Dut Aguek Guit, a political science student at Juba University said on Wednesday that although Zenawi “played a vital role in the history of our liberation struggle” his death does not warrant such an extended period of mourning.

Guot asked why the government did not declare a day of mourning following the death of over 3,000 citizens in Jonglei state’s 2011 inter-tribal conflict. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, South Sudan’s minister of information and broadcasting at a news conference on Tuesday, said the government had received the news of Zenawi’s death “with regret” but that “people will be doing their normal duties at work places; the holiday does not mean you stay at home but in your work while you mourn this great leader who was a very close friend to this country.”  Read more from Sudan Tribune »

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