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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs