July 19, 2012
Ethiopia says Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is taking "sick leave" but will remain in power while he deals with an unspecified illness. Government spokesman Bereket Simon spoke to reporters in Addis Ababa Thursday, following media reports that the Ethiopian leader was critically ill at Saint Luc Hospital in Brussels, Belgium.Bereket specifically denied reports on Ethiopian dissident websites that Meles has brain cancer. The spokesman did not identify the prime minister's illness or say where he is being treated, but said he is in "good and stable condition" and remains in charge of the government.
A government statement said Meles' sick leave was prescribed by his doctor, and noted he will resume work when he recuperates. Meles has led Ethiopia for more than 20 years, since taking power in a 1991 coup. He has not been seen in public for more than two weeks, and did not attend an African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital Saturday and Sunday.