New Ethiopia PM Says Meles Policies to Continue

Posted September 21st, 2012 at 8:20 am (UTC-5)
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Hailemariam Desalegn has been sworn in as Ethiopia's new leader.

He replaces longtime Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who died of an undisclosed illness last month at the age of 57.

In remarks to parliament Friday, Mr. Hailemariam pledged to continue Mr. Meles' policies on the economy and Horn of Africa.

He said Ethiopia has a bright future and has reached a stage where “poverty can be defeated.”

Mr. Hailemariam was a close ally of the former leader and previously served as minister of foreign affairs and deputy prime minister. Many say the new prime minister was handpicked for the position by Mr. Meles, who was planning to step down after the 2015 election.

Mr. Hailemariam is Ethiopia's first new leader since 1991, when the guerilla movement TPLF overthrew the military junta of Mengistu Hailemariam.

Under Mr. Meles, the government launched efforts to improve and modernize the economy, which still relies heavily on agriculture. Per capita income remains among the lowest in the world.

On foreign policy, Ethiopia helped mediate negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan, and sent troops into Somalia to support that country's internationally-backed government.