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Costello attends funeral of late Ethiopian PM Meles Zenawi

The Minister of State for Trade and Development is in Ethiopia today to offer his condolences to the late Prime Minister who had been in power for nearly two decades before he died last month.

A woman reacts against a portrait of late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Three days of commemorative ceremonies are being held in the country to remember the late Prime Minister.
A woman reacts against a portrait of late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Three days of commemorative ceremonies are being held in the country to remember the late Prime Minister.
Image: Rebecca Blackwell/AP/Press Association Images

JUNIOR FOREIGN MINISTER Joe Costello is attending the funeral of the late Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi in the capital Addis Ababa today.

The Minister of State for Trade and Development is attending the funeral of Zenawi, who passed away last month aged 57, to pay his respects and underline Ireland’s continued support for the country.

Ethiopia is one of the Irish government’s nine priority countries with which it has a long-term development programme. Irish Aid has delivered bilateral assistance to the country as far back as 1994.

Zenawi, who had not been seen in public for about two months prior to his death, was a long-time ruler of Ethiopia having become president in 1991 and prime minister in 1995.

An ally of the US, Ethiopia faced criticism for its human rights record and the government’s strict control of any dissent against its rule.

In 2010 Zenawi won another five years in office while receiving a reported 99 per cent of the vote.

The Department of Foreign Affairs yesterday heralded Ethiopia’s “remarkable strides in development” under his rule with public spending on social services increasing and the proporition of people living on less than $1 a day decreasing to less than 30 per cent.

Costello said that he was “saddened” to hear of the death of Zenawi and praised the “strong bilateral relations” between the two countries over the past two decades.

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He said: “[It] has informed our understanding of the development progress made under his leadership and allowed for frequent robust exchanges of issues and ideas between our Governments on areas of particular importance such as poverty reduction, human rights and governance

“In addition to his commitment to eliminating poverty within Ethiopia, the Prime Minister also worked tirelessly for peace and security in Africa, and he was a pioneer for Africa on issues relating to Climate Change.

“On behalf of the people of Ireland I offer my sincere condolences to his family and to the people of Ethiopia on their loss.”

Last month: Ethiopia’s long-time ruler Meles Zenawi dies aged 57

Read: Syrian refugees tell of “indiscriminate violence” – Joe Costello in Jordan

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Hugh O'Connell

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