Thousands of people are attending the state funeral of Ethiopia’s late prime minister Meles Zenawi.
The 57-year-old died from an infection suddenly last month in a Brussels hospital where he had been receiving treatment for a long illness.
It is Ethiopia’s first state funeral in more than 80 years. Dozens of foreign dignatries including at least 20 African leaders are attending the ceremony. The founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, is also taking part.
Earlier this week, thousands of mourners gathered to witness Meles’ casket arriving in the capital Addis Ababa. His body was then taken to his private residence as funeral preparations were made.
Meles became one of Africa’s central political figures after leading a coup against Ethiopia’s military rulers in 1991. He is widely credited for boosting development. But his leadership was tainted by human rights abuse and corruption allegations.
His death leaves a large hole in the country’s politics which will not be filled until an election in 2015.