The exiled patriarch of Ethiopia’s powerful Orthodox Church, Bishop Merkorios, has returned home to the capital, Addis Ababa, after 27 years.
Ethiopia’s reformist Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, met him in the US last week and persuaded him to reconcile with a rival faction of the Church.
He was greeted by his followers, who sang and ululated in welcome.
The Church split in the early 1990s after Mengistu Haile Mariam’s Communist regime was overthrown.
Politics and the church are closely intertwined in Ethiopia – and Bishop Merkorios was perceived to represent the diaspora and opposition in exile.
As there are now two patriarchs, Bishop Merkorios will be responsible for the spiritual aspects of the church, while Bishop Mathias will be in charge of the day-to-day affairs.