By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
April 5, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) – The two Sudans have pledged a combined $3 million in support of the Meles Foundation, established in honour of Ethiopia’s the late prime minister, Meles Zenawi and officially launched on Saturday in a ceremony held at the African Union (AU) headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
- A file photo from the AFP showing the late Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi and his wife arriving at the African Union summit held in Accra in July 2007.
The Meles Foundation will serve as a memorial centre to the prime minister’s great contribution towards peace, socio-economic development and his lead role in climate change negotiations and environmental protection among others.
Attending the occasion were Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Sudanese president Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Djibouti president Ismail Omar Guelleh, Somalian prime minister Abdi Farah Shirdon, AU chairperson Dlamini Zuma, former president of Nigeria Olesegun Obasanjo, foreign ministers of Rwanda, diplomats and other high profile government officials.
In a series of memorable speeches, African leaders remembered Zenawi as an outstanding leader, committed not only to the development of his country but also Africa as a whole, exerting relentless efforts to put the continent on the world map.
The leaders of Somalia and Sudan spoke of his significant role in facilitating peace negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan, as well as his efforts to bring peace and security in Somalia and the region at large.
Zuma remembered the late premier as visionary leader, who managed to transform his country, which was at one point known only for poverty and hunger, into one of the fastest growing economies on the continent and among the top 10 in the world.
Ethiopia’s neighbouring countries have pledged a total of $3.8 million to support the foundation.
Accordingly Sudan announced it would contribute $2 million, while South Sudan pledged $1 million, Djibouti $ 500,000, and Uganda $300,000.
It was disclosed at the occasion that the foundation had elected 13 board members, including the former first lady, Azeb Mesfin, who will serve as board president and house of federation speaker Kassa Teklebrhan, who was elected vice president.
The foundation will house an international standard library where works of the late prime minister will be displayed. It will also serve as a research centre to advance and maintain his legacies for future generations.
The establishment of the foundation aims to unite Ethiopians to realise and sustain ongoing development activities, as well as support the implementation of policies and strategies designed by Zenawi.