"Prime Minister Meles Zenawi passed away yesterday [Monday] evening at around midnight," government spokesman Bereket Simon said, adding that he was "abroad" when he died, according to AFP news agency. "He had been recuperating well, but suddenly something happened and he had to be rushed to the ICU [intensive care unit] and they couldn't keep him alive." State television said he had died after contracting a "sudden" infection. Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who is also Ethiopia's foreign minister, will be acting head of government, state television said. "Even if Ethiopia has been badly affected for missing its great leader, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi initiated fundamental policies and strategies which will be further strengthened," the TV said. Mr Meles had not been seen in public for some eight weeks prior to his death, and was reported to have been admitted to hospital in July.
Tanzania's Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister, Bernard Membe passed his condolences via his twitter page. His says that the death of Meles Zenawi is a great loss to the continent and the African Union in particular. Speculations about his death were rife in late July, with reports saying he had actually passed on. Meles Zenawi has been described as a statesman by many while others described him as a brutal dictator who ruled over a police state. It remains to be seen what Ethiopia will turn out to be in the wake of his demise.