News / Africa

Former U.S. Diplomat Lauds Selection of Ethiopia’s New Ruling Party Leader

Ethiopian Acting Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.  Ethiopian Acting Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
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Ethiopian Acting Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
Ethiopian Acting Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
Ashenafi Abedje
Ethiopia’s ruling party has elected acting Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn as its new chairman. The vote by the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front puts Hailemariam in line to become the next Prime Minister. 

David Shinn, former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, said he is not surprised by Hailemariam’s elevation to the party’s top spot.

“I think it was almost predictable in that Hailemariam was being groomed by Prime Minister Meles to succeed him. I think a lot of thought has gone into this selection,” he said.

Shinn said all of the speculation, particularly in the Diaspora, that Meles will be followed by another Tigrayan, was “widely off the mark.”

The former diplomat, who currently serves as Adjunct Professor of International Affairs at the George Washington University, explained what he sees as the importance of the EPRDF Council’s decision.

“I think it’s trying to acknowledge that the EPRDF must broaden its base, reach out more widely to different ethnic groups, and that the Tigrayan leadership, which in the past has controlled so many of the key slots, has to share more power,” he said.

“After all,” Shinn noted, “Tigrayans constitute only 6.1 percent of the population.

The former diplomat said with the new hierarchy, there will likely be more consultation within the EPRDF, not necessarily the TPLF, the dominant party in the ruling coalition.

“Someone who is as relatively new to the position as he (Hailemariam) is cannot be expected to have the kind of authority Meles had,” said Shinn.  “Hailemariam will have to rely more on advice from other members of the EPRDF for key decisions.”

With the change in leadership lead to possible policy changes? Ambassador Shinn doubts there will be significant policy departures.

“There will inevitably be nuanced changes. Whether there will be really significant changes, it is very difficult to predict,” he said. “I’d hope in the government’s approach to the pace of democratization, opening of the political process and handling of human rights issues, that there will be significant change.”

Shinn said whether or not the emerging leadership undertakes such changes will determine how the West will view the new government. For now, he said, there’s a long way to go in improving those aspects of Ethiopian policy.

Listen to interview w/ Ambassador David Shinn
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by: geleta
September 19, 2012 4:27 PM
I wonder why most of the Diaspora (Ethiopians) of smaller IQ than the people who love home :((


by: Mimi from: Harar
September 19, 2012 3:32 PM
I wish the US and Europe ll leave Africa alone...and stop being the spokesperson for Africans..


by: Tekle Haileselassie from: USA
September 19, 2012 2:37 PM
I suggest we agree that individuals who speak badly about other people's ethnicity are mere scums of the earth and that nothing they say be given any attention at all.Better yet, I believe that any message that denigrates anybody's ethnic origin should not be printed on any civilized forum. These individuals obviously suffer from low self-esteem, and poverty of good ideas; and they believe putting other people down is the only way they think they can elevate themselves,believe it or not!


by: Tadias from: london
September 18, 2012 3:56 PM
Having recently been to Ethiopia and having spoken to a lot Diasporas in different western cities, it is hard to believe there are still Ethiopians as extremely hostile to their own country as the once we see on the net...It seems non Ethiopians such as the Eritreans and their Islamist supporters are determined to make the most of the world wide web in order to make up for the lose they are incurring on the ground...otherwise, the fact on the ground suggests most Ethiopians have come to realize the positive changes that is taking place in their country...that is exactly what neutral individuals such as David shin could not deny and that is why their opinions are not liked by the haters!


by: Tekle Haileselassie from: USA
September 18, 2012 1:40 PM
I think we should stop talking about the totally discredited do-nothing and know-nothing so-called Diaspora who talk out of their asses instead of their brains. The Ethiopian people know them only too well for the bozenays they are,and expect nothing good or constructive from them;they have nothing to contribute but hot air!

The foreigners' meddling in Ethiopian affairs has mercenary intentions and should not be given much attention either.Talks about about ethnic percentages are meaningless;what is important is not the ethnicity of our leaders but their worthiness as manifested by their self-sacrifice and commitment to the service of ALL their countrymen . If you ask me,I couldn't care less if Ethiopia's Prime Minister ,or any other high office was of Swedish or Oromo roots as long as he/she is good for the country!

In Response

by: GHM from: Denver, Colorado, USA
September 19, 2012 4:47 PM
Thank you so much for your posative thinking that (I want to say angin) I couldn't care less if Ethiopia's Prime Minister ,or any other high office was of Swedish or Oromo roots as long as he/she is good for the country!. Like PM Meles biringing change and development to the cuntry. I have meseage to all of ethiopians please think posative the same way as my brother Tekle Haileselassie.


by: Dan from: UK
September 18, 2012 10:26 AM
“widely off the mark.” ... completely agree Mr Shinn. In fact there are so many aspects about the Diaspora which are widely off the mark. Clearly EPRDF is trying to broaden the power base but will take quite a long time. The key here is the "smooth" transition of power which shouldn't be underscored - a big milestone in its own right! Mr Shinn, I wish the few in the Diaspora stop being grossly critical and destructive about every move as it doesn't help the man on the ground buy bread. The country is striving to become in the middle income range and the US historical support (not necessarily financial) in this strategic region is highly appreciated. We all need to educate the "idiots" about tolerance, gradual progress and looking at the big picture which will also take a long time.


