EPRDF to meet Sept 16 to choose Meles’ successor

Ethiopia’s ruling coalition will meet on Sept. 16 to select its chairman, who will replace the late Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, as the party’s chief and probably succeed him as the Horn of Africa nation’s leader.

It’s “highly likely” the party chairman will become prime minister, State Minister for Communications Shimeles Kemal said by phone today from the capital, Addis Ababa. Meles, Ethiopia’s leader of 21 years who oversaw one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, died on Aug. 20 from an infection contracted while recuperating from an undisclosed illness. Hailemariam Desalegn, Meles’s deputy, took over in an acting capacity the next day.

“We are expecting the council meeting to be on the 16th,” Seikoture Getachew, the foreign relations head at the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front’s secretariat, said by telephone. “There will be the assignment of chairperson and deputy chairperson.”

Ethiopia, the continent’s second-most populous nation, is a major U.S. ally in its battle against al-Qaeda in the region. In December, Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia for the second time in four years to join the battle against al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda’s Somalia affiliate.

The EPRDF’s 180-member council is split equally between the four parties that make up the ruling coalition. The federal parliament, which will endorse the prime minister, is scheduled to reconvene at the end of the month, Shimeles said. The EPRDF controls all but two of the 547 parliamentary seats.


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