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Ethiopian prime minister resigns after mass protests

Ethiopian prime minister resigns after mass protests

In a bid to ease tensions, the government last month began issuing a string of pardons and prisoner releases, after Hailemariam said jailed "politicians" would be released "to improve the national consensus and widen the democratic platform".

Hailemariam Desalegn's announcement that he was stepping down was, on the face of it, a highly unusual moment in Africa.

"Unrest and a political crisis have led to the loss of lives and displacement of many", Hailemariam said in a televised address to the nation.

Desalegn said this was in an effort to facilitate reforms following a period of mass unrest.

As chairman of EPRDF, Desalegn won praises for his technocratic expertise, though he has struggled to rise politically above the shadow of Meles, who ruled the east African country for 21 years.

Ethiopia has been rocked by months of protests demanding wider freedoms that have left hundreds dead and tens of thousands detained. The unrest spread the following year with protests against political restrictions.

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State-affiliated Fana said the prime minister had submitted a resignation letter to legislators and that "he hoped his resignation letter will be accepted". "I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy".

Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic party has been ruling the country for the last quarter of a century after the regime of Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam, who is in exile in Zimbabwe.

Mulatu Gemechu, of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress, said the EPRDF was not able to lead, to maintain peace or respect the rule of law.

"He also stated he will continue to serve as a Prime Minister until the power transition is completed", it said.

Hailemariam oversaw a smooth handover on the death of former Marxist rebel Meles Zenawi, turning the relatively little-known politician and technocrat to an influential leader.


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