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

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora