New Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has appointed a new cabinet, which was unanimously approved by parliament today, reGina Jane Jere reports.
The news was announced sixteen days after Abiy was sworn in as prime minister following the surprise resignation of his predecessor, Hailemariam Desalegne, and comes as the IMF confirms that Ethiopia is currently Africa’s fastest growing economy.
Prime Minister Ahmed presented 10 new names and 6 reshuffles to parliament, while retaining the rest of the 29 portfolios from the previous government. Only four women have been included. A notable change is the replacement of Defence Minister Sirage Fergesa with Motuma Mekassa, who is a member of the Oromo community that led the anti-government protests which eventually led to the resignation of Desalegne in February.
“We shall be able to respond to the demands of the people of the country, and this is one of the motives behind the appointments and reshuffle,’’ Abiy announced in a statement broadcast on state television.
Since being sworn in on 2 April, Ahmed has been travelling and holding public rallies around the country in a move to further quell the disquiet behind the anti-government protests that prompted the departure of his predecessor.
At a rally last week in Jijiga, the capital of the Somali region, he told a large crowd: “Conflict is regrettable and contrary to the Ethiopian culture and a shameful spot in our history.” He pointed to the traditional mediation skills of elderly and religious leaders in bringing peace and bridging conflict, promising his new government’s full commitment to resolving any problems.
The Ethiopian Parliament – made up of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), a coalition of four regional parties, has since approved the new appointments.
The 547-seat parliament also elected a new speaker, former Minister of Women’s Affairs Muferihat Kamil, who replaces Abadula Gemeda. She becomes the first woman to hold the position in the country’s history. She is deputised by another female – Shitaye Menale.
The 16 names presented for approval in parliament included:
Motuma Mekassa, Minister of Defence
Teshome Toga, Minister of State Enterprises
Melaku Aebel, Minister of Trade
Ambachew Mekonne, Minister of Industry
Ahmed Shidie, Minister of Government Communications
Amir Aman , Minister of Health
Shiferaw Shigute, Minister of Agriculture & Livestock Resources (newly merged ministry)
Siraj Fegessa, Minister of Transport
Brehanu Tsegaye, Attorney General
Ubah Mohammed, Minister of Communications & Technology
Hirut Woldemariam, Minister of Works & Social Affairs
Meles Alemu, Minister of Mines & Energy
Fozia Amin, Minister of Culture & Tourism
Umar Hussien, Director General of Revenues & Customs Authority
Yealem Tsegaye, Minister of Youth & Women
Janterar Abay, Minister of Urban Development & Construction