Sunday, September 02, 2012

Ethiopia holds state funeral for Prime Minister Meles Zenawi

(Sept 02, 2012, (CNN)--Ethiopia bid farewell to its prime minister Meles Zenawi on Sunday in the nation's first state funeral 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 major 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 in the capital of Addis Ababa. Presidents of Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya, and U.S. top envoy to the U.N., Susan Rice, were among leaders expected to pay their respects.

Throngs of Ethiopians flooded the streets, some in tears, as they clutched posters with his picture. In days leading up to the funeral, Zenawi's flag-draped coffin lay at the national palace for a public viewing.

The public funeral started at a major square in the capital, where his body arrived in a horse-drawn carriage from the palace. Meles will be laid to rest in the Holy Trinity Church behind the palace, where famed Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie is buried. Read more from CNN » 

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