News / Africa

Ethiopia’s New Prime Minister and the Challenges Ahead

by Sophia Gebrehiwot

Dr.Solomon Deresso AyeleDr.Solomon Deresso Ayele
x
Dr.Solomon Deresso Ayele
Dr.Solomon Deresso Ayele
TEXT SIZE - +
WASHINGTON D.C.---------Solomon Ayele Dersso Phd, is a senior researcher with Peace and Security Council Report Program at the Addis Ababa Office of the Institute for Security Studies. He has published articles on the ongoing political situation in Ethiopia.

Regarding the newly appointed Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn, Solomon says, it did not come as a surprise. However, to concerns raised by observers that the new Prime Minister might not hold real authority, Solomon asserts that the Prime Minister ship is the highest executive authority in the country, and the person holding the position cannot be said not to have authority, because he/she has the power inherent in the job.

Solomon draws a parallel between former Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi and Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn.  “Daniel Arap Moi like Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister came from a small ethnic community. When Jommo Kenyatta passed away and Mr.Moi assumed the presidency, he was met with resistance from the group that at that time was dominating the power base in Kenya."

Despite the initial resistance from ‘real power holders’, Mr Moi managed to very successfully make himself an influential president and ruler of Kenya,” states Solomon.
When critics point to the fact that the Prime Minister is a political novice and might be overshadowed by his subordinates with longer experience in politics Solomon says, “he is not new to politics."

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has been around, particularly in the seat of power in Addis Ababa following the 2005 elections as well as serving as an advisor to the late Prime Minister. After the 2010 election he was appointed deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.”

However Solomon admits that the new Prime Minister might have limited experience when compared to those who have been in power for the past two decades in the ruling party. Although that could be construed as a disadvantage, the Prime Minister, according to Solomon, has to reconcile with the situation. Ultimately, Solomon says, “what matters is the team of people the prime minister is going to surround himself with. If he has a very good team of people to provide him with the necessary historical memory and insights on various aspects of leading the country, then surely he can compensate for the shorter period of political experience and be able to exert and assert his full authority.” 

Drawing a parallel with Meles Zenawi, Solomon states, “we need to understand how long it took for the late Prime Minister to become as influential as he was at the time of his death.  It took quite a lot of time in terms of asserting his full authority within the government as well as in the country as a whole”.

According to Solomon the rise to power of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn is a continuation rather than a start of the succession plan by the EPRDF. It is a process of replacing the old guard with, ‘the new generation leadership’. According to Solomon the fact that Hailemariam is now appointed as Prime Minister after Meles Zenawi, is surely an indication of the commitment by the EPRDF to continue the succession plan that began earlier. On the issue of whether or not we will see a complete withdrawal of the old guards by 2015, Solomon says it could be a phased process.” 
                       
In his acceptance speech the newly appointed Prime Minister expressed his willingness to work with various sectors of society including the opposition. According to Solomon the Prime Minister’s speech emphasized more continuity rather than change. He seems reluctant to reverse the direction set by the late Prime Minster. However, Solomon points out that the Prime Minister needs to be flexible and needs to adjust to emerging circumstances as events warrant.

Solomon also highlighted a number of areas that require a very serious consideration. “The new leadership should show a high level of willingness to listen to the concerns of all sectors of society,” Solomon asserts.   He further noted the need to abrogate laws that proved to be inimical  to individual freedoms and liberties adopted since 2005 , as well as tackle inflation to  address the economic challenges that some sectors of the Ethiopian society is facing .

Solomon also talked about the needed interventions in the area of major development projects. For a successful implementation of this development projects he says it is important to engage sections of the society that are directly affected by the projects. In this effort he points out mobilizing the support of sectors outside the power base is paramount. 

On the challenges of building a multi- party democracy with some opposition parties not committed to working together, Solomon said, “strengthening the legal, political and social environment of the country will allow different political ideologies and political movements to triumph in the society. Working together is always good for the society and the country but is not necessarily a sign that multi-party democracy does not work.” He further states that freedom of association and expression are strongly entrenched  in the constitution but they are not fullfilled in practice.   

To the concerns raised by some that due to his rather strict religious orientation that the Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn  might be too soft to resolve pending issues such as the Ethio-Eritrean question and EPRDF's relation with opposition parties Solomon said,“the Prime Minister’s religious conviction will not have so much influence on his exercise of power rather the central background for his action seems to be the conviction surrounding the ideological orientation of his political party.”

Liston to Dr Solomon Ayele interview with Sophia Gebrehiwot
Liston to Dr Solomon Ayele interview with Sophia Gebrehiwoti
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Awot from: Addis Ababa
October 09, 2012 3:32 PM
It is a good analysis but the replacement of old guard by the new generation is not working in Tigray and TPLF the region that fought the major war for fredom is not free yet. Still the new TPLF leader Abay Woldu is one of the OLD guard.


by: Yaya from: US
October 09, 2012 8:18 AM
Strict religious orientation ...... might be too soft ???? Seriously???
Had he been a Muslim, wow! let alone being strict, even if he just had a Muslim name, it would have been a chaos of blames and quarrels claiming "He is a Muslim, he could be fair to Muslims, he might might support them..." People are deliberately blinded when it comes to non-Muslims, well he's 'Strict and soft' Laughable!


by: BG from: NY
October 08, 2012 5:13 PM
Solomon (Dr.) intersting obserbation real both have to see their positive role in the development of democratic env;t in this country. I do share gov.t should do farther on peaceful oppositions and privete or opposition medias. the other points regarding to New PM, which you argude is very reasonable, so i appericaite.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid