8 March 2014

Ethiopia: Mourning the Comrade

The former President of the Oromia Regional State and Chairman of the Oromo People's Democratic Organization (OPDO) passed away on Thursday of his prolonged ailment at the age of 45.

A plane carrying the remains of Alemayehu, who is acclaimed for his implacable stance on corruption and rent-seeking practices, arrived in Addis Ababa late Thursday night from Bangkok, Thailand where he was receiving medical attention.

President Mulatu Teshome, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen and other senior government officials and grieving family members and relatives received the remains of the late chairman and president at Bole International Airport.

The funeral of the late Alemayehu is scheduled to be held this afternoon at the Holy Trinity Cathedral. A candlelight vigil was held at the headquarters of the OPDO yesterday afternoon and a memorial service at his residence in Addis Ababa and at the Addis Ababa Stadium will be held today before his body is laid to rest.

Alemayehu joined the struggle to overthrow the Derg regime in 1989 and has served both at federal and regional levels ever since.

Born in the Bilo Boshe wereda of eastern the Wollega zone of the Oromia Regional State, Alemayehu was elected chairman of OPDO in June of 2010 and became president of the Oromia region in September of the same year.

Shortly after his elevation to these political heights, he was struck by an austere illness that forced him to seek continuous medical attention both here and abroad. Following his resignation, the party elected Muktar Kadir, Civil Service Minister and good governance reform cluster coordinator with the rank of deputy prime minister as the next chairman of the OPDO.

Senior OPDO official told The Reporter that Muktar will succed Alemayehu to become the next president of the Oromia Regional State. Zelalem Jemaneh, agriculture bureau head with the rank of deputy president, told The Reporter that he used to meet the late Alemayehu in Bangkok where he himself was receiving medical attention after a car accident he survived. "Alemayehu is an individual who strongly believed that corruption is a major hindrance in building democratic institutions and attaining economic development. He was committed to fighting rent-seeking attitudes and practices," Zelalem said.

According to Zelalem, until his last breath, Alemayehu struggled to fight corruption and execute the responsibilities bestowed upon him by the party.

"He was continuously receiving medical treatments and whenever he felt better he immediately came back to work," he said.

Regarding the type of ailment, the agriculture bureau head told The Reporter that he [Zelalem] is unaware and even Alemayehu never wanted to discuss it.

"He believed that he would fully recover and get back to his duties," Zelalem said.

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