2 December 2012

Ethiopia: Aboard the Driving Seat

The parliament approved the appointments of two new deputy premiers, a foreign minister and a minister of health on November 29, 2012.

Three-months after the death of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, various appointments take hold of vacant positions and new high level positions with latest appointments of two new deputy premiers, a foreign minister and a minister of health.

The parliament approved the appointments of Debretsion Gebremichael (PhD), minister of Communications & Information Technology, and Muktar Kedir, head of the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Affairs with a ministerial portfolio, as deputy prime ministers on Thursday, November 29, 2012.

Born in Jimma Zone,OromiaRegionalState, Muktar Kedir is a member of Oromo Regional Council. He was a head of the Office of EPRDF Council from 2008 to 2010, and Deputy Chair of the Oromo People's Democratic Organisation (OPDO).

Muktar's portfolio as deputy will be governance and he also will become a Civil Service Minister. It has not been announced what the fate of Junedin Sado, the current miniter of Civil Service, will be. Junedin's wife is facing terrorism charges and is currently in custody.

"His election is aimed at cheering the Oromo people, the country's largest group," Girma Seyfu, the lone opposition member in the parliament told Fortune.

Debretsion, who is chair of the Finance & Economy Cluster, is a veteran member of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and Member of the executive committee of the EPRDF. He was the Director of Information & Communications Technology Development Agency (ICTDA) of the Federal Government and later Minster of Communication & Information Technology.

Presenting the nominations, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn explained that his deputies will lead ministries in clusters to be able to deliver quality leadership across every sector of the executive body.

"I think appointing three deputy prime ministers is not a good idea," Girma said. "According to the constitution, the Deputy Prime Minister acts on behalf of the Prime Minister in his absence. Who is replacing the Prime Minister in such circumstances?"

"Learning from our past experience, the responsibilities of the Prime Minister have to be shared. The work load was too much for the late Prime Minister. That is why appointing three deputies is needed," Seko Toure Getachew, EPRDF's external and public relations department head, told Fortune.

The Prime Minister also nominated and got approval for Tewodros Adhanom (PhD) as minister of foreign affairs, and Kebede Chane as Minister of Trade, where he stayed for months without the approval of the Parliament.

Tewodros has been Health Minister since 2005. He obtained his first degree in biology fromAsmaraUniversity, a Master's in Immunology and a PhD in Community Health fromEngland. He was co-chair of Partnership for Maternal, Neonatal & Child Health from 2005 to 2009, and board chair of the Rollback Malaria Partnership from 2007 to 2009.

He will fill the post that remained vacant after Hailemariam became prime minister, although Berhane Gebrekristos, a veteran diplomat who served as envoy to bothWashingtonandBrussels, had been at the helm as acting foreign minister.

"I am sure he will do a good job," says Girma, speaking of Tewodros, "but he will be evaluated on what kind of environment he has bequeathed to his successor."

The house also approved other ministries appointment. Kebede Chane was approved as trade minister, while the former state minister for health, Keseteberehan Admassu (MD), becomes minister of Health.

Copyright © 2012 Addis Fortune. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.