ADDIS ABABA, Jul 16 – Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has missed the African Union’s two-day summit in Addis Ababa, fuelling rumours on Monday about the state of health of the long running ruler.
Meles’s wife, herself a lawmaker, declined to talk to reporters about her husband, while government officials were not available to comment.
The Ethiopian embassy in Brussels denied reports he was being treated at a hospital there as “false and wrong”, calling it a rumour created by “an interest group which has preoccupied itself in disseminating such untrue stories”.
It is believed to be the first time Meles has missed the AU summit in the Ethiopian capital.
Meles, 57, has been at the helm of the Horn of Africa nation since 1991.
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 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”.
Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs minister Hailemariam Desalegn sat in for Meles at the AU opening session.
One of last times Meles was seen in public was at the G20 meeting in Mexico on June 19.