Who is Hailemariam Desalegn?
Awramba Times (Washington DC) – Bereket Simon, head of government communications office has disclosed that Hailemariam Desalegn became acting prime minister and will be sworn in as prime minister after an emergency meeting of parliament following the death of Meles Zenawi.
“According to the Ethiopian constitution the deputy prime minister will have to go to parliament and take the oath, and the government is organizing the parliament to be summoned as soon as possible,” Bereket Simon said.
Haile Mariam Desalegne is an Ethiopian politician who has served in the government of Ethiopia as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2010.
After the announcement of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi‘s death on 20 August 2012, Hailemariam was named acting prime minister. He is the first Protestant Christian head of government in the history of Ethiopia.
Hailemariam is from the Wolayta ethnic group, which dominate the politics of Ethiopia’s southern region. As Ethnic Tigray, Amhara and mixed people of Ethiopia have traditionally dominated the politics of the country for the last 200 years, Hailemariam would be the first fully non-Tigray and non-Amhara head of government in the history of the nation.
Born in the Wolaita Zone Boloso Sore District of Southern Ethiopia, Hailemariam studied and spent most of his youth in Wolaita.
He was President of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR) from November 2001 to March 2006 and was promoted as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs in October 2010. He has been performing leadership roles as deputy Chairman of EPRDF, Chairman of SEPDM, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. His service term has been as follows:
Vice President of the SNNPR (2000–2002); President of the SNNPR (2002–2005); Member of the House of People’s Representatives (2005–present); Social Affairs Special Advisor to the PM, then Public Mobilization & Participation Special Advisor to the Prime Minister (2005–2008); Government Chief Whip, with a Ministerial portfolio (2008–2010).
Member of the Executive Committee of the EPRDF and the SEPDM (2000–present); Chairman of the SEPDM (2002–present); Deputy Chairman of the EPRDF (since Sept 2010).
Hailemariam Desalegn obtained a bachelor degree in civil engineering from the Addis Ababa University in 1988. He subsequently worked as a graduate assistant in the Arba Minch Water Technology Institute (now Arba Minch University). After two years of working in this capacity, he won a scholarship to Tampere University of Technology in Finland and obtained a masters degree in sanitation engineering. Upon his return to Ethiopia he served in different academic and administrative capacities, including the dean of the Water Technology Institute, for 13 years.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, he became seriously involved in politics as member of the EPRDF (Ethiopia’s ruling party) and became the deputy president of the SNNPR. He replaced Abate Kisho who was removed from power on corruption charges, but it is believed that Abate was demoted for supporting the anti-Meles Zenawi faction when the TPLF split in 2000.
After his tenure as President of the SNNPR, Hailemariam worked in the Prime Minister’s Office as the advisor on Social Affairs and Civic Organizations and Partnerships for two years. In 2010 Haile Mariam was sworn in to dual ministerial positions as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Please watch one of Hailemariam Desalegn’s rare interview with the international media