Ethiopia appoints new defense minister; PM shakes cabinet

Pushing his reform agenda, Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) today appointed a new defense minister, which is hopped by many to ease the political tension between the military and the people in Oromia and Amhara Regions, among others.

The prime minister has appointed Mr. Motuma Mekassa as his Defense minister. There were reports recently about the shootings of civilians by the military in some parts of the country mainly around Moyale area in Oromia Region bordering Kenya. As a result thousands of people have forced to migrate to neighboring Kenya.

The issue of repeated alleged human rights violations by the Ethiopian security forces, among others has also led the United Sates government, major development partner of Ethiopia, recently to pass the HRes 128 bill, which calls on the country to allow independent external investigators to conduct independent investigations.

The 17 reshuffle d positions Prime Minister Abiy announced this morning also includes appointment of Brehanu Tsegaye as new Attorney General of the country and Muferiyat Kamil who took the Speaker of the House position.

The changing of the three positions is hoped to advance his reform plans such as ending the state of emergency by taking control over the military gradually from the stronghold of the old guards of the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) – the ruling coalition formed of four ethnic and region-based parties.

The new faces Prime Minister Abiy injected into his cabinet also includes, Janterera Abay, minister of Urban Development & Construction; Meles Alemu, minister of Mines & Energy; Yealem Tsegaye and Melaku Alebel, minister of Trade.

He also appointed Umar Hussien as director of Revenues & Customs; Amir Aman as his minister of Health; Fozia Amin as his minister of Culture & Tourism and Yealem Tsegaye, minister of Youth & Women.

The other appointees also include: Teshome Toga, minister of State Enterprises; Hirut Woldemariam (PhD), minister of Works & Social Affairs; Siraj Fegessa, minister of Transport; Ubah Mohammed, minister of Communications & Technology; Ambachew Mekonnen (PhD), minister of Industry; Ahmed Shidie, minister of Government Communications and Shiferaw Shigute, who will serve as minister of Agriculture & Livestock Resources.