“He suffers from acute case of blood cancer,” one source said. Zenawi is believed to be in critical condition, a condition, according to our informant, not likely to improve anytime soon as suggested by his deputy earlier today (see the Bloomberg report below).
“Doctors are attempting to prolong the Prime Minister’s life,” our source added. The Privacy Act in Belgium, which protects patients’ confidentiality, restricts Saint-Luc University Hospital from releasing information on any patients.
Meanwhile, the Ethiopian Embassy in Brussels offered mixed responses. Initially, embassy officials said, "no comment" on the ailing premier’s health but later suggested that the PM was "not on Belgian soil." Later in the afternoon, the Embassy said all questions regarding the prime minister's health should be directed, in writing, to Ambassador Kassu Ilala.
Ethiopian government concedes leader's illness, says minor
By William Davison
July 16 (Bloomberg) -- Ethiopia’s government said that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is ill after he failed to attend an African Union summit, and an opposition group reported he may have died in a European hospital.
“There is no serious illness at all. It’s minor only,” Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said today in an interview in Addis Ababa, the capital. “As any human being, he has to get medication and he’ll be coming back soon.”
The 57-year-old leader wasn’t at the opening of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa yesterday. He also skipped a meeting of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development in the city on July 14 for “health reasons,” Senegalese President Macky Sall was quoted as saying by the Addis Ababa-based Reporter newspaper.
Meles is head of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front and has held power in Ethiopia for more than two decades, after helping lead allied rebel groups to oust Mengistu Haile Mariam’s Marxist military junta in 1991. The EPRDF and its allies in 2010 won all but two of the 547 seats in parliament in an election the European Union said was “heavily” balanced in favor of the ruling party.
The Ethiopian National Transitional Council, a Dallas, Texas-based opposition group, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday that Meles may have died in a Belgian hospital.
The Ethiopian Review, an anti-government website, reported that Meles was in the Saint-Luc University hospital in Brussels. Géraldine Fontaine, a spokeswoman for the hospital, wasn’t immediately available for comment when called today.
“ENTC on behalf of the Ethiopian people demands that the government has the responsibility to disclose the truth to its citizens,” the council said.