Ethiopian PM stays for another term

2010-10-05 07:30

Addis Ababa - Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was sworn in for another five-year term on Monday, almost five months after controversial polls propelled his party to victory.

Meles, who came to power in 1991 after toppling Mengistu Haile Mariam's communist junta following a 17-year war, was re-elected as head of his Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition last month.

"I hereby pledge to commit to the constitution and serve my country and its people," he said in a ceremony held in parliament.

Foreign diplomats also attended the session, which saw key ally Abadula Gemeda elected as speaker in another appointment that follows the election of the EPRDF's 36-member executive committee and 180-member council in September.

Ethiopia's ruling party and its allies won more than 99% of parliament seats in the May 23 polls, but both the US and the European Union have said the vote did not meet international standards.

The country's main opposition parties have all rejected the results saying they were riddled with fraud, but their appeals were subsequently turned down by the electoral board and the supreme court.

The Medrek coalition had filed an appeal demanding a re-run, arguing that its supporters had been subjected to intimidation and its observers barred from polling stations during election day.

The 55-year-old former guerrilla leader has said his primary focus during his new - and last - term will be employing his five-year "Growth and Transformation" development plan that targets 15% economic growth over the period.

The plan - launched in September - seeks to substantially increase Ethiopia's food production.

The Horn of Africa nation is one of the world's poorest countries and nearly five million people needed relief in the first six months of this year, according to the United Nations.