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

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Works to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Smithsonian senior research botanist Vicki Funk says ultimate goal is 'trying to get one-half of the diversity of plant life on Earth at the genus level in two years' More

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

Report from member of British think tank says Russian extradition requests keep targets from traveling More

US Lawmakers Weigh Turkish Anti-terror Moves

Turkey’s two-pronged campaign against Islamic State militants, Kurdish PKK forces provokes mixed reactions on Capitol Hill 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.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs