“I look forward to seeing durable peace in the country” – Desalegn
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced on Thursday he has submitted his resignation as both premier and the chairman of the ruling coalition in an effort to facilitate reforms following a period of mass unrest.
“Unrest and a political crisis have led to the loss of lives and displacement of many,” he said in a televised address to the nation.”
“I believe that the public’s demands and questions should be met and answered.”
Ethiopia has been rocked by months of protests demanding wider freedoms that have left hundreds dead and tens of thousands detained.
In a bid to ease tensions, the government last month began issuing a string of pardons and prisoner releases, after Hailemariam said jailed “politicians” would be released “to improve the national consensus and widen the democratic platform”.
Hailemariam said he would stay on as prime minister in a caretaker capacity until the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and the country’s parliament accepted his resignation and named a new premier.
Ethiopia’s youth revolution began in late 2015 and engulfed much of the restive Oromia and Amhara regions before spreading into other parts of the country, leading to a months-long state of emergency that has since been lifted.
“Political infighting between members of the ruling party has caused a serious fracture to the political establishment here,” Yilikal Getnet, an opposition politician, told The Associated Press, saying the fact that the prime minister hails from a minority ethnic group might have played a role in his resignation.
“There is no unity within the government. Plus the mass movement of people has rendered the party powerless and was pitting one official against the other.”
>> MUST READ : Ethiopia: End Game?
A favorite to replace the prime minister is the head of Ethiopia’s Oromia region, Lemma Megerssa. Many see Lemma, the president of Oromia state, as politically assertive and having the acceptance of many in the younger generation.
But a legal scholar at Mekelle Universtiy, Meressa Tsehaye, said the deputy prime minister is widely expected to succeed Hailemariam. Another option is that the four core parties of the ruling coalition will elect a new party leader who then will lead the country.
“If both these don’t happen, then a caretaker or transitional government will be set up. I don’t see that a snap election will be needed here,” he said.
Hailemariam has led Ethiopia since 2012 after the death of former strongman and architect of the ethnic federalism in Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi. He also served as deputy prime minister and foreign minister under the former leader before assuming power.