News / Africa

Analysts: New Leadership Slow to Bring Change to Ethiopia

Ethiopian Prime Minister and African Union chairperson Hailemariam Desalegn speaks during a joint press conference at the end of the African Union Summit in Abuja, July 16, 2013.
Ethiopian Prime Minister and African Union chairperson Hailemariam Desalegn speaks during a joint press conference at the end of the African Union Summit in Abuja, July 16, 2013.
Marthe van der Wolf
It has been almost one year since Hailemariam Desalegn came to power in Ethiopia, following the death of his predecessor Meles Zenawi. Despite recent demonstrations and a cabinet shuffle, little seems to have changed in the East African country.
 
After weeks of speculation, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's death was announced last year, on the morning of August 21st. The passing of the longtime ruler made way for his deputy Hailemariam Desalegn, to lead the second most populous nation on the African continent.
 
Ethiopia witnessed several anti-government demonstrations in recent months, a rare sight. And the new prime minister also replaced most of the cabinet.
 
But a spokesperson for the prime minister, Getachew Redda, said these developments are not part of any fundamental change within the government.
 
“What Hailemariam is doing at this point is implementing the policies that have been adopted by the ruling party," Redda explained. "If there were people who were expecting any kind of change in terms of directions and fundamental policies then they will definitely be disappointed because there was neither the intention nor the tendency to bring about any change whatsoever in this regard."
 
Collective leadership

Hailemariam, an engineer by training, was the minister of foreign affairs and deputy prime minister until last August. With the appointment of Hailemariam, a collective leadership was put in place. Although government officials said that a collective leadership was always part of the ruling party's policy.
 
Solomon Dersso, a political analyst for the Institute for Security Studies, said that political power is no longer centered in the position of the prime minister. But he doubts whether it will change Ethiopia’s political scene.
 
“The only thing that it would change is how decision making is negotiated within the ruling party between the different power centers," Dersso said. "So you have regional governments becoming quite important, you have the members of the coalition, and of course the security apparatus. So on various aspects of the management of the affairs of the country obviously these different centers of power negotiations need to be undertaken."

Girma Seifu, the only opposition member of parliament in Ethiopia for UDJ (Unity for Democracy and Justice), one of the parties that organized demonstrations in recent weeks, said that Prime Minister Hailemariam behaves differently in parliament from his predecessor.  “In the previous, the prime minister is everything. So he is the law of the country," Seifu noted. "So at that time the parliament was irrelevant.”

Human Rights

Despite those differences in character, Seifu feels the Ethiopian government has not changed its position on allowing more freedom for people who hold different opinions.
 
“They must do something visible to change the human rights situation in this country. They must take this thing seriously and they have to take action to improve these things. Only economic development issues, infrastructure issues will not substitute human rights issue," Seifu said.
 
Ethiopia has been ruled by a coalition of four parties, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, since 1991 with Meles Zenawi as its leader until his death. Current Prime Minister Hailemariam is expected to run for office during the 2015 elections. He hasn’t been very visible in his first year, but spokesperson Getachew said that this will change during his second year in office.  “What you can expect from his leadership is a much closer engagement with the public, much more progressive attitude towards the development of the democratic process," he remarked. "And a much more economic growth.”

Ethiopian statistics claim the country has had double-digit growth for the last few years, although the World Bank and IMF estimate the growth is around eight percent. The country is halfway through implementing its ambitious five-year Growth and Transformation Plan that is aimed at turning Ethiopia into a middle-income country by 2025.

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Adv Trek from: UK
July 29, 2013 10:01 PM
No hungry person has ever begged for a bowl of human rights.

If you are free to work, marry, travel, get free education and worship who you want, then beware of the blue-eyed devil who wants you to revolt.

In Response

by: Truth-Teller from: Kenya
July 30, 2013 11:17 PM
... hahaha, Is that the best you've got? @Adv! ... What about if I say, 'no imprisoned, tortured, raped and oppressed Ethiopian citizen "ever begged for a bowl of" high-rise building or dam??!!... Don't worry about the “hungry person” in Ethiopia – because, EU and U.S. are feeding them for you - when you're busy collecting the Gold and other Ethiopian minerals to enrich yourself and your cronies!!... You are too busy collecting your revenue from the Human trade to Arab countries - to worry about the "hungry person" in Ethiopia!!

In Response

by: Alem
July 30, 2013 9:30 PM
Adv, What do you mean free to work? Employment is so high after 16 years of education laying cobblestones in the streets is what few are offered for a job. Tens of thousands are leaving the country knowing full well danger and abuse awaits them. Yes "free education" but the diploma is not worth the piece of paper it is written on. "Free to travel, to marry?" Tell that to those in government employment and you will hear every day is a grind to get body and soul together; may be you have not heard of the soaring prices, etc. Let me say this, You may be among the privileged and could say what you just said. Or you could be writing this from the safe haven of the consulate and, understandably, any thought of a revolt would deprive you of privileges.


by: Yodit M. from: Atlanta
July 29, 2013 9:20 PM
A leadership that makes "negotiated decisions," and an IMF & World Bank figure of 8% annual growth (in top ten globally).

Not good enough for Marthe van der Wolf, who phoned-in another safe and meaningless article.

In Response

by: Alem
July 30, 2013 9:35 PM
Marthe, Next time you write on Ethiopia please phone-in Yodit first. Otherwise, you will end up churning out "safe and meaningless" article.

In Response

by: Anonymous
July 30, 2013 9:34 PM
Marthe, Next time you want to write on Ethiopia please phone-in Yodit first. Otherwise, you will end up churning out "safe and meaningless" article.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid