_: On behalf of the Government and the People of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma, conveys deepest and heartfelt condolences to the Government and the people of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia on the passing away of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, at the age of 57.
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi led a liberation movement and came to power after overthrowing the military junta in 1991. He served as President from 1991 to 1995. Since then, he has served as Prime Minister and has been responsible for the economic development of his country.
According to the Ethiopian Government, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was treated abroad for an undisclosed illness when he experienced a relapse and died at 23h45 on 20 August 2012.
South Africa remains confident that Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hailemariam Desalegne, who will act as Prime Minister in the interim, as per the Ethiopian constitution, will continue to maintain stability and peace in the region, in keeping with the legacy of Prime Minister Meles.
South Africa has always seen Ethiopia as an anchor state and a leading country in the Horn of Africa region. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi had been a strong leader, not only for his country but on the African continent, acting as mediator on numerous talks, particularly in the Horn of Africa region.
South Africa’s relations with Ethiopia are excellent as illustrated by the most recent session of the Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) in Addis Ababa in April 2012 and various bilateral agreements signed between the two countries.
In expressing his condolences, President Zuma added: “It is an absolute tragedy for Africa and the people of Ethiopia to mourn such an exceptional leader who contributed as an active role player in various continental and global initiatives, especially in playing host to the African Union, which is based in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. Our hearts and prayers are with the family of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, as well as the Government and the people of Ethiopia during this difficult time.”