Ethiopia: Prime minister steps down after mass protests


Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn has announced his resignation at the country’s leader and head, following years of anti-government demonstrations.

The prime minister’s resignation has been accepted by ruling coalition party the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) but the prime minister will continue to fulfil his role as PM until a replacement is appointed at the next EPRDF congress.

Ethiopia PM resigns

“Unrest and a political crisis have led to the loss of lives and displacement of many,” Desalegn said in a televised address to the nation. “I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy.”

Hundreds of people have died during election violence since 2015. Anti-government demonstrations initiated in the Oromia Region over government plans to expand the capital Addis Ababa into Oromo territory.

Early protests were peaceful but they escalated into violence, resulting in security forces opening fire upon unarmed crowds. The government eventually dropped plans to expand the capital into Oromo territory but anti-government dissent intensified over its handling of the protests and demonstrations spread to other parts of the country.

The government was forced to implement a state of emergency in late 2016, which wasn’t lifted until ten months later. Tens of thousands of people were arrested and sent to “rehabilitation camps” as the government tried to put an end to political opposition activities. However, tension has been increased since the state of emergency was listed last year and, despite thousands of political prisoners being released, public demands for change haven’t been silenced.

Featured image: “2014-Hailemariam Desalegn, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister” flickr photo by United Nations Industrial Development Organization shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.