President of South Africa Jacob Zuma has expressed deepest and heartfelt condolences to the Government and the people of Ethiopia on the passing away of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
Mr. Zenawi, 57, 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.
Mr. Zenawi was treated abroad for an undisclosed illness when he experienced a relapse and died at 23h45 on 20th August 2012.
"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,” President Zuma said. “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."
South Africa expressed confidence that the acting Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegne will continue to maintain stability and peace in the region as was done by the late Meles.
Mr. Zuma said South Africa has always seen Ethiopia as an anchor state and a leading country in the Horn of Africa region.
He added that Prime Minister 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.