The body of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was returned to Addis Ababa from Brussels late Tuesday night to be greeted by thousands of mourners.
The 57-year-old died suddenly on Monday after apparently contracting an infection during a stay in a Belgian hospital.
Although Meles has been credited with over seeing his country’s economic development, critics say it came at the cost of human rights.
After two decades of his intolerance for political opposition or dissent there are fears his death could spark a power vacuum and destabilise the country.
According to a local taxi driver Meles was a great leader who had a lot of unfinished work. “In terms of democracy,” he said, “ Meles still had a lot to do. You can not begin to compare his qualities with other people.”
But an outlawed rebel group has already said it is ready to fight for self-determination in a post Meles Ethiopia while al-Shabab Islamists in neighbouring Somalia could also pose a threat.