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Stability fears after Ethiopian Prime Minister dies

DIED YESTERDAY: Ethiopia’s long serving Prime Minister Meles Zenawi

THERE HAVE been calls for a smooth and peaceful transition following the death of Ethiopia’s long serving Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

Ethiopian State TV announced earlier today (AUG 21) that the 57-year-old died from an undisclosed illness around 11.45 pm local time yesterday.

"We need a seamless, peaceful, transition of power," Kenya's prime minister, Raila Odinga, told the BBC World Service. "The region, the horn of Africa, needs stability."

Zenawi, criticised for human rights abuses but credited with boosting Ethiopia’s economic growth and increasing its stability in his 21-year reign, had not been publicly seen for more than two months.

He was receiving medical care in Europe, and the Sudan Tribune said.

The Tribune said Zenawi has been sick for the last four months but media were told he was recovering in the last two weeks and was expected to be back in office before September 11.

His illness became worse in past few days, some media reports said.

However, said his death followed months of government denials that he was in a critical condition. Reports about his health were banned, the news website claimed.

The Tribune said the country’s deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister Hailemariam Desalegn will be the acting prime minister.

Bereket Simon, the communications minister, told reporters in Addis Ababa that stability would remain.

Simon said: "I assure you everything is stable and everything will continue as charted by the prime minister."

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