By Aaron Maasho
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopia's former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who died on Monday after a long illness, is to be buried in a state funeral on September 2, the government said on Thursday.
Meles' death at 57 in a Brussels hospital left a gaping hole in Ethiopian politics and deprived Western powers of a trusty ally in the fight against Islamist militants in the Horn of Africa.
Thousands of mourners, many holding candles, gathered to witness Meles' casket arriving in the capital Addis Ababa late on Tuesday. His body is now lying in his private residence as funeral preparations are made.
Acting prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn will run the country until scheduled elections in 2015, a government spokesman said. He is due to be sworn in the coming days.
Guerrilla fighter Meles became one of the central political figures on the continent after toppling Mengistu Haile Mariam's military junta in 1991.
(Editing by George Obulutsa and Robin Pomeroy)