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September 15, 2012

Hailemariam Desalegn Becomes New Ethiopian Leader

Hailemariam Desalegn is the new leader of Ethiopia.  The Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) voted unanimously for Hailemariam as the party’s chairperson, making him in line to become the new prime minister.

The ruling party of Ethiopia, EPRDF, has held a two-day council meeting to elect a new chairperson and deputy chairperson after the death of longtime Prime Minister Meles Zenawi last month.  Acting Prime Minister Hailemariam was chosen from three candidates for the highest position of the party, making him the new leader of the country, according to government spokesman Bereket Simon. 

“In our party, general understanding and agreement or decisions of the party, whoever is elected as chairperson and deputy chairperson of the party, will automatically be the party’s nomination for premiership and deputy premiership.  So both Hailemariam and Demeke will represent the party and be presented to the parliament for approval," he said. 

Hailemariam Desalegn is chairperson of the ruling party and Demeke Mekonen was chosen as the deputy chairperson, making him the new deputy prime minister of Ethiopia as the EPRDF holds all but one seat in parliament.

Hailemariam will become the first EPRDF prime minister from the south of the country.  Bereket says his appointment indicates a new generation coming to power. “The EPRDF has decided that the leadership positions shall be passed to the new generation, who had not served in the armed struggle but to the new generation who have taken the responsibility from the people who participated in the liberation movement," he said. 

Hailemariam has a background in water engineering and in academics.  Before becoming the minister of foreign affairs, he was the president of Ethiopia’s southern regions and adviser to the prime minister on social affairs.

Hailemariam was supposed to be sworn in two days after the death of Prime Minister Meles, who died on August 20 of an undisclosed illness.  The appointment of  Hailemariam as prime minister was put off, because the government said the country needed more time to mourn. 

Parliament will appoint Hailemariam and Demeke on the first day after the parliament recess, at the beginning of October.