Country Risk

Ethiopia’s ruling coalition likely to remain stable after appointing consensus replacement for outgoing PM by end-March

21 February 2018
Ethiopian politician Andualem Arage (centre), given a life sentence in 2012 on charges of links to the banned Ginbot 7 group, with supporters after his release from prison in Addis Ababa on 14 February. Source: Yonas Tadesse/AFP/Getty Images

Key Points

  • The ruling EPRDF coalition is likely to agree on a consensus candidate during its congress scheduled for March, probably the head of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation secretariat, Abiy Ahmed.
  • Ahmed’s appointment would ensure the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front remains the EPRDF’s most influential member, while the government will approve new legislation to facilitate foreign participation in energy and infrastructure development.
  • Disloyalty in the military is likely to be successfully prevented, while the more carefully crafted state of emergency is unlikely to worsen cycles of civil unrest in the Amhara and Oromia regions.


Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, chairperson of the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM), resigned on 15 February.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s resignation resulted in the Council of Ministers imposing a state of emergency on 16 February for six months, subject to parliamentary approval within 15 days. The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition, of which the SEPDM and three other ethno-linguistic parties are members, accepted Desalegn’s resignation and are likely to agree on an ethnic-Oromo replacement. Desalegn will remain prime minister until a successor is appointed. He stated that resigning was necessary in order for the government to resolve grievances motivating civil unrest in the Amhara and Oromia regions. The grievances stem from land grabs by businesses affiliated with EPRFD member the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), uneven redistribution of economic benefits under the flagship Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), and limited Oromo and Amhara representation in senior central government posts, which are dominated by the TPLF. In an effort to address these, the EPRDF’s executive committee held evaluative meetings and issued a statement on 29 December 2017. The leadership said that it would undertake “corrective measures” but did not offer specific proposals.

Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight content, please enquire about our subscription options at

(317 of 1086 words)