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Interim PM Desalegn voted head of Ethiopia ruling coalition

AFP
15 September 2012 | Ethiopia
Hailemariam Desalegn.  By Emmanuel Dunand (AFP/File)
Hailemariam Desalegn. By Emmanuel Dunand (AFP/File)

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) - Hailemariam Desalegn, who was appointed acting prime minister on the death of Meles Zenawi last month, has been elected to the head of Ethiopia's ruling coalition, the government announced Saturday.

His predecessor Zenawi, who ruled Ethiopia for 21 years, also held the post of president of the ruling EPRDF as well as that of prime minister, though it was not clear if that practice would be repeated.

The Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front "has decided that the leadership should pass to the new generation which had not taken part in the armed struggle," that brought the coalition to power, said government spokesman Bereket Simon.

One of three candidates, he had received unanimous backing, he added.

The current education minister Demeke Mekonnen was elected vice-president of the EPRDF.

The two men would be candidates for the posts of prime minister and deputy prime minister respectively when parliament voted to fill those posts when it reconvened in October, said Bereket.

Hailemariam Desalegn served as deputy prime minister under Zenawi.

The EPRDF is made up of four parties, each representing a specific region: Meles's party the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front, the Oromo Peoples' Democratic Organisation, the Amhara National Democratic Movement and the South Ethiopian Peoples' Democratic Movement, the party of Hailemariam.

It holds an overwhelming parliamentary majority.

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