Ethiopia’s ruling coalition party meets to choose the next prime minister

Ethiopia’s ruling coalition party meets to choose the next prime minister

A three-day congress will be held in Addis Ababa to select the next chairman and new prime minister.

Photo: The New Times

The council of the governing Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front, a coalition of four ethnic and regional parties, will meet in Addis Ababa today for a three-day congress to select their next chairman and new prime minister. The coalition controls all seats in the disputed parliament.

Outgoing PM Hailemariam Desalegn resigned on February 15 to quell two years of violent street protests that have left hundreds dead and thousands in state custody. Much of the unrest arises from the Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups, who together make up 61% of the country’s population and are aggrieved at years of political and economic marginalisation.

Expect tense negotiations in a coalition traditionally dominated by the Tigrayan ethnic TPLF party. Given the ethnic tensions, a leading contender is Dr Abiy Ahmed, an Oromo from the Oromo party of the coalition. If he is chosen, it would be a historic first. However, it will likely only stem the protests for now as sidelined opposition groups continue to call for genuine reforms to allow real pluralism in Africa’s second most populous country.