PM Abiy Ahmed replaces military chief of staff and intelligence director

(BLOOMBERG) – Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed has appointed a new army chief of staff, replacing Samora Yenus.

The appointment of General Seare (ፀዓረ) Mekonnen, who was sworn in today by President Mulatu Teshome, marks the first change at the top in 17 years in Ethiopia’s army, which plays a dominant role in the country that has Africa’s biggest population after Nigeria. He belongs to the Tigrayan ethnic group that’s largely held the top ranks of the military, security and intelligence services since the then-rebel Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front seized power.

His appointment was announced late Thursday by Fana Broadcasting Corp., which is funded by the ruling party.

Named one of three deputy chiefs of staff earlier this year, Seare also previously headed the military’s northern command, whose jurisdiction covers areas bordering Eritrea.

PM Abiy also named General Adem Mohammed as the new director of the National Intelligence and Security Services, replacing Getachew Assefa, according to Fana on Thursday. Adem Mohammed, an ethnic Amhara who previously commanded Ethiopia’s air force, was also appointed as a deputy chief of staff of the army earlier this year.