Ethiopia deputy PM Desalegn to succeed Meles Zenawi

Haile Mariam Desalegn, will be sworn in as Prime Minister. .

Aug 21, 2012, ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn will take over interim power following the death of leader Meles Zenawi, the government spokesman told reporters Tuesday.

“According to the Ethiopian constitution the deputy prime minister will have to go to parliament and take the oath, and the government is organising the parliament to be summoned as soon as possible,” Bereket Simon said.

Parliament is normally scheduled to convene after the Ethiopian New Year on September 11.

Hailemariam, 47, has been deputy prime minister and foreign minister since 2010, and was previously special advisor on social affairs to Meles.

Unlike many core members of the ruling party, he does not hail from the far north of the country but from the Southern Nation, Nationalities and People’s Region, the most populous of Ethiopia’s nine ethnic regions.

Ethiopia has declared a state of national mourning, but has not fixed a date for a funeral.

“Up until the funeral takes place, the Ethiopian government council of ministers have decided to make it national mourning time for the remembrance of the Prime Minister,” Bereket added.

“We will have his whole funeral proceedings according to a plan prepared by a committee which deals with this.”

“I assure you everything is stable and everything will continue as chartered by the Prime Minster,” Bereket said.

Meles had not been seen in public for two months, and had been reported to have been sick in a hospital in Brussels. He was last seen in public at the G20 summit in Mexico in June.

Bereket gave no details of the illness but said Meles had been ill for the past year.

“He has been struggling to be healthy in the last year… one of the best things about him was that he never considered that he was ill and he was up to the job every time, every day, every evening,” he added.

“Illness has never been a hindrance for him, but he has been quite ill for some time.”

AFP

Background

(wikipedia) Haile Mariam Desalegne is an Ethiopian politician who has served in the government of Ethiopia as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2010.

After the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on 20 August 2012, Desalegn was named acting prime minister. Haile Mariam Desalegn is the first Protestant Christian (Pentay) head of government in the history of Ethiopia.

Desalegn is from the Wolayta ethnic group of Ethiopia, which dominate the politics of Ethiopia’s southern region Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region. Ethnic Tigray, Amhara and mixed people of Ethiopia have traditionally dominated the politics of the country the last 200 years. Desalegn would be the first fully non-Tigray and non-Amhara head of Ethiopia’s government in the country’s history. Emperor Haile Selassie, born of Amhara, Oromo and Gurage ethnic groups, was the last mixed Ethiopian ruler.

Born in the Wolaita Zone Boloso Sore District of Southern Ethiopia, Desalegn studied and spent most of his youth in Wolaita.

He was President of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR) from November 2001 to March 2006 and was promoted as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs in October 2010. He has been performing leadership roles as deputy Chairman of EPRDF, Chairman of SEPDM, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. His service term has been as follows: Public Offices: V/President of the SNNPR (2000–2002); President of the SNNPR (2002–2005); Member of the House of People’s Representatives (2005–present); Social Affairs Special Advisor to the PM, then Public Mobilization & Participation Special Advisor to the Prime Minister (2005–2008); Government Chief Whip, with a Ministerial portfolio (2008–2010). Party Posts: Member of the Executive Committee of the EPRDF and the SEPDM (2000–present); Chairman of the SEPDM (2002–present); Depty. Chairman of the EPRDF (since Sept 2010).

Desalegn obtained a bachelor degree in civil engineering from the Addis Ababa University in 1988. He subsequently worked as a graduate assistant in the Arba Minch Water Technology Institute (now Arba Minch University). After two years of working in this capacity, he won a scholarship to Tampere University of Technology in Finland and obtained a masters degree in sanitation engineering. Upon his return to Ethiopia he served in different academic and administrative capacities, including the dean of the Water Technology Institute, for 13 years.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, he became seriously involved in politics as member of the EPRDF (Ethiopia’s ruling party) and became the deputy president of the SNNPR. He replaced Abate Kisho who was removed from power on corruption charges, but it is believed that Abate was demoted for supporting the anti-Meles Zenawi faction when the TPLF (the core of the EPRDF) split in 2000. Another widely accepted belief about Abate was that he was less educated and exercised poor leadership while he was in power.

After his tenure as President of the SNNPR, Desalegn worked in the Prime Minister’s Office as the advisor on Social Affairs and Civic Organizations and Partnerships for two years. In 2010 Haile Mariam was sworn in to dual ministerial positions as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs.