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

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

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.

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs