Ethiopia to swear in new prime minister, a hand-picked successor to Meles Zenawi, on Friday

Sept 18, 2012, ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP)— Ethiopia’s new prime minister is to be sworn into office on Friday.   Hailemariam Desalegn is the hand-picked successor of former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who died Aug. 20 after ruling Ethiopia for more than two decades. Hailemariam is a former deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister under Meles.   Hailemariam’s ascension to prime minister has been delayed for at least a month after an emergency meeting of parliament was canceled last month.   Shimeles Kemal, communications state minister, said Tuesday that Hailemariam will take the oath Friday morning.   The extraordinary parliament session follows a meeting by the leadership of the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front, which on Saturday named Hailemariam its leader. The party controls 545 of the country’s 547 parliament seats, ensuring Hailemariam will be approved Friday.   –Washington Post       Hailemariam Desalegne Biography   ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — An official says Ethiopia’s ruling party has named as its leader acting Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who took over after the death last month of longtime leader Meles Zenawi.  As chairman of the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front, Hailemariam, 47, will almost certainly be confirmed as the country’s prime minister. Bereket Simon, Ethiopia’s communications minister, said Saturday that Hailemariam would be sworn in soon, perhaps in a few weeks. It remains unclear exactly when this will happen.  Hailemariam’s ascension to the ruling party’s top leadership signals that he is not just warming the seat for someone else and that influential party officials are keen to respect the wishes of Zenawi, who picked Hailemariam from obscurity and made him foreign minister and deputy prime minister.   Questions Quick Information  Name Haile Mariam Desalegne  Born July 19, 1965 (47)  In Office Aug. 20, 2012 – Present  Title Acting Prime Minister  Religion Protestant Christian  Spouse Married to Roman Tesfaye  Children Three: Joanna (22), the rest unknown  Ethnicity Welayta Ethnic Group  Twitter @HailemariamD  Languages Welaytta, Amharic, and English   Political Positions   Hailemariam Desalegn is an Ethiopian politician and the acting Prime Minister of Ethiopia. He formerly served as the country’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister from 2010 until August 2010. Following the death Meles Zenawi, who passed away from complications of liver cancer in Brussels, Belgium on August 20, 2012, the Council of Ministers appointed Hailemariam as the country’s temporary successor.   Early Childhood   Described as a timid and short-tempered individual by his childhood friends, Hailemariam was born on July 19, 1965 in the Welayta district of Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region of Ethiopia. He spent most of his youth playing football and assisting his father, Desalegne, with the family business.Upon entering high school, Hailmariam joined political youth group representing the former military junta, Mengiustu Hailemariam.   Hailemariam’s Education   Hailemariam obtained a Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the Addis Ababa University in 1988. He subsequently worked as a graduate assistant in Arba Minch University. Shortly after, he obtained a scholarship to attend Tampere University of Technology in Finland and achieved a masters degree in sanitation engineering. Upon his return to Ethiopia, he served in a number of academic and administrative positions, including the dean of the Water Technology Institute for over a decade.

Hailemariam married his longtime girlfriend, Roman Tesfaye, in 1989. Like her husband, Roman was born in southern Ethiopia and has a lengthy educational and political background. She has two Masters Degrees in leadership and economics from local universities. Prior to her current job at the African Union, She was an advisor for the people of South region and was on the human rights commission of Ethiopia. The couple have three daughters, with 22-year-old Joanna being the eldest of the three.


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