Ethiopia’s PM Hands Cabinet Roles to Oromo People in Reshuffle


Ethiopia’s prime minister reshuffled his cabinet on Tuesday, in a bid to create a more ethnically diverse body of high-ranking officials.

The move sees two politicians from the Oromo region handed senior role while reducing the dominance the Tigrayan ethnic group. This follows a wave of deadly protests in the country and a six-month state of emergency announced by the PM in October.


A move to calm unrest

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn promised the reshuffle when he announced the state of emergency last month.

Ethiopia reached breaking point in the second half of 2016 as violent protests spread throughout the country. What started as a row over territorial rights gradually escalated into an ethnic battle between the country’s largest demographic group and the government.

The state of emergency effectively bans all criticism of the government, enforces curfews and makes the organisation of further demonstrations incredibly difficult. But the tension and anger is going nowhere.

Thousands of arrests have been made since the state of emergency came into effect and the government knows it needs to calm the unrest, rather than merely attempt to silence it.

Much of this comes down to ethnic backgrounds between the government and the country’s largest demographic group – the Oromo people. Desalegn’s reshuffle puts Workneh Gebeyehu as the new minister of foreign affairs and Negeri Lencho as the new minister of communications. Both are Oromo people and the cabinet reshuffle is a clear attempt to calm the discontent of people in the region.


Demands for reform, not reshuffles

There’s little hope Desalegn’s reshuffle will have much of an impact on Ethiopia’s security troubles. Protesters insist they want genuine reforms and key issues over human rights to be addressed – not a few privileged seats to be switched.



Meanwhile, roughly 2,000 people detained in recent protests have been released, as part of the government’s ‘rehabilitation’ process. Human Rights Watch warns detainees will only be subject to further “ill-treatment and sometimes torture” during these programs.


Featured image: Twitter

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.