News / Africa

Ethiopia Waits for Swearing-in of Prime Minister

Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, December 24, 2011.
Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, December 24, 2011.
Ethiopia hopes to witness its first peaceful transition in recent history, once the new prime minister is sworn in. Two weeks after the death of former leader Meles Zenawi, it is still unclear when Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn might take the oath of office as the country's new leader.

The swearing in ceremony for Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Deasalgne was scheduled two days after the passing of Mr. Meles, but the government felt the nation needed more time to mourn his death.

Opposition Party EDP, Ethiopia’s Democratic Party, is urging the government move forward with officially making Hailemariam the prime minister as soon as possible. 

“What we have seen in case of other countries like Ghana and Malawi, what they did was as soon as possible they confirmed the reappointment or election of another president before proceeding to the other matters," says Mesfin Mengistu, the EDP secretary general. "Here what we have seen is contrary to that."

There has been some confusion about the legal status of Hailemariam -- whether he is acting prime minister or still deputy prime minister. Mesfin says there is an important difference:

“At this particularly, I think the DM is not acting PM," he says. "It was pronounced like that, but later on it was taken back and now the person in charge of the country is the DPM, not the acting PM. That implies to us the person who is ruling the country has no fully placed power to rule the country. That entails a power vacuum which we think that should be filled as soon as possible.”

Government officials could not be reached for comment. However, government spokesperson Bereket Simon had said, after the passing of Meles, that Hailemariam will be the new prime minister until the elections in 2015.

“The constitutional proceedings allow us to continue with the deputy prime minister, acting prime minister for now and then he will take off in parliament,” said Simon.

Hailemariam being sworn in as new prime minister would open a new chapter for Ethiopia, with the transfer of power being occurring in a peaceful manner.

Ruling party EPRDF seized power in 1991, after a 17-year guerilla fight that ousted the military junta of Mengistu Haile Mariam.  Mr. Mengistu came to power in 1974 after the Ethiopian revolution had overthrown long-time emperor Haile Selassie.

Patrick Gilkes, a writer of historical books on Ethiopia, says this peaceful transition is a major step for Ethiopia and its violent history:

“It is very significant in many ways, because it illustrates how far Ethiopia [gone]," says Gilkes. "It now has an administrative structure that functions. The developments over the last 20-odd years have been very important in turning Ethiopia into a functional federal structural system.

"There are governments in the regions which have their own parliaments and they have their own administrative structures as well," he continues. "This means that you have built in a structure that can survive upsets and problems and shocks."

Independent political analyst Medhane Tadesse says the transition is different from Ethiopia’s history, but does not see it as a transition in the true sense of the word.

“This is not a kind of transition from a ruling party to an opposition party," says Medhane. "There is no powerful group to challenge the successor, both within the establishment and outside. Ethiopia is not making [a] real political transition."

It remains to be seen if this transition will permanently end Ethiopia’s violent history.  Although most Ethiopians desire a smooth transition, Medhane says that changes need to be made to remain peaceful in the future.

“Unless they do political reforms and the state delivers in every way, not only security, not only development, but political and civil rights, then it will be a problem,” adds Medhane.

Hailemariam Desalegn is expected to be formally appointed later this week. However, there has been no sign that the government plans on political reforms. Government officials have repeatedly said they will continue the policies of the Meles.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid