By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
Addis Ababa — South Sudanese president Salva Kiir was rushed to hospital in the Ethiopian Capital, Addis Ababa, on Wednesday after he fell ill during a meeting.
Kiir arrived in Addis Ababa on Tuesday to attend the 24th ordinary session of the assembly of head of states and government of the African Union (AU).
He was also expected to attend the Intergovernmental Authority on Development’s (IGAD) leaders summit due to kick off on Thursday to discuss the ongoing conflict in South Sudan.
Kiir’s sudden illness interrupted a meeting between the president and rebel leader Riek Machar, which was being hosted by Ethiopian prime minister and IGAD chairperson Hailemariam Desalegn ahead of the leaders summit, which was due to be held on the side lines of the AU assembly.
The direct talks were aimed at securing an agreement between the rival leaders on a series of contentious issues, particularly on the structure of the agreed interim government.
The meeting was also being held to brief African leaders on the progress of the IGAD-led mediation process and to reports on the outcome of consultation meetings between the government and rebel faction held in Juba and Pagak during the recess.
An IGAD source later told Sudan Tribune that president Kiir had suffered a nosebleed brought on by “stress”.
As a result, IGAD was forced to cancel the meeting between the two rival leaders.
IGAD has also been forced to delay the regional leaders meeting.
IGAD officials told Sudan Tribune that if Kiir’s condition does not improve by Thursday, the leaders summit may have to be postponed indefinitely.
According to medical doctor Yonas Yohannes, one of the main causes of non-trauma induced nosebleeds is an increase in blood pressure caused by either stress, excessive consumption of alcohol, dry climate or heavy smoking.
However, he cautioned that the causes of Kiir’s illness could not be properly determined without a thorough medical examination.