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Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who is also the Chairperson of the African Union (AU), reshuffled his cabinet, for the second time, on Thursday, aiming to strengthen his administration.
Several new appointees have joined the cabinet, while some have been given new portfolios. The PM presented his choice of candidates to the House of People’s Representatives for endorsement and responded to the various questions raised by the MPs, including queries on the annual budget for the upcoming Ethiopian fiscal year.
Hailemariam appointed Shiferaw Shigute as Minister of Education. Shiferaw was serving as President of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional state (SNNPR) since 2006. The PM indicated that he was assigned to the post to relieve Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Demeke Mekonnen from excessive workload. Redwan Hussein, who was the Public Mobilization and Participation Advisor to the PM and Head of the EPRDF Secretariat, has been appointed as Head of the Government Communication Affairs Office at a ministerial level.
Just a day before the appointment of Redwan, Bereket Simon, former Head of the PM office, was appointed as the Policy Study and Research Advisor to the Prime Minister with the rank of Minister.
The Ministry of Industry (MoI) also got a new chief; Ahmed Abitew, Deputy Chief Administrator of the Amhara Regional State and Head of the region’s Trade and Industry Bureau, was appointed as its Minister.
The Former Head of MoI, Mekonnen Manyazewal, was given a new portfolio as Minister of the newly established National Planning Commission.
Hailemariam appointed General Workneh Gebeyehu, who was Commissioner of the Federal Police Commission, to the Ministry of Transport (MoT). Workneh replaced Diriba Kuma, who is expected to become the Mayor of Addis Ababa, a position which is currently being held by Kuma Demeksa. Kuma is to hold the post of Policy Study and Research Advisor to the Prime Minister with the rank of Minister, alongside Bereket Simon.
Getachew Ambaye, Deputy Mayor of Addis Ababa and Public Relations Advisor to Mayor Kuma Demeksa, has been selected for the post of Minister of Justice, following the dismissal of Berhan Hailu on the ground of lack of competence.
The appointment of Beker Shale as Director of the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA), has officially been ratified by the House. Melaku Fenta, the former head of ERCA, with his deputy Gebrewahid Woldegiorgis are on trial for alleged corruption charges. Beker Shale was the Mayor of the town of Adama until his recent appointment to head ERCA.
Roman G/Selassie, Vice Government Whip, has been promoted to Chief Government Whip at the Ministerial level, replacing her former boss, Aster Mamo.
The Prime Minister introduced another new appointee to lead the Ministry of Technology and Science; Demitu Hambessa, former Speaker of the Oromia Regional State Council, replacing Dessie Dalke.
Belete Tafere, former Chief Natural Resource Technical Advisor with GIZ Sustainable Land Utilization Project Office in Tigray state, was appointed as Minister of the newly established Ministry Environmental Protection and Forestry.
The only opposition to the appointments came from Girma Seifu, the lone voice of the opposition camp.
Girma, not only refused to approve the nominations, but also strenuously argued for the reduction of the budget allocated to the National Broadcast Authority, citing the continual failure of the Authority in allowing the private sector into broadcast media, especially television. “The entire budget, except for salary, should be cancelled until the Authority is officially dissolved,” he said. However, the parliament ratified the 154.9 billion birr budget, including the budget he voted against, on the same day.