Politics, Africa

Ethiopia: New prime minister takes oath of office

Abiy Ahmed Ali vows to address unemployment, fight corruption

02.04.2018
Ethiopia: New prime minister takes oath of office Ethiopia's newly appointed Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed addresses the members of the Ethiopian parliament in Addis Ababa, after the swearing in ceremony on April 2, 2018. ( Minasse Wondimu Hailu - Anadolu Agency )

By Addis Getachew and Seleshi Tessema

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia

Abiy Ahmed Ali has been sworn in as the new prime minister of Ethiopia in a parliamentary meeting held on Monday.

Abiy replaced Hailemariam Desalegn who had resigned in mid-February this year, saying he should pave the way for reforms.

Inducted into his new office, Abiy met a rapturous welcome as members of parliament clapped and ululated.

Hailed from Oromia region where most of the anti-government protests were held over the past two years, the new prime minister is widely seen as a unifying force.

In his speech after swearing in, the new prime minister vowed to redouble efforts to tackle lack of good governance in the country, address the problem of unemployment, unify the country and do away with corruption, which he said ate away the country’s resources.

“Civil rights must be ensured and it is something people are naturally endowed with, not something that government gives to citizens,” he said.

“Political pluralism is a must as it is a bedrock to make sure that democracy works,” he said, adding in a diverse nation such as Ethiopia democracy is a question of existence.

“We are very much ready to work with those political parties who hold opposing views and we should ensure equal playing field for competition,” he said.

The future will see reconciliation, peace and justice across the country, he said, adding: “We should do away with ethnic-based division and hatred.”

Noting the protests in the past few years in which considerable human lives were lost and property destroyed, Abiy said: “I apologize from the depth of my heart to the families who lost their loved ones.”

Economic slowdown

He also paid homage to the men and women in uniform.

The prime minister said the protests caused economic slowdown in the country as foreign currency remained in short supply.

Regarding foreign relations, he said his government would continue amicable relations with neighboring countries.

He called on Eritrea, a country with which Ethiopia has been in a “no-war, no-peace” situation, to come to the dialogue table. “Ethiopia is ready to resolve differences with Eritrea,” the prime minister added.

Hailed from Oromo society, Abiy, who is a PhD holder, has a deep understanding of the Ethiopian society as well as regional geopolitics.

Abiy is current chairman of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), one of the four parties forming the EPRDF coalition, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front.

Until 2018, he served as the head of OPDO Secretariat and Oromia Housing and Urban Development Office with the title of Deputy President of Oromia Region, one of the nine regions of Ethiopia.

Abiy, a former military officer, is credited for conceiving, instituting and forming the now functional Information Network Security Agency (INSA).

He speaks Amharic, Oromiffa, Tigrigna, and English languages.

Ethiopia is under a state of emergency since February 17. This one is the second after an emergency law imposed on Oct. 9, 2016 and remained effective till August 2017.

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