by: GDD from: Ethiopia
September 18, 2012 9:11 AM
Mr. Shinn,

I am always surprised why you guys (Western) are always fooled by TPLF!...For you information...HMD was not being groomed by MZ to succeed him...He just did that to fool you western diplomats! If he was really democrat, why has he failed to give that chance to OPDO...the representative of OROMO... 45% Ethiopian people?? MZ has not expected his untimely death in 2012. If you can read AMHARIC ...go and read the ADDIS-RAIEY magazine that was issued in last Oct./Nov. 2011. We ,Ethiopian,disappointingly read on that magazine (the magazine of the ruling party)...as MZ has planned to rule us for at least the next 40 years. He has planned to retire at the age of >90....You can also read such facts from his unpublished PhD thesis....Hence, I DON'T accept your analysis. By the way...I am happy in the amazing event that HMD is holding power. He has a moral authority...and will not at least order AGAZI killers to murder Ethiopians!


by: betty from: virginia
September 18, 2012 8:27 AM
the only reason that Hailmarima become the PM is that the tplf evil group didnt want to lose thier support from the international community, in addition Hailemarim will not do anything except serving the tplf tigreans as the main secuirty, army, police, media and other vital things are still not only under the control of tplf tigreans but also dominated by tigreans where the tplf tigreans will still have the control over the power, moreover the tplf tigreans exclusively control the economical sectors in every parts of ethiopia. Therefore, Hailmariam will not change anything unless he decided to risk his life in favor of democracy and freedom to expose the dirty crimes of tplf tigreans.

In Response

by: dad from: Virginia
September 19, 2012 4:37 AM
"Betty" if u r so good at figuring out what people think and why they do what they do from a thousand miles away then i wonder what you can do if you were in Ethiopia, oh! i see u r not. go make a difference if you are for real, and i'm not sure if your problem is with the way the system works or with the ethnic group! just sit where you are and party and complain like you always do!


by: Extraterrstrial from: Ethiopia
September 18, 2012 4:40 AM
Diaspora extremists you hate everyone who speak the truth about Ethiopia. The only type of comment and article you want to see is who portray Ethiopian government as dictator in hyperbolic terms and Ethiopian situation as disastrous. To be honest comparatively this man as former ambassador knows much better than you crying Diasporas living in the west for decades and know nothing about Ethiopia.

Diasporas extremists can you please leave Ethiopia and Ethiopians alone from your hiding hole from the comfort zone? I am tired of your mambo jumbo about Ethiopia. Shut up!

In Response

by: Truth-Teller from: Addis Ababa
September 18, 2012 2:54 PM
@Extraterrstrial, ... I'm from Addis and I know this division created by the only media you watch and listen - ETV and radio. It's so laughable to here the EPRDF and Derg propaganda machines. What are you confused about? are you confused about that Meles stole billions though his wifes business??... are you aware about almost all the big buildings built in Addis belong to the generals?? ...are you confused about the 70-90% aid money is stolen by the authorities??.. are you confused that ETV is not an independent media or it's a mouth piece of Derg/EPRDF?? ... are you aware about over 75% of intellectuals are kick out of Ethiopia by EPRDF?? ... Are you aware that Ethiopia is #1 journalist jailer in Africa??

In Response

by: Alem from: Ethiopia
September 18, 2012 8:45 AM
You are indeed "extraterrestrial"?
Is that why you cried foul when Peter Heinlein reported what you did not want the world to know?


by: Alem
September 17, 2012 9:49 PM
It is unfortunate that Mr. Shinn continues to use his diplomatic immunity to suggest that the "grooming" by Meles of Hailemariam constituted widening the political space. First, Meles was not planning on dying in a Belgian hospital in July 2012. The plan was to have the likes of Ambassador Shinn to come along and tell the world the process of democratization is underway in Ethiopia. All one needs to do is to check that non-Tigrayans in "key" [cabinet] positions do not have the power or the requisite training. Secondly, Mr. Shinn's primary aim is, obviously, to speak and uphold US interests and not whether Mr. Meles and the TPLF jail, torture and exile Ethiopians or abolish rule of law and citizens' participation in the affairs of their country.

In Response

by: Truth-Teller from: Addis Ababa
September 18, 2012 2:42 PM
@Beyeen, ... I wouldn't say that after watching Mubarek, Gadhafi, Ben Ali and Salah disgracefully left their dictarorship. I'm not responding to your comment, because your comment is full of garbege .... "dertiest dish... from the menu"?!?! ... really?!?! That's full of non-sense!

In Response

by: Beyene from: Ethiopia
September 18, 2012 8:21 AM
Obviously, if it is not the dirtiest dish you ordered from the menu (you know what I mean) it is not food for you. So you just cry on your table till your dirty dish comes to poison your bottomless stomach

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