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Hailemariam to Become Ethiopian PM Friday

Hailemariam Desalegn attends the inauguration ceremony of Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in Mogadishu, September 16, 2012.
Hailemariam Desalegn will be sworn in as Ethiopia’s new prime minister this Friday. Hailemariam is replacing Ethiopia's late leader Meles Zenawi after a slight delay.

Hailemariam Desalegn was named chairman of the ruling EPRDF coalition last week.

Government spokesman Shimelis Kemal says parliament will hold an extraordinary session this Friday to appoint Hailemariam officially as prime minister.

“As parliament would normally commence it operation at the end of September in the Ethiopian calendar, it is imperative on the part of the government to request an extraordinary parliamentary meeting because there are some pending urgent government businesses which should be carried out by the head of the government," says Shimelis Kemal.

Hailemariam replaces longtime Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who died of an undisclosed illness last month at the age of 57.

Hailemariam was originally scheduled to be sworn in two days after his predecessor's death. Meles. But Ethiopian officials postponed the ceremony, on the grounds that national mourning was still in progress.

Shimelis says that the ruling party also needed time to deliberate on the matter.

“The Ethiopian constitutional framework requires that only the governing party shall appoint a PM [prime minister], so it all boils down, that the party, the EPRDF, shall have its own discussion," he says. "The ruling politburo and the council shall summon and decide on these matters.”

Hailemariam will form his cabinet in the coming weeks. It is not clear if there will be changes from the Meles government.

Hailemariam served previously as minister of foreign affairs and deputy prime minister. He was groomed by Meles to be his successor, as Meles was planning to step down after the 2015 elections.

He will be Ethiopia's first new leader since 1991, when the guerilla movement TPLF overthrew the military junta of Mengistu Hailemariam.

The appointment of Hailemariam shows that a new generation appears to be in power in Ethiopia as leadership positions are passed to those who were not part of the armed struggles of earlier times.