Hailemariam Desalegn will be sworn in after Meles’s funeral
By William Davison
(Bloomberg) — Hailemariam Desalegn, who took over as Ethiopia’s acting premier this week after the death of Meles Zenawi, will be sworn in as prime minister by lawmakers after Meles has been buried, the government said.
The former foreign minister and deputy prime minister is the choice of the ruling Ethiopia Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front to succeed Meles, Communications Minister Bereket Simon told reporters today in Addis Ababa, the capital. Meles will be buried on Sept. 2, he said.
“Parliament will be summoned at any time, it’s on standby,” Bereket said. No date has been set for when parliament will convene for the swearing-in ceremony, he said.
Meles ruled Ethiopia for 21 years before his death at the age of 57 in a Belgian hospital on Aug. 20. His economic policies, which blended a large state role with private investment, helped the country achieve economic growth rates of as much as 12.6 percent. Meles’s government was also a U.S. ally in the fight against insurgencies in the Horn of Africa, especially in Somalia, where the military helped remove an Islamist group from power in 2006.
Hailemariam was named as deputy prime minister in October 2010 following his appointment a month earlier as deputy chairman of the EPRDF, a four-party coalition, which along with allied parties, holds all but two seats in the nation’s 547-
The ruling party hasn’t decided who will replace Hailemariam as deputy chairman of the ruling party and deputy prime minister, Bereket said. “The EPRDF has to meet and discuss” that, he said, without providing further details.
Hailemariam is unlikely to announce any “major” changes to policy in the short term, said Ben Payton, East Africa analyst at Maplecroft, a Bath, U.K.-based research group.
“There are few reasons for Hailemariam to make any immediate alterations to economic policy, since maintaining investor confidence is vital to sustaining economic growth,” Payton said in an e-mailed note yesterday. “Similarly, the Ethiopian troop presence in Somalia is likely to continue in order to emphasize Ethiopia’s importance to its Western allies.”
Thousands of Ethiopians queued for a second day to enter the prime minister’s palace to pay their respects to Meles’s family, while worshippers less than a kilometer away attended the funeral ceremony of Abune Paulos, patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, who also died earlier this month.
“I am here to express my sadness,” Netsanet Amara, a 21-year-old college student, said in an interview in the city. “Meles was one of the smartest and most exceptional leaders in Africa.”
–Editors: Paul Richardson, Emily Bowers.