Like Zuma, Ethiopian prime minister steps down

Ethiopia Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn Resigns

The Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, has resigned unexpectedly in an effort to end years of unrest and political upheaval.

But although Mr Hailemariam's departure closely followed the enforced resignations of South Africa's Jacob Zumba and Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, few observers saw it in the same mould. His stepping down from power is unprecedented in the vast East African country.

"Unrest and a political crisis have led to the loss of lives and displacement of many", Hailemariam said in a televised address to the nation.

Yields on Ethiopia's $1 billion Eurobonds due in 2024 climbed five basis points to 6.41 percent by 4:18 p.m.in the capital, Addis Ababa, to the highest level since August. "I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy", he said.

He said both the EPRDF and his party, the Southern Ethiopian People's Democratic Movement, have accepted his resignation, and he hoped parliament would accept it.

His resignation will be confirmed once the full EPRDF council meets.

Hailemariam oversaw a smooth handover on the death of former Marxist rebel Meles Zenawi, turning the relatively little-known politician and technocrat to an influential leader.

Ethiopia had seen sporadic, often deadly protests since late 2015 and temporarily enacted a state of emergency due to the unrest that was mainly in the central Oromia region. This quelled the worst of the violence, but periodic uprisings still occur.

Political prisoners including opposition figures have recently been released to ease tensions.

Ethiopia's government has always been accused of arresting journalists and opposition leaders. He said he had submitted his resignation as prime minister and the chairman of the ruling coalition which has been accused of suppressing dissent through arrest and torture of opposition members and protesters.

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