By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
August 17, 2012 (ADDIS ABABA) - Despite the illness he was suffering, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, didn’t quit to playing diplomatic role in the ongoing efforts to resolve Sudan-South Sudan outstanding issues.
- Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in a file picture taken in Nairobi on March 1, 2012 (Getty)
According to AU officials, Zenawi has - from his sick bed - been supporting the Africa Union mediating panel during the latest round of Khartoum-Juba negotiating talks that saw a break-through in reaching deal on oil transit fees between the two former rival neighboring countries.
Ethiopia is seen as honest broker by both Sudan and South Sudan and has been a host nation for number of post-secession negotiation meetings over a number of pending issues remaining from the 2005 comprehensive peace agreement that ended decades of bloody civil war.
The Ethiopian government and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in person have been exerting maximum efforts in pushing and encouraging the two parties to narrow their differences and peacefully resolve their dispute.
Sources inside the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa said illness didn’t stop Zenawi from following up the Sudan peace talks and he has been in regular contact with the chief mediator for North-South Sudan peace talks, former South African president, Thabo Mbeki.
Zenawi has been suffering from unspecified illness and is back in town after receiving successful medical treatment in undisclosed hospital in Europe, according to government sources.
Speculation about Zenawi’s health gained momentum after the long-time Ethiopian leader failed to attend the Africa Union Assembly in Addis Ababa last July where he was highly expected to lead to core agendas on regional and continental peace and security concerns particularly on Sudan and South Sudan crises.
Zenawi has been out of the public view since last June. Government officials, who yet refused to officially disclose details of his illness said he is currently on good shape taking sick-leave on recommendations of his Doctors and will soon be in official duty.
Last week, Zenawi’s close ally, Information Minster, Bereket Simon, told the Australian based Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) radio station that the Ethiopian premier is recovering fast and will be back in office sooner than the Ethiopian New Year of 2005 which will turn-in on the coming September 11.
Following his disappearance, a number of news outlet reported he was suffering of a brain tumor, a claim the Ethiopian government dismissed while few other opposition websites circulated that 57-year-old Zenawi had died.
Zenawi supporters in Addis Ababa who Sudan Tribune spoke to are very optimistic and expect that the Ethiopian leader will reappear and address the public on the day of the Ethiopian New Year.