Ethiopia’s PM Hailemariam Desalegn Adds Two Deputy PMs in Cabinet Reshuffle

Nov. 28, 2012

* Move aimed at improving governance

* New foreign minister also appointed

* PM Hailemariam Desalegn in power since Meles Zenawi’s death

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA, Nov 29 (Reuters) – Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn appointed two additional deputies and new foreign and trade ministers on Thursday, the first cabinet reshuffle since he took over from long-serving leader Meles Zenawi.

Hailemariam, 47, became prime minister in September, a month after the death of Meles, the towering political figure who had ruled Ethiopia for the last 21 years and steered domestic economic growth into double figures while cracking down hard on dissent.

Meles’s passing had sparked concerns that control of the diverse country of over 80 million could disintegrate and diplomats said the subsequent delay to the appointment of his successor suggested a power struggle was being played out.

Hailemariam, who was Meles Zenawi’s last deputy prime minister and foreign minister, announced on Thursday he had appointed Communications and Information Technology Minister Debretsion Gebremichael and newly-appointed Civil Service Minister Muktar Kedir as deputy prime ministers, joining existing deputy Demeke Mekonnen.

It is the first time the Horn of Africa country has had three deputy leaders.

“The death of Meles Zenawi demanded a re-shuffle. The expansion of responsibilities will enable ministries to function relatively better with clear divisions of labour and accountability,” Justice Minister Berhan Hailu told Reuters.

“The workload was too much for the late prime minister. This move enables Hailemariam to focus on development projects, defence and the coordination of cabinet members.”

Other ministers appointed on Thursday were drawn from the ranks of state ministers and senior officials. Former state minister of trade Kebede Chane takes over as trade minister, while his counterpart at the health ministry, Keseteberhan Admassu, becomes the head of his ministry.

SURPRISE PICK

Meanwhile Muktar Kedir takes over as civil service minister following the dismissal of his predecessor.

His appointment as deputy prime minister, however, was dismissed as a mere political ploy by some opposition officials.

Girma Seifu, the country’s lone opposition member of parliament, said his selection was meant to appease the Oromo ethnic group which, though Ethiopia’s largest in number, has never taken centre-stage politically.

“Not having a significant position at the highest level has been an issue, and it’s a big seller for the EPRDF (ruling party),” he told Reuters.

“This cabinet reshuffle is an attempt to address this internal conflict.”

Another high-profile ministerial change made on Thursday was the appointment of Tewodros Adhanom as foreign minister.

Educated in Britain, Tewodros has been health minister since 2005 and won international recognition for his work in combating disease and developing the country’s healthcare system which has brough a significant reduction in Ethiopia’s child mortality rate.

He replaces his acting predecessor Berhane Gebrekirstos, a veteran diplomat who served as envoy to both Washington and Brussels.

Hailemariam retained Sufian Ahmed as the finance minister, and also made no changes at the top in the ministries of defence, justice, education, agriculture and federal affairs. (Editing by Greg Mahlich)

Related News:

House Approves Appointment of Ministers, Include Two New Deputy PMs, Four Ministerial Positions

Addis Ababa, November 29 (WIC) - House of Peoples’ Representatives today approved the appointment of two additional Deputy Prime Ministers and four ministers submitted by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

Muktar Kedir, deputy chairman of Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization (OPDO), is appointed Good Governance Reform Cluster Coordinator with the rank of Deputy Prime Minister. Muktar also assumed the position of Minister of Civil Service, the former post of Junedin Sado.

Dr. Debretsion Gebremichael, deputy chairman of Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF), is appointed Finance and Economic Cluster Coordinator with the rank of Deputy Prime Minister.

The house also approved the appointment of Dr. Tedros Adhanom as the country’s new Foreign Minister. Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu is appointed Minister of Health, a position which was assumed by Dr. Tedros since 2005. Kebede Chane, who served as acting Minister of Trade for over a year, is now appointed with full ministerial responsibility.

Presenting the new appointees to the house, PM Hailemarian said the appointment was made based on the succession plan of Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front’s (EPRDF).

He said lessons were also drawn from ministerial cabinet structures of other countries, that are registering fast economic growth as well as countries with similar parliamentary form of government to Ethiopia.

Hailemariam defended his appointment of Kebede Chane as the trade minister, whose capacity was questioned by the sole opposition member Girma Seifu.

“It was during Kebede’s reign as acting minister of trade that the country introduced a modern business licensing and registering law,” Hailemariam defended.

The house approved the appointments with an overwhelming majority with the only abstinence coming from Girma.

Background on the New Minister of Foreign Affairs:

Note: Some spell the name Tedros as “Tewodros”

Dr. Tedros Adhanom was today (November 29th) appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia by Prime Minister Hailemariam. His appointment already endorsed by Parliament, moved Dr. Tedros from the Ministry of Health which he has headed for seven years.

Dr. Tedros, known as a dedicated public servant and acclaimed scientific researcher, served in a number of technical posts in the Ministry of Health prior to his appointment as Minister in 2005.

Dr. Tedros holds a doctorate (PhD) in Community Health from the University of Nottingham as well as a Masters (MSc) in Immunology of Infectious Diseases from the University of London. He completed his undergraduate studies in Biology at Asmara University in 1986.

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Day of Reshuffling