Friday, August 24, 2012

Ethiopia afer Melese

(Aug 24, 2012, Africa-Confidential )--The Premier’s death removes one of Africa’s most prominent leaders and will test the unity of the country and the ruling party. The death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on 20 August has triggered a constitutional succession mechanism which he personally designed, having led the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front for 21 years.

His chosen successor, Hailemariam Desalegn, takes over in the first non-violent transition in Ethiopia’s modern history. Hailemariam was Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Deputy Chairman of the EPRDF. An EPRDF Executive Committee meeting on 21 August endorsed his leadership and agreed to set aside any differences for now. He had been expected to take over only in 2015, when Meles was due to retire. The next stage is the recall of parliament to confirm Hailemariam’s position as Prime Minister.

Set for 23 August, this was postponed due to the funeral of the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Abune Paulos on the same day. Now the parliamentary vote to endorse Hailemariam will take place after the state funeral of Meles on 2 September. Following that, Hailemariam will prepare to stand for the leadership at the EPRDF congress due next February and take the party into elections in 2015. 

Hailemariam breaks with tradition by being a Protestant from the Southern Region, not a northern highlander or an Orthodox Christian. He is widely approved of in the party but milder than Meles and no political heavyweight. Senior officers, most of them former guerrilla fighters of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, will be the main power-brokers.

The Chief of Defence Staff is General Samora Yunus, who fought alongside Meles in the 1970s and 1980s. Many believe that the Tigrayan securocrats have yet to decide on their longer-term view of the succession and their vision for the future. Ethiopia’s commitment to the African Union Mission in Somalia and the campaign against Al Haraka al Shabaab al Mujahideen is very unlikely to change. Meles had last appeared in public on 26 June, at a meeting with President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed of Somalia. After that, he was mostly in hospital in Brussels but doing government and diplomatic business on the telephone almost to the end.

His aides and ministers created a fog of disinformation about his whereabouts, to protect his personal security, and about his actual state of health. So dense was the fog that even well informed insiders in Addis Ababa were shocked by the news of his death. Sources there say that he was recovering from an operation when he succumbed to an infection. Read more the original article from Africa-Confidential »

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