Hailemariam Desalegn – Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister
Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. PHOTO/World Economic Forum
The death of Ethiopia’s prime minister pushed his relatively unknown successor, Hailemariam Desalegn, into the spotlight on Tuesday, and he may be merely a placeholder or might hang on to become Ethiopia’s next leader.
Ethiopia’s communication minister said government policy would remain consistent under Hailemariam, the former deputy prime minister and foreign minister who is now acting prime minister pending his swearing-in before an emergency session of parliament.
The country’s armed forces pledged allegiance to the country’s constitution and vowed to defend it during the post-Meles Zenawi era. Zenawi died Monday of an unknown illness at age 57.
Hailemariam was appointed deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs in September 2010, right after the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front’s fourth successive election victory. A few weeks after the vote the party’s congress promoted Hailemariam as a deputy chair of the party.
Although Hailemariam appears likely to soon take the oath of prime minister, the ruling party congress is scheduled to meet in late September and will decide if he will remain in the post until the 2015 elections. Political observers say the party congress could see fierce competition for the post.
Hailemariam, who comes from Ethiopia’s south, did not take part in the ruling party’s 17-year armed struggle that unseated the country’s former Communist leader Mengistu Hailemariam in 1991.
When rebels led by Zenawi marched to the capital Addis Ababa to unseat Mengistu, Hailemariam was in Finland studying for a masters in engineering at Tampere University of Technology on a scholarship he received after obtaining his bachelor’s degree from Addis Ababa University.
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