On October 4, having completed the counting of the ballots in Ethiopia and made the victory of the Prosperity Party definitively official, Abiy Ahmed submitted the members of the new government to the vote of the Federal Parliament.
The new five-year mandate of Abiy Ahmed appears burdened by many risk factors, among which the main ones remain those of the continuing conflict in Tigray, the instability in many regional states and the incumbency of new and more strict sanctioning measures by the United States.
The new Ethiopian federal government looks more like a reshuffle than a real reorganization of offices and functions, with numerous confirmations and in a line of continuity wiith the recent past.
Among the most important new names among the 22 members of the new executive is the appointment of Abraham Belay to the post of Minister of Defence. He is the former ad interim president of Tigray during the early stages of the conflict against the TPLF, and his appointment is interpreted by many as a signal to the Tigrian authorities and a confirmation of the federal government’s intention to relaunch the offensive to reconquer the rebel regional state. Abraham Belay is a former Ethiopian NSA intelligence officer and previously served as Minister of Technology.
New name also at the head of the Ministry of Peace, where Benalf Andulem has been appointed. He is the former head of the Prosperity Party office in Addis Ababa, who will have to manage the difficult dialogue with the international community regarding the management of the process of distribution of humanitarian aid in Tigray and the process of national reconciliation. Benalf Andulem is considered a party member very close to the Prime Minister, bearer of a conservative and radical vision of the government’s political priorities, with the fear that also in this case the appointment coincides with the intention of bringing new impulse to the military operations in the region of Tigrai.
The equilibriums required by the participation of the parties expressed by regional states and the oppositions, imposed Abiy Ahmed to appoint the president of the Ezema party, Berhanu Nega, to the Ministry of Education, the president of the Amhara National Movement, Belete Mola, to the Ministry of Innovation and Technology, and the president of the Oromo Liberation Front, Merdasa Tulu, to the Ministry of Culture and Sport. These are the only three ministers, out of 22, who are not expressed by the Prosperity Party.
The Prime Minister wanted to make a substantial change at the top of the Ministry for Water, Irrigation and Energy, splitting it into two new departments. In the first, called Ministry of Water and Energy, he wanted to replace the former minister Seleshi Bekele with Habtamu Itefa Geleta, university professor and former head of the Water Department of the regional state of Oromia. Also in this case, the change at the top of the ministry responsible for managing the complex issue concerning the development of the GERD dam, does not seem to indicate any change of direction on the part of the government. The second ministry, called Ministry for Irrigation and Development of the Plains, was assigned to Aisha Mohamed.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed then confirmed Ahmed Shide, former Speaker of Parliament of the Somali regional state, as head of the Ministry of Finance. This is a central position in the federal administration and expresses a strong desire to pursue a strategy of continuity with the past, especially in terms of economic reforms and privatization.
Finally, the Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen, also a loyal ally of the Prime Minister and supporter of a foreign policy line based on confrontation, especially with the United States, has also been confirmed in his post.
No changes at the top of the other ministries, while only sporadic replacements are expected in the roles of deputy minister and the directorates general of the ministries. A reshuffle, therefore, rather than a real new government, formed in order to sanction the legitimacy of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Prosperity Party, and from which no particular changes are expected in terms of political and economic direction.