ADDIS ABABA —
Ethiopian lawmakers approved four new ministers on Thursday, including a new foreign minister, as Ethiopian leader Hailemariam Desalegn reshuffles his cabinet. Ethiopia now has three deputy prime ministers.
Two months after Hailemariam Desalegn was named prime minister of Ethiopia, he made the first changes in his cabinet.
The parliament approved the appointments of Tewodros Adhanom as foreign minister, Kebede Chane as trade minister and Muktar Kedir as civil society minister. Tewodros was previously the health minister; he will be replaced in that position by Kesetebirhan Admasu.
Government spokesman Shimelis Kemal says that the new ministers are expected to continue current government policies.
“Mr. Hailemariam has expressed this time and again that the government under his leadership will continue to pursue the government policy and there will be no policy change," he said.
The position of civil service minister had become vacant as Hailemariam fired the holder of that office, Junedin Sado. The minister’s wife is facing terrorism charges that are related to ongoing demonstrations by Ethiopia's Muslim community.
Junedin was part of the Oromo People's Democratic Organization, one of the parties that make up Ethiopia’s ruling coalition, EPRDF.
Shimelis Kemal says that the minister’s party had demoted him.
“Due to that scandal he had been criticized and he was removed from party leadership positions," he said.
Prime Minister Hailemariam also requested parliament to approve two additional deputy prime ministers. Shimelis says a committee studied foreign parliaments and governments and recommended three deputies.
“As a result, for the purpose for promoting maximum efficiency in the public economic sectors, the cabinet has created a cluster which is going to be headed by one of the vice prime ministers," he said.
The three deputies will each head a different section, such as good governance, economics and social affairs. The prime minister will remain directly responsible for security, defense and large-scale projects such as the Blue Nile River Dam.
Hailemariam Desalegn was appointed prime minister a month after the death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi in August. Meles died of an undisclosed illness after ruling Ethiopia for 21 years.