News / Africa

New Ethiopian PM Backer of Dominant Party Rule

TEXT SIZE - +
Peter Heinlein
Hailemariam Desalegn is Ethiopia's second leader since the EPRDF came to power in 1991.  At 47, he is considered part of a new breed not associated with the guerrilla war that ousted the pro-Soviet military dictatorship led by Mengistu Hailemariam.

In early 2010, there was no hint that he might soon be named foreign minister and deputy prime minister, nor that the untimely death of longtime prime minister Meles Zenawi would thrust him to the pinnacle of power.

Sitting in his spacious office at EPRDF headquarters next door to parliament,  Hailemariam expressed annoyance at western portrayals of Ethiopia as a one-party state.  He noted that in a diverse nation made up of many ethnic and language groups, even the ruling front is made up of several parties.

"Our system is a multi-party system," he said.  "Clearly a multi-party system, because we believe Ethiopia is multinational, multi-ethnic, multilingual and multi-religious, so one party cannot represent all these differences.  So multi-party system is mandatory in Ethiopia, and it's clear one party cannot represent all these issues," Hailemariam said.

He rejected opposition complaints about being shut out of the political process and defended the EPRDF's long tenure, calling it the will of the Ethiopian people.

"I think we shouldn't say it's not a multi-party system, it's a multi-party but of course it's a dominant party system, because the people have chosen the ruling party as its ruler, or leader," Hailemariam said.

Since the interview, the EPRDF has won nearly complete control of parliament, taking all but one seat in the 2010 election.  

European observers determined that election did not meet international standards, and groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have sharply criticized the country's human rights record.

Hailemariam said those criticisms often come because the EPRDF has chosen to follow a different path than that of Western democracies.

"This is all because we don't follow the liberal democratic principles which the Western countries are pushing (us) to follow.  That's why everyone is fighting us, and try to somehow criticize and devalue whatever Ethiopia is doing," Hailemariam said.

He says the often-criticized policies of economic planning and party dominance are needed to energize a country that has suffered generations of misrule.

"Our strategy is totally different from the western way of approach, because we have to get out of this rampant poverty as soon as possible, so if that is the case, gradual movement doesn't work, so we have to revolutionize," Hailemariam said.

The remarks, recorded in interviews two-and-a-half to three years ago, give insight into how Mr. Hailemariam is likely to approach Ethiopia's challenges.  He suggested that his government would follow the Meles Zenawi approach of using the country's five-and-a-half million party members as what he called a "vanguard" to drive social mobilization.

"We know the country is moving in the right direction.  And development is occurring in huge amounts, so we 'll continue doing this.  Most important is we are doing this in a mass movement process, because we see the mass is important in democratization and development works, and we are doing it in movement fashion," Hailemariam said.

Hailemariam is expected to remain in office at least until 2015, when Ethiopia's next national election is scheduled.  He will make his first trip as prime minister next week to New York to address the annual United Nations General Assembly debate.

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

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

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Behailu Aga from: Norway
September 24, 2012 4:41 AM
The pseudo multiparty system is the order of the day. Voiceless opposion parties are available in Uganda, Iran, Sudan and other countries with evolved dictators. They all claim to have multiparty system.


by: tekle Haileselassie
September 22, 2012 6:56 PM
What choice does any prime minister have but to "back dominant party rule"?As long as "dominant party" means a party that is democratically elected by the majority of the electorate, the people will ,rightly,demand that this party run the country. By extension,therefore,the prime minister must follow party rule.

In Response

by: AG from: US
September 26, 2012 4:12 PM
What does it mean to be democratically elected mean in Ethiopian context? I believe the elections are fraudulent. The dominant party lacks legitimacy due to the continued oppression. Let all with a stake in the future of Ethiopia freely campaign and compete in a fair way and then we can claim that the leadership has legitimacy derived from the consent of the governed. Until then, we will change leadership without much progress in the political space available to others who do not belong to the dominant party.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
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 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 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 Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
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