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Ethiopia: Prime Minister Meles Zenawi dies

Spokesman confirms PM’s death.

The Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has died (Picture: World Economic Forum)

The Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi has died at the age of 57.

Mr Meles’s death was confirmed by his spokesman, Bereket Simon, who said: “Prime Minister Meles Zenawi passed away yesterday evening at around midnight.”

Mr Simon confirmed that Mr Meles had died “abroad”, but did not give any further details of his cause of death. At the time of his death Mr Meles was reported to have been in hospital in Belgium, where he was allegedly being treated for an unconfirmed illness since July.

Mr Meles had not made any public appearances since he failed to attend July’s African Union summit in Addis Ababa. Speculation at the time was rife that he was critically ill, a claim that was denied by the Ethiopian government, which said he was in “a good condition”.

Mr Simon said today that Meles ” had been recuperating well, but suddenly something happened and he had to be rushed to the ICU (intensive care unit) and they couldn’t keep him alive”. The cause of death is yet to be confirmed.

Mr Meles had led Ethiopia for over 20 years since his rebel movement took control of the country after overthrowing the communist former government in 1991.

In accordance with Ethiopian constitutional law, Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn will assume Mr Meles’s duties as an interim measure until a new Prime Minister is elected.

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