News / Africa

Obama Speaks With Acting Ethiopian PM

Ethiopia's acting prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn (2011 photo)Ethiopia's acting prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn (2011 photo)
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Ethiopia's acting prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn (2011 photo)
Ethiopia's acting prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn (2011 photo)
VOA News
U.S. President Barack Obama has urged Ethiopia's acting prime minister to promote "development, democracy, human rights, and regional security."

Obama spoke by phone late Thursday with Hailemariam Desalegn, who was named acting prime minister this week after longtime leader Meles Zenawi died at the age of 57.

The White House says Obama pledged continued U.S. "partnership" with Ethiopia, which under Meles has been a strong U.S. ally in the war against radical groups such as Somalia's al-Shabab.

Ethiopians are still awaiting word on when Mr. Hailemariam will be formally sworn in.  Parliament was set to install him on Thursday but the session was canceled.

A government spokesman said Ethiopians wanted more time to mourn Meles, who led Ethiopia for 21 years.  The late prime minister's funeral is scheduled for September 2.

On Tuesday, Communications Minister Bereket Simon rejected concerns about a power vacuum resulting from Meles' death.  He said the country's leadership is united and the government is as "strong as ever."

Hailemariam had served as Meles' deputy since 2010.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Hailemariam Desalegn had briefed foreign diplomats in Addis Ababa Friday and assured them of a smooth transfer of power.  The briefing was given by State Minister of Foreign Affairs Berhane Gebre-Christos and dealt with details about Meles' funeral.  VOA regrets the error.

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by: Behailu from: Norway
August 27, 2012 12:49 PM
Bereket said the session the sworn was cancelled by members of parliament. But, two MP, one from EPRDF disclosed to VOA Amharic that it is not true. It seems there is power struggle inside and the already fragile peace in the region might be at risk. All concerned parties have to watch out.

by: Freddy
August 26, 2012 11:13 AM
Where is Mr Mengistu living now - Isn't the Hague interested in getting him to appear before them, to explain what really happened in Ethiopia.
In Response

by: mamokilo from: harare
August 28, 2012 4:29 PM
Freddy,

Mr Mengistu is in Zimbabwe. The people of Ethiopia would love to see him come home. We will give him the right justice when we have a truly Ethiopian gov't. The Hague is a white man's court made to punish free-minded black leaders. Let us know when George Bush will show up at Hague for killing 1 million innocent Iraqis over false WMD claims.

by: Truth from: Addis Ababa
August 25, 2012 2:34 AM
So, the U.S. president wants to promote "development" first, then comes, "democracy, human rights," later?!?!? ... and, finally, "regional security."?? ... is this order in priority??... I guess that say what the proirity of the U.S. prez!
It seems like the Prez. have no clue what's lacking in this country!

In any case,... it's either one of these reasons the new PM swear in ceremony is postponed:

a) there's a squable behind closed doors to take over Meles's spot, or

b) they're trying to reduce the new PM's mandate before he gets sworn in -

By reducing the new PM mandate, they'll make sure he won't fire them - once he gets elected.... Otherwise, the Meles's Old Guard will be forced to overthrow the newly elected PM - to make things go their way (in case any disagreement arises).... and, that's the last thing they want to do! ..... the last thing Meles clique want to be is Derg: a regime who took over power from the current "legally" or "constitutionally" elected leader.
In Response

by: Tura from: Mekele
August 26, 2012 5:56 AM
Yes, Meles Died. He was very cruil, and killed, torchered, and put in jail thousands of Ethiopian. Bereket Simon, the follower of Meles, wants to take the post. As you may know there was no EPRDF but Meles . Meles has gone. So no capable person in the organization including Bereket all are very weak. So in near future they will fight over power. As you may Meles is a killer and killed thousends of Ethiopia. God helped us in removing him.But I fear we will face problem in near future.

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