News / Africa

Ethiopia's PM Expected to be New AU Chair

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn addresses the 67th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 28, 2012.
Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn addresses the 67th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 28, 2012.
African heads of state will choose a new chairperson for the African Union next Sunday.  Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn is expected to be elected. Hailemariam has only been in office since September, after long-time leader Meles Zenawi died in August.

Institute for Security Studies senior researcher Solomon Dersso says the Ethiopian leader has shown he is involved in African affairs.

"During that period the major African engagements that we have seen was basically his trip to Somalia, where he attended the inaugurational ceremony of the new president, and his recent trip to Sudan, South Sudan, and also the facilitation that he provided for the signing of the 27 September agreements between Sudan and South Sudan," he said.

Hailemariam, who is an engineer by training and was a dean of the Arba Minch University, joined one of the four parties that make up ruling coalition Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front in the mid-nineties.

He was the vice administrator and later also administrator of the southern regions before moving on to become special adviser to the late prime minister for social affairs.  He became Ethiopia’s foreign minister and deputy prime minister in 2010.

Getachew Redda worked closely with Hailemariam at the Foreign Ministry, but says it is difficult to point out what legacy he left behind.

“I am not sure if two years is long enough for someone to leave a larger visible imprint.  But one thing I know is Hailemariam’s presence here in the foreign ministry for the last two years has had very significant influence on how things are done," said Getachew Redda. "For one thing, he is not the kind of person who wants to create a cult around himself, he is much engaging with everybody.  It is not just about people who are supposedly close to him."

There are some noticeable changes in Ethiopian politics since Prime Minister Hailemariam assumed office.  A collective leadership has been put in place, including the appointment of three deputy prime ministers, instead of one.

A long-time friend of the prime minister and colleague at the university, Seleshi Bekele, says team building has always been part of the Hailemariam leadership style.

"The way I see it, also what they have done, having a few more deputy prime ministers, is really to bring about broad-based type of leadership.  His leadership style is really transformational and at the same time also trusts on team building and team leadership," said Seleshi Bekele.

There have been few developments domestically that can be attributed to the vision and leadership of the new prime minister.  Political scientist at the Addis Ababa University, Demeke Achiso, says Hailemariam just is not that powerful.

“I can not say that he is not exercising any power, of course he is enjoying power, prime ministerial power, but very much reduced as compared to Meles Zenawi.  Before holding any kind of meeting, discussion, or diplomacy, he has to strongly work with the party and then he has to ventilate the voice of the party," said Demeke Achiso.

The African heads of state are expected to elect Hailemariam on January 27, the first day of the African Union summit.  President Yayi Boni of Benin currently holds the position.  The chair rotates between the five regions of the continent and is elected every year.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Behailu
January 22, 2013 1:34 PM
Hailemariam is a modest and efficient person. He has proven that by the positions he has assumed over the last few years. But the TPLF inner circle did not allow him to exercise his full potential.Meles over stretched him between two key positions (Foreign minister and deputy prime minster) so that he could not exercise a full and efficienct power in any of the two. I hope and am sure he will be successful in serving Africa as his predecessor compatriots did.

by: Awot Gidey
January 22, 2013 1:18 PM
Appointing Tigrians does not mean serving Tigrians purpose. The Tigrian people is suffering as any others. It is only a small group of people that are benefiting. You can know these benefitiaries from their irrelevant responses to any criticism against the tyrant regime.

by: Alem
January 21, 2013 10:15 AM
Truth, you still need to tell the viewer which of my statements is wrong. This time try to use facts and please stay away from negative emotions. Are you denying Tedros Adhanom has no training or experience in diplomacy or that he is from Tigray or that there are many capable individuals outside Tigray region to head Ministry of Foreign Affairs? While you are at it please explain why and how $12 billions of aid money was transferred to foreign banks and why there is no investigation to bring the culprits to justice. American people need to know what happened to their money! [By the way, my name is Alem; does that tell you something?]

January 21, 2013 7:02 AM
Despite the venomous propaganda of remnants of the dergue regime , who are expected to b envious of the successes of their defeater ,Ethiopia is on the right political ,Economic and social track .

by: Alem
January 20, 2013 5:50 PM
Marthe, Thank you for this very balanced piece of reporting. I know you know by now that ethnic Tigrayans have reserved key positions in the country. Two deputy PM positions were recently created to make it sound balance is the goal when in fact the real purpose was to put Info & Comminications, Finance & Economy, and Electric Power under Debretsion [a Tigrayan]. Foreign Ministry went to another Tigrayan Tedros Adhanom. Tedros' only experience in things foreign was that he had studied in the UK. Not kidding. No training or experience in diplomacy. There are many much better qualified individuals outside Tigray region who may not share the late-PM Meles' vision but are all the same seriously concerned with the direction their country is taking. What's more, Tedros never could answer why as head of Ministry of Health more physicians than are in the country left to go abroad. Institute of Security Studies is just another outfit run by the ruling minority; Getachew Redda is director of communications at the Foreign Ministry and is ethnic Tigrayan. "Collective leadership" is a way to not allow independence of thought [one is obliged to be sworn to secrecy]. In other words, Hailemariam is there to deflect criticism that the ruling minority excludes Ethiopians outside Tigray region from participating in their country's welfare. That is why you hear Hailemariam crying at every opportunity that he is there to implement Meles' [that is, ethnic ruling minority] vision! That is his way of keeping his overseers happy and also keeping his own position. That is why you have Debretsion so close by and running four major offices.
Please continue to tell the American taxpayer where and how $3 billions of their hard-earned money is going in these trying times and how Ethiopians continue to suffer under a one-party dictatorship [I hope American realize one group has been in power in the past 22 years and counting]. I hope they could ask their leaders why if that much money is poured into a country tens of thousands of young women choose to be maids in the Middle East, why tens of thousands youths leave the country on foot and suffer on the way to freedom and opportunity, why so many children are auctioned off for adoption at $35K per child, why there is virtually no private press and why Eskinder Nega, Reeyot Alemu, etc are in jail for writing the country is going in the wrong direction and that Ethiopians should be allowed to participate in the welfare of their own country.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs