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Ethiopia prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigns

17 February 2018

The protest movement that has forced Hailemariam's resignation, though marked by occasional violence and the destruction of property, have been remarkably peaceful constrained, given the many hundreds of thousands who have marched and the brutality of the Ethiopian army's attempts to quell them.

Desalegn said he has submitted his letter of resignation as both Prime Minister and Chairman of the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition, Xinhua reported. He added he would stay on until a successor was chosen. "I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy".

In recent weeks it has released hundreds of prisoners including opposition politicians but the protests have shown no sign of ending.

Tensions boiled over earlier this week when businesses closed and young men armed with rocks and sticks blocked roads in Oromia in a two-day strike to push the government to keep its prisoner amnesty promise.

Demonstrations demanding greater freedoms began in late 2015 and engulfed much of the restive Oromia and Amhara regions, Ethiopia's most populous areas, before spreading to other parts of the country.

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Mr Hailemariam's surprise resignation comes amid the worst anti-government protests in 25 years.

Awelu said selection of a new prime minister will in itself not be an easy task for the ruling party coalition, which comprises of four ethnicities.

The Prime Minister said he is stepping down "to be part of the solution and for the success of the reforms and the solutions we have put in place". "At the same time, people need to demonstrate their commitment to peaceful expression and dialogue".

"He also stated he will continue to serve as a Prime Minister until the power transition is completed", it said. And according to both World Bank and International Monetary Fund figures, the last 10 years have indeed, seen Ethiopia consistently achieve double digit Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth and one of Africa's largest infrastructure investments.

"The many questions and grievances that have been raised by the public require and demand answers... as poverty is the primary cause of the many problems we now face, it must be confronted at every turn by continuing the good work we have started across the country", said the 53 year old civil-engineer turned politician.

Ethiopia prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigns