(CNN) — Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has died, state television reported Tuesday, ending weeks of speculation about his whereabouts and state of health.
The television station said Zenawi died late Monday from an unspecified infection. Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn is now in charge, the station said.
The news came almost a week after a government spokesman said Zenawi was « recovering well » from treatment for an unspecified illness.
The usually visible leader has not appeared in public for two months.
Zenawi, 57, came to power two decades ago and was considered a strong force in the frequently volatile Horn of Africa.
The secretive nation had released little information about his whereabouts, prompting rumors and opposition claims that he was dead or facing a life-threatening illness.
The government held a news conference last month and announced Zenawi received treatment for an unspecified illness.
He was « recovering well, resting and performing his duties as prime minister and head of state, » government spokesman Bereket Simon reiterated last week. He declined to give exact details on Zenawi’s whereabouts or the nature of his illness.
Zenawi’s absence had been a hot topic in the