Meet Ethiopia’s 41 year-old Prime Minister
Ethiopia’s prime minister-elect Abiye Ahmed will be sworn in on Monday, its parliament said, after the ruling coalition chose him to succeed Hailemariam Desalegn as its chairperson.
The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front coalition on Tuesday voted in the 42-year-old, a retired lieutenant general from Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, to take over the government.
Ethiopia is Africa’s second most populous country and has had the fastest growing economy on the continent for the past decade, but protests that began in 2015 have caused the biggest threat to the EPRDF since it took power in 1991.
“The House of People’s Representatives will hold an extraordinary session on April 2 to swear in Dr. Abiye Ahmed,” the body said in a statement.
His predecessor Hailemariam, from the small Wollayta ethnic group, resigned last month after sustained protests in the Oromiya and Ahmara regions where people say they are politically and economically marginalized.
Abiye will now face pressure to appeal to legions of disaffected youth and to push through promised reforms.
The event was initially scheduled for Saturday. The statement did not give a reason for the postponement.
He was born on August 15, 1976, at Agaro, Jimma Zone, Oromia region of Ethiopia, to a multireligious family of a Muslim father and a Christian mother. Abir joined the armed struggle against the Derg Socialist Regime and became a soldier at the age of 17.
He joined the Ethiopian army in 1993, where he first worked in the intelligence service and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. After the Rwandan genocide of 1994, he was deployed as a member of the United Nations peace mission and later served in the border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
He later became the founder and director of the country’s information network and security agency, which is responsible for cyber-security in a country where the government exercises tight control over the internet.
He started his political career as a member of OPDO (Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation). The OPDO is the ruling party in Oromia Region since 1991 and also one of four coalition parties of the ruling coalition in Ethiopia, the EPRDF. He became a member of the central committee of OPDO from 2010 – 2012 and congress member of the executive committee of the EPRDF.
he multilingual Abiy will become the country’s first leader from Oromia – the ethnic group at the centre of nearly three years of anti-government protests. The grievance is that they have been politically, economically and culturally marginalised for years – despite being the country’s largest group.
The father of three daughters and fitness enthusiast established Science and Technology Information Centre (STIC) in 2014, with the intention of creating a science, technology and innovation excellence centre.
Abiy holds a master’s degree in transformational leadership and change and a PhD in conflict mediation.
In an interview in late 2017, he said he was convinced he would be able to win the support of Ethiopian citizens, but that they expect a “different rhetoric from us”.
According to Abiy, if there is to be political progress in Ethiopia, “then we have to debate the issues openly and respectfully. It’s easier to win people over to democracy than push them towards democracy. This can only succeed peacefully and through political participation.”
Credit: Reuters and The Cable