Jonathan, 20 other African leaders attend Zenawi’s funeral

President Goodluck Jonathan was among 20 other African leaders who attended the funeral service of Meles Zenawi, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, who died on August 20.

The funeral, which took place at the popular Meskel Square in Addis Ababa on Sunday, was attended by former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Abdussalam Abubakar, Aliko Dangote and Foreign Minister, Olugbenga Ashiru, among other members of the Nigerian delegation.

In his tribute, Jonathan described 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 Zenawi through continued implementation of his programmes and follow the path of harmony and sustainable development which he had established in that country.

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

President Boni Yayi of Benin and the president of the AU said that Zenawi was a Pan-Africanist whose dedication and vision lifted the AU to greater heights.

He said that “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.”

Yayi said as chairman of African Heads of State on NEPAD, Zenawi contributed immensely in putting Africa in the right place and ensured rapid economic development in Ethiopia.

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

Museveni said the power generation in Ethiopia when 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.”

The Ugandan leader said he believed that 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 had a life of imminence, courage and enterprise which he used to advance the life of his fellow Ethiopians, Africans and beyond.

“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’’, Kagame said.

President Jacob Zuma of South Africa said 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.”

In her condolence, Susan Rice, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN, described Zenawi as “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.”

“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.”

Rice said that Zenawi was ambitious, but not for himself, he was a son of Ethiopia and a father of its re-birth who 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.”

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 Zenawi’s leadership, the country also improved its diplomatic ties with many African and non-African countries, regional and international organisations.

Desselegn 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 Zenawi include Presidents Omar Albashir of Sudan and Salva Kirr of South Sudan, Thabo Mbeki, former president of South Africa, UN and EU representatives.

Meanwhile, the remains of Zenawi were buried within the compound of Trinity Church located behind the Grand Palace, Addis Ababa, after a church service restricted only to the immediate family members led by his wife, Azef Mesfin, his three children, and senior Ethiopian government and church officials.


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