Ethiopian Prime Minister offers resignation

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Addis Ababa, Feb 16 (IANS) Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn offered to resign on Thursday in what he said an effort to advance reforms aimed at easing the country’s political unrest.

Desalegn said he has submitted his letter of resignation as both Prime Minister and Chairman of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition, Xinhua reported.

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.”

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,” Hailemariam said.

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Both the EPRDF and his party, the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement, have accepted his resignation and he hoped parliament would accept it, Hailemariam added.

Desalegn, 52, took over the post soon after the death of late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in August 2012.

As chairman of EPRDF, Desalegn won praises for his technocratic expertise, though he has struggled to rise politically above the shadow of Meles, who ruled the east African country for 21 years.

In recent months, internal political wrangling between four coalition partners of EPRDF, Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), South Ethiopia People’s Democratic Movement and Oromo Peoples Democratic Organization (OPDO) has cast fears over the stability of the nation of about 100 million people.

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Ethiopia has also been reeling from deadly protests since 2016, especially in the two most populous regional states of Amhara and Oromia, over alleged political and economic marginalization.

It’s not immediately clear who will replace Desalegn, but there is speculation that the OPDO, which rules Oromia, the most populous regional state, is angling to have its candidate take over the post.

–IANS

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