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'I want to be part of the solution' – Ethiopia's prime minister after surprise resignation

Published:Thursday | February 15, 2018 | 1:47 PM
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, during press conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Thursday. – Ap Photo

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP):
Ethiopia's prime minister announced Thursday he has submitted a resignation letter after the worst anti-government protests in a quarter-century, saying he hoped the surprise decision would help planned reforms succeed and create a "lasting peace."

"I want to be part of the solution," Hailemariam Desalegn said in remarks carried by the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation. "I believe that the public's demands and questions should be met and answered." It was not immediately clear whether lawmakers had accepted the resignation.

Ethiopia, one of Africa's fastest-growing economies and a close security ally of the United States, has been rocked by months of protests demanding wider freedoms that have left hundreds dead and tens of thousands detained. The government in recent weeks released more than 6,500 detained opposition figures, journalists and others after the prime minister in an unexpected announcement in January said he wanted to "widen the democratic space for all."

The 53-year-old prime minister said he will continue in his role until the "power transition is completed." He also seeks to unseat himself from the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front.

The ruling party, which controls all seats in parliament, accepted the resignation and lawmakers on Friday were expected to do the same. The ruling party's council is then expected to put forward Desalegn's successor as prime minister.

Ethiopia's demonstrations demanding wider freedoms began in late 2015 and engulfed much of the restive Oromia and Amhara regions before spreading into other parts of the country, leading to a months-long state of emergency that has since been lifted.​