Flags at schools, police stations and all public buildings were set at half-mast. The coffin containing the body of the 57-year-old, who died tuesday night after several weeks of medical treatment abroad, was flown back to addis ababa late tuesday evening on a plane operated by the national airline ethiopian airlines.
Thousands of people in tears lined the roadside as the corpse was driven in a black car from the airport to the government palace. The coffin was draped in the green-yellow-red athiopian flag. Many people put pictures of the deceased in the air. Funeral music played continuously on television and radio, in cafes and shops. The date for the funeral has not yet been set.
In a telegram of condolence, german chancellor angela merkel described meles as an "african leader" and praised in particular his achievements in mediating between sudan and sudan. "During his tenure as prime minister, he has rendered great services to the deepening of the german-athiopian friendship and to the intensification of the exchange between our countries". We are grateful to him for that," wrote merkel.
Meles, who has led the country on the horn of africa since 1995, has for many years been seen by the united states as a reliable partner in the fight against islamic terrorism. He also succeeded in attracting many investors to the country, which resulted in an economic upswing. International organizations, however, have accused the charismatic politician of serious human rights violations.
As foreseen by the constitution, the deputy prime minister and euphemistic minister hailemariam desalegn will now take over the affairs of state. Observers, however, fear for political stability in athiopia.