BRUSSELS, Jul 18 – Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was in a Brussels hospital in a “critical” state Wednesday, several diplomatic sources told AFP, but the Ethiopian government denied he was unwell.
“He is in a critical state, his life is in danger,” said a diplomat who asked not to be named.
In Addis Ababa, however, government spokesman Bereket Simon denied reports that the 57-year-old premier was ill. “He is not in a critical state. He is in good condition,” the spokesman told AFP.
In Brussels, the Ethiopian embassy refused comment. It had said earlier this week that reports he was being treated at a hospital were “false and wrong”, and were a rumour created by “an interest group which has preoccupied itself in disseminating such untrue stories”.
But several diplomats in Brussels said he had been undergoing regular treatment on a private basis at one of the city’s major hospitals and had been in hospital for some days.
No information was available on his illness.
Questions surfaced about Meles’s health when he missed a two-day African Union summit Sunday and Monday, apparently for the first time.
Meles’s wife, herself a lawmaker, had declined to talk to reporters about her husband, who has been at the helm of the Horn of Africa nation since 1991.
One of last times Meles was seen in public was at the G20 meeting in Mexico on June 19.
Dozens of African heads of state visited Ethiopia for the summit, including newly elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, the first to do so since an assassination attempt in Ethiopia on former president Hosni Mubarak in 1995.
Benin’s president and current AU chairman Thomas Boni Yayi had said at the opening of the summit Saturday that the “unusual absence… cannot go unnoticed, because we know that Mr Meles is full of dynamism and leadership in our meetings”.