Hailemariam Desalegn: Next Ethiopian Leader?

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In my 9th August 2012 post entitled “The ideal Ethiopian leader”, I argued that a leader’s demographic characteristics must be discussed about in addition to her/his emotional and intellectual maturity. It was my take to see the next leader be an elected female president who is over 50 years old. My other preferences were that she be functionally educated, religious, from smaller ethnicities, and an Ethiopian residing in Ethiopia. Only time will tell us who is gonna take the position.

Although Government Communications Minister, Bereket Simon, indicated that Hailemariam Desalegn is the next EPRDF favorite, we have not yet seen an official (national) consensus and confirmation. And there are reports that seem to indicate eminent power struggle within the governing EPRDF, which is  overwhelmingly dominated by TPLF. Giving Hailemariam the very front seat is, to me, the ‘golden mean’ that should ‘represent’ all interest groups. Do you think this is weird? I got my own rationales.

 Mr HaileMariam Dessalegn, Google picture

One, the Ethiopian constitution, albeit in a very slippery way, grants the Vice PM the privilege to take over the role of the PM in times when the latter is absent from office. Putting aside all possible interpretations, it is sensible, from national security and unity perspective,  to be literally dictated by the constitution.

Two, Hailemariam has that ‘neutral’ card to play with; he is from what EPRDF cadres say the oppressed ethnicity. So, giving him that most privileged position is equivalent to ensuring social justice. This is also in line with my take, as indicated in my previous post, to have a leader from the tiniest nationalities. I really love this to happen.

Three, the so far influential nationalities such as the Amharas, Oromos, and the Tigries are all suffering from obsession-compulsion syndrome- they are all reportedly struggling for taking over the PM position. If Hailemariam succeeds to take the position, these groups might think that they reach at a loss-loss situation and thus would refrain from direct physical confrontation, something we all are tired off.

Four, according to a report  from a person who knows Hailemariam well (http://www.ethiomedia.com/2012_report/hm_desalegn.pdf), Hailemariam is positive, accommodating, confident, attentive, and non-corrupt. If he is really a person of this kind, he deserves the post. That means, he may not be as puppet as we take it by default. He is likely to protest to any ‘behind the scene’ decisions/dictations. This must be the most important characteristic that is sought after now. We need a leader who is self-sufficient, responsible, accountable, ambitious, pragmatic, allergic to corruption, and God-fearing.

Five, opposition politicians may have a better or promising future if Hailemariam gets it. It is hard to think of any substantive changes at policy and practice levels if any one of the gentle guys from TPLF  assumes the role of the PM. The general public may also feel a little bit at ease if Hailemariam reigns the next couple of years. If Hailemariam is independent, collaborative, accommodating, and change prone, the Ethiopian Diaspora may also find it attractive to get involved in nation building.

Concluding Remarks

In conclusion, if we Ethiopians really want to avoid any possible skirmishes related to the overtake of the PM’s office, we need to ‘eye’ on a person who is relatively free from past ‘traps’, which could come by affinity, chance, and/or coincidence. Hailemariam seems pretty close to fulfill the qualities sought contemporarily. He has no terrible political past and he has progressive leadership experience accumulated over the last several years. This along with his academic competence and God-fearing ‘gut’ should qualify him for the country’s highest office, albeit temporarily. I will for sure vote for him against say Addisu Legesse, Bereket Simon, Abba Dula Gemeda, Kuma Demeksa, Sibhat Nega, Siyoum Messfin, Birhane Gebrekirstos, Samora Yenus, and Getachew Assefa. For Hailemariam, it will never be an easy ride; he has to ‘mediate’ between what appears to be two hard-to-reconcile forces- opposition camp and the governing party.

I have not yet seen a better personality who can gracefully assume the PM’s position. But am not saying that the PM’s office has been assumed by the most popular and nationalistic person.  It seems though that the ruling party is creating a new ‘equation’, taking the hysterical sorrow and grief ceremonies organized for the late PM as a curtain. Whatever trajectory that may take in the end, the Ethiopian people MUST hold all accountable.

Ethiopia must excel!

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