Hailemariam Desalegn, Ethiopia’s new leader, has been sworn in after the death of long-time leader Meles Zenawi in August.
“I am very happy to take the responsibility of being prime minister,” said Hailemariam Desalegn, 47, as lawmakers banged on their desks in support, AFP news agency reports.
Hailemariam Desalegn, Ethiopia's new leader, has been sworn in after the death of long-time leader Meles Zenawi in August
Hailemariam Desalegn had been deputy prime minister and foreign minister.
Meles Zenawi died last month in Brussels after 21 years in power.
Ethiopia has decided to build a mausoleum to commemorate the life of former leader Meles Zenawi, who was buried on Sunday.
Acting Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said the building would include a library and an exhibition of Meles Zenawi’s life and achievements.
Thousands of people, including dozens of foreign leaders and dignitaries, attended Sunday’s funeral.
The ex-prime minister died last month in Brussels after 21 years in power.
The cause of the 57-year-old’s death has not been announced.
Meles Zenawi was praised for bringing development to Ethiopia, which has long been associated with hunger and famine.
Ethiopia has decided to build a mausoleum to commemorate the life of former leader Meles Zenawi, who was buried on Sunday
However, he was criticized for cracking down on opposition parties, the media and civil society groups.
The government has also set up a website in his honor.
Meles Zenawi’s flag-draped coffin was carried from his palace in the capital Addis Ababa to the city’s Meskel Square for a ceremony, then buried at the Holy Trinity Cathedral.
Leaders including South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, Benin Boni Yayi representing the African Union and US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice praised Meles Zenawi.
“He wasn’t just brilliant, he wasn’t just a relentless negotiator and a formidable debater, he wasn’t just a thirsty consumer of knowledge – he was uncommonly wise, able to see the big picture and the long game, even when others would allow immediate pressures to overwhelm sound judgement,” said Susan Rice.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates also attended the funeral, as did Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir – who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court on several counts of war crimes.
Meles Zenawi was a close Western ally and twice sent troops into neighboring Somalia to tackle Islamist militants.
Hailemariam Desalegn is to remain prime minister until the next elections, due in 2015.
• Emerged from Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which carried out armed struggle against communist military regime in 1970s and 1980s
• Became president in a transitional government in 1991 and then prime minister in 1995
• Married another TPLF veteran, Azeb Mesfin, and had three children
• Under his leadership, a closed and secretive country gradually opened to the outside world
• But reputation tarnished in 2000s amid increasing repression in Ethiopia
Thousands of Ethiopians are attending the state funeral in Addis Ababa of country’s long-serving Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who died last month.
Meles Zenawi’s flag-draped coffin was carried in a procession from his palace to the city’s Meskel Square, where a solemn religious ceremony began.
Dozens of foreign leaders and dignitaries, including at least 20 African presidents, were present.
Meles Zenawi died at the age of 57 in Brussels, following a long illness.
He came to power in 1991 and was credited for bringing development and growth to Ethiopia.
But critics say this was achieved at the cost of respect for human rights.
Thousands of Ethiopians are attending the state funeral in Addis Ababa of country's long-serving Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who died last month
The state funeral – Ethiopia’s first in more than 80 years – began in Meskel Square after a journey of about an hour-and-a-half from Meles Zenawi’s official residence, the Grand National Palace.
The coffin was accompanied by hundreds of mourners, including Meles Zenawi’s widow Azeb Mesfin, who was seen being comforted by officials.
The coffin will later be taken for burial at the city’s Holy Trinity Cathedral.
The prime minister was a former Marxist rebel and not publicly religious, but was brought up as an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian.
In contrast to the secrecy traditionally surrounding the deaths of Ethiopian leaders, the ceremony is being broadcast live, and huge screens have been erected in cities and villages around the country.
The last Ethiopian leader to be honored with a state funeral was the Empress Zauditu in 1930.
African presidents such as South Africa’s Jacob Zuma and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame are attending the funeral, as well as several prominent international figures including Microsoft chairman Bill Gates.
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete laid a wreath next to Meles Zenawi’s coffin on Saturday.
He paid tribute to Meles Zenawi’s “charm, his intellect, his passion for Africa’s development”, adding that he was “a kind of leader that you can trust”.
Paul Kagame honored Meles Zenawi as “a gallant fighter for freedom not only for Ethiopia and Ethiopian people, but also Africa”.
Also attending is Sudan’s President, Omar al-Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court on several counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in the Darfur conflict.
Meles zenawi became a dominant figure in the region after toppling toppling dictator Mengistu Hailemariam 21 years ago.
He ordered Ethiopian troops to intervene against al-Qaeda-linked militants in Somalia, mediated in the conflict in Sudan and South Sudan, and took a leading position in the African Union, which is headquartered in Addis Ababa.
Meles Zenawi will be succeeded by his deputy, Hailemariam Desalegn, 47, a relatively little-known politician from the south of Ethiopia.
Hailemariam Desalegn will formally take over as prime minister after Meles Zenawi’s funeral, and will serve until elections in 2015.
Some observers have voiced fears about the political transition.
The Brussels-based think tank, the Crisis Group, has warned that Hailemariam Desalegn will lead a weaker government that will face mounting grievances along ethnic and religious lines.
Meles Zenawi died suddenly from an infection on 20 August while being treated in hospital in Brussels.
He had not been seen in public for weeks before his death was announced, and there had been increasingly intense speculation about his health.
Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia’s prime minister, has died at the age of 57, state media say, after weeks of illness.
Meles Zenawi died in a hospital abroad, said state media and a government spokesman, but they did not say exactly where or give details of his ailment.
Speculation about his health mounted when he missed an African Union summit in Addis Ababa last month.
Meles Zenawi took power as the leader of rebels that ousted communist leader Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991.
He had dominated Ethiopian public life since the 1990s, as president and then prime minister.
He was austere and hardworking, with a discipline forged from years spent in the guerrilla movement – and almost never smiled.
Meles Zenawi died in a hospital abroad, said state media and a government spokesman, but they did not say exactly where or give details of his ailment
“Prime Minister Meles Zenawi passed away yesterday [Monday] evening at around midnight,” government spokesman Bereket Simon said, adding that he was “abroad” when he died, according to AFP news agency.
“He had been recuperating well, but suddenly something happened and he had to be rushed to the ICU [intensive care unit] and they couldn’t keep him alive.”
State television said he had died after contracting a “sudden” infection.
Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who is also Ethiopia’s foreign minister, will be acting head of government, state television said.
“Even if Ethiopia has been badly affected for missing its great leader, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi initiated fundamental policies and strategies which will be further strengthened,” the TV said.
Meles Zenawi had not been seen in public for some eight weeks prior to his death, and was reported to have been admitted to hospital in July.
But three weeks ago, the spokesman Bereket Simon said he was in “a good condition and recuperating”, and dismissed reports he was critically ill.
At the time he declined to give any details about Meles Zenawi’ whereabouts or what he was suffering from.
But reports suggested Meles Zenawi was in hospital in Belgium, suffering from a stomach complaint.