Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Ethiopia’s substantive Prime Minister will be chosen at a full ruling party council meeting, to be attended by 180 delegates after the country’s New Year, the office of the acting Prime Minister said in a statement Thursday. Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Party (EPRDF) top political committee met for two days after the burial of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, to chart the new route of the party.
The Executive Committee meeting, attended by 36 members, all top leaders of the parties that form the EPRDF, resolved to pursue Meles economic reform plan aimed at modernizing the Ethiopian economy.
“The Council will formally take a vote for the replacement of the Chairperson and the Deputy Chairperson of the EPRDF,” according to the statement.
A report carried by the state-run Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) did not formally address the acting Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn as such, but reverted to his old title of Deputy Prime Minister.
Hailemariam, a Southern Ethiopian, is perceived as a relative political novice and lacks the credentials of a rebel who fought to topple the the dictatorial regime of Mengistu Hailemariam.
Meles had said his choice of Hailemariam Desalegn was based on the need to give Ethiopia’s democracy a new face despite opposition by some party officials who insist that an insider of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) should take the lead.
There have been discussions in Addis Ababa about the possibility that the country’s constitution does not entirely dictate the succession formula upon the death of a Prime Minister.
Hailemariam was endorsed the acting Premier on 21 August during a cabinet ministers’ meeting. But an emergency parliamentary session to endorse his rule until 2015 was abruptly called off.
The ruling party cited the request by party members to continue mourning their late leader.
No firm date has yet been set for the newly-elected party chief to be sworn in.
The alternative view has been that although the Prime Minister is a product of the constitution, his deputy was an assistant created for that purpose but with no direct access to power.
There has also been the belief that the deputy Prime Minister should substantively assume power upon the demise of the post holder.
Vowing to continue with Zenawi’s policies, party officials endorsed the construction of the Djibouti-Addis Ababa railway connection and an intercity railway plan initiated by the late leader Meles.
They also endorsed the continuation of the renaissance dam project, which aims to make Ethiopia one of the largest exporters of electricity in East Africa.
The dam project also has aspects of irrigation for local communities. The ruling party also approved a job-creation plan to target the youth in urban areas. The party said its policies would promote small and medium enterprises to help create more jobs.
Meanwhile, the acting Prime Minister has continued to host visiting state dignitaries to discuss the Ethiopian political focus in the Horn of Africa region.
The Ethiopian foreign minister met a visiting Sudanese ruling party delegation led by Dr. Nefie al Nefie, to discuss the future political engagement between the two sides.