Ethiopia's ruling coalition completes transition after Meles
Ethiopia's ruling coalition re-elected Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn as chairman on Tuesday, completing a smooth transition after the death last year of his predecessor Meles Zenawi who kept a tight grip on power for 21 years.
Hailemariam, 47, was appointed premier in September, a month after the death of Meles, who was praised for steering economic growth into double figures but drew criticism from his opponents and rights groups for squeezing out dissent.
Meles's death raised questions about whether his Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), a coalition of four ethnic and regional based parties, would hold together or could come under strain as groups jostled for influence.
Opponents say there is infighting behind the scenes, but there was no indication of major rifts in the four-day meeting of the congress in the northern city of Bahir Dar. Some delegates questioned government policies before a 180-member coalition council voted behind closed doors for Hailemariam.
"The transition has gone smoothly - the first peaceful transition in the history of modern Ethiopia," said J. Peter Pham, director of the U.S.-based Michael S. Ansari Africa Centre at the Atlantic Council think tank.
Ethiopian leader very present 6 months after death
BY KIRUBEL TADESSE
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia -- Ethiopia's long-ruling leader died half a year ago, but it seems Meles Zenawi still holds on to power. In the capital, his face looks down from hundreds of posters plastered on walls, and government representatives vow to implement the late Meles' vision without alteration.
Meles, who held tight control of the country since 1991, died Aug. 20 at the age of 57. A major U.S. counter-terrorism ally, Meles was credited with uplifting the country's poor, but he was condemned for human rights abuses and crushing the opposition.
Since his sudden death, Meles' pictures and past statements have become commonplace throughout Addis Ababa, the capital, and smaller cities and towns.
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Ethiopia airs jihadi film amid sensitive Muslim protest trial
The strategic Horn of Africa country is one-third Muslim and two-thirds Christian; why is its state-TV ginning up religious tension?
By William Davison
Ethiopia, a US ally in the battle against Al Qaeda-affiliated militants in Somalia, added to mounting worries about religious discord in the diverse east African state by screening a provocative documentary on Islamic extremism.
Ethiopian Muslims are furious about the film, which they say dishonestly blurs the distinction between legitimate political protest and violence by using lurid images of foreign terrorists that have nothing to do with them.
The program, Jihadawi Harekat (Holy War Movement), ran on state-TV at peak watching hours last week, and it associates local Muslim protesters now on trial with militant groups such as Nigeria's brutal Boko Haram movement and Somalia's Al Shabab, as well as unrelated Ethiopian militants.
Currently, 29 leaders of a Muslim protest movement, and representatives of two Islamic charities are on trial in Addis Ababa, facing charges of plotting violence to create an Islamic state. The trial is being held behind closed doors in order to protect some 200 witnesses, according to the government.
Long live the king: Ethiopia’s new leadership is practising hero-worship
DURING his two decades running Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi almost single-handedly engineered its rise from lost cause to model pupil. Even his enemies admit he was both popular and competent. Often working around the clock, he could make complex policy choices and then explain them to ordinary people. He planned meticulously for everything—from road building to oppressing the opposition—except, that is, for his own demise.
It came six months ago on August 20th, following illness at the age of 57, and left the state reeling. Meles, as he is known, had grabbed so much power that many feared his death would spark political chaos and an economic downturn. He alone had the trust of the soldiers, the financiers, the Ethiopian people and the West.
But the transition to a new prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, has gone smoothly. The streets of Addis Ababa, the capital, have seen no unrest and the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) suffered no defections. A few audible grumbles were swiftly silenced. Rioting Muslims were beaten back. A minister was fired as were four regional officials in events that may or may not be related to the leadership change. Jockeying among the elite has been kept behind firmly closed doors. In public it espouses business as usual.
Ethiopia's Hailemariam Elected as African Union Chairman
By William Daviso
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn was elected by African heads of state as chairman of the African Union today, replacing Benin’s President Yayi Boni.
The 47-year-old Hailemariam, who became leader of Ethiopia after the death from illness of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in August, will serve a one-year term as head of the African Union, or AU.
The 54-member continental bloc’s assembly is meeting in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. The AU faces several security challenges on the continent, including rebellions in Mali, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic, and continuing tension between South Sudan and Sudan which have failed to implement agreements on borders.
“We should do everything possible to help restore constitutional order in Mali and safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country,” Hailemariam said.
The Addis Ababa-based AU Commission is headed by South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who was elected for a four-year term in July and is the first woman to head the organization’s secretariat.
Hailemariam, a former foreign minister and deputy prime minister, is from the minority Wolayta ethnicity that has historically been excluded from power in Ethiopia by more populous groups. He is also a Protestant in a nation dominated by Orthodox Christians and Muslims.