Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigns amid political crisis

by Abel Hampton February 17, 2018, 0:15
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigns amid political crisis

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned on Thursday after weeks of anti-government demonstrations and growing splits within the country's ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition.

His resignation follows lingering violence that pressured the government to release more than 6,000 of political prisoners since January.

In a televised address to the nation, Desalegn said "Unrest and a political crisis have led to the loss of lives and displacement of many.I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy".

"What the people are demanding is fundamental change", Merera said, describing Hailemariam's exit as a matter of internal party politics.

Still, anti-government protests continue to occur, and a separate spate of clashes between the Oromo and Somali ethnicities displaced a million people late past year. His (the prime minister's) resignation will not mean anything unless our rights are respected.

Ethiopia is the region's largest economy and a key Western ally in the fight against Islamist militancy but rights groups criticise its government for jailing journalists and political opponents.

Ethiopian officials have declared a state of emergency amid widespread anti-government protests that have persisted for more than two years and in which hundreds have been killed and several thousand detained, the majority of whom have since been released.

It gave no timeline for the emergency decree, the second since 2016, which was announced in a statement read by an anchor on the state broadcaster.

While the decree halted the unrest, protests still erupted occasionally and the upheaval exposed divisions within the four ethnically based parties that under the EPRDF umbrella have ruled Ethiopia since 1991.

He served as deputy prime minister and foreign minister under Meles before assuming power, and he was also elected chairman of the African Union in 2013. Protests later sprung up in the Amhara region.

Both the EPRDF and his party, the Southern Ethiopian People's Democratic Movement, have accepted his resignation and he hoped parliament would accept it, Hailemariam added.

Whoever takes over will face a daunting task of keeping the EPRDF together and continuing the country's streak of rapid economic growth.

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