EPRDF is made up of four ethnic-based political parties and their coalition is complex: while ANDM and OPDO which together account for more than half of the country’s population, the minority TPLF controls the military and security apparatus, making the party a dominant one in the coalition. This by itself makes the speculation of the next prime minister intricate. 

(BBC News)―Ethiopia’s ruling coalition is due to meet soon to choose its next leader. That person will automatically become the prime minister. They will be taking on the role at a time of bitter internal wrangles and violent protests.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced on 15 February that he would resign as both the chairperson of Ethiopia’s ruling coalition EPRDF and as prime minister – a position he had held since 2012.

So that leaves the 180-strong EPRDF council to choose the next prime minister.

The coalition is complex.

EPRDF is made up of four ethnically based political parties: the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM); the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO); the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM) and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

While the ANDM and OPDO have roots in Oromia and Amhara regions, which together account for more than half of Ethiopia’s population, it is the minority TPLF from Tigray region that controls the military and security apparatus and is seen as the dominant party in the coalition.

Bitter internal wrangles within the ruling coalition have however made it difficult to predict just who will become the next prime minister.

To worsen matters, the government failed to quell anger it they put in place a state of emergency. Demonstrators in the west defied a ban on protests and marches became violent.

The coalition, which has been in power since 1991 after toppling the communist regime, is at a crossroads.

The bitter infighting is between reformists who feel the country is headed the wrong way and conservatives keen on maintaining the status quo and the grip on power.

Here’s a run down of the top seven contenders to become the next prime minister of Ethiopia.

1. Lemma Magersa

He is the current President of the Oromia Regional State and deputy leader of the OPDO.

The charismatic Mr Lemma is seen as a fearless and eloquent reformer. He was once quoted as saying he was ready to go out and join demonstrators if the government did not heed the demands of protesters especially from his region.

The 47-year-old was born and raised in East Welega, Oromia.

Last December he condemned the killings of protesters and the federal security forces’ intervention in the Oromia region without his region’s consent. He has also offered to hold dialogue with opposition groups.

He is deemed as an acceptable candidate who can unify the country but his path to the top seat is complicated. He’s not a member of the federal parliament, the House of People’s Representatives, a requirement to become prime minister.

Last December, a cartoon depicting Mr Lemma as the biblical Moses parting the Red Sea was widely shared on social media, showing just how his popularity “as a man with answers to the country’s problems” had soared.

Despite his meteoric rise within the ruling party and Ethiopia’s complex politics, his critics believe he is too inexperienced to take on the intricacies of the EPRDF.

Continue reading Who will be Ethiopia’s next prime minister?‘ on BBC News
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