PM Hailemariam Desalegn has resigned. What's next for Ethiopia?

Hailemariam Desalegn's resignation comes amid political crisis and lingering unrest in the Horn of Africa country.

"Unrest and a political crisis have led to the loss of lives and displacement of many".

"The main reason I have submitted my resignation is because I hold the firm belief that it was necessary for me to tender it as part of a solution aimed at ensuring lasting peace and guaranteeing democracy in our country going forward".

Anti-government protests in the country began more than two years ago, mostly in Oromia and Amhara regions.

Rumours that Hailemariam would go have been circulating in the capital Addis Ababa for months, but his announcement came as a surprise.

"Apart from the sporadic security issues ... it is business as usual".

He was also the first Protestant to lead Ethiopia, where the majority of Christians follow Orthodox traditions. But he has always been despised by hardliners within Ethiopia's ruling elite, which is composed of members of the tiny Tigrean ethnic group and their closest allies.

Possible contenders include Lemma Megersa and Workneh Gebeyehu, both members of the Oromo People's Democratic Organisation, said Jared Jeffrey, an analyst at Paarl, South Africa-based NKC African Economics.

Awelu said selection of a new prime minister will in itself not be an easy task for the ruling party coalition, which comprises of four ethnicities.

Hundreds have died as the military cracked down on protesters while scores have been detained since 2016.

Being the largest ethnicity with about 35 percent of the population, Oromo activists are particularly insistent that the next prime minister be one of their own. He asked not to be named in order not to jeopardise his relationship with the government.

"The situation is getting out of control right now, so he might have chose to resign by himself", the analyst said, pointing to his decision to leave both the premiership and his own party. "They will probably continue on the path of reform, albeit not to the scale and speed that people want". The coalition has controlled every seat in Ethiopia's 547-strong parliament since 2015, when Seifu lost his post.

Mulatu Gemechu, spokesman of opposition Medrek party, said: "The resignation of the prime minister is an outcome of the popular peaceful struggle in the last three years".

"This (resignation) is not something to cheer about".

  • Jon Douglas