Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has died aged 57.
State television said he had suffered a “sudden infection” while recovering from an illness at a hospital abroad.
The former rebel leader, in power for over two decades, had not been seen in weeks.
Speculation about his health soared after he failed to attend an African Union summit in Addis Ababa last month. The government said he was taking a break to recover from an unspecified condition. He was rumoured to be in Belgium or Germany.
His deputy, Hailemariam Desalegn, will take over as acting head of government.
Meles Zenawi won praise in the West for helping spur economic growth and for his army’s support against al Qaeda-linked militants in neighboring Somalia. But he also has been accused of crushing dissent and using national security concerns as an excuse to silence opposition figures and journalists.