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Old members maintain most posts
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who was reelected for a second term on Monday October 5 by the House of Peoples’ Representative (parliament), announced his new cabinet with 11 new faces in the Council of Ministers.
The prime minster also disclosed the formation of a new ministry and the splitting of three ministries into six. At the second parliamentary session held on Tuesday October 6, he also announced that six ministries will be restructured.
The Ministry of Public Enterprises, a newly formed office, will control government-owned enterprises. Hailemariam said that the ministry is necessary “to manage the growing public sector.”
In its latest consultative report, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has welcomed the government’s plan to establish an agency that oversees state-owned enterprises, an action that is expected to increase the transparency of public sector spending. The public sector is the largest borrower of international funds.
The prime minster has appointed Demitu Hambissa, former Science and Technology Minister, to lead the new enterprise.
The three ministries that were split up into six new authorities are the Ministry of Agriculture; Ministry of Urban Development, Housing and Construction and Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs.
According to the new formation, the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) is divided into Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources Development, and Ministry of Animal and Fisheries Development. It was only five years ago that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MoARD) was changed to Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), with some departments moved to other ministry offices or established as independent offices.
Teferra Deribew, who was the Minister of Agriculture for the past five years, has been appointed to lead the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources Development, while State Minister, Sileshi Getahun, was assigned to be head of the new ministry responsible for animal and fisheries development.
The split of the Ministry of Urban Development, Housing and Construction is not unexpected, fast growth in the construction sector cited as the major reason for the formation of the new Construction Ministry.
The government’s decision to establish a Construction Ministry informs its intention to monitor the sector’s development closely. Ambachew Mekonnen (PhD), a former official from Amhara region, has been assigned to head the office. Mekuria Haile, former Minister of Urban Development, Housing and Construction, was once again appointed to manage the trimmed down Ministry of Urban Development and Housing.
The Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs is the other ministry going through a split. Zenebu Tadesse, former minister of the same, will continue to lead as the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs. Leading the Youth and Sport Ministry to emerge from the previous ministry, will be former head of Government Communication Affairs Office, Redwan Hussein.
Hailemariam said the formation of a separate Youth and Sport Ministry was necessary to follow up development of youth and the growing number of sport activities across the nation.
Ministries that were not split were restructured; with six ministries undergoing changes in administrative architecture that depict repositioning of the state. Prime minster Hailemariam stated that the six ministries were restructured to assign clear responsibilities.
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation; Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electric; Ministry of Mines, Petroleum and Natural Gas; Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change;Federal Affairs and Pastoralist Development Ministry and Public Service and Human Resource Development Ministry are ministerial offices were restructured.
Along with new ministries, new faces were observed in the Council of Ministers. Sufian Ahmed, the long serving minister of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED), was replaced by Abdulaziz Mohammed, who will lead the restructured Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation. Abdulaziz has served in different federal and regional government positions including as the Vice President of Harari region and Mayor of Dire Dawa City Administration. He was Vice President of Oromia regional state before his assignment to a higher post early this week.
Sufian, one of the longest serving cabinet members was also one of the longest lasting ministers, much like Seyoum Mesfin, who led the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since the transitional government was formed in 1991, and the late PM Meles Zenawi, who served as Prime Miniser from 1995 until his death in 2012. Sufian served MoFED for 15 years, first appointed as fiscal policy adviser to the Prime Minster. Early this year, Sufian had competed for the presidential post at the African Development Bank.
Sileshi Getahun, is another new face to the cabinet’s circle. The Prime Minister appointed Sileshi, former State Minister of Agriculture, to lead the newly formed Ministry of Animals and Fisheries Development. Sileshi started his state career at Jimma University as lecturer and department head, then served in deferent regional (Oromia) and federal offices.
Yakob Yala, former State Minister of the Ministry of Trade (MoT), has ascended to the position of Minister at MoT. Yakob was State Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development from 2005 to 2010, until he was relocated to MoT in as State Minister. Kebede Chane left his position as Minister at MoT to become Public Relations Advisor to the Prime Minister on a ministerial portfolio.
Abey Ahmed, one of the young and upcoming leaders in EPRDF, is appointed Minister of Science and Technology. Abey has served in the Ministry of Defense and Information Network Security Agency as an IT expert, and was later appointed as Director in the Ministry of Science and Technology until his new assignment. He replaces Demitu Hambissa, who was appointed at the newly established Ministry of Public Enterprises.
Former chief of Oromia region’s Water, Mines and Energy Bureau, Motuma Mekassa, was promoted to lead the restructured federal Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electric. Alemayehu Tegenu, former Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy, was re-assigned as Minister of Cabinet Affairs in the Prime Minister’s office.
Ambachew Mekonnen (PhD), an economist, was taken aboard the new cabinet as Minister of Construction. He has been Vice President and of Head of Industry and Urban Development in Amhara regional state for the past two years.
Aisha Mohammed Mussa (Eng.) is the only new female cabinet member. Aisha, who served on different positions in Afar region, was appointed Minister of Culture and Tourism. She replaced Amin Abdulkader, the youngest leader who served on the position for the past five years. Amin has not been assigned to a new position, before this paper’s publication.
Getachew Reda, former advisor to the Prime Minister, will now lead the Government Communication Affairs Office. A former lecturer at Mekelle University, he replaced Redwan, assigned as Minister of Youth and Sport. Getachew, one of the youngest leaders in the ruling party, is yet another new entrant to the Council of Ministers.
Yinager Dessie (PhD), former State Minister of Foreign Affairs, is new blood on the council. Yinager, an economist, became Commissioner of the National Plan Commission. Mekonnen Manyazewal, the former State Minister of MoFED and later the Minister of Industry, is now an advisor to the Prime Minster for International Trade Relation Negotiation Affairs on a minister portfolio. He was the first leader to steer the plan commission since its establishment in the past Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP).
Asmelash Woldesillasie, who will be the Government Whip, is also a cabinet member, according to the PM’s announcement. He replaced Muferhat Kamil, who is now assigned as Social Affairs Advisor to the Prime Minster with a minister portfolio.
Shiferaw Teklemariam (MD), former Minister of Federal Affairs, has been assigned as Minister of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change, a restructured government office.
Yalew Abate was elected as the new Speaker of House of Federation on October 5. Kassa Teklebirhan, former House of Federation Speaker, is appointed head of the restructured Federal Affairs and Pastoralist Development Ministry. Sixteen of thirty cabinet members, not counting the PM, have retained their former positions.
The newly elected parliament is the first parliament since the country started regular national elections in 1995, on which not a single opposition member is included.