New Ethiopian Prime Minister Unlikely to Tackle Protests – Analysts


The newly-elected chairman of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition Abiy Ahmed will be unable to change the political system if he becomes the country’s new prime minister or effectively quells anti-government protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions, experts told Sputnik.
Local media reported that Ahmed won 108 out of the 180 votes from the party’s council on Tuesday, securing the position as the chairman. The EPRDF and its allies control all 547 seats in Ethiopia’s parliament. The parliament will confirm the new prime minister next week.
The election of a new chairman for the EPRDF follows Hailemariam Desalegn’s resignation as both prime minister and the ruling coalition’s chairman on February 15.
Dr. Fantu Cheru, a senior researcher at the African Studies Center of the University of Leiden, said that even if Ahmed was elected prime minister, he would be unable to change the current political system in Ethiopia.

“The struggle is not about electing a new leader — it is all about completely changing the entire political system in Ethiopia,” Cheru said.

Dr. Assefa Fiseha, a professor at the Center for Federal Studies at the Addis Ababa University, said that Ahmed would have to work in tandem with the EPRDF to implement reforms in the country.”The question is whether Dr. Abiy and EPRDF will deliver as government and whether long overdue reforms will be made,” Fiseha said.
Cheru went on to explain that the reason why Ahmed will be unable to alter the political system in Ethiopia is due to the nature of politics in the country, where the party rather than the prime minister leads on policy.

“He will not be able to institute fundamental changes. He will still work with the institutional parameters of a dominant one party state — the EPRDF. He will have no control over defense and security matters; prime ministers do not make policies in Ethiopia — the party makes all important decisions. He will, in essence, be as constrained as Hailemariam was,” Cheru said.

The parties that form the EPRDF are mainly divided along ethnic lines. They are the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organisation (OPDO) and Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM). Ahmed is an ethnic Oromo, and was the head of the OPDO before the chairmanship vote. […] CONTINUE READING