Ethiopia : New cabinet ministers announced but popular demand is about political change

November 1,2016

Video credit : EBC

Amid state of emergency, government in Ethiopia announced new cabinet appointments. The appointments are theoretically meant to respond to the wide spread protest in the country that has been going on for nearly a year now.

In an apparent window dressing action to ,supposedly, mitigate ethnic Oromo protest, at least 8 of 19 appointments are from ethnic Oromo population which constitute about 35 % of the entire population.

cabinet appointments seem to have placed emphasis on ethnic and gender diversity. Three of new cabinet members are women. Construction ministry got Aysha Mohammed from Afar ethnic group, Culture and Tourism ministry got Hirut Wolde Mariam from Kembata ethnic group, and Women and Children Ministry got Demtu Hambissa from Oromo ethnic group.

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Major changes are in the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Government Communication. Both positions were held by Tigray People’s Liberation Front members – Tewodros Adhanom and Getachew Reda respectively. Newly appointed ministers for these ministries are now from ethnic Oromo.

Workeneh Gebeyehu is the new Foreign Affairs Minister. In addition to serving as police commissioner,a position he held for about nine years, he worked in the National intelligence and security services for more than seven years which is in a way an indication that he is trusted within the ruling TPLF circles. Rumor has it that he is in fact from ethnic Tigray and the Oromo identity he claims is bogus. TPLF still retained some key ministry. Finance and Economic Cooperation new minister is Abraham Tekeste from Tigray ethnicity.

Most of the appointees do seem to have PH.D academic qualifications – which is obviously meant to create the impression that the regime has now placed emphasis to “competence” as opposed to party loyalty.

The assumption on the part of the ruling party is that the new cabinet could partly address popular demands that was rocking the country but that does not seem to be the case in reality.

True, one of the indictments against the ruling Tigray people’s Liberation Front (TPLF) was its domination of key government positions while it is demographically one of the minorities in the country.But the reform is no where near what people desire for.

The popular demand is about fundamental change as opposed to reform. Tigray Peoples Liberation Front, a minority groups, controlled government power with iron fist for more than 25 years with scandal and corruption as major hallmarks of it. People demanded to have choice of and control over government.

The reality is that power is still in the hands of TPLF. Ethiopia is still under single party with no opposition voice in the parliament.

Human Rights groups in Ethiopia reported that more than 1000 people are killed since the deceleration of state of emergency at the beginning of October.

Check back for a full list of newly appointed ministers.

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