Addis Ababa — PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete has reassured Ethiopia's Acting Premier Hailemariam Desalegn of Tanzania's continued support of the Horn of Africa country whose Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi was laid to rest here on Sunday.
Mr Kikwete said this on Saturday when he held talks with Mr Desalegn, who also doubles as Ethiopia's Foreign Affairs Minister.
"I wish to convey my condolences on behalf of all Tanzanians following the death of Mr Zenawi," said Mr Kikwete. He pledged to maintain good relations between the two countries.
Meanwhile, Mr Kikwete joined other heads of state and government leaders at the funeral of the late Zenawi. Mr Meles' flag-draped coffin was carried by a procession from his palace to the city's Meskel Square, where a solemn religious ceremony began.
Dozens of foreign leaders and dignitaries, including at least 20 African presidents, were present. Mr Meles died at the age of 57 in Brussels, following a long illness. He came to power in 1991 and was credited for bringing development and growth to Ethiopia. But critics say this was achieved at the cost of respect for human rights.
The state funeral - Ethiopia's first in more than 80 years - began in Meskel Square after a journey of about an hour-and-a-half from Mr Meles' official residence, the Grand National Palace. The coffin was accompanied by hundreds of mourners, including Mr Meles' widow Azeb Mesfin, who was seen being comforted by officials.
Other African presidents who attended the funeral included South Africa's Jacob Zuma and Sudan's President, Omar al-Bashir. President Boni Yayi of Benin, which currently holds the presidency of the African Union, said: "With his energy, vision and fight for the achievement of a free and prosperous Africa, the late Meles Zenawi - was a force - on which the African Union depended in these last 10 years."