Monday, September 03, 2012

Ethiopia: What Might Desalegn's Premiership Bring?

(Aug 03, 2012, Think Africa Press )--Supported by the US but less popular with the TPLF, it is unclear if Ethiopia under Hailemariam Desalegn will see a continuation of Meles-style governance.

Ethiopia is moving into an uncertain new era. With the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi who had ruled the country since 1991, the country is moving into the realm of the unknown with regards to politics and leadership, and internal divisions within the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – the main part of Ethiopia’s ruling coalition the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) – are already revealing themselves.

Hailemariam Desalegn, the relatively unknown deputy prime minister, has taken over the reins of power in the interim. The United States is reportedly advising the TPLF to support the premiership of Desalegn, a Wolayta from southern Ethiopia, but it is believed that some TPLF loyalists would prefer the leadership to remain in the hands of a Tigrayan.

US-Ethiopia relations
Under Meles, Ethiopia and the US have enjoyed a close relationship. Ethiopia is a key strategic ally in the US’ ‘War on Terror’ and one the largest recipients of US aid, receiving $6.2 billion in US government assistance between 2000 and 2011. This marriage of convenience benefited both parties, but with questions increasingly being asked, the US may not be able to approach Ethiopian politics in quite the same way after Meles.

 In the last few years of his reign, the once untouchable PM witnessed intensifying scrutiny from human rights organisations, growing opposition, and a critical diaspora media getting better at countering TPFL propaganda. There was also growing acknowledgement that Meles was repressive and undemocratic amongst once admiring Western media, and after his death many major networks described him as a dictator. Read more from Think Africa Press »

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