Ethiopians who have been eagerly awaiting the announcement of their new leader after the resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn are now relieved as the country’s ruling coalition on Tuesday named a chairman set to become the prime minister.
Abiy Ahmed will be the first person from Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, to become prime minister since the ruling coalition, the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front came to power in 1991. The 42-year-old is expected to be voted in by parliament as the country’s new leader on Wednesday.
Ahmed has been described as a new face in the ruling coalition, which has long been dominated by the smaller but more powerful Tigray Peoples Liberation Front.
It is the hope of many that the new leader would bring calm to Africa’s second most populous nation after it was hit by months of protests against human rights abuses and violence perpetrated by the security forces.
Ethiopia has faced unrest since 2015 after the arrest of students and opposition figures in the Oromia region who were demonstrating against unfair treatment and abuses by the EPRDF government. Thousands of protesters were jailed and many died in the process.
The attacks and arrests by security forces were condemned by international agencies and partners resulting in measures instituted by the government to address the issues which are still lingering.
Hailemariam Desalegn who has been prime minister since 2012 subsequently resigned last month saying that he sees his resignation “as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy.”
Meanwhile, the ruling coalition on Tuesday decided to keep Demeke Mekonnen as deputy prime minister.