Ethiopia’s prime minister reshuffles cabinet

Two in three ministers have been replaced. Nine ministers are from restive Oromia region. The move is unlikely to appease opposition.

?Addis Ababa, Ethiopia?– Prime minister Hailemariam Dessalegn has reshuffle his cabinet three weeks after imposing a state of emergency. The main goal of the reshuffle is to contain a wave of anti-government protests that have started to destabilize the authoritarian regime.

On Tuesday November 1 2016, the prime minister appointed five technocrats and half a dozen people from Oromia, the region where the unrest began a year ago, in an effort to give the government a more broad-based appearance. The new Oromo ministers are all affiliated to EPRDF, which has ruled the country for 25 years.

The PM replaced many ministers?including the heads of the trade, health, finance, foreign ministries and government communication bureau.

The prime minister’s government?consists of?30 cabinet posts, out of which only 9 ministers retained their previous posts. Siraj Fegessa, the defense minister in charge of implementing the state of emergency is one of them. Many analysts described the reshuffle as cosmetic. They note that apart from the five technocrats, all the appointees are?affiliated?with the regime, hence they don’t have connection with the protest movement.?

The?opposition is demanding for new political system and open elections. The reshuffle, however is far from these demands. Hence?it is unlikely to appease the opposition, which want a new political system and open elections.

One high profile departure is Dr. Tedros Adhanom, the minister of foreign affairs who is currently in the running for the top WHO job. He was replaced by Workneh Gebeyehu, a former federal police commissioner.?

Lately there has been a substantiated rumor circulating around diaspora message boards that?claim?Gebeyehu is not an ethnic?Oromo. Gebeyehu was recently appointed deputy chair of OPDO, the Oromo wing that is part of the EPRDF coalition.

Getachew Reda, director of gov’t communications office, has also been sacked. He was a very controversial figure who referred to protesters as ‘daemons’. His notoriety, and the current crisis has made the office that much important. His replacement is a professor of journalism, Dr. Negeri Lencho.

The PM?has admitted that the death toll since the protests began could be as high as 500. The government has also said that more than 2,000 people in the Oromia and Amhara regions have been arrested since the state of emergency was imposed on October 9.?Activist groups say the numbers of people killed and detained are much higher than.?

Under the state of emergency all protests and criticism of the government are banned, diplomats are forbidden from travelling more than?25 mile from the capital city, and access to the internet has been severely restricted.