News / Africa

Ethiopian PM Meles on 'Sick Leave'

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (file photo)Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (file photo)
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Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (file photo)
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (file photo)
VOA News
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 briefed reporters Thursday in Addis Ababa, 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 Mr. Meles' sick leave was prescribed by his doctor, and noted he will resume work when he recuperates.  


Meles Zenawi

  • Born May 8, 1955 in Adwa, northern Ethiopia
  • Suspended studies in 1974 to join Tigrai Peoples Liberation Front, TPLF
  • Chairman of TPLF and Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front since 1989
  • Led EPRDF rebels to seize power in 1991 and became president
  • Prime minister since being elected in 1995
  • Serves as African Union spokesperson on climate change
  • Praised for helping lift Ethiopia out of poverty after civil war
  • Criticized for silencing all forms of dissent
  • Known as ally with U.S. against terrorism
Former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia David Shinn told VOA the press conference signals a "significant health issue."

"You wouldn’t make a statement like that - that is so open-ended - unless the problem is significant" Shinn said. He noted he has no information about the prime minister's health.

He added that Meles is the kind of leader who plans ahead. And if he is ill, he says the 57-year-old prime minister likely has a plan in place.

"I'd be willing to bet very good money that he has been planning some way to deal with this issue in order to ensure some kind of reasonable succession of government in Ethiopia," said Shinn.

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 last Saturday and Sunday in the Ethiopian capital.

In an interview with VOA, Sibhat Nega of Ethiopia's ruling party said Meles is in better shape than reported.

"I can tell you for sure that there is no undesirable eventuality regarding his health," he said. "I am 100 percent sure that he's recovering health-wise, and he will be back to his official duty in a number of days."


Nega's statements are consistent with those of government officials, who said Wednesday the prime minister is sick, but not gravely ill.

Nega, who is a friend of the prime minister's, said the government has been functioning normally during Meles' absence, insisting that the "system does not depend on one person."

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by: Habte Aba dilibi from: Bihar Dar
August 05, 2012 3:44 AM
firste of all I wish to him well and I hope he will back with full of health to his office very soon. I wish you all the best ! Thankyou .

by: a letter from: ukusfundedtplftorturecell
July 22, 2012 2:35 PM
Please Sir just die. Ibakwon yimootoo. the title of a newly released popular Ethiopian Poem.

by: b.w from: ethiopia
July 20, 2012 5:11 AM
Good Bless you

by: Solomon from: Tigray
July 20, 2012 3:56 AM
'Meles has led Ethiopia for more than 20 years, since taking power in a 1991 coup' your report says. but i am not sure whether coup is the appropriate word for overthrowing a military dictatorship through publicly supported prolonged armed struggle.

by: gjufijygB
July 20, 2012 2:43 AM
you are BUSTED and Meles will be fine tomorrow you idiots you don't know anything about Ethiopia. you can't talk about Meles, your jealous of his brain",


by: Muche from: Addis Ababa
July 20, 2012 2:33 AM
First of all I wish to him well and I hope he will be back with full of health to his office very soon.Because our country ethiopia never got his kind of visionary leader for the past hundred years.He achieve alot and did his best for the past 20 years.Now our country regestered adouble digit economy for the past eight years so this result is his leadership and his plan so all of you you have to accept this .I wish you all the best.Thankyou .
In Response

by: LiliEthio from: Belguim
July 23, 2012 5:10 PM
God Bless You ALL and God Bless Ethiopia, our bright leader Melese Zenawe and everyone who worked hard to bring this Country to this level. Yesterday, Ethiopia was mentioned as example of Famine, but, today we are talking about the growing Economy of our Ethiopia? (that doesn't mean we have no problem)? OK but, by far this Leader and all his supporter (Ethiopia's or else) doing Great Job. May God be with you Melse and Fill Better Soon. We did not get a chance to say, THANK YOU FOR YOU GOOD WORK TO OUR COUNTRY ETHIOPIA. We as African are PROUD of You. GOD BLESS YOU ALL
God Bless You ALL and God Bless Ethiopia, our bright leader Melese Zenawe and everyone who worked hard to bring this Country to this level. Yesterday, Ethiopia was mentioned as example of Famine, but, today we are talking about the growing Economy of our Ethiopia? (that doesn't mean we have no problem)? OK but, by far this Leader and all his supporter (Ethiopia's or else) doing Great Job. May God be with you Melse and Fill Better Soon. We did not get a chance to say, THANK YOU FOR YOU GOOD WORK TO OUR COUNTRY ETHIOPIA. We as African are PROUD of You. GOD BLESS YOU ALL











