Jonathan, Zuma, others, pay tribute to late Ethiopian PM

World leaders showered encomiums on Meles Zenawi, the late Prime Minister of Ethiopia at his funeral.

World leaders showered encomium on the late Prime Minister of Ethiopia during his burial at the popular Meskel Square in Adisa Ababa, on Sunday.

Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan, also attended the burial alongside former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Abdussalam Abubakar.

Foreign Affairs Minister, Olugbenga Ashiru, and business man, Aliko Dangote, were also among the Nigerian delegation.

In his tribute, President Jonathan described Mr. Zenawi’s death as a great loss not only to Ethiopia but to the entire African continent. He urged the government of Ethiopia to honour Mr. Zenawi through implementation of his programmes, and follow the path of harmony and sustainable development which he had established in that country.

Mr. Jonathan, who assured the people and government of Ethiopia of Nigeria’s readiness to continue to support their development agenda, said the relationship between the two countries would be strengthened.

“Nigeria and Ethiopia will continue to strengthen the existing relations through our Bi-Commission, and will also pursue Africa’s development agenda together,” Mr. Jonathan said.

The President of the Republic of Benin, Boni Yayi, said Mr. Zenawi was a Pan-Africanist whose dedication and vision lifted the AU to greater heights.

According to Mr. Yayi, “Zenawi supported peace and legality where they were affected especially in the Horn of Africa. He assisted in the success of various negotiations such as the African Climate Change negotiation where he defended the interest of Africa.”

Mr. Yayi commended the late Ethopian Prime Minister’s tenure as Chairman of African Heads of State on NEPAD, saying Mr. Zenawi contributed immensely in putting Africa in the right place, and ensured rapid economic development in Ethiopia.

President Yoweri Musaveni of Uganda said the problem of Africa has not been the lack of resources, but the lack of visionary leaders like Mr. Zenawi.

Mr. Musaveni said the power generation in Ethiopia when Mr. Zenawi took over power 20 years ago was 300 megawatts but he raised it to 2,100 megawatts.

“His vision was to generate 10,000 megawatts for Ethiopia by 2015 after the completion of the Renaissance Dam currently under construction,” Mr. Musaveni said.

The Ugandan leader said he believed that Mr. Zenawi’s death at 57 must have been as a result of too much stress from his very tight schedule.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda said the late Prime Minister led a life of imminence, courage, and enterprise which he used to advance the life of his fellow Ethiopians, and also Africans.

“He was a man of rear talent and selflessness that we all feel the magnitude he has left behind. Zenawi was an unassuming, promising and a formidable man who finds solutions to complex situations,” Mr. Kagame said.

President Jacob Zuma of South Africa said Mr. Zenawi’s success could be defined by the sprawling city of Addis Ababa and Ethiopia’s economic, democratic and social transformations recorded within a short time.

“It was painful for the Ethiopians to lose such a young leader who dedicated his life to the economic, democratic and social development of his people, his country, his region and the entire continent of Africa,” Mr. Zuma said.

In her condolence, Susan Rice, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, described Mr. Zenawi as a “talented leader who had many things to offer.“

“He was selfless, fearless and dedicated to his work and family. He was a world class mind who taught himself and many others so much. He was not only a good negotiator, but a wise leader who disagree based on the vision for his people and his country,” Ms. Rice said.

The U.S. diplomat aid further that “whenever we disagree with Zenawi on Economy, democracy, human rights, regional security or any other issue, you will find that his disagreement was not based on ideology, but for his vision for the country he so much loved.”

Ms. Rice said that Mr. Zenawi had ambitions for Ethiopia, founded its re-birth, conquered poverty, hunger and fought against tyranny.

“He transformed from gorilla to a statesman. His untimely death will remain a big loss to Africa and the world, ” she said.

Hailemariam Desseleng, the Acting Prime Minister of Ethiopia said the country had witnessed massive transformation in all sectors of development, including security, agriculture, health, economy, rural development, education, transportation among others.

He said during Mr. Zenawi’s leadership, the country also improved its diplomatic ties with many African and non-African countries, as well as regional and international organisations.

Mr. Desseleng said the country had contributed immensely in finding lasting peace and stability in the Horn of Africa, and also in solving many security problems between Sudan and South Sudan, in Liberia, and in Uganda.

Other leaders who paid tribute to Mr. Zenawi include Presidents Omar Albashir of Sudan and Salva Kirr of South Sudan; Thabo Mbeki, former President of South Africa; as well as United Nations and European Union representatives.

Mr. Zenawi was buried within the compound of Trinity Church, located behind the Grand Palace, Addis Ababa, after a Church service restricted to his immediate family members, senior Ethiopian government officials, and church officials.

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