Ethiopian reshuf­fle of­fers con­ces­sions to protesters

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Ethiopia’s prime min­is­ter yes­ter­day reshuf­fled his cabi­net to cre­ate a more eth­ni­cally di­verse team af­ter an un­prece­dented wave of protests. Haile­mariam De­salegn had promised the reshuf­fle af­ter im­pos­ing a six-month state of emer­gency in Oc­to­ber. In the reshuf­fle, Haile­mariam gave se­nior roles to two politi­cians from the Oromo peo­ple who have spear­headed some­times deadly anti-govern­ment protests over the last year, re­duc­ing the dom­i­nance of the mi­nor­ity Tigrayans. The new min­is­ters of for­eign af­fairs and of com­mu­ni­ca­tions-Workneh Ge­beyehu, a for­mer trans­port min­is­ter, and Negeri Len­cho, a jour­nal­ism pro­fes­sor-are Oro­mos, re­plac­ing the Tigrayans who pre­vi­ously held the posts.

Speak­ing to AFP af­ter his ap­point­ment Negeri, who is also now govern­ment spokesman, said the changes were nec­es­sary in the light of the protests and sub­se­quent state of emer­gency. “So many chal­lenges have been raised by the pub­lic. There has to be a change,” he said. “This new cabi­net is ready to re­spond and pro­vide a bet­ter ser­vice with pro­fes­sion­als from many di­rec­tions.” Nine of the pre­vi­ous 30strong cabi­net re­tained their posts, among them long-stand­ing party loy­al­ists Si­raj Fegessa, in charge of de­fense, and De­bret­sion Ge­bremichael who runs telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy, as well as Haile­mariam’s deputy, De­meke Mekon­nen. The new govern­ment, which in­cludes just three women, was im­me­di­ately ap­proved by par­lia­ment in which ev­ery seat is held by Haile­mariam’s rul­ing coali­tion, the Ethiopian Peo­ple’s Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Demo­cratic Front (EPRDF). Un­til his dis­missal, for­mer govern­ment spokesman Ge­tachew Reda had been con­sid­ered a “ris­ing star” within the EPRDF but was un­pop­u­lar among the pub­lic. Haile­mariam had promised the reshuf­fle would be based on skills rather than “party loy­alty”. — AFP

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