by: abenet
July 20, 2012 12:28 AM
he deserve the very bad pain before he die.
In Response

by: LiliEthio from: Belguim
August 06, 2012 3:46 AM
Thanks God, Hope Melse is doing fine. Don't worry Our Bright PM Melse... JESUS IS LORD and HE will be by your side and give you a chance to Live Long and WORSHIP the Truth GOD, OUR LORD JESUS CHIRST. GOD BLESS YOU, you DID a WONDERFUL JOB/WORK to Ethiopia, Ethiopian including, Africa. No wonder if they call you "The Brain of Africa". Get well soon. Thank for your HARD WORK and WE LOVE YOU VERY MUCH. GOD BLESS YOU ALL.
Let's LEARN TO LOVE EACH OTHER GOD IS LOVE.
In Response

by: dan from: san diego
August 05, 2012 9:53 PM
I am not sure if Ethiopia is ready for leader other than meles, he is not good leader but, that is what we need right now. we don't need another dectator come and play soccer on that poor country. sorry to say that. but we were poor, we are poor and we will be poor. if ethiopia was to get better she would have 3000 years ago , when she was called one of the civilized country in the world. but instead we had 3000 years of war history. shit I dont' know history but civilization of Ethiopia was shown the last time by axum or lalibela churchs. what did we do after that? shit man!
In Response

by: mgg from: Gondar
July 21, 2012 4:44 AM
God bless meles...the perfect and visioner leader!!
In Response

by: Abeba
July 20, 2012 11:06 PM
you need help if you are normal. you need to go to church and ask GOD to forgive you for your sour/nasty mouth.
Geta Yikir Yibelsh.

by: Albasa from: Washington metro
July 19, 2012 10:17 PM
I hope Meles the evil suffers for more months before he is dead. The day for this evil killer and a murderer of hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians is numbered. The best educated and trained Ethiopians were killed, put in prison or chased them out of their country with the exception of his savage and dirty Tigrean tribe. This dirty and savage Tigreans looted every part of the country for over 20 years and turned the rest of the country into a barren land. I was hoping Meles will suffer in the hand of Ethiopians worse than his identical brother Gaddafi. But, God could not wait until Ethiopians are ready; so he decided to take him out faster. Meles, burn in hell.

by: Anonymous
July 19, 2012 10:00 PM
Hallelujah!! Another disposable African dictator is has been disptached and VOA needs to quit lying about it to the people!Legesse Zenawi has taken permanent leave from life itself. Maybe Americans in the DC Beltway bubble and US corporation folks living in a seprate reality might be fooled by these lies fearing for the life of the late Meles L'Etat c'est moi. But we Africans know he his dead and he will not be missed by Ethiopians, the region or the continent. Meles Zeanwi was the most reviled tyrant on the planet. State Department and EU need to find and arm another dictatorship quickly so we can get back to the great game that the the wise enduring Ethiopians always win:) BTW Are the Clintons Gayle Smith Herman Cohen and other TPLF vanilla geurillas contributing towards the costs of TPLF EFFORT's cryogenic storage tank for long-term preservation of their puny former puppet? Or is TPLF using US dollars donated to TPLF (with no accountability) for yet anther TPLF scam? What a criminal 30 year waste of US taxpayers money on the cruel corrupt and criminal TPLF kleptocracy.:(

by: wedi Asmara from: Canada
July 19, 2012 9:24 PM
I will hope that both Guys (Meles & Issayas ) are gone for good regards how …. illness ,,,,,Etc they have been in power for more than 20+ years & both countries are where they are because of their bad decisions period .

In Response

by: LiliEthio from: USA
July 23, 2012 5:52 PM
How dare you compare Melse with your idiot Essayas, you guys don't even have freedom to worship the right God, look at US, Ethiopian we can use the Stadium or any place freely to worship, what ever religion we have? we as Ethiopian don't have to hide our Bible like we did in Dergi's time. Thanks God, for giving Ethiopia such a wonderful leader like Melese. We are doing GREAT. just pray for your own Country, and shut-up. Our PM Melese, we pray for you and soon you fill better. WE LOVE YOU VERY MUCH, and THANK YOU FOR YOUR HARD AND GOOD WORK. GOD BLESS YOU ALL
In Response

by: abeba from NC
July 20, 2012 11:00 PM
speak for your self and mind your dumn business.
ethiopia is doing very good and our leader is doing an amazing job we never see this kind of '' MIEBALE'' in our country our life. so leave our leader alone.
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