NBC NEWS: Ethiopia Prime Minister And Africa Strongman Meles Zenawi Dies Suddenly

Source: Alastair Jamieson / NBC News

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, a senior Africa figurehead, died of an infection while being treated abroad for an undisclosed illness, state-run television said on Tuesday.

Speculation that Meles, 57, was seriously ill grew after he failed to attend an African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa last month.

“Prime Minister Zenawi suddenly passed away last night. Meles was recovering in a hospital overseas for the past two months but died of a sudden infection at 11:40 (on Monday night, or 4:40 p.m. ET),” state television said.

Hailemariam Dessalegne, the deputy prime minister, was expected to be sworn in early Tuesday, according to the Twitter account of the Addis Fortune newspaper in Addis Ababa.

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