News / Africa

New Ethiopian PM Backer of Dominant Party Rule

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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go 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.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More