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.
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
Listen to interview w/ Ambassador David Shinni
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Comments page of 2
September 17, 2012 4:07 PM
With great respect i agree with ur comment but i dont know why you have ignored the recent rush by the TPLF generals to promoto about 37 high military officials before the rulling party selects PM Hailemariam. in the absences of a primier where among 34 of them are tigryans which was a signal to the ethiopian people that still there is too much to go to bring a power share despite TPLF alowing the two top postions please lets not forget that all the millitary and security are still complitly controlled under TPLF knowing that will HD have the path of his own I doubt and they repeatedly mentioned to continue the legacy of the late PM Melese. They told us there won't be any change (I mean, policy,...). The other question is, who really has the real power? I think the ball is under the hands of TPLF who had controlled the military and the security ...., not..... Anyway, let's wait and see. PEACE!!

by: Truth-Teller from: Addis Ababa
September 17, 2012 3:21 PM
I wish Mr. Shinn stop telling us what the EPRDF regime is thinking, and start telling us - what the U.S. government would do to promote democracy, inclusive political party system, Human Rights and etc. He can answer if and when the U.S. would stop subsidizing the terrorist organization in Ethiopia. It didn’t work in Egypt, so why is the U.S. think it will work in Ethiopia???? … can Mr. Shinn answer why the U.S makes the same mistake and not learn from the past?

I know the U.S. policy is not to force democracy on to other society. Neither should it be helping undemocratically elected regimes. The sad part about US-Ethiopia relation is that U.S. is as much despised as in the Arab world. The funny part is that the U.S. policy maker and administration could NOT figure out why they're despised so much!! .... I don't know if I can make this easier for U.S. law makers to understand, but I will try .... STOP SUPPORTING THEIR TORTURER REGIME!! ... and, see if that makes a difference. If there's a regime that's undemocratically elected, the U.S. should STOP subsidizing the regime!
In Response

by: Truth-Teller from: Addis Ababa
September 18, 2012 3:50 PM
One important fact to keep in mind - that you're not even denying you're a dictator or dictator-lover!! ... And, history tells us, dictators won't last long (case be point to Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Syria,...). "...Ethiopians will keep moving forward and build the nation for better tomorrow..." we can agree on that if you're referring to ALL Ethiopians - regardless of their political and religious background - and, not communists like yourself! ... United States will never stand with commies and we'll make sure of that!!
In Response

by: Mike from: Oregon
September 18, 2012 1:22 AM
I think you are off line and totally wrong by your remarks. With our without you and your likes, Ethiopians will keep moving forward and build the nation for better tomorrow. Thus I know people like you will never be happy no matter what. Go figures!
In Response

by: anti extrimism from: USA
September 17, 2012 9:04 PM
Hi "Feteh", the US government did not, and is not supporting the regime. the US government is giving aid for poor ethiopians throu the ethiopian gov`t. if you do not want to see new schools, hospitals, roads etc. untill their is a regime change, you should have stayed in ethiopia to make a difference. but it is not fair to ask the US government to stop its support for poor ethiopians while you are living a good life abroad. may be your immediate families do not need help, but look the situation macroscopically.
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