Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has returned home, at least two media claimed in the weekend. However, the news was contradicted by others.
The well-known English weekly Addis Fortune claimed, on its last Sunday issue that:
A day after the Ethiopian government officially announced his ailment, Prime Minster Meles Zenawi came back to Addis Abeba, according to a credible source. The Premier came back to town on Friday evening, July 20, 2012, and he is recovering well, the source revealed to Fortune, almost a month passed after Meles had last been seen at major public events or in the media.
His absence was confirmed for the first time a day before the opening of the 19th African Union Heads of State & Government Summit, held in Addis Abeba from July 15 to 16, 2012. Later last week, the Government Communication Affairs Office (GCAO) officially announced that Meles was in “good condition” and “recuperating fast” from his unspecified illness.
“It will not be too long before he resumes his work,” Bereket Simon, head of the GCAO, with a ministerial portfolio, told media on Thursday afternoon. “We expect him to be back in days.”
The source shared Bereket’s expectations. The Prime Minister is recovering and will be back to his work, full-fledged, soon, the source disclosed.
Shimeles Kemal, state minister for the GCAO, told Fortune that he was not yet informed about the PM’s return. His counterpart, Beker Shale confirmed that there was no development in the state of the Prime Minister’s health, other than what was announced on Thursday by Bereket.
“It is not necessary to disclose the whereabouts of the Prime Minister at this time,” Beker told Fortune over the phone on Saturday afternoon. “If there is any progress on his condition, we will officially disclose it in the future.”
Senior officials were not available to confirm his return. [Read more: Meles Back in Capital – Fortune]
Addis Fortune was the first Ethiopian mainstream media to report the Premier’s return, though similar claims and speculations were made by a few outlets, including Sheba Post, and on social media in the past week.
The date of Meles’s return, claimed by Fortune, however, is different from those indicated previously. [see: PM Meles Zenawi’s location: Addis Ababa, Belgium or Germany?]
As Fortune newspaper would be available online on Monday evening, a scanned image of its front page went viral on facebook, triggering heated exchange among those elated and dismayed by the news. [see image on the right side]
An online based media, Ethiopia This week, corroborated the news saying that:
“according to the information obtained from fortune and closed sources The Ethiopian PM Meles Zenawi is returned to the capital. These credible sources indicated that PM came back to Addis on Friday evening July 20, 2012”. [Read: PM Meles Zenawi is in the Capital ~ Ethiopian This Week]
This was contradicted, however, by the English weekly, Capital Ethiopia, published on Sunday. The newspaper claimed:
“Capital sources in Brussels confirmed that the PM is receiving medication at Saint Luc University Hospital on Friday, July 20, 2012, the hospitals press officers refused to answer Capital’s query.” [Read more: Rumor has it – Capital Ethiopia]
Though it has become a commonplace among Ethiopian media to claim to have a source in the Saint Luc University Hospital, it is attention-grabbing that the date indicated on Capital is the same as that of Fortune.
Some opposition media in the diaspora, however, continue to insist that the Premier is no longer alive. While some claim that his body is brought home, others claim that it will be flown in the coming days.
Rumors claiming that the Premier has gotten better and returned home are still viral on social media as well as in Addis Ababa streets, though the rumors differ on the alleged date of return.
One recent version claims that Prime Minister Meles is discharged from his hospital and vacationing abroad with his family, while another claims he or a footage of him will appear on the national TV sometime later this week.
There is no way to confirm any of the rumors, as the government appears to consider the matter closed following the official statement by the head of Offioce for Government Communication Affairs, Minister Bereket Simon, last Thursday.
Read previous posts (for a detailed discussion of the month old rumor and media reports):
Unprecedented: Ethiopian PM Meles Zenawi declared off-duty
PM Meles Zenawi’s health: A new wave of rumor hits the web
PM Meles Zenawi’s location: Addis Ababa, Belgium or Germany?
On Meles Zenawi’s health | Is the Premier back in town?
PM Meles Zenawi’s health: How critical could it be?
Check the Meles Zenawi archive for related posts.