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Ethiopian Prime Minister Resigns


FILE - Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn speaks to The Associated Press at his office in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 17, 2016.

Ethiopia's prime minister has announced he will resign, in what he says is an effort to advance reforms aimed at easing the country's political unrest.

Speaking on state television Thursday, Hailemariam Desalegn said he has submitted his letter of resignation as both prime minister and chairman of the ruling EPRDF coalition.

The prime minister said he is stepping down "to be part of the solution and for the success of the reforms and the solutions we have put in place."

Hailemariam said the proposed reforms, which he did not specify, come at a time of unrest "where many lives have been lost, people have been displaced and property damaged, and there are efforts to harm investments."

He said both the EPRDF and his party, the Southern Ethiopian People's Democratic Movement, have accepted his resignation, and he hoped parliament would accept it.

Supporters of Bekele Gerba, secretary general of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), chant slogans to celebrate Gerba's release from prison, in Adama, Oromia Region, Ethiopia, Feb. 14, 2018.
Supporters of Bekele Gerba, secretary general of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), chant slogans to celebrate Gerba's release from prison, in Adama, Oromia Region, Ethiopia, Feb. 14, 2018.

Hailemariam, 52, has served as prime minister since September 2012, when he was appointed one month after the death of his predecessor, Meles Zenawi.

Ethiopia has been going through political unrest since a wave of anti-government protests in 2016, mainly in the southern Oromia region, prompted officials to declare a state of emergency.

In recent weeks, the government has released hundreds of prisoners -- many of whom were arrested on charges of terrorism or inciting violence -- in an effort to ease political tensions. Prominent journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega was among a group of more than 700 released Wednesday.

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