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Emperor Selassie moved from toilet to tomb

Published Oct 3, 2000


Addis Ababa - Ethiopia's late Emperor Haile Selassie will be reburied on November 5 in a ceremony aimed at restoring the dignity of a monarch who died in murky circumstances 25 years ago.

The body of the aged emperor, who was deposed by military officers in 1974 and was either murdered or simply allowed to die of neglect a year later, will be buried in a tomb in the Orthodox Trinity Cathedral in the capital Addis Ababa.

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"The ceremony is aimed at restoring the image of the late emperor, tarnished by the Marxist regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam that murdered him," said Bitwoded Zwede Gbrehiwot, president of the Emperor Haile Selassie I Memorial Foundation.

"The emperor was defiled, humiliated and despicably treated by the fascist regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam," Zwede told reporters.

The emperor's body was exhumed from beneath a toilet in 1992, a year after Mengistu's Marxist regime was overthrown in a rebellion.

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The body has lain in a mausoleum in Addis Ababa since then but it was always the new government's intention to rebury the emperor.

The ceremony will take place three days after the 70th anniversary of Haile Selassie's coronation.

Zwede appealed to Ethiopians at home and abroad to help fund the reburial ceremony, saying the foundation had so far raised just $20 000 (about R144 000).

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Haile Selassie, born in 1892, portrayed himself as an enlightened monarch leading his country towards development, but an ancient feudal system ensured most of his subjects lived in dire poverty.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church still considers him its head and Rastafarians the world over still worship Haile Selassie as God incarnate. - Reuters

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