Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has announced a new cabinet consisting of 30 ministers out of which 21 are new including fresh faces heading the ministries of Finance and Foreign Affairs.
According to the prime minister, the need to reshuffle the cabinet in the aftermath of political protests which have led to the declaration of a state of emergency is to create a more ethnically diverse team.
Accordingly, Hailemariam gave senior roles to two politicians from the Oromo ethnic group. Former transport minister Workneh Gebeyehu will be replacing Dr. Tedros Adhanom to become the new foreign affairs minister while Dr. Negeri Lencho, a journalism professor at Addis Ababa University will replace the unpopular and motor mouth Getachew Reda to become the new minister of Government Communication Affairs.
Tedros Adhanom seems pleased he is out of the government so that he can focus on his campaign for the post of Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Speaking to reporters after his appointment, Negeri Lencho, who is also now government spokesman, said the changes were necessary in the light of the protests and subsequent state of emergency.
“So many challenges have been raised by the public. There has to be a change,” he said.
“This new cabinet is ready to respond and provide a better service with professionals from many directions.”
Nine of the previous 30-strong cabinet retained their posts, among them long-standing party loyalists Siraj Fegessa, in charge of defence, and Debretsion Gebremichael who runs telecommunication and information technology, as well as Hailemariam’s deputy, Demeke Mekonnen.
The new government, which includes just three women, was immediately approved by a parliament that is 100 percent held by Hailemariam’s ruling coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).
Until his dismissal, former government spokesman Getachew Reda had been considered a “rising star” within the EPRDF but was unpopular among the public.
Hailemariam said the appointment was done on the basis of competences rather than “party loyalty”.
Protesters in the central and western Oromo region and the northern Amhara region had denounced minority Tigrayan ethnic domination at key positions in the government and security forces for the past 25 years.
The two protesting regions alone form more than 60% of the population.
#Ethiopia: forced by public protests, th major cabinet reshuffle proposed by PM HMD sees no more 'advisers' to th PM w ministerial positions
— Addis Standard (@addisstandard) November 1, 2016