By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
August 30, 2012 (ADDIS ABABA) – The Presidents of Sudan and South Sudan will attend the funeral ceremony of the late Ethiopian Prime Minister whose death was announced by Addis Ababa on 21 August, without specifying the cause.
- Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi and his wife arriving at the African Union summit in 2007. (AFP)
Ethiopia has readied a state funeral for Meles Zenawi to be held on 2 September in Addis Ababa where a number of African head of states, world leaders, diplomats and other participants from across the globe are expected to attend.
Ethiopia is not a signatory to the Rome statute which would oblige it to arrest Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur.
The funeral ceremony begun on Thursday in Maskal Square, in the heart of the capital where millions of people are expected to pay their last respects to Zenawi.
David Dang, the deputy head of mission at South Sudan embassy in Addis Ababa told Sudan Tribune that South Sudan’s president Salva Kirr will arrive in Addis Ababa on Saturday.
Government officials in Sudan have also confirmed that Bashir will also take part in the funeral ceremony.
The late Ethiopian premier played a key diplomatic role in negotiations between Juba and Khartoum, pertaining to South Sudan’s secession last year.
Ethiopia said that Zenawi’s death will not affect the long-standing existing relations with Sudan.
According to Sudanese Media outlets, Ethiopia’s acting prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, communicated to Sudan’s foreign minister, Ali Karti his country’s political approach towards Sudan will not be impacted due the death of Zenawi.
"He was a friend of and trusted by both parties. The new Ethiopian Prime Minister told us that what was agreed between the two parties and the late Zenawi will not be changed," said Karti.
According to Karti, Ethiopia will remain the venue of negotiations between the Juba and Khartoum.
"Only the security and oil dossiers between Khartoum and Juba remain to be addressed," Karti added.
The two sides still have agree on where their shared border lies and the fate of the disputed area of Abyei, where Ethiopia have deployed peacekeepers in a bid to prevent clashes erupting there as they did in the run-up to South Sudan’s independence.