BREAKING: Ethiopian Prime Minister Resigns

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Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said on Thursday he had submitted his resignation as both premier and the chairman of the ruling coalition in an effort to facilitate reforms following a period of mass unrest.

The resignation of Hailemariam, in power since 2012, comes amid protracted anti-government protests and follows a nationwide state of emergency last year.

Hundreds of people have died in violence sparked initially by an urban development plan for the capital Addis Ababa.

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The unrest spread in 2015 and 2016 as demonstrations against political restrictions and human rights abuses broke out.

“Unrest and a political crisis have led to the loss of lives and displacement of many,” Hailemariam said in a televised address to the nation.

“… I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy,” he said.

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A favorite to replace the prime minister is the head of Ethiopia’s Oromia region, Lemma Megerssa. Many see Lemma, the president of the largest federal state, as politically assertive and having the acceptance of many in the younger generation.

But a legal scholar at Mekelle Universtiy, Meressa Tsehaye, said the deputy prime minister is widely expected to succeed Hailemariam. Another option is that the four core parties of the ruling coalition will elect a new party leader who then will lead the country.

“If both these don’t happen, then a caretaker or transitional government will be set up. I don’t see that a snap election will be needed here,” he said.

Hailemariam, an academician-turned-politician, has been in charge in Ethiopia since 2012 after the death of former strongman Meles Zenawi.

He also served as deputy prime minister and foreign minister under the former leader before assuming power. He also was elected chairman of the African Union in 2013.

 

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