Ethiopia to hold late leader’s funeral on 2 September

Officials move a portrait of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi shortly after an announcement of his death was made in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa August 21, 2012. Zenawi, regarded by the West as a bulwark against Islamic militancy, died while being treated abroad for an undisclosed illness, the government said on Tuesday. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

The funeral of the late Ethiopian leader, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, will be held on September second, a national committee set up to organize the funeral proceedings said on Thursday.

57 year old Zenawi died on late Monday evening following an unspecified illness for over two months.

His body arrived home from Brussels on Wednesday night during which thousands of mourning supporters gathered outside the international bole Airport to pay respect.

The National Committee said that “the way the people welcomed the body of the late Prime Minister back to Addis Ababa demonstrated just close he had been to the hearts of the people.

Communication minister, Bereket Simon, has said that successor, foreign minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, would remain in the post of prime minister until the next elections in 2015 and will soon be sworn in during coming parliament session to be held very soon.

However some political analysts say that Ethiopian politicians are not ready to follow the intellect of Zenawi and there might be a power vacuum in the horn of Africa’s largest country.

Zenawi has been considered by supporters as an economic transformer of his country and a key peace making factor in the East African region.

However his leadership also has been criticized by international right groups as doing little to bring change on fundamental human rights citing to mixed legacy of Zenawi who led Ethiopia for 21 years following the over throw of former Dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam’s Communist military junta.

Following Zenawi?s death, in a statement Human Rights watch said that, Ethiopia has seen a sharp deterioration in civil and political rights, with mounting restrictions on freedom of expression, association, and assembly.

The group called on the new Ethiopian leadership to commit to fundamental human rights reforms in the wake of the death of the late African prominent leader urging Ethiopia’s international partners to call on interim government to back fundamental rights and freedoms in the country and a prompt rollback of repressive laws.

“Ethiopia’s government should commit to respect for human rights and core rights reforms in the coming days and weeks,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

“The country’s new leadership should reassure Ethiopians by building on Meles’s positive legacy while reversing his government’s most pernicious policies.”

“Ethiopia’s leadership should demonstrate its commitment to human rights reform by taking urgent steps to amend or repeal some of the most damaging legislation, including its anti-terrorism laws and restrictions on civil society,” Lefkow said.

HRW urged the immediate release of Political Prisoners who the group said were unlawfully detained further urging for a reform on legislation and repeal restrictive Laws, reform legislation meaningful opening of political space


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