BY TESFANEWS *
Ethiopia’s prime minister has announced a new cabinet that is half female, including the job of defense minister.
Explaining his decision in a speech to Parliament, PM Abiy said women had made a great contribution to restoring peace and stability, “were less corrupt than men”, respected their work and could restore peace and stability.
The new cabinet, which reduces ministerial positions from 28 to 20, has women in the top security posts for the first time in Ethiopia’s history.
Aisha Mohammed will be in charge of defense, and Muferiat Kamil, a former parliamentary speaker, will head the newly formed Ministry of Peace.
Since becoming prime minister in April, Mr. Abiy has carried numerous massive reforms for this once-authoritarian country.
He has ended two decades of conflict with neighbouring Eritrea, released thousands of political prisoners and promising to open up the economy.
Muferiat Kamil, as the new Minister of Peace, shall be overseeing the country’s intelligence and security apparatus, including the federal police.
Also represented in the new cabinet are often marginalized ethnic groups.
Aisha Mohammed, the new first female defense minister, is from the country’s Afar region in the north-east, and had previously served as construction minister, while Finance Minister Ahmed Shide is from the Somali region.
Abiy was elected by the ruling party after years of anti-government protests shook the country. He immediately embarked on reforms and has promised free and competitive elections in 2020. The ruling party currently holds all the seats in Parliament.
“Democracy is an existential issue for Ethiopia. There is no option but multi-partyism,” said PM Abiy in an interview with Dr. Greg Mills.