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

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid