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Archive for Monday, April 14, 2003

Royal death ends era in Ethiopia

April 14, 2003

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— Thousands of Ethiopians gathered Sunday to attend the funeral of Princess Tenagne Worq, the last surviving child of the nation's former emperor.

After a five-hour Ethiopian Orthodox Church service, Tenagne was laid to rest in the crypt of the Selassie Holy Trinity Cathedral alongside her father Haile Selassie.

Many said that Tenagne's death marked the end of an era. She died April 6 in Addis Ababa. She was 90.

"The princess was the last remaining link to the past," said British historian Richard Pankhurst, who lives in Ethiopia. "Her passing breaks the long history of Ethiopia going back to beginning of the century."

Haile Selassie was emperor from 1930 until he was ousted by military officers led by Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1974. He died in August 1975 at his palace, where Mengistu's military regime had detained him.

Rebels led by Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia's prime minister, ousted Mengistu in 1991.

The former emperor's remains were found buried in the palace in 1992. He was reburied privately in the cathedral in November 2000 after years of debate between Meles' government and Haile Selassie's supporters, who wanted him to have a state funeral.

Tenagne was the oldest of six children and acted as an adviser to the emperor during his reign. She was imprisoned for 15 years by Mengistu before eventually being released in 1989.

No senior members of Meles' government attended either Haile Selassie's or Tenagne's burials.

"This is the closing of the chapter because all his (Haile Selassie's) children have passed away," said Ermias Shale Selassie, one of Tenagne's nephews.

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