By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
November 29, 2012 (ADDIS ABABA) - Ethiopia’s prime minister, Hailemariam Dessalegn, on Thursday reshuffled his cabinet; his first since he assumed power last September following the death of his predecessor, Meles Zenawi.
- Ethiopian prime minister, Hailemariam Dessalegn (Getty)
The House of People’s Representatives on Thursday endorsed the appointment of five ministers presented by Dessalegn.
He appointed an additional two Deputy Prime Ministers, giving Ethiopia three deputy prime ministers for the first time in its history.
Muktar Kedir was appointed with the rank of deputy minister. Civil service minister; Debretsio Gebremichael took the posts of deputy prime minister and information technology minister. Demeke Mekonnen was appointed as the deputy prime minister and minister of education. Former health minister, Tewodros Adhanom, has been appointed as minister of foreign affairs. Kebede Chane has become the trade minister. Keseteberhan Admassu is now the minister of health.
No changes were made to key ministerial posts such as defence, justice and agriculture.
In related news, Dessalegn today fired the country’s civil service minister, Junedin Sado, whose wife is facing terrorism charges in connection with the ongoing protests by Muslims who accuse government of interference in their religious affairs.
Ethiopian Muslims, who make up over 35 percent of the country’s 84 million population, continued to stage protests in the capital, Addis Ababa, on Friday. They are seeking a review of the government’s religious policies.
Ethiopia, which fears a hard-line Islamist influence within the predominantly Christian nation, accuses the protesters of attempts to incite Islamic militancy.
Sado has defended his wife and criticised the federal prosecutor’s charges.
Sado’s wife is one among the 29 people who are currently facing terrorism charges, according to reports by local independent newspapers.