Meles Zenawi, the prime minister of Ethiopia, died after a battle with illness, the government said via state-run television on Tuesday. He was 57.
Meles, a divisive figure in Ethiopian politics who served as president and prime minister for the past 21 years, died on Monday night, reported the Addis Fortune newspaper.
A spokesperson with the government, Berket Simon, said Meles “was recovering well but he was suddenly received back to the hospital and could not be kept alive.”
The deputy prime minister and foreign minister, Hailemariam Dessalegn, will take Meles’s place and will soon be sworn in.
The government had said that he was being treated of an undisclosed “ailment” in a foreign country, but did not elaborate, the newspaper said.
His death was caused by a “sudden infection,” reported All Africa, citing state television.
But a European Union spokesperson told reporters on Tuesday he died in the Belgian capital of Brussels, the BBC reported.
Meles took power in 1991 after taking part in an armed rebellion to overthrow communist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, who ruled the country for nearly two decades.
Meles was widely praised by Western leaders, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, who called him “an inspirational spokesman for Africa,” the broadcaster said.
However, human rights groups and press freedom watchdogs criticized his administration from clamping down on press freedom.
In a report published in June, Reporters Without Borders accused Ethiopia of increasing censorship of news outlets and preventing users from accessing certain blocked websites.
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