Ethiopia profile - Leaders

Prime minister: Hailemariam Desalegn

Hailemariam Desalegn was sworn in as prime minister of Ethiopia in September 2012, ending a period of uncertainty following the death of long-term leader Meles Zenawi.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Hailemariam Desalegn was deputy to long-term leader Meles Zenawi

As a former deputy prime minister and foreign minister, Mr Hailemariam was considered a close ally of Meles Zenawi and following his swearing in, pledged to continue his "legacy without any change".

Meles Zenawi, who led the country since overthrowing the previous regime in 1991, died of complications following a long illness.

He was praised by many for his success in revitalising Ethiopia's economy but criticised for his human rights record and his failure to allow a full democracy to flourish in Ethiopia. He led the country to war against Eritrea in 1998, and also sent troops into Somalia.

Mr Hailemariam is to stay in office until elections in 2015.

An engineer by training he leads the ruling coalition Ethiopian People Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

Mr Hailemariam became acting prime minister on the death of Mr Meles in August, but faced a backroom struggle to gain the approval of the Front leadership before assuming the most powerful post in the country.

A Protestant Christian from the small Welayta ethnic group in southern Ethiopia, Mr Hailemariam had worked in academia and regional government while many EPRDF luminaries came to the fore through fighting against the Communist government in the 1980s.

He benefited from a scheme Mr Meles launched in 2009 to bring technocrats into central government, and earned a reputation as a loyal aide to the prime minister.

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