By News Agencies,
Ethiopia’s long-time ruler Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, 57, has died from a sudden infection while recovering from an undisclosed illness at a hospital abroad, state-owned Ethiopian TV reported yesterday.
Mr. Meles had not been seen in public for two months because of the undisclosed illness. Meles died Monday just before midnight after contracting an infection, state TV announced Tuesday. [watch the ETV video below]
“Prime Minister Zenawi suddenly passed away last night. Meles was recovering in a hospital overseas for the past two months but died of a sudden infection at 11:40,” state television said.
The state TV on Tuesday showed pictures of Meles as classical music played in the background.
Speculation about his health began when he missed an African Union summit in Addis Ababa earlier last month.
Mr Meles took power as the leader of rebels that ousted communist leader Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991.
Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who is also Ethiopia’s foreign minister, will be acting Prime Minister, state television said.
“Even if Ethiopia has been badly affected for missing its great leader, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi initiated fundamental policies and strategies which will be further strengthened,” the TV said.
Three weeks ago, a government spokesman told international news media that Mr Meles was in “a good condition and recuperating“, and dismissed reports he was critically ill.
Prime Minister Meles ruled his country for more than 20 years, after the alliance of rebel groups he led, the EPRDF (Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front) seized power in a 1991 coup.
He won praise in the West for his army’s support against al Qaeda-linked militants in neighboring Somalia. Though a U.S. ally, Ethiopia has long been criticized by human rights groups for the government’s strict control. Dissent is met with a strict government response using national security concerns as an excuse.
Born on May 8, 1955, Meles grew up in the northern town of Adwa, where his father had 13 siblings from multiple women. He moved to the capital, Addis Ababa, on a scholarship after completing an eight-year elementary education in just five.
State TV said funeral arrangements would be announced soon.