A spokesman for the European Union has put an end to the mystery regarding the place of death of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
He told reporters on Tuesday that the Ethiopian leader died in the Belgian capital Brussels.
Ethiopian state TV announced the death of the 57-year-old leader on Tuesday saying that Zenawi, who has been ruling the East African country for the past two decades, has died in a hospital abroad after weeks of illness.
"The Premier [had] been receiving medical treatment abroad for the past two months and his health was improving, but due to a sudden infection which occurred [on Sunday], he went back to hospital for emergency treatment, and even though a lot of medical attention was given by his doctors, he died yesterday (Monday) at around 23:40," said a statement broadcast by the channel.
But the government neither disclosed the nature of Zenawi's ailment, nor the country where he was treated.
Speculation about the health of Zenawi, one of the most influential African leaders, mounted when he missed the African Union Summit that the impoverished Horn of Africa country hosted last month.
Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who is also the Foreign Minister, has been named Acting Prime Minister. He will be sworn in after an emergency meeting of the Parliament, reports quoting Communications Minister Bereket Simon said.
European Commission President Jose Barroso expressed "condolences and deepest sympathy" on the passing away of Zenawi.
He described Zenawi as "a respected African leader. He demonstrated his strong personal commitment over many years to improving the lives of not just his own but all African peoples, through his work on African unity, climate change, development and in promoting peace and stability, particularly in the Horn of Africa. In his time, Ethiopia made great advances towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals," Barroso said in a statement.
He expressed hope that Ethiopia will enhance "its path of democratization, upholding of human rights and prosperity for its people, and of further regional stabilization and integration."
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and British Prime Minister David Cameron also condoled his death.
But a spokesman for al-Shabab, an Islamist militant group in the neighboring Somalia, reportedly said they were "very glad" of his death, saying Ethiopia was "sure to collapse."
by RTT Staff Writer
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