Abiye Ahmed addresses a news conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia December 4, 2015. Picture taken December 4, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
CAIRO – 31 March 2018: Ethiopia appointed its first Oromo prime minister, in a first in the modern history of the African country. Abiy Ahmed was elected a week ago as a new premier, one month after the resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn. Ahmed is expected to swear oath on Monday.
Ahmed will be elected as a chairman of the ruling four-party coalition, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF); succeeding Desalegn. The Oromo ethnic group makes up a third of the country's population of 105 million.
Ethiopian migrants from the Oromo community protest against the Ethiopian regime in Valletta, Malta, December 21, 2015- DARRIN ZAMMIT LUPI/REUTERS
41-year-old multilingual premier
Ahmed was born in 1976 to a Muslim father and a Christian mother. He speaks English fluently and more three local Ethiopian languages.
He joined the Ethiopian army in 1993, where he first worked in the intelligence service. Then, he retired from the military service after becoming a lieutenant colonel. He joined the United Nations peace mission and served in the border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, following the the Rwandan genocide of 1994.
In 2010, Ahmed moves to politics. He became a member of the House of Representatives, and in 2016 he became the Federal Minister of Science and Technology in Addis Ababa. Then, he became the Secretary of the Oromo People's Democratic Organization (OPDO).
Protesters during an Aug. 6 demonstration in Addis Ababa. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)
Overwhelming acceptance by all parties
Ethiopian local media outlets predicted the appointment of Ahmed as a new premier for many reasons. According to local analysts, Ahmed is overwhelmingly accepted by all the opposition parties, in addition to the American and western support showed to him. “Ahmed has strong willpower, great charisma and great credibility," an Ethiopian blogger and university lecturer Seyum Teshome told the German DW.
“Ahmed’s main goal is to ease the disputes in his country,” political expert Tarek Radwan told Egypt Today on Saturday. “Don’t count on Ahmed as a Muslim leader, but think about his capabilities to solve domestic issues.”
For the Egyptian-Ethiopian future relationship, Radwan manifested that Ahmed had never visited Egypt, but he is known for his neutral and moderate stances, adding, “Ahmed has not given public statements on Egypt or the Renaissance Dam crisis.”
Ethiopia witnessed violent acts in the Oromo and Amhara regions in 2015 and 2016 over opposition to a plan to expand the capital Addis Ababa. The demonstrations then turned into protests against political restrictions and human rights violations; leaving dozens of dead protesters and hundreds of injured.
On Feb. 15, the 52-year-old Desalegn resigned unexpectedly, saying in a televised address that he did so because it is "vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy… to smooth the way for reforms.” He became the first Ethiopian prime minister to quit his post.
Saturday’s rally was the first rally to be held in Addis Ababa after a series of Oromo and Amhara protests elsewhere [Reuters]
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