Ethiopia’s prime minister resigns amid political turmoil

Ethiopia’s prime minister resigns amid political turmoil

FILE PHOTO: Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn gestures during a news conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, October 11, 2016. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo (Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

By Paul Schemm

 Ethio­pian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn submitted his resignation in a televised announcement on Thursday amid political turmoil in Africa’s fastest growing economy.

The announcement came just after the government released hundreds of political prisoners, including some of the most prominent opposition members in the country, sparking massive celebrations in the cities and towns around the country.

A staunch U.S. ally in the fight against terrorism and the second most populous country in Africa, Ethi­o­pia is a regional powerhouse with grand economic ambitions but it has seethed with social unrest for the past few years and thousands have been imprisoned including top opposition figures.

According to the state Ethio­pian News Agency, Desalegn resigned both as prime minister and chair of the ruling party “to be part of the efforts to provide lasting solution to the current situation.”

Earlier in the week, there had been widespread demonstrations by the country’s Oromo people, the largest ethnic group, over the perceived slow pace of prisoner releases promised in January.

Young men blocked roads leading out of the capital with rocks and burned tires disrupting public transportation networks. Businesses throughout the vast Oromo region were shuttered as part of a strike.

The strike was lifted on Wednesday with the prisoner releases. Opposition figures in Ethiopia’s extensive diaspora claimed the government had capitulated in the face of popular pressure.

Desalegn became prime minister in 2012, succeeding Meles Zenawi, the architect of Ethiopia’s recent economic boom. The country saw a decade of double digit growth, based largely on state investment in infrastructure. Growth has slowed in recent years under pressure from severe droughts and social unrest.

Though ostensibly a democracy, the ruling party, a coalition of parties, controls 100 percent of the parliament and critics say the nation is dominated by the Tigrayan minority, which makes up just 6 percent of the population.

Desalegn, who comes from the south, was seen as a caretaker and consensus figure without a great deal of power himself. It was widely rumored he would be resigning after the party congress scheduled for next month.

Ethiopia’s Oromo people have been protesting for increased rights and against their perceived economic marginalization since the end of 2015 and at one point the government declared a 10-month state of emergency in October 2016 to restore calm to the country.

 The ruling Ethi­o­pia People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, of which Desalegn was once chairman, has also faced internal divisions, with the parties representing the other ethnic regions, particularly the Oromo and the Amhara, the nation’s second largest ethnic group, jockeying for position.
Following a party executive council meeting, the government announced in January a plan to start releasing political prisoners in effort to broaden the political consensus
Source: washingtonpost

2 Comments

  1. OROMIA lions…you are game changer in East Africa
    Don’t rest until U clean up Wayane apartheid minority settelers & collaborators , return looted farm-land to its rightful owners and restore all rights of oppressed nations including self determination
    Nb : careful don’t get any advice TONY Blair ( war crime TPLF lobbyist ) who is currently in FINNFINNE to distort Oromia uprising and keep Abyssinian settelers in power,,,!?

  2. After almost 100 years oppression , all sorts of exploitation and distractions Oromiya Qeerroo youth movement are leading liberation struggle of oppression nations in East Africa …
    When Hailemariam says he resigns….who elected him in the first place….?
    It was a fake election from a fake regime….!
    NB: Oromia freedom fighters must never take any advice from western colonial powers who are instrumental why wayane minority settelers kept power so long on the expense majorly Oromia nation….especially be more careful Tony Blair the warlord and TPLF apartheid regime lobbyists who currently in FINNFINNE to distroy aspersions of oppressed nations….remember it was Tony Blair the war criminal who created LIYU police gangs in Somali ogaden to terrorize Somalis and Oromia alike …..

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