Hailemariam re-elected PM of Ethiopia

Addis Ababa, Oct 8 (IANS) In a widely expected development, Hailemariam Desalegne, 50, has been unanimously re-elected Ethiopia’s prime minister for a second term at the inaugural session of the newly-elected parliament where the ruling coalition holds all seats.

Hailemariam has overseen a smooth transition in power in the vast Horn of Africa nation since he took over in 2012 after the death of the then premier Meles Zenawi.

The swearing-in for the second time marks his first full term at the helm of the East African country. He effected a simple reshuffle in his cabinet, appointing several new ministers.

Since his being re-elected officially on Monday, he is expected to make major policy changes and show his power in decision-making, according to an opposition party member who requested anonymity.

“Though we are not happy about the election results, we knew this was going to happen. However, we also expect a lot from him and his party to take the country on the path of development in every aspect and working strongly with his party and opposition members on the Second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP2) and other plans,” he added.

“He has to mainly focus on how to reduce the number of unemployed people roaming the streets; how to provide access to clean water, health, education and roads; how to increase agricultural production; how to sustain the current high rate of economic growth; national security, international relations and so on.”

Hailemariam was nominated by Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen as prime minister for the victorious Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and was elected by the House of People’s Representatives (HPR), the lower house of parliament, by all 547 members of the ruling coalition.

The EPRDF, a coalition of four regional parties led by Hailemariam, won all the seats in parliament in the May elections. Under the Ethiopian constitution, parliament elects the country’s chief executive, thus giving Hailemariam 100 percent votes.

EPRDF, in power in Africa’s second-most populous nation for over two decades, along with its allies also won a near-clean sweep in regional state councils, winning all but 21 of the 1,987 seats.

EPRDF was also competing in four of Ethiopia’s nine federal regions and also in two self-governing cities — Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa. Parties allied with the EPRDF, which has more than seven million members, won all 48 seats in the remaining five federal regions in 2010.

Hailemariam previously served as deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs under the then prime minister Meles Zenawi. Hailemariam was also chief administrator of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s (SNNP) Regional State from November 2001 to March 2006.

He was promoted Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs in October 2010. Hailemariam also served as the Chairperson of the Africa Union (AU) during 2013-14.

(Hadra Ahmed can be contacted at hadraahmed@gmail.com)

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