The death of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has created fears of a "power vacuum" in the Horn of Africa nation.
Analysts warn that stability in the region depends on a peaceful transition in Ethiopia.
In recent years Ethiopia which hosts the Head Quarters of the Africa Union has turned into a key player in regional security affairs - mediating conflicts and brokering landmark agreements.
Now, the death of Meles is considered a setback to Ethiopia’s rise within the African Union.
His death could also affect Ethiopia's relations with Eritrea, still at odds a decade after border war killed tens of thousands of people.
Government officials insist Meles's policies will continue to be followed.
Bereket Simon, the communication minister, said: "We will continue to play a very important integrational role in terms of social, economic, and political matters."
However, for many Ethiopians the next president’s regional policy is only a secondary priority, after years of deep domestic problems, they insist that stability within the country should be their government’s first order of business.
Al Jazeera's Mohammed Adow reports from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.