Ethiopia PM Hailemariam Desalegn in surprise resignation

Ethiopia PM Hailemariam Desalegn in surprise resignation

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By Monica Kobusiinge

The Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, has resigned, the country’s state TV reported.

No reason has yet been given for the decision. Mr Hailemariam also stepped down as chairman of the country’s ruling coalition.

His departure comes amid months of anti-government protests in Ethiopia’s largest regions, Oromia and Amhara.

In the latest violence, 10 people were killed and dozens more injured following an opposition protest.

Reports showed that the government released thousands of opposition supporters from jail in recent weeks, but still the protests continued.

Ethiopia has witnessed repeated violent demonstrations since 2015, with protesters calling for political and economic reform, and an end to state corruption. The ongoing disturbances have led to deep divisions in the governing coalition. Some of Ethiopia’s powerful elites have come to see the prime minister as weak and lacking in direction.

Ethiopia is Africa’s oldest independent country and it’s second largest in terms of population. Apart from a five-year occupation by Mussolini’s Italy, Ethiopia has never been colonized.

It has a unique cultural heritage, being the home of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church – one of the oldest Christian churches – and a monarchy that ended only in the coup of 1974.

It served as a symbol of African independence throughout the colonial period, and was a founder member of the United Nations and the African base for many international organizations.

Ethiopia has suffered periodic droughts and famines that lead to a long civil conflict in the 20th Century and a border war with Eritrea.

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