Ethiopia: Prime Minister Hailemariam to Step Down

Ethiopia begins six-month state of emergency

Ethiopia has announced a state of emergency after prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Thursday announced his intention to step down amid a political crisis in the country.

Still, anti-government protests continue to occur, and a separate spate of clashes between the Oromo and Somali ethnicities displaced a million people late past year.

Awelu said selection of a new prime minister will in itself not be an easy task for the ruling party coalition, which comprises of four ethnicities.

The prime minister wanted even more prisoner releases, said a regional analyst familiar with Ethiopian politics.

"People need to be free to express themselves peacefully, and to be confident that they can do so", he wrote on the embassy's Facebook page. "At the same time, people need to demonstrate their commitment to peaceful expression and dialogue".

Desalegn, 52, took over the position of PM soon after the death of late former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in August 2012. And according to both World Bank and International Monetary Fund figures, the last 10 years have indeed, seen Ethiopia consistently achieve double digit Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth and one of Africa's largest infrastructure investments. For the past few years, Ethiopia has seethed with social unrest. The coalition has controlled every seat in Ethiopia's 547-strong parliament since 2015, when Seifu lost his post. It was widely rumored he would be resigning after the party congress scheduled for next month.

But the move, just like the rosy economic figures, did not quell the Ethiopians' perennial demands for greater democracy which in recent months escalated into the worst anti-government protests in over 25 years, leaving scores dead or injured.

Somalis - The dry and arid Somali region, also known as the Ogaden, occupies the eastern third of the country and is home to 6 million people. Despite repeated government assurances that the strife is under control, reports still surface of continued fighting.

In a country long dominated by its major ethnic groups - most recently the Tigray, the ethnic group to which Meles belonged - Hailemariam comes from the minority Wolayta people in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region.

Now, the question is where does the country go from here?

It was not clear who would replace Hailemariam. "He couldn't manage the public grievances".

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