By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
July 19, 2012 (ADDIS ABABA) – The Ethiopian government on Thursday dismissed growing reports that prime minister Meles Zenawi was seriously ill and at risk of loosing his life.
- Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi in Addis Ababa, May 2010 (AFP / Getty)
Speculation about Zenawi’s health was fuelled by his failure to attend the Africa Union Assembly in Addis Ababa last weekend. The last time Zenawi appeared on public was during the G20 summit in Mexico in June.
At a news conference he gave on Thursday government spokesman, Bereket Simon, said that the Ethiopian prime minister has recovered from an illness and is in good health.
Simon refused to specify type of illness Zenawi suffered but said the restlessness and burdens related with his intense work were the causes for his health complaints.
The government official confirmed that the Ethiopian leader will resume his official duties very soon further noting that Zenawi is on sick-leave on the recommendation of his doctors.
When asked if Zenawi’s absence at the Africa Union assembly last weekend had any negative impacts Simon said “Prime Minister Meles’s proven leadership has been manifest in his dynamic participation in various continental and international issues, but his absence has not affected either the parliament or the Summit.”
Contrary to the government statement on Zenawi health rumors, a Western diplomatic source on Wednesday in Brussels told the Telegraph newspaper that he is now "critically ill".
"He is being treated as a private person and the information is confidential but it is understood that he is critically ill," the diplomat said.
Other European diplomats have reportedly said his life is in danger and may not survive his illness.
The Ethiopian government declined to mention which country Zenawi is being receiving treatment However it is believed that Zenawi is being treated at the Saint Luc University Hospital in Brussels where blood related cancer treatments are given.
The Ethiopian government yesterday cancelled a scheduled press conference over Zenawi’s health condition.
The 57-year-old premier took power after toppling a Mengistu Haile Mariam led Derg regime in 1991.
Zenawi has in the past announced that he will step-down by 2015.
In May Amnesty International called upon the US President in a meeting with Zenawi, to call upon the Ethiopian president to adhere to human rights laws. It cited incidents of media suppression, electoral corruption, embezzlement and others as indicative of Zenawi’s rule.