Ethiopia ruling party to pick new PM next week

(iStock)
(iStock)

Addis Ababa - Ethiopia's ruling coalition will meet to choose a new prime minister next week, a party official said on Saturday.

Hailemariam Desalegn resigned as prime minister last week after ordering a mass prisoner amnesty and days of protest in Africa's second most-populous country. A state of emergency was declared the following day.

The 180-member council of the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) would decide on his replacement, said Kassahun Gofi, publicity chief for the largest of the four parties in the coalition, the Oromo Peoples' Democratic Organisation (OPDO).

"It's tentatively scheduled for Wednesday," Kassahun told AFP in an interview.

Kassahun also said his party backed the state of emergency, even though it suspends a number of constitutional rights and is partly aimed at the restive Oromia region the OPDO represents.

Ethiopia's constitution gives parliament 15 days to approve the emergency decree of February 16.

"As a party, we support the state of emergency," Kassahun said.

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The parties within the coalition have jockeyed for position since Hailemariam's resignation, which was rumoured for months but ultimately came the day after a no-confidence vote by his party in the EPRDF coalition, a government official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

This week, the OPDO elevated a high-ranking official, Abiy Ahmed, to the position of chairperson in a move believed to clear the way for him to stand for prime minister.

"We are ready to simply present a potential candidate at the prime minister level," Kassahun said. "If it is the will of all parties, Dr. Abiy will be elected."

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