Ethiopian reshuffle should satisfy protesters, government says
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Ethiopia’s government on Tuesday announced an "unprecedented" cabinet reshuffle that it hopes will respond to the challenges the country faces following a series of protests and demonstrations, according to the government’s new spokesperson. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn appointed 21 new cabinet ministers and left nine ministers in post after he received parliamentary approval for the selection.
"The protests we have witnessed is part of it,” said Negeri Lencho, the newly appointed Minister of Government Communications. “The people have many questions and there were many challenges for almost a year in different regional states and also in different parts of the country."
The answer to questions raised by the people should be maximising “service to the people”, according to Lencho, who pointed out that those appointed were selected on the basis of their skills and experience.
"The composition of the cabinet, I can say, is unprecedented because of the different people or professionals from academia, from research," said the former journalism professor. "It’s not simply a political move or about different interests from the different parties within the EPRDF (Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front).”
Q&A Negeri Lencho
Ethiopia has been the scene of deadly clashes in recent months linked to protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions, where people complain about political and economic marginalisation.
State of emergency may be reconsidered
The government announced a six-month state of emergency at the start of October following months of anti-government demonstrations.
The state of emergency is “not in the government’s interest”, according to Lencho. “Many challenges forced the government to take this action”, although “if things improve for the best, I think things may be reconsidered”.
Lencho would not be drawn on the details of any change of strategy in light of the cabinet reshuffle, although he did admit that “new challenges may need new approaches and strategies”.
"I don't think that there is reason not to change strategy, although the big picture, the big policies, the government direction, may not necessarily change, but there is possibility, there is room for changing some strategy," he said.
Lencho replaces former government spokesperson Getachew Reda and hopes to “bring about change” in the ministry of government communications.