The Ethiopian government remained tight-lipped on Tuesday regarding the location of Prime Minister, though his deputy confirmed on Monday that he was receiving medical treatment and will be “back soon”.
Contradictory rumors surfaced on the world wide web on Tuesday regarding the PM’s location.
The Telegraph wrote on Tuesday that:
Mr Zenawi is thought to be receiving treatment at the Saint Luc University Hospital in Brussels, although the hospital refused to officially confirm his presence.
Opposition websites in Ethiopia have suggested he is suffering from a serious condition.
A Western diplomat told the Telegraph that reports on Ethiopian opposition websites claiming he had died were wrong. "Mr Zenawi is in Brussels receiving treatment," he said. "Rumours that he has died are not correct."
A spokesman for Belgium’s Foreign Ministry said it had not officially been informed he was in the country. "We cannot discuss his presence or his health, that’s something for the Ethiopian embassy or his family," he added. (Read more: The Telegraph)
The claim that the Premier is in Belgium was originally made by the Ethiopian-Review, a US-based anti-government website, which also reported the Prime Minister as dead. It was subsequently reiterated by several diaspora opposition websites each claiming to have independently confirmed it from their source in the said hospital in Belgium.
It was denied, however, by the Ethiopian embassy in Brussels. AFP reported, on Tuesday, that:
The Ethiopian embassy in Brussels denied reports he was being treated at a hospital there as “false and wrong”, calling it a rumor created by “an interest group which has preoccupied itself in disseminating such untrue stories”. (Read more: AFP via Independent Online)
On the other hand, The Sheba Post and Yehabesha News reported, on Tuesday, each citing unnamed reliable sources, that ‘Prime Minister Meles arrived in Addis from medical treatment abroad’. According to the two news outlets:
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has arrived back to Addis Ababa Monday evening from medical treatment abroad. He is scheduled to appear and speak in the Parliament on Wednesday July 18. There is no official news about where Mr. Meles was treated. But Egypt State Information Service in Cairo indicated that Meles undergone successful treatment in Germany. (See Sheba Post and Yehabeshanews)
The news from Egypt, mentioned in the quote above, says: “[Egypt’s President] Morsi sent a cable of greetings to Ethiopian Prime Minster Meles Zenawi after the later had undergone a successful surgery in Germany.” (see here)
The Premier’s return was seconded by Temesgen Desalegne, an editor-in-chief of the Amharic weekly, Fetehe, and vehement critic of the ruling party, claimed, on Tuesday, in a note on Facebook, that:
Prime Minister Meles who has been seriously ill and being treated in Belgium has arrived in Addis Ababa yesterday evening, despite being rumored as dead.
I could not ascertain yet whether Mr. Meles’s return is due to due to improved health or whether his situation is deemed hopeless.
The only thing certain is that he has retuned alive.
Similarly, Zerihun Addisu, whose Facebook account describes as a graduate of political science and law, apparently a critic of the government, posted the following on Facebook:
Daniel Berhane was right the man who awash the social media with serious illness & even death rumors was in town, in his office, while the AU Ministerial Meeting was taking place till Friday.
A person close to the family confirmed that he saw the PM even exchanged words of cordial affection however he concedes that his physical condition looks terrible.
The source told my old friend that he tried to call the PM but his family responded to his calls that first he is sick, second he in hospital & finally he got switched off the PM’s mobile phone.
I have also learned that the PM was told not to attend the AU Summit taking in to consideration his dwindling health & physical condition as well as political reasons.
The reference to this blogger, Daniel Berhane, in the quote above, is due to the speculation that I posted on Facebook, Twitter and in this blog, on Monday, after stating circumstantial evidences indicative of the Prime Minister’s presence in town. That is; the First Lady’s public appearances on Sunday and Monday as well as the presence of the Premier’s personal guards on the African Union hall, according to private communication with several journalists who had the opportunity to attend the meeting.
In fact, the journalists claimed, based on their previous experience, the activity of th
e bodyguards was indicative of that the Premier was coming. I decided not to report that as there was nothing to back it up.
[Note: I took the liberty to quote Zerihun Addisu’s and Temesgen Desalegne’s facebook note as the privacy setting is set to “shared with: public”.]
This blogger made no further inquiries on the matter on Tuesday as it has become to be considered a nuisance.
You may also read:
Addis Fortune’s Gossip column – on PM Meles Zenawi health (published online on Tuesday)
The Puzzle of AU Summit Without PM Meles Zenawi (Ezega – on Monday)
Meles misses NEPAD meeting due to health reason (Reporter – on Sunday)
Check the Meles Zenawi archive for related posts.