By Aaron Maasho
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s acting prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn will run the country until an election in 2015, showing that the ruling party is determined to ensure a swift and smooth transfer of power following the death of Meles Zenawi.
Meles, 57, died late on Monday in a Brussels hospital after a long illness, leaving a gaping hole in Ethiopian politics and depriving Western powers of a trusty ally in the fight against Islamist militants in the Horn of Africa.
“He (Hailemariam) will be the prime minister until 2015. He is to be sworn in and he is to finish the five-year term of government and that is indisputable,” government spokesman Bereket Simon told Reuters.
Parliament would be summoned within the next two days and Hailemariam would be sworn in as prime minister, Bereket said.
Crowds of mourners, many holding candles, gathered to witness Meles’ casket arriving in the capital, Addis Ababa, late on Tuesday. His body is now lying in his private residence as preparations are made for a state funeral.
Bereket said that the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) party, a coalition of region-based parties, would hold a party congress at an undisclosed date to nominate a leader but said there was no scenario under which Hailemariam would not remain as premier.
After taking power in 1991 from Mengistu Haile Mariam’s military junta, guerilla fighter Meles became one of the central political figures on the continent and drove domestic economic growth into double figures.
An astute economist, Meles advocated a blend of heavy state spending and foreign private investment, with a focus lately on energy and infrastructure projects. Read more…