Ethiopia’s ruling coalition re-elects PM Abiy Ahmed as its chair

Ethiopia's ruling coalition re-elects PM Abiy Ahmed as its chair
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed addresses a news conference in his office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia August 25, 2018. REUTERS/Kumera Gemechu/File Photo

Ethiopia’s ruling EPRDF coalition on Friday extended the chairmanship of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, an official said, further anchoring the authority of the 42-year-old leader as he pushes through sweeping political and economic reforms.

Abiy took power in April after his predecessor resigned following three years of unrest. He will now lead the ruling coalition until the next congress, which usually takes places every two to three years.

 His re-election, by a secret ballot at the end of the coalition’s three-day congress, had been expected. He won 176 votes out of 177, according to a tally announced by Attorney General Berhanu Tsegaye, who is also a member of the coalition. The congress also re-elected Demeke Mekonnen as Abiy’s deputy.
 After the results were announced, delegates – many of them sporting scarves and shirts emblazoned with ruling party slogans – gave Abiya round of applause, according to a Reuters journalist who attended the vote.

Six months ago, the former army officer took the helm of the once Marxist-Leninist EPRDF at a moment of crisis for the coalition that has ruled Ethiopia with an iron fist since toppling a military regime and taking power in 1991.

 The changes that he has presided over include making peace with arch-foe Eritrea, freeing political prisoners, pledging to open up the state-controlled economy and promising to overhaul the security services.

There has also been a surge in violence along ethnic lines since he came to power, however.

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