News / Africa

Ethiopia's New PM Says Policies Will Remain Constant

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Aug. 24, 2012. Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Aug. 24, 2012.
x
Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Aug. 24, 2012.
Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Aug. 24, 2012.
Peter Heinlein
Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has pledged to maintain the controversial policies of his predecessor, Meles Zenawi, who died last month. The Ethiopian leader outlined his views on foreign and domestic issues in an interview with VOA's Peter Heinlein in New York.

In a 30-minute conversation, Prime Minister Hailemariam discussed topics from Ethiopia's strained ties with neighboring Eritrea, relations with China and the United States, and the government's clampdown on media.

The interview was Hailemariam's first since taking office last week. It took place in New York, on the eve of his first address as prime minister to the United Nations General Assembly.

On Eritrea, he said he sees no sign of a thaw in a relationship that has been frozen since an indecisive two-year war that ended in 2000. That conflict left at least 70,000 people dead.

Eritrea says progress depends on Ethiopia's acceptance of an international border commission ruling that favors Eritrea's position. However, Hailemariam says the only solution lies in bilateral dialogue.

"There is no change in policy. Our policy designed after the war since nine years, a standing policy that we need to have dialogue without conditions, so we offered this to the Eritrean government and leadership and are waiting for this to happen for the last nine years and will continue to do so," said Hailemariam.

Ethiopia's relations with Egypt also have been strained over sharing Nile River waters. The government of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak had resisted efforts by Ethiopia and other countries along the upper Nile to renegotiate a colonial-era water sharing agreement.

Hailemariam says he will wait to see what policies the new government in Cairo will adopt.

"The previous Egyptian regime was looking into the Nile issue as a security issue. There are a number rumors that this is [seen as] a security issue, but I cannot tell you the government's position until now. So I don't want to deal with those speculations because we haven't come across officially a change of policy with the current Egyptian governmen," he said.

Hailemariam also expressed satisfaction with the election of a new president in neighboring Somalia, and with the signing of a cooperation agreement between Sudan ad South Sudan. He said both developments will contribute to regional stability.

The Ethiopian leader said relations with both China and the United States are good. He rejected a suggestion that Ethiopia is tilting toward Beijing for economic and ideological reasons, and he defended the decision of Ethiopia's ruling party to strengthen relations with China's Communist Party.

"Our party has very close ties with the Communist Party of China because we have areas where we can learn from the work the Chinese Communist Party is doing, simply because we are people centered, where Chinese Community Party has experience with working with people at the grass root, so we learn with China, this kind of approach, it doesn't mean our ideology is similar to China," said Hailemariam.

On domestic issues,  Hailemariam defended the imprisonment of several journalists and opposition politicians under a recently enacted anti-terrorism law. He said those sentenced to long jail terms, such as award-winning blogger and fierce government critic Eskinder Nega, had been living a double life, or as he called it, “wearing two hats.”

"Our national security interest cannot be compromised by somebody having two hats.  We have to tell them they can have only one hat which is legal and the legal way of doing things, be it in journalism or opposition discourse, but if they opt to have two mixed functions, we are clear to differentiate the two," he said.

The Ethiopian leader also suggested his government will continue to clamp down on opposition media, including jamming VOA Amharic service broadcasts and blocking foreign websites considered objectionable.

"My government has no policy of blocking these issues. It is depending on the websites or whatever, if there is any connection with these kind of organizations, it's obvious. That's done in every country.  You cannot open a blog of Osama bin Laden in the United States," he said.

Hailemariam is filling out the remainder of the late prime minister Meles' term, which ends in 2015. He said if the ruling Ethiopia Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front, or EPRDF, gives him the chance, he would like to serve at least one more term. But he added, “that will be a decision of the party”.

The EPRDF has held power in Addis Ababa since 1991, when it ousted the pro-Soviet Marxist dictator Mengistu Hailemariam after a lengthy armed struggle.

You May Like

Elusive Deal With Iran Could Yield Foreign Policy Legacy for Obama

A new Iranian leader -- and a strategic shift by the United States -- opens narrow window for nuclear agreement with Tehran More

Column: Saudi-Iran Meeting Could Boost Fight Against Islamic State

The fact that Iranians and Saudis are talking again does not guarantee a breakthrough, but it could make it easier to build a broad coalition against IS More

Thai Ruler Gives Top Cabinet Posts to Junta Inner Circle

Thailand's army chief has kept an iron grip on power as he extends the government, hand-picking an interim parliament that subsequently nominated him prime minister More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid